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Positions Held by Independent Candidate Perot

By Jonathan Peterson
Los Angeles Times

Independent candidate Ross Perot has not developed detailed positions on a full range of issues. He has centered his campaign on a plan to eliminate the $290 billion federal budget deficit in five years through a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts that would reach far into the middle class.

Those steps will make America "pay its own way" in the world and reintroduce what Perot views as common sense to a gridlocked government. In a few select areas, such as research, Perot actually would boost domestic spending to enhance the nation's competitiveness. Overall, he says that his master plan would save $754 billion in five years, yielding a $10 billion budget surplus in 1998.

Here are the elements of his five-year plan to eliminate the deficit, which Perot assumes would be implemented 1994-1998; savings are five-year totals:

* Defense spending cuts: Defense would be curtailed $40 billion beyond Bush administration proposals, an additional 1.6 percent annual decline.

* Domestic discretionary spending cuts: Agency budgets would be cut 10 percent across the board. "Outdated" programs, such as the Rural Electrification Agency, would be wiped out. Savings: $108 billion.

* Social Security cuts: Perot would save the government $30 billion by raising taxes for beneficiaries whose income exceeds $25,000 ($32,000 for couples) in a move that would affect 18 percent of recipients.

* Health care cuts: Perot says that he can save $142 billion through a not-yet-outlined strategy of cost containment in Medicare and Medicaid.

* Agriculture cuts: Federal help for farmers would be scaled back substantially. Overall, restrictions on government support for farmers, designed to reduce federal help for wealthy agriculture businesses, would raise $17 billion.

* Domestic spending increases: Research and development spending would be boosted more than $45 billion, an extra $40 billion would go to repairing the nation's infrastructure, $12.4 billion would be devoted to early childhood development efforts, including full funding of Head Start, and aid to the cities would be increased by $11.4 billion.

* Tax hikes and restrictions: Perot would hike the top income tax rate to 33 percent from 31 percent for individuals earning more than $55,000 a year and $89,250 for joint filers. Savings: $33 billion.

Gasoline taxes would be raised 10 cents a gallon for five straight years, for a total increase of 50 cents, to take in $158 billion.

The excise tax on cigarettes would be doubled to 48 cents a pack, netting $19 billion in savings.

Some employer-paid health insurance plans would be taxed as income, to raise $57 billion. The proposal starts with individuals' premiums valued above $135 per month and family premiums above $335 per month.

Mortgage interest deductions would be restricted, with the amount of principal eligible for the tax break shrinking to $250,000 from $1 million. Savings: $16 billion.

Other positions

Perot would push for urban enterprise zones and allow residents of housing projects to buy -- and resell -- their homes. He would expand drug treatment programs and try to divert gang members to legal enterprises, while also toughening prosecution of gang members and violent criminals.

* Health care: He proposes a national health board to oversee reforms and a national health care policy.

* Abortion: Perot supports a woman's right to choose, federal funding of abortions for the poor and federal funding of counseling for pregnant women, while also encouraging adoption.

* Race relations: Perot seeks a "national commitment on race" to bring Americans together, and places his hope in people's attitudes, political leadership and an improved economy to help the poor.