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Democrats Talk Taxes and Trade in Iowa Debate

In their last debate before the key Iowa Caucus on Jan. 3, six of the the Democratic presidential candidates outlined their policies on tax reform and trade in hopes of swaying Iowa voters.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Finally tonight, the Democrats debate one last time before the Iowa caucuses. NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman reports.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The most recent Iowa polls show Barack Obama surging, Hillary Clinton sliding, and the two now in a statistical dead heat. That was the backdrop to today's debate in Des Moines, moderated by Carolyn Washburn, editor of the Des Moines Register. She began with questions on fiscal and trade issues.

  • CAROLYN WASHBURN, Editor, Des Moines Register:

    When are tax increases necessary and appropriate then? And given the current deficit, which of your priorities would be worth asking Americans to pay more for?

    FORMER SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), Presidential Candidate: I think the truth of the matter is that the tax policy in America has been established by big corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

    That's why we have tax breaks for the top 1 percent and 2 percent. It's why the profits of big corporations keep getting bigger and bigger, while most working middle-class families are struggling.

    So what we ought to be doing instead is getting rid of these tax breaks for big — the wealthiest Americans, big tax breaks for companies that are actually taking American jobs overseas. This is insanity, when we're losing American jobs at the rate we are today.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Most of the candidates said higher taxes on the wealthy were justified to fund health care, education, and other programs, and that balancing the budget would take time. Senator Clinton.

    SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: Well, I think it's important that we recognize how people feel in Iowa and across America. They feel as though they're standing on a trapdoor.

    They are one pink slip, one missed mortgage payment, one medical diagnosis away from falling through. I want to restore the tax rates that we had in the '90s. That means raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. I want to keep the middle class tax cuts.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Senator Joe Biden.

    SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), Delaware: As my dad used to say, "It's all about priorities. What are your priorities?" I would fundamentally change the Republican priorities of rewarding only the wealthy, wasteful government programs in the Defense Department, as well as dealing with a more rational policy to promote jobs.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Only six Democrats participated. Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were disqualified because neither has established a campaign headquarters in the state.