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
"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
"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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
Article originally published Apr. 29, 2005.