Nation-Building >> transcript: NY Democratic Debate (9/25/03) | return to front page

"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, September 26, 2003


transcript: NY Democratic Debate (9/25/03)

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, September 26, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
full transcript is at the link above. Note that the debate opened with a question to Clark for his Democratic loyalties, and an invitation for Dean to critique Clark. Dean demurred and shifted the topic to Bush. Excerpts below are the attacks on Dean from Kerry and Gephardt:

KERRY: We Democrats fought hard to put those tax cuts in place, Ron. Those represent the efforts of Democrats to try to reach the middle class of America.

The 10 percent bracket wasn't George Bush's idea. It was our idea. It was in keeping with the spirit of our party to try to help the average American get ahead in a country where increasingly average Americans are getting stomped on, where there's an unfairness in the workplace, where corporate executives, as we've seen, are walking away with millions and sticking the average American with the bill. I think Governor Dean is absolutely wrong. And he's wrong on his facts. The fact is that 32 million American couples get about $1,000 out of the tax cut. The fact is that 16 million American families get $1,500 to $3,000 from it.

Just ask Ted Walsh (ph) and Mia Gloss (ph) in Barrington, New Hampshire. He's a firefighter, she's a teacher. If Governor Dean has his way and Congressman Gephardt, they're going to pay $3,000 additional taxes. We can cut the deficit in half, we can be fiscally responsible, but we don't have to do it on the backs of the middle class.

DEAN: And all due respect to Senator Kerry and the others from Washington that voted for these tax cuts, this is exactly why the budget is so far out of balance.

Washington politicians promising people everything. You can have tax cuts, you can have insurance, you can have special education. We cannot win as Democrats if we take that kind of attack. Tell the truth: We cannot afford all of the tax cuts, the health insurance, special ed and balancing the budget, and we have to do those things.

The fact of the matter is that 60 percent of Americans at the bottom got $325.

That is not a tax cut. Whatever you got out there in tax cuts, the majority of Americans saw their kids' college tuition go up, their property taxes go up, because people like the friend--Senator Kerry's friend in Barrington got laid off because of the enormous tax cuts and no money coming to the states. Let's call this one right. Let's be fiscally responsible and balance the budget. Bob Graham and I are the only people up here that have ever balanced a budget and I think we ought to balance this budget and not promise more than we can deliver.


WILLIAMS: Senator Kerry, you have accused Governor Dean of playing on workers' fears and advocating protectionism and saying that under him it threatens to throw the economy into a tail spin. It that fair?

KERRY: Yes, it is fair, because Governor Dean, on a number of occasions across the country, has said very specifically that we should not trade with countries until they have labor and environment standards that are equal to the United States. That means we would trade with no countries. It is a policy for shutting the door. It's either a policy for shutting the door, if you believe it, or it's a policy of just telling people what they want to hear.

I think there's a middle ground that's smart for America. No president can shut the door to globalization and no president should.

President Clinton traded. We created 23 million jobs in the 1990s, we balanced the budget, we paid down the debt, we brought more women into the workforce than at any time in American history. We lifted a hundred times the number of people out of poverty of Ronald Reagan. We can do that again, but we have to enforce trade agreements. We have to be fair in our trade.

And I intend to sign no trade agreement that doesn't have adequate labor and environment standards. I'm going to raise the enforcement level. But I'm not going to shut the door, because that would depress the economy of our country.

WILLIAMS: Governor Dean, you have said that the senator from Massachusetts lacks an understanding of the job loss in this country. You have heard the accusation from him.

DEAN: You know, to listen to Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Representative Gephardt, I'm anti-Israel, I'm anti-trade, I'm anti-Medicare and I'm anti-Social Security. I wonder how I ended up in the Democratic Party.

I'm not a new entrant to the Democratic Party. I've been here a long time. I voted for--I supported NAFTA, I supported the WTO. We benefited in Vermont from trade.

But I have spent a lot of time in the Midwest in the last couple of years. Our manufacturing jobs are hemorrhaging. We have to go back and revise every single trade agreement that we have to include labor standards, environmental standards and human rights standards.

And if we don't, the trade policy that we seek to help globalize and help workers around the country and the world is going to fail. I want a successful trade policy, but I'm no longer willing to sacrifice the jobs of middle-class Americans in order to pad the bottom lines of multinational corporations.

Trade has to be fair to workers, not just multinational corporations. And I think Senator Kerry is insensitive to the plight of workers--American workers who have lost their manufacturing jobs.


WILLIAMS: A question for Governor Dean: What is your position on raising the retirement age?

DEAN: We shouldn't do it.

You know, Dick Gephardt, earlier in his career considered means testing Social Security and Medicare both, something that I have never considered. I considered raising the Social Security age possibly to 70, possibly to 68. I've rejected that. I think Dick has since rejected means testing Social Security.

What we're trying to do as Democrats is save Social Security and Medicare both. And I think we've succeeded in doing that. In fact, many of the things that I suggested in 1995, which Dick Gephardt has attacked me for, were actually incorporated into the Clinton plan to save Medicare and Social Security, and has resulted in the savings of over $200 billion.

So my view is, we do not need to raise the retirement age above 67. We do not need to means test Social Security or Medicare. If we need to do anything, we may need to raise the cap on earnings in order to make Social Security solvent.

But Social Security is solvent today, and it will remain solvent if we can turn this economy around, and that's what we're all trying to do here.

WILLIAMS: Congressman Gephardt, we would be remiss.

GEPHARDT: Howard and I just have a basic disagreement. He said in, I think, 1993 that Medicare was the worst federal program ever. He said that it was the worst thing that ever happened.

He also supported, at our darkest hour--when I was leading the fight against Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America, he was shutting the government down--Howard, you were agreeing with the very plan that Newt Gingrich wanted to pass, which was a $270 billion cut in Medicare.

Now, you've been saying for many months that you're the head of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. I think you're just winging it. This is not the view of Democrats, in my view.

This program has been under attack from the Republicans since the beginning. And we need a candidate against George Bush that can take the fight to him on it, not someone who agreed with the Gingrich Republicans.

WILLIAMS: Governor Dean?

DEAN: That is flat-out false, and I'm ashamed that you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich.


First of all, I did say that Medicare was a dreadful program because it's administered dreadfully.

I've done more for health insurance, Dick Gephardt, frankly, than you ever have, because I've delivered it to a lot of seniors and a lot of young people. And I'll stake my record on health insurance against anybody up here.

Of course, we're not going to get rid of Medicare, and you are wrong to insinuate so, but we're going to run it properly because we're going to have somebody that actually is taking care of patients running Medicare and Medicaid in the FDA so we can get the things that we need to get to patients.

To insinuate that I would get rid of Medicare is wrong, it's not helpful, and we need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other.


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About Nation-Building

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.