Gore vs. Bush on Key Issues

— -- Get a quick read on where Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore stand on the issues that are important to you.

Defense

Gore: Has made curbing the spread of nuclear weapons one of the top priorities of his political career. Was a key player in White House defense planning; during his Senate years earned a reputation as hawkish on defense. Backs development of a limited missile-defense system. Would up defense spending by $127 billion over 10 years.

Bush: Backs creation of a national missile-defense system. Supports increasing military budget $20 billion over five years for investing in military technology. Promises to review all current military deployments with an eye toward cutting back on unnecessary involvements. Supports a $750-a-year pay raise for troops.

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Education

Gore: Proposes the creation of tax-free “lifelong learning savings accounts.” Opposes use of federal aid to send children to private schools, but backs expansion of charter and magnet schools. Calls for increased use of high-tech in schools. Backs bilingual education.

Bush: Plans to make education a centerpiece of his campaign. Increased funds for public education in Texas. Boasts of fixing the state education system, with low-income and minority test scores rising for five years in a row under his watch. Supports federally required state testing of schools and public disclosure of results. Supports using federal money for vouchers for low-income students who attend schools failing to meet state standards.

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Retirement

Gore: Wants to use budget surplus to bail out Social Security and Medicare. Proposes tax-free voluntary retirement accounts to build upon Social Security. Wants to expand existing programs to give long-term caregivers a $3,000 tax credit.

Bush: Supports letting taxpayers invest at least some of their payroll taxes in the stock market or private, interest-bearing savings accounts. Bush has not closed the door on whether the retirement age might need to be raised from 65 to 67 to keep system solvent, which Gore uses against him.

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Guns and Crime

Gore: Backs Victims’ Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Supports increased penalties for hate crimes and crimes against the elderly. Vows to cut crime every year of his term. Supports death penalty. Supports raising age requirement for owning a handgun from 18 to 21 (so does Bush). Advocates photo licensing for gun owners.

Bush: Signed law legalizing concealed weapons. Opposes mandatory child-safety gun locks. Signed law effectively barring suits against gun industry for firearms crimes. Supports raising age to buy handguns from 18 to 21. Focused on tougher punishments for juvenile offenders and other convicts in Texas. More death-row inmates executed in Texas than any other state

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Health Care

Gore: Supports long-term care tax credits, expanded access to preventive care, guaranteed universal coverage for children and increased medical research. Proposes a $253 billion, 10-year plan to help seniors buy prescription drugs. Would protect Medicare surplus from being raided for other spending.

Bush: Backs tax breaks for medical savings accounts that can be used to pay for medical care.

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Taxes

Gore: Vows to make United States debt free by 2012, double families with $50,000 or more in savings, cut income taxes to lowest in 50 years, raise family incomes by 1/3, increase home ownership to 70 percent, and reduce poverty level to below 10 percent for first time ever. Supported releasing oil reserves to cut gas and heating oil prices.

Bush: Proposed a $483 billion tax cut over five years, including an across-the-board reduction in marginal income tax rates. Also would lower tax liability for all taxpayers by replacing the current tax code’s five rates for different levels of income with four new, lower rates.

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Abortion

Gore: Strong supporter of abortion rights for women. Supports the FDA’s decision to approve the abortion pill.

Bush:Supports a ban on late-term abortion and would require doctors to notify parents before performing abortions on teenagers. Calls for increased funding for abstinence education. Says he would not require judicial appointments to meet a “litmus test” on abortion.

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Campaign Finance

Gore: After being beset by questions about his role in cold-calling donors from his office in 1996, Gore is refusing to take PAC donations and vows to make a ban on PACs and other campaign finance reforms a top priority. Has accepted a challenge to ask Democrats to stop spending unregulated “soft money” on his behalf.

Bush: Supports lifting the $1,000 individual contribution limit. Accepts a ban on corporate “soft money” provided unions are bound by the same restrictions — giving shareholders/union members a say over political contributions made by their company or union. Supports instant disclosure of contributions, and is the only campaign disclosing his campaign contributions continuously on his Web site.

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Foreign Policy

Gore: In some foreign policy arenas, has acted almost as a surrogate president. Wants “fast track” treaty negotiating authority for the president. Puts nuclear proliferation, global environmental issues and better relations with foreign nations at the top of his priorities.

Bush: Critics note Bush was late in forming and articulating his positions on Kosovo, but eventually supported the effort and he faulted President Clinton for taking the use of ground troops off the table. Supports the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Critical of Clinton administration on Cox Report description of theft of nuclear secrets by China. Supports moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Supports maintaining sanctions on Cuba.