What do you say specifically to what the vice president said tonight? He’s said it many, many times, that your tax cut benefits the top 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans. And you’ve heard what he said …
BUSH: Of course, it does. If you pay taxes, you’re going to get a benefit. People who pay taxes …
LEHRER: All right …
BUSH: … will get tax relief.
LEHRER: Why shouldn’t they?
GORE: All right …
BUSH: Wait. Let me finish, please.
Under my plan, if you make — the top — the wealthy people pay 62 percent of the taxes today; afterwards, they pay 64 percent. This is a fair plan. You know why? Because the tax code is unfair for people at the bottom end of the economic ladder. If you’re a single mother making $22,000 a year today and you’re trying to raise two children, for every additional dollar you earn you pay a higher marginal rate on that dollar than someone making $200,000, and that’s not right.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore?
GORE: Yes …
BUSH: So I want to do something about that.
LEHRER: All right. Vice President Gore?
GORE: Look, this isn’t about Governor Bush, it’s not about me. It is about you. And I want to come back to something I said before.
If you want somebody who believes that we were better off eight years ago than we are now and that we ought to go back to the kind of policies that we had back then, emphasizing tax cuts mainly for the wealthy, here is your man.
If you want somebody who will fight for you and who will fight to have middle class tax cuts, then I am your man. I want to be.
Now, I doubt anybody here makes more than $330,000 a year. I won’t ask you. But if you’re do, you’re in the top 1 percent. If you don’t …
LEHRER: It would be a violation of the rules. They couldn’t …
GORE: I’m not going to …
I’m not going to ask — I’m not going to ask. But if everyone here in this audience was dead on in the middle of the middle class, then the tax cuts for every single one of you, all added up, would be less than the tax cut his plan would give to just one member of that top, wealthiest 1 percent. Now, you judge for yourselves whether or not that’s fair.
LEHRER: A quick, and then we’re moving on.
BUSH: Good. Fifty million Americans get no tax relief under his plan.
GORE: That’s not right.
BUSH: And you may not be one of them; you’re just not one of the right people.
And secondly, we’ve had enough fighting. It’s time to unite.
You talk about eight years? In eight years, they haven’t gotten anything done on Medicare, on Social Security, a patients’ bill of rights. It’s time to get something done.
LEHRER: Hey, we’re going move on now …
GORE: I’ve got to answer that, Jim.
Medicare, we — I cast the tie-breaking vote to add 26 years to the life of Medicare. It was due to go bankrupt in 1999.
And that $50 million figure, again, the newspapers — I said — you said forget the journalists, but they are the keepers of the scorecard and whether or not you’re using facts that aren’t right. And that fact is just not right.
Click here for page 6.