First he spoke briefly. He said he wanted to be known as the “jobs president”, and before taking economic actions, would be asking himself, “Is this good for the jobs of Middle-class Americans?” He stated, “I will close tax loopholes which financially award corporations for taking jobs over seas.” He stated that gross economic growth on paper is not being shared. Just because multinational companies and the very wealthy benefit from NAFTA, CAFTA, and the like does not mean that the majority of citizens benefit economically. He stated he has seen what happens — that in his case it was textiles, and when jobs go overseas, he has seen what happens to families and communities.
He then opened himself to questions. He stood there in blue jeans, surrounded by ordinary folk, outdoors, in folding chairs [the campaign said it had set up 150 chairs – all were full and there were plenty standing – he was in the open, standing on the bricks of the plaza, eye to eye.]
He was asked whether he would eliminate earmarks. He said that he would not ban them, but start with seeking to change how they were done. That too many changes were made at the dead of night, with legislation that was 100s of pages long given to senators only 15-20 minutes before it was to be voted on, that this had to end. Further, that any earmark to be considered had to show the name of the legislator seeking it, and he actually provided more detail than that, but I did not get it all written down.
When asked about the “No child left behind act”, John stated, “No child every learned anything from taking a test. You will know I come from the south, but the proverb that applies is “You don’t make a hog fatter by weighing it.” He said his plan would begin with involving teachers in evaluating student progress, that no test equals that insight; using a group of criteria rather than a single measure, measure each student at the beginning and ending of the year, and if a school is struggling, first support the school, do NOT strip it of resources.
He was asked about how to reduce “the culture of violence”. He stated, “You know, parents can turn televisions off, the starting place is the family.” He also said that a president’s influence on that issue came from using the “bully pulpit” of the presidency. His example was that this president is telling countries they cannot have nuclear weapons while developing new nuclear weapons at the same time. He said that has no credibility. Himself, he would seek to set up a task force or international commission to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Further, he said his “college for everyone willing to work in college” and “stepping stone jobs” would go a long way towards reducing youth violence.
When a well-known New Hampshire educator [sorry, missed the name!] stood up and said he wanted “those kids home now” and “we have lost two kids dead in Iraq”. John said he wanted them home too. His plan would be 50,000 home immediately, and then a nine month deadline. He said that the Iraqi politicians need to know that there is a deadline and that we are leaving. For the Iraqi parliament to go on vacation while American boys and girls were dying for them was unconscionable. He said without a deadline for us leaving, we will not see a serious Iraqi government.
He further stated we need to end the use of contractors, that national security was too important to privatize. He will institute an audit of what the contractors were paid for, and how much, and to whom. He fears the contractors have been “milking the American people.”
Further, he sees a need for government to confront, head on, the companies such as drug companies and health insurance companies that have been profiting excessively by becoming the real power in Washington. He said “It takes backbone. I know what it takes. You can’t be nice to these people.”
I don’t claim to have captured all of it – anyway, John, Elizabeth, the Edwards kids and staff got back on the bus and were off to the next stop on the tour. For the whole itinerary, go to: http://johnedwards.c…
Cross posted at: http://bostonforedwa…