Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Dean speaks at National Press Club
Dean’s speech was part of a “media briefing and national policy forum” entitled “What is the Real State of the Union?” held jointly by The Atlantic Monthly and the New America Foundation.
Dean was introduced by James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly, who introduced him in the context of what he called “the simultaneous opportunity and burden [Dean] has” as filling “the slot for the ‘interesting candidate.’” Dean opened the speech, which was significantly longer than the remarks he made to the AFL-CIO last Friday, with a not-so-subtle reminder that he is the only candidate with executive experience in the race for the Democratic nomination. Playing on the title of the event, Dean said, “I’m the only person in the room to have given a state of the State address.”
After the opening remarks, Dean launched into what is becoming the portion of his stump speech on the budget and tax policy, echoing statements he made on Friday that he served as governor through two recessions, balanced the budget, cut marginal income tax rates and improved Vermont’s bond rating from the worst in New England to the best. Dean then went on the offensive, noting that no Republican President has balanced the budget in 34 years and saying of the Bush economic policy, “I call this the Argentine Fiscal Policy” to muffled chuckles from the audience.
After calling for the repeal of Bush’s 2001 tax cut, Dean spoke about his plan to improve access to health care. The plan calls for expanding Medicare to cover everyone under 23 using Medicare, expanding Medicaid to cover prescription drugs for those over 65 and subsidizing private insurance for small businesses, the self-employed and others between 23 and 65. Dean said that the under-23 provisions of his plan, which have been implemented to a lesser extent in Vermont during his term as Governor, would be “dirt cheap” and could be accomplished by having states cover young people under Medicare in exchange for the federal government assuming responsibility for so-called “dual-eligibles,” or people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. Dean said that this piecemeal approach is most feasible because it would not draw the ire of many of the interest groups (such as small businesses and insurance companies) that President Clinton’s health insurance scheme did. According to Dean, his plan would cost half as much as Bush’s tax cut.
Dean then went on to discuss education, referring to the No Child Left Behind Act as the “No School Board Left Standing Act” and calling the Act “bipartisan feel-good nonsense.” Dean savaged the Act as a large under-funded mandate that increases property taxes, classifies many good schools as failing, encourages states to lower their standards and forces schools to permit “constitutionally protected” school prayer and Boy Scout meetings.
Despite the pronouncement of Atlantic Monthly Managing Editor Cullen Murphy that today’s forum would focus on domestic affairs, Dean launched into an attack on Administration foreign policy. Asserting that Bush’s unilateralism and dismissive attitude toward cooperation was threatening economic “encirclement” from Europe and Asia, Dean drew a contrast between himself and former Vice President Al Gore, saying, “we can’t sign Kyoto” but rebuking Bush by asserting that “the tone could have been so much different.” On Iraq, Dean repeated his familiar mantra that “the President has not made his case.”
Closing his statements, Dean said, “Following is only part of leadership, the rest is leading.”
Following the speech, Dean took questions from the audience. When asked about trade, Dean took a somewhat different tack then he did at the AFL-CIO event, where he said simply that he would not sign a free trade agreement that did not include labor and environmental protections. Today, he elaborated for the decidedly different audience. Dean said that while labor organizations may favor labor and environmental protections as a way to restrict trade, he believes that trade was mutually beneficial and democracy-promoting only when it served to create a global middle class and that in the United States, that large middle class emerged only with the help of the labor movement.
On the issue of Social Security, Dean said that he opposed President Bush’s privatization plan because “unless you’re willing to say that you’ll let seniors starve” if they make bad investment choices, there would be large bailouts for retirees who lost a large portion of their investments. Instead, Dean said that he was in favor of having a government board invest a portion of the trust fund in non-Treasury securities.
In response to a question on drug policy, Dean said, “I am in favor if really hammering on dealers” and went on to say that in the case of users, drugs should be considered a public health problem.
The event, which ran all day, aired on C-SPAN 3.
I have additional commentary on my blog here.
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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.