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John Edwards on Government Reform

Democratic Nominee for Vice President; NC Jr Senator


Supports public financing of elections

I support a ban on contributions by federal lobbyists to federal officials, public financing of elections, and other measures to reduce the influence of special interests in Washington. I strongly supported the McCain-Feingold bill. I believe in equal rights and dignity for gay and lesbian Americans.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Mar 3, 2004

Day 1: Order limits on lobbyists & special interests

Q: After the inauguration, what would be your first action as president?

A: I will introduce legislation and sign executive orders to limit the influence of lobbyists and special interests in Washington. These measures will include: preventing candidates for federal office from taking contributions from Washington lobbyists; closing the revolving door between lobbyists' shops and government jobs; shining a bright light on lobbyist influence; and stopping the war profiteering in Iraq

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "DAY 1" Jan 25, 2004

Ban lobbyist campaign donations and disclose activities

Q: Is there anything intrinsically wrong with being a lobbyist?

EDWARDS: No. There's something wrong with the impact that Washington lobbyists are having on our system of government. The lobbyists are taking democracy away from the American people. Lobbyists who make huge campaign contributions are lobbying the Congress every day. We need to restore the power in this democracy to the American people so that these insiders are not continuing to run this government.

What I would do is ban their contributions. I would shine a bright light on their activities so we know what they're doing. And I would make them tell us everything they're doing: Who they're lobbying for; the money they're spending; who they're trying to influence. The power of the American people to have their representatives decide only in the interests of the American people has been taken away. I've never taken any money from Washington lobbyists, but no one should be able to take money from them.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

Judge's philosophy matters-juries rely on trust

As I sat in Judge Dupree's courtroom as a clerk, I came to understand how a presiding judge's philosophical leanings-the Judge was himself an ardent conservative-could shape the outcome of a trial in countless ways. A judge's influence is subtle but powerful. The parties and particularly the jury look to the judge as a rigorous protector of the law and take everything the judge says as serious, important, and impartial, whether it is the last of these or not.

For lawyers as well as judges, trials are about credibility-if a jury is to believe in your case, the jury must believe you. You have to earn their trust, and after you have earned it, you have to earn it again, every day.

The 12 souls who spend full days, full weeks, or sometimes long months sitting only a few feet from you get to know you almost as well as you know yourself. My faith in the wisdom of ordinary people took root in the mill towns of my youth. But the juries of my adulthood deepened that faith.

Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p. 11 Dec 1, 2003

Hold attorneys accountable for frivolous lawsuits

Q: Your position on the issue of civil tort reform?

A: I am proud of my 20 years work against powerful insurance companies and drug companies. I believe we have the best legal system in the world, but it is not perfect and can be improved. For example, doctors and health care providers are facing rising malpractice premiums and are having difficulty getting reimbursement for the services they provide. I have proposed that we put additional responsibilities on attorneys who file malpractice cases by requiring that they have the cases reviewed by independent experts who determine that they are serous and meritorious before a case can be filed and that the attorneys certify that this has been done. If an attorney fails to meet their obligations the attorney would be held accountable. And I would impose a three strikes and you're out rule so that if an attorney violated the requirement three times they would lose their right to file such cases for a substantial period of time.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 7, 2003

Put forward an agenda that stands up for all Americans

Q: What about Bush administration policies?

A: I've put forward an agenda that stands up for all Americans. My agenda includes a plan to make the first year of college free for any young person willing to work for it. My agenda for America includes a plan to protect older workers from losing their pensions, a plan to pass a prescription drug benefit and to stop drug companies from keeping less- expensive drugs off the market, and a $2500 family leave tax credit for ne

Source: MoveOn.org interview Jun 17, 2003

$50B aid to states to avoid municipal layoffs

Q: What is your view on revenue sharing?

EDWARDS: I have a plan about how to get the economy going and to help states and municipalities with this terrible budget crisis. I have introduced legislation that would provide $50 billion to states and municipalities so that they don't have to lay off workers, so they are not laying off fire fighters, so they're not cutting education.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Voted YES on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads.

Vote on passage of H.R. 2356; Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Shays-Meehan bill, House equivalent of McCain-Feingoldf bill). Vote to ban “soft money” contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
Bill HR.2356 ; vote number 2002-54 on Mar 20, 2002

Voted NO on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration.

Motion to Table Schumer Amdt. No. 2937; To permit the use of a signature or personal mark for the purpose of verifying the identity of voters who register by mail, and for other purposes. Voting Yes would kill the amendment. The amendment would allow a signature to identify voters who register by mail, instead of requiring showing photo identification or other proof of residence before being allowed to vote.
Bill S.565 ; vote number 2002-38 on Feb 27, 2002

Voted YES on banning campaign donations from unions and corporations.

Vote to ban soft money donations to political parties and forbid corporate general funds and union general funds from being spent on issue ads. The bill would increase the individual contribution limit to candidates from $1,000 to $2,000.
Bill S.27 ; vote number 2001-64 on Apr 2, 2001

Voted YES on continuing funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

This table motion would end debate on an amendment aimed at funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Support for the motion to table is a vote for NEA funding. [YES to table means supporting the NEA; NO means defunding the NEA].
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)80; N)16; NV)4
Reference: Motion to table Smith Amdt #1569; Bill H.R. 2466 ; vote number 1999-260 on Aug 5, 1999

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Other candidates on Government Reform: John Edwards on other issues:
NC Gubernatorial:
Mike Easley
NC Senatorial:
Elizabeth Dole
Erskine Bowles
Jesse Helms
Lauch Faircloth
Richard Burr

Presidential:
George W. Bush
(Republican for President)
V.P.Dick Cheney
(Republican for V.P.)
Sen.John Kerry
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Sen.John Edwards
(Democratic nominee for V.P.)
Ralph Nader
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Peter Camejo
(Reform nominee for V.P.)
David Cobb
(Green nominee for Pres.)
Michael Badnarik
(Libertarian nominee for Pres.)
Michael Peroutka
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