John Edwards on Government Reform
2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)
A: I strongly disagree with President Bush’s use of signing statements as back-door vetoes and permission slips to disregard laws he finds inconvenient or objectionable. As president, I will return to the way that signing statements have been used historically. No one, including the president, is above the law.
EDWARDS: I have never taken money from Washington lobbyists. And I’ve said: Why don’t we all make an absolutely clear statement that we are the Democratic Party; we’re the party of the people; we are not the party of Washington insiders? And we can say it clearly and unequivocally, by saying we will never take another dime from a Washington lobbyist. I’ve asked the other candidates to join me in that. And at least, until now, Sen. Clinton’s not done it.
CLINTON: I believe we have to change Washington. I’ve stood up against the special interests, I’ve taken them on. But there is this artificial distinction that people are trying to make: Don’t take money from lobbyists, but take money from the people who employ and hire lobbyists and give them their marching orders. I think we can do a much better job if we say we have got to move toward public financing, get the money out of American politics.
A: It’s very different, because what’s happened is the lobbyists in Washington DC are the people whose job it is to rig this system against all of you. They do it every single day. They get paid to do it. And the difference between them and trial lawyers is that when lawyers give money to the jury who are making the decisions, that’s called a bribe. When lobbyists go to members of Congress and give money to them, that’s called politics. The question is, are we actually going to bring an end to this? Are we going to stop it? You’re being outspent 18 to 1 by big multinational corporate lobbyists in Washington DC. What I believe is that America needs change. We don’t need lobbyists in Washington. We need the Democratic Party and a president who will stand up for working men and women.
A: It’s definitely too long. And one of the things we could do is publicly finance our political campaigns, which we should do.
They are not going to give away their power. The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we take it away from them.
And I have been standing up to these people my entire life. I have been fighting them my entire life in court rooms--and beating them. If you want real change, you need somebody who’s taking these people on and beating them over and over and over.
A: If our voting system actually worked, we would have never had George Bush as president, would we? Al Gore was actually voted into the presidency. First, we ought to allow same day registration for voting. Second, we need a president who vigorously prosecutes voter suppression efforts, because we know they’re going on all over the country in every single election. Third, we need paper ballots. I don’t trust these machines, having lived through the 2004 election. We need paper ballots. We need to assist those who need assistance, the disabled, to make sure that they’re able to vote. And last, those who have been convicted of a crime and have served their time are no less Americans and they ought to have their voting rights restored. They ought to be able to participate in the election. They are part of our democracy and their voice needs to be heard.
A: I will introduce legislation and sign executive orders to limit the influence of lobbyists and special interests in Washington. These measures will include: preventing candidates for federal office from taking contributions from Washington lobbyists; closing the revolving door between lobbyists’ shops and government jobs; shining a bright light on lobbyist influence; and stopping the war profiteering in Iraq
EDWARDS: No. There’s something wrong with the impact that Washington lobbyists are having on our system of government. The lobbyists are taking democracy away from the American people. Lobbyists who make huge campaign contributions are lobbying the Congress every day. We need to restore the power in this democracy to the American people so that these insiders are not continuing to run this government.
What I would do is ban their contributions. I would shine a bright light on their activities so we know what they’re doing. And I would make them tell us everything they’re doing: Who they’re lobbying for; the money they’re spending; who they’re trying to influence. The power of the American people to have their representatives decide only in the interests of the American people has been taken away. I’ve never taken any money from Washington lobbyists, but no one should be able to take money from them.
For lawyers as well as judges, trials are about credibility-if a jury is to believe in your case, the jury must believe you. You have to earn their trust, and after you have earned it, you have to earn it again, every day.
The 12 souls who spend full days, full weeks, or sometimes long months sitting only a few feet from you get to know you almost as well as you know yourself. My faith in the wisdom of ordinary people took root in the mill towns of my youth. But the juries of my adulthood deepened that faith.
A: I am proud of my 20 years work against powerful insurance companies and drug companies. I believe we have the best legal system in the world, but it is not perfect and can be improved. For example, doctors and health care providers are facing rising malpractice premiums and are having difficulty getting reimbursement for the services they provide. I have proposed that we put additional responsibilities on attorneys who file malpractice cases by requiring that they have the cases reviewed by independent experts who determine that they are serous and meritorious before a case can be filed and that the attorneys certify that this has been done. If an attorney fails to meet their obligations the attorney would be held accountable. And I would impose a three strikes and you’re out rule so that if an attorney violated the requirement three times they would lose their right to file such cases for a substantial period of time.
A: I’ve put forward an agenda that stands up for all Americans. My agenda includes a plan to make the first year of college free for any young person willing to work for it. My agenda for America includes a plan to protect older workers from losing their pensions, a plan to pass a prescription drug benefit and to stop drug companies from keeping less- expensive drugs off the market, and a $2500 family leave tax credit for ne
EDWARDS: I have a plan about how to get the economy going and to help states and municipalities with this terrible budget crisis. I have introduced legislation that would provide $50 billion to states and municipalities so that they don’t have to lay off workers, so they are not laying off fire fighters, so they’re not cutting education.
Return Politics to the People
At a time when much of the world is emulating American values and institutions, too many Americans have lost confidence in their political system. They are turned off by a partisan debate that often seems to revolve not around opposing philosophies but around contending sets of interest groups. They believe that our current system for financing campaigns gives disproportionate power to wealthy individuals and groups and exerts too much influence over legislative and regulatory outcomes.
The time for piecemeal reform is past. As campaign costs soar at every level, we need to move toward voluntary public financing of all general elections and press broadcasters to donate television time to candidates.
The Internet holds tremendous potential for making campaigns less expensive and more edifying and for engaging Americans directly in electoral politics. We should promote the Internet as a new vehicle for political communication and champion online voting.
|Other candidates on Government Reform:||John Edwards on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader