Democrats accuse Dean of cutting VT programs

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(Host) Howard Dean’s Democratic rivals accuse him of cutting social service programs in Vermont in order to balance the budget.

At a debate last night in Des Moines, Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt said Dean was quick to slash the state Medicaid budget and prescription drug programs while he was governor.

But Dean’s Finance Commissioner says Gephardt is wrong. Tom Pelham oversaw state budgets for the Dean Administration. He says Dean slowed the rate of growth in some programs during lean years, but never made cuts.

(Pelham) There are some people for one year that didn’t get the rate of increase that their advocates had hoped. There was no one thrown off health care programs. I mean, when we went from having 61,000 people on Medicaid to having 135,000 now, it’s hard to argue that someone got thrown off when you’ve more than doubled the enrollment in the program. It’s just false politics…I watched the debate. People can stand up there on the podium with the national cameras and Tom Brokaw asking these questions and say these things. But it’s not true.

(Host) Pelham says Dean inherited a $65 million dollar budget deficit in 1991 and managed to expand health programs while lowering taxes.

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