By Tom Donaldson
Atlantic News, October 28, 1999
FORBES COMES TO TOWN -- Presidential hopeful Steven
Forbes paid Hampton a visit as the Presidentail Race begins
to heat up, and the number of contenders narrows down.
[tom Donaldson photo]
HAMPTON --- Last week, Republican presidential hopeful Steve Forbes unveiled his economic package at a rally held at the Inn of Hampton.
The conference center was over-flowing with over 250 attendees, many of of whom were standing around the room during the event. The multi-millionaire CEO (on leave of absence) and editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine spoke for about 20 minutes and drew applause for the plans that he discussed during his talk.
In addition to giving Americans back their right to choose a doctor, a school and a retirement plan, Forbes’ main thrust was his flat tax plan about which he said that had talked to several New Hampshirites. In each example the candidate stated that there would be considerable savings over the present income tax. Even prior to his statement about returning rights to Americans, he said “Start with rights; I am pro-life. ”One of his best laughs came when he said, “Imagine, they call [the] IRS a service.”
Forbes proposed flat tax will allow personal exemptions. A family of four earning $36,000 per year would pay no tax. Young workers, he said, would be allowed to establish personal retirement accounts. He compared it to the retirement plan that he instituted at Forbes magazine. National spending on discretionary, non-defense programs only, would be allowed to keep up with changes in inflation and population growth. Various government programs would be consolidated or eliminated and what he called a “truly dynamic and competitive health insurance market,” would be created. Finally, he would allow parents to use government money to send children to schools of their own choice.
When questioned by the audience, he was asked about his policy on China. He replied that we need a “real” China policy and that the US should let China know the rules. He pointed out after the end of he year the Panama Canal would not revert to local control but would be controlled by a Hong Kong-based Chinese company.
Following his public presentation, he invited several reporters onto his bus called “Victory I” for a ride and interview. On the 15-minute trip he said that he favored term limits at the federal level. When asked how he could do all of the things that he proposed, he answered that to do things in Washington he would need an election mandate. He believes that the people want someone in Washington who is not a politician but a bold outsider. At the present, the people, he said “don’t feel in charge.”
Reminded that candidate Elizabeth Dole had dropped from the race saying that it was all about money, Forbes was asked how his fund raising was going and, as a wealthy man, how much personal money would he spend. His response was, “Enough to level the playing field.”