Howard Dean Weighs In On Debt Ceiling Debate

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(Host) Former Governor Howard Dean is endorsing President Obama’s efforts to reach a compromise budget deficit plan.

Dean says Republican leaders need to support higher taxes on the wealthy and Democrats need to accept some cuts in key entitlement programs.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Dean is still very active in politics these days. He’s involved with a national group that fosters democracies throughout the world, he’s a consultant for a Washington law firm, and he’s a commentator for the cable network CNBC.

Dean says it’s critical to solve the budget impasse in Washington and that means both the Republicans and the Democrats need to move away from their ideological positions and be willing to find some common ground:

(Dean) "I’m not exactly a soak the rich type nor am I an anti business type as you may remember from when I was Governor but we’re all in this together…so both sides need to be balanced. Everybody needs to sacrifice here and I think the Democrats are right to say if not you’re not willing to raise taxes on the wealthy and on corporations who are getting big tax breaks then don’t come to us and ask people on Social Security and Medicare to take cuts too. That’s just not right."

(Kinzel) Dean thinks the nation’s business community will play a key role in the coming weeks to help push the two sides towards a compromise. He says some business executives are now telling House Speaker John Boehner that it’s a mistake to take a firm stand against any tax increases:

(Dean) "The average person in the business community is a sensible thoughtful person who gets tax policy and they don’t make up facts and have ideology …the business community supplies the money and I think they’ve gotten to…Boehner and said if you let this happen you won’t see Republicans in any position of authority and the country will go own the tubes and you’ll get blamed for it and they know it." 

(Kinzel) Dean is convinced that a failure to raise the debt ceiling by the August 2nd deadline would have a terrible impact on the U.S. economy:

(Dean) "This would put us back into a very deep recession. Millions of people will lose their jobs because if you can’t get credit if the whole country can’t get credit look what’s happening in Italy, look what’s happening in Ireland, look what’s happening in Spain, the unemployment rate in Spain is over 20 percent – for everybody. Now that’s pretty shocking."

(Kinzel) Dean says he’s intrigued by a new Senate Republican plan to allow the President to increase the debt ceiling unless the bill is opposed by two thirds of the members of the House and the Senate.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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