Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Candidates for U.S. Senate Draw Contrasts

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Candidates for U.S. Senate Draw Contrasts

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Democrat Bill Nelson wants to reduce the federal debt. Republican Bill McCollum wants to cut taxes.

On these, as on many other issues, the candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Connie Mack echo the debate between presidential nominees Al Gore and George W. Bush in philosophy, if not in all details.

Although Nelson parted company with the Clinton administration on the estate tax, favoring its repeal, his position is similar to Gore's in emphasizing the need to use a large portion of the projected budget surplus for debt reduction.

The savings on interest would shore up Social Security while still leaving some of the surplus for targeted tax cuts and spending increases, Nelson says.

McCollum, like Bush, supports bigger tax cuts and a smaller amount for spending and debt reduction than the Democrats.

McCollum not only wants the estate tax eliminated, he wants to do away with the capital gains tax, lower income-tax rates, remove the marriage penalty and require a two-thirds majority vote of Congress to raise taxes.

Prescription drugs is another area in which McCollum and Nelson have positions similar to their parties' presidential standard-bearers.

McCollum, the Republican, emphasizes a limited government role and a choice of providers.

Nelson, the Democrat, calls that "a $40 billion subsidy for insurance companies" and says he supports an approach more like Gore's, in which the government would subsidize drug purchases under the Medicare plan.

There are real differences, too, on many other issues, from abortion to Social Security.

McCollum opposes abortions except to save the life of the mother and accuses Nelson of switching his position from anti-abortion to pro-abortion rights.

Nelson says he has always supported abortion rights, but with qualifications. He opposes the late-term, partial-birth abortion procedure except when the life or health of the mother is at stake and is against federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when necessary for the life or health of the mother. …

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