The clear choice for president of the United States for the American Jewish community is Gov. George W. Bush of Texas.
Bush has offered a compelling vision for America's future and has proposed concrete, specific reforms for making our country a better place to live.
Like all Americans, we are concerned about tax policy and the new economy, health care and defense policy, social security and education. As American Jews, there is the additional question of where the candidates stand on our country's special relationship with the State of Israel.
The special relationship between America and Israel has been described by Bush as "...more than a friendship. America and Israel are brothers and sisters in the family of democracy, natural allies in the cause of peace."
In recent times, the current administration has tried to make Israel conform to its own plans and timetables in the peace process, but Bush does not believe that this is the path to peace. When Bush is president, America will not interfere in Israel's democratic process.
Contrast this view with the current administration's campaign taking sides in the most recent Israeli election. Under President Bush, the peace process will remain a priority, Israel's security will remain a priority, and the United States will recognize the city Israel has chosen as its capital by moving the U.S. ambassador to Jerusalem.
But there is more to this election for the American Jewish voter than the candidate's views and actions regarding Israel. Bush believes that roughly one-quarter of the surplus budget should be returned to the people who earned it through broad tax cuts. His plan will promote economic growth by cutting high marginal tax rates for all taxpayers, doubling the child credit, eliminating the death tax, reducing the marriage penalty, and expanding Educational Savings Accounts and charitable deductibility. The largest percentage of tax cuts will go to the lowest income earners. As a result, no one earning $35,000 a year will pay federal income taxes.
Under Bush's leadership, we can expect the nation's public schools to be reformed. States will be offered freedom from federal regulations and given local control, but as Bush demanded in Texas, they will be held accountable for results. Most importantly, parents will be empowered with information and choices (including vouchers) and performance will be measured annually.
Today there are 44 million Americans without health insurance, 8 million more than in 1993. Bush's plan will make health insurance affordable for hard-working, low-income families by providing a $2,000 refundable health credit to allow those families to purchase their own insurance. He will make it easier for the small businesses of this country, which employ 60 percent of the uninsured, to obtain lower cost insurance through associations. By putting the consumer, not the government, in charge of health care decisions, Bush will remove federal regulations that restrict state flexibility in designing and implementing programs for the uninsured.
Bush has said that a strong, capable and modern military is the foundation of the peace we enjoy in the world today. Our military must be better supported and respected. It must also be challenged and transformed to become the military of the future. The bond of trust between the president and the military must be renewed as we create a military capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
Lastly, Bush believes Social Security is a defining American promise that must be kept. He will not change benefits in any way for current retirees or those near retirement. But to save Social Security for the next generation, he will lead a bipartisan effort to reform it by giving individuals the option of voluntarily investing a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. These accounts will earn higher rates of return and generate wealth that can be owned and passed on from parents to their children.
This election, like all elections, is about choices we will make as a community for our future. As Jews in America, we are fortunate to have two strong supporters of the unique U.S.-Israel relationship running for president. We must look not only at the issues, but determine which candidate can best restore dignity and authority to the presidency. Bush's candidacy clearly holds the promise and the best opportunity to take our nation to the next level of greatness.
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