MANCHESTER, N.H. Democrat Wesley Clark, looking to fill in the domestic policy blanks on his resume, said Wednesday he would repeal President Bush's tax cuts for wealthier Americans if he wins next November.
"We have to get our fiscal house in order," the retired Army general said in an economic speech at the University of New Hampshire. "I say when you are in a hole, stop digging. This country is in a deep hole, and I have a plan to get us out."
Clark said he would require people earning more than $200,000 a year to pay more taxes than they would under Bush, but he won't reveal details until later. Clark would not rescind any tax cuts going to middle-class taxpayers, and the child tax credit would be preserved for parents of any income, aides said.
Clark's support for rolling back the Bush tax cuts for wealthier taxpayers enrolls him in the same school as rivals John Kerry, John Edwards and Joe Lieberman. They say some of the tax cuts have benefited the middle class and should not be repealed. The opposing view from Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt is that all of Bush's tax cuts must be repealed to pay for health care and other priorities.
Clark said he would use the money saved under his plan to decrease the deficit and spend money on homeland security, health care, financial aid to states and incentives for business to create jobs.
Besides rolling back Bush's tax cuts, which would bring in $1.1 trillion over 10 years, Clark said he would raise $225 billion by streamlining government, $300 billion by closing tax loopholes and $125 billion by spending less on Iraq than he predicts Bush will in coming years. Clark said he would ask other nations to share the cost of reconstruction.
Clark said a smaller deficit would save $600 billion in projected interest payments.
The total in savings would be $2.35 trillion, he said.
Clark devoted at least half of his speech to criticizing Bush, saying the president promised Americans they could have it all, but delivered only massive tax cuts that have left little money for other priorities.
"Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran on the New Deal, Harry Truman promised a Fair Deal, George W. Bush ran on the free lunch, and the free lunch, it turned out, was a bunch of baloney," Clark said.