Howard Dean on Budget & Economy
Former VT Governor; Former Democratic Candidate for President
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
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.
Retired VT's debt and built nation's best rainy day fund
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
[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.
Politicians promising everything causes budget deficit Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan , Sep 25, 2003
Q: As president, what would be the least popular, most right thing you would do?
Balance budget, even if unpopular
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
Q: What’s the higher priority for you, balancing the federal budget or stimulating the economy?
Republicans haven’t balanced a federal budget in 34 years
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
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?
Stand up to Bush for a balanced budget
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
In the long run, we can not have social justice without a responsible fiscal policy.
Social justice with fiscal responsibility
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
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.
Fiscally to the right of “borrow-and-spend” Bush Source: Charles P. Pierce, Boston Globe on 2004 Pres. race , Nov 24, 2002
Dean signed the New England Governors' Conference resolution:
Regional transportation network to foster trade & economy.
- WHEREAS the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers encourages initiatives furthering economic cooperation and trade development within the region; and
- WHEREAS the Conference recognizes the vital importance of effective and efficient transportation links in furthering economic cooperation and trade development; and
- WHEREAS improvement in the road, rail, marine, and air transportation links between the Eastern provinces and the New England states would contribute to a better and more integrated transportation system, and that transportation services would benefit from better harmonized, simplified and efficient standards and regulations supporting a competitive economy and trade development;
- NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers fully recognize multimodal transportation systems, transportation corridors and links, as strategic issues to be addressed in the mandate and work plan of the Trade and Globalization Committee and encourage road, rail, marine and air operators to assist the Committee towards strengthening transportation services and infrastructure.
Source: NEG/ECP Resolution 25-2: Transportation Corridors 00-NEGC2 on Jul 18, 2000
Dean adopted the National Governors Association policy:
Bankruptcy reform: limit Chapter 7; protect states' role.
The Governors are particularly concerned that bankruptcy reform legislation address the following issues:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Dean adopted the National Governors Association position paper:
Uphold commitments to states before other spending.
The IssueThe 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 PositionBefore 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
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Other candidates on Budget & Economy: Howard Dean on other issues: Former Presidents/Veeps:
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)
Page last updated: Oct 27, 2021