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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Why is Nader Running, Exactly?

Via William Raspberry in the Washington Post, I learn that Ralph Nader has offered some unsolicited advice to John Kerry: a 10-point plan to win the election. "The Democrats have become too cautious," says Nader, "If Kerry takes these positions, the only thing he'll have to worry about is how big will be his landslide."

The funny thing is that Kerry has endorsed most of Nader's proposals. Nader thinks that his proposals would "attract a lot of conservatives to [Kerry's] cause." But that's only because a lot of Nader's proposals are "Mom & apple pie" issues: raising the minimum wage, ending corporate welfare, fighting corporate crime, fighting predatory lending. Republicans support these too, though with less vigor than Democrats. Conservatives who want the minimum wage raised can just vote for Bush. He supports it too.

1. Nader wants to "end corporate welfare," (though I can't find much on his web site about this). Kerry wants to "implement the McCain-Kerry Commission on Corporate Welfare," which would recommend cuts that Congress would be required to vote on.

2. Nader says "workers need a living wage - not a minimum wage," which should be indexed to inflation. Kerry "supports increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation."

3. Nader says he wants to "convict the corporate executive crooks." Kerry says he wants to "restore investor confidence with strong enforcement by the securities and exchange commission." Kerry says the government "should not give lucrative contracts to companies that have a record of accounting fraud - like WorldCom - or are moving offshore." Kerry actually has quite a lot of this kind of stuff in his economic plan.

4. Nader wants to repeal to Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and spend it all on infrastructure (according to Raspberry but not Nader's web site). Kerry also wants to "repeal Bush's special tax breaks for Americans who make more than $200,000," although I think he mostly wants to spend it on health care and deficit reduction.

5. Nader wants to protect the poor from check-cashing businesses, tax-refund loans, rent-to-own schemes, bank red-lining, and predatory lending. Kerry want to "crack down on financial predators," and will appoint a "Director of Family Economic Security who will be charged with a top to bottom review of fair lending and fair housing laws," so that they can be updated.

6. Nader wants to "demand reform of a tax code that taxes work more than it taxes wealth." Kerry says "many corporations are bending the rules and shirking their fair share of the burden," and wants to crack down on companies that set up "virtual headquarters in foreign countries...to avoid paying U.S. taxes."

7. Nader wants to "promote reduced reliance on fossil and nuclear energy." Kerry wants to "reduce oil dependence by two million barrels of oil a day," by increasing mileage standards and various other means. He doesn't criticize nuclear energy.

8. Nader wants to reverse policies that "make it almost impossible to form a union in the private sector anymore." Kerry says that the "card check and neutrality system is the most fair and equitable way" to organize a union, which I think is a strong pro-labor position.

But then there's:

9. Nader wants to "Set a date for withdrawal of American troops and companies" from Iraq." Here Kerry and Nader actually differ, and this is way Nader is polling at 5% or so: he has the support of a hard core of anti-war voters.

What happened to number 10? Well, Raspberry seems to have missed one. Perhaps it's the Industrial Hemp plan Nader announced last week.

All Nader quotations are from Raspberry's article or Nader's Issues Page. All Kerry quotations are from Kerry's August 2003 Economic Plan, his Energy Plan, his "Plan to End the Era of Special Interests," or his Workers Issues page.

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