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Howard Dean on Budget & Economy

Former VT Governor; Former Democratic Candidate for President


I’m much more conservative with money than Bush is

The president of the United States can’t balance a budget. We’ve not had one Republican president in 34 years balance the budget. You can’t trust right-wing Republicans with your money. You ought to hire somebody who has balanced a budget. I’m much more conservative with money than George Bush is.
Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College , Jan 22, 2004

Kept GOP predecessor’s agenda of fiscal frugality

[In 1991, Republican Gov. Richard Snelling died of a heart attack, leaving Democratic Lt. Gov. Dean to assume office.] At the inauguration that afternoon, Dean delivered what he still regards as one of his best speeches.
Sadly, the state of Vermont must today say farewell to Governor Richard Snelling. His leadership and vision put Vermont on a path to financial responsibility that I in tend to do my best to follow. I have met this afternoon with Governor Snelling’s Snelling’s agenda, the agenda we had been given.“ The Snelling agenda was one that the moderate Dean could embrace. It called for frugality, something that was not just part of Dean’s theory of governing but also part of his character .
Source: Citizen’s Guide to the Man Who Would be President, p. 80 , Oct 1, 2003

Retired VT's debt and built nation's best rainy day fund

The Dean approach rapidly cleaned up the state's fiscal problem. In 1993, the 1st year that the budget was really Dean's, he actually cut spending for the general fund, the state's main budget, by 2.15%. In 1994, spending rose by 2.07% but Dean retired the deficit. And from 1995 through 1999, when the economy was booming, the Dean general fund rose by an average of 3.71% a year, 10% BELOW the sustainable track. The rainy day (emergency) funds filled to the brim and spilled over. And Dean had "one-time" money to spend for stuff he loved, such as buying wild land to protect it.

An aide said at one point, "even your commissioners are coming in and saying they can't live with this amount."

"Who says so?" Dean wanted to know.

The aide named a veteran department head. Dean walked to the telephone, and said, "I want you to fire [the department head]." By the end of the legislative session, the man was gone. Dean hated to fire anyone, but he had no sense of humor about the budget.

Source: Citizen's Guide to the Man Who Would be President, p. 91-93 , Oct 1, 2003

Politicians promising everything causes budget deficit

[The Bush tax cuts and Democratic support of them] is exactly why the budget is so far out of balance. Washington politicians promise 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 tack. 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. 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 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.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan , Sep 25, 2003

Balance budget, even if unpopular

Q: As president, what would be the least popular, most right thing you would do?

DEAN: As governor, I’m an expert in doing things that sometimes people don’t like. I actually had the pleasure of serving through both Bush recessions, not one of them. And I had to balance the budget during very difficult conditions. We have to balance the budget. That means we have to make unpopular choices. That’s why we think we ought to repeal the entire Bush tax cut so we can, in fact, have health care programs.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan , Sep 25, 2003

Republicans haven’t balanced a federal budget in 34 years

Q: What’s the higher priority for you, balancing the federal budget or stimulating the economy?

DEAN: You can actually do both, and we’re going to have to do both. The Republicans can’t balance budgets. They haven’t done it in 34 years. It’s not an accident that in 1993 when the House and Senate supported balancing the budget, that that kicked off this tremendous time of prosperity, because people had confidence and they began to invest in America again.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa , May 17, 2003

Stand up to Bush for a balanced budget

DEAN [to Graham]: I got into this race because I wanted a balanced budget, and I wanted to have a party that stood up to President Bush, because I think that’s the only way we can beat him. You and Senator Hollings and I have something in common. We all are former governors, we’ve all balanced budgets. Fritz Hollings had an amendment a couple of weeks ago that would have zeroed out the president’s tax cuts. You voted for that amendment. Senators Edwards, Kerry, and Lieberman [instead] voted for an amendment that would add $350 billion of additional tax cuts. Why’d you make that choice?

GRAHAM: I made that choice because I think it’s reckless and irresponsible at a time of rising deficits, at a time that we’re at war with uncertain cost of completing war and then completing the occupation and renewal of Iraq to be talking about cutting $1.2 trillion from the federal budget. And that was what Senator Hollings’s amendment eliminated.

Source: [X-ref to Graham] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC , May 3, 2003

Social justice with fiscal responsibility

In the long run, we can not have social justice without a responsible fiscal policy.

Our country is headed in the wrong economic direction, principally because President Bush has returned to the Republican “Borrow and Spend” policies of the 1980s. The deficit, which is approaching $200 billion per year, is the direct result of the reckless $1.6 trillion tax cuts of the President’s first year in office.

As a result of these cuts, states will receive 30 percent less next year from the federal highway fund, putting 150,000 American construction jobs on the line. These tax cuts are not a stimulus package. Just the opposite. The deficits are once again soaking up capital, diverting money from the private sector and making the economic situation worse.

Source: Campaign web site, DeanForAmerica.com, “On the Issues” , Nov 30, 2002

Fiscally to the right of “borrow-and-spend” Bush

How is the Democratic governor of the 49th-largest state going to beat George Bush? George W. Bush is a borrow-and-spend liberal, and I tell people that I’m going to beat George W. Bush by running to his right.
Source: Charles P. Pierce, Boston Globe , Nov 24, 2002

Regional transportation network to foster trade & economy.

Dean signed the New England Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: NEG/ECP Resolution 25-2: Transportation Corridors 00-NEGC2 on Jul 18, 2000

Bankruptcy reform: limit Chapter 7; protect states' role.

Dean adopted the National Governors Association policy:

    The Governors are particularly concerned that bankruptcy reform legislation address the following issues:
  1. Prevent Chapter 7 Use by Those with the Ability to Pay: Present bankruptcy law does not prevent use of Chapter 7 by those with ability to repay, nor does it require that debtors use Chapter 13, which would require them to repay creditors what the debtor can afford. The Governors strongly support federal efforts to prevent debtors from using Chapter 7 when they are financially able to pay some or all of their unsecured debts.
  2. Encourage Payment of Domestic Support Obligations: Bankruptcy interferes significantly with states’ ability to assist citizens owed domestic support and to collect unpaid domestic support owed them. The Governors strongly encourage Congress to ensure that any federal bankruptcy reform requires that domestic support obligations have the highest possible repayment priority, that all domestic support obligations be nondischargeable, and that commencement of bankruptcy not prevent the continued collection of child and other support obligations.
  3. Give State Claims Parity with Federal Claims in Bankruptcy: Today, bankruptcy rightly gives certain preferences in payment to federal claims against the bankruptcy estate, but similar treatment is not always accorded state claims. The Governors strongly support congressional efforts to reform the treatment of state claims in bankruptcy to provide parity of treatment with federal claims.
  4. Protect the State Role: The Governors oppose efforts to preempt state authority to determine exemptions under state bankruptcy law. Currently, debtors have a right to choose between federal and state exemptions. The Governors support efforts to shape bankruptcy reform policy that protects the rights of states to determine their own standards instead of having uniform federal regulations imposed without regard for individual state needs.
Source: NGA Economic Development Policy EDC-21: Bankruptcy Reform 01-NGA2 on Feb 15, 2001

Uphold commitments to states before other spending.

Dean adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

The major budget issue will be over the surplus and how big of a surplus there will be. How much will be dedicated to paying down the national debt, how much to tax cuts, how much to increase defense spending, what to do about key discretionary spending programs, and whether and how to change key entitlement programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security? How these decisions are made could have significant impacts on the federal-state partnership, especially as they affect vital health and human services programs. What will happen to funding for priority state domestic discretionary programs for the federal fiscal year? When will Congress act?

NGA’s Position

Before considering new spending initiatives or tax cuts, the federal government must first uphold its current commitments to the states.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA8 on Sep 14, 2001

Other candidates on Budget & Economy: Howard Dean on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
Harry_S_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Former Contenders:
V.P.Al Gore
Pat Buchanan
V.P.Dick Cheney
Sen.Bob Dole
Ralph Nader
Gov.Sarah Palin

Political Thinkers:
Noam Chomsky
Milton Friedman
Arianna Huffington
Rush Limbaugh
Tea Party
Ayn Rand
Secy.Robert Reich
Donald Trump
Gov.Jesse Ventura
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Page last updated: Jul 04, 2014