Six Democratic Presidential Candidates Discuss Tax Cuts, Health Care in NPR Radio Debate
Six of the nine Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa, participated in a radio debate that centered mainly on domestic issues, including tax cuts enacted by President Bush and health care, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In the debate, which was broadcast nationwide on National Public Radio, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) criticized plans by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) and Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) to rescind all of President Bush's tax cuts. Both Dean and Gephardt have proposed repealing all of the $1.7 trillion in tax cuts over 12 years to fund domestic programs, particularly universal health care, according to the Inquirer. Kerry and Lieberman support repealing tax cuts only among the wealthiest households. Kerry said repealing the proposed tax cuts among less-wealthy households would add to the "burden" of middle-income people. Dean responded that it is necessary to increase tax revenue in order to fund programs, saying, "You can't promise people tax cuts ... [and] health care, and whatever else you want" without adequate funding planned. Gephardt responded by criticizing Kerry's plan to offer a limited rebate on payroll taxes -- which are used to pay for Medicare and Social Security -- saying the plan would reduce revenue for the programs. Kerry said his plan would be a temporary rebate designed to stimulate the economy and would not affect either program. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) called for a "complete overhaul of the tax system," the Inquirer reports. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) also participated in the debate (Kuhnhenn, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/7).
Gephardt also renewed criticism of Dean for reportedly supporting a Republican-backed plan to reduce Medicare spending in the mid-1990s, the AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Dean "showed a flash of frustration" at the criticism, according to the AP/Times-Dispatch. "I will not cut Medicare. Period. I will not cut Medicare, Dick, I want to make that clear," Dean said. Earlier in the day, Dean visited New Hampshire, where he received the endorsement of former presidential candidate and former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/7). Former Army Gen. Wesley Clark (D), Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and the Rev. Al Sharpton (D) did not attend the debate (Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/7).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Tuesday reported on the debate (Liasson, "All Things Considered," NPR, 1/6). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday also reported on the debate, including comments from Dean, Kerry and Lieberman on tax cuts and health care (Liasson, "Morning Edition," NPR, 1/7). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. Expanded NPR coverage of the debate, including the complete audio of the two-hour discussion and audio highlights by topic, is available online. In addition, NPR's Susan Feeney, who coordinated the debate, is scheduled to answer questions in a Washingtonpost.com online chat Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. A transcript of the discussion is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.