BILL CLINTON, Democratic Party
BOB DOLE, Republican Party
ROSS PEROT, Reform Party
HARRY BROWNE, Libertarian Party
Bill Clinton: Says a balanced-budget amendment is unnecessary because both parties are working toward balanced budget by 2002.
Bob Dole: Favors a balanced-budget amendment and has said his first presidential act would be to call for constitutional amendment.
Ross Perot: He once considered an amendment a dodge for politicians and "an excuse not to do anything." Now favors a balanced-budget amendment. "Let's get it done." Deficit-cutting has been his focus as a candidate.
Harry Browne: Advocates balancing the budget immediately in 1998 - the first fiscal year of the new presidential term - by selling off what he estimates to be $12 trillion in unneeded government assets.
Bill Clinton: Pushed through higher income taxes on wealthy and 4.3-cent-per-gallon increase in gasoline tax. Proposes $110 billion in tax cuts, including eventual $500 tax credit for pre-teen children, college tax breaks, and expanded use of IRAs. Expanded earned income tax credit for working poor, but did not deliver promised middle-class tax cut.
Bob Dole: Voted for 1990 budget deal raising taxes. Proposes $548 billion in tax cuts over three years, including 15 percent cut in all income tax rates, halving of capital-gains tax rate, and $500 tax credit for children under 18. Endorsed constitutional amendment that would require three-fifths majority votes in Congress to approve tax increases.
Ross Perot: Stresses deficit control over tax cuts. Would make future tax increases subject to referendum. In 1992, proposed higher income taxes for people making more than $55,000 and couples making more than $89,250.
Harry Browne: Proposes reducing government enough to repeal the federal income tax. He would abolish the Internal Revenue Service.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Bill Clinton: Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich agreed in 1995 to form an independent commission to propose changes in the campaign-finance system, but neither acted on the idea. He supported a bipartisan campaign-finance bill that stalled in the Senate in June.
Bob Dole: Favors appointing a nonpartisan commission to find new ways to pay for campaigns. In the past, has opposed spending limits and taxpayer funding for elections, but is using federal matching funds in his presidential campaign. Strongly criticized Clinton's campaign for taking money from foreign interests and wants investigation.
Ross Perot: Opposes political action committees (PACs) and favors laws requiring congressional candidates to raise money for their campaigns in their own states or districts. Proposes tighter restrictions on lobbyists.
Harry Browne: Says government efforts to regulate elections have caused a corrupt system. Advocates ending public funding of presidential campaigns. He proposes that individuals be allowed to contribute more to political parties as a way to alleviate negative influence of PAC money.
Bill Clinton: Says long-term changes will be needed to help Social Security meet needs of retiring baby boomers. "We must maintain a Social Security system that is universal and that is equitable and fair.... The program should help to ensure that those earning lower wages and those unable to work ... have an adequate income in retirement."
Bob Dole: Played key role in 1983 Social Security reforms. "I am committed to protecting Social Security for today's senior citizens and for future generations.... Congress needs to hold hearings - and perhaps set up a commission to study the options. Any fix... must be considered in a total package of solutions."
Ross Perot: Says wealthy people should forgo Social Security benefits. Has called generally for entitlement programs to be means-tested. "Since Social Security is running out of money, the wealthy should forgo their benefits so that the millions of needy Americans who rely on Social Security for their retirement can survive."
Harry Browne: Advocates abolishing Social Security and setting up guaranteed annuities with private insurance companies for current collectors. To pay for the annuities, would sell off unused government assets, which he estimates to be worth $12 trillion.
Bill Clinton: Sponsored or supported peace efforts in Bosnia, Mideast, Northern Ireland, and Haiti. Committed troops to former Yugoslavia. Has delayed until after the election a decision on enforcing steps to curb foreign investment in Cuba. Fired missiles at Iraqi targets and expanded no-fly zone in response to Iraqi attacks on Kurdish rebels.
Bob Dole: Backed Clinton on several major foreign-policy steps, giving grudging support to Bosnian troop mission. Accused Clinton of being passive in the face of communist resurgence and arms-control violations in Russia, and of "coddling Castro." Backed military moves against Iraq while citing Clinton's "weak leadership."
Ross Perot: Says trade agreements are exporting US jobs. Has spoken for engagement with China and aid to former Soviet republics. Early critic of Persian Gulf war. Of latest US moves against Iraq, says: "War is not a place for politicians to create a positive image and get a bump in the polls."
Harry Browne: Says that if government has a role to play in foreign affairs, it is to keep the US out of wars - to make sure no one attacks this country. Would not support a proposed international force in Bosnia after the withdrawal of US troops in the current operation.
Bill Clinton: Curbed military spending, but accepted more than $11 billion in additional defense spending sought by congressional Republicans in 1997 budget negotiations, including a 3 percent pay raise for military personnel. Has opposed GOP calls for increased spending on missile-defense systems, which he says would be too costly.
Bob Dole: Favors increasing defense spending, calling for a $5 billion ballistic-missile-defense system. The World War II veteran says new technology and bureaucratic streamlining can reduce the cost of veterans programs without cutting services. Would use military forces to fight drug trafficking.
Ross Perot: In 1992, called for $90 billion in military cuts by 1997 - $10 billion less than Clinton wanted and $40 billion more than George Bush urged. Has been an outspoken advocate for military personnel and veterans, and has financed studies of illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans.
Harry Browne: Advocates creating a defense system that relies as little as possible on the government and using military force strictly to defend the US. Would cut defense spending by 50 percent. "The only reason for military power is to discourage attackers and - if they come anyway - to repel them at our borders."
Bill Clinton: Won passage of NAFTA and new world trade pact. Threatened to impose sanctions against China, with whom the US has the largest trade deficit, for pirating computer software, movies, and music, but backed down when China promised to crack down on counterfeiting. Pushed for renewing China's preferential trade status.
Bob Dole: Supported trade pacts. Has voiced qualms about whether US interests are served in arbitration system for world trade agreement. As a senator, staunchly supported President Bush's efforts to preserve China's preferential trade benefits, and supported the renewal of China's most favored nation trade status this year.
Ross Perot: Opposed free-trade agreements. Says trade pacts are exporting US jobs. He proposes renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the most favored nation trade status for China.
Harry Browne: Opposes NAFTA, GATT, the World Trade Organization, and any other trade alliance. He says simple free trade will give Americans the widest possible choice of products and services at the lowest available prices and will give American manufacturers access to the best and least expensive raw materials in the world.