Statement On the Issues

May 2, 2003

On the eve of their first nationally televised debate, Democratic presidential candidates answer questions about the economy, health care, foreign policy, Social Security and the NAACP's boycott of South Carolina...

1. Having governed during two Bush recessions, I know how to revive an ailing economy. As governor, I balanced every budget; as president, I would exercise that same fiscal discipline. I will help small businesses -- the engines of job growth -- through my health care plan and through a new accumulation mechanism for small businesses. Finally, I would invest in infrastructure projects -- from roads and bridges to broadband Internet and homeland security.

2. As a physician and governor, health care reform was my top priority. When I couldn't wait any longer for Washington to act, I pushed a plan in Vermont that provided coverage to virtually all children and most adults. My plan for the country builds on existing systems to ensure health care access for all. My plan is practical, affordable and targeted, and because it's realistic, it can be implemented.

3. I strongly oppose Bush's foreign policy of unilateral, preventive war and believe it must be stopped. We simply cannot win the war on terror without close cooperation with our allies. Bush's attitude toward the world has been divisive -- a far cry from the "humble" approach he promised during his election. As president, I will exercise strong, moral leadership and steer us back into the community of nations.

4. Through his fiscally irresponsible tax cuts, the president is raiding the Social Security trust fund while creating historically high deficits. This fiscal insanity jeopardizes our retirement safety net and must stop. Senator Hollings led the fight opposing recent tax cuts, but too many in my party failed to support that effort. We will never address Social Security's long-term problems if we fail to get our fiscal house in order today.

5. I want to unite this country again, which is why I discuss race when I talk to white Southerners who have been voting Republican. The majority of South Carolina's uninsured children are white. What's more important: the Confederate flag or health care for our children? I want to reassemble the coalition of Southern voters of all races who voted for their families' economic interests. We should not allow Republicans to divide us by race any longer.

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