During the 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy, the man after whom Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry has styled his campaign, spoke of a "missile gap" between the United States and the Soviet Union. Although the missile gap was a myth, it was an effective political tool that helped the earlier JFK to a narrow election victory.
In his nomination acceptance speech Thursday night (July 29), today's JFK claimed there is a huge economic gap. Really? Not according to Business Week magazine in an article that says the economy is creating more high-paying jobs than low-paying jobs: It reports in its July 26 issue that "40 percent of American workers belong to occupation/industry groups where the median pay is $559 a week or more. Yet employment growth in those higher-paying groups accounted for well over half of total job growth during the past year. Average monthly employment in the higher-paying groups was 744,000 higher in the 12 months ended in June, 2004, than in the previous 12-month period. By contrast, only 408,000 jobs were added in groups whose median pay was $553 a week or less, even though they account for 52 percent of total jobs."
Average growth in the gross domestic product amounted to 3.1 percent in 1996, but GDP has grown 5.6 percent this year. Mortgage rates are 2 points under the Clinton rates. Consumer confidence in June was 95.2, which is almost 3 points higher than in 1996. Unemployment today (5.6 percent) is roughly what it was during the height of the Clinton administration (5.5 percent in 1996). Yet Kerry says America is "in the worst job recovery since the Great Depression."
Kerry says he can be trusted to defend the nation and fight terrorism. Yet, as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for eight years (1993-2000), Kerry missed 38 of 49 hearings. He also voted to cut the intelligence budget by $7.5 billion, cuts that were rejected by Republicans and Democrats. During that period, there is no record of Kerry ever sponsoring a single piece of legislation to increase funding for human intelligence. How serious should his pledge be taken when his behavior so far does not back it up?
Kerry promised to "build a stronger American military," but he voted at least 12 times against higher military pay and has repeatedly voted against bills that would modernize and strengthen our armed forces. No wonder Kerry doesn't talk much about his Senate record.
Democrats in recent years have been trying to emulate Republicans by quoting Scripture. Kerry equated the Fifth Commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother." (he left out the rest -- "so that your days may be long upon the Earth"), with his opposition to privatizing Social Security. That commandment means adult children, not government, should honor their parents by looking after them. But to liberal Democrats like Kerry, government is a "god," so perhaps the leap is not surprising. If Kerry cares about protecting Social Security benefits, perhaps he might explain why he voted three times against repealing the 1993 Clinton tax increase on Social Security benefits.
Speaking of those middle-class tax cuts Kerry promises to implement if he's elected, would he explain why, when given an opportunity in 1995 to prove he was for such cuts, he voted against a sense of the Senate resolution, saying "reducing the deficit should be one of the nation's highest priorities, and a middle-class tax cut would undermine and be inconsistent with the goal of achieving a balanced budget." The deficit was less then than it is now, so why was Kerry opposed to a middle-class tax cut nine years ago, but in favor of one today if cutting deficits is paramount?
Kerry says he'll "roll back" the tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 per year. Even President Clinton told a group of Houston business leaders he agreed that he had raised such taxes "too much." Kerry says he wants to "invest" new revenue in education. America already spends record amounts for education. If Kerry believes there is a link between the amount of money spent and educational achievement (there isn't), he has an obligation to explain why so much spending has not produced better grades, especially among the poor, many of whom are imprisoned in failing schools.
Kerry repeatedly brings up his four-month service in Vietnam. He paraded some of his Swift Boat colleagues on the convention stage. But most other members of that team have publicly said they believe that Kerry is "unfit" to be president because he slandered his comrades as mass murderers during his anti-Vietnam period, and they question how he earned his Purple Hearts.
Kerry suffers from a truth gap. Look for Republicans to spend a lot of time questioning whether, in a time of war, John Kerry can be trusted.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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