Ballot Box

The Agenda of Joe Lieberman

What he’d do as president.

Slate is running several series of short features explaining who the 2004 presidential candidates are, what they’re saying, and where they propose to take the country. The first series summarized their personal and professional backgrounds. The second series analyzed their buzzwords. This series outlines what each candidate would do as president. Candidates take positions on many issues, but once in the White House, a president tends to focus on the few issues he or she really cares about. The purpose of this series is to identify those issues and clarify how the candidate, as president, would address them. Today’s subject is Joe Lieberman.

1. Stimulate the economy by focusing on technology. Lieberman wants to increase worker productivity by 50 percent. To get there, he would offer a 20 percent Investment Tax Credit, make the tax credit for private sector R & D permanent, and exempt long-term investments in businesses worth less than $300 million from the capital gains tax. To pay for these incentives, Lieberman would rescind some unimplemented parts of the 2001 Bush tax cut. He would postpone other Bush tax cuts, such as the estate tax elimination, and would devote the windfall to government investment and debt reduction. Lieberman would also end tariffs on high-tech products and make cyberspace a “duty-free zone.”

2. Eliminate the need for imported oil within 20 years. Lieberman would impose a collective rather than individual fuel efficiency standard. Carmakers could produce vehicles with sub-par fuel efficiency, as long as they produced enough hyperefficient vehicles to pick up the slack. The government would financially reward carmakers that significantly exceeded the national standard. Consumers who bought hyperefficient cars such as hybrids would get a tax cut of at least $1,000. Lieberman would allocate almost $7 billion for fuel-cell development and $15 billion for low-pollution coal technologies. He opposes drilling for oil in Alaska or along the Florida coast.

3. Create an AmericanCenter for Cures. This agency would develop treatments for cancer, Parkinson’s, and other diseases. It would centralize projects currently spread out among the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and other agencies. It would aim to reduce bureaucratic backlog and fund research that private drug companies have little financial incentive to pursue. Lieberman would allocate $150 billion over 10 years for the center; additional funding would come from the private sector. He would also increase funding for NIH and other agencies conducting complimentary research.