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In spite of years of instruction otherwise, John Kerry still thinks a spending slowdown is a cut. Even John Edwards understands it.

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Kerry Still Thinks It’s a Cut

In spite of years of instruction otherwise, John Kerry still thinks a spending slowdown is a cut. Even John Edwards understands it.

Despite years of being informed otherwise, liberal Democratic Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) still thinks that slowing the rate of growth of a pet project of the Left is cut.

It is a mentality against which the GOP has continually been forced to fight, especially since the Republican Revolution of 1994. Remember Newt Gingrich being accused of wanting to cut liberal social programs when what he was proposing was a slowing of the rate of growth? (Of course, all good conservatives realize that he should have been pushing for actual cuts.)

Since then, how many times have conservatives from Rush Limbaugh to Tom DeLay to Jack Kemp reminded Americans that slowing the rate of growth is not a cut? Too many to count.

But, as he showed last week in the Democratic presidential debate last week, John Kerry still does not understand this concept. Unfortunately, for Kerry, even Sen. John Edwards (S.C.) gets it. Witness the following:

JOHN KERRY: The fact is that Governor Dean raised prescription costs for seniors in his state when he needed to balance the budget.

He called himself a “balanced budget freak” — those are his own words. And what he did was raised those costs, as well as take money out of a teachers’ pension fund in order to balance it.

Now, I have a different approach. I’ve asked the governor several times at several debates: Will he still try to reduce the rate of growth in Medicare? He’s said several times he’s going to cut the rate of growth in Medicare.

And I think it’s important for people — I’ve laid out a very specific plan. Governor Dean has no plan for actually balancing the budget or reducing the deficit.

And I’d like to know if he still intends to reduce the rate of growth in Medicare as one of the ways in which he’s going to balance the budget.

TOM BROKAW: Governor Dean, I know — and this will be the last word on this.

HOWARD DEAN: I most certainly appreciate all this attention that I’m getting.

We have never taken money out of the teachers’ pension fund. That is grossly irresponsible. It has happened in other states, one of which I happen to have to say is Massachusetts, although I don’t think Senator Kerry had anything to do with that.

We have never taken money out of the teachers’ pension fund, and we have the best health care record of virtually any state in the country.

So a lot of these accusations are the kinds of things people go through to pick up little pieces of this and little pieces of that.

Look at the big picture: We’ve done a great job on health insurance…

KERRY: But you still haven’t answered my question.

DEAN: We’ve done a great job on kids.

KERRY: But you still haven’t answered my question.

DEAN: And Tom Beaumont wrote in the Des Moines Register weeks ago that Medicare is off the table.

BROKAW: Congressman?

KERRY: No, the question is will you slow the rate of growth? Do you intend to slow the rate of growth in Medicare because you said you were going to do that?

DEAN: Well, what I intend to do in Medicare is to increase reimbursements for states like Iowa and Vermont, which are 50th and 49th respectively.

KERRY: Are you going to slow the rate of growth, Governor, yes or no?

DEAN: We’re going to do what we have to do to make sure that Medicare lasts…

KERRY: ARE YOU GOING TO SLOW THE RATE OF GROWTH, GOVERNOR? BECAUSE THAT’S A CUT.

DEAN: Well, I’d like to slow the rate of growth of this debate, if I could but we’re going to make sure that Medicare works.

KERRY: Well, I’m sure you’d like to avoid it altogether, but…

BROKAW: OK. Let me ask you, Senator Kerry…

DEAN: Medicare is off the table.

We are not going to cut Medicare in order to balance the budget. I’ve made that very clear. I’ll do it one more time.

We will not…

KERRY: That’s not the question.

DEAN: … cut Medicare in order to balance the budget.

* * *

BROKAW: Senator Edwards in Washington, D.C., this whole issue of growing Medicare. It can’t continue to grow at an exponential rate. Everybody knows that. Because the country at some point is going to have to draw the line in terms of means testing and how we’re going to make Medicare available to people — a program, after all, that was designed originally as a safety net for the people who were middle income and poor seniors.

Is it possible to just continue growing Medicare at its current rate? And is it fair to say if you slow the growth rate, that’s really a cut?

JOHN EDWARDS: No.

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