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2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION / THE DEMOCRATIC HOPEFULS

Q & A / Howard Dean

2004 Presidential Election / The Democratic Hopefuls

June 01, 2003

Should we have gone to war in Iraq?

No. I opposed the war because the Iraqis were not a threat to the United States. The Iraq war was a preventive war, which is illegal under international law.

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What would you have done differently?

I would have utilized the United Nations more than the president did. He claims to have exhausted all diplomatic options, but the defining characteristic of his diplomatic strategy was humiliation. We should not solicit help from other nations by bullying them. It was not a good-faith effort, and therefore it yielded disastrous results. We now have virtually no help in the long and expensive process of reconstruction.

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How would you try to stop the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran?

I would first sit down at the table with them, as this president has refused to do. I think with Iran and North Korea, we must be smart as well as tough; there are diplomatic pressures that we can apply, and we must never take the option of force off the table. But a step-by-step engagement process -- the goal of which would be normalized relations -- is clearly the best option.

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What will be America's greatest foreign policy challenge in the next 20 years?

Undoing the damage to international relations caused by the Bush administration's recklessness.

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Should income taxes be cut? If so, how? If not, why not?

We don't need more tax cuts. What we need is more jobs. This president has done unspeakable things to the economy. Unbalanced budgets that go on forever undermine the economy.

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How would you provide health-care coverage to the uninsured?

My plan builds on existing programs for approximately half of what the president's tax cut cost.... First, we should start by covering children -- the plan calls for extending current programs to every child and young adult under 25, up to three times the poverty level. It will also require employer health plans to extend coverage to dependents up to age 25.

Second, we will expand these programs to include parents who may not be eligible under current federal policy. For those at lower-income levels, we will extend current programs for children to include parents and single adults to 185% of the poverty level. For those above that level, we will allow them to buy into a health plan similar to the plan for government employees, while providing tax credits to keep insurance affordable.

Third, we will support small businesses ... letting them buy into the federal employee look-alike program at reasonable rates.

Finally, we must send a message to large companies ... that could afford to but don't provide coverage by limiting their tax deductions and their government contracts.

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What are the most important steps the federal government can take to invigorate the economy?

First, we need to provide affordable health care to every man, woman and child in this country, which will ease the financial burden on families and small businesses.

Second, we need to work to reduce the deficit by rolling back most of the president's tax cuts so that the long-term interest rates aren't pushed higher.

Third, the money saved by rolling back tax cuts will allow us to not only pay down the debt, but to make investments in highways, in education and in expanding broadband access to rural communities.

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As president, would you propose a plan to bring the federal budget into balance by a specific date?

I think we should set goals, but I'm not sure how long it's going to take to clean up the fiscal mess that the Bush administration has made. However, I will certainly devote myself -- as I did in Vermont -- to putting us on the road to balanced budgets.

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Would you explicitly require that anyone you nominate to the Supreme Court commit to uphold the Roe vs. Wade decision that guaranteed a legal right to abortion?

I would appoint federal judges based on experience and merit. I would not employ litmus tests, and I would not ask prospective nominees how they would vote in any particular case. However, I would review a nominee's writings and professional record to ensure that they share my basic view of the Constitution. I believe that the Constitution guarantees Americans certain fundamental rights, including the right to privacy. The men and women I appoint to the bench would share that outlook.

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