Without Honor in Their Own Countries An Arkansas Newspaper Against Clinton, a Maine One Against Bush

November 02, 1992

The following editorial is reprinted from the York County Coast Star, of Kennebunkport, Maine.

Voters have clear alternatives this November in their choice for president. The competing candidates have stated their positions on many issues, but the one issue that looms over all is that of the economy.

Both President Bush and Governor Clinton have solid proposals, many of which have merit. Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton support the North American Free Trade Agreement, but Mr. Clinton wants restrictions that would protect American jobs in the short term. Since it is the short term in which American workers would likely suffer from the terms of the agreement, such restrictions are in the best interests of the American people.

Mr. Clinton would go further in protecting American jobs, however. Under current policy, companies actually qualify for tax breaks when they move U.S. companies overseas. Mr. Clinton has said that he would end these tax incentives. He also has proposed a conversion plan to ease the transition of workers from defense-related industries to other enterprises.

While Mr. Bush would reward the reaping of capital gains with a lower tax rate, Mr. Clinton proposes tax breaks for investment, including a 10 percent deduction for new plant and equipment expenditures. President Bush's small across-the-board tax-cut proposal may provide some modest stimulus for the economy, but the governor's ''infrastructure'' proposal would put thousands of people to work and would help to rebuild some of the crumbling bridges and highways that threaten disaster daily across America.

In the short term, neither major-party candidate offers much relief for the debt-riddled federal budget. Only Ross Perot, with his program of shared pain, would lower the deficit significantly over the next four years. Unfortunately, after four years of Mr. Perot's policies, the near-comatose economy may have sunk into depression. Deficit reduction is not compatible with recession busting -- and if through some miracle Mr. Perot should be elected, he would find this out soon enough.

As we look over the record of the last four years, we don't find much to recommend another term for the president. Certainly in the area of economics, the anemic growth in jobs of less than 1 percent is nothing to be proud of. Jimmy Carter's record is 11 percent; Ronald Reagan's, 6 percent in his first term, 10 percent in his second. But there are other issues in this election, too, and the contrasts in these areas are real and striking.

President Bush promised to be the ''environmental president,'' the ''education president,'' and to build a ''kinder, gentler'' nation. And yet this administration has constantly stymied new environmental regulations and has been tight-fisted with the education budget. Both the environment and education have been centerpieces of Mr. Clinton's proposals. A Clinton administration would protect our resources in both areas.

In addition, President Bush has involved this country in military adventures in Panama and the Persian Gulf. In both of these conflicts, we have found ourselves forced to confront dictators on whom we had foolishly lavished armaments and our own national treasure in a vain attempt to buy their good behavior. This has never been sound policy, but leaders like President Bush always seem to feel they can beat the odds, or that the alternatives -- in these cases drug traffick- ers and the Islamic state of Iran -- are even worse than our good friends Manuel and Saddam. Both of these wars represent major foreign-policy failures by the Bush administration.

Would Mr. Clinton keep us out of wars? There are no guarantees. But as someone who grew up in the 1960s and had the good sense to protest the suicidal American involvement in Vietnam, Mr. Clinton probably has the right instincts.

In the area of women's rights and reproductive rights, the Bush administration's record is dismal. The Supreme Court now teeters on the brink of returning our country to the era of clandestine abortions, courtesy of back-alley butchers and coat-hangers. The Reagan-Bush court has eroded other rights, too, as when it allowed police to seize evidence illegally, then use it against defendants in court. This court, and the federal judiciary in general, seem instinctively to favor rights of states and governments over rights of individuals. A President Clinton could well reverse this trend.

President Bush's proposals in the area of health care are steps in the right direction, in that they would make health care more affordable for those least able to pay. But it's time that the nation confronted the realities here -- health-care costs are spiraling out of sight, and we are all being left behind. It's time to cap health-care costs and provide decent care for everyone, and that's exactly what Bill Clinton proposes to do.

Whatever the results of the November election, the next four years are not going to be easy ones for the American people. The economic pie is not shrinking, but neither is it growing at any appreciable rate. President Bush offers four more years of well-meaning but timid policies that have so far proven ineffective. It's time to try some new approaches. Governor Clinton's ideas are sound, moderate and seem to have the best interest of the country at their heart.

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