National Public Radio presidential debate

SEN. DODD: Yeah, Robert, I'm a pro-growth Democrat. And I believe that you — I think putting a time frame on this would be a rather difficult answer to give. I don't think any of us can answer that question absolutely, knowing the problems that are out there.

I would not wait even until January of 2009. I think energy policy and health care policy need to be something you begin to work on immediately, and I plan on doing that in November of 2008 after the election. They've got to be a top priority here because the health care issue is no longer just a health care issue, it's a massive economic issue for us.

I also believe we need to have progressivity in our tax code, but also incentivize the various elements in our country that do create jobs in this nation, who have been disadvantaged, and eliminate the tax breaks that encourage businesses to leave the country, so we can offer some optimism and hope for people about economic opportunities for them here. Trade policies — I will never sign a trade policy that doesn't have labor standards, environmental standards and health standards in it that create wealth in countries with whom we trade so there's an opportunity for growth in that area as well.

These are the basic elements that I think we need to address immediately to offer people a sense of hope and confidence that our economy is going to improve dramatically.

MR. SIEGEL: And Senator Biden, the question to you.

SEN. BIDEN: I'm extremely optimistic. I have incredible faith in the American people and the ingenuity of the people if just we lead them. Number one, if you start by ending the war in Iraq, that's $2.5 billion a month we are spending. If you change the tax policy in this country, eliminating the trillion dollars worth of taxes over the next couple years going to people in the top 2%; if you in fact have an oil policy — just by having a rational oil policy, we could take down the — the fact that we're now being charged 30% more for every barrel of oil because of speculation about war; if you have a health care policy, which the country is ready to embrace, you can radically make American companies more competitive when they compete internationally; and if you deal with these things straight up with the American people, they're ready to front-end make an investment, make some sacrifices in order to provide this opportunity.

I'll conclude with this. Name me another country in the world you'd want to be the president of that has a better opportunity, a better opportunity for economic advancement and significant growth over the next 20 years.

MR. SIEGEL: I won't answer, because that could make for a much more complicated debate even than talking with the seven of you for this country.

Senator Edwards, your sense of what could be done in four years.

SEN. EDWARDS: Well, the most important thing is we know from history that growing the American economy and being able to sustain that economic growth over an extended period of time requires both lifting people out of poverty and strengthening the middle class. Those are the times when the American economy has been on the kind of firm foundation that sustained long-term economic growth. The middle class in this country is struggling mightily these days. We've become a country where wealth and power has become concentrated in a few, and most of America's having a hard time.

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