Interview with Gov. Howard Dean
July 10, 2002
OPENING QUESTION: Champion land deal.
PART I: Life before politics.
PART II: Political career, lighter questions, and views on leadership and politics.
PART III: Some issue questions.


PART III - Some issue questions.
QUESTION: Can I turn now to a few issue questions?  I spoke to Mike Bertrand, Republican running for Secretary of State.  He pointed to a Progressive Policy Institute study that ranks Vermont last in e-government.

DEAN: I have no idea what that is and I don't have a comment on that.  I haven't seen the study.  You get a billion zillion studies every week showing this and that.  We're one of the three states--every school in the state is wired to the Internet.  Mike's a nice guy I'm sure, I've never met him, but he's running for office and people who are running for offices and trying to get rid of incumbent candidates talk about studies like that.  People who are in office talk about studies like the one I do. It's silly.

QUESTION: Anthony Pollina, another person I talked to--

DEAN: Another big supporter.

Q: No but his point was that spending on state prisons has increased by 150 percent in the past 10 years and spending on state colleges has increased by 7 percent.

DEAN: I don't know it the numbers are facts or not.  I don't know.  I could find out.  I think it's unlikely that those are the right numbers because we've added 3 percent a year for the last-- actually we added 7 percent last year, 7 percent the year before that, and then 3 percent this year in the state college budget.  So it's probably not likely that Anthony's numbers are right, but I can't say.  Talk to Sean Campbell to find out what the real numbers are.

Q: He was also critical of your agricultural policy, basically saying that there is no rural economic development policy. 

DEAN: Completely untrue.  I think most farmers--I can give you some farmers to talk to who think I've been the best governor for agriculture in a long time.  A guy named Harold Howrigan, he's the head of the largest coop in the state, the most successful; Agromark, which is also another farmer-owned cooperative which we helped expand, create farming jobs for.  We've cut farm losses in half in this state since I've been governor with the New England Dairy Compact.

The problem is you come in you don't know the sources.  Anthony ran against me last year; he's a Progressive; the Progressives hate me because they're all big [ ] liberals and I'm not and I've stopped them on many occasions.

Q: How about Sandra Levine?

DEAN: Where do you dig these people up?  Do you have anybody who likes me that you've quoted?  Well Sandra's another person I've had huge battles with. 

Q: She was concerned about sprawl and pointing to a middle school in Bennington which--

DEAN: Right which they just dropped out of the case or they were going to get booed out of it by the local people.  They wanted to build a middle school in downtown Bennington, which is obvious--you can't build a new middle school in downtown Bennington if you expect to have playing fields.  So they for some reason picked this case.  Then folks voted for a middle school out in some area--

Q: Two miles out.

DEAN: Yeah, two miles out.  The Conservation Law Foundation, which I've been fighting with for 10 years because they're so unreasonable--decided that they were going to pick this particular case to go after and antagonize everybody in Bennington, everybody in the state, and totally destroyed their credibility.

Q: How about drug use?  There was an article in The Bridge, a local paper here, on heroin use in Montpelier, and I've also talked to libertarians who are concerned about the war on drugs.

DEAN: You get 'em all the perspectives, but you don't get them from the middle that's for sure.

Q: Well I want to make sure I get a balanced picture.

DEAN: You can get a balanced picture by going here and here [stretching arms far apart] or you can get a balanced picture by going here [draws hands close together].

Q: I'm looking at the national level.  There's a lot of spending for television advertisement, ads in Metro--do you think that's an effective way of dealing with this issue?

DEAN: Some of it is.  I mean it's a horrible issue.  We need to treat drugs as a public health problem..  That's difficult to do.  We actually don't have a lot of drug users in our jails; the ones we have in there are drug users who are also dealers.  Jails not a particularly effective way to get people to stop using drugs; treatment is.

Q: Have you had success in dealing with this issue?

DEAN: Nope we've had a heroin problem that's gotten worse, and it's really tough.

Q: The gap in income between the rich and the poor.  In a speech you gave you mentioned the example of state employees and you gave them a --

DEAN: -Across the board raise.  That was basically about giving people at the bottom a much bigger percentage than the people at the top.  I talk about that.  I do happen to be the CEO of the second largest employer in Vermont and I felt if I was going to talk about that, I needed to do it so we did.  It made the middle managers furious; it cost the union president his job.

Q: Who's that.

DEAN: Don [Bob] Hooper.  Who is a good guy.  We did this together, but he was overthrown by an insurgent appeal to middle management.

Q: How do you address that issue at the national level?

DEAN: In the private sector.  I think the way to do it is to build a safety net that's really a good safety net.  Universal health insurance is a piece of that; health insurance for all Americans.  If you can guarantee health insurance for all Americans that takes away a need that a lot of people at the top get and a lot of people at the bottom don't.

I think one of the things I like about the Bush tax cut, and there are very few things I like, is the plan to enhance the ability of people who would save for retirement.  They jacked up the $2000 deductible to $6000, but I think it ought to be coupled with an earned income tax type thing so that if you made $25,000 a year you get a check from the government  for your retirement.  Same as I would because I make $100,000; I can save $6000, but if you make $25,000 you can't do that.  So those are the kinds of things that you need to do.  I mean I think we ought to get rid of the Bush tax cuts and go back to the Clinton years progressivity, but I don't think the confiscatory tax rates of a place like England or Sweden make any sense.  But there are things that we need to do... 


Copyright © 2002  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action