Kerry proposes tax credit for creating jobs
Campaigning in Iowa, candidate also blasts Bush's foreign policy
Kerry listens to firefighter Dale Essick during a campaign event Monday in Ottumwa, Iowa.
CNN's Dana Bash on President Bush's campaign-trip plans.
CNN's Candy Crowley on Dean's 'touche.'
CNN's Kelly Wallace on Dean as a moving target.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry outlined a new economic plan Monday that he said would work for all Americans instead of just President Bush's wealthy supporters.
In a speech to women's advocates in Des Moines, the senator from Massachusetts said the average worker's wage grew by just 3 cents per hour last quarter, even though the U.S. economy grew 8 percent.
"America has a problem when the workers who help build this economy are pocketing pennies while the few bragging about a recovery are pocketing billions," Kerry said.
"Middle-class families have an agenda too, and I think it's about time that someone had a meeting for them."
Kerry said his plan would create a tax credit to reward companies that generate manufacturing jobs in the United States and help firms cover health care costs.
It would also close tax loopholes for companies that take jobs offshore, he said.
Kerry said he would require his Cabinet to make sure that federal contracts are carried out by American workers whenever possible.
He said workers in telephone call centers and on Internet sites should be required to tell U.S. consumers whether they are operating from the United States or abroad.
Kerry also accused the Bush administration of paying more attention to special interest groups than to the American public.
He said that in his first 100 days in office he would impose a five-year ban on lobbying by government officials after they leave office.
And, he said, he would require that any meetings between lobbyists and members of government about any bill be public record.
"It used to be that lobbyists and CEOs slipped in and out of the revolving door between government and corporate America, but in this administration they've kicked down the revolving door," Kerry said.
Earlier Monday, Kerry leveled sharp criticism at Bush's foreign policy.
At a breakfast in Ottumwa, Iowa, Kerry told a few dozen supporters that Bush's policies have overextended the U.S. military.
"I say to you this president has run the most inept, arrogant, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history," Kerry said. "And we need a president who knows how to make America safer."
In a speech in Oskaloosa, Kerry repeated his criticism of Bush's May 1 speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in which the president declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq.
Kerry, who received the Silver Star and Bronze Star for valor in combat as a Navy officer in Vietnam and three Purple Hearts for his wounds, called Bush's appearance "the great diversion, the great avoidance of reality."
He said of greater consequence to the nation is the fact that two jobs are lost every minute.
"George Bush thought he could play dress-up on an aircraft carrier and stand up in front of a great big sign that says 'Mission Accomplished,' and he thought that you, America, would not notice what was happening in towns, on farms, in communities, in factories all across our nation," Kerry said.
"It's not only not 'Mission Accomplished,' it's 'Mission Not Even Attempted.' It's 'Mission Abandoned,'" he said.
CNN's Carol Cratty contributed to this report.