'A time of danger in America'
Sen. Joe Lieberman came out strongly against President Bush's tax cuts in a job-creation-themed campaign stop Wednesday at Buena Vista University.
"When I'm president, you won't have a diploma in one hand and an unemployment check in the other," he said.
The Connecticut Democrat was introduced by BV students as "our only popularly elected vice president" (as Al Gore's running mate in 2000). Lieberman went to work on the audience of about 200.
"If elected I want to be known as a president who creates jobs," he said. "There is a lot of worry today about the future, whether it's workers losing their jobs or students losing Pell Grants and their ability to attend school.
"I want to turn back the Bush tax cut for the wealthy and begin to invest in the people of this country."
Lieberman said he would give college students greater hope of finding a job after graduating, by enacting job-creating tax incentives, growing high-tech jobs and giving workers scholarships to gain new skills throughout their careers.
"America is only strong when it has a strong middle class," he said. "That is the strength of a country, not in the military.
"This administration has recommending freezing Pell grants and work study programs," Lieberman said. "If that happens, more than 350,000 qualified students won't be able to attend college. That will weaken the middle class."
Lieberman claimed Bush Administration policies have resulted in the loss of 37,400 jobs in Iowa alone since 2000.
The candidate said the Bush administration has turned a blind eye to those looking for work, including college graduates. He added that Bush's tax cuts haven't' helped families climb the ladder of opportunity, and are only driving up the deficit.
"You know how to grow the economy? Invest in the future by investing in the future," he said. "Like President Clinton, President Carter and President Kennedy."
Lieberman was asked how he felt about Bush's "No Child Left Behind" regulations.
"It was designed to set standards for schools," Lieberman said. "Schools were arguing about money but without standards they weren't producing good students. This act was set to change that."
However, he said the act was gutted when the Bush budget left out adequate funding. Lieberman said it was the tax cut for the wealthy that Bush enacted that was to blame for this.
Answering a question about the after school programs set in place by the Clinton administration, Lieberman said these were great programs for the children and the community.
"They're a great, great environment for children," he said. "Not only do they better their skills, but it gives a lot of kids a place to go in the afternoon after school before their parents get home, keeping them out of trouble."
He said what was being talked about was a few million dollars in a budget that is more than $2 trillion.
"Yes, if I am elected president I would get rid of the Bush tax cut and restore these programs," he said.
Lieberman also spoke to questions concerning Americorps and public schools, saying he believed in both and felt public schools were one of the 'great institutions that helped develop a strong middle class.'
Asked how he would help preserve family farms and help young people get into farming, the candidate was less forthcoming. He said the cropland of America was a great national treasure, something to be preserved because it is a great home-grown source of food. So productive, he said, farmers sell food around the world.
"As president, I would be more aggressive toward unfair trade practices of China and others," he said.
But when asked what he thought would happen when farmers started shipping corn to raise Mexican hogs and the U.S. no longer imported workers for the meatpacking industry, Lieberman could only answer that NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement enacted by Clinton) had helped create 900,000 jobs and that trade was important to the growth of the economy.
"This is a time of danger in America," Lieberman said. "We're losing jobs and I see the president's job to go after countries with unfair trade practices."
David Degner, a farmer from Newell, told the candidate that if he hadn't been drafted he wouldn't have any medical insurance. That it was the Veterans Administration that was the way he got medical help.
"Under my administration you wouldn't have to worry. My healthcare plan would provide affordable coverage to more than 31 million Americans who currently lack health insurance including every child in the country," Lieberman said. "It is a national disgrace that 9 million children are uninsured in this country."
In answer to a question about a litmus test for Supreme Court justices, he said he would follow what candidate Bush had said in 2000.
"I would look for the best and most qualified people," Lieberman said. "No, I would not use or have a litmus test for appointees to the Court."
Lieberman ended his stop by encouraging citizens to exercise their right to vote.
"You hold the power to change the administration," he said. "The voters must get out and choose a Democratic candidate who will defeat George W. Bush, who will also lead this country into the future. I urge everyone to vote in the Iowa caucus."