The following are the responses to questions I sent to Ned Lamont of Greenwich, a prospective Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, on 1/13/2005. I hope that a question and answer session with Mr. Lamont will follow shortly, and I will post more information on that when I confirm it. My questions are in bold, Mr. Lamont's answers are in regular type.
1. For our readers who don't know much about you, please introduce yourself. What's your background? What experience do you have in politics and government?
While I have spent some time in and around politics, at heart I am an outsider to the political process. I have covered local government as a journalist ( a local weekly in Vermont), served as a selectman (Greenwich’s lonely Democratic selectman), member of the board of finance, Chair of the CT State Investment Advisory Council (under Weicker), as well as being an active policy wonk with the Brookings Institution. The other 80% of my time I have built and operated a telecommunications company which primarily delivers international, educational, and entertainment video services to college campuses.
2. What specific policy differences do you have with Senator Lieberman (including and beyond the war)? In short, why should Democrats vote for you instead of him, should you run?
I believe that we as the Democratic party should and I as a senator would push back against some terrible policies, starting with the wrong headed invasion of Iraq and ill-advised tax cuts, and stand up forcefully for a Democratic agenda, which includes healthcare reform, education reform, and energy conservation. The Senator can speak for himself; I would oppose the nomination of Judge Alito since he jeopardizes a woman’s right to choose, I would oppose education vouchers since they undermine our commitment to our public school system, I would have strongly opposed federal intervention in the Terri Shiavo case, I would have pushed for energy conservation and bio fuels as a better alternative than the liquefied natural gas plant in LI Sound; I would oppose diverting social security taxes into private accounts, and I would replace American troops on the front lines in Iraq with Iraqi troops as the first step towards bringing our troops home.
3. You've mentioned health care as a priority. As a businessman, why would you support universal health care? Would you favor a Canadian-style system, or something different?
Sometimes Washington politics seems to be all Iraq all the time, and the important policy prescriptions we need to better compete in the future are moved to the back burner. Healthcare premiums in Connecticut are up about 56% over the last five years while wages are up about 14%; America pays about 50% more per capita in healthcare costs than our international competitors; our employer based healthcare system is putting more and more of the cost upon the employee; healthcare costs are eating up more and more of the federal and state budgets. Our country has to move towards fundamental healthcare reform which makes affordable, universal coverage a right for all citizens, with a funding mechanism that reduces the cost to employers who are trying to compete worldwide and keep good paying jobs in this country (that’s one reason business folks in this country want healthcare reform back on the American agenda).
4. What level of support have you received from Democrats and ordinary citizens? Have you received pledges of support from local, state or national Democrats or other political figures?
The support at the local, grass roots level has been overwhelming; the support from the Democratic establishment has been wait and see.
5. Several political observers have said that winning a primary against Lieberman is impossible. Given his huge fundraising advantage, and his generally good numbers, how do you plan on defeating him?
Yes, defeating an entrenched incumbent is very, very tough in this country, but nobody deserves a free pass. I prefer races that focus on the substantive issues and there are real differences between my stands and those of Senator Lieberman and the Bush administration. We need some new blood in Congress, not afraid to challenge the status quo and the culture of corruption (and more than willing to stand up against- not cozy up to- some Republican policies which will have devastating long term consequences for this country).
6. When do you plan on making your intentions known?
I am trying to meet as many folks as I can over the next few weeks to gauge whether they share my outrage over the pork ridden bridge to nowhere and the endless war to nowhere and, if they do, I’m in.