In his debate against Dan Quayle and Admiral Stockdale in 1992, Al Gore said, "We have an environmental crisis, a health insurance crisis, (and) substandard education. It is time for a change." It's eight years later, and Gore is still carping about the same crises. Where has he been for the last eight years?
Clinton and Gore have talked about health care, education and the environment so much the words ring in my head like the lyrics to a bad song. Let's look beyond the platitudes and examine what their record is on these issues they claim to care about the most.
In the debate, Gore complained that there were almost 40 million uninsured Americans and promised that he and Clinton would rectify that. Have they delivered?
In a Heritage Foundation study, James Frogue and Robert Moffit report that the number of uninsured Americans has risen through the Clinton years. Even though the economy has grown at unprecedented levels, Clinton and Gore have made no dent in the uninsured problem. The number of uninsured finally began to decline last year, but the overall number has increased during Clinton's tenure, from approximately 40 million to 42.5 million. So, if we had a crisis in 1992, we have a national emergency now -- assuming we hold Gore to the same standard he and Clinton established for Bush and Quayle. Where have you been, Albert Jr.?
Now, let's turn to education. Nina Shokraii Rees documents that almost 40 percent of 4th graders in the country read at substandard levels on national reading tests. On international tests, America's 12th graders rank last in advanced physics compared with students in 18 other countries. And shockingly, one-third of all incoming college freshmen have to enroll in remedial reading, writing or mathematics before they begin the regular curriculum.
What's worse for Gore -- especially considering his party's professed monopoly on concern for the downtrodden -- is that the numbers are far worse in the inner cities, where 58 percent of low-income 4th graders nationally cannot read at a basic level. In addition, almost two-thirds of low-income 8th graders cannot multiply or divide two-digit numbers. Where have you been, Albert Jr.?
Gore apologists may object that it takes time to achieve results. No doubt, but with education, just as with health care, the problems are getting worse, and the main reason is the same in both cases. Clinton and Gore have implemented policies that have decreased competition and choice in education and health care. This, from the leaders of the party that claims to be the champion of "choice."
According to Frogue and Moffit, Americans have substantially less control over their health care decisions today than they did at the outset of the Clinton-Gore administration. In the early 1990s, just a small percentage of Americans were enrolled in HMOs. Today, more than 80 percent are in HMOs or other managed care plans. Plus, the number of government rules and regulations governing health care is growing at an alarming rate.
What's scarier is that if Bill and Al had succeeded in establishing "Hillary care" the government would now virtually control one seventh of our economy. And make no mistake about it: They haven't given up on socialized medicine as a long-term goal. In 1997, referring to health care reform, Clinton said, "Now what I tried before won't work. Maybe we can do it another way. That's what we've tried to do, a step at a time, until we finish this."
As Shokraii Rees points out, our schools aren't failing for lack of talented leaders, teachers, parents, students or even resources. The problem is that the public school system is a government-protected monopoly that "cannot easily and quickly change to keep up with the fast pace of today's global marketplace."
Sadly, this education monopoly harms the poor and minorities more than any other group, and Gore is selling out their educational souls by opposing school choice in order to appease the teacher's unions.
With Gore, on the issues of health care and education (as with most everything else) we will get more of what is causing the problems: government control.
As for the environmental issue -- I've run out of space and paper -- see you next time.