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2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION / THE DEMOCRATIC HOPEFULS

Q&A / Joe Lieberman

2004 Presidential Election / The Democratic Hopefuls

June 22, 2003

Should we have gone to war in Iraq? What would you have done differently?

Going to war to remove Saddam Hussein from power was the right thing to do.... The world and America are far safer today, and the Iraqi people are already better off now that Saddam is gone. But military victory could turn into long-term failure without a sustained U.S. commitment.... I would have done a better job before the war of developing plans to establish security, protect suspected weapons of mass destruction sites and quickly transition to an interim government.

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

The Bush administration's vacillating response to North Korea's threats has turned a difficult situation into a dangerous crisis.... While making it clear that we will never accept a nuclear North Korea, we must engage in direct negotiations with the regime. If they agree to intrusive inspections, we should accept. If they do not, we should employ coercion. But to credibly threaten coercion, we must have South Korea on our side -- and we must also have China's cooperation. Military force should be, as always, a last resort. Iran is a different but equally important case. First, we must delay the Iranian nuclear program [and] develop a firm agreement with Russia

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

We face dangerous and diverse threats we can see clearly -- including terrorists, rogue states and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons -- and threats we can't see as clearly -- disorder caused by poverty, environmental dangers, sickness and despair. To counter these threats effectively, we need to rebuild bridges with our allies.

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

We have to stop President Bush's ineffective, irresponsible, right-wing agenda, which is failing badly in growing the economy and creating jobs, driving us deeper into debt and destabilizing Medicare and Social Security. We have to start applying the lessons we learned from the successes of the 1990s about how to foster growth and expand opportunity. That means providing tax incentives to get business investing and hiring again and tax relief to middle-class families; making sound investments in innovation, education and job training to increase our productivity, to create new markets and create new jobs; and bringing the budget back in balance.

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

I believe in cutting taxes ... but unlike President Bush -- who wants to cut taxes indiscriminately, regardless of the cost or effect, and give most of the benefit to those who need it least -- I believe we should cut taxes to help spur economic growth, create jobs and relieve the squeeze that millions of middle-class families are feeling. Tax cuts should be done within the framework of a balanced budget. Later this year, I will outline a comprehensive economic growth strategy that will build on this approach.

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

I will be introducing a comprehensive plan to not only get us to the goal of universal access to affordable health insurance, but to improve the quality of care for every American. I am calling for the creation of the American Center for Cures ... to help cure the diseases that affect more than 100 million Americans.

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

We cannot afford the record-setting, backbreaking deficits the Bush administration has recklessly run up by passing tax cuts we clearly could not afford -- and which have failed to grow the economy. These deficits are ... preventing us from meeting the needs of the nation and threatening the future of Medicare and Social Security. That is why as part of my economic growth strategy I will outline a plan for restoring fiscal discipline and bringing the budget back in balance.

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

Unlike George W. Bush, I will use the power of the presidency to defend a woman's right to choose -- as I have done throughout my career. I believe this very personal decision is between a woman and her doctor.... I will not have rigid litmus tests for my judicial appointments [but will] appoint men and women to the bench who are jurists ... who meet the highest standards of competence and excellence, and [can] be trusted to interpret the Constitution fairly and without ideological bias.

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