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Gore Bashes Bradley, Bush on Economy

November 30, 1999

BROWNING, Mont. (AP) _ Federal officials are investigating the shooting death of a 3-year-old girl in Browning.

Mya Angel Pepion died of a gunshot wound on Thursday, according to her obituary.

Jessica Fehr, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Billings, confirmed that her office is investigating the case with the FBI. She says the FBI has jurisdiction because the shooting happened on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. She declined to comment further.

The FBI and Blackfeet tribal police did not return phone calls Monday seeking comment.

``We shouldn’t take our prosperity for granted,″ Gore told New Hampshire voters over bacon and eggs this morning. ``I will pledge to you, if you elect me president, I will balance the budget and better every single year.

``In fact,″ he added, ``I make you this pledge this morning: I will further reduce the national debt every single year of my presidency to keep interest rates down, to keep us on the path toward continuing prosperity.″

Gore campaign literature said his strategy _ only vaguely defined as ``sweeping changes″ such as new investment and education plans _ would put the nation on track to be debt free in 15 years.

The United States, after decades of deficit gloom, posted a record $123 billion federal budget surplus last year, marking the first back-to-back surpluses since Dwight Eisenhower was president. Despite the surpluses, the U.S. government still has a $5 trillion national debt.

Gore, who more often tries to distance himself from President Clinton, this time claimed shared credit for the administration’s successful fiscal policies over the last seven years.

The vice president’s bashing of Bradley and Bush economic plans began in a conference call on Monday with reporters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two earliest voting states.

``In both cases, the economic future of the country is put at risk because of higher interest rates and ignoring the lessons of the last seven years,″ Gore said the conference call.

Bush, who spells out details of his economic package this week, already has called for broad tax cuts that Gore labeled ``a scorched-earth policy″ that would inevitably lead to budget deficits.

Bush’s plan will feature reduced income tax and estate tax rates and a lower penalty to be paid by two-wage-earner married couples. In addition, the Texas governor is aiming cuts at people on the edge between welfare and work whose tax burdens mount.

The first three components are Republican staples designed to appeal to conservative primary voters. The low-to-middle-class tax cut is aimed at people making $12,000 to $30,000 a year, hewing to Bush’s promise to be a ``compassionate conservative.″

Similarly, the tax-cutting plan that GOP lawmakers failed to enact this year offered a 1 percentage point reduction in marginal income tax rates along with cuts in the so-called ``marriage penalty,″ estate taxes and capital gains. A Bush adviser said the governor’s plan would be closer to Congress’ package than a broader, deeper cut proposed by 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole.

Gore has routinely attacked GOP tax cut plans, but during Monday’s conference call, he lumped Democrat Bradley in the same group. He argued the former senator’s economic package includes ``a handful of timid proposals″ dwarfed by a giant health proposal.

``He hasn’t proposed any new investments in research and development,″ Gore said. ``Under his plan, businesses would have a harder time borrowing, investing and creating jobs.″

The Bradley campaign said the former senator’s plan to replace Medicaid by subsidizing affordable health coverage plans for low-to-middle income families would boost the economy.

``Investments like health care will increase economic growth and keep interest rates down. No amount of negative attacks or trashing can change that fact,″ said Jim Farrell, Iowa spokesman for Bradley. ″ ... It is not a question of cost, it’s a question of political will.″

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