Republican Presidential Candidates Forum in Des Moines, Iowa
Former Governor Lamar Alexander (TN);
Senator Bob Dole (KS);
Representative Robert Dornan (CA);
Senator Phil Gramm (TX);
Senator Richard Lugar (IN); and
Dennis Ryerson (Des Monies Register)
RYERSON: All of our questions today have been submitted by Register readers. The final selection of questions was made by our Reader Advisory Council. We'll begin with two general questions, then questions will be asked by two Iowa high school students who have been participants in the Register's Students and the Caucuses Program. Then I'll ask a specific question for each candidate and that will be followed by closing comments. The order of answers and the closing remarks has been determined by a drawing.
Our first question is from Pat Christiansen of Waterloo, Iowa. She asks: Regarding the balanced budget, name the specific programs that you regard as off the table in a balanced budget plan. Senator Gramm, your answer please. You have 90 seconds.
GRAMM: Thank you. Thank you, Pat, for the question. Social Security is in the black. The Trust Fund is building. I am not going to touch Social Security as part of balancing the budget. I am going to look at every other part of the budget.
Defense has been cut by a third since 1985. I believe it's important that even in a world where the lion and the lamb are about to lie down together, that we be the lion. But I'm still going to look for waste in Defense. But I'm going to look at the rest of the government and I'm going to look at every program and I'm going to think of hard working men and women in Iowa, men and women who get their hands dirty working for a living.
And I'm going to look at every program. I'm going to think about them. And I'm going to ask a simple question. Are the benefits we're getting by spending money on this particular program worth taking the money away from people who work hard for a living and who get their hands dirty in the process? And let me tell you something, there're not a lot or programs that'll stand up to that test.
I believe the government has too much to say about how your income is spent, about how your business is run, about how your land is used, about how your children are educated. And I want to take that power back from Washington and give it back to your family. If we don't do something about this deficit, a child born in America last year is going to pay $187,000 of taxes in their working lifetime just to pay interest on the public debt. That's not just economic suicide, that's immoral and so help me God, as President I'm going to stop that from happening.
RYERSON: Thank you, Senator. Mr. Buchanan, 90 seconds.
BUCHANAN: Well let me speak as what I consider the 73rd freshman of that class. I believe that this budget has got to be balanced and it's not only an economic issue, it is a moral issue. We cannot continue handing down on the next generation a $5 trillion debt and a $200 billion deficit.
So let me tell you where I would cut where my colleagues did not. I would first and foremost begin the phase-out of foreign aid. we cannot afford to balance the budgets of foreign countries when we cannot balance our own.
I would have cancelled that $50 billion bailout of Mexico. It's a corrupt government. We shouldn't be bailing them out when we don't bail out Orange County.
I will deal with the Congressional pensions. Patricia Schroeder has retired from Congress to general applause. But Ms. Schroeder took with her a $4.2 million pension. Now that's a looting of the American taxpayer. It will come to an end. We will end Congressional pensions and put Members of Congress, beginning in 1997, on Social Security.
I will shut down the Department of Education and end Goals 2000. I will deal with the Arms Control Disarmament Agency, which we don't need. what we have to do is move dramatically here and if Mr. Clinton won't negotiate, what we should do, Republicans have the power of the purse. Shut down those departments and programs we don't believe in. Because if we lose this election in 1996 in the House it will all be for naught and it cannot be.
BUCHANAN: So let's do it now, and let's stand behind those Republican freshmen.
RYERSON: Thank you, Mr. Buchanan. Senator Lugar — 90 seconds.
LUGAR: Well, in responding to what's left off the table, it seems to me that you have to remember that balance means balance of revenues coming in as well as expenditures going out.
I think the negotiations between the President and congressional leaders have resulted in very substantial cuts in expenditures. I believe those ought to be locked in quickly as we come to closure and make certain that the balance that is in that situation now is preserved.
I think it has been, and I believe the budget will be balanced in seven years if we get a deal approximately the way it is now.
The thing that I'm worried about is that the revenue side is very thin. We've not been discussing growth in this campaign. We've not been discussing the fact that Social Security doesn't work if you don't have three and a half percent real growth a year as we did for 75 years from the beginning of this century.
We've got to have growth to have jobs. we have growth to have educational resources that we need. In other words, I want to begin thinking about the opportunities for America, in addition to the draconian cuts. We'll have to reorganize Medicare and Medicaid -that is obvious.
Welfare reform is an obvious situation. But that will take some detailed work still, even after the budget parameters are there. So I would say let's lock in some good negotiations that have led us to a balanced budget situation, but let's also begin to think in this campaign about changes in taxation that will lead to growth and opportunities in the future.
RYERSON: Thank you, Senator. Mr. Taylor?
TAYLOR: Well, thank you, Pat, for the question. Number one -the first things you exclude is Medicare and Social Security — no cuts there.
But as you hear everyone else giving his opinion, there's one things have you noticed in the whole budget process they never talk about — the government is people.
You start at the top. You cut the bureaucracy in Washington. You start at the $143,000 salaries down to the $50,000. You take out a third of them. All this talk about what programs and everything else — the first thing you always do is you find out whether or not they're running efficient.
And you can't when you got a budget that sits there with over $200 billion and a payroll in fringes, and the pensions this year is going to run over $150 billion when you add everybody up.
So you better look at where the real money is, and that's where it's at. On both sides of me, I got a few million dollars in pensions here and around the table. And you've got...
(UNKNOWN): You want to trade incomes... ?
TAYLOR: I'm out working. I'm competing in the real world, OK?
TAYLOR: You want to come out and work, you come out in my business. But that's what you've got to look for. You can't look to Washington. This talk is talk. We've got to end it, start up there.
And I've proven it in business. You cut at the top. I've never cut an hourly worker in any acquisition. You must cut at the top, and that's where you've got to cut Washington. Cut it at the top, and 55 years and out and $143,000, you get a hundred grand a year.
RYERSON: Congressman Dornan?
DORNAN: Back to an excellent question. Phil Gramm answered it basically in a few words. What's off the table? Defense, Social Security. So let me sneak in a biography item.
Everybody, not just these excellent freshmen he's talking about, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren — how we're crushing them with the real train wreck, the bankruptcy.
Well, last night at the beginning of our third snow storm in a week, Sally and I, in our 41st year of marriage, welcomed into the Dornan family, Molly Christine Ona Dornan — our tenth grandchild.
DORNAN: When I talk about grandchildren being crushed with debt because we're breaking down these budget negotiations, remember the target here tonight should not be one another. It should be the guy that's posing for all these photo opportunities in Bosnia, with young and women that shouldn't have been sent there into the middle of a 600-year-old civil war.
Well, when I talk about balancing the budget, I seen ten young men and women, five boys and five girls, in that next generation of Dornans and Cobins and Griffins, I see real people that we're crushing. And that's why we cannot fail in this cause. And I yield back the balance of my time so we all get that full 10 minutes of fives minute — two minutes of close, spread it around.
RYERSON: All right. We'll do what we can. Ambassador Keyes?
KEYES: Well, I think what we have to recall is that every part of the government involves various costs that don't have to do with substantive programs. Personnel administration, pension costs, other things that are actually the bulk of the government's budget.
So I think the honest answer to the question is that nothing should be off the table, because in those areas, regardless of whether you're talking about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, you can find ways to improve the government's efficiency. When I was head of Citizens Against Government Waste, we went through in great detail the recommendations to the Grace Commission aimed at doing just that. And they found over 400, nearly $500 billion worth of cuts that could be made in the government by looking at those areas that are not directly related to the actual transfer of payments or anything else, and that allow you keep your promises in a more efficient way.
So I don't see that anything should be off the table. we also can take greater heart and greater courage if we remember that we're not just talking about cutting government budgets, not if we paying attention to building up the alternatives to our reliance on the government. That's why I think we have to put on the foremost of our agenda redeveloping those structures of caring and self-reliance through which people take care of each other, care for themselves, and that especially means giving top priority to strengthening and redeveloping the privileged position and strength, economically and morally, of the marriage-based two-parent family.
If we look at the alternatives and we develop those nongovernment alternatives that allow people to care for themselves, then I think we're going to have greater courage in dealing with those cuts that have to be made in government programs.
RYERSON: Thank you. Governor Alexander.
ALEXANDER: Well, the question was, what to take off the table. And the answer is, Social Security. And if the question is how to balance the budget, the answer is, I'd sign the House Republican budget. And I'd point out, too, I believe I'm only one here who's ever balanced a government budget. I've balanced eight, and I reduced our state debt.
But let me say something else about the budget. If all we talk about is the budget, this country's going to be cheated out of a very important conversation. we're electing the first president of the next century. And if all we talk about is what's going on in Congress instead of schools, and how to get a bill out of a subcommittee instead of rebuilding families, if all we talk about is Washington, D.C. instead of neighborhoods, if that's all the vision that we have, Bill Clinton's going to be elected, and we're going to have a Democratic Congress, and a Speaker named Gephardt.
So I want to get this debate out of Washington, beyond the budget. We need new Republican leadership. We need to talk about the real world. And we need to do one more thing. This is a Republican primary, a time for plain talking in a family discussion. We need to say, with respect, to Senator Dole, that it may be your turn, but it's now your revolution, it's not your time. It's time we moved outside Washington, and it's time we moved on.
RYERSON: Mr. Forbes?
FORBES: Thank you very much. on the table, off the table in terms of the budget should be Social Security for current beneficiaries and those who are going to retire in the 12 to 15 years, because real life decisions have been made on the basis of those promises.
FORBES: But for younger workers, we all know that the current system is going to go broke. So while we still have time, we should start a new system for younger people where a portion of that payroll tax that now goes to Washington to subsidize the national debt would instead go into their own individual savings and retirement accounts.
There are a lot of other things that can be done to reduce spending in Washington; getting rid of departments like Commerce, HUD, Energy, getting rid of the Energy Department, getting rid of alphabet agencies like the FCC. But we also should keep in mind that spending cuts alone won't get America moving again.
We also need to reduce the tax burden on the American people and that means a flat tax that includes a tax cut. Allow the American people to keep more of what they earn, reduce barriers to job creating investments and America will quickly move ahead. That's what we should keep in mind. In Washington itself, we do have to concentrate on it because that is the principle roadblock to progress in America today, the culture there.
Start with a flat tax. Also, put in term limits. Reform the pension system so that these Washington insiders have to get pensions the honest way, through their own salaries. Do that, put in a flat tax, make these cuts and America's going to astound the world with her achievements.
RYERSON: Thank you. Senator Dole.
DOLE: Thank you very much, Dennis. Now we've been meeting for about 50 hours trying to come together with a balanced budget agreement. We haven't gotten there yet. And I think it's unfortunate that President Clinton yesterday started playing politics when there was an agreement that would try to be in good faith. But these things do start in Washington.
We're not required as Tennessee is to balance our budget but we're making a real effort because of what happened in 1994. An outstanding freshman like Greg Ganske, in the front row, and others from Iowa and all across America are making a difference.
I would say that Social Security is off the table. it,s going to be in good shape at least to the year 2012 and probably to the year 2020 because the Social Security Commission, that I happen to be on, in 1983 fixed Social Security. Everything else is on the table. But I would also indicate that we need to take a look at the revenue side.
Let's take a look at Iowa. You have 100,000 farms in Iowa. You have $140 billion in farm debt. We need to not only change the capital gains rate, lower the capital gains rate, we need to take a look at a state tax relief. And under a bill sponsored by myself and Senator Grassley, we would do just that. We would raise that threshold from $600,000 to a million and a half dollars and that would effect lower middle income and middle income taxpayers in Iowa and all across America.
But the bottom line is we got to be willing to make tough decisions. Tough decisions require strong leadership. And I would just say as I look, look at all my friends here, there's one Senator here, one member of this panel whose been making very tough decisions everyday for a very long time. And I'm very proud of that.
RYERSON: Thank you, Senator.
Gentlemen, our second question comes from George and Sandra McKenzie of Ames. They ask, what is your plan to improve the racially divisive climate in our country? Mr. Forbes, your answer please. You have 90 seconds.
FORBES: We must first remind ourselves what makes America unique. What makes America unique is that glues that hold us together are different from any other nation. Unlike other nations, we're not held together by the traditional glues such as a single religion, a single race or a common ancestry. What holds us together is a common set of ideas and ideals; a belief in democracy, freedom, liberty; a belief in the dignity of the individual; equality before the law; a belief in progress and a belief in individual responsibility and opportunity.
FORBES: We need to remind ourselves to teach our children what those shared set of ideas and ideals are. At the same time, we must also take the word "opportunity," which today too often is a word of rhetoric, and turn it into a word of reality for all Americans.
In the inner cities, for example, that means reforming the schools by having more parental control of the schools. It means enterprise zones to remove red tape so that businesses can grow there.
It means tenant control of public housing. I can't believe that tenants in these projects could do a worse job than some of the housing authorities have done.
It also means a vibrant and strong economy, which we can only achieve with a flat tax that is also a tax cut.
Do these things and other things that give more opportunity and responsibility to individuals. Make responsibility a real word, and I think we'll have better race relations in America.
RYERSON: Thank you. Ambassador Keyes?
KEYES: Well, gosh, I'm tempted to say that the most important thing I can do to improve the racial climate in America is get elected President of the United States.
KEYES: I — and that's entirely my intention, since I think at that historic moment, a lot of chivalrous , a lot of myths, a lot of nonsense and garbage said about the American people will be flushed right down the toilet where it belongs.
Because I think the people of this country have common ground. I think we have common values. I think we have common commitments. I think we stand on a moral foundation that transcends race, and creed, and color, and kind and that was enunciated by our founders in the beginning because, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
In the eyes of that Creator, God, we are indeed part of a great family. We do have claims to rights and dignity. we also have responsibilities and discipline, and right now, we also have a common cause — a common commitment.
We see our young people in the streets dying. we see them going to school in an atmosphere of fear. we see our neighborhoods declining. we see a shadow of violence and a shadow of indiscipline over the future generations of this country. And everywhere I go, no matter what the race, no matter what the creed, no matter what the place, no matter what the background, hearts are broken by what we are seeing happening to our young.
I think that's an agenda that can and will and is uniting us across every line of race. We're going to work to put that together — the future for our children. And I think that's what's going to bring racial healing. We work in a common cause, on our common principles, to achieve that common destiny for Americans.
RYERSON: Thank you. Senator Lugar?
LUGAR: Specifically, the next President of the United States is going to have to discuss topics that are of importance to minorities in this country. They include education and housing and jobs and safety.
These are common elements that we all seek as Americans, but there is frequently a perception in the Afro-American community, the Hispanic community, and other minority communities, that many persons in public life genuinely don't care a whole lot about that.
As a matter of fact, most of our budget discussion this year has been alarming to many people, and the Afro-Americans and Hispanic communities in particular.
It is gauged insensitive, really, to aspirations they have and to the difficulties they face. I believe that the next President of the United States ought to capitalize on the thrust of the remarkable Million Man March to Washington, which black men went back to communities in this country and said, "We want to be good parents, want to be good husbands, good providers. We want to be a framework in our communities."
There's something to build on there in our federal system. The president ought to lead a dialogue with the American people in which we emphasize this new leadership at the local level that is clearly there and that wishes to work with us.
LUGAR: And then in affirmatively, we've got to make the country wealthier. we do have to cut taxes. We do have to have growth. We have to have elements that bring public education once again to the fore, and decent housing for all Americans.
RYERSON: Thank you, Senator. Mr. Buchanan, 90 seconds.
BUCHANAN: Well there's no question that America, like countries around the world, faces the threat of Balkanization. We see Russia falling apart into 15 countries, the Soviet Union fell apart into 15. Russia is still falling apart. Czechoslovakia has fallen apart. Yugoslavia is falling apart. Canada, peaceful, placid Canada is coming apart on two issues: the issue of culture and the issue of language. And we Americans are not immune to this, that's why we have got to make English the official language of the United States of America for all of us. So that we can become one nation and one people.
Secondly, these assaults upon our culture by the multiculturalists have got to be resisted from the Bully Pulpit of the Presidency of the United States.
Third, Affirmative Action, racial set-asides. These are tearing Americans apart. As President one of my first executive orders will be to eliminate all racial discrimination, racial preference, gender preference from the laws and policies of the government of the United States. We've got to become one nation and one people again. And I believe the idea of hyphenated Americanism needs to be dropped. We've got to get to the idea we're all Americans, whether Black, white, Hispanic, or whatever.
Finally, one of the problems we got Dick Lugar alluded to. We're losing our best jobs. We are exporting the jobs upon which the young in our cities, in our urban areas depend, that's causing economic stress. We've got to stop these trade deals that send abroad the economic future of America's young in the factories upon they depend. We need leadership at the highest level and brand new policies to end it.
RYERSON: Thank you. Mr. Dornan.
DORNAN: well this is probably the most important question in modern American life, but the destruction of the African-American family is a subset of the destruction of the American family. What we did to African-American families yesterday, last year and for 30 years starting in the middle 160s we are doing to the Hispanic-American family today, yesterday and for the last ten or fifteen years. And it's what we're doing to all of our families today and tomorrow. Destroying the role of a father in the American home, destroying our youth, poisoning, drowning the innocence of our youth. And literally moving into an acceleration of moral decline, all destroying the family.
I marched with Martin Luther King. I was a 30 year old father of five with nothing to offer but my Air Force captain's uniform and my wings. And I sat in third row and I listened to Dr. King say clearly, a color blind society where the character of a man was more important than the color of his skin. Well, the character that we have in the White House is a character who knows nothing about what's meant by integrity and character and unless we rebuild and protect, in our political structure and in our media and in all aspects of community life, the American family, Black Americans will continue to suffer and all of us are going to suffer right along with them. The answer is protect the family.
RYERSON: Thank you, Congressman. Mr. Taylor, your answer, please?
TAYLOR: Well I think the first thing is you've heard from everyone and I think what all they say has got a lot of merit to everything. But that's the problem in this country, there's too much talk, you know? And I believe that the first thing is, break it down. I've created thousands of jobs in this country and I have minorities in various roles.
TAYLOR: But we have to stop and say, wait a minute. Did you ever fill out a government form? And they want to know, you know, now if you're a Black Afro-American. Do you want to go on down to Hispanic? Junk it, folks. You're either an American or you're not an American. That's the first thing. And take the government out of it. We always want to study something. There's doers; there's talkers; there's givers and there's takers. What we have to start doing is more doing. Getting jobs and making people work.
The problem we have is when people turn around and feel someone is working the system and they're being taxed out of the other end.
You know, even taking a look at the situation that would cause seniority. we've got to look at that at plants, — union, non-union.
Seniority, it's Something if you're going to loose your job. But you look at it in our government. It's a joke. You know, who's the head of our Senate Armed Services Committee that Senator Dole put? Strom Thurmond. He's 93. Come on folks. we have to get our best people, throw all this other stuff out and give them jobs. That's what they need is jobs. Good jobs.
RYERSON: Thank you. Senator Gramm.
GRAMM: Thank you. I said on the day I declared my candidacy for president that when my hand comes off the Bible by Executive Order, I will overturn Executive Orders going back to Lyndon Johnson, that established quotas and set asides.
I think there's only one way to decide who gets a contract, who gets a job, who gets a promotion And that's merit. I'm committed to equal and unlimited opportunity for every American. But I believe in a merit system and I think the first way to begin to eliminate racial divisions in America is to judge our people based on merit.
No one will be more committed to enforcing the civil rights laws of this country than I will. I think they're critically important to part of that promise.
I think economic growth is critical. But one way I differ from many people here. Steve, for example, is for a flat tax and so am I. Our plans are different, but he's not for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution.
FORBES: No ...
GRAMM: I think if we don't, — you've written it three or four times, Steve.
FORBES: Well, I want to balance the budget with a tax cut ...
GRAMM: I want to balance the federal budget and cut spending because the only way we can create opportunity is by letting people keep more of what they earn. If all we do is change the way we collect taxes, we could have a flat tax. But if spending keeps growing, we're going to have a 100 percent raise. It's going to be real simple. what did you earn? Fill it in. Send it in. That's not what I want.
RYERSON: All right, Senator, thank you. Governor Alexander, your answer, please.
ALEXANDER: Well, I would begin by reminding the country of how far we've come. When I was a student, our college was segregated. When I drove across the country 30 years ago, if my friend had been Black, he couldn't have stayed in a hospital if held been hurt. And couldn't go into a lot of places.
I remember my friend Alex Haley and I try to keep him in mind. And if Minister Farrakhan came marching into Washington, I would say, let's march out of Washington. The most important places are families and our neighborhoods. And I'd go to the Black Family Reunion, hundred of thousands of people meeting to celebrate family and make heroes of them.
I'd create a GI bill for kids to help inner city kids have a ticket to a good school. And I'm very interested to hear how a Forbes flat tax would promote racial harmony in America. I would suggest to the people of Iowa and all of America, that they do what I've done, - read the fine print.
The Forbes tax plan is a truly nutty idea in the Jerry Brown tradition. It would cause a real estate crash.
ALEXANDER: It would cause your homes and farms to go down 10 or 25 percent in the first year. It would wipe out the charitable deduction. It would sink the idea of a balanced budget, as Phil Gramm just said. And most economists who've looked at it think that it, would be a middle-income tax increase.
So not only do I think it would not help with racial harmony in America, I think it would be a disaster for America, a truly nutty idea, in the Jerry Brown tradition.
RYERSON: Senator Dole, your answer, please? Ninety seconds.
DOLE: I think, first of all, we have to understand we have one America. We don't have an America for the disabled, an America for blacks or Hispanics, and we have to take it from there.
It seems to me one big step forward is welfare reform. Getting people back to work. Putting a limit on how many years you can be on welfare. Putting a limit, in fact, not letting teenage moms live out on their own, where they can have more children, cost additional money.
We have to take a look at crime and punishment. we have to make certain that when juveniles commit violent crimes, they're treated as adults. We have to take a look at education, and we have to make certain that we're, people learning, young people learning how to read. And I wonder if all the parents listening might just read to child tonight for 20 or 30 minutes, turn off the television, you'll make a great difference.
We also understand how bad things are when you don't have a father, in some case, don't have a mother, the children don't have a chance. And it seems to me that there are things we can do, as we're doing in the Republican balanced budget proposal, having tax cuts for families with children. Five hundred dollars, that encourages families to stay together. Five hundred dollars per child tax credit.
There are a lot of things we can do. Another thing we can do is bring people together. Senator Grassley and I have worked on the Voting Rights bill, helped expand to 25 years. I was the one on the Senate floor, argued and supported and led the birthday for Martin Luther King. I know a lot of things happen in Congress, Lamar, but you know, some things do happen in Congress, and a lot of good things happen in Congress.
RYERSON: Thank you, Senator. We'll now turn to questions from two Iowa high school students. The students participated in the Register's Students and the Caucuses Program, done in cooperation with Iowa Public Television and the Iowa Department of Education.
The project, supported by a grant from the Pugh Center for Civic Journalism, linked classrooms across Iowa to individual candidates, enabling hundreds of Iowa high school students have a dialog with presidential contenders. The first student to ask a question today is Heidi Imker of Waukon, Iowa, clear up in the northeast corner of the state.
Heidi left her home at 6:30 this morning to join us, and we're glad you're here, Heidi. Let's hear your question.
IMKER: Thank you. I would like to know the steps you would take if you're to prevent any more government breakdowns in the future?
RYERSON: First to answer that question about what you would to prevent government breakdowns, Mr. Taylor.
TAYLOR: Well, the first thing I would suggest is that we send someone from the business side instead of a bunch of lawyers to take care of it, because from a business side, the worst thing you can do is put a bunch of lawyers in a room, and that's what we've got up there.
Their job is to make things confusing. You haven't heard one of them, and of course, I'll give the government a report, I've got a plant in Tennessee, how that state does. But the first thing is ...
You've got to turn around and you shouldn't have had a shutdown. The government, the President turned around and he laid 800,000 workers off. Well, there's still 2.2 million. He laid them off at the bottom. Real great Democratic trick, you know. I mean, for the working men. Do it at the top.
And the first thing is, why did they pay them when they sent them home?
TAYLOR: I mean this is nuts. They don't care. It's not their money, it's your money. And that's what's wrong. We're broke and there's no money in the trust funds. That's an outright sham to our senior citizens.
RYERSON: Time is up, Mr. Taylor. Next to you, Ambassador Keyes, 60 seconds please.
KEYES: Well I got to confess that I did not find myself deeply anxious in the face of the government shutdown.
I am not sure that I would be spending my time in the presidency trying to figure out how I avoid offending Washington workers and Washington bureaucrats and Washington politicians. I think the freshmen Republicans are right. Risk the government shutdown. Do what you have to do to restore what ought to be the primacy given to the interests of the American taxpayer; to getting that budget balanced; to getting those programs cut; to getting the initiative and power returned to the families of this country.
That's why I believe we need something like a national retail sales tax to return initiative to the families of the country and get control of our dollars out of the hands of the government.
And I also think we ought to be aiming at significant cutdowns. I'd like to shutdown permanently a good part of that government and return the people and the resources back to the states, back to the grassroots, back to the private sector.
So I guess I'm not concerned with how we avoid government shutdown. I'm concerned with how we can produce as much of it as possible while still allowing the federal government to do its real job.
RYERSON: Thank you. Mr. Forbes.
FORBES: Thank you. As president, there would be no government shutdown because we'd be working together to reduce the scope of government, reducing taxes, allowing you — the people — to keep more of what you earn.
Concerning a balanced budget amendment, I have to say that I want one that has a tax cut element in it. Otherwise, you know these Washington politicians, they'll simply use it as a vehicle to take more money out of your pockets. And it doesn't surprise me that now that my message of broken opportunity is taken root, that the politicians are starting to snipe at me. Take the Governor of Tennessee. He raised taxes as governor so he doesn't know the magic of tax cuts. But ladies and gentlemen, every time in American history that we've reduced the burden on the American people, reduced their tax rates, contrary to what these political insiders will tell you, our revenues have gone up not down. Allow people to keep more of what they earn, reduce barriers to job creating investments and America will move forward. That's why it's going to take an outsider. Clearly these lifetime politicians don't get it and will never get it. Thank you.
RYERSON: Mr. Buchanan, 60 seconds please.
BUCHANAN: Sixty seconds, well, I'll tell you what. I was not discomforted by the shutdown of the government. But I was discomforted when I read that AT&T is laying off 40,000 workers just like that. And the fellow that did it makes $5 million a year. And AT&T stock soared as a consequence and his stock went up $5 million. I think our Republican Party better get back to worrying about working people losing their jobs from unfair trade deals that send those jobs overseas.
Why do we get those kinds of deals? Big money in politics, big money in DC. I would eliminate corporate contributions to both political parties. Do away with these political action committees. Put term limits on every Member of Congress. Cut out those obscene pensions and make Members of Congress servants to the people rather than a House of Lords. And I think that's the only way we're going to clean this situation up and get an efficient good, health government that represents the American people rather than the big interests that are exporting America's future abroad.
RYERSON: Thank you. Congressman Dornan.
DORNAN: Young lady, you have brought us to focus here. Target for today, Clinton, not the nine men of character and integrity that you see here occasionally sniping at one another.
DORNAN: The problem is Clinton. Our Republican — our minority leader, years ago during the height of the Cold War, put me on the Geneva arms talks oversight panel. I went over there. The CIA gave me a book. The Russian negotiators were all alcoholics — vodka alcoholics, womanizers — but before everything, being Communist, they were liars.
And they won every negotiation. It was startling. What we're going to have to do is have Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich include a little bit more of the House and the Senate, get their act together, and understand we're dealing with a pathological liar involved in a moral crisis in the White House, and function more as a team.
Thank you. Good Question.
RYERSON: Governor Alexander — 60 seconds, please.
ALEXANDER: The way to avoid the government shutdown is to elect a Republican president who will sign the House Republican budget. That's the best way to do it.
The way to avoid a government shutdown is to defeat President Clinton, and the way to defeat President Clinton is to move beyond the budget and outside Washington with our discussion.
I'm glad to hear that so much attention is being paid to Tennessee over here on this side of the room. I'd like for everybody to know what my record was, and I'd like to see that kind of fiscal discipline in Washington — eight balanced budgets, less debt six out of eight years, a triple-A bond rating, almost every year the second or first best managed state.
We've funded our pension system with cash, and we have the fifth lowest taxes. And, Steve, the only thing you've ever run is a magazine you inherited, and you raised the price of your magazine. Now, what would you do with taxes?
RYERSON: We'll move on. You can do that later.
FORBES: ... of law to collect the subscription. It's voluntary. Your taxes are not voluntary.
RYERSON: All right. Senator Lugar — 60 seconds.
LUGAR: Well, I want to remind my friend Lamar Alexander that as mayor of Indianapolis, I balanced the budget for eight years in that city and, as a matter of fact, reduced tax rates five years out of eight.
It seems to me very important, however, that despite this record, the important thing about being a mayor is that the police and the fire department and the sanitary people and all others who provide service do it every day.
Continuity of government is important. And I believe it's very important at the federal level, too. And despite our jibes about the federal employees and the fact that some were not missed and so forth, a serious breach of trust occurred when services were not obtained by a lot of Americans. That should not occur again.
A Republican president will help, but a Republican president who knows how to work with people in public life, in the Congress, would help even more.
A breakdown occurred in communication that was a severe disservice to the American people this year.
RYERSON: Thank you. Senator Dole?
DOLE: Well, obviously, a Republican president would be a big, big help. He probably wouldn't have a government shutdown or a government breakdown. He could always borrow the money from Steve Forbes if he needed money.
DOLE: I think the bottom line here is that, you know, 30 percent of these federal employees made less than $25,000 a year. Now, it's good to make fun of federal employees. We all make more than that. And they have families, too, and they have mortgage payments.
We made our point with the shutdown, and it's not going to happen again because we've discovered that we don't think President Clinton really means it when he talks about a balanced budget.
The balanced budget that passed the House also passed the Senate, Governor. And the President vetoed it. That's where the problem started. He vetoed a balanced budget — the first one we've had in 30 years.
He vetoed three appropriation bills that would have sent thousands of workers back to work. Unfortunately, the media didn't pick up the right spin.
RYERSON: OK. Senator Gramm?
GRAMM: Bob Dole and I disagree on this subject.
GRAMM: I think there's something worse than shutting down the government. Nobody likes people out of work. Nobody likes paying people who don't work, but in October we gave Bill Clinton a brand new credit card. We wanted a budget. He didn't accept the budget, he took the credit card, he kept spending. In November the government shut down for four days, we gave the President a brand new credit card on a vague promise that in the sweet bye-and-bye he would talk about the deficit.
Then the government shut down and Senator Dole lost his nerve, gave the President a brand new credit card with no strings attached until the 26th of the month. The point is, are we stronger today than we were on October the first? Are we any closer to an agreement today than we were on October the lst? I don't think so. we're going to have to stand up on principle. we told the American people we were
going to balance the budget. we told the American people we were going to let working people keep more of what they earned and I am not going to back away from those commitments. I am not going to cut a deal with Bill Clinton and I'm sorry, Steve, but three times you wrote that it was a good thing we defeated the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
RYERSON: Thank you, Senator. Senator, your time is up. All right, gentlemen.
FORBES: Because you didn't have a provision for tax cuts!
RYERSON: All right, gentlemen, time is up. Now, another question from a second student. She's Erin Peterson. She attends Dowling in West Des Moines. Erin, we're very glad you could join us today and you may ask your question now.
PETERSON: Yes, thank you. As a young voter in the 1996 Presidential election I am very concerned about the Republican proposed budget cuts in college student loan programs. It's very difficult to find a job in the United States without a college degree. How much do you propose to cut from financial aid, and why?
RYERSON: Senator Lugar, you're answer, please. You have 60 seconds.
LUGAR: Well essentially the Congress has tried to maintain the level of student loans. They're may have been some changes in some of the particular's with regard to repayment and interest rates and delays and how that will all work out I don't know. But essentially the idea was to do no harm.
But the question that's been raised is a profoundly important one, because the aid to students could occur at any level of government. It occurred with private individuals. It occurred with foundations in this country. In short, students now owe about $24 billion. They owed about $8 billion five years ago. They are in much worse shape and the provisions that the lady talked about are so important. We really have to have more provisions for scholarship aid and for assistance to the students and more tax relief for their families so they can pay for it. All of us, at any level of government and in the private sector, will have to deal with this. This is not simply a federal government program alone.
RYERSON: Thank you. Mr. Taylor.
TAYLOR: Well I think the first thing that we better all understand and realize is that you hear them all talking about a balanced budget. They're talking seven years from now, folks. They're not talking next year. They're out seven years and that's the first thing. And they haven't told you one thing about cutting any people.
We've got to turn around and look at something different. Why is the cost going up? Why don't we start looking at some of these universities and tell them hey, why can't a professor teach three hours a day, five days a week? Phil can tell me, he was a professor, and he'll probably agree. I hope he will. We've got to bring the costs down. That's the number one.
And we've got to get jobs for when you do get out of school, you've got something to do. And I'm the only one here who's ever created thousands of jobs and I have to do it fighting not only my government, but all the foreign people coming in trying to knock us off. And it's crazy.
TAYLOR: We've got to get down if we got to put some sense. And we got to tell no doublespeak, tell the facts.
RYERSON: OK. Mr. Forbes, your answer please. Sixty seconds.
FORBES: We do, indeed, need to put pressure on universities and colleges to reduce costs. There's no reason why professors in the classroom, especially in the undergraduate level, are teaching less and less than they have before. That's the answer — part of the answer.
But also, too, we do need that flat tax with a tax cut, because under my plan your personal savings will not be taxed. That'll make it easier to save, not only for education, but housing and retirement as well.
So that flat tax — which nobody seemed here to like because they can't stand the idea that the American people can keep more of what they earn and spend it better and smarter than the government, so you won't need as much federal aid — that is something they can't seem to grasp. But the flat tax would do it.
Also, too, on the lower level to improving education in America, we do need more parental control of the schools, on the primary level, secondary level, and I'd like to see it on the university level as well.
RYERSON: Governor Alexander.
ALEXANDER: Well, that Forbes tax is going right up there with the Great Pumpkin. It's going to solve every problem that we have, it sounds like, before we get through.
I think the question was very important. I'm a big supporter of college grants and loans. And to defend the Republicans in the Congress for just a minute, they propose increasing them by 50 percent over the next seven years.
President Clinton is really selling the college students of this country a bill of goods. He wants the government in Washington to borrow the money and run up our debt and run the program. The Republicans don't. They would save money, put more of it into student loans and grants.
So, if I were there as president, I would make that a priority because of people changing jobs. I know when I would go to commencements, more and more I would hear out of the audience, "Way to go, Mom," at someone who's a mother going back to school to get a new skill at the community college, then went into the next job. It'll be at the top of my list as president of the United States.
RYERSON: Congressman Dornan.
DORNAN: I remember my friend George Bush said he wanted to be the education president. And I said to him, why. Jimmy Carter woke me up at 7:00 one morning and asked me to vote for a bill to make it a cabinet seat, and I said no. And Lamar ended up staying there in something that most conservatives agree we should shut down.
I believe that if there are scholarships at the federal level it should be for science and math and physics and chemistry, subjects that young people generally need some help and encouragement to go into. But I don't want to subsidize at federal tax dollars who are in theater arts, as much as I like the theater.
Whatever happened to the states, role in this. Whatever happened to he's working his way through college, she's working her way through college. I don't understand why this is a federal role.
Welfare, crime, and education should be handled at the state level. That's why Bob Dole quotes the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, as I asked him to start doing years ago.
BUCHANAN: I don't have any plans to change the student loan program. I do have plans to shut down Goals 2000 and the Department of Education.
But this gets back to young people and the need for jobs. And since everybody's been piling on Steve Forbes, I want to be fair and I want to jump into piling on a little bit, Steve.
BUCHANAN: Seriously, Steve, I proposed a flat tax six or seven months ago. Let me tell you what's wrong with yours.
Now, David Rockefeller could go down to Florida under your tax, retire, never pay a nickel in income taxes again, never support the defense of his country. That's wrong, it's unfair.
We lose the mortgage interest deduction for the middle class.
BUCHANAN: My flat tax is a middle-class tax cut. Your's looks like one that was worked up by the boys at the yacht basin.
You also take away the charitable contributions. My flat tax would impose lower taxes on small businesses that create jobs here and impose new taxes on big businesses that send their jobs abroad and take jobs away from the American people. Let's get a middle class tax cut, and you and I might be to agree on.
RYERSON: Senator Gramm.
GRAMM: I think the way to deal with the guaranteed student loan program is recognize that 85 percent of the costs come from defaults, and let's treat these defaults as private debts. Let's collect them, let's garnish wages, and we can double the size of the guaranteed student loan program.
Two days ago, Bill Clinton said that Bob Dole should be praised for breaking with Republicans in Congress on the budget. He said that he and Bob Dole had been negotiating on the phone, and that things were going well. I'd like to ask Bob Dole, Bob, is there some kind of secret deal you're cutting with Bill Clinton, and can you share it with us while we're here?
DOLE: Next time you're town, look me up.
GRAMM: Maybe you'll come back, maybe you'll come back to Iowa and I can talk to you here. Because I'll be here campaigning. I'd love to debate this issue with you, but the point is, we,re not going to be able to work out an agreement if we're going to try to cut the house out of it, if we're going to try to back away ...
RYERSON: Time is up, Senator ...
GRAMM: From the tax cuts, and I'd like to know what is it you're agreeing with ...
GRAMM: The President on?
DORNAN: Clinton ...
RYERSON: Senator Dole? Your turn for 60 seconds, please. DOLE: And should I answer his or hers? But I'd like ...
RYERSON: Let's go back to hers.
DOLE: Her's a lot better question.
She's past every grade she's ever been in. So I can tell you ...
We haven't done very much in education. I'll give the governor credit. We'll all we've done is slow the rate of growth. But I want to say to the young lady, it's a very good question. If we don't put everything on the table and take a look at every program, we're not going to have a balanced budget, and you're not going to get that job in four or five years, and a lot of younger people are going to be out of luck.
So my view is, our goal is a balanced budget in seven years, using real numbers. That's the kind of negotiation we're trying to have Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole and Dick Armey from Texas, sitting down with the President, trying to work that out. It's not very easy. We've been at it for over 50 hours.
I'd like to have been in Iowa part of that time, but I thought it was important to the people of Iowa and the people across America to get a balanced budget agreement. We haven't given up yet, but it looks pretty doubtful.
RYERSON: Thank you, Senator. Ambassador Keyes.
KEYES: Probably one of the things that's sad is indeed the question itself. We've created a society in which people look to the government for things that they ought to be able to do for themselves, and would be able to do if the government weren't taking so much money out of their pockets. So we take the money out of the family's pocket, and then we pretend that we're doing them a big favor when we dribble it back in the form of guaranteed student loan programs after having prevented them from saving the money against that child's education with high tax rates that give the government control of our income surplus.
That's what we've got to end. And that's why I think we have to abolish this income tax system, return to the original Constitution, go to a national retail sales tax that gives people control over the money they make and earn. And when they decide what to do with it, save it, invest it, put it aside for the children's education, the government doesn't tax it at all, doesn't look at it until they decide to spend it on consumption.
The savings rates go up. The ability of families to fund their own children's education go up, and we don't need the middle man of an expensive government bureaucracy handing our own money back to us.
KEYES: This system doesn't make sense, and it's the system itself that has to be reformed so that families can take care of their responsibilities.
RYERSON: OK. Thank you. Now we'll turn to individual questions for the candidates. Mr. Forbes, John Johnson of Marathon, Iowa, sent this question: "Based on your current and projected income, how much would the flat tax rate save you over the next year?"
FORBES: There have been various estimates of that — from $100,000 to $250,000. But I've invested in my campaign 200 times that amount to get my message across of hope, growth, and opportunity.
These diversions today from the politicians you can tell that can't stand the idea that I'm going to take away their principal source of power and return it to you, the people.
The fact of the matter is under my flat tax plan, each of you as individuals would have generous exemptions. A family of four, for example, would pay no federal income tax on their first $36,000 of income and only a 17 percent rate above that.
That family, making $36,000 today, pays $3,000 a year to uncle Sam. Under my plan, they'd pay zero. They'd pay no tax on pensions, no tax on Social Security, no tax on personal savings. By allowing you, the people, to keep more of what you earn, by reducing barriers to job-creating investments, America will move forward.
I'll say it again, even though these politicians can't seem to grasp it. Every time we've reduced the tax burden on the American people, not only has America moved ahead, not only have we created more jobs and better paying jobs, but also Uncle Sam, Washington has collected more revenues.
In the 1980s, for example, by the end of the decade, federal income tax receipts were $200 billion higher than they were at the beginning of the decade. Just remember, each dollar that Washington gives you in deductions, they find a way to take two dollars out of your pocket.
That's the way the system works, and I'm going to break it, and with your help, we will break it. Thank you.
RYERSON: Thank you. Governor Alexander, Charles Naline of
Ogden, Iowa, wrote me this question for you. 'our country seems to be prospering under our present tax structure. For now, in order to balance the budget, would it be best to forget tax cuts, and instead reduce defense spending and have less of a decline in social spending?"
You have 90 seconds.
ALEXANDER: Well, the answer to that is no. And if I'd been asked the first question, my answer would have been I think tax cutting is our agenda, as Republicans. We're all talking about it.
Now, I think the people have a right to know how our own proposals affect us, as well as them, Steve. I've released my tax returns since 1978. I've been in public life part of that time, and I've been in private life, like you are, part of that time.
I think people are entitled to know that, and I think that's an important question. As far as the tax cuts go, I think the Republicans — and I want to be — I want to show a little even handedness here — I think the Republicans in Congress are right when they try to cut taxes as well as balance the budget.
We're not an orchestra that sings with one voice. We've got a lot of things that we're for, and one thing we're for is balancing the budget.
That's really minimum. That's like putting your pants on in the morning. That's like putting your uniform on if you're going to play the Super Bowl. That's like telling the truth if you're a Boy Scout. You shouldn't get a lot of praise for that. It's essential that you do it.
So we're trying to do a couple of other things. One of them is to leave more money in the hands of people. That's called a tax cut. The Republican tax cut that's a part of this Republican bill is a very modest cut. It's oriented toward families. What it really needs is a Republican president who can go across this country and explain to the people of this country what our ideas are.
We have the high moral ground.
ALEXANDER: We just need a president, a new leadership, that can work with Senator Dole and Speaker Gingrich and help build support for the things we all know that we ought to be doing.
RYERSON: Thank you, governor. Mr. Buchanan, Adele Analicht , of Des Moines, has this question. How do you propose to implement anti-abortion legislation and what specific penalties do you have in mind for a woman who would violate the law? You have 90 seconds.
BUCHANAN: Well, let me talk to that. A colleague of mine this morning was quoted as saying that his opposition to abortion is rooted in the Declaration of Independence and the Jefferson statement about all men being endowed with the right to life. My opposition goes back further. It goes back to Mount Sinai and Moses, thou shall not kill. It goes back even further. It goes back to the garden of Eden when Cain rose up against his brother Abel and slew him. But it goes back even further. I believe this admonition, thou shall not kill, has been written God in the human heart, and none of us ever has the right to take innocent human life.
What would I do? First, I would use the bully pulpit of the president to speak out for life. Secondly, I would urge Congress to hold hearings on when life begins. we know when it begins. We got to educate the American people.
I will not do as Phil Gramm and my friend Bob Dole did and support Justices, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because I don't believe those Justices who are pro-abortion belong on the Supreme Court. So I would appoint judges and Justices who are pro-life. And I would basically make this right to life a real cause of my presidency. I would go to those right to life marches where I've seen my friend Bob Dornan there. I would speak at those marches.
And I think there's a direct correlation between the violence done to the unborn child in the womb and the violence we see all around us in society. That didn't exist 40 years ago. And we got to make America not only a great country again but the good country she used to be and that's the cause of my presidency.
RYERSON: Congressman Dornan, Harold Swanson of Glenwood, Iowa, wrote in with this question. The consensus method of conflict resolution requires that you find something positive to say about the situation under discussion. what positive statement could you make about some position or action that President Clinton has taken?
DORNAN: Don't start the clock, Dennis.
RYERSON: It's started.
DORNAN: Don't start the clock. Let me look please at my Clinton countdown watch. Three hundred and seventy-three days till the inauguration of the 43rd president, subtract 76 days in the interim and that means the election is 297 days away. It is very difficult for me to look at the man in the white House when, and I want you people in the monolithic, ideologically liberal, dominant media culture to hear me carefully — I, father of five and ten grandchildren, believe Paula Corbin Jones.
Now, do you know what that means? I think we have a criminal in the White House.
The CEO of the State of Arkansas, who exposed himself to a 22year old state worker, what an outrageous crime that gives new definition to sexual harassment. But let me be positive on something else.
Ronald Reagan waived at us through the window as we spoke on the Ellipse on pro-life, Pat. George Bush said, Nelly Gray you and those pro-life workers bring Bob and Chris Smith and Henry Hyde down to the White House, I'll talk to you in the morning. Yes, of course, I'd be out there on January 22nd, as Pat said he would, because I've been there for 20 years every time.
DORNAN: He talks the talk and he talks it beautifully. So does Alan. But I've passed six Dornan amendments this year on pro-life. I've got 25 amendments protecting human life under my belt. I walk the talk. I'm the pro-lifer in this race. Thank you.
RYERSON: Time's up, Congressman. Congressman, time's up. Mr. Taylor, the question from Diane Boyd of West Des Moines, Iowa. "I recognize that conflicts between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branches will occur, regardless of whether Republicans control both the White House and the Congress. As President what measures would you take to ensure effective communication between the White House and Congress?" You have 90 seconds.
TAYLOR: well the first thing is, you can hear the talk up here and the talk is real good, but you've got to come up with some solutions. we're in deep trouble and what we reference to our finances in this country and I believe that the President of the United States, what's wrong with him going over, starting at the House and showing up at 9:00 in the morning, bring the people from his staff, bring them there, and start going down the items, one by one. When you get done there, go on over to the Senate.
I mean, let's face it, as the Senator Dole said, real proud of the welfare budget, we're real proud of the rules and regulations, 800 pages. You got to be lawyers, folks, you have to be lawyers in order to read all this. And what's the federal in for it? Bring it back to the states. More and more's got to come back to the states. And that's what I think you have to do. You have to not, it's not a monarchy, it's a job. You got to go do the job. Since I haven't picked on Steve, I'll say I'm not a politician, so he's better make exemptions on the next time.
I agree with a lot of things Steve has to say, except that his flat tax, one increment of it is nuts. It would have me paying no tax on $15 million of capital gains, and my employees paying 17 percent. That's wrong. It's wrong in America. And of all of them here I've had to use capital more than any of them, so I know what I'm talking about.
RYERSON: Thank you, Mr. Taylor. Ambassador Keyes, you have a question from Rita McGuire of West Okogoji, Iowa. She asks, "How specifically do you propose to correct the social ills of the American people, to prevent the breakup of families and reduce the dependence on the welfare state?"
KEYES: Frankly, to tell you the truth I don't propose to do any of that because I don't think government can fix the problems of the family. we have to understand that the government several decades breaking the family. Our first order of business in the government is to stop them from doing that damage. And that's what we need to do in politics today. we need to get rid of a family-destroying welfare system that has discouraged marriage and undermined parental responsibility, allowed these males off the hook who beget children and don't take care of them.
We need to revamp an educational approach that has divorced parents from the schools and given authority to educrats and bureaucrats. Through school choice, put parents back in the driver's seat. Restore the connection between the moral perspective of the home and what is taught in the schools. Through reform of the income tax structure give the material resource base of the family back to the family itself for its control and take it out of the hands of politicians and bureaucrats.
I love this talk! Yes, we're going to allow you to keep more of your money! I am sick of hearing people talk as if that money somehow belongs in the first instance to the government! we make and we should be the people who first decide how to spend it! Not government politicians.
And so, all of these things go together to get the government out of the way. The same way if you're trying to restore a plant to health, you restore the conditions for its growth, you don,t get in and try to grow for that plant. So we need to restore the conditions for the strength of the family and if we do the people of this country will take care of the rest.
KEYES: Because I believe in the end that we should be not about government, not even about good government. America is about self government and I am about returning to the people of this country the responsibility and the power and the money that will make that self government once again, a reality.
RYERSON: Thanks, Ambassador. Senator Gramm, a question from Dr. D.R. Emerson of Sheldon, Iowa. Senator, now that you take credit for defeating the Clinton healthcare reform plan, what is your plan to curb out of control costs of healthcare?
GRAMM: Well, Doc, let me first say I do take that credit and I'd like to remind you that at the darkest moment in the healthcare debate, when it looked like Bill Clinton was going to convince America to reinvent the greatest health care system in history in the image of the Post Office. And Republican pollsters were telling us, it's political suicide to take on the Clinton healthcare bill. When Bob Dole signed on to a big government compromise to tax your private health insurance, to fund a national health board in Washington and healthcare purchasing cooperatives in Iowa, I stood up at first alone, and said the Clinton healthcare bill is going to pass over my cold, dead, political body. I didn't cut a deal. I fought it and I beat it.
Bill Clinton didn't reintroduce his bill this year. Bob Dole didn't reintroduce his bill this year. I reintroduced my bill to make insurance easier to get and easier to keep, portable and permanent, to deal with medical liability so we don't spent 20 cents out of every healthcare dollar trying to keep somebody out of the courthouse instead of out of the hospital or out of the grave. To try to make it easier for people to get health insurance, by eliminating this terrible inequity. If you don't work, you get Medicaid and you got great health insurance. But if you do work, and you make a modest income, you often don't have private health insurance.
We treat the people riding in the wagon better than we treat the people who are pulling the wagon and we wonder why 40 million people are riding in the wagon. I want to try to deal with healthcare by making the system more competitive with medical savings accounts.
RYERSON: Thank you. Senator Lugar. A question from Bruce Beeston of Des Moines. What would you do to prevent Bosnia from becoming America's next Vietnam or Korea? You have 90 seconds, please.
LUGAR: Essentially, the United States presently has to follow through on a sound military policy. And I believe the planing by the Joint Chiefs has been very sound. But the President does not have a political strategy and that is very unsound. And the United States, hopefully, the next President of the United States will, in fact take hold in time so that the refugee situation, the elections, the reconstruction, the various ways in which people must be rearmed, specifically the Bosnia Muslims, and there's a balance of power, can occur in NATO context that brings stability to that area.
In the meanwhile, NATO itself refurbished and strengthened. An agreement between Russia and NATO, fashioned for the security basically of Europe that includes security of the Germans and the Russians and their long-term difficulties. It requires hands on work by the President of the United States. This President is not prepared to devote that time and effort to it. He looked at the polls and said the American people aren't interested in foreign policy. And therefore, all of his options are bad now. And it is a crucial time for America but a very bad time for this President.
I would just simply say that, that is a part of the picture and American strength and credibility is at stake. But we have opportunities presently to help reorganize Europeans so they can defend themselves and so that we can continue to trade. And our stability and our prosperity depend on that.
RYERSON: Thank you. Senator Dole, Leon Emmons of Des Moines would like to ask you this: "During your career in Congress, you have voted for almost a trillion dollars in new taxes. Why should voters believe that you won't raise taxes again." You have 90 seconds, please.
DOLE: All right. Let me first just address a couple of other things. I wanted to correct Phil again. what killed the Clinton health plan was the Dole bill which Phil Gramm sponsored. He sponsors a lot of my bills, 63, I think, last year. And I appreciate it very
GRAMM: I didn't sponsor the one I talked about there, Bob.
DOLE: well, you've talked about the one that killed the bill, so that's the important thing. All the other thing really doesn't matter.
And also to say a word about the protection of the unborn. I've got a strong, consistent pro-life record. I've had it ever since I've been in the Congress and I was honored about a month ago to have Mother Theresa call me and thank me for my work in prohibiting partial-birth abortions.
But let me say to the person who asked the question about the trillion dollar tax increase. I'm not certain of that figure. I voted against 60 tax increases since 1982. I shepherded, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, the largest tax cut in history, Ronald Reagan's tax cut. I led the effort to kill the largest tax increase in history, President Clinton's $265 billion tax increase.
What we did in 1982 and 1983, and certainly Mr. Forbes would understand this because he knows all about big corporations and big money. We discovered in the 1981 bill a lot of corporations were making out like bandits. They were ripping off the American public with safe harbor leasing, hundreds of millions of dollars. What we did was close loopholes. We didn't close rates.
In a Bob Dole administration, there not be a tax increase, there'll be tax cuts. Tax cuts for American families and farmers and others across America. we're going to find jobs and want to work to make America a better place.
RYERSON: Thank you, Senator.
The candidates will now get one minute and 45 seconds for their closing remarks. We'll begin with Mr. Taylor. Mr. Taylor.
TAYLOR: well, folks, I'd like to say that, number one, I'm not a politician and I'm not a lawyer. As you've seen, they have ability to speak very nice and walk all the way around the subject.
But we've got to balance this budget and we don't have to wait for seven years. You can do it now. I can read a consolidated financial statement. And we've got to cut and you've got to cut at the top.
No one here has said a word about cutting those making $143,000, working in the bureaucrats, and take a third of them out. That's what's causing all the problem, that's where your money's going. And, of course, there hasn't been one person that mentioned a word about the multi-million dollar pensions.
You know, we've got to get back and we've got to bring government back to you. And it's going to be tough and someone that's already had the experience in industry to do it, and I'm the only one here.
Next is jobs. How do you bring jobs to this country? Good manufacturing jobs, those that pay $10 an hour. You do not turn around and slap tariffs or duty on it. You have to turn around and you've got to have fair trade.
I'm a fair trader. These are all free and they've never traded. They don't understand all the obstacles you have and they're giving away. NAFTA and GATT are gone with me.
And then the next thing is the tax plan. You've heard all this about taxes. Mr. Forbes is right, we got to jazz it up. It's not going to get jazzed up with these gentlemen. We have to jazz this economy up.
But the Taylor plan — zero to 20,000, 2 percent; from 20 to 35, 10 percent; and over that 17. But I'd take capital gains, interest, and everything, same as wages.
TAYLOR: And the last thing here, because everybody spent time on it, it's not a woman ...
RYERSON: Mr. Taylor ... ?
TAYLOR: It's a woman's choice.
RYERSON: Your time,is up, Mr. Taylor.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
RYERSON: Thank you. Congressman Dornan, a minute and 45 seconds, please.
DORNAN: Well, I've stayed focused on the threat in the white House, the moral crisis. I don't want to break that rule, but Morry, I don't talk around anything. This is Braveheart here. Candid, forceful, straightforward, brave, courageous, steadfast and loyal. I know you didn't mean me.
Now, Bob, Bob Dole, I'm glad Mother Theresa called you on that partial-birth abortion, where you allowed it to the table. But I physically saw her December 8. I have it on videotape.
She says to me, when you are president, a special love for the poor. Now I'm going to leave Steve alone. Everybody's beating up on him, but Morry, if you'll lend me the money, I'll get it on the air here in Iowa.
And appeal to these caucus people. Let me get serious and talk directly to the caucus people. If I excluded Dick to my right, with four children and seven grandchildren, I have more progeny then all the rest put together. I have more military experience than everybody here, stand-by Reserve, ready to reserve, six years active duty as a fighter pilot, and that includes his good Navy time and Bob's Army time.
I have been elected nine times to a federal office. Only Bob Dole can say that. And Morry and Steve, I'm not ashamed of my public service. I could go on there like Rush Limbaugh and literally make millions. My ratings match his and Pat's great ratings. I'm in the arena. I'm serving my country, just as I did when I was that thin blue line up there at 40,000 feet defending this country in the Cold War.
Look, big-spending liberals and big-taxing liberals have about destroyed our country. It's over. This blizzard of bankruptcy is coming to an end. If we fumble the ball in 196, I promise you, I'm going to back in 1999, because this country begs for a leader who will at least try to reverse the accelerating rate
RYERSON: Thank you, Congressman.
DORNAN: of moral decline in this in this country. Thank you, Iowa.
RYERSON: Senator Gramm?
GRAMM: I know all of you who are watching are trying to figure out who among us is strong enough and committed enough to really make these changes. Bob mentioned indirectly the fact that I failed the third, seventh and ninth grades. what he didn't mention is, I had a loving mother who never graduated from high school, but who prodded me every step of the way through college to a Ph.D. in economics.
And I submit, when you fail the third, seventh and ninth grades, and you go on and get a Ph.D. in economics, you know something about doing hard things and overcoming long odds. And that's what we need if we're going to change American.
You don't have to have a crystal ball to know who among us will stand on principle and who will cut a deal. All you got to do is to look who has stood on principle. I stood on principle in fighting the Clinton health care bill, and Senator Dole was ready to cut a deal.
Senator Dole is talking about pro-life tonight. I've signed the pro-life Reagan platform, Bob Dole refused to sign it, and three weeks ago, we all saw him on national television on three sides of a two-sided issue again.
Senator Dole can't decide whether he's for the $245 billion tax cut. I'm for it. we both tried to negotiate a good deal for George Bush, but when it came to a vote in the Senate, it was a bad deal on the 1990 budget summit agreement. I broke with the President, I broke with Bob Dole, and I voted no.
If we want to change America, we've got to have someone who will stand on principle. And let me tell you something about myself. I know who I am. I know what I believe in, and I'm not afraid to stand up alone on a tough issue when I believe I'm right. And if we're going to change this country and bring back the American dream and share it with the people who missed it the first time around, that's the kind of leadership we've got to have.
RYERSON: Thank you. Mr. Buchanan.
BUCHANAN: You know, in this campaign and on this panel, I think every man up here would claim to be a conservative. And they all do. And what I think this campaign's going to decide is what conservatism means in America in the post-war era.
As someone who was with Barry Goldwater in the 1960s and that defeat, let me tell you what it means to me and what it doesn't mean.
BUCHANAN: I reject a conservatism that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I reject a conservatism that celebrates corporate profits when those profits are made by sending the jobs of our working people overseas.
I want an America — and I'm going to lead as a president we're going to restore America's lost national sovereignty that's been surrendered to global institutions around the world, because my conservatism is one of faith, family, and country.
There will be no more of these unfair trade deals that send those American jobs overseas, to Mexico, China, Taiwan. None of that anymore.
And American troops — we're not putting them in far away places where no vital interest of ours is engaged — whether it's Haiti, Bosnia, Macedonia, the Golan Heights. And I hope my colleagues will stop the next disposition of American troops there.
Conservatism means to me standing for those values. I'm in favor of small businesses and family farms, not factory farms. I'm in favor of supporting those institutions of community and family, which I think are the fabric of society.
And if it's not — I don't worship, my friends, at the altar of efficiency. I don't worship at the marketplace. I believe that what we have to stand for is those policies, ideas, and ideals which will support and sustain what is really crucial to making us a great and good country, and that's the values of faith, family, and freedom.
That's why I want to be Mr. Conservative, then Mr. Republican, then Mr. President.
RYERSON: Senator Lugar?
LUGAR: During my life, I've been a small businessman
manufacturing food machinery with my brother, risking my own capital, creating jobs, creating the exports. I still operate a farm — 604 acres. That is a very important part of my life.
I'm now in public service for this portion of my life, and I believe I could be a more effective public servant as President of the United States who brings national security leadership at a crucial time — a time when many Americans really are not discussing this predicament but will rue the day if things do not work out well.
I've tried in this campaign to point out immediate dangers to nuclear proliferation and chemical and biological — chemical problems that come along the trail and are not contained. I've pointed out the need for America to form alliances with others who share our need for security and who share our values.
To make certain that we had a good trade negotiation posture from strength. I've also talked about the need to make certain our own economy grew, so on the revenue side, there were opportunities for all Americans.
I've advocated the abolition of the income tax — all of it -and the Internal Revenue Service, and a shifting entirely of the incident of taxation to consumption — a national sales tax collected by the states with proper exemption.
This alone will bring about a change in the wage rates for America. The savings required for investment we must have and growth we must have at the rate of three and a half percent. The current two and a half percent, and then interest rise is unacceptable.
It will not work, and both parties, in a way, are predicated on a situation of no growth, which entirely should be rejected. I ask to be president to bring about these broad objectives.
RYERSON: Thank you. Senator Dole?
DOLE: Thank you very much, Dennis. I appreciate it, and I appreciate my colleagues being here. This is a very important election. I believe that we need a president who will understand values as a matter of national policy.
I'm from Kansas. I'm a neighbor. In 1988, the Iowa people said Bob Dole is one of us, and I don't think anything's changed. I'm very proud of my heritage. My parents, neither one finished high school. we grew up living in a basement apartment. my father wore his overalls to work every day for 42 years and was proud of it.
When my mother died, the net estate was worth $20,000. I remember having grandparents who found it necessary to take welfare payments, and I was the county attorney then that had to sign those checks.
DOLE: So I think I'm sensitive in the needs of a lot of people. We're talking a president of the United States. We're talking about someone who'll exert moral leadership, someone who'll be sensitive to the needs of some people who need help. At the same time, somebody who believes in the future, in downsizing government, in making things work with tax cuts for families, in balancing the budget over seven years with real numbers, working with the Congress, reaching out sometimes to Democrats as you have to do.
Well, Bob Dole is not a polarizer. Bob Dole provides leadership. Bob Dole delivers. Bob Dole tries to get things done. I'm very proud of America. I love America. I sacrificed for America. That doesn't entitle me to anything but it does help me understand what a great and glorious future we have. Thank you very much and God bless America and please support my campaign.
RYERSON: Ambassador Keyes.
KEYES: During campaigns, people have a tendency, I think, to spend a good deal of time talking about themselves. The odd things is that once they become president, they don't have to do that anymore. What they have to do is spend their time talking to us about this country. It might be good to practice it now. Because the country's problems are pretty clear and they are rooted in a crisis that we can't escape, a crisis that our children suffer from everyday and that is the crisis of the breakdown of the family. As the family crumbles, the nation crumbles. AS the family crumbles, the welfare budget skyrockets because of the rise in single, unwed mother headed households. As the family crumbles, the crime intensifies especially among the young because of the rise in absent father families. As the family crumbles, the pressure on the entitlement system grows because that intergenerational loving and caring and concern that should be the first line of compassion breaks down.
We know what the problem is. It's not budgets. It's not money. It's not a problem going on in Washington though Washington has caused a lot of the damage that is causing it. It's a problem going on in the streets, in the neighborhoods and the homes as we see the basic building block of life crumble. And why is it crumbling? Is it jobs? Is it the lack of money that causes the families to fall apart? You know, if money made for strong families, the strongest families in America would be in Hollywood. We know better.
Families are made out of the moral fiber of the nation, out of the moral heart of the people, out of our understanding that freedom is not licentious gratification but our ability to put the hopes and dreams of those we love in the place, very often, of that self-indulgence.
And that means we object the doctrines, like the abortion doctrine, that tell us that our children are just instruments of our pleasures and passions to be kept here if they fit with our agenda. Return to the principles that see our rights coming from God and our freedom disciplined by respect for his authority and we will return to the heart that can rebuild our family lives. And if we rebuild the family, put the family back together, you put the nation back together, you put the future back together for all of us and especially our children.
RYERSON: Time is up. Governor Alexander.
ALEXANDER: Dennis thank you and to the Register and the people of Iowa for this, this opportunity. I've enjoyed it.
A month from now, we begin here in Iowa to elect the first President of the next century. And there's only one issue and that is what kind of country are we going to have in the year 2000 and beyond.
President Clinton is not much of a President. He zigs and he zags. He gets up on both sides of the bed every morning. And he's the only President we've every had whose felt it necessary to work out his mid-life crisis in public. But he's a dangerous President because he can fake a vision and this country is hungry for a vision contest.
It is essential to balance the budget. But we've got to get outside of Washington. We're not electing a President of Washington. we're electing a President of the whole country. I respect the Senators here. But we need a different kind of leadership, an agenda setting chief executive who understands the real world. of all we talk about is Washington instead of families, budgets instead of neighborhoods, getting a bill out of a subcommittee instead of what's going on in our communities, Clinton will be elected.
ALEXANDER: So I offer you a different kind of leadership, a picture of a rising, shining America, a strong America with balanced budgets. I would cut taxes to help free enterprise create jobs. I would help parents take back schools. And I would help us expect less from Washington and more from ourselves.
Since we both think education is so important, let me remind you, as you remember this common sense conservative and the rising, shining America when you go to cast your vote, remember those ABC'S: Alexander beats Clinton.
RYERSON: Mr. Forbes, your closing statement please.
FORBES: Thank you all very much. America has the potential for the greatest economic boom and spiritual renewal in our history. The key issue in 1996 is how do we reduce and get away the obstacles that stand in the way of our fulfilling that promise as a nation and as a people.
To change America, to get America moving again, we have to start, clearly, with a culture of Washington. The people you here see tonight who've been in Congress and the Senate talk about tax cuts, but when you're not looking they've been raising your taxes.
We need to change the culture of Washington by getting rid of this draconian tax code and replacing it with a simple flat tax with high deductions for individuals and for children so that all income is taxed once and only once.
The reason your personal savings won,t be taxed is that business pays the tax on that, like they withhold from your salaries today. All income is taxed once at the source, so compliance goes up, you get to keep more of what you earn, and barriers to job creating investments are reduced. That's key to getting America moving again and taking power away from the politicians.
We need other reforms, like term limits. We need to have parental Control of the schools again, a new Social Security system for younger people, and we need to reduce government so that you have more resources.
All of these reforms, all of these changes get to the heart of the American Experiment, which is simply this: that seemingly ordinary people can achieve extraordinary deeds when allowed and encouraged to take responsibility for themselves, their families and for their children.
So join me and we can restore hope, growth and opportunity to our country. Join me and we can make America again that shining city on a hill. Thank you.
RYERSON: Thank you, Mr. Forbes.
Well, this concludes our 1996 presidential candidates forum. Thank you, candidates, for joining us today and thanks to you, members of the audience. Thanks, also, to Iowa Public Television for their help in putting this program on.
And finally, let me express my deep appreciation to all of my Register colleagues who have worked so very hard to make this event happen. On behalf of everybody at the Des Moines Register, thanks for joining us and best wishes for a wonderful 1996.
Presidential Candidate Debates, Republican Presidential Candidates Forum in Des Moines, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/285583