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The Year that Might Have Been
January 28, 2002
by Eric Munoz

President Al Gore's first year in office began amid controversy with the Republican Congressional Leadership conducting investigations into Florida's election fiasco. Ironically, the investigations uncovered a web of questionable and illegal activities performed not on the behalf of then VP Al Gore, but on behalf of Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Among the parties alleged to be responsible is Kenneth Lay, former CEO of now bankrupt Enron. Reportedly, Mr. Lay hired a group of Republican staff members to pose as protestors and storm the Miami-Dade recount efforts. He, along with several others face charges of intimidation, conspiracy to commit election fraud, racketeering, voter fraud and other corruption charges. In the aftermath, revelations of accounting irregularities and fraud in Enron's business practices have brought the once mighty energy trading to the brink of collapse.

President Gore's first year in office has been marked by a decline in economic growth from the booming 3.5-4% growth rates of his predecessor's last years to a more modest 1.5-2% growth this year. Republican Senate Leader Trent Lott has been the most vocal critic of President Gore's economic program. "Significant rate cuts in the top income tax rates would significantly grow this economy and surpass the growth rates seen in the late 1990's. This economic slowdown is the direct result of Al Gore's refusal to lower rates from their ridiculously high levels to levels more accommodating to economic growth." Coupled with the war on terrorism, the slowdown has forced a re-evaluation of projected surpluses over the next 10 years. Those projections have been scaled down from the whopping $5.6 trillion dollars forecast just over a year ago to a more modest $4.1 trillion. Republican leaders blame Mr. Gore's budget and tax policies, which have been more generous to environmental programs, including a 150% increase in funding for alternative fuels.

The Democrats, faced with a slowing economy, are going into the midterm elections hopeful that that Alan Greenspan's recent reduction in the federal rate to 4.5% will jumpstart the economy by the end of the summer. "The budget proposed by the President includes significant debt reduction, because this is relieving upward pressure on interest rates the fed's monetary policy will provide some boost as Americans will be able to refinance their homes saving potentially hundreds of dollars per month, it will also encourage new home buyers to purchase as long term rates will fall," predicted Sen. Tom Daschle. The Democrats will need to see an increase in the economy's growth if they hope to capture the Senate or House this fall.

The recent economic slowdown has pushed the efforts in Afghanistan to capture the rest of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network off the front pages. But the year was marked with significant intelligence and military victories. Just days after the September 11 attack bin Laden was captured near Khandahar thanks in large part to Mr. Gore's continued policies, including closing down and investigating off shore accounts that have traditionally been used by terrorists to hide, launder and transfer money, which he inherited from President Clinton. Tom DeLay and other Republican leaders have criticized the President for failing to capture the rest of Al Qaeda as there are as many as half a dozen Lieutenants still at large.

"This President has failed to capture all the Al Qaeda operatives that may have been involved in crashing the jetliner into the WTC, costing hundreds of lives and nearly destroying the North tower. Americans deserve to know they are safe and how can they be certain if there are still so many terrorists out there," Tom DeLay recently said to a Christian Coalition fundraiser. "These Muslim and Arab terrorists are so fanatic in their belief they should be converted or eradicated."

President Gore has recently pressured the Saudi government to become more involved in the capture and prosecution of these terrorists. Saudi officials, perhaps worried about losing the confidence of its largest market, have complied by shutting down several known terrorist fronts. Saudi officials may also be concerned that the United States has decided to invest so heavily in alternative fuels, which could reduce the need for oil, Saudi Arabia's only valuable natural resource, quite significantly.

On the environment, President Gore, expecting stiff opposition from auto manufacturers, was pleasantly surprised by the ease of which Corporate Auto Fuel Efficiency, CAFE, standards were able to pass Congress. With help from William Clay Ford, the President was able to convince not only the American Public but also auto manufacturers of the wisdom in increasing fuel efficiency. New standards take effect in 2003 with an average increase of 3%. The measure passed the House by a 247-188 margin with nearly 50 Republicans crossing party lines and the Senate by 65-34, with 19 Republican Senators.

President Gore's first year in office has been most notable for the success he has had in forging the broad support he has received from the American public since 9-11 into an ambitious 10 year plan for improving America's infrastructure. These ambitions are the embodiment of President Gore's vision for a stronger America. President Gore has challenged the American Congress and the American People to build 2001 new schools, decrease high school drop out rates by 9% and increase college attendance rates by 11%. He has also called for 100% computer access for all of the nation's children in public schools, 100% medical coverage for all the nation's children and the elimination of homelessness by 2011.

Al Gore issued his challenge in his speech before Congress shortly after the September attacks. "If we can put a man on the moon in 10 years, surely we can put a roof over our nation's homeless, if we can put a man on the moon in 10 years, surely we can build enough schools for our future generations and if we can put a man on the moon in 10 years, surely we can provide health care for our nation's most vulnerable."

If all goes to Mr. Gore's plan, the next 10 years will be something special.

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