Fri, Aug 19, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Tsai takes aim at wealth gap in new campaign ad

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday released a TV spot for her presidential election campaign that focuses on income disparity.

The 60-second television advertisement, titled “The distance between them,” features two young men who live in the same city, but lead dramatically different lives, with one riding a scooter and buying lottery tickets while the other drives a Mercedes-Benz and buys luxuries.

“The commercial tells people that the government should be responsible for a fair social system that allows citizens to enjoy the basic rights of daring to dream and living with happiness,” said Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), spokesperson for Tsai’s campaign office.

Cheng said that with an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent among young people and a housing price-annual income ratio of 16 — compared to 6.1 for New York City — young people feel that they have no future under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.

Since Ma is running for re--election, the commercial highlights the hardships facing young people in urban areas and the growing poverty among the middle-class, she said.

Tsai’s economic policy, if she is elected, will focus on creating job opportunities and boosting domestic demand through an innovative local economy, Cheng said.

The TV spot is Tsai’s second official campaign ad.

In her first campaign ad, released early last month, Tsai trumpeted the slogan: “I’m Taiwanese,” which was strongly criticized by Ma’s campaign team and his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), who accused Tsai of inciting social division.

The administration and the KMT have recently criticized Tsai over her promise to cut the national deficit in half in four years and achieve a balanced budget in eight years if elected, saying she and the DPP were playing a numbers game by using “hidden debts.”

DPP spokesperson Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said the DPP would be able to save a large sum of money simply by completing public projects and programs for less than the KMT government has budgeted.

For example, the former KMT administration had budgeted NT$500 billion (US$17.3 billion), NT$400 billion and NT$150 billion for work on National Highway No. 3, the Datan Power Plant in Taoyuan County and a flood control project on the Keelung River in Taipei respectively. After the DPP took office in 2000, its administration was able to complete the highway job for NT$240 billion, the power plant for NT$110 billion and the river clean-up for NT$32 billion, he said.

“With those three projects alone, the DPP administration was able to save NT$668 billion from the central government’s budget,” Chuang said.

Saving money was a crucial first step in the DPP’s plan to achieve fiscal balance, which it almost achieved in 2007, falling short by about NT$10 billion, he said, saying that the situation worsened after Ma took office the following year.

Ma took a rare step by expanding public spending while offering tax cuts to counter stagnant economic growth, DPP spokesman Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) said.

“I don’t understand how you can achieve fiscal balance when you borrow more money and cut taxes at the same time,” he said, adding that the national debt had increased by NT$1.3 trillion during Ma’s three years in office.

As for Minister without Portfolio Yiin Chii-ming’s (尹啟銘) remark that the DPP had “fabricated” fiscal information by “hiding debt in public funds or government-controlled businesses,” DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said it was the KMT that had mastered the numbers game, adding that Yiin was “barking up the wrong tree” because some funds were “self-liquidated.”

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