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KidsPost Compares the Candidates
Pick an issue: Education | Iraq War | Stem-cell Research | Economy | Terrorism
President George W. Bush
Senator John F. Kerry
Issue: Education
Pushed for and signed the No Child Left Behind Act, and says it has been a success. He has given states more time to meet some of the plan's rules. But he believes that lots of tests are a way of knowing how schools and students are doing. If schools don't make the grade, the law allows for "punishments," including letting students move to different schools.
Supports vouchers, which means giving taxpayer money to families to help them send their children to private or religious schools. He says vouchers give poorer families options and that competition will make public schools better.
Voted for No Child Left Behind in the Senate, but says Bush has given schools a lot less money than he promised, making it hard for schools to meet the law's goals. He says testing is good, but it's only one way to measure if a school is doing a good job. He wants to look at whether parents are happy with the school and whether kids are graduating. And he worries about turning schools into "testing factories."
Would spend $30 billion over 10 years to improve teachers' pay.
Opposes vouchers, saying they help too few students and that taxpayer dollars should not fund private schools.
The Back-and-Forth
Bush says Kerry is wrong about the money. The president's education spending plan calls for the government to spend a lot more money on education -- a 49 percent increase over 2001 levels. Kerry argues that because the law has so many rules calling for more tests and more paperwork, the extra money is not enough. Back to top
Issue: Iraq War
Ordered invasion of Iraq, calling it a threat to America's security.
Says, if he had it to do over, he would still go to war even knowing Iraq apparently had no weapons program and no link to al Qaeda.
Says Iraq is "a war for the civilized world to fight terrorists and terrorism." Says the war makes America safer.
Says Iraq is well on the way to being "secure, democratic, federal and free." (Elections are scheduled for January.)
Would keep troops in Iraq as long as it takes to help Iraqis move to democracy.
Invasion of Iraq is an example of his policy of preemption, which means attacking an enemy before that enemy can strike the United States.
Voted to give President Bush authority to invade Iraq, but later opposed Bush's request for $87 billion for military and reconstruction costs in Iraq.
Says he would not have launched this war knowing what he knows now.
Says having U.S. troops in Iraq makes the world less safe, because it distracts us from the war on terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and stirs up resentment in the region and worldwide violence by terrorists.
Says Bush should have gotten strong support from many other countries before the war.
Calls the situation in Iraq "more and more of a mess."
Would begin to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq in the summer and bring all of them home within four years.
The Back-and-Forth
Bush says Kerry's shifting position on Iraq shows he's a wishy-washy leader. Kerry did at one point say that, if he had been in the White House 18 months ago, he would have attacked Iraq. That's the opposite of what he says now.
Kerry says, yes, Iraq was a dictatorship capable of developing nuclear weapons, but that description "would apply to 35 to 40 countries today. Is President Bush saying we should invade all of them?" Back to top
Issue: Stem-Cell Research
In August 2001 allowed first federal spending on human embryonic stem cell research, but only on cell "lines" then in existence.
Says stem cell research "offers both great promise and great peril, so I have decided we must proceed with great care."
Would loosen Bush's restrictions and increase annual funding to $100 million.
Says the president's policy has slowed progress toward scientific breakthroughs that could help sick and injured people.
The Back-and-Forth
The president supports research on adult stem cells, which are found in the bone marrow, fat and skin of grown-ups. Groups opposed to embryonic stem cell research say scientists should focus more on these cells, because the research does not involving destroying embryos. Kerry also supports adult stem cell research, but notes that a majority of scientists say embryonic stem cells have much more potential to lead to cures. Back to top
Issue: The Economy
Wants to make his tax cuts permanent. They now are scheduled to expire in 2010. Says estimates of future debt are not accurate, but would limit spending on some programs not related to security. Would invest in programs to help community colleges and vocational schools train workers to qualify them for better-paying jobs. Also proposes programs to help unemployed people search for jobs. Would lower costs by eliminating government bureaucracy and relaxing some government regulations.
Would keep many of Bush's tax cuts but eliminate cuts for the wealthiest Americans, those earning more than $200,000 a year. Would limit spending and get rid of some tax breaks for big corporations. Would give tax breaks to investors, and small businesses and factories that create new jobs. Supports increasing the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour, where it has been for about seven years, to $7 per hour.
The Back-and-Forth
Bush says his tax cut helped give a boost to the economy. But Kerry says that too much of the tax money went to the richest Americans and too little went to Americans who really needed extra money. (Figures show that everyone got some benefit from the tax cuts, but the richest 1 percent of people got about 34 percent of those cuts.) Bush says many of those high-earners getting tax cuts were small-business owners. Kerry says they were mostly wealthy people.
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Issue: Terrorism
Initially opposed Department of Homeland Security, but has tripled its funding (to $30 billion a year) since its creation.
Started program to fingerprint non-Americans entering the country and plans 7 percent increase in funds to tighten U.S. border security.
Wants to shift military forces away from outposts such as Germany and closer to terrorism hot spots.
Plans to spend more than $5 billion over 10 years on vaccines and medicines to protect against biological terrorism.
Wants to add 40,000 active-duty military and refocus the National Guard on homeland security.
Proposes to double overseas spy network and increase the number of experts in foreign cultures and languages.
Wants 600 percent increase in the budget for programs to screen cargo on planes.
Plans to increase the number of inspections and improve safety at U.S. ports.
The Back-and-Forth
Bush wants the USA Patriot Act extended and says law enforcement officials need new powers to confront new kinds of threats. He says the act allows the FBI and other law officers "to disrupt terrorism cells" and that it's "vital" for Congress to renew it.
Kerry voted for the act but doesn't like how it's been used at times. "People's rights have been abused," he says, citing the case of a man kept in prison for eight months without being allowed to call an attorney. Kerry wants to re-examine the law, including parts that allow officials to check out people's library reading or enter homes when no one's there and look around without telling anyone right away.
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