by Robert J. Wagman
THE OLYMPICS may be over, but you can still watch as the contestants battle for supremacy in the 2000 Presidential contest. But just as it’s hard to tell one athlete from another in the heat of play, sometimes its hard to differentiate between the two major party candidates on this campaign trail.
Both Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush say that if elected, they will take a special interest in small business and technology issues. Both camps point to their candidates’ past record as a sign of what’s to come.
“Al Gore has long been at the forefront of programs to help small business, and he has long been a leader in issues involving technology and the new economy.” Gore spokesman Douglas Hattaway says.
Likewise, a Bush campaign spokesperson cites the governor’s record in Texas in supporting its booming high-tech industries, and his long championing of small business interests. “No state has done more for small business than has Texas through regulatory reform and financing programs. Texas is also the number one high tech state in America in terms of growth.”
As one might expect, Gore’s platform is peppered with specific action plans. Gore says he will streamline the regulatory process, fight to strengthen the overall economic prosperity by maintaining fiscal discipline, provide tax cuts to strengthen business investment, and work to open foreign markets. He plans to make cyberspace a permanent duty-free zone.
As for his small business agenda, Gore pledges that he will work to expand access to capital, credit, and opportunity for small business. He will do so by funding a number of small business-related government programs.
By contrast, the Bush campaign paints its platform in broad strokes. According to a spokesperson, “He will support the New Economy by cutting taxes, encouraging investment in research and development, curbing frivolous lawsuits, pursuing free trade, and implementing sensible export controls. He will work to make the Internet a duty- and tariff-free zone worldwide, fight to tear down non-tariff barriers to trade in information technology, step up efforts to combat piracy of American ideas and intellectual property, and promote the development of internationally compatible e-commerce standards.” The Bush agenda also includes a plan to pass up to a five year extension of the Internet tax moratorium.
Bush takes a less is more approach, that should actually attract some support, especially when it comes to tax issues. Although it has declined to endorse either candidate, the National Federation of Independent Businesses supports the Texas Governor on his health care, legal reform, and tax positions. “Small businesses are being taxed at the highest burden in our history and with the surpluses we have, small business owners think that they can better spend their money than the government in some wasteful program.” says Nelson Litterst, director of federal public policy for the Washington, D.C.-based group. “So our small business owners want to see a lot of the surplus going back in tax cuts and paying down the national debt.” Which attitude will prevail? As they say, you’ll be the judge.