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Friday, August 27, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
John Kerry on the issues
John Kerry believes America must fight terror, stop the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and promote democracy and freedom around the world. He has said, however, "The war on terror is less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement operation." He promises "a new era of alliances."
Kerry voted for the Iraq war resolution, and defends that vote. He says the president needed the bargaining power the war resolution gave him, but that Bush went to war rashly, without enough understanding and foreign support.
Kerry is for staying in Iraq until it can be pacified. He calls for an increase in enlistment of 40,000 troops so that the military can reduce what he calls the "back-door draft" of the National Guard and Reserves.
Kerry voted against opening the immigration door wider to skilled workers or farmworkers. He has voted to restore welfare benefits for legal immigrants already here, and favors allowing illegal immigrants to become legal residents if they can show they have been in the country five or six years, they are working, and can pass a background check. He favors quick citizenship for immigrants serving in the military.
Kerry has been a supporter of the World Trade Organization, the North American Free Trade Agreement and normalizing trade with Vietnam and China. He has said he would not sign any new trade agreements, however, unless other countries agreed to labor and environmental standards, though those might not be as high as U.S. standards. He would work to include such standards in existing agreements.
Kerry has supported the environmental movement, voting against more roads in federal forests and against confirmation of Interior Secretary Gale Norton. He promises a campaign to restore the 45 percent of American waterways that do not meet "drinkable, swimmable and fishable" standards set out by the Clean Water Act, and to protect wetlands, shorelines and oceans.
He opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Kerry promises to support new technologies to reduce America's dependence on Mideast oil. He would raise the fleet-average mileage standards on cars to 36 miles per gallon by 2015, giving a push to hybrid technology and lighter-weight cars. He would set a goal that renewable fuels generate 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2020. He opposes a permanent storage for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Kerry says medical care should be "a right, not a privilege." In a quest to cover everyone, he would start with children and catastrophic care annual expenses of more than $50,000. He has said the health insurance plan for members of Congress ought to be open to the public and that people ought to be able to buy into Medicare at age 55.
Kerry supports an increase in the federal minimum wage to $7 by 2007, just below the state of Washington's legal minimum today. He supported the federal ergonomics rule, which was voted down by Congress. He opposed changes in the regulations governing overtime pay.
Kerry opposes any plan to replace guaranteed benefits with personal retirement accounts, to raise the retirement age or to cut benefits. The apparent alternative is an eventual rise in the payroll tax, though he has not explicitly supported that.
Kerry voted for the Patriot Act but says it was right to put a sunset provision in it. He wants to review what has been passed and is wary of any further watering down of the Bill of Rights. But he vows to "improve our ability to gather, analyze and share information so we can track down and stop terrorists before they cause harm."
Kerry opposes the proposal by President Bush's appointees on the Federal Communications Commission to allow the biggest media companies to get even bigger by buying TV stations and newspapers in the same cities. As president, Kerry would be able to block such proposals.
Kerry says he will cut the federal budget deficit in half during his first four years in office. He says he will "impose a real cap" on federal spending. His Web site says, "And when John Kerry puts forward a new idea, he'll tell you how he's going to pay for it."
Kerry opposed Bush's cut in federal income taxes. Kerry would reverse Bush's cut in the top bracket, which went from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, but keep the other cuts made so far. He says he would raise taxes only on the top 2 percent of earners.
Kerry says marriage is between a man and a woman, but would give same-sex couples the same practical benefits. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which forbids same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits such as surviving-spouse payments in Social Security. He believes gays and lesbians should be a protected class in hate-crimes and discrimination law.
Kerry is for affirmative action but has worried that it "has kept America thinking in racial terms." He was part of the Clinton effort to find a way to "mend it, not end it," and has hinted that he would consider alternatives to group preferences by race.
Kerry voted for the welfare reform of 1995, which set a limit on how many years an able-bodied person could be on federal payments.
Kerry believes abortion should be up to the woman. He has opposed any restrictions on "partial birth" abortions. He voted against making it a separate offense to harm a fetus while committing a violent act. He voted in favor of overseas abortions for military women, and he voted for federal money to fund research on stem cells harvested from human embryos.
Kerry supported Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, but says Congress didn't put enough money in it. He advocates a federal trust fund for schools. He says he is for standards and accountability, but he believes the Bush policy is too punitive and too reliant on testing. He is for public charter schools and against vouchers that could be used at private schools.
Kerry, a former prosecutor, wants to provide local governments with more federal money to hire police. He supports the war on drugs, though he admits he smoked marijuana years ago. He was a sponsor of the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He opposes the death penalty except for terrorism, and would order a moratorium on all federal executions to review the DNA evidence. Most executions, however, have been by the states.
Kerry is a gun owner and hunter who says he supports the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to own guns. He also supports the gun laws now on the books. He voted to require background checks at gun shows. He would continue the federal ban on assault weapons. He voted against a bill to protect the gun industry from liability for gun violence.
Compiled by Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times editorial staff
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
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