Al Gore on Government Reform

Regulatory style: smaller & smarter govt, but stronger regs

The next president won’t just command the armed forces; he also will lead an army of bureaucrats. As Top Regulator, Bush or Gore would take fundamentally different approaches: It is an area that strongly reflects their basic dispute about the role of government.

Bush, a frequent critic of heavy-handedness in government, would take a less-is-better stance through his appointees, stressing flexibility and voluntary actions by industry and the states. Gore, while touting the importance of a “smaller, smarter government,“ would push for more muscular regulation.

Critics worry that each man, in his own way, would go too far. Bush’s ”notion that government should get out of the way is the Ronald Reagan mantra,“ says one analyst, referring to Reagan’s aggressively antiregulatory stance. For his part, Gore ”shows an instinct to intervene in the marketplace,“ says another economist, who insists such intervention only makes problems worse.

Source: Laurie Mcginley, The Wall Street Journal Oct 31, 2000

Promises weekly open meeting as President

“Power to the people” was Gore’s cry today as he trundled across the fading emerald farmland of Wisconsin in his ongoing struggle to blunt the appeal of Ralph Nader and keep traditionally Democratic states in his column. He promised he would hold an average of one open meeting a week with ordinary people. He pledged not to add a single extra job to the federal government. And he returned repeatedly to his vow to make the overhaul of the campaign finance system his top legislative priority.
Source: Katharine Q. Seelye, NY Times Oct 30, 2000

I don’t ever want to see another era of big government

Gore laid claim to being the candidate of limited government, rebutting Bush’s labeling of him as a big spender by promising that he would not increase the number of federal employees while he was in office. He also suggested that Bush would be “a pliant president” who would mold public policy to please the special interests that have underwritten his campaign. “I don’t ever want to see another era of big government,” declared Gore, echoing Clinton’s 1996 declaration that “the era of big government is over.“ Gore added, ”But I certainly don’t want to ever see another era of special interests who wield more power than the American people have.“

His goal, he made clear, was to undercut the Republican depiction of him as ”a mythical big- spending, big-government candidate.“ Gore said, ”I’m for a smaller, smarter government, one that serves people better, but offers real change & gives more choices to families.“ Bush responded, ”He’s the biggest spender we’ve ever had in the history of politics.“

Source: Kevin Sack, NY Times Oct 25, 2000

Spending increase? “Absolutely not”; balance every budget

BUSH [to Gore]: When you total up all the federal spending [Gore] wants to do, it’s the largest increase in federal spending in years. And there’s just not going to be enough money.

Q: Is he right?

GORE: Absolutely not. Under my plan, we will balance the budget every year. I’m not just talking. I have helped to balance the budget for the first time in 30 years, and pay down the debt. And under my plan, in four years, as a percentage of our gross domestic product, federal spending will be the smallest that it has been in 50 years.

Q: The vice president says you’re wrong.

BUSH: Well, he’s wrong. Just add up all the numbers; it’s three times bigger than what Pres. Clinton proposed.

GORE: That’s in an ad [which] the journalists who analyzed it said was misleading.

BUSH: Forget the journalists. You propose more than Walter Mondale & Michael Dukakis combined. This is a big spender, he is. And he ought to be proud of it. It’s part of his record. We just have a different philosophy.

Source: (X-ref Bush) St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Were you better off 8 years ago than you are now?

GORE [to Bush]: If you want somebody who believes that we were better off eight years ago than we are now and that we ought to go back to the kind of policies that we had back then, emphasizing tax cuts mainly for the wealthy, here is your man [pointing to Bush]. If you want somebody who will fight for you and who will fight to have middle class tax cuts, then I am your man. I want to be.

BUSH: We’ve had enough fighting [in Congress]. It’s time to unite. You talk about eight years? In eight years, [the Clinton/Gore Administration] hasn’t gotten anything done on Medicare, on Social Security, a patients’ bill of rights. It’s time to get something done.

I cast the tie-breaking vote to add 26 years to the life of Medicare. It was due to go bankrupt in 1999.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Supreme Court should interpret Constitution

BUSH (to Gore): I’ll put competent judges on the bench, people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and will not use the bench to write social policy. I believe that the judges ought not to take the place of the legislative branch of government, that they’re appointed for life and that they ought to look at the Constitution as sacred. I don’t believe in liberal, activist judges. I believe in strict constructionists. And those are the kind of judges I will appoint.

GORE: Both of us use similar language to reach an exactly opposite outcome. In my view, the Constitution ought to be interpreted as a document that grows with our country and our history.

BUSH: I’ll tell you what kind of judges he’ll put on there. He’ll put liberal, activist judges who will use their bench to subvert the legislature. That’s what he’ll do.

GORE: That’s not right.

Source: (X-ref Bush) Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Decreased fed workforce by 300,000; won’t increase by 20,000

BUSH [to Gore]: A lot of folks are still waiting for that 1992 middle class tax cut. I remember the vice president saying, ‘Just give us a chance to get up there, we’re going to make sure you get tax cuts.’ It didn’t happen. And now he’s having to say it again. They’ve had their chance to deliver a tax cut to you. [Gore’s] plan is going to increase the bureaucracy by 20,000 people. His targeted tax cut is so detailed, so much fine print, that it’s going to require numerous IRS agents.

GORE: As for 20,000 new bureaucrats, as you call them, you know the size of the federal government will go down in a Gore administration. In the Reinventing Government Program, you just look at the numbers. It is 300,000 people smaller today than it was eight years ago. Now, the fact is you’re going to have a hard time convincing folks that we were a whole lot better off eight years ago than we are today. But that’s not the question. The question is, will we be better off four years from now than we are today?

Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Use historic surplus to balance budget and help middle class

Q: What are the choices facing people in November?

GORE: We’ve got the biggest surplus in history. Will we use that prosperity wisely in a way that benefits all of our people and doesn’t go just to the few? I think we have to invest in education, protecting the environment, health care, a prescription drug benefit that goes to all seniors, not just to the poor; under Medicare, not relying on HMOs and insurance companies. I think that we have to help parents and strengthen families. I think we have got to have welfare reform taken to the next stage. I think that we have got to balance the budget every single year.

BUSH: He’s going to grow the federal government in the largest increase since Johnson in 1965. We’re talking about a massive government, folks. We’re talking about adding to or increasing 200 new programs, 20,000 new bureaucrats. Imagine how many IRS agents it’s going to take to be able to figure out his targeted tax cut for the middle class that excludes 50 million Americans.

Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Puerto Rico: Back statehood if majority votes for it

In the culmination of a decade-long battle, a federal courtroom in Boston [will hear the case that] citizens of Puerto Rico, a US territory of 3.9 million people, should be able to vote for president. If the appeal is won-and the ruling is not overturned by the Supreme Court-Puerto Rico theoretically could gain eight electoral votes. The Puerto Rican Legislature recently authorized the first US presidential vote in the island’s history on the presumption that the case will be won. Ballots are being printed, all in hopes of a favorable ruling in Boston.

Both Bush and Gore have declined to take a position on whether Puerto Rico should participate in the election, noting that the matter is before the courts. Both candidates have identical positions on Puerto Rico, saying they would back statehood if a majority of voters on the island support it. Both campaigns have taken steps to prepare for the possibility of a campaign on the island, signing up volunteers and organizers.

Source: Boston Globe Sep 20, 2000

Open meetings to stay in touch with every-day people

For almost 25 years now, I’ve been fighting for people. And for all that time, I’ve been listening to people - holding open meetings, in the places where they live and work. And you know what? I’ve learned a lot. And if I’m your President, I’m going to keep on having open meetings all over this country. I’m going to go out to you, the people, because I want to stay in touch with your hopes; with the quiet, every-day heroism of hard-working Americans.
Source: Speech to the Democratic National Convention Aug 18, 2000

Supported “PAC participation in the political process”

[During his Senate campaign in 1984], Gore had sponsored legislation that limited PAC money, but that didn’t stop him from soaking up every PAC dime he could under existing rules. He caucused with PAC representatives, highlighting the votes he had made in their favor. “I am a strong supporter of PAC participation in the political process,” he told PAC Manager, a PAC newsletter. “I need to raise large sums of money, and I have enjoyed getting involved with the PAC community.”
Source: Inventing Al Gore, p.153 Mar 3, 2000

Supreme Court nominees should interpret the Constitution

Q: What criteria would you use to select the new Supreme Court Justices?

GORE: I would look for justices of the Supreme Court who understand that our Constitution is a living & breathing document, that it was intended by our founders to be interpreted in the light of the constantly evolving experience of the American people. The right of privacy, just to take one example, was found by Justice Blackmun in the Constitution, even though the precise words are not there.

BRADLEY: Other than war & peace, Supreme Court appointments are the most lasting contribution that a president ever makes. It is imperative to find people of real integrity and unquestioned ability, somebody that’s able to see a context in the times in which they live. Not someone who’s locked into a original interpretation of the Constitution as if 1787 is the year 2000. But someone who sees the law as something that moves to adjust to the times and can do so in a way that furthers the deepest values of our country.

Source: Democrat debate in Los Angeles Mar 1, 2000

No controlling legal authority“ for White House calls

In a hastily arranged press conference on March 3, 1997, Gore claimed he did nothing illegal when he solicited money for the DNC (Democratic National Committee) on federal property. Gore repeated seven times that there was no controlling legal authority emphasizing: “My counsel advised me that there is no controlling legal authority or case that says that there was any violation of law whatsoever in the manner in which I asked people to contribute to our re-election campaign.” Furthermore, Gore confessed that, “On a few occasions, I made some telephone calls, from my office in the White House, using a DNC credit card. I was advised there was nothing wrong with that practice. The Hatch Act has a specific provision saying that, while federal employees are prohibited from requesting campaign contributions, the president and the vice president are not covered by that act because, obviously, we are candidates.”
Source: White House Press Conference reported in Washington Times Mar 4, 1997

We distrust our government; but want it in emergencies

Today, we feel our government has become distant and insensitive-not to mention too big, too meddlesome, and too costly. We don’t much care whether it’s a problem of politicians, issues, or government agencies-or even if it’s federal, state, or local. It’s just a problem. A big one.

Distrust of government is buried deep in America’s genetic code. For more than two centuries, wave after wave of people who have been harassed or abused by their governments have seen this country as a last refuge, a haven. The less government there is, the more we like it....

Until the earth cracks open in California and people’s lives crack with it. Until a river becomes so polluted that it catches fire. Until a child dies from a contaminated hamburger. Or until we lose a job, need help feeding our family, grow old and can’t afford medical care, or become victimized on our own neighborhood streets. Then we want the government to be there for us, and quickly.

Source: Common Sense Government, p. 18-9 Sep 7, 1995

Performance-based pay for civil servants

[I propose] new civil service reform legislation, to change the way many federal workers are hired, rewarded, & paid. Our reform will be based on an insight that is common in private industry: you pay for performance. Instead of providing automatic pay increases based on seniority, federal managers’ pay would be determined by how well they do their jobs, and meet the people’s needs. This won’t cost taxpayers an extra penny, but it will ensure that today’s tax dollars are far better spent.
Source: Speech at International REGO Conference, Washington DC Jan 14, 1999

Al Gore on Campaign Finance Reform

McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform will be first bill

GORE [to Bush]: If I’m president, the first bill I will send to Congress is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. And the reasons it’s that important is that all of the issues like prescription drugs for seniors that is opposed by the drug companies, will be easier to pass if we limit the influence of special interests.

BUSH: I am not going to lay down my arms in the middle of a campaign for somebody who has got no credibility on the issue. I would support an effort to ban corporate soft money & labor union soft money. I believe there needs to be instant disclosure on the Internet as to who’s given to whom.

GORE: You have attacked my character and credibility and I am not going to respond in kind. One serious problem is that our system of government is being undermined by too much influence coming from special interest money.

BUSH: I want people to hear what he just said. He is for full public financing of congressional elections. I’m absolutely, adamantly opposed to that.

Source: (X-ref Bush) Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Ban soft money and provide free broadcast time

Al Gore might well wish campaign finance reform had not raised its head. An acknowledged king of soft-money, he has not lived down fundraising issues from a Buddhist monastery and using White House telephones. Nonetheless, perhaps to salve his conscience, he now said he would:
  • Ban soft money
  • Set up a “Democracy Endowment” that would allow individuals, corporations and unions to contribute to a non-partisan trust used to help provide money for any congressional candidate who agrees to spending limits
  • Provide of free broadcast time
  • Gore says that the first bill he will support and sign as president will be a campaign-finance reform bill.
    Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” special Sep 30, 2000

    Campaign finance reform will be very first bill to Congress

    If you entrust me with the Presidency, I will put our democracy back in your hands, and get all the special-interest money - all of it - out of our democracy, by enacting campaign finance reform. I feel so strongly about this, I promise you that campaign finance reform will be the very first bill that Joe Lieberman and I send to Congress. Let others try to restore the old guard. We come to this convention as the change we wish to see in America.
    Source: Speech to the Democratic National Convention Aug 18, 2000

    $7B public campaign finance fund

    Mr. Gore’s proposal would provide public financing of campaigns from a $7 billion fund to be filled with tax-deductible contributions from many of the same interests and individuals who now fuel campaigns -- but without the direct contributions to candidates. It would also outlaw so-called soft money, the unlimited contributions from corporations, unions, interest groups and wealthy donors, require greater disclosure of independent expenditures and provide free television time for candidates
    Source: John Broder, New York Times Apr 16, 2000

    Full disclosure for lobbyists, donations, & issue ads

    Gore said, “Full disclosure of lobbying activities can help us dry up the supply of special interest money, and free TV time can help reduce the demand for it.”
    Gore’s plan includes explicit disclosure rules for lobbyists and third-party groups that pay for political issue ads.
    Lobbyists would be required to post monthly disclosure statements on the Internet that would detail all of their lobbying contacts, topics discussed with legislators and political contributions made.
    Organizations paying for issue ads would be required to disclose the names of their financial backers, and tax-exempt groups would be required to release their donor lists. In addition, television broadcasters who air issue ads would be required by the Federal Communications Commission to provide candidates targeted by such ads with free air time in response.
    Source: AllPolitics Mar 27, 2000

    Calls for soft-money ban; but won’t unilaterally disarm

    Q: How are you going to contrast yourself with Governor Bush?
    A: One is campaign finance reform. I’m still waiting for Governor Bush’s answer on my call to eliminate soft money from this campaign.
    Q: You know he’s not going to do that.
    A: That’s the conventional wisdom. But I think some people are underestimating how strongly John McCain feels about that and underestimating the fact that the Republican Party at the grass-roots level doesn’t necessarily support Governor Bush’s position on this. The support Senator McCain attracted was in part fueled by a grass-roots desire to get rid of soft money, and it comes from Republicans as well as independents and Democrats.
    Q: Why not refuse to be part of those soft-money fund-raisers, just as a symbolic move, if nothing else?
    A: I am not going to unilaterally disarm. All Bush has to do to ban soft money is to say yes. And then soft money is completely eliminated from this campaign.
    Source: Press interview on Air Force II Mar 11, 2000

    Free TV and radio for candidates during campaigns

    Q: Do you support campaign finance reform?
    A: I proposed complete public financing of federal elections more than 20 years ago. I don’t accept PAC contributions in this race. I called two years ago for the elimination of so-called soft money from campaigns. I proposed legislation 10 years ago to require broadcasters, radio and TV to give free time in election years to qualified candidates as a condition of their license. I will put this in the highest priority category and make it happen.
    Source: Democrat debate in Los Angeles Mar 1, 2000

    Has supported bills like McCain-Feingold for 20 years

    Q: What would you do to advance real campaign finance reform? A: I support the McCain-Feingold bill. I supported it before it was watered down. I think that [incumbent opposition to campaign reform] is causing serious problems for our democracy. 20 years ago, I supported and proposed and co-sponsored in the Congress a bill to provide for public financing of elections. I support that today. I will fight to get the influence of big money out of our political system.
    Source: Democrat Debate at Dartmouth College Oct 28, 1999

    Al Gore on Reinventing Government

    Pledges to add not one new federal position

    Gore pledged to add not “one position” to the federal government if he is elected. It was part of his overall plan to continue the “reinventing government” efforts he spearheaded for the Clinton administration, as well as a rebuttal to Bush’s recent assertion that Gore would be a big government spender.

    Gore told voters a “tale of two candidates,” saying “I’m opposed to bigger government,” while Bush has presided over a modest increase in the state bureaucracy during his five years as governor.

    Source: Glen Johnson, Boston Globe, p. A24 Oct 25, 2000

    Begin second phase of reinvention: shrink federal govt

    Gore said, “I don’t believe there’s a government solution to every problem. I don’t believe any government program can replace the responsibility of parents, the hard work of families or the innovation of industry. A return to big government would be as wrong for our economy as a return to big tax cuts for the wealthy.” To that end, Gore vowed: “I will not add to the number of people doing work for the federal government, not by even one position, and there will be more who leave those ranks than the ones who are replaced.“

    He also said he would shrink the federal government to its smallest share of the economy in 50 years and would begin a second phase of the ”reinventing government“ initiative that he had directed for Clinton. The first phase cut the number of federal jobs by more than 300,000, Gore said. A Bush spokesman said it ”strains credibility“ for Gore to take credit for job cuts because the vast majority of those resulted from the post-cold-war retrenchment in the armed forces.

    Source: Kevin Sack, NY Times Oct 25, 2000

    In last 5 years, fed govt shrank; TX govt grew

    A couple of times the governor has said that I am for a bigger government. Governor, I’m not. And let me tell you what the record shows. For the last eight years, I have had the challenge of running the streamlining program called Reinventing Government. The federal government has been reduced in size by more than 300,000 people, and it’s now the smallest in size since John Kennedy’s administration. During the last five years, Texas’ government has gone up in size. The federal government has gone down; Texas’ government has gone up. Now, my plan for the future, I see a time when we have smaller, smarter government, where you don’t have to wait in line because you can get services online cheaper, better, faster. We can do that.
    Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

    Continue Reinvention: put everything federal on Internet

    We have to continue to reform and reinvent government, in order to save taxpayer money. One important way to make government cheaper, faster, and better is by putting more critical services on the Internet, and taking full advantage of the information revolution that is taking place in private industry. Three years ago, we started an initiative called Access America - which is the first step to putting the entire federal government on-line, savings taxpayers billions.
    Source: Speech to the Association for a Better New York Apr 25, 2000

    “Reinvention” caused some reform, but nothing fundamental

    “Reinventing Government,” or REGO, was a classic New Democrat idea-fix government, don’t demolish it. In 1993, Clinton named Gore to head a six-month examination of the federal government called the National Performance Review (NPR). Gore’s report made 384 recommendations for streamlining and energizing the bureaucracy and promised $108 billion in savings and a 12% cut in the federal workforce-252,000 jobs-by 1998.

    His reinvention quest ultimately led to some significant reforms, principally in the area of purchasing practices. But Gore failed to entertain the fundamental questions as he launched REGO: What does government do? Could someone else do it better? Gore’s efforts add up to a mixed picture. By 1998 the federal payroll had been reduced by 330,000 positions (15.4%), mostly at the Defense Department. In the end Gore’s REGO probably did save the government some money and certainly helped make it smaller. But it was not redesigned, reinvented, or reinvigorated, as he set out to do.

    Source: Inventing Al Gore, p.278-83 Mar 3, 2000

    Continue “reinvention”, which has saved $137 billion.

    Continue cutting regulations and reforming and reinventing government - so that it costs less, works better, and keeps pace with today’s fast-moving economy. Already, the Reinventing Government initiative headed by Al Gore has saved $137 billion, eliminated 16,000 pages of regulations, eliminated 640,000 pages of needless internal rules, and reduced the federal workforce by more than 350,000, to its smallest size since John Kennedy was President.
    Source: 5/14/99 May 14, 1999

    Decentralization builds faith in government

    [We must] build people’s faith in government - [which was lost due to] a legitimate feeling that government wasn’t doing what it said it was going to do. Building faith demands that we bring government closer to the people. Some countries refer to “subsidiarity;” other countries speak of decentralization or devolution. But the concept is the same: empower governments not in some distant national capital, but in the places where people live and work, so it can be more responsive to their needs.
    Source: Speech at International REGO Conference, Washington DC Jan 14, 1999

    Customer Satisfaction Survey for feds

    You cannot improve customer service unless you truly listen to the customer. This year, we will conduct the first-ever government-wide Customer Satisfaction Survey -- to assess the progress we have made in the last five years. We have already established over 4,000 customer service standards, all published on our agencies’ web sites. Now we need to determine, from the people’s perspective, how we are doing, and how we can do better.
    Source: Speech at International REGO Conference, Washington DC Jan 14, 1999

    Common sense government: focus on results & customers

    Source: Common Sense Government, p. 13 Sep 7, 1995

    ReGo: downsize; streamline; restructure; & privatize

      The task of cutting government and managing it better involves four activities that are underway simultaneously:
    1. DOWNSIZING: reducing the size and number of agencies, their programs, and staff;
    2. STREAMLINING: simplifying the procedures involved;
    3. RESTRUCTURING: reforming agencies structurally to better serve their missions;
    4. PRIVATIZING: spinning off functions to the private sector that are better accomplished there.
    The cumulative effect of all 4 types of reform has been significant. In just two years, the size of government has been reduced 7.6%, and the federal workforce has slimmed down by more than 160,000 workers. Not only has the promise been kept, but progress is ahead of schedule.

    Perhaps more importantly, the whole point of reinventing the government is to make it work better by making it leaner, especially by reducing layers of supervisors who add relatively little value to the government enterprise and by eliminating or consolidating obsolete or duplicative programs.

    Source: Common Sense Government, p.117 Sep 7, 1995

    Other candidates on Government Reform: Al Gore on other issues:
    John Ashcroft
    Pat Buchanan
    George W. Bush
    Dick Cheney
    Bill Clinton
    Hillary Clinton (D,NY)
    Elizabeth Dole
    Steve Forbes
    Rudy Giuliani (R,NYC)
    Al Gore
    Alan Keyes
    John McCain (R,AZ)
    Ralph Nader
    Ross Perot
    Colin Powell
    Jesse Ventura (I,MN)

    Party Platforms:
    Democratic Platform
    Green Platform
    Libertarian Platform
    Republican Platform
    Civil Rights
    Foreign Policy
    Free Trade
    Govt. Reform
    Gun Control
    Health Care
    School Choice
    Social Security
    Tax Reform
    War & Peace