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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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Monday, January 06, 2003


Howard Dean on CBS's Face the Nation

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, January 06, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Howard Dean appeared on CBS' Face the Nation yesterday (January 5th). The transcript follows, and Liberal Oasis has a nice comparison of Dean's performance in comparison with John Edwards' appearance on ABC's This Week.

CBS Face the Nation transcript follows:

SCHIEFFER: When we come back, we'll talk a little politics with Governor Howard Dean, in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: And now from Burlington, Vermont, Governor Howard Dean.

Governor, I believe you were the first of the Democrats to say that you would seek the presidential nomination this year.

This is your second appearance on Face the Nation. We hope to have you back again, as well as all of the other candidates who are seeking the nomination.

Let's start right in on some specifics. You just heard what Senator McCain said. He said we should tell the Japanese that they should start a nuclear weapons program of their own because North Korea now poses a threat to them. What would be your response to that?

GOV. HOWARD DEAN, D-VT: Well, first of all, let me say that I admire Senator McCain greatly. And he's one of the people we model our campaign on because he is very direct, very blunt and nobody has to guess at what he is thinking, which, I think, is people would like to see a lot more of that in politicians around this country.

I do not come to the same conclusion that Senator McCain does about the Japanese. I believe that North Korea is a crisis. There is a real problem there. I believe it actually represents a greater danger to the United States than Iraq does, because there's no evidence at this point that Iraq possesses nuclear weapons or is about to develop them, which is one of the reasons that would I not have supported the president's resolution on Iraq, which sets me apart from all the other people running for the Democratic nomination.

But I do not think that we ought to encourage any nation to develop nuclear arms. I think that nuclear proliferation is a very serious problem. We need to use all the economic, political and diplomatic muscle we possibly can to stop the North Koreans from developing programs like that. I would draw the line at trying to encourage additional countries to develop nuclear weapons.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well, let me ask you about the proposal that apparently South Korea is going to put forth now, and it basically is this. They would like to see a letter from the United States, written assurance from the United States, that they will not attack North Korea.

And they believe if they can take that kind of letter to North Korea, or present that to the North Koreans, then the North Koreans would desist in starting up this nuclear production again.

Do you favor that? Do you think that would work?

DEAN: Well, I think the -- I concur with most the president's policy on North Korea. We have substantial differences on Iraq. But I like the idea and I believe in the idea of multilaterals and the president's pursuing a policy in cooperation with the Chinese, the Russians, the South Koreans and the Japanese, which we ought to see bear fruition.

The one criticism I have of the president's policy is that we have to directly negotiate with the North Koreans. This idea that the South Koreans are putting forward may be a good idea and it may not. We're not going to know that until we have direct conversations with the North Koreans about whether such a deal would make any sense at all.

And I concur with Senator McCain. Right now, as the South Koreans propose it, it's wishful thinking. We're only going to know if that's going to work if we have direct discussions with the North Koreans. And that's the one problem in this president's policy.

BORGER: Well, if we have direct discussions with the North Koreans, would you then argue that we should have direct discussions with Saddam Hussein?

DEAN: I do not believe the president has made the case to send American kids and grandkids to die in Iraq. And until he does that, I don't think we ought to be going into Iraq.

So I think the two situations are fairly different. Iraq does not possess nuclear weapons. The best intelligence that anybody can find, certainly that I can find, is that it will be at least a year before he does so and maybe five years.

So I think putting enormous pressure on Iraq is a good thing, because we can't permit them ever to develop nuclear weapons. But I think we have a much more serious and immediate crisis with North Korea.

BORGER: But would you negotiate with Saddam if you would negotiate with North Korea?

DEAN: I would do exactly what we're doing with Saddam. I would leave it to the United Nations. Saddam has a long history of having his word be absolutely no good whatsoever. Now, the North Koreans have not exactly distinguished themselves in their level of honesty, either.

But for the United States to negotiate directly with Saddam Hussein, I suspect, is a waste of time. I'd leave that to the United Nations, leave it to the community of nations, not simply the United States, to police what's going on in Iraq.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little domestic politics. The president unveils his tax proposals on Tuesday. We're told they're going to be some incentives for business. He'll ask for an extension to speed up the long-term tax cuts that he proposed last year, or the year before last.

And now we're told that me may propose eliminating the tax on stock dividends entirely. Do you think that is a good idea?

DEAN: Well, you know, it's interesting, I saw the president complain that the Democrats were talking about class warfare. But I really think it's the president that's practicing class warfare, because all of his tax cuts are aimed at the class of people that don't need that kind of help.

And there's very little relief for middle-class people and working people in any of the president's tax legislation, including what I read that he's now about to propose.

The problem with the elimination of the tax on dividends, which in and of itself is not a bad idea, but the problem is, first of all, half of all stocks in this country that pay dividends are held in 401(k)s and retirement plans which are not subject to tax anyway. And those are the stocks that are held by middle-class people.

The people who live on the dividends, by and large, are people who are in the upper-income brackets, which are always the folks that get favored when the president has any kind of tax proposal whatsoever. So I would not start with double taxation of dividends.

I think Senator McCain's exactly right. The last tax cut was skewed toward the upper regions of income. It did not help the economy at all. It looks like this tax cut's going to be doing the same.

There's a more important part of this argument. The president wants to now -- we need to take on North Korea. He wants to make war in Iraq. We have not even talked about Al Qaida, which is the most serious threat of the three to the American people.

How is the president going to pay for this if he keeps running up enormous deficits? We haven't heard anything about that.

BORGER: Well, Senator McCain here talked about a payroll tax holiday as one way to give tax relief to middle-income people in this country. Is that something that you would support?

DEAN: Let me tell you what I think the best possible economic relief to middle-class people, small-business people and working people are in this country. I want health insurance for every American. I want to do it by subsidizing people who work for themselves, small businesses and working people to help them buy health insurance.

If you could help people with their health insurance, that affects 40 million people directly and nearly every small business in the country. Why not do that instead of running up these enormous deficits with tax cuts that don't help average Americans?

SCHIEFFER: Well, Governor, speaking of costs, if you had a national health care program, wouldn't the cost of that be enormous?

DEAN: It actually would not. The cost is about half of the president's tax cut that he passed last time, and the benefit goes to working people and middle-class people.

Furthermore, it would actually reduce insurance premiums for most Americans, because the reason your insurance premiums are so high is because of the enormous cost shift. When you go to the emergency room, you get care, and then the bill gets sent to somebody else, one of the insurance companies. We all pay that in our premiums. If you can't pay for your own care, somebody else has to pay for it, and that's us.

That alone would be the single biggest stimulus to the economy, particularly to small businesses, that you could possibly think of.

BORGER: Well, Governor, you are also a doctor. And as long as we're talking about insurance, I want to ask about something that happened in West Virginia last week, which is that all the surgeons walked out because they were protesting these high malpractice insurance rates.

What would you do about that problem?

DEAN: Well, actually, I think that's a problem for the legislature in West Virginia to deal with. In Vermont, we don't have a problem like that. In some states there's a very severe problem.

What happened in Mississippi, where they had one of the worst problems, is that the legislature enacted tort reform. And I don't see that as a federal problem. I see that as a state problem.

So, I think it's up to the governor of West Virginia and the governor of Pennsylvania, which are two states that have a very serious problem, to enact the necessary reforms needed for their states. But I don't think this is a nationwide problem.

BORGER: Well, generally, do you think malpractice awards should be capped at some particular level?

DEAN: I think that depends on the state. In our state, we don't have a problem with runaway juries. It would not be appropriate. It might be appropriate in other states, and I think each state has to figure that out for themselves.

BORGER: Well, the president's also working up a plan for prescription drug benefits, but he's going to make it part of a revamping of the entire Medicare system and he wants to do it in a way that promotes competition. Is that something you could buy into?

DEAN: It won't work. We tried that here. The truth is -- and I'm not a single-payer person, and my health care reform simply relies on expanding the existing systems, Medicaid, Medicare and the employer-based system.

But the truth is that the private sector does not run health care plans as cheaply as the public sector. That's just the truth. I know that Republicans have made their political careers beating up on government, but one thing that government does is run health care plans more efficiently.

So, I'm not in favor of privatizing Medicare which seems to be what the president is suggesting. I think he ought to lay off that stuff, because I think it's going to hurt a lot of seniors.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Governor, we want to thank you very much. Our new year's resolution is to get as many candidates on this year as we possibly can and to get specific on what they're for and what they're against. I think we got a good start with you this morning.

I want to thank you very much.

DEAN: Thanks, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in a minute with a final word.

DEAN: And thanks, Gloria.

BORGER: Thanks.



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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.