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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
In scathing interview, Democrat says Bush Social Security plan won't help; Dubs Cheney 'ass kisser'

By John Byrne | RAW STORY

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In an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) slammed President Bush and Congressional Republicans' attempts to take on Social Security, saying he believes Bush has surrounded himself with those who agree with him and has lost touch with America.

Touching on issues from Social Security to the president's energy plan, Congressman Moran asserted that Republicans had repeatedly put the interests of the wealthy before the poor.

"I think the Republicans basically resent the poor and they figure if we can get the poor investing in the stock market, maybe they’ll start thinking like Republicans," Moran said. "God help us."

The Virginian said he believes that the Republican base has used Bush to push Social Security reform, a project that he says is essentially one to axe Social Security.

"I think they realized that they’re never going to find anybody who is as willing to carry out the agenda of these Republican right wing nuts and reverse the course of American progress," he remarked. "This is their chance. This is their chance to cut taxes down to the bone. This is their chance to repeal Social Security and to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid."

President Bush is holding an event to promote his plan in Moran's district Friday. The events—like most of those the president held during his presidential campaign—are prescreened to include supporters. Moran suggested that such events may have contributed to what he sees as a sense of "self-delusion" Bush has shown in promoting a plan that polls poorly with the American public.

"I don’t think he has much experience with regular people that haven’t been prescreened," he said.

"He doesn’t read any books, and he doesn’t talk with people that don’t already agree with him," he added. "He’s surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney."

A transcript of the interview follows.

###

CONGRESSMAN JIM MORAN (D-VA)

Raw Story’s John Byrne: What did you think about the Social Security plan President Bush proposed last night?

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA): I don’t think there’s much reason to get upset or excited about this plan. The problem with President Bush’s overall plan is that he still wants to create private accounts and in doing so takes about a trillion dollars out of the trust fund over the first ten years and five trillion over 20 years. I’m not sure how the indexing of benefits helps the situation – that may restore some of the cost; to some extent he’s trying to solve a problem he’s created.

Raw Story: What problem did he create?

Moran: He’s said the problem is solvency—you don’t create a plan that takes two trillion dollars out of the trust fund.

Raw Story: So you’re saying there isn’t a problem with Social Security.

Moran: In 1983 it was fixed, and the Congressional Budget Office says we’re good up until 2052…Social Security is the only solvent fund we have in the government today really, its got 1.7 trillion dollars of surplus today. We’re going to have a surplus of two to three hundred billion for every year until the next 30 years.

Raw Story: If Social Security is solvent, then what do you think President Bush is trying to accomplish?

Moran: He wants to dismantle a program that defines what the Democrats are proudest of. That’s what this is about. The Republicans—almost all of them—opposed Social Security when it was proposed by Franklin Roosevelt. Almost all of them opposed Medicaid. They voted against Medicare in 1965. So these are programs that provide a safety net for the poor and I think the Republicans basically resent the poor and they figure if we can get the poor investing in the stock market, maybe they’ll start thinking like Republicans. God help us.

Except for the religious fundamentalists, most of the hardcore Republicans have incomes over $90,000. I don’t think it’s the taxation system that bothers them, it’s the safety net. They believe in survival of the fullest. The people who are best off in this society are the ones who have been the beneficiaries of all of their policies. And now if they can get people to invest in—the more money you put into the stock market, the higher the average value, [the more] it accrues to the owners of our society. The people who have enough means to own stock, to own the means of production.

I think the Social Security thing is all about ideology. It’s certainly not about fiscal responsibility. If he wanted to get us excited about a crisis, he’d talk about healthcare, and how Medicare is actually going bankrupt, and how 45 million people don’t have health insurance.

Raw Story: President Bush is holding an event to promote his Social Security plan in Falls Church today, in your district.

Moran: He’s having one of these rallies. Everybody has been pre-selected. Only Republican cheerleaders.

Raw Story: There has been discussion of the fact that the crowds at Bush’s events are carefully screened. Do you think the media is able to give an accurate portrayal of whether citizens actually support his plan?

Moran: I think the media is intimidated, with the exception of Ed Schultz and Raw Story but most of the media is intimidated by the Bush Administration so they’re intimidated into reporting their disgust at how they manipulate the news. They got away with it the entire presidential campaign.

Raw Story: The campaign?

Moran: It may have led to this self-delusion that he thought by traveling around the country he could sell this idea. I don’t think he has much experience with regular people that haven’t been prescreened, but the majority of Americans I think by now have seen through this, and seen that this is not something that’s to their benefit. This is not anything that will improve Social Security let alone their own sense of personal security.

Raw Story: Do you really think the president is sheltered from those he’s pitching his plan to?

Moran: The only actual news that he reads is the sports section. All the national news, all the opinions that he gets have been filtered, and it goes to his daily briefing that has already been pre-screened to give him what he wants to read. He doesn’t read any books, and he doesn’t talk with people that don’t already agree with him. He’s surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney.

Raw Story: Why do you think the president decided to take on Social Security?

Moran: Because the Republican base wanted to take this on. I think they realized that they’re never going to find anybody who is as willing to carry out the agenda of these Republican right wing nuts and reverse the course of American progress. This is their chance. This is their chance to cut taxes down to the bone. This is their chance to repeal Social Security and to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid. And to create a situation where future generations are going to spend all their income paying interest on debt instead of putting it into education or transportation or healthcare.

Raw Story: How would you address Social Security?

Moran: I would propose lifting the cap, just like Medicare. You pay the same percentage whatever you earn. I would have done what President Clinton was proposing which was to set aside a portion of the surplus. He was going to set aside about 40 percent of the surplus and that would have made Social Security solvent ad infinitum. But there’s a lot of other ways we could have done it.

For example, just two weeks ago we passed the elimination of the inheritance tax. Had we taken the Democratic alternative, which was to exempt the first seven million dollars, 99 percent of American families would have never had to pay any estate tax, and it would have cost $72 billion in total. Instead, we spent another $220 billion just to eliminate taxes on the top three tenths of a percent. Two hundred and twenty billion dollars over ten years. The point is that if we had taken that money instead, if we had taken that $220 billion, it would have gone a long ways toward making it solvent. It’s a matter of priorities.

And this budget that we [just voted] on—taking 40 billion dollars out of programs for the poor, including $10 billion in Medicaid over five years, and we’re cutting more income taxes, dividends and capital gains taxes, three-quarters of which go to people who make over $200,000 a year. And yet in the same budget, we cut $70 billion in taxes, by further reducing the dividend and capital gains taxes, most of which of course are paid by the wealthiest. These guys just have no shame.

Raw Story: What did you think of the energy bill?

Moran: The energy bill was just a bunch of tax breaks for gas drillers. Some Republican staffers suggested it was the Tom DeLay MTBE tax exemption bill. It exempted MTBE producers from any liability for toxic pollution of aquifers. Not that that wasn’t bad enough—but then it gave them $2 billion in tax breaks, $2 billion in subsidies, because they’re big supporters of Mr. DeLay. I just don’t trust any of these people to do the right thing for people in need.

Article originally published Apr. 29, 2005.

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