Wednesday, June 21, 2000
Gore promotes retirement plan during Ky. stop
Government would match contributions
By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LEXINGTON - The government would use tax dollars to help Americans save for retirement under a plan Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore formally rolled out Tuesday during a Central Kentucky campaign stop.
The vice president's plan seeks the same result as one unveiled by his Republican rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, in that it gives millions of Americans a chance to build a retirement nest egg by investing in the stock market.
But unlike Mr. Bush's plan, Mr. Gore is not proposing to invest any Social Security payroll taxes in the stock market . Allowing Americans to invest some of their Social Security money is the hallmark of Mr. Bush's plan.
My plan for private savings and investment is very different from what others have proposed in this election, Mr. Gore said.
It does not come at the expense of Social Security. It comes in addition to Social Security. I have never supported a plan that would steer the money that you pay into the stock market.
My plan is Social Security plus, not Social Security minus.
Mr. Gore's Retirement Savings Plus proposal is similar to the 401(k) plans offered by many employers in that the government would match contributions made by participants in the voluntary system.
This new way to build wealth will mean a bigger nest egg for retirement, Mr. Gore said during a 20-minute speech to about 400 people at Heritage Hall in downtown Lexington.
The speech was part of what the Gore campaign is calling the candidate's Prosperity and Progress Tour.
In a response faxed to reporters, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson said Mr. Gore in May called investing retirement income in the stock market risky during a speech to members of the American Association of Retired Per sons, or AARP.
Today, (Mr.) Gore announces a new plan that allows people to invest taxpayer money in the stock market. Next thing you know, he'll be calling himself a compassionate conservative, Mr. Nicholson said in a reference to Mr. Bush's campaign slogan.
Melissa Hackworth, 32, an operations administrator from Lexington, said she liked what she heard from Mr. Gore.
It's a very sound plan, Ms. Hackworth said, a Gore 2000 pin attached to her blouse. It beats the pants off risking our money like (Mr. Bush's) plan.
As he worked the crowd after the speech, shaking hands and holding babies, Mr. Gore briefly answered reporters' questions about another issue affecting voters' pocketbooks: high gas prices.
We need to be looking at these oil companies because their profits have gone up 500 percent in the first part of this year, he said. I think we need a broader investigation (of oil companies) on anti-trust grounds on possible collusion, possible price gouging.
Before leaving Lexington Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Gore huddled with Democratic officials - including former Govs. Martha Layne Collins, John Y. Brown and Edward T. Ned Breathitt; as well as Lt. Gov. Steve Henry; Louisville businessman and Mr. Gore's Kentucky campaign chairman, Charlie Owen; Attorney General Ben Chandler; and State Treasurer Jonathan Miller.
Gov. Paul Patton was on vacation and did not attend the event.
The speech was not open to the general public. Democratic supporters of Mr. Gore were given tickets to attend, but apparently not enough people showed up. Less than 30 minutes before Mr. Gore arrived on the stage, Democratic Party staffers were inviting people walking through a nearby hotel lobby to attend the speech.
The only sign of opposition to Mr. Gore came in the form of four men who looked to be in their early to mid-20s holding signs castigating Mr. Gore for his role in raising money at a Buddhist temple during the 1996 presidential campaign. The four, stationed across Vine Street from Heritage Hall, all wore orange robes in an apparent takeoff on the symbolic garb of Buddhist monks.
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