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CNBC Business Center Transcript

Location: Unknown

August 28, 2003 Thursday

HEADLINE: Senator John Kerry discusses what he would do as president of the United States


SUE HERERA, co-anchor:

As the campaign for the 2004 presidential election continues to heat up, the nine Democratic hopefuls are making their positions known on everything from Iraq to the economy in hopes of winning their party's nomination. Earlier today, Senator John Kerry gave a speech in Durham, New Hampshire, where he outlined his plans for America's economic future. I had the chance to speak to Senator Kerry and I asked him what he considers the number one challenge facing the US economy.

Senator JOHN KERRY (Democrat, Massachusetts): The number one challenge is to create jobs. We are not creating enough jobs in the United States, and we have to begin to do the things that help to do that in the structure of our economy. That means making it easier for people to get an education, helping with education, helping manufacturers to be able to compete against other countries; which means lowering health-care costs, lowering energy costs and pushing the curve of discovery of the science and technology that will produce many of those new jobs, at least the ones that are the best-paying jobs and the basis of our society for the future.

HERERA: I know that you're proposing a number of tax credits to help manufacturers and to help American companies keep the jobs here at home, but one of the other issues...

Sen. KERRY: Absolutely.

HERERA: of the other issues is the fact that the wage structure in some other countries—such as India, such as China and other parts of Southeast Asia is so much lower than the United States—that it's extremely attractive for companies to do some of that work overseas. How do you combat that particular problem?

Sen. KERRY: The way to combat the wages overseas—there are several ways. One is to reduce the cost of American business here at home; by reducing health-care costs, reducing energy costs and reducing the infrastructure costs that businesses are paying for. Secondly, it's not just wages that companies go abroad and find attractive. It's also the access to those marketplaces and the lack of access adequately without being there. So we have to have a trade relationship that stands up for our companies and allows our workers to be able to compete on a fair playing field. I think we can do that without stopping trade. I think we have to have trade for America. But I want it to be responsible and I want it to be fair.

HERERA: The other issue here at home is the deficit, which continues to grow. How would you address that issue? And I know that one of the things that you want to do is try and cut the deficit in half.

Sen. KERRY: That's correct. In 1993 when President Clinton came in, we set out to cut the budget in—the deficit—in half. That was our—the goal in the first four years in the Clinton administration. And what we did ultimately, we had about a 10-year plan to balance the budget. We wound up balancing the budget in, I think, about six or seven years. And the reason we did it is we created the framework and the climate for American business to be able to take off. Now we don't quite have the same circumstances today that we had in '93. But we can reduce the deficit in half over the next four years and we need to do that in order to not crowd out private investment in the marketplace and encourage confidence in America's economy. Confidence is the single greatest lacking element today. And the way you restore confidence to the marketplace is to be fiscally responsible.

HERERA: There are some who say that—that part of the confidence equation also concerns the situation in the Middle East and the fact that—although the war seemed to have gone pretty much according to what most people expected, the rebuilding of Iraq is not. How would you address the problems that are now facing US troops and—and the US as a whole in Iraq?

Sen. KERRY: I regret that the president did not do the hard work of bringing those countries together or show the patience necessary to do that. And many of us said that the president has not put in place a plan to win the peace and now we understand how real those realities are. We have allowed, I think, our troops to be in greater danger than they needed to be and I regret that. But most importantly, we've put the mission at risk as a consequence. I'm glad to see in today's newspapers that the administration is now sort of feebly reaching out in back doorways and floating trial balloons about going to the UN. What they ought to do is just go to the UN and get the job done, because every day that goes by that they don't, our young men and women are at greater risk and the mission itself is at greater risk.

HERERA: Senator John Kerry.

Copyright 2003 CNBC, Inc. CNBC News Transcripts

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