Candidate scoffs at Bush’s policies

Answering Gov. Jim Doyle’s invitation to all nine Democrats vying for the presidential nomination to visit the state on separate occasions, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) came to Milwaukee Monday to participate in a forum focused on the economy.

His speech covered President Bush’s tax cuts, job creation, trade and education. Doyle, who hosted the event, also opened the floor to questions.

Edwards addressed what he said Bush refers to as a “jobless recovery.”

“Where I come from if you don’t have a job, you don’t have a recovery,” Doyle said.

Edwards said Bush’s tax cuts favored the wealthy and shifted the tax burden onto the working middle-class.

“We Democrats, we’re for wealth creation, but wealth creation for those who don’t have it,” he said.

The United States has a history of “real economic growth and really creating jobs when the middle-class is growing,” Edwards said, citing economic booms after World War II and during the second half of the Clinton administration. He said job creation is hampered by provisions in U.S. tax codes that allow tax write-offs for companies moving out of the country.

“We should be exporting products, not American jobs,” Edwards said.

When answering a question from a union worker, Edwards said U.S. politicians are “so heavily into free trade that fair trade has become non-existent.” He called for trade agreements that require foreign countries to implement environmental protection laws, minimum wage laws and child labor laws, among other things.

Edwards said the Bush administration has also “completely refused to put pressure on (China)” to keep the Chinese government from manipulating their currency, which, he said, leads to cheap Chinese goods flooding U.S. markets while U.S. goods in China remain high-priced.

Moving on to education, Edwards questioned the audience: “No child left behind. What do you think?” A few members of the crowd booed.

“Millions of children are left behind,” he said.

“There are two public school systems in this country,” he said. “They’re not based on race now, they’re based on economic conditions.”

Inner city and poor, rural schools are different from suburban schools, he said.

“Do we really believe the quality of child’s education depends on where they live and the affluence of their community?” Edwards asked.

He said he wanted to offer a pay incentive to teachers willing to teach in less affluent schools and offer scholarships and more financial aid to young people who want to teach in poorer schools.

He also said he wants to start a “national initiative to pay (all) teachers better.”

Edwards said he was the son of two union workers and the first in his family to attend college.

Edwards also said, if elected president, he would work for full-coverage health insurance for every American under 21 and cheaper prescription drugs through reform within drug companies. He promised to work for the importation of drugs from Canada and lower costs at state universities and community colleges by giving $50 billion to state and local governments.

Some voters came to support Edwards while others came to gather information on one of the candidates in the bursting Democratic pool of candidates.

“I think John Edwards is the man we should elect,” said Wilma Carol Marcy LaBelle, who came to hear him talk. “He has the best platform, the best economic plan.”

“I’m not committed on any candidate, whether Republican or Democrat,” said Marvin Walker, who attended the event to “get the facts, just the facts.”