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Clark outlines economic incentive plan

From Rose Arce

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark outlines his economic plan Wednesday at the East River Park in New York.
Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark outlines his economic plan Wednesday at the East River Park in New York.

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Wesley Clark

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Retired Gen. Wesley Clark on Wednesday proposed a $100 billion economic incentive plan to be funded from reductions in parts of President Bush's tax-cut program that benefit high-income families.

Speaking in Manhattan across the East River from a plant in Queens where jobs are being cut, Clark said that "fiscal discipline requires not only reducing the deficit. It requires moving money from areas where it isn't advancing national goals and directing it to areas where it is.

"So I will reduce the tax cuts Mr. Bush gave the richest households -- those making more than $200,000 a year" and use the money for an economic incentive plan, he said.

Clark, who declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination last week, outlined his three-part, two-year plan.

• A $40 billion fund would focus on improving homeland security by investing in infrastructure, such as hospitals, and training those who are the first to respond in emergencies. That fund would leave hospitals better prepared for potential biological and chemical attacks, provide money to hire more Coast Guard and customs workers, and secure ports, bridges and tunnels, Clark said.

• A $40 billion fund for states and local governments -- many financially strapped -- would bolster public education, health care, local law enforcement and social services, he said. About $20 billion would help public colleges keep tuition down and help state and local governments train workers for new jobs, he said. Local governments would receive $10 billion to cope with rising health-care costs, and $10 billion would help finance local law enforcement programs and social services.

• The third proposal would provide $20 billion for business tax credits and incentives, including tax credits of $5,000 per every new employee hired by a company. There would be incentives for firms to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States and efforts to make companies more competitive in the trade markets, Clark said.

The candidate took aim at the president's record on the economy, saying 3.3 million private-sector jobs, including 2.5 million manufacturing jobs, had been lost during Bush's term.

Clark said that unemployment had risen sharply under Bush, particularly for African-Americans and Hispanics, and that unemployed workers have been idle for longer periods of time than in previous years.

"Three years ago, we were told we were getting a compassionate conservative," he said. "What we got instead were massive tax cuts for the rich, staggering deficits for the country and the worst jobs losses since the Great Depression.

"That's not compassionate or conservative. It's heartless, reckless and it's wrong."

Earlier this month, Bush acknowledged that "we've got a short-term problem" with unemployment. But he added that the long-term prognosis for more U.S. jobs was good under his tax cut and other economic stimulus proposals.

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