Democratic Convention: Rep. Dingell (D-Mich)
Rep. John D. Dingell
Ranking Minority Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 2:30 PM
The 2004 Democratic National Convention kicked off in Boston Monday with the party's presidential candidate John Kerry tied in latest polls with President Bush. Tonight Kerry will address the convention crowd and formally accept the his party's nomination.
Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) was online Thursday, July 29 at 2:30 p.m. ET to discuss the convention, his address on energy issues and the 2004 election.
The transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Rep. John D. Dingell : I want to thank you for having me. I want to say a particular hello to the people of the 15th Congressional District of Michigan. It is an honor to be with you and I look forward to participating in this discussion.
Kendall Park, N.J.:
What do you think of these "Swiftboat Captains Against Kerry" who are making all these outrageous claims, including that two of his injuries were self-inflected or that he re-enacted his Vietnam exploits? What can the Kerry campaign do to nullify their charges and do you think the media gives too much attention and too little scrutiny to these known Republicans who are pushing an agenda?
Rep. John D. Dingell : John Kerry was awarded a silver star, a bronze star and 3 purple hearts by his government for distinguished combat service. I think that is answer enough.
1. John Edwards is talking about increased support for the auto industry. How will this help your district?
2. How do you think Michigan Politicians have fared in the national spotlight at this years convention?
Rep. John D. Dingell : The auto industry deserves fair and decent treatment. I think John Edwards and John Kerry will keep in mind the need to protect American manufacturing and the American auto industry. I intend to work with them to see that this happens.
It will be easy to improve upon the current administration which ends its term with 2 million less jobs in America than it started with. It won't be hard to do better than that!
With regard to Michigan politicians and the convention, I think they've fared very well.
How do you feel about the President's prescription drug plan?
Rep. John D. Dingell : It stinks. It was written for him by a bunch of insurance and pharmaceutical industry lobbiests without the slightest participation of Democratic Members and the American public.
Former Ann Arbor, Mich. now Virginia:
My parents live in the Port Huron area and see in excess of 200 Trucks hauling Canadian Waste across the Blue Water Bridge each day. Why is this allowed to go on? It seems to be a detriment to our environment and a possible security risk.
Rep. John D. Dingell : This is an outrage. The Bush Administration has not enforced an agreement with Canada which would enable federal, state and local governments to manage this. They seem determined to turn Michigan into an international dumping ground for household trash and hazardous waste.
Our delegation --on a bipartisan basis-- secured an amendment to an appropriations bill requiring the EPA to spend $1.0 million to enforce our agreement with Canada. It has not been acted upon by this administration.
Immediately after the district work period, my Committee will start marking up a bipartisan bill to impose controls on Canadian and other trash coming into Michigan. Mr. Gilmor, the Chairman of the Subcommittee, has assured me of his full support and cooperation.
Ann Arbor, Mich.:
What are your expectations for Senator Kerry's speech this evening?
Rep. John D. Dingell : Senator John Kerry, our next President, will give a superb speech outlining the programs and policies of his administration and how they will meet the hopes and expectations of the American people.
It will be well received.
The Hague, The Netherlands:
It is often felt in the US that the current anti-American sentiment in Europe is directly attributable to President Bush's policies. However, it seems to be quickly forgotten that European's had similar misgivings with Clinton, Reagan, Carter and Nixon. How can we not remember those demonstrations against almost every American president during their European visits. Many European pundits have attributed the current almost palpable level of vocal anti-Americanism to the demise of the cold war, and Europe no longer needing the American military shield. Thus Europe is much more willing to express what they have been really feeling for the last half century. What is your opinion of that conclusion?
Rep. John D. Dingell : I agree with your first sentence. President Bush has disregarded the views of our friends and the need to consult with our allies. He has alienated our friends around the world and squandered the overwhelming good will afforded us by everyone following the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
His actions have threatened the close cooperation and the international security arrangements built so carefully by his predecessors with our friends and allies around the world.
That is a lie, there have not been two million lost jobs, and at the current rate of economic recovery, we are likely to have a net gain.
The recession started under Clinton, then 9-11 happened... if not for Bush's actions things would have been worse.
Rep. John D. Dingell : Crawford Texas, my friend, you can't argue with the facts.
Rep. Dingell: Do you think the Democrats, if elected, will ever institute a national health scheme similar to those in Canada and Britain? I am sure that this subject is foremost on many Democratic voters' agenda. Thank you.
Rep. John D. Dingell : I hope so. I intend to do everything possible to ensure enactment of a program of national health insurance to cover every american as soon as possible. It is good for american families and american industry, which is being hurt in competition with business in other countries that are heavily subsidized with regard to healthcare and other things.
What, in your judgement, does Senator Kerry need to do to perform well in Michigan and elsewhere in the Midwest? Are the same issues in play there as elsewhere in the country, or is the emphasis different? Many have noted, for example, that Ohio is likely to be more atune to economic considerations than foreign policy ones. Does this hold for the entire Midwest?
Rep. John D. Dingell : He must implement the program outlined by Senator Edwards last night to help American working families realize their hopes, their dreams and their needs. American working families need fair treatment on taxes and a government that will assure protection of jobs and the economy. They also need programs to assure the best education possible of our young people, adequate healthcare for all Americans, decent retirement and fair treatment in the marketplace.
How do you feel about Seantor Zell Miller and do you think his continuous tirades against Kerry and "liberals" will damage Kerry in the general election?
Rep. John D. Dingell : Zell Miller: his sun has set.
What are your honest, objective thoughts on future President Obama?
Rep. John D. Dingell : He and I shared a platform together on Tuesday: I think he will be a superb United States Senator.
Ann Arbor, Mich.:
Do you think the war in Iraq was justified?
Rep. John D. Dingell : No: that's why I voted against it. It was neither justified, nor necessary. Before the vote I asked Vice President Cheney and George Tenet what evidence they had of weapons of mass destruction and what evidence they had of support of terrorism by Iraq. They could cite none and history tells us that at the time of the invasion there were no weapons of mass destruction and there is no evidence of cooperation with terrorists by Iraq.
New Brunswick, N.J.:
Do you have any plans to retire in the near future? Did Lynn Rivers' primary challenge two years ago embolden you to stay in office?
Rep. John D. Dingell : I'm running for re-election and will run as long as the people of the 15th District of Michigan, the good Lord, and my family and I think it appropriate. There is much important work still to be done.
Congressman Dingell, you are a true
hero to all of us back home.
Given your history and knowledge of the
auto industry, can you tell us how
receptive the Big Three will be when
discussing the issues of raising CAFE
standards and moving from ICE to
Also, can you address Republican claims
that increasing CAFE standards will cost
auto workers their jobs? Thank you.
Rep. John D. Dingell : Of course, unwise CAFE requirements can cause loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and competitiveness in the American auto industry. John Kerry and John Edwards understand this. I will be working with them to carry out their commitment to preserving and protecting the competitiveness of the American manufacturing industry, including and especially, the auto industry.
Rep. Dingell, thank you for your support on the right to bear arms. You are one of the few Democrats that understand this right. Second, can you explain to me how it is that Democrats in the Senate including Kerry and edwards are helping to fillibuster the Energy Bill to help us get off imported oil, yet, John Edwards blames Bush last night for high energy prices?
Rep. John D. Dingell : I have worked on every major energy bill that was enacted since 1968, with Republican and Democratic administrations and Republican and Democratic members of Congress.
The energy bill that is being filibustered in the Senate is an odd mishmash of special interest provisions written in the dark of night by lobbists for the energy industry with no consultation of Democratic members like myself who were appointed to serve on the conference. It was rushed through in the House under closed rule and represents very little of the original bill which came out of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The bill in the Senate would have little beneficial affect on energy production, would have a disatrous impact upon the environment and protection of fish and wildlife and fails to address many of the real needs in energy policies in the United States. That is why there is a bi-partisan filibuster against it in the Senate. Republican Senator McCain referred to it as a special interest bill for "Hooters and polluters." I agree.
Rep. John D. Dingell : Thank you all for your great questions and to the Washington Post for being so courteous in affording me this opprotunity to chat with you today. Bless you all and GO BLUE!
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