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"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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Thursday, October 09, 2003


Response to Kerry's attack on Dean's medicare record

posted by annatopia at Thursday, October 09, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Tonight during the Presidential debate on CNN, something unprecedented occured. John Kerry's staff issued a press release attacking Dean's health care record and it was passed on to moderator Judy Woodruff. Woodruff interrupted Dean (who was at the time answering a question) and read the release. I cannot reproduce the question verbatim, as nothing is currently posted on the Kerry blog or the press release section of Kerry's website. To paraphrase, Kerry's camp accused Dean of cutting health care and threatening to kick seniors off of medicaid while Dean was governor of Vermont.
Here is a lengthy explanation of what transpired in Vermont. Essentially, a decline in revenue combined with an increase in demand for government resources led to a situation quite similar to that which Vermont faced during the first Bush recession. Tough budget choices had to be made in order to maintain a certain level of service to Vermont's neediest citizens. Dean proposed raising the cigarette tax in order to prevent cuts in the state's Medicaid program, and the legislature resisted. The Governor also intended to preserve the state's rainy day fund, which he created during his tenure. The rainy day fund was designed to pay down Vermont's state debt or be tapped should a dire fiscal crisis arrive. When it became apparent that the leg was either going to have to cut peoples' health care or enact a sin tax, they quickly voted in favor of raising the cigarette tax.
All this really does is prove that Dean can make the tough choices, and that he can get things done. This doesn't change anything. Dean did what he had to do to ensure that Vermont's seniors didn't lose their coverage. Dean demonstrated courage by standing up to the legislature, and he forced them to do what was right, which was to preserve medicaid in Vermont by any means neccessary.
What's really sad about this situation is that Judy even took the question in the first place. That was an ambush, pure and simple. But unlike some of the commenters over at the O-blog, I'm glad she did it. If we are going to go up against Bush, we have to be prepared for these kinds of attacks. In addition, it gives us a preview of what topics we'll be attacked on. These are the kinds of moments that make us stronger. I would advise (again, contrary to some of the commenters on the o-blog) that if you send feedback, don't bite Judy's head off. That's not going to help either. Just take this debate as a learning experience, and be better prepared next time.


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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.