Recent economic struggles have many graduating college students worried about finding jobs, and while Andrew Raczkowski, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, has said President Bush’s tax cut program will spur economic growth, incumbent U.S. Sen. Carl Levin said it only benefits upper income people.
Raczkowski, a state representative from Farmington Hills, said Bush’s program encourages economic growth “because it puts more disposable income in our pockets and not the government’s.”
In addition to supporting the tax cuts, Raczkowski said he favors the total elimination of all taxes on income saved for retirement, and he proposed removing taxes on income parents save for their children’s college education by replacing them with tax credits.
Levin, a Democrat from Detroit, said instead of freeing up disposable income, Bush’s cuts help to create a “deficit ditch” while only benefiting a small portion of the population.
“Over 50 percent of that tax cut, by the time it is fully implemented, would go to the wealthiest 1 percent, and that’s wrong,” he said.
If Bush succeeds in permanently implementing the cuts, they will add “an additional $400 billion cost this decade and add $4 trillion cost in the next decade,” Levin said.
In terms of controlling corporate responsibility, Raczkowski said while Republicans and Democrats both pass legislation reactively, the government should be investing more money into the Securities and Exchanges Commission.
“The SEC did not check (WorldCom’s) books, and therefore the SEC is the one that actually should be rebuilt and made stronger to investigate these frauds,” he said.
Levin said he will seek legislation requiring companies to account for stock options they provide to their executives by showing them as expenses on financial statements.
While offering differing perspectives on the economy, both candidates said they oppose the privatization of Medicare and Social Security, although they propose different plans for the programs.
Levin proposed adding an optional prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients, which would allow the government to choose among competing companies for drugs. This plan would drive down drug prices and avoid relying on insurance companies to offer drug benefits, Levin said.
“The Republican plan would put the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies in the driver’s seat. Our plan puts Medicare in the driver’s seat and guarantees that the benefits would be available.”
Levin has also proposed using payroll deductions from all workers to fund universal healthcare.
To lower the price of prescription drugs, Raczkowski said states should join together to buy drugs in bulk, using an analogy of buying ice tea in bulk at Sam’s Club stores.
Both candidates said Social Security funds should not be privatized because they should not be placed on the stock markets.
During Levin’s 24-year tenure in the Senate, numerous military bases in Michigan have been closed, and Raczkowski has been quick to attack his opponent on the issue.
Raczkowski, a captain in the Armed Reserves, said some soldiers are living in poverty. He proposed providing allowances for soldiers with families and fixing bases instead of closing them.
“When you close down military bases, you close down the units that are based there,” Raczkowski said. “You can’t take those units and put them elsewhere.”
Levin said the number of bases was excessive after the end of the Cold War. “The military pleaded with us to quit wasting money on bases we did not need.”
He said an outside commission decided which bases to shut down, and some of the bases were reused in alternative ways, creating more employment than was present while before they were closed.