Former vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) detailed a plan to continue economic growth into the next decade to a crowd of about 300 GW students, administrators and faculty at a packed Media and Public Affairs auditorium Monday.
The third-term senator criticized President George W. Bush’s tax plan in the speech televised nationally on C-SPAN, saying that it would jeopardize America’s fiscal stability. He said the economy is still strong and the recent slowdown is no reason for panic. Congress is currently debating Bush’s tax plan.
Lieberman proposed his New Prosperity Agenda, which would divide the projected budget surplus into three categories, allotting one third of the fund to pay down the national debt, one third to the “innovation economy” and one third to tax relief.
The government should be responsible by devoting a portion of the surplus to paying down the national debt, he said.
Lieberman centered his remarks on the “innovation economy,” calling for investment in public education systems, the private sector and technology development. He said he wants Americans to be “fluent in the language of technology.”
Lieberman criticized Bush’s proposed unusually low-budget increase for the National Science Foundation, stating that research gives rise to new industries and encourages growth. In the current plan, Bush only gives the foundation a 1.3 percent increase in funding, a minimal increase compared to past years’ plans.
Lieberman called for education reforms including additional funding for the country’s K-12 school system, which he said Bush’s education proposal lacks.
Under Lieberman’s proposal, a portion of the projected budget surplus would also go toward family and business tax reduction. Lieberman said small businesses account for 40 percent of the economy and 60 percent of new jobs, and he said they are vital to future economic growth.
Middle and lower income families should receive additional tax relief, Lieberman said. He announced a proposal for a college tax credit, which would allow families with students to deduct $10,000 from their taxes for higher education.
He called Bush’s proposal the “anti-prosperity plan,” criticizing cuts in education and science as a lack of vision. The senator called for a “tax package with a purpose,” that would stimulate the economy and said the Bush plan, written 15 months ago, is unable to address the current economic needs.
Lieberman said the economy needs an immediate boost and detailed a $60 billion tax cut that would provide a $300 rebate for every taxpayer, estimated at about 200 million Americans. Legislators are considering whether to include the rebate in a Democratic alternative to Bush’s budget plan, which will come up for debate in the Senate later in the week, according to a Tuesday Washington Post article.
Borrowing a line from former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lieberman said, “Americans have nothing to fear but fear itself,” adding that the government needs to make responsible choices when it comes to the economy.
“We need a new prosperity agenda that empowers citizens to succeed . that will protect, stimulate and expand economic growth,” he said.
Lieberman issued a warning to the White House, saying the students’ generation will be looking back at the current government to see how they handled the unprecedented surplus and whether it was invested wisely.
“The agenda is within our grasp, America has never been in a better position to continue the prosperity,” he said. “The best is yet to come.”