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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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Tuesday, November 25, 2003


transcript: Iowa Democratic Presidential Candidates' Forum

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, November 25, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
via the Washington Post. Some excerpts:

BROKAW: Governor Dean, you've long been interested in Medicare reform. Isn't it possible that once this bill passes -- and there's every indication that it will -- that next fall, whoever the Democratic presidential candidate will be facing George W. Bush will be able to say to America's seniors, "I delivered prescription drugs for you and I did that with the help of Democratic senators and the AARP, the largest single organization of senior citizens in this country"?

DEAN: Tom, the problem with that is they didn't deliver prescription drugs for anybody.

What this bill does is help the seniors that don't need it and charge them for it, and then charge the seniors that do need it, and they don't get any help. Once you spend more than about $200 a month on drugs, you get cut off of help.

This bill doesn't make any sense. It's a $400 billion charge to our grandchildren's credit card so that President Bush can be reelected. If this was such a terrific bill, why do you suppose the president put the enactment date in 2006? People aren't going to get any help at all until 2006. This is an election-year gimmick charged to the taxpayers, like so many of the other things that this president has done.

And while Dick Gephardt and I may have our disagreements on a number of matters, this is not one of them. This government has sold itself to the special interests and this is the quintessential special interest bill. Drug company profits will rise 38 percent as a result of this bill, and that comes directly out of the pockets of America's most vulnerable senior citizens.

It is wrong and a no vote was the right vote on this bill.


Governor Dean, over the weekend your friend, Congressman Gephardt, had some pretty tough things to say about you, in this very area, about what happens when push comes to shove.

Let me just read back, as if you didn't know.


"Time after time, when faced with budget shortfalls, Howard Dean's first and only instinct was to cut, and the cut needed the least, among poor people. There's no place for government without compassion."

He's calling you a cold-blooded governor and yet today you agree with him on Medicare.

DEAN: Well, Tom, Dick Gephardt's a good guy. I worked for him in 1988.

But when you're the governor, you've got to make tough decisions. Now, as it turns out, over my time as governor, we increased human service funding by 33 percent; increased education funding by 25 percent.

DEAN: But we ran the state properly.

Today there was an editorial in the Des Moines Register talking about the cuts that are going to have to be made in Iowa. We didn't have to make any of those cuts, we didn't cut higher education, we didn't cut health care, and we didn't cut anybody off our health care rolls. We didn't cut K-12 education, we didn't cut money to the counties and the towns, because we ran the budget properly.

Executive experience matters when you're running budgets. Dick's a good person. I like Dick Gephardt and I worked for him in '88, as I said. But I think we need new leadership in this party. And I think we need new leadership in this country, so we don't end up doing what 46 of the 50 states have had to do, which is to cut critical programs.

The people of Vermont were better off when I left the governor's office than they were when I got there. They had -- one-third of all our seniors had prescription benefits. We're still waiting for the Congress to do anything about that today.

BROKAW: Congressman Gephardt, you just heard Howard Dean respond to your charges over the weekend. He also said that he agrees with you on Medicare.

Did you go too far?

GEPHARDT: Well, I think the campaigns are about bringing out differences. Howard is a good man and he's a good friend.

BROKAW: He's "a man without compassion," you called him.

BROKAW: We want to move on to another subject, but in fairness, Governor Dean, you get 30 seconds for a rebuttal. Do you still think your friend Gephardt's a good guy?


DEAN: I think he's a good guy, but his research folks need a little help.


We did not, of course, cut Medicaid. What we did do was make sure that we could keep the people on Medicaid. Not one person -- unlike almost every other state in the country, not one person lost their Medicaid when I was governor of the state.

Look, all our kids under 18-years-old, 99 percent of them have health insurance. Everybody under 150 percent of poverty, all our working poor people have health insurance. A third of our seniors have prescription benefits. Nobody in Congress has done anything like that. We did it in Vermont, and I'm incredibly proud of my record in Vermont.

GEPHARDT: I've got to have 10 seconds.

The reason Governor Dean and other governors has a program for children's health is because we passed it in the Congress. And I helped put it into the law.

GEPHARDT: Finally, some of the cuts came back -- and Governor Dean is right -- but because he was sued by the Legal Defense Fund in Vermont to make him put the funding back in.

DEAN: Well, now I'll take my 10 seconds.


The truth is that we put our children's health care program in before Bill Clinton came into office. So, in all due respect to Dick, nothing that they have done benefited our state or any other state, because nothing's been done on health care for a long time in the Congress of the United States.

read on - note that right after this exchange, Kerry tried to insert himself, by attacking Dean. The story on Kerry's desperate attempt to be relevant is also covered in an MSNBC story.


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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.