Presidential candidate Al Gore reinforced his education platform Thursday, calling for a substantial college tuition tax credit and a specialized interest-free savings account for life-long training.
Speaking before a rally of more than 1,000 people at the University of Maryland at College Park, Gore outlined his plan estimated to provide nearly $55 billion in targeted tax relief for education.
The plan includes a 28 percent tax deduction for up to $10,000 of tuition and fees for students’ post-secondary education. The deduction of up to $2,800 could be applied to college, job training and graduate school expenses, Gore said.
It’s a new effort to make higher education more affordable for working families, particularly in an economy where what you earn depends on what you learn, said Devona Dolliole, deputy national spokeswoman for Gore.
Gore’s plan also calls for a Retirement Savings Plus account to complement Social Security. The account would allow participants to apply their savings to their child’s college education, medical expenses or toward purchasing a new home.
This plan is to benefit working families of America, Dolliole said. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman both believe that one of the best ways to build on our nation’s economic prosperity is to invest in education across the board.
In the wake of the summer’s political conventions, the vice president and his opponent, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, were quick to defend their proposals. Bush’s campaign officials fired back after Gore’s speech Thursday, questioning the fine print of his plan.
Due to the complexity and the narrowness of Al Gore’s tax credit, most college students either cannot or will not receive any tax relief from his proposal, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer wrote in a news release Thursday. The more you look at the specifics of Al Gore’s tax plan, the less tax relief you see.
The Democratic camp then pointed to Bush’s admittedly vague explanation of his tax cut plan during the Republican Convention. Gore’s running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), denounced Bush’s plan.
Lieberman said Bush’s problem isn’t explaining the tax plan, it’s the plan itself, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Altogether the Gore-Lieberman plan provides nearly $55 billion in tax relief for education, while the Bush-Cheney plan provides only $3.5 billion for education, Dolliole said.
With Election Day quickly approaching and the candidates’ gap in the polls narrowing, analysts predict a heated race and more focus on issue-debates, similar to last week’s education proposals.
I welcome the tax debate, Bush told reporters last Thursday en route to a campaign stop in New Orleans. I hope we debate taxes between now and election day.
Lieberman echoed Bush’s comments the following day.
I think it’s good to have a debate on taxes, Lieberman said. But it has to be an honest debate that accurately tells the American people what we would do, so that they can make an informed choice.