CNBC/Wall Street Journal Presidential Democratic Candidate Debate
Thursday, September 25, 2003 at Pace University's downtown campus, New York, NY  4:00-6:00 p.m. ET. 

Transcript Provided by and Reprinted with Permission of NBC
Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV  |  Main
WILLIAMS:  Hello and welcome.  CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, the co-sponsors, want to welcome you here and thank you for being with us.  In a way, the stakes could not be higher, as we gather for the next two hours here on the campus of Pace University in Lower Manhattan. 

We have an extraordinary field of Democratic candidates, extraordinary, for one, for its size.  We are one short of an official NFL roster at 10. 


Time is absolutely critical, so we will begin with the introduction of the candidates.  We must tell you their order on the stage was randomly chosen by lottery.  And we ask our friends assembled here in the audience to hold hoops, hollers and applause until the last name is read. 

From Florida, Senator Bob Graham; from Missouri, Congressman Dick Gephardt; from Connecticut, Senator Joe Lieberman; from Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry; from North Carolina, Senator John Edwards; from Arkansas, retired General Wesley Clark; from Vermont, Governor Howard Dean; from New York, the Reverend Al Sharpton; from Illinois, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun; and from Ohio, Congressman Dennis Kucinich. 


We have a distinguished panel of journalist questioners here today as well.  I am joined by three of my colleagues in the business of politics and the economy, Gerald Seib from the Wall Street Journal, Ron Insana from CNBC and Gloria Borger, also a CNBC colleague.

Our thanks as well from all the organizers here today, to the Democratic National Committee staff and their chairman, Terry McAuliffe. 

Now to the rules, the eat-your-peas portion of our broadcast. All answers to direct questions will be given 60 seconds and just 60 seconds.  Any response or rebuttal, at the moderator's discretion -- I am supposed to add right here -- will be given 30 seconds.

As 60 winds down into 15, a light, clearly visible to all the candidates on the stage, will start flashing, and as 15 reaches zero, we will hear this sound. 


Somewhere at "Jeopardy," they're wondering where it went.


Without further delay, we should probably get into the questioning, and this is that moderator discretion we talked about earlier.  General Clark, we're going to begin with you.

A few moments ago on live television, the political editor of the Wall Street Journal called you the hot story here at this debate before we had even started. 

The American people are certainly anxious to learn more about you and anxious to know things like allegiance.  And we want to clear something up.

On May 11th of 2001, as reported in US News and World Report, you addressed at the Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner in Arkansas, expressed your support for the leadership of Ronald Reagan, for that matter, the leadership of our current president, George W. Bush, his immediate staff and Cabinet, and indicated they were needed in place. 

Did you believe it then?  Do you believe it now? 

CLARK:  I think it's been an incredible journey for me and for this country since early 2001. 

We elected a president we thought was a compassionate conservative.  Instead we got neither conservatism or compassion.  We got a man who recklessly cut taxes.  We got a man who recklessly took us into war with Iraq.

I was never partisan in the military.  I served under Democratic presidents, I served under Republican presidents.  But as I looked at this country and looked which way we were headed, I knew that I needed to speak out.  And when I needed to speak out, there was only party to come to. 

I am pro-choice, I am pro-affirmative action, I'm pro- environment, pro-health.  I believe the United States should engage with allies.  We should be a good player in the international community.  And we should use force only as a last resort.  That's why I'm proud to be a Democrat.

WILLIAMS:  Governor Dean, let's throw a little discretion around. How about a rebuttal?  Do you believe this is a Democrat you're standing next to?

DEAN:  I think that's up to the voters in the Democratic Party to determine.  I think the issues in this campaign are jobs and who can deliver them, which I have.  I think the issues in the campaign are health insurance, which I have delivered.  And those things are important. 

But the biggest issue in this campaign is the question of patriotism and democracy.  I am tired of having John Ashcroft and Dick Cheney and Jerry Falwell and Rush Limbaugh lay a claim to patriotism and lay a claim to the American flag.  That flag belongs to every single one of us.  And I am tired of having our democracy hijacked by the right wing of this country. 

Those are incredibly important issues too, and they're going to be central to the debate in this campaign.

WILLIAMS:  Governor, your time for that has expired. 

Next question will go to, in order, Senator Kerry, Governor Dean and General Clark. 

We're going to hear a lot about one figure tonight, that's $87 billion.  It's been said it's more or less the down payment on the war with Iraq, the war with Afghanistan, the ongoing war on terrorism. Can we please tonight have your vote, up or down, yes or no?  And if yes, how do you pay for $87 billion? 

Senator Kerry, beginning with you.

KERRY:  Well, let me begin, Brian, by first of all saying I hope the fact that the ticker is down in both measures is not a reflection of the fact that all 10 of us are meeting here today.


Secondly, let me say that if George Bush rebuilds Iraq the way he rebuilds the United States, they're going to lose 3 million jobs over the course of the next two years. 

I believe the $87 billion is at issue.  I have introduced an amendment, together with Joe Biden, that calls on shared sacrifice in America.  We need to ask the wealthiest people in our country to bear some of the burden, as our troops and as the middle class in America is bearing the burden. 

And so, I believe if we're going to pass any money at all, it ought to come at the expense of President Bush's ill-advised, unaffordable tax cut, which is driving this country into deficit. 

Secondly, there are some other conditions that I think are critical and, until I know how that comes out in the struggle, I can't tell you exactly where I'm going to vote.

WILLIAMS:  Governor Dean?

DEAN:  I believe the $87 billion ought to come from the excessive and extraordinary tax cuts that this president foisted upon us, that mainly went to people like Ken Lay who ran Enron. 

But I think the test of leadership is not doing what's popular, I think it's doing what's right.  I stood up against all the president's tax cuts.  And I find it somewhat surprising that some folks are supporting some of the Bush tax cuts. 

They are a mistake.  The middle class never got a tax cut for us to defend.  Their college tuitions went up.  Their property taxes went up.  Fire and police and first response services are going down and local people are having to pay for that. 

So I believe not only should we get rid of the $87 billion worth of tax cuts to pay to support our troops -- even though I did not support the war in the beginning, I think we have to support our troops -- I also believe we ought to get rid of the entire Bush tax cut.  It is bad for the economy and it has not created one job. 

WILLIAMS:  Is that an up or down, yes or no, on the $87 billion per se? 

DEAN:  On the $87 billion for Iraq?


DEAN:  We have no choice, but it has to be financed by getting rid of all the president's tax cuts?

WILLIAMS:  General Clark?

CLARK:  Well, Brian, if I've learned one thing in my nine days in politics...


... you better be careful with hypothetical questions, and you've just asked one. 

Now, look, this $87 billion is the first we've heard from this administration of anything like a reasonable estimate of what the down payment is.  Congress needs to really go after this figure. 

What is the strategy?  What will make this operation a success? What will it take to exit?  How do we get international support in there?  There are dozens of questions to be asked on this. 

We need to make this operation a success.  We need to support our troops.  But we need answers on this. 

And the final answer that we need is, the president needs to tell us how he's going to pay for it.  This can't be an addition to the deficit.  We want to see where the money's coming from. 

WILLIAMS:  To my colleagues on the panel, Gerry Seib from the Wall Street Journal.

SEIB:  Brian, let's continue the Iraq line with Senator Lieberman and Senator Graham, because for you it's not a hypothetical.  Where do you come down on the $87 billion?  Your colleagues have suggested paying for it at least in part by rolling by the top Bush tax cuts. Is that the way to go?  Should the wealthy pay for Iraq and Afghanistan? 

Senator Lieberman, let's start with you.

LIEBERMAN:  That is certainly my first choice as to how we should finance this $87 billion.  The fact is that the only Americans sacrificing today for our policy in Iraq, which is critical to our national security and world security, are the 140,000 Americans who are there in uniform for us.

And, of course, we all agree that if George Bush had a better, more multilateral foreign policy, we wouldn't have to finance this alone. 

Again he went to the United Nations this time like a beggar and was turned down by the nations of the world. 

But we have no choice but to finance this program for two reasons.  We have those 140,000 American troops there.  We need to protect them.  We need to protect them and bring them home safe to their families. 

Secondly, we are involved in a great battle in the war on terrorism.  Those terrorists have poured in there.  They're attacking Americans.  They're attacking the institutions of civilization:  the United Nations, Jordanian embassy, Muslim mosques.  We cannot afford to lose this fight.

SEIB:  Time's up.

Senator Graham?

GRAHAM:  I will support whatever is required for the troops in Iraq.  I will not support a dime for the profits of Halliburton. 

We have two clear issues:  one, support of the troops.  I believe that should be done by eliminating the tax breaks for the wealthiest of Americans and using that to pay the cost of occupation of Iraq. 

For the rebuilding of Iraq, I believe that we should look to the Iraqi oil source in the same way that in the 1990s we looked to the Mexican oil source in order to finance the bail-out plan that we had for them. 

The policy that the administration is following in Iraq is typical of their policies elsewhere.  It is disrespectful of other nations.  We need to be inviting in to participate in this occupation. And it is anti-patriotic at the core, because it's asking only one group of Americans, those soldiers in Iraq and their families, to pay the price of this occupation.


SEIB:  Turning on Iraq to Congressman Kucinich and Reverend Sharpton, you've both been outspoken critics of the war and have said, in fact, you'd bring the troops home.  But the fact is that as of now the troops are there, the United States is committed. 

Would you vote -- will you vote yes or no on the $87 billion? And if the answer is no, what's the message you would send to the troops who are there today?

KUCINICH:  The message is now I will not vote for the $87 billion.  I think we should support the troops and I think we best support them by bringing them home. 

Our troops are at peril there, because of this administration's policy.  And I think that the American people deserve to know where every candidate on this stage stands on this issue, because we were each provided with a document -- a security document that more or less advised us to stay the course, don't cut and run, commit up to 150,000 troops for five years at a cost of up to $245 billion. 

A matter of fact, General Clark was one of the authors of that document that was released in July. 

So I think the American people deserve to know that a candidate -- and I'm the candidate who led the effort in the House of Representatives challenging the Bush administration's march toward war, I say bring the troops home unequivocally.  Bring them home and stop this commitment for $87 billion, which is only going to get us in deeper. 

After a while, we're going to be sacrificing our education, our health care, our housing and the future of this nation.

SEIB:  Congressman?

KUCINICH:  Bring them home.

SEIB:  Reverend Sharpton?

SHARPTON:  Well, first of all, as the only New Yorker, I want to welcome General Clark to New York and I want to welcome him to our list of candidates. 

And don't be defensive about just joining the party.  Welcome to the party.  It's better to be a new Democrat that's a real Democrat, than a lot of old Democrats up here that have been acting like Republicans all along. 



In terms of your question, I would unequivocally vote no, because I think to continue to invest in a flawed and failed policy is not wise or prudent.  It is really to try and chase bad investment with bad investment.

The signal it would sent the troops is that we really do love them.  Real patriots don't put troops in harm's way on a flawed policy.

We would send a signal that we're not going to ask you to fight for health care for the children of our Iraq when you don't have it for the children in South Carolina or New York.

That's the signal.  That's real patriotism.

WILLIAMS:  Reverend Sharpton, thank you. 

The questioning continues with Gloria Borger.

BORGER:  This is for Senator Edwards and Congressman Gephardt. 

I want to get to the realm of the possible right now, when it comes to this $87 billion, because I'm hearing Senator Kerry say, "Until I really know how it kind of works out I'm not sure how I'm going to go."

I hear Governor Dean say, "Well, we want to get rid of all the president's tax cuts to finance it."  But it is a Republican Congress, as you well know that, so that is not likely to happen very quickly. 

So let me start with you, Senator Edwards.  How would you vote on the $87 billion?

EDWARDS:  Well, what's happening, Gloria, is we have young men and women in a shooting gallery over there right now.  It would be enormously irresponsible for any of us not to do what's necessary to support them.

The second thing is, when we went into Iraq, we, the United States of America, assumed a responsibility to share -- and I emphasize share -- with our allies and friends the effort to reconstruct.

That does not mean George Bush should get a blank check.  He certainly shouldn't get a blank check under these circumstances. 

So the answer to your question is, we will vote for, I will vote for, what's necessary to support the troops.

But we have a lot of questions that have to be answered first. We have to find out what -- how he plans to bring our allies in, how much control he plans to give up in that process.  We need to find out what, in fact, is our long-term plan there, how much money he plans to spend over the long term.

He's given us no long-term budget nor any idea about how he plans to pay for it.

So I think there are a lot of questions that have be answered.

And as one of the people on this stage who has a responsibility, I take that responsibility very seriously.

WILLIAMS:  Did you have a rebuttal to the senator? 

BORGER:  Well, just a quick little follow-up. 

I take it that means you might vote for something less than $87 billion.  You might vote for something less and cut off money for reconstruction or whatever. 

EDWARDS:  Let me give you a simple answer:  I will vote for what needs to be there to support our troops who are on the ground there. I will not vote -- I will not vote for the additional money unless and when we have an explanation about our allies coming in and what we're going to do to share the cost with others.

BORGER:  Congressman Gephardt, can you get specific?

GEPHARDT:  Gloria, we've got to get answers to very important questions.  I don't think you can assume that Republicans are just going to vote for whatever the president asks for either. 

We got some tough questions to ask.  What's the money go for? Are we going to just pay for the rehabilitation of Iraq?  Is that part of this money?  When we can't remodel schools in the United States, can't, apparently, get the electric grid straightened out in the United States, we're going to build the electric grid in Iraq? 

And who's going to help?  I've been telling this president for over a year and a half, "If you want to deal with Iraq, you got to get help."  He still doesn't have the help.  It's incomprehensible to me that he could go to the U.N. the other day and come away empty-handed. 

He is not leading on this issue.  He needs to come to the Congress with answers to a lot of our questions before Congress can make that decision.

WILLIAMS:  Gloria? 

BORGER:  Now I'm going to ask the $87 billion question to Ambassador Moseley Braun.  And obviously, you do not have a vote in Congress on this, so it's a little easier for you to talk about. 

But do you think it's a smart move for your fellow Democrats out here to be, sort of, splitting this decision on this vote the way they are?

MOSELEY BRAUN:  I stand with the mothers of the young men and women who are in the desert in Iraq and who right now are in the shooting gallery without even sufficient supplies to sustain themselves. 

And so, it is absolutely, I think, critical that we not cut and run, that we provide our troops with what they need and that we just not blow up that country and leave it blown up; we have a responsibility. 

Following in on that responsibility means we will have to vote some money.  The estimates vary as to what that is.

Almost a year ago, I called on this president not to go into Iraq and I called on the Congress not to give him the authority to go into Iraq, and at the same time asked the question, "Mr. President, how much is this going to cost?"  He didn't answer the question then, he's not answering the question now. 

But I believe that it's going to be important for us to come up with the money to make certain that our young men and women and our reputation as leaders in the world is not permanently destroyed by the folly of preemptive war.

WILLIAMS:  Ambassador, thank you, we gave you back the two seconds for clearing your throat, so we're even steven. 

The questioning continues with CNBC's Ron Isana.

ISANA:  Thank you, Brian.

I'd like to turn to President Bush's tax cuts, and your plans for them.  Congressman Gephardt and Governor Dean have suggested they will roll back the increases in the child tax credit and some other middle-class tax benefits. 

Senator Kerry, you have suggested that anyone who walks away from the middle class is not a true Democrat.  Are your colleagues abandoning the middle class?

KERRY:  We Democrats fought hard to put those tax cuts in place, Ron.  Those represent the efforts of Democrats to try to reach the middle class of America. 

The 10 percent bracket wasn't George Bush's idea.  It was our idea.  It was in keeping with the spirit of our party to try to help the average American get ahead in a country where increasingly average Americans are getting stomped on, where there's an unfairness in the workplace, where corporate executives, as we've seen, are walking away with millions and sticking the average American with the bill. 

I think Governor Dean is absolutely wrong.  And he's wrong on his facts.  The fact is that 32 million American couples get about $1,000 out of the tax cut.  The fact is that 16 million American families get $1,500 to $3,000 from it. 

Just ask Ted Walsh (ph) and Mia Gloss (ph) in Barrington, New Hampshire.  He's a firefighter, she's a teacher.  If Governor Dean has his way and Congressman Gephardt, they're going to pay $3,000 additional taxes. 

We can cut the deficit in half, we can be fiscally responsible, but we don't have to do it on the backs of the middle class.

WILLIAMS:  Senator, thanks. 

We're going to divert and go to Governor Dean, as we owe you a response, and we'll treat it as a full minute because it is a response to Ron's direct question.

DEAN:  And all due respect to Senator Kerry and the others from Washington that voted for these tax cuts, this is exactly why the budget is so far out of balance. 

Washington politicians promising people everything.  You can have tax cuts, you can have insurance, you can have special education.  We cannot win as Democrats if we take that kind of attack.   Tell the truth:  We cannot afford all of the tax cuts, the health insurance, special ed and balancing the budget, and we have to do those things. 

The fact of the matter is that 60 percent of Americans at the bottom got $325.  That is not a tax cut.  Whatever you got out there in tax cuts, the majority of Americans saw their kids' college tuition go up, their property taxes go up, because people like the friend -- Senator Kerry's friend in Barrington got laid off because of the enormous tax cuts and no money coming to the states. 

Let's call this one right.  Let's be fiscally responsible and balance the budget. 

Bob Graham and I are the only people up here that have ever balanced a budget and I think we ought to balance this budget and not promise more than we can deliver.

WILLIAMS:  Congressman Gephardt, you get to answer a full question.

GEPHARDT:  Thank you. 

I don't agree with John.  I think that's the wrong policy, and let me tell you why. 

This plan has failed.  The president's economic plan has failed. And we should not keep half of a failure or a quarter of a failure or two-thirds of a failure.  If it's failed, let's change the policy. Let's do something else. 

That's why I have a health care plan that I think will stimulate the economy much more than the Bush tax cuts, will create more jobs, put more people to work and solve a major, major problem that we have for every American.

The other thing I'd say is if you do what I'm saying, we'll go back to the Clinton tax code.  That was (inaudible) tax code.  I led the fight in 1993 to put those changes in place; it worked.  And my plan will put more money into the average family (inaudible) Bush tax cuts in (inaudible).

WILLIAMS:  Senator Kerry, I'll give you 30 rebuttal.

KERRY:  Again, with Governor Dean, Governor Dean didn't balance this budget alone.  The federal government gave him about 21 percent of that budget, in order to help balance it. 

And the fact is that going back to the Clinton tax cuts, doesn't create another job, it puts a burden on current predicament of middle- class Americans.  They lose their current revenue.

What's kept America's economy moving in the last two and a half years has been consumer spending.  If all of a sudden, when we're trying to recover, we sucked a whole lot of money out of those consumers, we are not going to be able to keep the economy moving. 

It's the wrong policy.  We can have the deficit cut in half...


KERRY:  ... the way Bill Clinton did it. 

WILLIAMS:  Times is up for...

KERRY:  And I believe we don't have to do it on the backs of the middle class.

WILLIAMS:  For rebuttal, Ron, you can continue your questioning.

INSANA:  General Clark, in your eighth day as a politician you began to outline some of your economic priorities.  You suggested you would keep some of the middle-class tax breaks but essentially get rid of much of the rest.

You spent time as an investment banker.  Don't you believe that lower capital gains taxes, lower dividend taxes not only help the rich and Wall Street but also help to create jobs and help the economy overall? 

CLARK:  I think that what we need to do in this economy is go back and look at our overall position for a deficit. 

We started with $5 trillion surplus.  We went to a $5 trillion deficit, projected over 10 years.

Now, this administration hasn't had a real economic strategy. All it's had is a tax-cut policy. 

We're faced with a very serious deficit problem.  We need to keep the -- we need to go back to the top 2 percent and repeal those tax cuts.  We need to put all the government spending programs on the table, including the military programs.  We need to then have no new programs unless you can pay as you go.  And then we need a simpler, fairer, more progressive tax code. 

And I'll be coming out in a few weeks with my own economic plan to address the deficit.  It will be a central point of focus of my administration.  And I think it's a tough problem, but it's a problem we as Americans, if we work together and bring people together on this issue, we can solve it and still achieve the goals we need. 

WILLIAMS:  I want to turn into taxes for a little bit here. There's a lot of talk, as you all know, in Washington about deferring tax cuts, rolling back tax cuts.  But let's talk about the guarantee not to raise taxes, perhaps.

And, Senator Graham, why don't I begin with you?  Are you willing to say here and now those famous words, in a Graham presidency there would be no new taxes? 

GRAHAM:  No, and you don't have to watch my lips saying that word. 



I believe it's irresponsible, particularly a candidate for the president of the United States, to make an announcement in advance that they would never seek to increase federal revenue or reallocate the responsibility for paying the cost to the federal government. 

In the first year of President Bush's administration, this country, this city was struck with a horrendous terrorist attack which has resulted in billions of unanticipated new responsibilities for the federal government.

What we are doing now, is we are asking our children and our grandchildren to pay for these costs.  We're writing a deficit bill the likes of which we've never seen, which we're not going to assume responsibility for, but ask our children.

WILLIAMS:  Senator Lieberman, direct question, 60 seconds, same question:  Would you exert the same sort of caution or can you say that existing revenue would be enough, no new taxes under a Lieberman administration?

LIEBERMAN:  Same answer that Bob Graham gave; it's the right answer. 

And immediately as president, I would attempt to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the highest income Americans, they don't need it.  It sent us in a deficit that will cost the middle class, and as Bob said, our children and grandchildren, all sorts of money in the future.

There's a choice here and I want to take it to a larger point. The debate going on between us is really a debate about whether we want to take the Democratic party back to where it was before Bill Clinton transformed it in 1992, or whether we want to take it forward.

And some of my opponents here, including Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, want to repeal all the taxes.  That, as John has said, would mean a middle-class tax increase.  Bill Clinton was for a middle-class tax cut. 

Some would spend over $3 trillion.  That would put us as much into debt as George Bush has done, and take all that money out of the Social Security trust fund.

Some forget that Bill Clinton was for trade that created jobs, and they're against trade today. 

I want to build on the Clinton-Gore record, and create 10 million new jobs in the first four years of my administration.

WILLIAMS:  Time, Senator.  Time, Senator. 

To Gloria.

BORGER:  Let's go to Senator Edwards on this question.  If as president you decide to cancel tax cuts, that means that people's taxes are naturally going to go up.

Yet a lot of people here say that that is not a tax increase.  So how can you tell voters that their taxes will increase, but they are not getting a tax increase?

EDWARDS:  Well, here's what I'd say to voters.  What I'm going to do is something dramatically different than this president is doing. 

Everyone on this stage is against Bush's tax cuts for the rich, but there's something more radical than that going on here.  What this president is doing is trying to shift the tax burden in America from wealth to work.

He wants to eliminate the capital gains tax, the dividends tax, the estate tax, all the taxation of wealth or passive income on wealth, and shift that tax burden to people who work for a living. It's an enormous mistake. 

The middle-class working people made this country what it is today.  And I would say to Governor Dean and Dick Gephardt, I grew up in a middle-class family whose taxes they're talking about raising.

For a family of four, who makes about $40,000 a year, we're talking about almost $2,000; $2,000 that could be used to pay a lot of bills. 

What we ought to be doing instead is empowering those families, helping them buy a house, helping them invest, lowering their capital gains rate.  So we improve the -- and expand the investor class in America.

WILLIAMS:  Senator, time. 

Gloria, again.

BORGER:  Reverend Sharpton and Ambassador Moseley Braun, many of you here around this table were talking today about tax cut for the middle class versus tax cuts for the wealthy.  This leads me to ask a very basic question of you and that is how do you define rich in this country?

SHARPTON:  Well, I think that, clearly, rich are those that are above a certain income bracket that are able to, without any concern, pay for their livelihood and their family. 

I think what we're hearing here, though, is something that is particularly disturbing to me.  I think that we're not talking tax cuts, we're talking tax shifts. 

And what President Bush has offered and some are supporting, is to give us $300 at the end of the day, when we bring about an economy where interest rates go too high, where mortgage lending can't happen for people right here in Queens. 

My two daughters are here tonight.  Would I rather give them $300 that, if they buy a pair of sneakers apiece, the $300 is gone, or would I rather them be able to buy a home and have interest rates where they can have a home mortgage? 

If you talk to the American people like that, they will understand the fallacy of that. 

And that's not about reading lips, because we've read Bush's lips; they lied.  He said that there are no tax cuts, yet he caused a shift where state tax, sale tax and property taxes went up.  That's a tax hike...

WILLIAMS:  Reverend.  Reverend. 

SHARPTON:  ... where I come from.

WILLIAMS:  Reverend.  Reverend, thank you. 


BORGER:  Ambassador Moseley Braun, who's rich and who's in the middle class?

MOSELEY BRAUN:  The economic policies, the trickle-down economics that this administration has given us has created a situation, probably in recent -- in our memory, that we've never seen before in our memory, of embedded wealth, entrenched poverty and a shrinking middle class.  That, it seems to me, is the antithesis, the opposite, of what the American dream is all about.

And so, what we are not -- we're not talking about class warfare, which I think is suggested by your question.  This is not holding it against someone for doing well. 

But as people do well, I think they have a responsibility to build community.  And that means getting away from an ethos of greed, that we have seen all too much of in recent times, and making certain that the economy works for every American and that opportunity is kept alive in this country.

WILLIAMS:  Ambassador, thank you. 

Congressman Kucinich, you talk often about your family history in this country and your background in the state of Ohio.  How do you define "rich" these days?

KUCINICH:  Well, I think it's defined when you consider that the top 272,000 taxpayers are getting as much of a benefit under the Bush tax cut as the bottom 129 million.  So I think that what's happening in this society is, there is a maldistribution of the wealth. 

And I'm disappointed that my fellow colleagues here haven't continued to make the connection between the rising deficit and the war in Iraq.  Because unless we commit ourselves to get out of Iraq -- get the U.N. in and get the U.S. out -- we're going to see rising deficits. 

They're talking about spending hundreds of billions of dollars for this war.  And if you look at the maldistribution of wealth, it's going to be accelerated by this war. 

Are we going to have tax cuts for the wealthy and then ask people later on to increase their taxes?  Are going to have the Pentagon budget go to $550 billion within eight years and ask the people to pay more taxes? 

I think we have to reorder our priorities.  It begins with getting out of Iraq and putting money again into health care, into education, into job creation.

WILLIAMS:  You can set us up nicely, Congressman, for the focus of our next segment. 

We are going to take a break.  Our focus tonight, of course, overall, is the economy.  Our time frame, two hours.  Our guests, the 10 declared Democrats in the race for president. 

We are joining you this evening from the Campus of Pace University in New York.  We'll continue right after this.


Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV  |  Main

Copyright 2003  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.