In a Monitor interview, the candidate calls for sacrifice and rebuilding on industrial base
PRESIDENTIAL candidate Paul Tsongas's trademark may be a somber expression, but it reflects the "no pain, no gain" theme of his campaign. He calls for American sacrifice, not "easy solutions," to revitalize the nation's economy.
In a Monitor interview, the former Massachusetts senator assailed popular Democratic notions such as the redistribution of wealth and the current fixation on middle class tax relief. American voters are frightened about the country's future economic prospects, he says. They want jobs, not short-term handouts.
"How do you explain why we're doing so well?" asks Mr. Tsongas, referring to his long-term strategy for rebuilding the country's industrial base and spurring the service sector. "We're the surprise of the campaign."
His concern over the country's economic future echoes continually through his 85-page strategy booklet, "A Call to Economic Arms."
"The president has the capacity to galvanize the private sector," says Tsongas, whose goal is improved American manufacturing competitiveness without protecting United States markets.
Beefed-up US productivity means more savings, investment and tax receipts. With the government deficit under control, the Federal Reserve will work to keep interest rates low, and goods and services more affordable. His plan includes:
* A strong endorsement for industrial policy that fosters government investments in technological research and development. Money must target manufacturing processes, not simply innovation.
* Selected capital-gains tax incentives for long-term investments in corporate America. The longer a stock is held, the lower the tax rate on any gain.
* Capital-gains tax incentives for investments in new enterprises which make up the nation's most recent industrial growth.
* A 50-cent increase in the current gasoline tax, over 5 years, to promote energy conservation and generate more government revenue.
The former senator readily concedes that he's aggressively pro-business. If government fosters a successful private sector, there will be ample money to pay for the country's very costly social needs. A robust economy means a greater tax base for financing health care, college scholarships and affordable housing, he says.