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[Newsmaker] DP presidential hopefuls talk of throwing out taxpayer money

Former Democratic Party leader Lee Nak-yon (Yonhap)
Former Democratic Party leader Lee Nak-yon (Yonhap)
The ruling party’s presidential hopefuls have begun talking about giving money to young people who completed their military duties, young people who do not own homes and even newborns.

The opposition has decried them as populist pledges.

Former Democratic Party leader Lee Nak-yon proposed on Thursday, “let’s spend the comprehensive real estate holding tax revenue collected from owners of multiple homes for residential stability of young people without homes and one-person households.”

This came a day after he said the government should give 30 million won to people who have completed their mandatory military service, in order to help start their careers.

Another presidential hopeful, Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung, suggested giving people who chose not to go to college 10 million won to travel around the world.

Former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said last month he was designing a policy to support every newborn’s life with a bank account of 100 million won in installments.

Opposition politicians slammed the proposals, calling them shallow populist ideas.

Yoo Seong-min of the People Power Party, a former lawmaker and economist who said he will run for president next year, voiced a need for war with “malignant populism.”

Gov. Lee, Chung and Lee Nak-yon are competing to spend the most money, Yoo said.

“We should stick to standard tactics to grow the economy,” he added.

Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, previously People Power Party and currently independent, wrote on Facebook that they are “scrambling to seduce the youth with petty cash,” and that “the people and the youth will no longer buy it.”

Rep. Yoon Hee-sook of the People Power Party also criticized Gov. Lee for saying “it was just an idea” about the 10 million-won plan for a trip around the world.

“That’s just asking for misunderstanding that someone of his stature as a presidential candidate is poking people around with ‘ideas,’” she said.

“If young people who can’t afford to travel change their minds about college just so they can get the travel expense, and things don’t work out in their lives or those of the governor’s own children, how is he going to take responsibility for that?” she said.

“Please think deeply on important matters.”

The Democratic Party’s Rep. Lee Kyu-min who is close to the governor blasted Yoon for “distorting” what he said, saying she was “like a zombie that has found food.”

A 30-year-old Rep. Jeon Yong-ki of the Democratic Party also asked “it is really that wrong to expand the benefit that only college students get to all the youth?”

There is criticism within the ruling party, however, of the big three presidential hopefuls’ policy ideas.

Rep. Park Yong-jin, who plans to compete for the ruling party’s presidential nomination, wrote on Facebook, “the people won’t agree if they think (politicians) are just mindlessly dishing out from state coffers.”

“I wish the policy lines didn’t flow towards how much money rather is given out, rather than improving the system and recovering hope.”

And Democratic Party Rep. Lee Kwang-jae said, “it is problematic that solutions for the youth are boiling down to ‘cash.’ It’s like when children want conversation and attention, the parents just give them pocket money.”

Economic growth and welfare must come in a virtuous circle, he said.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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