Dean was asked about the "A" rating he was given by the National Rifle Association, and whether he viewed the NRA as a positive social force.
Dean explained that the NRA is actually diverse on a local level, and in Vermont, the NRA means hunters. He said the NRA was helpful to him in his effort to protect land for conservation, as he was able to put together a coalition of environmentalists and the NRA.
Dean reiterated that he is in favor of re-authorizing the assault weapons ban, in favor of the Brady Bill, and in favor of closing the gun show loophole, as long as you have insta-check.
He said beyond that, that states should set their own laws for gun control, because one state's gun control infringes on the rights of hunters, while another limits access to guns from gang members.
He was asked about the difficulty this approach puts on interstate commerce since the state boundaries aren't exactly controlled. Dean mentioned about how NY found out that their residents were buying most of their guns in Virginia, but that was handled by a law limiting the number of guns you can buy, and how VA did that on their own. I would have liked to hear an expansion on this point.
Next up, Dean was asked about his health care plan. He was asked about plans such as Hillary Clinton's (and his first attempt for Vermont), and about single-payer plan. Dean was emphatic that the problem with those efforts is that they entailed massive reform, and in doing so, you divide the Democrat vote in how to implement them, while the special interests can then use the openings to keep them from passing. He says that something like single-payer may very well work, but the problem is that it simply won't pass, so why bother. His plan builds on existing structures to get results. His basic approach is to not do reform first - it's been tried twice and failed both times - so, get the people into the plan first, and then have conversations about reform. He said not to victimize the 42 million people that don't have health insurance, by arguing on how to have the system.
He also slammed Bush on his plan to give $2,000 cash (I haven't heard of this), and said he has no credibility, talks a big game, doesn't implement anything, and that his answer for health insurance needs is to cut children's health insurance and cut veterans' benefits in order to pay for a massive tax cut. He also said something somewhere in here about how giving cash isn't the best idea because then the people might just use the money to buy a Harley and then they'd really need health insurance. The interviewer said, "There goes the biker vote." Dean said, "Well, that's true..." :)
He would pay for it by removing the tax cut for those who make more than $300k/year. The cost of the program is less than half of the Bush tax cuts. He wants to fund special education with the money as well. He emphasized that this plan wouldn't replace health plans given by, for instance, IBM, and wouldn't threaten their power in attracting workers to the strength of their benefits. The health plan would be for catastrophic coverage, with some preventative measures included like colonoscopies and mammograms, with a big deductible after that.
In reference to the subsidy given to small businesses, he mentioned that small businesses give more jobs to americans than big businesses.
In his argument against single-payer, he again made the argument that it might work, but won't pass, so why bother. He also brought up the whole argument about the "patients bill of rights" because he simply considers it the wrong fight to have - a waste of time. I don't remember his explanation for this.
He was asked about allegations that Vermont's Health Care is having severe financial difficulties, and he denied it - said that Vermont is in very good financial shape compared to other states, that they set away a rainy day fund, had paid down 23% of their debt, and that any problems could be taken care of with copayments and deductibles.
The topic switched to Iraq - Dean was asked about some seemingly contradictory remarks he's made about Iraq, including when he said he was in favor of giving Iraq sixty days to comply with U.N. demands, when other times he said he was against the war.
Dean explained his viewpoint exactly: In order for war to be warranted, there needs to be imminent danger. Unilateral action is not warranted unless there is an imminent threat against the United States, defined as either a nuclear threat, or in giving WMD (nuclear, chemical, biological) to terrorists.
Dean also stated that Saddam does (did?) need to be disarmed.
But the distinction was that if there was an imminent threat, it was to the region, not to the United States - therefore, that should have been a judgment left to the United Nations, and any action leading from that judgment should have been a U.N. action.
It appears to me that this stance fully reconciles with all of his seemingly contradictory statements, when you consider that the 60-day limit was something that would have triggered U.N. action.
He was asked about the democrats reaction to the war and he made the same comparison between the principled democrats who stated what they believed (like Lieberman), who he simply disagreed with, and the other democrats who stated they were only in favor of U.N. action but voted to give Bush a free pass. He theorized that those voters were probably just trying to position themselves for a run at the presidency. It was a surprise to me how respectful he was towards Lieberman, but I suppose he's advocated his reasons for disagreeing with unilateral action heavily enough elsewhere.
He was asked why he thought Bush was pursuing it so relentlessly, and he responded that he didn't know and didn't like to speculate on motive. So he criticized Bush for a while, said that we didn't have a coherent oil policy, wasn't telling oil companies to stop funding Hamas or fundamentalist Arab schools teaching their kids to hate America. Talked about how the emphasis on Iraq was failing to protect us again al-Qaida, how Iraq is actually third most important behind al-Qaida and North Korea, and also brought up how Bush turned down giving five million (billion?) to states for local police and law enforcement help. Basic criticism was how priorities were all out of whack.
He was asked his criticisms of the Democratic Party. He said that people feel like"we don't know who we are" to an extent, don't see a different vision, and think that too many will say whatever it takes to get elected. That's a mistake because standing up for one's principles is more important. If that isn't there, then it inspires no excitement.
He was asked about Wellstone - his comparison is that he like Wellstone says what he believes, isn't driven by polls, and is driven by principles. Dean said he probably isn't as liberal as Wellstone is, but Wellstone stood up for what he believed.
He was asked why the democrats have not embraced rolling back the tax cut. Dean theorized about election positioning again. He again railed on the democrats about folding into other arguments, like when the R's proposed the second round of tax cuts at $670 billion, and the D's countered with an offer of $130 billion - at that point we already lost the debate, and the question should have been whether we can afford it at all.
Dean mentioned advocating a public works program, water, sewers, roads, rail, airports, schools. He was asked how that compared to a balanced budget. Dean mentioned his preference for a balanced budget but not slavishly so. He again mentioned freeing up money by getting rid of the tax cuts for those who make 300k, because that portion of the tax cut simply undermines the economy because that money doesn't get spent as consumer spending, not when the person is that rich. As for the balanced budget, he said that would be the priority for when the economy turns around.
He was asked about Vermont again - how he stopped the progressives from raising taxes, and how a Vermont progressive is very different than a national progressive. He was asked about how on his watch, prison budgets went up 137%, while state college budgets went up only 47% comparitively. Dean said it was simply because more people had been getting arrested (I would have liked to hear him expand on this - for instance, what is Dean's view on mandatory minimum sentences?). Dean responded that they responded by focusing on children - every mother is visited in the hospital by the state to be asked if they want assistance - 91% say yes. Now, child abuse rates are down 43%. The intent is to help the children before they turn three, rather than just focus on after-school programs when they might already be behind the curve. His theory is that they'll see prisons go down later on in reaction to this program.
Dean was asked how the 60's and 70's affected him, given that he wasn't very politically engaged back at those times. He said that it was more of a personal learning experience than a political learning experience for him. During the civil rights movement he was teaching and tutoring. As for the anti-war movement, Dean shared his distrust for ideologues on both sides of the debate, defined as people who find facts inconvenient. Dean likes to focus on facts, and for instance was very opposed to people who blew up the ROTC building in Wisconsin (?) when there was a person inside, etc. But he emphasized that he thought Vietnam was a mistake, that the government was dishonest, and that he had been to SE Asia to see the remnants of the action himself.
The subject turned to race, and Bush's use of the term "quotas". Dean criticized Bush's usage as racially divisive. Dean advocated using affirmative action based on income and class as well as race. He made the comparison that 50% of his judge appointees in Vermont were women, and that since the screening panel was mostly men, they focused on recruiting more women to apply and get through the screening panel, rather than applying quota directly to the screening panel. (I don't honestly see what he means in terms of extrapolating this to a larger policy, if he was trying to do that.)
He was asked about U of M's point system, and Dean pointed out that Bush got into Yale from a point system - being awarded extra points for being son of an alumni. There are points given for all sorts of things, like being a violin player, and Bush went specifically after race, which, he said, is what these republicans do.
Dean was then asked about himself after being critiqued as imperious and thin-skinned and impatient with process. Dean said he is not a process person, he wants results and gets impatient with process. But this focus on results is what makes him able to focus on facts rather than ideology. He brought up the needle exchange, how he was very much against it under the belief that it would increase drug use, until the yale studies came out, and he changed his position overnight. Dean said he sometimes gets impatient with purely emotional arguments that avoid facts, and he is not defensive about his positions because facts make the difference to him. In context, he mentioned being furious that the Bush Administration took reference to condoms off of the CDC website, similar to something else they did with something having to do with Africa and AIDS/condoms.
He was asked about challenges becoming a president, and he said that he knew that the governor->legislature relationship is actually very different than the president->congress relationship, in that Congress is more powerful relatively, and that an incoming president needs to work harder on having a good working relationship with them.
The subject then turned to Israel-Palestine. He was again asked about some out-of-context quotes of his from the past, including something about agreeing with Bush's approach. Dean clarified that what he was in favor of was a two-state solution. Bush has stated his support of this but hasn't put serious work into the effort (I'm not sure of the date of this interview or how this relates to the recent news about the peace plan). Dean mentioned how there is no oil conservation plan, which skews our middle-eastern foreign policy, and how oil is in effect financing terrorism, and how Bush just isn't very engaged in the process, far less than previous presidents.
In terms of applying pressure on Sharon and Arafat, Dean agrees that Arafat is simply not invested in peace, and he also stated that realistically speaking, the terror has to stop first before Israel can seriously think about withdrawing from those territories.
Dean mentioned being against "the fence" originally, but now views it as critical. He mentions how it is along the border that Barak and Arafat almost agreed to, and pushes off several Israeli settlements that would then be indefensible.
I personally am still not sure about this - see a previous entry I made on this topic - but I also am cognizant that there are militant palestinian interests whose only goals are to destroy israel outright and would oppose any peace plan that results in any Israeli state, and would oppose it by advocating further terrorism. So my belief that Israel has to pull out first is something that I'm not completely firm on. There's so much that I don't know.
Dean was again asked about Bush's efforts on HIV/AIDS - this was some of the strongest language and tone that Dean took against Bush in the interview. He mentioned about how the fifteen billion that Bush promised in the State Of The Union was simply taken out of a pre-existing foreign aids package, and how it was just "hype, hipocracy, and show". He said something about how Bush has done "not one damn thing", just lots of talk and no money.
Dean was asked if federal government should go after medical clubs that dispense marijuana. Dean said in general, no, but details would have to be looked at. He was asked about states legislating (through ballot measures) in favor of medical marijuana and he said he absolutely hated that because of what I take to be his objection to the decision making process being outside of the medical process. Or maybe it was because of the states making medical decisions - he says he's pro-choice for the same reason. Regarding marijuana, he'd ask - force - the FDA to evaluate marijuana and would be prepared to push for action depending on what they found. He said he expected it wouldn't be approved for glaucoma since there are other drugs that are more effective for less risk, and that they may be approved for kikeksia (sp?) for aids and nausea for chemo, but he couldn't be sure until after the process was complete. He again criticized using legislators or voters instead of scientists for these decisions. As for the drug war, he mentioned that users should be sentenced to rehab, not jail.
He described a simplistic view on the whole marriage/civil unions debate; how marriage is for churches and he didn't believe in asserting rules on to what churches could or could not recognize, and civil unions are for states. I read a counterpoint once that made this a lot more complicated, but can't remember what it was - something about states being forced to recognize what other states do, and I'm not sure how DOMA intersects with that.
Kyoto - his philosophy sounds familiar when I try and remember Clinton's philosophy, but I always got the feeling that Clinton was just stonewalling. Dean says that Kyoto should be supported but is flawed, in that in doesn't require developing companies - specifically Brazil and China - to do anything about greenhouse gasses. He was asked about the idea that maybe that's okay since USA has been first-mover and has had the advantage of being able to go through that polluting phases. Dean responded that the problem is that it would only provide an incentive for polluting American companies to relocate operations off-shore, like the WTO encourages. He suggested Kyoto be rejiggered a bit to require greenhouse/environmental controls for these developing countries, but perhaps over a longer period of time, or require the G8 to contribute environmental equipment to assist them. In general his view was that Kyoto should have changes be made to it, and shouldn't simply be thrown away like the Bush Administration did.
Dean was asked if he supported a living wage. Dean said yes, and described what they did in Vermont - increase the minimum wage about a buck over federal, and offer a "middle class safety net" of child care subsidies and health care plans. He said that you can't simply require a minimum wage of $10.25 without putting small businesses out of business, so you do it by supplying government benefits instead.
Dean was awarded the Paul Wellstone award and one other for his labor achievements, in this case for helping nurses organize at the hospital where he used to work. I don't know anything about labor laws right now so I won't be paraphrasing this too well, but Dean said that workers need more help organizing, that labor laws need to be revamped and that he would get rid of bush appointees to the national labor something-or-other that are anti-labor. Something about organizing low-income workers who are immigrants, and how we need a better(?) trade union, because they help make it possible for the middle class to be made up of average working class people. A decent wage means that you participate fully in society so that is why a vital and protected labor force and trade union is important. He mentioned he has a 100% AFL-CIO "cope" (?) record, and while he may not always agree with some leader there he mentioned, he has a reputation of integrity.
In the context of Vermont, he mentioned that NAFTA wasn't so bad, but the free trade agreement five years earlier was what damaged them because their machine tool industry went to China. But through NAFTA their trade with Canada quadrupled. He said that in the future, there shouldn't be more free trade agreements like WTO without environmental and labor restrictions.
Dean evidently used to be a stockbroker and was asked what could be done about corporate accountability. Dean immediately rattled off:
Dean has traveled to 51 countries, more than he believes Bush will have visited by the end of the term - has also lived abroad. He believes that one thing that he would be doing differently is negotiating with North Korea - Bush's refusal to do so is what could mean Korea would be lost and become a nuclear power under Bush's watch. He believes there need to be american-based but independent television and radio stations that appeal to the arab population, like al jazeera but not slanted. He said he didn't want to say balanced because "Fox contends that they are balanced, which I think is unlikely". He advocates more resources in tracking down bin laden. He mentioned again how Bush denied states 5 billion (million?) on local law enforcement.
He agrees that sending 2000 troops to the phillipines makes some sense, and contended that the rebels there are more criminals than freedom fighters. Dean supported getting rid of the taliban, but says that allowing warlords to run the country now is bad. He said that because of Bush's inattention and obsession with iraq, we risk that it would be a shame to win iraq at the cost of afghanistan.
When asked if he thought Bush actually wanted what was best for the country, Dean said he imagines Bush probably does, but that his administration thinks short-term, is blinded by ideology, and doesn't pay attention to facts.
Dean was asked about the Patriot Act. Dean wasn't so concerned about the occasional time that Congress reacts emotionally and passes a bill that is ultimately unconstitutional. What he was comparatively very concerned about was Bush's court appointments and the erosion of the courts. Bush has a litmus test that any appointee has to be in the right-wing federalist society or be otherwise partial to it, and that's a long term danger. The courts are there to protect against the unconstitutional acts from remaining, and when they are changed to the point that they stop protecting, as his appointees won't, that's a real danger. The patriot act overreaches, but Bush's judges won't call him on it. So he doesn't explicitly condemn the patriot act, but he does condemn Bush for appointing judges that don't uphold the constitution. In other talks, Dean has said that there are parts of the Patriot act that don't work, but I don't believe he has every entirely opposed the entire thing.
He was asked about the education act, and Dean got very emphatic about this one again. He called it an unfunded mandate and he hates unfunded mandates. He said that Vermont paid for universal testing, and the state government helped the schools implement the entire thing. With the education bill, he used the example of new hampshire, how it required a $109 million property tax to fund the new federal requirements. It also requires constitutionally protected school prayer, which he couldn't believe Democrats signed on for, and also required the name of every student to be sent to the military, which, among other things, he said were all inappropriate power grab away from school boards. He kept on saying it was a very bad bill, a terrible bill. He said it took a texas testing standard, with the worst schools in the country, and applied it to other states with the best schools in the country. Said the bill was backwards, made no sense, harmed local school boards and property taxes, was a typical big brother approach, and took the approach of punishing 100% of the schools because of the 5% that weren't doing their job. He was asked about Kennedy going along with the bill and he said he believed it was because money was promised in title 1, which isn't there... he was asked if Kennedy was suckered, and he said it looked like it.
Finally, he was asked about the trade deficit and what we could do. Dean said it was an enormous problem, and that the net deficit has exploded because of lack of investment in united states by foreign investment - that previous deficits were counterbalanced to an extent with foreign investment, but the falling dollar gets in the way of that. So we have to balance the budget, and can't continue to keep doing the "borrow and spend" that republicans do, because that is what got Argentina into trouble.
That was the conclusion of the interview. In addition, I found a questionnaire that Dean answered for the Committee for a United Independent Party, and it included the quote:
We also need serious election reform in this country. If we are going to move toward more electronic methods of balloting, we need to ensure that there is a paper trail to track any possible fraud that may occur.That's a concern for me and I'm hugely relieved that he said something about this. With that and the recent courting of Lawrence Lessig (he guest-wrote on his blog for a week), this guy is pretty much turning into a dream candidate for me. If the primary were held today, I'd definitely vote for him. I can't officially say I endorse him because I need to have that "click" feeling of watching him in public or on television, and I haven't had that yet - but I suspect that's just a matter of time.
Posted by Curt at July 19, 2003 05:55 PM