Democratic presidential-hopeful John Kerry (D-Mass) visited
Washtenaw Community College last Wednesday, speaking of plans to
improve higher education and revitalize the industrial sector.

“Manufacturing here in Michigan and all across America
isn’t what it once was, thanks in no small part to increased
outsourcing and unfair trade practices,” Kerry said.

He has focused on Michigan because of its loss of about 136,000
industrial jobs since mid-2000.

“The President wants this (election) to be just about the
war on terror because he’s ignored jobs,” said John
Austin, a member of the State Board of Education.

Kerry introduced his economic plan last month at Wayne State
University promising to create 10 million new jobs if elected. Many
of those jobs would be created with the help of education.

“My College Opportunity Tax Credit will make four years of
college universally accessible, with a tax credit on up to $4,000
of tuition for four years of college,” Kerry said.

That credit would help students pay for training in advanced
technologies such as robotics and new plastics that could create
new jobs in fields that and next-generation automobiles.

University students had mixed feelings about the college
plan.

“I feel like I’d have to know information but it
sounds like a great idea,” said Karen Lockman, a first year
Law student.

But LSA junior Matt Rubinstein questioned where funding for the
College Opportunity Credit program would come from. “It
sounds kind of fishy,” Rubinstein said.

Kerry also said his visit to Michigan was important because of
the state’s history as an industrial titan.

“I’m here because I believe manufacturing should not
and must not be a ghost of America’s past,” said Kerry.
“I’m here because I believe a setback is just that
— a setback. Not a reason to abandon ship.”

Kerry has attacked job outsourcing and labeled companies that
use such cost-cutting tactics as “Benedict
Arnolds.”

“We have leadership that doesn’t even think
outsourcing is a problem. In fact, for the last several years, that
has been the centerpiece of their strategy to make America more
competitive,” Kerry said.

To blunt outsourcing he said he would cut most corporate taxes
by 5 percent and provide additional cuts for companies that hire
Americans.

“I’ve seen (outsourcing) happen in my
industry,” said Phil Harding, a computer salesman who was at
the speech.

“Dell computers just outsourced its whole technical
support overseas. I think (outsourcing) is a big problem for
blue-collar workers,” he added.

Harding also said that Bush only pays “lip service”
to jobs and believes Kerry cares more.

Additionally, Kerry wants to enforce existing trade agreements
to give Americans a “fair playing field” in the
world.

Since the Democratic primaries, Kerry has criticized
Bush’s tax cuts as counter-productive to economic growth. But
Wednesday, Kerry added that he would cut taxes for 98 percent of
Americans and 99 percent of corporations who employ American
workers.

“I certainly think Kerry will be strong on jobs, whereas
George Bush has virtually ignored the state and believes tax cuts
will solve any economic problem,” Austin said.

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