After seven long years of a president dependent on mediocre advisers for guidance and telegeneity for support, it is time for a change. America needs a president who has proven his ability to lead. America needs a president willing to make the tough decisions on trade and the deficit. America needs "Tricky" Dick Gephardt.
In the last 11 years, Gephardt has proven himself to have unique leadership ability. There is clearly a reason why 89 members of Congress have endorsed his candidacy--including House majority leader Tom Foley and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski. It is probably the same reason that led congressmen unanimously to choose him as chairman of the House Democratic caucus.
Gephardt has always been on the cutting edge of controversial issues. He called for sanctions against South Africa in 1981, well before apartheid became the hot issue on college campuses. He not only got the House to go on record in favor of the sanctions, he did it before the measure even went to committee.
His experience in foreign policy matters exceeds any of his rivals. With only one exception, the candidates' positions on contra aid are the same, but only Gephardt has led the fight against it. And he won eight out of nine times. The Democratic party has long recognized that backing the rebels, even covertly, defies America's democratic principles. Now we need a leader who can ensure that a fair and just policy makes it through Congress and that ugly, backroom methods are not used to circumvent the proper political process.
GEPHARDT offers specific solutions to our nation's problems. Unlike other candidates who advocate big spending and, at the same time, call for a balanced budget, Gephardt has proposed an oil import fee as a means of rasing revenue. Although it is not popular in New England, he has continued to advocate it as sound economic policy, as well as sound energy policy.
The Gephardt Trade Amendment has met with a great deal of criticism, primarily from those who have not read it. The candidate himself readily admits that 80 percent of our nation's trade problems stem from poor management in domestic factories, but there is very little a political leader can do to deal with that kind of problem. Gephardt has proposed a moderate and fair solution to the other 20 percent of the problem.
The amendment requires that the U.S. enter into negotiations with any country that has a pattern of unfair trading practices with us. If, after six months, no agreement has been reached then the president may apply industry-specific sanctions against that country. If, however, it is determined that such sanctions would have a dire effect on that country's economy then the president has the option of taking no action.
The goal of the proposal is not to close markets--which has been historically proven to be detrimental to any nation's economy--but to open markets. Gephardt simply demands the same fair trading practices we offer in America be available worldwide.
It has been far too long since America had competent leadership. The Administration has shown a myopic lack of concern about the people of this nation. Women, laborers and the poor all need a president who is willing to take on their concerns and give them a voice. America needs a democratic president and the Democrat who can win, who can give them that voice, is Dick Gephardt.