Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Six Questions for Ned Lamont

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.

33 comments:

Aldon Hynes said...

As I noted over at My Left Nutmeg, people in the Hartford area the opportunity to meet Ned this evening from 5 to 7 at La Paloma Sabanera coffee shop.

Given the weather, the length of the drive and the fact that Ned lives the next town over, I'll probably miss tonights event, but it would be great if people from Connecticut Local Politics could attend and offer their thoughts here.

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis


mynewsbot.com

Proud Moderate Dem said...

Genghis, nice post. i look forward for some clarification on his issue responses bc JIL has actually been a leader on the environment and has been very good on budget votes. do you think it would be possible for you to forward Lieberman 6 questions and then post the responses for fair and equal play time?

DeanFan84 said...

My question for Mr. Lamont, "I think it is extremely important for Congressional Democrats to stand together as an opposition Party. Would you pledge to back up Harry Reid, at each and every turn?"

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope he DOES NOT make that pledge. I respect Lieberman for doing what he believes is right, I just disagree with him.

I am voting against him - but if his opponent makes a blind pledge then I'll just stay home, because our problem as a party is that we don't stand behind what we believe or at least we don't appear to. Blind pledges just emphasizes that point

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Nice to see the old double standards still apply. Over on the other thread, DF84, you're calling Alito a fascist for supporting "undue and unchecked authority."

Over here, you're demanding Ned Lamont march in lockstep with Harry Reid, come hell or high water.

What if -- just for the sake of argument -- Lamont didn't want to back Reid's play? And what if it was something that really mattered to you, but really mattered to him, too? Is he supposed to throw over his own convictions for the sake of yours?

Conversely, he's elected to represent us, not himself ... doesn't he owe it to represent all of us, not his own (possibly narrow) interests?

Feel free to attempt to resolve all the problems of representative democracy ...

daffy said...

What exactly does he mean by universal coverage for healthcare?

DeanFan84 said...

Diff Mouse--

Think a little harder. The two aren't comparable. (and you can take your "double standards" meme and....) One is a Sam Alito, a judge well outside of the mainstream. The other is a Democratic Party that must stand together in opposition to a Radical right wing agenda, and a GOP leadership that has been playing hardball politics.

You ever see the Republicans breaking ranks? Doesn't happen anymore, because individual R's aren't allowed to. In the face of that reality, Democrats absolutely need to coalesce into an opposition Party. Now if Dems were in the Majority, it would be a different story, altogether.

P.S. I haven't demanded anything of Ned Lamont. So please quit pushing my words into something they aren't.

Anonymous said...

Yup, he’s a democrat. He listed 6 things he’s AGAINST, and 2 that he is for.

Do democrats have any ideas?

Anonymous said...

In lockstep with Harry Reid--- you mean he has to take Abramoff's tainted money just like Reid?

Genghis Conn said...

Y'know, I've heard the argument that Democrats never seem to be for anything these days, and to a certain extent that may be true. Many Democrats find themselves in the role of conservatives--not in the ideological sense, but in the sense that they are trying to protect the major social and political gains their party made over the last 75 years. They see the right, as personified by George Bush and his ilk, as trying to destroy that. Which, admittedly, they are.

So when you see a particular party or group coming out against a lot of things (like conservative Christians come out against gay marriage and abortion, for example) instead of promoting new ideas, they are trying to protect something. So now the question in the minds of Democrats is: Should the America created over the past 75 years be protected, or should it be allowed to fall?

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

DF84:

Oh, you slay me ... really, you do.

"Would you pledge to back up Harry Reid, at each and every turn?"

"I haven't demanded anything of Ned Lamont."

Chris MC said...

Nice start.

...active policy wonk with the Brookings Institution.

Alrighty then! Let's see his work!

But, doesn't his affiliation with Brookings give lefties pause?

I would have pushed for energy conservation and bio fuels...

Nobody's in favor of the problematic floating LNG industrial site. I doubt a case can be made for bio fuels as an "alternative" to it though, but OK I get it, he's leaning green. But so does every other Connecticut politician.

I would oppose the nomination of Judge Alito since he jeopardizes a woman’s right to choose..

The thing with Alito really isn't the Roe-Wade decision. The problem, (from what I can glean watching the wonks on CSPAN and reading some print and agonizing through another public display of Joe Biden pleasuring himself during a committee hearing) is his predilection to favor executive perogative and corporate interests over those of idividuals. In this respect he appears to be arguably worse than Scalia

...and I would replace American troops on the front lines in Iraq with Iraqi troops as the first step towards bringing our troops home.

And the difference between this and what is already planned? Not as clear as some would hope.

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...

A businessman willing to stand up and say that our current system makes no friggin' business sense.

This, much more than Iraq, is a deal-making issue, IMO as a paleo-Dean (Howard who? No, really, who is he?) supporter.

ctblogger said...

Congrats Genghis,

Your Lamont interview was just picked up on DailyKos and made the frontpage (kos posted it himself).

Expect the hits on this blog to go through the roof.

Genghis Conn said...

Saw it. Very exciting, although not altogether surprising. Some people have been waiting a long time for someone like Lamont to show up.

Anonymous said...

Run, Ned, run! And hit Lieberman with a chair over the bankruptcy "reform" cloture vote he gave as a giftwrapped present to the banks.

Chris MC said...

Now, that would be hot (A5:47).

Go down the list of votes and take issue with the top six or whatever. One by one, maybe even six debates. An hour of debate on the six bills, and the controversies and issues behind them.

In other words, not endless spew from the left about Joe's disgusting love fest with Fox Newsies; not holier than Joe pronouncements from Ned. Not his menschness languidly droning on about what he really believes.

A real debate - on what would no doubt be a national stage. We got easily $10MM to blow on this, let's spend it wisely.

But would Lieberman do it? And is Lamont really ready for that kind of tournament?

Mike said...

I saw Lamont tonight in Hartford. Talked about the war, need more debate, need to pull out and let Iraqis take more control, how it has distracted from other important domestic priorities, need for universal health care and helping small businesses with health costs.

Pros:
* Seems like a nice guy - accessible and unpretentious
* Interested in conversation and in what others have to say
* Good start to a stump speech - I think he has the elements that could make a good public speaker, speaks in plain language

Cons:
* A bit ill at ease and unpolished, but it was probably his first public gathering - to be expected
* Very short on specifics when asked - even about health, one of his "core" issues - not a policy wonk and needs some education - likely to be a liability against an experienced Senator
* Doesn't exude a lot of passion - millionaire executives tend not to make the best progressive populist challengers
* No convincing explanation for why he has supported Lieberman and Shays (I give to a lot of Dems and an occasional Republican)

I still need to hear more specifics on positions, to get a better sense of where his "gut" is, and to assess how effective he is as a communicator once he has some practice. But I would encourage others to go hear him talk and engage him. Sounds like he plans to make the rounds and is talking to Democratic town committees. I hear there will be another public forum in New Haven later this month, though I'm not sure if the date is set.

I would be surprised if he did not announce within the next 2-3 weeks. There may also be a campaign Web site in the near future, though I suspect he'll need to work on some basic organizational issues before then.

MVD said...

CT Blue has a very interesting bit of information about CT filing deadlines, and why they are trouble for Joe.
See CT Blue.

Chris MC said...

Hence, "Senator Joe Lieberman, after a stunning convention loss by the narrowest of margins, stalks out and immediately holds a press conference on the very threshhold of the Democratic State Convention, declaring the formation of A Joe Party. "Even as I stand before you today, my minions are coaxing the CFIS system to file the necessary paperwork for A Joe Party."

ctkeith said...

All LIEberman has to do is bring all his Freinds in the Senate to CT to show how popular he is and any opposition will melt.

I suggest the first three he bring should be his closest freinds.

1) McCain ( funny how he never uses the phrase "my good freind Joe Lieberman")
2) Rick Santorum (Joe and Rick not only have the same outrage for "bad words and filthy Lyrics" they both loved scolding Bubba for getting a hummer but 100,000 dead innocent Brown people and 2300 of our kids butchered for absolutely nothing and they still can't say a bad word about W or Rummy.

3) Sam Brownback, R-Kan ( they both just love that old time religion and I'm certain Brownback could get copies of the "left Behind Series" for all us "swampyankees" that show up.

DeanFan84 said...

Mike--

Lamont doesn't need to have his own platform. The Democratic Party already has its own. The notion that every candidate should have his own set of ideas on every issue is extremely over-rated. What I want to know is if Lamont will hire the right wonks for his Senate staff.

Do our CT senators need to come up with their own solutions to the country's healthcare problems? As long as they don't sell us out to the insurance companies, as Joe did.

Token donations to Lieberman and Shays don't bother me, either. Someone like Lamont must get invited to plenty of fundraisers. I suspect he anted up to Joe and Shays as much out of friendship and loyalty to the individual fundraiser, as he did as support for the actual candidates. I mean if Genghis put forward a Democratic politician he liked, I would probably chip in out of respect for Genghis, (how could I say no?), regardless of how I felt about the actual candidate.

Did you see Ned's video clip on WTIC? Lamont came off to me as honest and self-effacing, and I like that he isn't doing a hard sell. Low-key will work well, especially when the rabid Dem vote is already in your column.

Anyway, wish I could have got to meet him myself, and I look forward to his visit to New Haven.

P.S. The front-paging at dKos just gave us an additional 2,000 distinct visits for the day. Expect this site to grow 20-30% in the next week...

Proud Moderate Dem said...

DeanFan, you really cant be seriuos about individual candisate opinions being over-rated, can you? i am a proud member of this democratic party bc we embrace diversity of ideas. your suggestions of building democratic clones is both against our nation's founding principles and a sign of a very simple thinker.
ctkeith, i dont like when lieberman says good things about bush, but you need to me fair, he has said many bad things about W's policies. more times than not actually.
genghis, i will repeat my request again to ask 6 questions of the Senator as well.

Genghis Conn said...

I will look into it, Proud Moderate Dem, but I won't guarantee anything.

CGG said...

Nice interview. I'm glad to see Lamont talking healthcare, and how a universal system would benefit business. It's a good start. Eventually I'd like to see a detailed plan, coming from the perspective of an employer who understands how fundamental changes can help American companies compete globally.

ctkeith said...

PMD,

Joe lieberman has only taken 7 questions in open to the public events in CT the last year (I attended both events).Why on earth,Except to pander now that he's in trouble,would he take the time to answer questions from GC.

I doubt anyone here has followed Liebermans statements over the last yr as close as I have and if you can find any criticism of W without at least some praise attached to it let me know.

Here's My favorite quote on Iraq
Bottom Line,I think Bush got it Right"

Heres the entire paragraph from the New yorker article that explains Joe the best:

Lieberman is a study in the dangers of steroidal muscularity, becoming an outlier in his own party. (He has edged to the right as his running mate in the 2000 election, Al Gore, has moved leftward.) His fate was sealed with a kiss, planted on his cheek by Bush, just after the President delivered his State of the Union address. “That may have been the last straw for some of the people in Connecticut, the blogger types,” Lieberman told me. But he is unapologetic about his defense of Bush’s Iraq policy, saying, “Bottom line, I think Bush has it right.” When I asked if he was becoming a neoconservative, Lieberman smiled and said, “No, but some of my best friends are neocons.”

MikeCT said...

DeanFan,

Lamont doesn't need to have his own platform. The Democratic Party already has its own. The notion that every candidate should have his own set of ideas on every issue is extremely over-rated.

I really hope you will re-read your statement and think it over. I was disappointed that he could not articulate any specific agenda on health care, which he says is a priority for him. The day when we should stop expecting public officials to think for themselves, understand and evaluate public policy options, and articulate a clear position is the day that I'll find another country to live in. I don't expect every candidate to be an expert on every issue, and there are only so many new ideas "under the sun," but I expect them to have a specific agenda on the issues that they say are at the core of their campaign. And the idea that the national Democratic Party has been a fountain of strong publicy policy solutions and positive vision in recent memory is comical - even diehard Dems couldn't defend that one.

I mean if Genghis put forward a Democratic politician he liked, I would probably chip in out of respect for Genghis, (how could I say no?), regardless of how I felt about the actual candidate.

Joe Lieberman is not just any unknown candidate, and I don't believe any progressive/liberal with a "fire in the belly" would have contributed to Lieberman several months ago or even in 2003. Doesn't mean he wouldn't be better than Joe, just means I don't trust his gut instincts. (Just imagine if Lieberman had contributed to Chris Shays - he'd never live it down, and you and Kos would remind us all daily.)

CT News Junkie writes up his visit to see Lamont, who seems to want to outdo Lieberman in his enthusiasm for unquestioning support of current policy on Israel and the Palestinians.

Eddie said...

CtKeith, quoting the New Yorker:

"Lieberman is a study in the dangers of steroidal muscularity."

You know, I just have a hard time thinking of Joe as steroidal. Bad day at the metaphor bank?

met00 said...

Ned, you run as a Dem in a primary, there are a whole bunch of names and people from http://www.timetogojoe.com/ that are gere and willing to help. Soon as you make the ballot, you get the full list of people who have pledged.

Chris MC said...

The day when we should stop expecting public officials to think for themselves, understand and evaluate public policy options, and articulate a clear position ... [snip] And the idea that the national Democratic Party has been a fountain of strong publicy policy solutions and positive vision in recent memory is comical - even diehard Dems couldn't defend that one.

Not to pile on, but I have to largely agree, FWIW. (I'll be reminding you about this rather trenchant point, MikeCT)

Somebody once said that you need to know what you think before you get to WDC, because the pace and the level you have to play at is too much for you to figure it out once you get there.

Incidentally, Senator: "the blogger types,” Lieberman told me. I beg your pardon? ;-)

daffy duck said...

Some people seem to be confusing the House with the Senate on this partisan thing but I'm not in the mood to explain my view of what's goin' on right now.

barth said...

My first impression of Mr. Lamont, based on his responses to your questions, is a good one. I realize that breaking into an entrenched political party and that overcoming an entrenched party politician are tall orders. But this country needs this very type of revolutionary activity. I will follow Mr. Lamont's campaign closely, and I hope that he can be one of those pioneers to start this revolution.

Anonymous said...

i had every intention for voting for you ned . now that you have that murderer shiavo that had terry legaly murded because she was disabled supporting you i would never in a million years vote for you now.i am disabled and would not want a senator nor a governor like bush allowing legal murder in my state of ct shame on you for allowing this murderer to indorse you while he makes money off his poor disabled deceased ex wife. may all those that allowed this horrific tradgedy to happen all burn in hell.