Excerpts from Q&A at Fargo, North Dakota
January 5, 2004
Dean: Youíre not bursting my bubble, but I sure hope weíre gonna win the Minnesota caucuses too.
Unidentified woman: Iíll be turning out people in precincts in Stearns County [Minnesota].
Dean: Thank you. Thank you.
Unidentified woman: Thank you for talking about the Bush Tax. You can say more. Ken Lay and the boys didnít only steal the retirement accounts of the Enron employees. Lots of retirement funds around the country, like TIAA-Cref, which enrolls a lotta, lotta people like me, lost a lotta money on Enron.
Unidentified woman: That moneyís not cominí back, and whatís left in my retirement account is gonna go away like the snow with the inflation thatís gonna happen if the deficits donít stop.
Dean: Thatís right. [Applause.] You know, a lot of Ė a lot of my opposition in the Democratic Party, and of course, the Republicans, are all saying how much McGovern I am Ė like I am, Iím doomed to win Ė to lose, because Iím just like George McGovern. Well, the truth is that Iím actually the only person running for president of the United States, including the president, whoís ever balanced a budget. And I believe in balancing budgets, and I believe in being really strict about finances, because itís an issue of social justice. In our state, I was governor for so long that I actually served through both Bush recessions, not just one of them.
Just wanted to see if everyone was paying attention. [Laughter.]
And one of the things I learned after the Ė the í91 recession in New England and California was really, really deep. It was the worst recession since the Great Depression. It was like your farm problems here in the Ď80s here, it was really, really a problem. And we had a tough time balancing the budget.
When all the money came in in the Ď90s, we didnít cut taxes much. We cut them a little bit, we put a little bit aside, and we paid off a quarter of the stateís debt between 1996 and 2003. So, when the bad times came, we did not cut higher education, we didnít cut K-12 education, we didnít cut kids off health care, and we still balanced the budget. If you care about social justice, you gotta care about balanced budgets, because what happens is, if you stoke up a lot of programs that canít be funded in bad times, then a whole lot of people are out of luck. College students Ė look whatís happening to college students right now. It is really tough paying for college education. That doesnít have to happen, but youíve gotta have people who can manage money. Not one Republican presidentís balanced the budget in 34 years in America. You just canít trust Republicans with your money.
[Laughter. Applause. Cheering.]
Brokaw: Welcome to North Dakota, Governor Dean. My name is Greg Brokaw. North Dakota raises the best beef in the world. Our farmers and ranchers are unfortunately Ė are at the mercy of the meatpacking companies. As president, would you support country-of-origin labeling, and a federal ban on packer ownership of livestock, so that they would have fair and open markets?
Dean: Yes, and yes. Not only will I support COOL and a ban on packer ownership, Iím also going to appoint an Attorney General who will enforce the anti-trust laws so that people who are in the cattle business selling to packers donít get left having bought a lot of equipment, and then donít have any contract to sell beef anymore. We are gonna make those changes.
And while weíre talking about beef farmers, I also think itís a disgrace that the president of the United States sat on his rear end and stopped the legislation that Tom Harkin and others got through, that would have prevented downer cows from being sold, because if he had done that Ė [applause]. Every Ė one of the volunteers in our campaign in Iowa is a beef farmer, heís driving us around, he canít sell his calves. That means he canít pay his January bills. This president was told by people Ė or his Agriculture Department was told by people who knew, Ďcause it was eventually gonna happen. If we put in the safeguards that we could have put in, then a whole lot of people like you wouldnít be worried about how to pay your January bills. So, what we Ė-
The thing that gets me about the Republicans is, they never figured out what capitalism really works like. Capitalism is a good part of American values, and itís made this country great. But capitalism with no rules is like a hockey game with no referee. Everybody benefits from rules. You know, the industryís spent so much time fighting legislation about not selling downer cows, and now whoís paying for it? The beef farmers, right? If you have the rules, it makes sense. You need to give people confidence in your product.
So, all Iím saying is, these corporations that are unraveling American life for their own bottom line donít understand that, in the end, theyíre the ones that are gonna get bitten. And I plan to bite Ďem in November of 2004.
[Laughter. Applause. Cheering.]
[Many thanks to Chris Saunders for emailing me this transcript - Crocuta.]