Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic Candidates Debate - Part 2

Location: New York, NY

WILLIAMS: Congressman Kucinich.

Rep. KUCINICH: I think it's important to do some analysis as to why people have lost their homes because unless we have economic policies that are aimed at saving jobs and stopping the loss of jobs and creating new jobs, you can talk about Fannie Mae and other agencies and it will be for naught. I'm the only one up here on this stage, and I'm, frankly, surprised at my Democratic colleagues that they won't take a firm stand and recognize that NAFTA and the WTO have hurt this country. I've said very clearly that we need to withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO, and that would be my first act as office. And it's not a choice between trade or no trade. You return to bilateral trade conditioned on workers rights, human rights and the environment. And unless you address that issue, there's a $435 billion trade deficit. Unless you address that issue, all of these other issues about creation of new housing won't mean an awful lot, even though it's well-intended.

WILLIAMS: Congressman, thank you. Gloria Borger:

BORGER: Congressman Gephardt, still on jobs, you proposed a $200 billion a year health care plan, and you saw that that plan is going to pump money into the economy, and that's the way you're going to provide jobs in this economy. Yet, Senator Edwards says that it's a terrible plan because it depends on companies getting tax credits, and they will then provide the insurance to—to their employees. And he says by—by depending on these companies, it's like telling employees, quote, "They're in good hands with Enron." You're somebody who is very pro-labor. Can you tell us what makes you so convinced that corporate America is going to fulfill the role you envision for it?

Rep. GEPHARDT: Because my bill makes them do it. We don't just hand out tax credits. We say, 'You've got to pass it along to the employee so they can buy the plan that they want to buy.' Let me tell you something. We're never going to solve the economic problems in this country until we solve the health care problem. We have 50 million people without health insurance. These are middle-class Americans who cannot get access to the health care that they need. My plan is the best plan. It's the only plan that helps everybody. We did an economic study. A reputable economic forecaster said that we'd put $312 billion of stimulus into the American economy. Further than that, I help average families more than the Bush tax cuts. I give them between 2500 and $3,000 a year. Bush gives them a paltry $700 a year. I got to ask everybody a question: How many jobs do Americans have to lose before George Bush loses his? That's the question we ought to be asking today.

WILLIAMS: Gloria Borger:

BORGER: I just was—Senator Kerry, you were shaking your head, and I'm wondering whether there's a rebuttal from you.

Sen. KERRY: Well, I agree completely with John Edwards. Dick is—first of all, no one is going to find $228 billion to put into health care. Nobody believes it's there, and it can't be found, number one. Number two, it is given to those companies without any demand on the cost of health care in the country. I've offered a plan which costs about $75 billion a year but which controls costs by pulling all the catastrophic cases. Any case, $50,000 or more, we take out of the system...

WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you.

Sen. KERRY: ...and that reduces premiums across the country.

WILLIAMS: Senator.

Sen. KERRY: There's no command and control. It's not a government plan.

WILLIAMS: Out of time.

Gloria, continue the question.

BORGER: Again on jobs to Senator Graham and—and Reverend Sharpton.

One way you both want to create jobs is by—through public works projects. You spoke about that just a moment ago. But what's the evidence that you have that Washington spending our tax dollars is going to do a better job of creating those jobs than private employers could do hanging on to those same tax dollars?

First to you, Senator.

Sen. GRAHAM: Gloria, I believe in the rather radical idea that if you want to create jobs, you create jobs and you use those jobs to build a stronger economy. Would anyone here question the fact that we are in a nation where our basic systems that support not only our lifestyle but also our economy, from the electric grid to our transportation systems to the enormous water and sewer needs across America, are all in serious distress? What better way to add to the economic strength of America, not only today, through the three million people who will be employed in this great state-federal partnership patterned on governor—on President Eisenhower's interstate highway system, where the state and the federal government working together will create a new America, a stronger America, and three million jobs.

BORGER: Reverend Sharpton.

Rev. SHARPTON: Not only did Eisenhower but Roosevelt had a public works program. What I propose is a five-year, $250 billion infrastructure redevelopment plan. Fifty billion dollars a year rebuilding highways, roadways, tunnels, bridges and, in the name of homeland security, ports. If you look at the ports in this country, we're in disrepair. Not only does it create jobs, it does what is needed because we need to deal with the infrastructural decay. And if we do not create jobs, we can have all of the recovery we want in—in production. We're not going to have consumers to buy it. We're going from a threat of inflation to a threat of deflation, and unless we have someone to deal with these times—President Clinton did a good job, but we had a technology boom then. We don't have that now. I mean, I know within the next hour, we'll say that Bill Clinton walked on water. The fact is there was a reason the economy was strong then. We don't have that reason now. We must invest in job development.

That's how you bring the economy back.

WILLIAMS: Reverend, thank you.

And we'll—we'll go to break shortly.

But, Senator Lieberman, a strict 30-second rebuttal. Is what we're talking about here really a modern-day WPA?

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Well, that—that can be part of it. But look, the way we're really going to grow the economy is to invest in people, to invest in innovation, to have the federal government put money into the kind of research that will create the new high-technology, biotechnology industries that will create the millions of new jobs. And one of the ways we do that is having the federal government partner with business, give business tax incentives to invest and grow and create jobs and then use public money to give lifetime opportunities for training and retraining to America's workers. That's the way we're going to do it.

WILLIAMS: Senator—Senator, thank you.

We're—we're at Pace University in lower Manhattan. All 10 declared Democrats in the race. Two hours, many issues to come. Our CNBC/Wall Street Journal debate continues.


Announcer: The DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES DEBATE. Here again is Brian Williams.

WILLIAMS: Welcome back, campus of Pace University in lower Manhattan. All 10 declared candidates, two hours, largely on the subject of the economy and all that that entails. So many topics yet to come. We have done some tabulating on time. We know who is running ahead and behind in terms of questions, answers and rebuttal. It'll be reflected in our questions here in this next segment.

Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, to you. What do you believe happened between the Clinton—ambitious Clinton health care proposal and where this country is today in terms of affordable health care for all?

Amb. BRAUN: Well, there's no question in my mind that every American wants to have universal coverage, but the only way we can get there is with, in my opinion, a single payer system that is decoupled from employment, that, to say, doesn't depend on employment. The Clinton plan attempted to reconcile the public and private systems that we have now. Rhey are simply irreconcilable. You cannot bring it together and make it make any sense without a whole lot of bureaucracies. So if we go to a single payer system, we will give our export sector, our multinationals a competitive boost in international markets, because right now they're carrying the cost of health care. We will give the middle class a boost in terms of their—and working people a boost in terms of their paychecks. We will give small businesses a real boost, because they can't afford it. And we can do it without spending a dime more that we are presently paying at the highest level of any industrialized country in the world. A single payer system really is the only way to go. And if we take it off the payroll tax, we will provide working people with opportunity for health care.

WILLIAMS: Let's continue our questioning with Gerry Seib of the Wall Street Journal.

SEIB: General Clark, Congressman Gephardt has described for us here his ambitious health care program, $200 billion a year. Others of your colleagues have smaller programs on the table. You're the newcomer here, let me ask you, what would you do to improve the health care situation, to provide health care coverage and, specifically, to give prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients?

Gen. CLARK: Well, I think in this country we have to recognize we are in a health care crisis. We've got 41 million Americans uninsured. We've got more dropping out of their insurance programs as they lose their jobs. Even the people who have health insurance today are insecure about keeping it. I've been in the race about nine days, so I don't have a complete package of health care proposals. But here's what I would do. I think as we move toward this, we need to take the existing programs, we need to build on the existing programs. We need to take the states' child health insurance program and stretch it. We need to raise the limits on Medicaid. We need to look at the 55 to 65 age group and help them. And we need to look at the substance that's in those proposals. We should be doing much more with preventive and diagnostic care. We need a comprehensive preventive medicine program for this country. We call it executive fitness in the Army. It's an executive wellness program. Why isn't it an American wellness program? So we'll come out with our health proposal. We'll move it that way.

WILLIAMS: General, thank you.

SEIB: Senator Graham, any conversation about health care in this country these days turns to the price of prescription drugs. The average price of a prescription rose 4 percent in 2002, 10 percent in 2001, 9--9.2 percent before that, all well above the rate of inflation. As president, do you think the government should and would it under your leadership impose any kind of price controls on prescription drugs?

Sen. GRAHAM: Well, I can tell you this, there will be nothing done about the price of prescription drugs as long as George W. Bush is president. He is literally in bed with pharmaceutical companies and has made a pact to even avoid in the proposed new federal expansion of Medicare to include prescription drugs, anything that can be construed as holding down prices. I think what we need to do is, first, we need to open up competition in the pharmaceutical area through things like make it easier to get generic drugs to market, a reasonable reimportation plan. We need to also have a plan that will assure that access to life-saving drugs are available to all Americans. And we can do that, among other things, by relieving the states from some of the pressure of prescription drugs for their older citizens rather than the Republican plan, which is to stick it to the states first.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, senator.

Gloria Borger:

BORGER: Well, talking a little bit more about prescription drugs, and this is for Congressman Kucinich and Senator Lieberman. Very big issue on Capitol Hill, as you well know, is the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. The drug companies say you should not be able to do this because the industry needs the money in this country for research and development. The Food and Drug Administration also says that these drugs might be unsafe.

Senator Lieberman, you first, are you for the re-importation of drugs from Canada?

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Yeah. I—I have supported measures to allow for the re-importation of drugs with an FDA approval that it is safe. We—we've got a crisis here and there's something unfair happening. Look—look, the American pharmaceutical industry has presented us with drugs that are keeping people alive and well a lot longer than they otherwise would be, but they are asking the American people and the American people alone to finance the research that leads to those drugs. That's not fair. We've got to ask the Canadians, who have price controls, the Europeans, who have price controls, to begin to pay part of that cost. And of course the best way to give prescription drugs to people at an affordable cost is to cover prescription drugs under Medicare and to cover the 41 million Americans that don't have health insurance today, because it's they who get whacked by the cost of prescription drugs, not the people who have health insurance.

WILLIAMS: Let me jump in here just for a second. Thirty-second rebuttal to Dr. Dean, you're the only one here on the panel who has examined a patient, as least as far as we know. Respond to what the senator said.

Gov. DEAN: In all due respect to all the candidates here—any of whom would be better than George Bush as president—these folks have been in Washington a long time and talked about health insurance for a long time, and we have very little to show for it. In my state, 99 percent of the kids are eligible for health insurance who are under 18, 96 percent have it. Everybody under 150 percent of poverty, all our working poor people have health insurance, and a lot of seniors have prescription benefits. This does need to be a system that's built on what we have. We've done that in Vermont, I'd like the opportunity to do that for the whole—do that for the whole country.

WILLIAMS: Governor, thank you.

Back to you, Gloria.

BORGER: Well, Congressman Kucinich, we'll give you a chance to answer the question on the importation of drugs from Canada.

Rep. KUCINICH: Well, of course, there ought—there ought to be reimportation. But that's beside the point. The pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies control our health care system. And I'm the only one on this stage who's actually introduced legislation with Congressman Conyers and McDermott that provides for a totally new change, that has health care for people, not for profit. It's called Medicare For All. It's a single payer program and it's financed by a 7.7 per—percent tax paid by employers. And it covers everything, covers all medically necessary procedures and a wide range of benefits. And it's kind of surprising to have people on this stage who have plans, including Dr. Dean, that would leave 10 million Americans out. I think it's important that all Americans be covered. And I think that it's important that people receive the ability to have complementary and alternative medicine, to have a prescription drug benefit, to have vision care and dental care and mental health care, to have long-term nursing care all covered under one Medicare for all, a single payer program. I'm the one who has that plan. I'm the one who's offering it and the only one on this stage who can say that. And I want to say, with the doctor advocating that...

WILLIAMS: Congressman.

Rep. KUCINICH: I think it's time to get a second opinion.

WILLIAMS: Congressman, thank you. Gloria—so many doctor puns, so little time. Gloria, you want to continue?

BORGER: This is for Reverend Sharpton. Governor Dean has called this prescription drug plan that is now pending in Congress, quote, "A political trap for Democrats." He says that it could make the Democrats look bad if they vote against a bill that they really view as a bad plan. Would no bill getting out of Congress be better for senior citizens than the prescription drug bill that is now pending?

Rev. SHARPTON: I think that we must—again, this—this process is about what we are going to say to the public we stand for, and I think that we've got to quit the compromising on the principles that the party should stand for. So in this particular case, I agree with Governor Dean. I have supported single payer plan. I think the only way you're going to solve these problems is you've got to have a national single payer plan for everyone. I think that we've got to stop going with half-a-loaf. I would rather have no bill and fight for something real than to continue to give people something that I think is—is—is a diluted version of what we need to—to have. Plus, I don't think that the—the bill in any way covers the areas that we need in terms of giving relief to the senior citizens that we would try to address this to. So in this case, I think he's right. I think that we've got to stop acting as though everyone in the party agrees. We must define policy, and this is one of those areas we must define it.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, reverend.

To Ron Insana.

INSANA: General Clark and Senator Edwards, if I may switch to a different entitlement program, Social Security. A lot of the people, general, make their money just a few blocks from here at the New York Stock Exchange and there was great talk many years ago about allowing Americans the opportunity to invest some of their retirement money into the stock market. However, Senator Graham has referred to the stock market as a—simply as a lottery. Do you share that view or do you find an appropriate role for stock market investments in the Social Security retirement program?

Gen. CLARK: George Bush said that he would protect Social Security, but all he's done is present tax cuts. His tax cuts total three times the amount of money needed to make the Social Security system solvent for the next 75 years. I'm a believer in Social Security. I think you need to protect that system. I think you need to put the resources into it. I think you need to assure that it's solvent. And I'll tell you why. First, it's right, it's right because when people work in this country, the wealthiest country in the world, they have a right to be assured that in their elderly years they will have a minimum standard of income. Secondly, I think it's good business practice, because, in the economy we're facing in the future, we want people to move between jobs and job. We want people to move between skill and skill. We want them to have retirement security so they can take a chance. For both reasons, we need to sustain Social Security.

WILLIAMS: Ron, I'll give you an extra 30--did you get the answer you wanted?

INSANA: Not—not at all. General...

Gen. CLARK: Well, let met be more explicit.

INSANA: ...would you allow or do you favor individuals being able to invest?

Gen. CLARK: Let me be more explicit. I think it's great if individuals invest in the stock market, but not as a substitute for ensuring the solvency of Social Security. We're going to get Social Security right first, and then we're going to put in place the measures so that individuals can save and invest on top of Social Security. And I'm in favor of individual investment and taking care of ordinary working families. When I was in the United States Army and I was trying to save $100 a month, that savings was important to me.

INSANA: Senator Edwards, can the stock market be a component of the Social Securement—Security retirement system?

Sen. EDWARDS: No, I don't believe it can. I think we have to do a number of things. One is, in order to lengthen the financial viability of Social Security, the single most important thing is to get away from this deficit spending that this president put us in and move back to fiscal responsibility. Which means, in my judgment, what I will do as president is stop President Bush's tax cuts for the top two income tax brackets, people who make over $200,000 a year, close a whole group of corporate tax loopholes to generate revenue that will get us back on the path to fiscal responsibility. I think we also ought to actually raise the capital gain rate for those who earn over $300,000 a year, so that the rate is more in line with the income tax rate paid—paid by people who work for a living. But we have a train wreck coming, we have the onslaught of the ba—onslaught of the baby boomers coming, we have a government that's in deficit, getting deeper into deficit. What we ought to do is help people save, we have the worst—one of the worst private savings rates in the world; I would match dollar for dollar the savings of middle income families to allow them to save privately to help us address this problem.

WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you. All of the candidates who had used too much time in previous segments are discovering rapidly who they are.

Gloria Borger, you want to continue the questioning?

BORGER: Yes. Well, Senator Edwards talks about the train wreck that is coming—and this is for Congressman Gephardt and Ambassador Moseley Braun—because whenever the future of Social Security is talked about, the issue of retirement age has always been put on the table. People now live longer and they work longer than they did when the retirement age was set at age 65.

So, Congressman Gephardt, why not raise it?

Rep. GEPHARDT: Well, I was a leader of the effort in 1983 to make sure Social Security was sound out into the future. And as part of that legislation, we raised the retirement age, and that's in the law today, to 67. I'm not for taking it higher than that. I think we really create problems for people if we do that.

But let me go back to the point that really needs to be made. We are never going to solve Social Security until we get this economy straightened out. There's no longer a mystery of how to do this, we did it. I led the fight for the Clinton health—the Clinton economic program in 1993. We got it through. We didn't get a Republican vote in the House, a Republican vote in the Senate. It created 22 million new jobs, it—it made our unemployment go down to 3 percent, we took a $5 trillion deficit, turned it into a $5 trillion surplus. Why wouldn't we want to go back to that?


BORGER: Well, back to the retirement age, Ambassador Moseley Braun.

Amb. BRAUN: You know, I think if we are actually going to accept our generation's responsibility, that's going to mean that we give our children no less retirement security than we inherited from our parents. To me, that means keeping Social Security safe, that means not raising the retirement age, that means not putting on additional restrictions that would give people less upon which to fall back and retire than we—than—than we inherited. I would point out, I was actually surprised at the first question because frankly, I have not heard much conversation about privatization of Social Security since Enron. And ask any employee from that company and what they'll tell you is that in the absence of a safety net that's government guaranteed, you might find yourself 87 years old, unable to work and unable to have any—to take care of yourself. We have a responsibility to protect Social Security and retirement security. As the only woman, the first woman in history to serve on the Senate Finance Committee, I worked hard for retirement security and for women's pensions.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Ambassador.

A question for Governor Dean. What is your position on raising the retirement age?

Gov. DEAN: We shouldn't do it. You know, Dick Gephardt earlier in his career considered means testing Social Security and Medicare both, something that I've never considered. I considered raising the Social Security age possibly to 70, possible to 68. I've rejected that. I think Dick has since rejected means testing Social Security. What we're trying to do as Democrats is save Social Security and Medicare both. And I think we've succeeded in doing that. In fact, many of the things I suggested in 1995, which Dick Gephardt has attacked me for, were actually incorporated into the Clinton plan to save Medicare and Social Security and has resulted in the savings of over $200 billion. So my view is we do not need to raise the entire—the retirement age above 67, we do not need to means test Social Security or Medicare. If we need to do anything, we may need to raise the capital on earnings in order to make Social Security solvent. But Social Security is solvent today and it will remain solvent if we can turn this economy around, and that's what we're all trying to do here.

WILLIAMS: Congressman Gephardt, we would be remiss.

Rep. GEPHARDT: Howard and I just had a basic disagreement. He said in, I think, 1993, that Medicare was the worst federal program ever. He said that it was the worst thing that ever happened. He also supported, at our darkest hour, when I was leading the fight against Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America, he was shutting the government down. Howard, you were agreeing with the very plan that Newt Gingrich wanted to pass, which was a $270 billion cut in Medicare. Now, you've been saying for many months that you're the head of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. I think you're just winging it. I—really, this is not the view of Democrats, in my view. This program has been under attack from the Republicans since the beginning, and we need a candidate against George Bush that can take the fight to him on it, not someone who agreed with the Gingrich Republicans.

WILLIAMS: Governor Dean.

Gov. DEAN: That is flat out false and I'm ashamed that you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich. The fact is that what I—first of all, I did say Medicare was a dreadful program because it's administered dreadfully. I've done more for health insurance in this country, Dick Gephardt, thank frankly you ever had, because I've delivered it to a lot of seniors and a lot of young people. And I'll stake my record on health insurance against anybody up here.

Of course we are not going to get rid of—rid of Medicare you are wrong to insinuate, so we're going to run it properly because we are going to have somebody that actually has taken care of patients, running Medicare and Medicaid and the FDA so we can get the things that we need to do to get—to patients. To insinuate that I would get rid of Medicare is wrong, it's not helpful, and we need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other.

WILLIAMS: Reverend Sharpton, you were wanting in here. I'm going to allow you a 30--a 30 second rebuttal.

Rev. SHARPTON: Again, I think that we can only solve this if there's a commitment to health care generally under single-payer plan. And I think the danger of all of these programs is it doesn't cover all of us. And you can get on my Web site, I'm a different Al than you hung out with before, Joe, but I'm going to win. The other—the other thing is I agree. I hope we don't, in our distinguishing, make George Bush the winner tonight. I think all of us have disagreed. I think clearly, we need to make sure that we don't give George Bush tonight by getting too personal, Brother Howard.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

And to Congressman Kucinich on what needs fixing in health care.

Rep. KUCINICH: Well, first of all, the Social Security money belongs to Main Street, not to Wall Street. Needs to be said very clearly here that privatization is off the ta—table. There will be no privatization when I'm elected president. I'll block any effort. Furthermore, none of the other candidates has addressed the real issue here, and that is that people are retiring earlier. They're retiring at age 62. And so we ought to take the retirement age back to 65. Take the retirement age back to 65. The money is. Right now, the Bush administration is using a surplus to finance tax cuts for the wealthy. And Social Security, as a matter of fact, is a better investment now than the stock market. There's a higher return. There's guaranteed cost of living increases. Privatization, you have to worry about the value of your account. I'm saying that Social Security right now, the retirement age ought to go back to age 65. I challenge every one of my Democratic colleagues to look at the record, look at the trust fund, it's solid through the year 2041, get that money back to workers who are retiring earlier.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Congressman.

Our questioning will continue with Gerry Seib of the Wall Street Journal.

SEIB: Let me switch to different subject, which is energy and energy security, and address this question to Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman.

Just yesterday, OPEC announced a production cutback and the price of oil jumped immediately. How can you say, on one hand that there is a paramount economic and national security need to reduce dependence on imported and specifically Middle Eastern oil, while on the other hand, oppose drilling in one section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska? Senator Kerry, you first.

Sen. KERRY: Because the Arctic wildlife refuge won't provide a drop of oil for 20 years and because the total amount of oil, if it were to come through at the level that some people in the oil industry predict, will amount to about a 1 to 2 percent reduction in the total dependency of the United States on oil. We only have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, Gerry. There is no physical or metaphysical way for the United States of America to drill its way out of this problem. We have to invent our way out of this problem, and the sooner that we have a president who understands that and—and begins to commit America to the science, to the discovery, to the alternatives, to the renewables, to begin to press America towards the great journey towards energy independence, the better off America will be, the better our health will be, the more effective our economy will be, and frankly, the better our national security will be, and the better world citizen we will be. I think the OPEC rise yesterday absolutely underscores the danger to the united States of this current dependency. We need to commit ourselves to energy independence now.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Senator.

SEIB: Senator Lieberman, you see any other alternatives?

Senator JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: I sure do. Look, there's been a widespread loss of confidence in George Bush's economic policies, and the OPEC decision to cut the supply of oil shows that even George Bush's buddies in OPEC have lost confidence in his economic plans because they based that cut in supply on a projected cut in demand because they see America in a jobless recovery. It's going to take a Democratic president to begin to create jobs again, and one of the ways we're going to do it is with a declaration of real energy independence so no matter how strong we are, we can't have our strength be compromised by—by the countries in OPEC. I'm for increasing the average fuel efficiency of our vehicles to 40 miles a gallon. That's critical. I'm for investing billions of dollars in creating new alternative renewable energy technologies and giving tax credits to people who buy them. We can get together and make ourselves energy independent and stronger economically.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. Thank you, Senator. We—we'll go over to Ron Insana.

INSANA: Senator Graham, the energy problems n this country don't extend only to petroleum and petroleum production. On August 14th of this year, this area of the country and—and much of the East Coast suffered an enormous power blackout. The Bush administration wants to give more control of the electrical grid to the states. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would like to see the federal government solve the problem. Two questions: Who do you think should solve the problem, or has jurisdiction, if you will, and how should problem be solved?

Sen. GRAHAM: This is another example of one of the recurring themes of the Bush administration is to divide Americans, not bring us together. We've just been talking about the issue of the future of Social Security. That's a division between generations in America. The issue of who's going to pay for the cost of rebuilding our electric system is a regional conflict within America. We need to be looking at ways to solve problems as Americans, not as subgroups of Americans. The way we ought to deal with this electric grid program is through a combination of the companies and their customers and the federal government and the state. In the plan that we have presented, Opportunity For All, we provide the funds for the federal share of a massive rebuilding of not only our electric system but also our other critical transportation and urban and—systems that upon which we and our economy are sustained.

WILLIAMS: Senator Graham, thank you.

A brief note. I'm going to ask the audience again to limit applause. And to Gloria.

BORGER: This is to Senator Edwards, back on trade. You know that President Bush imposed tariffs on imported steel la—last year. Reports are that the administration is now considering rolling back those tariffs. If you were president, what would you do?

Sen. EDWARDS: I supported the tariffs at the time; I think they were important given the surge of steel that had come into the United States. I think it was the right thing to do, I supported it at the time. We've just gotten a new report which we're in the process of looking right now—looking at or examining right now. My reaction to what I've seen so far is it may be time to ease off on tariffs. It may actually be the right thing to do given the result of the report. I also want to say something about the exchange that took place just a few minutes ago. We need to be really careful that our anger is not directed at each other. The reason I want to be president of the United States is to change the course of America, to make sure that everyone in this cha—this country gets the opportunity that they're entitled to, no matter where they live or what the color of their skin, what family they're born into. That's the America I want to build as president, I think those of us on this stage have an obligation not just to Democratic Party but to the American people to make sure we do that.

WILLIAMS: Let me hop in for a quick rebuttal from Governor Dean. What do you think about internecine warfare here among—among Democrats?

Gov. DEAN: I don't think we should ever have internecine warfare and I've promised never to have internecine warfare.

WILLIAMS: How about little flashes of anger?

Gov. DEAN: Well, little flashes of disagreement are going to happen from time to time. The truth is that is we have fundamental policy disagreements here, and what we really need to do is confront George Bush with what he's done to this country. But I do think it's important that if folks are going to talk about us being like Newt Gingrich, that we're not going to stand for that. There is nobody up here that's like Newt Gingrich, and I think we have to understand that.

WILLIAMS: Senator Kerry, I'll give you 30 seconds and then we really do have to...

Sen. KERRY: Well, in defense of Dick Gephardt, I didn't hear him say he was like Newt Gingrich. I heard him say that he stood with Newt Gingrich when we were struggling to hold on to Medicare. That's a policy difference. It's also a policy difference when Governor Dean says that we could balance the budget by cutting veterans benefits, cutting Social Security, cutting defense. It would be tough, he says, but we could do it. Now, I think these are policy differences that we need to discuss, and it's perfectly fair.

WILLIAMS: Our discussion of policy differences and plain policy will continue from the lower Manhattan campus of Pace University. Still a lot to go. We'll talk about trade when we come back.


WILLIAMS: We are back. All 10 Democrats in the race for president, our two-hour debate this evening. And we're going to talk about another perceived difference between two of our candidates up here on stage, Congressman Gephardt and General Clark.

Beginning with Congressman Gephardt, it's a subject of trade. Do you wear the label "free trader" or "made in America"?

Rep. GEPHARDT: I'm for a progressive trade policy, and I will be a president who will lead not only America but the entire world toward a trade policy that will help every business and every worker in the world. That's what we need.

Some of the candidates were saying that they wouldn't be for a trade agreement that doesn't have labor and environmental standards in it. Well, that's what I tried to get in NAFTA. That's what I tried to get in the China agreement. And that's what I will do as president. I finally got, at the end of the Clinton administration, an agreement with Jordan that I encouraged that had labor and environmental standards in it. This will be hard to do. It will take a long time to get those standards to be realized.

But let me tell you something. If any human being in this world works for a living, they ought to be treated as a human being. I have been in the villages in Mexico and China. I have seen the raw sewage coming down the middle of the road. We owe this to our fellow human beings.

WILLIAMS: Congressman, thank you.

General, NAFTA is now on the table. Same question. "Free trader," "made in America," pick a label.

Gen. CLARK: Well, I believe in open trade. I think the record is that we do better if we keep our borders open and we have reciprocal trade agreements. But I emphasize 'reciprocal.' If we're going to open our markets to them, they've got to open their markets to us. And we want to make sure that they're not practicing anti-competitive practices, like dumping. And as president, I'd have no hesitancy in enforcing trade agreements.

I'd like to see them have better labor standards, better environmental standards abroad. Those need to be put into the agreements. They need to be enforced. We're not going to bring those countries up to our standards. That's impossible. But we can help. We can help move this whole mankind forward. And that's what I believe in.

WILLIAMS: Senator Lieberman, same question.

Senator JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: What's the question?

WILLIAMS: "Free trade" or "made in the US"?

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Made in the US and sold abroad, that's what this is all about. I'm for...(audience laughter and applause). All right. I'm—I'm for trade because trade is all about breaking down barriers abroad so that we can sell more American-made goods there and make them here to create jobs.

You know, Brian, I w—this is all about jobs, and I want to talk about something that we ought to talk about here so close to Wall Street now after Dick Grasso's resignation. There—there's a loss of confidence in—in the American economy, and part of it is because of the culture of greed and irresponsibility. And at the top of that, unfortunately, is the president of the United States. He's taken our government into terrible debt. His administration has yielded to special interest over and over again. Halliburton writes the specs and then gets the no-bid contracts. In the Bush administration, the foxes are guarding the foxes, an—and the middle-class hens are getting plucked. I want to make clear I said 'plucked.'

WILLIAMS: Roger that. Roger that. Senator Lieberman, noted. Distinction noted.

Gerry Seib, Wall Street Journal...

SEIB: Let...

WILLIAMS: ...continue the question.

SEIB: Let me also speak clearly here.

Offscreen Voice: As we all will.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top