Politics & Policy

Spender Vs. Spender

Government spending is Kerry's answer.

John Kerry is the consummate modern candidate with his blow-dry hair, earnest tone, and easy ability at covering all sides of every issue. He has also mastered the art of giving rousing stump speeches that say little by using vacuous statements, such as “we need a real deal that stands up to the powerful interests.”

Perhaps Kerry’s greatest campaign asset is his ability to design spending initiatives that target every conceivable special interest. The following is a list of spending proposals mined from John Kerry’s website. By my count, the website includes at least 79 separate initiatives that would create new programs or step up spending on current programs.

There is one interest group that the senator has forgotten about: the American taxpayers who would pay for all this new spending.

Agriculture

‐Increase spending on rural health care and community health clinics.

AIDS Plan

‐New programs to help women reduce risk of HIV infection.

Americans with Disabilities

‐Increased spending on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Children

‐New program to train health professionals and school officials to prevent

childhood obesity.

Economy and Jobs

‐Cancel a portion of student loans for engineering and computer students if they agree to work in manufacturing.

Education

‐New “Service for College” initiative to earn college tuition in exchange for two years of community service.

Energy and Environment

‐New national tracking system for chronic diseases and environmental hazards.

Health

‐Raise the Medicare-reimbursement rate for nurse midwives.

Homeland Security

‐National Homeland Health Initiative for health training and research.

Housing

‐Increase funding for seniors’ independent living centers and local aging agencies.

National Service

‐Major expansion of the Peace Corps.

Native Americans

‐Increase funding for tribal courts.

Small Business

‐New refundable tax credits to small businesses for health insurance.

Technology

‐Double funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Urban America

‐Increase funding of drug-treatment programs.

Veterans and Military

‐Improve service members’ life insurance and increase benefits for surviving spouses.

What is the total price tag for John Kerry’s promises? Nobody knows, since few are costed-out by the candidate. Besides, the prescription-drug bill jumped one-third in cost after it was signed into law, illustrating that federal programs usually cost more than promised anyway.

What Kerry’s promises reveal is a candidate who thinks that the solution to every societal ill–real or perceived–is an expanded federal budget. In November, Americans will have to decide whether Kerry’s big-spending promises are worse than Bush’s big-spending record.

Chris Edwards is director of fiscal policy at the Cato Institute.

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