Iowa City Press-Citizen

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Democrats should back John Kerry

For more than a quarter century, Iowans have had the honor of making the first selection in the presidential nomination process. Campaign appearances across the state and our ultimate choice during the caucuses often propelled candidates into the media spotlight and on to the national race. This year on Jan. 19, Democratic Party caucuses-goers will decide who they'd like to unseat Republican President George W. Bush. Their vote should go to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Foreign policy key

Of the nine Democrats seeking the nomination, Kerry possesses the right experiences to best serve as president, particularly with American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and considering our nation's increasingly uneasy relationship with long-standing allies. A veteran with two tours of duty in Vietnam, he has served as Massachusetts' lieutenant governor during the mid-1980s and in the U.S. Senate since 1984. As a congressman, he sits on the key Foreign Relations Committee.

Iraq and foreign policy matters likely will raise the greatest challenges to America in the next two years, not only in terms of potential threats to the United States but in the very philosophy upon which our nation bases its policies and decisions. President Bush proposes a largely unilateral path while some Democratic candidates suggest retreat. Kerry, however, proposes a reasonable third option: Confronting the problems of the world by leading a wide coalition of free nations. On Iraq, Kerry has called for a specific timetable that establishes self-government and transfers political power and reconstruction decisions to whom it belongs: the people of that land. An internationalization of troops would help ensure the peace while freeing America's now over-extended military to meet other dangers.

Significant economic issues also will confront the presidency. Rather than pin economic growth on tax cuts for the wealthy or on big government programs, Kerry would encourage job creation through a new manufacturing jobs credit, by investing in new technology and by seeking energy independence in a "race" for alternate and renewable fuels. The latter project, which Kerry compares to the Apollo program, offers the dual potential of finally ending America's dependence on OPEC's mercy while helping the fundamental elements of our economy grow. In addition, Kerry proposes keeping Bush's recent tax cuts for the working and middle classes while rolling back those to Americans earning more than $200,000 a year. Ultimately, his plan calls for balancing the federal budget not by massive harsh cuts to programs or through outlandish tax hikes that hurt everyday Americans, but by developing our economy and hence increasing our tax revenues.

Reasonable health care reform

Any successful economic plan must address health care reform. Growing medical and insurance costs as Baby Boomers enter retirement conspire to undermine consumer buying power and the health of many companies. Merely getting all Americans covered by health insurance is inadequate for the challenge ahead while adopting a massive government program only will present more problems than it solves. Kerry offers a viable alternative: Offer impressive incentives to businesses so every American can receive health insurance while interceding to ensure that big insurance and drug companies don't inflate health care costs purely for profit's sake. He also would bolster Medicare and the Children's Health Insurance Program to help seniors and the young receive affordable health care.

During the past several months, Kerry, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards particularly offered spirited discussion in Iowa about the future of the Democratic Party and of our nation. In little more than a week, Iowans will tell the rest of the country what we've learned about these candidates. Iowa Democrats should let America know that Sen. John Kerry has offered the strongest vision for their party.

Copyright © 2004 Iowa City Press-Citizen.  Reprinted by permission.

Rob Bignell (1/11/04): "The decision was the consensus of the editorial board. The editorial board consists of: Rob Bignell (editorial page editor and editorial board chairman), Mike Beck (publisher), Jim Lewers (managing editor), Tricia DeWall (assistant managing editor), Dan Brown (marketing director), Cheryl Taylor (account manager) and Lucille Hernandez Gregory (community member)."