John Edwards on Budget & Economy

2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)

We need bold solutions for people who can’t wait months

The president tonight renewed his call for an economic recovery plan. But the plan he and Congress have offered leaves out tens of millions of Americans who need help the most. This plan would take months to have any impact, and the people I meet everyday on the campaign trail do not have months to wait. These people are hurting now and need this help now. Over the past seven years, typical workers’ paychecks have failed to keep up with inflation, millions of families are facing the loss of their homes to foreclosures, health insurance premiums have doubled, and families are spending $1,000 more a year on gasoline. The State of the Union may be interesting political theater, but until we find bold solutions to the challenges facing the country, we will be stuck with the same old small, Washington answers.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 2008

Washington is out of touch with what’s happening in country

In the chamber of the House of Representatives where the president speaks [gibing the State of the Union speech], even though this Congress stopped listening to him a while ago, they will still applaud and cheer him. The truth is that Washington is out of touch with what’s happening across the country. Between now and January of 2009, Democrats must stand up to this president, stand up for what’s right, so he does not continue to forget about the middle class in this country.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 2008

Stimulus package: focus on long-term investments

Q: Your economic stimulus plan does not call for a tax rebate, does it?

: No, that’s exactly right. I have proposed something that not only stimulates the economy, but creates long-term benefits, investment in green infrastructure, which creates jobs. Instead of just getting money out in the short term, this will actually create jobs over the long term, create green infrastructure. And crucial to jobs: South Carolina has been devastated by trade deals like NAFTA.

Q: What you’re proposing are really long-term objectives. In terms of a short-term stimulus package, you disagree with [Obama & Clinton] on an immediate tax rebate?

A: No, no. If we green the economy, if we change our unemployment insurance laws, if we deal with the mortgage crisis in a serious way with a home rescue fund to provide transitional financing for those people who are about to lose their homes, all those things will stimulate the economy.

Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Allow bankruptcy courts to restructure mortgage loans

Q: How would you deal with a potential recession?

A: We need to do things for this country, for the middle class, to strengthen the economy, we have to be willing to stand up against entrenched moneyed interests.

Q: Sen. Clinton wants a 90-day moratorium on any foreclosures, & a 5-year freeze on interest rates for people who are having trouble. Is that a good idea?

A: I think those are perfectly good ideas. I’d be more aggressive than that, though. I think we ought to go to the step, because we have so many people who have spent their lives investing in the biggest asset they have, their home. And they are in danger of losing it. I’d go to the next step, which is to allow the bankruptcy courts to actually restructure these loans. You’d have to change the law to do that. And I would create a national home rescue fund so that we can actually provide transitional help to these families that are at-risk. I think those are more aggressive measures in addition to what you just talked about.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Jan 20, 2008

$100B economic stimulus package for green infrastructure

Q: There is a lot of fear of recession. Do we need an economic stimulus package?

A: In the short term, what I’ve proposed is a very strong economic stimulus package, which is $100 billion, phased in over a period of months. And it’s focused on building green infrastructure, modernizing our unemployment insurance laws, getting help to the states that are struggling to do what they need to do. But I think the economy needs stimulus, given what’s happening right now.

Source: CNN LATE EDITION tag Jan 13, 2008

Long-term growth come from strengthening middle class

Over and over in American history, the way we sustain long-term economic growth is to grow and strengthen the middle class. When we’re lifting families out of poverty, when the middle class is feeling economically secure, then the economy can grow and it is sustainable. There are whole group of structural things we need to do to accomplish that: universal health care; green the economy; raise the minimum wage to $9.50. Ideas aimed at growing the middle class--that’s the long-term solution.
Source: CNN LATE EDITION tag Jan 13, 2008

National predatory lending law, including payday lending

Q: If there’s one single difference between you versus Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama on the economy, what would that be?

A: I proposed a whole series of tax cuts for the middle class; a different trade policy for America; changes in trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA that have cost America so many jobs. I did come out first and led the way with a universal health care plan. And I’ve proposed very aggressive, substantive policies on predatory lending and payday lending. I was the first, and, I think, the only one who’s proposed a national predatory lending law. So I think there are substantive differences between us. But I would just tack onto that, I think the big difference is on change versus status quo. Because in my mind, Senator Clinton, in many ways, represents the status quo. And Senator Obama and I both represent change, but we have a different view about how to bring about that change.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Jan 6, 2008

Get rid of structural deficiencies in American economy

Q: Would it be a priority of your administration to balance the federal budget every year?

A: Well, first of all, what we have to do is get rid of the structural deficiencies in the American economy. And we have to create jobs, protect American jobs. We have to strengthen and grow the middle class, which is struggling mightily in this country today. And one of the reasons that we’ve lost jobs, we’re having trouble creating jobs, we’re having trouble growing & strengthening the middle class is because corporate power and greed have literally taken over the government. And we need a president who’s willing to take these powers on. It is the only way we’re going to strengthen & grow the middle class, have universal health care, have a trade policy that actually works for American workers, have a tax policy that’s not favoring big multinational corporations, but instead favors the middle class and working people.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Savings & Credit Commission to regulate abusive credit

Edwards is the one candidate who has been willing to tackle head on the problem of predatory lending practices. More than half of Americans carry credit card debt; the average household debt to credit cards is about $10,000, and the average annual interest paid is over $1,300.

In June 2007, Edwards proposed “setting up a new consumer commission to be called the family Savings and Credit Commission... to deal with all financial services--credit cards, mortgages, car loans, check-cashers, payday loans, investment account, and more. It will ban the most abusive terms and make sure consumers understand the others.“ To many, this will seem an overly roundabout way of regulation, and one that doesn’t get at the high interest rates. But Edwards also more directly pledged to ”pass strong national laws protecting us against the worst abuses in credit markets: predatory mortgages, abusive credit card terms, and payday loans with interest rates of 300% or higher.“

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.139-142 Nov 11, 2007

Need home rescue fund for those worried about losing homes

Q: [to Dodd]: We’ve seen all this turmoil in the markets caused by the credit crunch and the crisis in the mortgage markets. The Federal Reserve lowered the discount rate for banks. Should they lower rates for everyone else, yes or no?

DODD: Yes, but we also need more liquidity in the market. It has seized up. You can’t get a mortgage in America today.

EDWARDS: I agree with that. But we also need a home rescue fund for all the millions of Americans who are worried about losing their homes.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

Asset gap: Poorest 25% of Americans have negative net worth

Savings are a key to financial security and a better future, but they are a missing part of the equation for many American families. The poorest 25% of American households have a negative net worth. The asset gap divides America along racial lines. While the typical white family has nearly $90,000 in assets, the typical Hispanic family has only about $8,000 and the typical African-American family only about $6,000.
Source: Ending Poverty in America, by John Edwards, p.261 Apr 2, 2007

Federal budget is a moral document to end American poverty

When I say we believe it’s wrong to have 36 million people who wake up in poverty every day, there is actually a document that says something about how we treat and how we care about those who are struggling. There is a document that says what our commitment is to ending poverty in this country. And there is a document that says whether we are honoring our moral test to do unto others. And it’s called the budget. Others have said this, but the truth is, the budget is a moral document.
Source: 2005 Take Back America Conference Jun 2, 2005

More funds for education, health care, and defense

I have laid out a detailed agenda on taxes and spending. My plan includes: increased funding for education, health care, homeland security, and other priorities; funding for a strong national defense; tax fairness, including repeal of the Bush tax cuts for those making over $200,000; and tax cuts for the middle class and working poor.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Mar 3, 2004

Roll back the Bush tax cuts and address real priorities

Q: How will you balance the budget?

A: We need to balance the need for fiscal responsibility against the need to invest in areas like education and help for working families. I have proposed a series of measures to restore fiscal discipline. We need to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest and restore a tax code that honors work, not wealth. We need to get rid of billions in corporate subsidies. We need to stop wasteful spending that limits our ability to address real priorities.

Source: MoveOn.org interview Jun 17, 2003

Voted NO on prioritizing national debt reduction below tax cuts.

Vote to table [kill] an amendment that would increase the amount of the budget that would be used to reduce the national debt by $75 billion over 5 year. The debt reduction would be offset by reducing the tax cut in the budget framework from $150 billion
Reference: Bill S Con Res 101 ; vote number 2000-55 on Apr 5, 2000

Other candidates on Budget & Economy: 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

Third Parties:
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
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010