Dean in Storm Lake; An Extensive Report
Sat Jan 3rd, 2004 at 22:12:10 UTC
I went to the pancake breakfast with Howard Dean today in Storm Lake, Iowa.
I've prepared a report of his remarks, not a transcript per se.
Of course everything that is in quote marks are his quotes and the other stuff is my paraphrase of the basic points he was making.
One thing I really notice in going through these remarks word-for-word is he's really saying a lot more than my ear picks up the first time through. He offers common sense leadership for America. The old words "liberal" and "conservative" aren't even relevant anymore. Bush has perverted conservatism to the point that it's meaningless when his supporters say they're conservatives and support him at the same time! Dean, though, has the best of progressive liberalism filtered through what I'd call true conservatism, i.e., common sense, full of values, something that about 95% of the people of the country would support if they knew about it. And the only reason the remaining 5% would support Bush is because they're wackos.
Anyway, sorry about the editorial comments...
Here are the parts. I posted this piece by piece, so on my site it naturally flows backwards, earlier pieces farther down.
Spread the word!
Howard Dean Making Pancakes
Photo by NegSpinPosted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 03:59 PM
January 03, 2004
Howard Dean, Storm Lake, Iowa, Today
Photos by NegSpinPosted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 10:42 AM
Howard Dean Remarks, Part 1 - Agriculture
Howard Dean was in Storm Lake, Iowa, today. He flipped pancakes for many of the folks for breakfast. Then he addressed an overflow crowd in the meeting room of a downtown restaurant. Dean started off his remarks thanking the people in the overflow room and told them he would try to get out to see them after his talk. He said he appreciated that they could hear but not see, then said they're one step up from the Administration, "because they can't hear or see."
The first issue he addressed was agriculture. Many farms have gone out of business in the last 20 years and the number is going up. In the first year of President Bush, half a million rural Americans fell into poverty and rural unemployment went up by 50%. And rural population continued to decline as young people went to cities because they couldn't find jobs in their hometowns. "Some of the things happening in agriculture are emblematic of the Bush Administration's disregard for ordinary Americans, and it leads to why and how we're going to take our country back," Dean said. He said the Administration is not only permitting but promoting more corporate agriculture. He pointed out that efficiency is important, but that the president doesn't understand that if we have bigger and bigger farms managed from far away by people who only care about the bottom line that "you take the soul out of rural communities."
Dean spoke highly of Sen. Tom Harkin's efforts to get a ban on packer ownership of farmland, but said the Administration had stopped him. "We need a ban on packer ownership of farmland. Because if we don't have one, soon there won't be any family farms; there won't be any repository for the kind of American values we see when times are tough and people help each other." With a concentration of ownership, in which four companies control 70% of the pork that's packed, 80% of the beef that's packed, "that doesn't leave much room for ordinary people that invest a little money to try raise hogs or beef and then find out that their contract expires and they can't do anything with all that expensive equipment they bought but haven't paid for yet." He gave an example in Dubuque of a corporation (Smithfield) making certain promises but breaking them, with the result being the loss of over 1,000 jobs. "We can't do this anymore, and I want the president to understand that corporation efficiency is fine...but we can't in this country be so efficient that we all become cogs in a great enormous corporation. This presidency is like the presidency of William McKinley, and then Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover later on; corporations have too much power and they don't take into account the ordinary feelings of Americans, our need to survive, our need to have our kids go to college, have our kids make a decent living, a decent education. And if rural America is paying a price for that, then it's time for that to stop."Posted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 11:42 AM
Howard Dean Remarks, Part 2 - Healthcare and Taxes
He turned to the pharamaceutical benefits bill recently signed by Bush. Dean described what is in that bill: "$400 billion charged to our grandchildren's credit card." He said when he was governor and wanted to introduce a new program, the first thing the press would ask is how he was going to pay for it. The president's answer is to "charge it" to our grandchildren's credit card. He gave a few stats: of that $400 billion, $85 billion goes to insurance companies and HMOs, much of it upfront, and over $100 billion goes directly to the drug companies, whose profits go up 38%. But then at the consumer level, the benefits are reduced as the need increases. "So the people who don't need the help get some but the people who really need the help and have to choose between cutting their pills in half or not taking them at all or even not paying their rent that month, they don't get the kind of help they need." The other two things in the bill that Dean described as "shocking" are: 1) It bans anyone from going to Canada to get cheaper drugs. 2) It prohibits the U.S. government from using its purchasing power to get better prices for senior citizens for drugs. "In other words, the president is shoveling our taxpayer dollars out the door of the Oval Office into the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies. This bill...is written for corporations like insurance companies and drug companies, and not written for ordinary people. And the sooner we change presidents and have a president who's willing to think about the 99% of us and not just the 1% the sooner this country will get back on its feet again."
On the the need for jobs in America, Dean first described how not to do it, the Bush way. Bush's way was to give a $3 trillion tax cut to his friends who write him big checks. The president did this by borrowing over $2.4 trillion from the Social Security trust fund and had to pay $600 billion of our tax money in interest. This money goes to people who make over $1 million a year. Their average tax cut is $112,000. 60% of us got a $304 tax cut on average. Dean said, "Let me ask you a question: Has your healthcare premiums gone up $304 in the last three years?" The president's tax cuts simply means the cost of things go up in other areas to make up the difference. In healthcare, the hospital recoups added expenses by charging the insurance companies who in turn charge us more. Next, Dean asked, "How about your kid's college tuition? Has that gone up more than $304 in the last three or four years, or your grandchildren's college tuition?" Because the president cut 84,000 students off Pell grants in order to give tax cuts to "Ken Lay and the boys." Next, "How about your property taxes? Has that gone up more than $304 in the three years" because the president wouldn't fund special education and No Child Left Behind? Dean dispelled the illusion that Bush's tax cuts have helped us: "There was no such thing as a middle class tax cut. What the president did is cut services and switch the costs to local people, and the property taxes, healthcare premiums, and college tuitions. I want to repeal every dime of the Bush tax cuts and start all over again so ordinary people can get some of the benefit of that."Posted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 12:09 PM
Howard Dean Remarks, Part 3 - Balanced Budget & Economy
On to having a balanced budget:
Before Dean's speech, former Congressman Berkeley Bedell was introducing him, and saying he didn't know there were this many Democrats in Buena Vista County when someone in the audience shouted out that she was a Republican. Dean said about her, "We welcome you. Because you know what? Republicans lose their jobs under this Administration, Republicans like balanced budgets, too, and we ought not be supporting people who borrow and spend and borrow and spend. Not one Republican president has balanced the budget in this country in 34 years. You cannot trust the right wing of the Republican party with your money..."
He asked, "If you want jobs in America, how about investing in small businesses?" The president gives big tax breaks and subsidies to big corporations that move their headquarters offshore and their jobs overseas. But small businesses create 70% of the jobs and they leave their jobs in the community. What we need to do is help them get capital, pay for health insurance, and reduce paperwork. What if, instead of giving $3 trillion to the president's friends, those who gave him $2,000 checks, we had invested in roads and in schools and in renewal energy and in broadband telecommunications? This would have created new jobs immediately, and would provide an infrastructure to build more jobs on later on.
On whether the economy is getting better, Dean pointed to the stock market being up, productivity being up, the GNP is up, "but the jobs aren't." He brought it right back to the community level, the individual level: the economy is up when you have a job and healthcare and can afford college tuition. What's happening under President Bush is that even people who have jobs have less money for their needs and there's very little help offered. "The middle class is struggling more and more and more to get by, and his friends get a $112,000 tax cut. We can do better than this."Posted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 01:09 PM
Howard Dean Remarks - Part 4, How To Beat Bush
How do you beat George Bush? "We are not going to beat George Bush by trying to be like him. Every single person that I'm running against who's a major candidate, with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, every single one of them supported the war in Iraq. They all voted for some tax cuts but not all of them. They all voted for No Child Left Behind."
He described some of the nasty provisions of No Child Left Behind. Essentially, it boils down to offering low Texas educational standards in place of high Iowa standards! "It seems to me that the people of Iowa have a much better idea of how to run their schools that bureaucrats like George W. Bush and Tom Delay. You can run your schools here just fine. We ought to keep the federal government out of Iowa schools, because they run up about $400-500 in property taxes that you have to pay and the quality of the education goes down because you have to cut programs in order to pay for the nonsense in No Child Left Behind."
Now, getting back to the other Democrats. "And the Democrats all voted for this stuff. We can't beat George Bush by being Bush Lite!" This line delighted the audience and brought a broad smile to Dean's face. It appears that not everyone had heard it before. The way to beat George Bush is to give the Americans who haven't voted a reason to vote, by showing them a difference in the parties. Dean said that a quarter of all people who have given to his campaign are under 30 years old. This lends itself to what is needed: changing what is going on in the Democratic party and bringing in new people. But we need to give them a reason to vote.
"The way to beat George Bush," he repeated, "is not to try to be like him. It is to stand up, be proud of who we are. We demand jobs, we want health insurance for every American, we want a balanced budget, and we are not ashamed to be Democrats anymore!"
Dean next told how he is going to win. "What we're going to do is bring 3 or 4 million new people to the polls who didn't vote last time." And they're not just going to vote for a Democratic president, but are going to vote right down the line, Democratic senator, congressman, and state legislature. "And we're going to have more votes than President Bush. And this time the person with the most votes is going to the White House."
Howard Dean Q & A - Part 1, Bush Toxic For America
1) Question from a city councilman in the area for advice on how to be motivated as a public official even with lots of criticism.
Dean said in some ways the questioner's job is harder than Dean's. Dean said the two hardest jobs are school board member and city council. Because everyone went to school so they're all experts in how to run schools, and city council members get calls at night from people about why their driveway isn't plowed out.
But what keeps Dean motivated is because if we don't do this we don't have a better country. Why did Dean decide to run for president? "I remember, I was sitting in my living room after I decided I was not going to run for a sixth term as governor. And I was reading the paper, and something the president had done had made me really mad – which is not an unusual occurrence. And I thought to myself, 'Well, are you going to do something about this or are you just going to sit around and complain about it?'" Dean complimented the councilman for what he does. "Just remember, that most of the people who are criticizing you didn't have the nerve to run themselves. That ought to keep you in office and keep you working hard." The country doesn't work anymore if people don't run for office.
Extended quote: "The thing that politicians say, that sounds like a cliché, but it's true, is that this country is a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. And the reason for that is there's a lot less cynicism in America than there is in other parts of the world, where they sort of accept things with a 'Well, I can't do anything about it, you know, it's God's will, it's the will of Allah.' Americans have a healthy respect for God, but we also believe that we can do things that make our lives better. And we will do those things. And if we work hard enough, we can accomplish things. That's why this presidency has been so toxic for America and so toxic for the rest of the world. Because they really don't care what people like us think. They care what they think. And they intend to enforce that on the rest of us. And this is the opportunity to fight back. The Constitution says the power to run this country is in our hands. We're going to find out if that's true, and I think it is true if we can get enough people to believe that. And getting people to believe is everything. So, running for the city council is a big deal. Because without people like you our government doesn't work, and it ends up in the hands of people like George Bush and Dick Cheney, who really don't care very much what anybody else thinks. We do, you do, and I thank you for what you did."Posted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 01:49 PM
Howard Dean Q&A - Part 2, Health Insurance and Home Care for Elderly
2) Question from a guy who doesn't have health insurance. How would Dean's health insurance proposals work?
It's based on what they did in Vermont. If you're under 25 you get a government program, unless you make lots of money. Or if you make under $33,000 you can get a government program or keep the insurance you have, which in the questioner's case wouldn't apply. Or let's suppose you make $40,000, have a family of four, run a small business, and it's really expensive to get health insurance, or you don't want to go into someone else's plan, you can but the same private health insurance plan that Congress has for 7½% of your adjusted gross income. That'd be around $300 a month. If you make $80,000 a year it'd be around $600 a month. Qualifying for the government program is not free unless you make a little less than $33,000 a year, and you still may be charged up to 5% of your income until you get down to $26-$27,000 and then it is free. Everybody gets insured. Nobody's excluded, unless they simply don't want to be insured.
Now, the plan is not perfect. If you were going to design a healthcare system from scratch, it wouldn't be this one. But we're not starting from scratch and this is the kind of thing that could pass. And after it passes, that's the time for adjustments and working on it. If you go for something perfect first, "If you try to reform the system first, the Democrats fight over how to reform the system, the Republicans and special interests kill the bill, and nothing happens for the 43 million people who have no health insurance. All I want is something that will pass." Dean wants something for the 43 million without insurance and for the millions of people who are paying almost as much for health insurance as for house payments. "After everyone in the system, then we can have a big fight about how to change the system."
3) Woman who was caregiver for father who had Alzheimer's, got no help. Is the government ever going to help the caregiver?
"Yes, in a couple of ways." One way is to cut some payments to nursing homes if people can stay home and use the money for the care of the person at home. It's cheaper for everybody and better for the patient. They prefer to be in their own homes. You can take care of twice as many people for the same amount of money. Second, we need tax deductions and respite workers to help people who give care to family members at home. There would be a broad program to help in these things, keeping elders in their own homes. "It's good for the bottom line, it's good for the seniors, and it's good for the families."Posted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 02:16 PM
Howard Dean Q&A - Part 3, Corporate Greed and Globalization
4) Question from a man about corporate greed.
"You know where the president's fallen down on this issue? Is in moral leadership. We can talk about enforcement and accounting rules. I talked yesterday about the mutual fund industry, which has a number of people in it now who are abusing people who invest in it. But the real problem is there's a lack of ethical leadership at the top. The president signalled to the corporate world that he wasn't going to be too concerned about ethical missteps. When he appointed Harvey Pitt the head of the S.E.C.,. Harvey Pitt was a securities lawyer who represented a lot of accountants and others, whose job it was to minimize the number of regulations that his clients had to deal with. He was then put in charge of regulating all those companies. That is exactly the signal that all the corporate folks saw. Now, let's get this straight: There are corporate misdeeds and corporate greed. But the people who perform them are a minority. Most businesspeople are like everybody else, they're honest people. But the problem is America doesn't believe that the business community cares about them anymore. America doesn't believe that their employers, especially the big multinational corporations care about them or value them. And that is because the president of the United States has winked and nodded and sent a signal that they're not going to get too serious about you unless you do something really bad. In their enormous tax cuts, they didn't care where the jobs went." Dean said we can change certain things: the Mutual Fund Act that created mutual funds in 1940, get more corporate responsibility, and corporate transparency.
Dean said he would do two things: 1) Bring in the largest businesspeople in the country (and by extension, the world), and say we're going to have a new day, that we expect them to be the model of ethics. Otherwise, the law would be enforced. "We're going to have an attorney general who understands not only civil rights, but antitrust prosecution, as opposed to what we have now, who understands apparently neither. But the moral tone is a huge deal in the presidency." 2) We have to deal with NAFTA and the WTO. These promised us a lot of jobs, but instead they've encouraged jobs leaving America. We're not going to turn the clock back on globalization. But we've only done half the job. We also need to globalize workers' rights, human rights, labor rights, organizing rights, and environmental rights. The way we're doing it now means we're actually subsidizing people who are moving their pollution offshore so they can reimport their products back into the United States for less money. We're moving our jobs offshore and buying back products made by 12-year-olds in Indonesia and people who work with no occupational safety and health protection, no minimum wage protection, no overtime ("although the president is doing his best to get rid of that in the United States as well"). We can do better than this. But we have to make the corporate world understand that globalization is not just for them, it's for us too.
"The president forgets the history of this country, which is, over a hundred years ago, the trade union movement made it possible to work in a factory or work in a mine, or now in a school or in a nursing home, and hope that your kids could be better off than you were, and that you could live a middle class existence. That doesn't happen in other countries. By bringing up the standards of other countries – not by exporting all our jobs because that clearly hasn't worked, but by exporting our labor standards and our environmental standards, we do a number of things: first of all, we make it possible for their markets for our products; secondly, our jobs stop leaving because the cost of production goes up (the bad news is it's going to cost you more at Wal-Mart when you buy those products made in China, but I think that's a price we'd be willing to pay); finally, it reduces illegal immigration, because people don't come to this country because they hate their home country, they come to this country because they can't make a living in their home country. Now it provides upward mobility in other countries as well. And most of important of all, it encourages democracy in other countries, and democracy means stability."Posted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 02:44 PM
Howard Dean Q&A - Part 4, America's Reputation & Equal Rights
5) Question from woman who's travelled the world. On people in other countries saying nasty things about President Bush, that they think he wants to be a world dictator. Aside from what he said about WTO and NAFTA, what would Dean do to help repair our relations around the world?
"I think this president fundamentally does not understand either foreign policy or defense issues. Let me tell you why...." The answer then basically recounts the Berlin wall coming down, the Soviet Union collapsing, and us not firing a shot. What caused this besides reasons internal to the Soviet Union? Two big reasons on our part were: 1) A strong military; and, 2) People behind the Iron Curtain admired America and Americans. But now, after three years of George Bush, it'd be hard to find very many people in other countries who admire us anymore. What the president doesn't understand is that a strong defense doesn't just depend on having a strong military, it also depends on having high moral principles and ideals that the rest of the world aspires to and admires. We need not only to be a leader that people fear, we need to be a nation that people admire again. If he becomes president, Dean said, "the highest thing on my agenda is to restore the honor and the dignity and the respect that this country deserves around the rest of the world, by having a foreign policy principally based on cooperation and not confrontation. The president promised us a foreign policy based on humility, but he gave us one based on humiliation. Humiliation of both our friends and our enemies is a very dangerous weapon because it leaves very deep scars. I will as president begin the process of healing by visiting a lot of capitals around the world where we have poisoned our relationships. One of the worst things we did was poison our relationship with Mexico. They didn't vote for the Iraq war – so what?! Aren't people entitled to have differing opinions on public issues of great importance? We missed the chance of a hundred years in helping Vicente Fox bring real democracy to Mexico. Simply because of 9/11 – and you can't blame the president for being distracted – and then refusing to support Vicente Fox because he didn't agree with the president on Iraq. Absolutely foolish. The first president in 70 years who was elected that was not a one-party person. Who had enormous opportunity to clean up corruption and bring good things to democracy. And whatever's good for Mexico's good for the United States. So, this is a president who doesn't understand it. He doesn't care. And we need again to regain the world leadership of this country by treating other people with the respect that we'd like them to treat us with.
6) A man probably in his 30s quotes Dean saying something on not asking people what their sexual orientation is before collecting their taxes, seeking their service on juries, or demanding that they register for Selective Service, and we shouldn't discriminate against them (GLBT) in the rights of citizenship. Can you please say what you think should be done to change this?
Dean handled this directly and boldly. He insisted that it is a matter of equal rights under the law and that's his stand. In Vermont, they have civil unions, with the same inheritance rights, insurance rights, library rights, hospital visitation rights as everybody else. "Equal rights under the law is a fundamental tenet of American life. Equal rights under the law are not just for your friends who you play golf with or for the neighbors that you have supper with, they're for every single American, every single one. And so, all I'm going to do – people say, how are you going to win the presidency if you're in favor of gay rights? You know why I signed this bill? It had nothing to do with gay rights. It has to do with everybody's rights. If one person is discriminated against in the United States, then we are all poorer because of it." So Dean decided he was going to sign the bill, and he did it six months before his reelection, when 60% of the people were against it. He went around and explained why he respectfully disagreed with them, and why it was important to give equal rights to every single person.
Thus endeth the Q & A session.Posted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 03:44 PM
Howard Dean, Conclusion
Now, the conclusion:
"The biggest loss that we've had in our country since George Bush's been president is not the 3 million jobs that have disappeared, and it's not the loss of face around the world. The biggest loss that we've had is our sense of community, our sense that we're all in it together." At this point he tells about when he was 21 years old, near the end of the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, four little girls in a Birmingham church died so everyone could have equal rights under the law. But it was also a time of great hope: Medicare passed, Head Start passed, civil rights, voting rights, the first African American justice on the Supreme Court. We felt like we were all in it together. If one person was left behind, then the country wasn't as strong as it should be or as good as it could be.
"We want a country with idealism. We want a country where a president of the United States appeals to the best in us, not the worst in us. I know this is going to be a hard election. And I know that people are going to bring up the things that divide us. And I'm not asking any Democrat to back off on their beliefs. Nor am I going to back off my beliefs about equal rights under the law for every American. But when they bring up the stuff that divides us, when they bring up race in the South, we're going to say jobs. Because everybody need a job. It doesn't matter what race you are or where you live. When they say guns, we're going to talk about education, because everybody needs an education. And every person in America understands what this president has done to our education system, with No Child Left Behind. When they talk about gay rights, we're not going to back off our beliefs that everybody ought to have the same rights as everybody else, but we're going to talk about health insurance, because everybody needs health insurance, whether they're white or black or gay or straight or whoever they are in America. We've got in this party to stop trying to fight the Republicans on their ground and insist on fighting on our ground where we have everything in common."
He invited the folks gathered to fill out a Commit 4 Change (C4C) card. "We are going to change this party, to stand up for ourselves again and stop running away and being afraid of the right wing of the Republican party. And we are going to change this country. And we can do it and you can do it. I can't do it, but you can. Please sign this. January 19th. We'll see you there. Thanks very much."Posted by NegSpin at January 3, 2004 03:48 PM