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Debating the Dole-Kemp economic plan // The candidates offer a brighter future for all

Bob Dole and Jack Kemp's economic plan will mean more money in every taxpayer's pockets, more freedom from a bloated Washington bureaucracy, and a brighter future for generations to come. Their dynamic plan will give everyone a better chance at the American dream.

As I travel around Florida, the most common complaint that I hear is about Big Government _ high taxes, too much Washington interference, waste. People want to get Washington off of their backs and out of their pockets.

I'm talking about people who work long hours daily to make ends meet; families with both parents working and giving almost 40 percent of their earnings to the government. They pick up their paychecks and ask, "Is that all that's left?"

People are right to feel overtaxed and overburdened. Tax Freedom Day _ the day of the year when people stop working just to pay taxes _ came later this year than ever. People worked until May 7 to pay for Big Government _ the government in Washington, the government in Tallahassee, and local government. The typical American family pays more in taxes than it pays for food, clothing, and shelter combined.

That's just not right.

Yet President Clinton keeps telling America that we are experiencing the best economy in three decades _ and that this is the best that the economy can do. Well, he is wrong.

It is true that we have experienced strong economic growth for the first two quarters of this year. However, it is also true that the overall economic growth record under Bill Clinton has been dismal. The United States is experiencing the slowest economic expansion in more than 100 years.

What does that mean? It means that the year before Clinton took office, the whole decade before, in the last five expansions, and since World War II, our economy has consistently done better than it has under him. For the average household it means that this year, Clinton's slow-growth economy will cost the typical family $3,116 a year, or $260 a month. That's a lot of money.

In addition to this slow-growth economy, Clinton raised taxes by $250-billion _ but incomes haven't risen at all. What are families supposed to do?

Economic growth is not an abstract idea that only economists and Washington politicians talk about. The rate of growth in our economy has a real effect on everyone's pocketbooks. And the rate of economic growth is precisely what Dole and Kemp, the Republican candidates for president and vice president, are concerned about.

They have a pro-growth economic plan, including a balanced budget and significant tax relief, that will get this economy moving again. It is a plan to get more money into people's pockets without leaving anyone behind.

Sounds too good to be true? It's not. Historically we've done it twice before:

President John F. Kennedy cut taxes in the 1960s, and America saw family incomes rise, income tax revenues rise, and the rate of economic growth go through the roof.

President Ronald Reagan also cut taxes, and America again enjoyed an outstanding outcome: Family incomes rose, income tax revenues rose, and economic growth skyrocketed.

We know what works, and we can do it again.

The Dole-Kemp plan proposes an across-the-board 15 percent income-tax rate cut, a $500 per-child family tax credit, a 50 percent cut in the capital gains tax, a $500 per child education-investment account, a repeal of Clinton's Social Security tax hike and an expansion of individual retirement accounts.

For a typical family (two wage earners and two kids) earning $50,000, it will mean an extra $1,718 a year. That's almost six months of groceries, a year's worth of electric bills, or almost a year's worth of health-care expenses.

Every Floridian, and every American, deserves the brightest economic future possible. The Dole-Kemp plan will deliver that future, with more freedom, less taxes and better opportunities.

Connie Mack, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Florida and chairman of Congress's Joint Economic Committee.

Miami Herald; distributed by Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services