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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
A Game of Chicken?; Does Bush Feel the Heat?; Rep. Shaw Outlines Private Accounts Plan
Aired March 1, 2005 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: If at first you don't succeed -- a Bush nominee for the bench tries a second time for a Senate confirmation. Will it lead to a nuclear explosion on the Hill?
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: His nomination of seven judges that were blocked in the last Congress is a thumb in the eye of bipartisanship.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: No one wants to back down and no one wants to lose face.
ANNOUNCER: Worries about private retirement accounts become more public. Can the cornerstone of the president's Social Security overhaul be saved?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: This privatization plan is sinking like a rock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At no time did any of them say that it's our way or the highway. And that's not the way that this president negotiates.
ANNOUNCER: Here come the govs. Judy asks two high-profile state leaders about their political problems and their presidential ambitions.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.
We begin with a judicial game of chicken, as one senator calls it, and the dangers that go with it. It is playing out today on Capitol Hill, where one of the president's nominees to the bench made a return appearance.
Let's go now to our congressional correspondent Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Deja vu in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Williams Myers back for his second confirmation hearing in two years, even though Senate Democrats blocked his nomination last year.
This year the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, believes he has 58 of the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster if necessary of that nomination. Still, many Democrats, like Chuck Schumer of New York, are saying they don't want this thing to go through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: The president has put nothing new on the table. He has effectively said let's have another fight. That doesn't accomplish anything. There is simply nothing to be gained from the president's unfortunate decision to play a game of judicial chicken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: The Myers' nomination is expected to clear that committee eventually, setting up, of course, a showdown potentially on the Senate floor. That raises, of course, the question as to whether Bill Frist, the majority leader, will invoke the nuclear option that would essentially declare filibusters of judges unconstitutional. Today, however, Senator Frist was sounding much more like he was interested in restraint as opposed to confrontation -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So it does sound like Arlen Specter has got some Democrats helping him out. Separately, Social Security, the president pushing that really hard. What's it looking like, though, on the Hill?
JOHNS: Well, over on the House side today, interestingly enough, the House majority leader, Tom DeLay said publicly in a session that in his view, many of his colleagues, only a third of his colleagues, in fact, held town halls on Social Security over the last break. He says that's simply not good enough. He wants them to do more. He wants them, in fact, do more over the Easter break.
Meanwhile, over on the Senate side, the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, reacted to that. And Bill Frist, the majority leader, of course, said in his view, it's not the time to try to set a date for taking such a bill to the floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: You read today where DeLay is really upset about the fact his members didn't go out and hold a lot of town hall meetings. Of course they didn't. Because this is a very unpopular issue.
The Democrats went out. We held in the house 30 more than they held. Why? Because it's an easy thing for us to talk about because the president is on the wrong side.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: The president's megaphone is much greater than any of us as individual senators or House members. So the president will have to stay out there and lead on it when a lot of political figures want to run and hide, and when you have a lot of people who say there's no problem. And that's going to take real leadership, and the president is going to have to continue doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: So, on both sides of the Capitol now, a number of influential Republicans saying much more work needs to be done on Social Security. Democrats, on the other hand, looking more and more dug in. They feel this is a very good issue for them, and they feel they're ahead on it -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK. Joe Johns, bringing us the latest from the Capitol. Thanks very much.
So with the ball apparently in his court, let's find out how President Bush does plan to proceed on Social Security reform. We're joined by our White House correspondent Dana Bash.
So, Dana, any sign that the White House preparing to change its strategy?
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, at this point, no. And in talking to several senior officials who are involved in that strategy, there is, however, concern that they're losing control of the story line.
Now, what they mean by that is that they're well aware of members of Congress, even Republicans, coming back and saying that there just isn't the ground swell of support out there for the president's plan at this point. But some here are concerned that that lack of support -- "lack of support" -- will become the headline, the story line, the conventional wisdom.
Now, as you know, Judy, this is a White House that has taken pride in the past in defying conventional wisdom. For example, the president passing his tax cuts over the first term that many thought would never get done. But on this one it is such a steep hill, they recognize, that they don't want to take anything for granted.
So it's interesting. In talking to several officials here today, they were very eager to say that this is very much going to plan, that it's just been about 30 days since the president formally put this out there before the American people in the State of the Union Address, that the president is still in what they call the education phase, that he is still traveling around the country. He's gone to nine states so far, two more this week.
But aides do insist, as Joe Johns was referring to, that at this point there really is no time frame, that they are just going along, seeing how things go, seeing the way the president is received. But one actually did concede that at some point -- they don't have a date on the calendar -- they are going to have to look at it and say whether it's go or no go. WOODRUFF: Well, Dana, as long as there is the filibuster possibility, the president's going to need some Democratic votes. Do they think that that's even possible?
BASH: This is all geared towards those Democratic votes, Judy, you're absolutely right. And it's finding those five or six Democrats that might even be willing to come to the table. And what they're saying here now is that if Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, or Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, had their way, no Democrats would be talking to them at all. And they say they are in open dialogue with several Senate Democrats about several possibilities.
As you've heard from them here, they're keeping everything on the table. They say that is a positive sign.
Another thing that one Republican strategist pointed out is that they think that the fact that there are several Senate Democrats who want to run for president actually could help them in the end, because they're hoping that they will in the end want to be seen as being for something, being for a compromise on something really big, and perhaps some of them will come their way.
WOODRUFF: Well, we'll be looking to find out what those names are, who is cooperating with the White House. All right. Dana, thanks very much.
BASH: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Some of America's governors, meanwhile, have suggested that President Bush should spend less time worrying about Social Security and more time trying to fix Medicaid. Republican Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has been attending the annual gathering of governors here in Washington. I talked to him just a short time ago and I asked him if the president has the right priority.
GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: The president has to deal with the massive concerns of our federal budget and the needs that the citizens of our nation have to be able to count on a secure future. And he recognizes that there's a gap in our ability to provide for our seniors down the road as the baby boomers come through this -- you know, this age wave. And therefore, he's focusing on solving the problems of the future, and that's in Social Security. But...
WOODRUFF: Don't you think Medicaid is a bigger problem?
ROMNEY: Well, no, I think Medicaid is a huge problem, particularly for our states and for the federal government. And he's proposed -- the president has proposed some changes in our Medicaid system.
But the governors and his administration are now working together to say, can we carry out really fundamental reforms in Medicaid that allow us to do two things? One, to help more people receive support that need our care, the uninsured, if you will? And two, to find a way to keep Medicaid from growing at such an accelerated rate that it eats up the federal and state budgets?
WOODRUFF: A lot of talk, more talk these days about whether you're going to run for president in 2008. And also speculation about whether you're definitely going to run for a second term as governor. Is there any question in your mind you're going to do that?
ROMNEY: Well, you don't make a final announcement until the campaign begins generally in the fall. This is a season to get some things done and not be involved in politics.
We just got finished with an election cycle. Let's get -- let's get a lot of work done, and then the campaigns begin probably next -- late next fall. And that's when the final announcement will be made. Anything beyond that is so speculative and so far distant it doesn't make sense to delve into.
WOODRUFF: I ask because you're familiar with all the speculation or the comment that for somebody to run for re-election in a socially moderate state like Massachusetts, at the same time you're trying to appeal to a socially conservative Republican base, is going to be a real high wire act.
ROMNEY: Well, I think most people who have been successful in the public arena have a position that people understand and appreciate. It doesn't change depending on the crowd.
And I am what I am, as Popeye used to say. And the folks in Massachusetts accept me for what I am on a valued basis and on social issues. But they also care very deeply about how their money is spent and whether the government is working for them, whether we create more jobs and improve our schools and solve the problems in health care.
They don't care whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. What they care about is am I willing to work for them and get the job done.
WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of positions changing, I'm sure you know the press has noted -- they say that you've made some notably more conservative comments recently on stem cell research and on gay rights. The head of the Log Cabin Republicans in Massachusetts said, "What happened to the Mitt Romney who ran for governor, supporting employment nondiscrimination, hate crimes legislation, domestic partnerships and civil union-like benefits for gay couples?"
ROMNEY: You know, actually, on those bases, we haven't changed at all our views. And that is, as an administration, which is I'm very much opposed to any kind of hate crimes. Of course I do want to see equal opportunity in employment, and provide also benefits such as hospital visitation rights for domestic partnerships.
But I made very clear in my campaign throughout the entire campaign that I do not support gay marriage or civil unions, Vermont- style civil unions, as I called them at the time. Haven't changed my view at all. Now, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court came out with a decision which made that an issue that came front and center. I made it clear time and again I do not support gay marriage nor civil unions. Now, with...
WOODRUFF: So no shift in position?
ROMNEY: I'm the same place I have been all the way along on that issue. No -- no -- I don't think there's been an iota of change with regards to my view. I feel very deeply about the need to respect and tolerate people of different social -- or sexual orientation. But at the same time, I believe marriage should be preserved as an institution for one man and one woman.
WOODRUFF: Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Well, Democratic governors may see things differently from some of their Republican counterparts. Up next, Iowa Democrat Tom Vilsack on the Medicaid mess and on his own political future.
And later, he gambled his judicial career on a Ten Commandments monument and lost. We'll revisit the controversy with Roy Moore a day before this issue is considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Plus, we go "Inside the Blogs," where "The New York Times" is being second-guessed and Elizabeth Edwards is making a cameo appearance.
WOODRUFF: In addition to my talk with Republican Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, whom we just heard from, I spoke yesterday with Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa. I started by asking Governor Vilsack what he thinks about Bush administration proposals to cut Medicaid by an estimated $60 billion over the next decade.
GOV. TOM VILSACK (D), IOWA: I'll tell you, Judy, I think the nations governors are uniform in their belief that there should not be a cut or cap on Medicaid. Having said that, I think the nation's governors also understand that this is a system over the long haul that is not sustainable.
So we need to be engaged in reform. What we're asking the administration to do is to give us the flexibility to create these reforms and develop solutions, as we did with welfare reform.
WOODRUFF: But the administration is arguing, aren't they, that there's some urgency here, that this is -- Medicaid has grown uncontrollably huge? They talk about the abuses of elderly who sell off all their assets so that they can get then themselves into these Medicaid-financed long-term care facilities. VILSACK: The urgency I hear from the administration is more on Social Security than on health care. But having said that, they are clearly concerned about asset transfer. And there is a problem. That's one of the issues that have to be tackled.
But there are many other issues, not the least of which is that we're an aging nation. And as a result, long-term care becomes a critical issue. And we also have small businesses that are no longer competitive, they're dropping people from the health care roles, and Medicaid is asking to pick those folks up.
We've had a 40 percent increase in the population of Medicaid in the last five years, plus health care costs are inflating at a rate much higher than the general inflation rate. So the combination of those two things require reform, and I think the nation's governors simply want the flexibility, the opportunity to try to solve this problem.
WOODRUFF: Do you think you're going to get the flexibility?
VILSACK: Well, there's an indication from Secretary Leavitt that he's interested in working with the nation's governors. But the real fundamental question is whether or not a budget number is going to drive the reform or whether good policy is going to drive the reform.
The nation's governors believe it shouldn't be about the budget number. It should be about good health care policy. And that's what should drive the reform.
WOODRUFF: You mentioned Social Security, and you also said that you heard what was to you an interesting rationale that you hadn't heard much of from the administration on why the president wants so badly to reform Social Security.
VILSACK: In our meeting I was -- it was curious that Andy Card, the chief of staff, and the president mentioned Social Security to the nation's governors. But as they explained it, what they're really talking about is changing the program from a defined benefit, where you can be assured that you're going to receive so many dollars a month, to a defined contribution plan, in which case your benefit is defined by how much you essentially put in or how much you earn with the private accounts.
The president was clear that what he would like to see is ultimately over time returning to the initial reason for Social Security, which was a safety net. And I think that there are most of us who believe that Social Security needs to be maintained as the primary retirement income for many, many Americans.
WOODRUFF: If it were a safety net, you're saying that's not enough?
VILSACK: I don't think so. I think it would create real problems for families throughout this country.
WOODRUFF: Governor, let me ask you finally about your political future. You've been saying for some time you don't plan to run for a third term. But there's a lot of talk right now in Iowa about maybe you should change your mine mind. Are you going to reconsider that?
VILSACK: I'm not, Judy. I feel very strongly that two terms in an executive branch is all that you should have. I feel if you can't get the job done in eight years you're not going to get it done.
I'm excited to work with my colleagues and the Democratic Governors Association to try to elect more Democratic governors in 2006. And I'm focused on our legislative agenda in Iowa, which is a very aggressive one focused on making high schools more rigorous and more relevant and by creating an early childhood education system that's second to none.
WOODRUFF: But you've also said you are still thinking about running for president in 2008. Is that right?
VILSACK: I'm not sure who said that. I'm not thinking -- I'm thinking about 2005 and 2006. That's where my focus is.
WOODRUFF: But you haven't shut the door on running?
VILSACK: Well, I don't think you ever want to shut the door on any possibility. I'm not sure what's going to happen four years from now. But I know this, the nation is pretty tired of presidential politics. And I think we need to take a break for a while.
WOODRUFF: Governor Tom Vilsack. We're not sure we agree. Should we really take a break? I don't think so.
Just ahead, our real-time look at the blogosphere. We'll check in with our blog reporters and find out which former presidential candidate's spouse said she gets a lot of information by reading Internet blogs.
WOODRUFF: Time to find out what people are blogging about online this Tuesday. With me now, as always, CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: Hi, Judy.
Would you believe it? The conservative blogs today are linking to a "New York Times" editorial, of all things. It is called Mideast Climate Change, and it's giving the Bush administration a little bit of credit for what's going on in the Middle East right now.
We start out today with outsidethebeltway.com. It's got an excerpt from the article, and the quote that sort of sums it all up best is, "This has so far been a year of heartening surprises. Each one remarkable in itself. The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of credit for many of these advances."
He also points out, Dale Franks at Q&O, who says, "Welcome to the 'New York Times' for being on board," and he over there, Dale, makes an interesting comparison to what's going on in Iraq right now to what happened during the Reagan era with the fall of the Soviet Union. So interesting read, interesting comparison over there.
ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: So if "The New York Times" is offering the Bush administration a little bit of credit there for developments in the Middle East, that isn't the case at some of the left-wing sites.
Talking points memo here, where Ed Kilgore is guest-blogging today. He's from the Democratic Leadership Council.
He makes this point: "It literally never crossed my mind that Bush's fans would credit him with this positive event." He goes on to say, "Let's congratulate the Lebanese, not those in Washington who would take credit for their accomplishments."
Moving on to another one, this is Andrew Sullivan. This is a more centrist blog. Andrew Sullivan has been blogging his Daily Dish for a few years now. He's been around for a long time.
SCHECHNER: He's one of the blog stars.
TATTON: Right. Doesn't do it every day these days, but if he sees an issue that he wants to weigh in on, he comes along and does so.
He has a problem with the Democratic Party here. He's saying that they're not recognizing the importance of what's going on.
"Some in the party, like Senators Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman, are serious about protect protecting us. There are just way too many others so filled with hatred for Bush that they're incapable of what is happening in the Middle East." So says Andrew Sullivan.
SCHECHNER: Interesting read to take a look at over at VodkaPundit.com. Stephen Green wrote a perspective comparing the situation in Iraq with the battle for Iwo Jima. And I know on first sound it sounds a little crazy, but it's worth reading, because it's really interesting and he makes some good comparison and says there are some differences.
One of the things he talks about is the battle for Iwo Jima being a forward base for the United States to eventually drop the atom bomb. And the quote that comes up in comparison to this is "Today's atom bomb is democracy in the Middle East and it's been dropped on Iraq. The fallout has spread far and wide." And he lists the countries that are now being affected.
So interesting read. Very long. Worth going through.
TATTON: Another topic here big in Washington today is Social Security, big for the Bush administration right now, you heard earlier in the show. This is The Moderate Voice. This is Joe Gandelman. He is a veteran journalist who blogs about politics here from the middle.
He's saying that support for the plan isn't really going very well, citing a CNN poll there. And he's asking, "Fascinating to see what strategy the White House pursues, especially in Congress. The question becomes whether between now and the mid-term elections there will be some genuine movement on the part of both parties to come up with a compromise on Social Security."
SCHECHNER: And we wanted to take a look also at somebody who has been blogging out there that you might be surprised at.
TATTON: Secret blogging. We found this interview here with Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards there, where she admits to secretly blogging, posting under under a different name.
She says she gets a lot of information from blogs, lists a few of her favorites there. But she says she can't blog every day, doesn't have the time.
But she does says this -- it's interesting -- "Sometimes I would post on blogs not under my real name." The question is, "So you're a secret blogger?" And she says, "No," and she won't tell us what site she did it on. But she had to stop doing this after John, her husband, started running -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So -- and we don't know what name she used either, right?
TATTON: We don't. We don't.
SCHECHNER: We were going to have a poll and see what people thought her name should have been.
WOODRUFF: Well, we'll have to keep asking. All right. Abbi, Jacki, thank you both. We'll see you tomorrow.
TATTON: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: So he's been barnstorming the country, selling his plans to alter Social Security. But are you being his pitch? We've got some new poll numbers coming your way.
Plus, do you think Ten Commandments displays should be allowed on government property? Roy Moore does, and he was ousted as Alabama's top judge because of his views. Stick around. He's my guest.
WOODRUFF: It's right at 4:00 on the East Coast and as the markets close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim. She's in New York with "The Dobbs Report." Hello, Kitty.
KITTY PILGRIM: Hi, Judy, thanks. Well, stocks are ending with solid gains, with the closing trade still being counted. Let's take a look. And the Dow industrials adding 66 points right now, the Nasdaq one percent higher. In corporate news, General Motors, Ford continue to lose market share. G.M. sales fell 12 percent last month and Ford sales fell three percent. G.M. now says it will cut production. The good news is Chrysler is on the mend and sales were up more than seven percent. It will launch five new models this year. Toyota and Nissan both posted double digit gains.
It may be harder to wipe away your debts under personal bankruptcy. The Senate is expected to pass a change to the personal bankruptcy code. And here's the new wrinkle: it would force more bankruptcy filers to repay some of their debts. Democrats want to exempt military families from the new changes. House leaders say they'll take up the bill if passed by the Senate.
Consumers in the Midwest can now check their credit report for free. If you live in the Midwest or the West, you can log on to annualcreditreport.com to get your free reports and those of us in the East and the South will be phased in by September.
Coming up on CNN, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Canada is refusing to participate on U.S. missile defense. Now, is Canada getting a free ride at the expense of American taxpayers?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK SPENCER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: At the end of the day, if a ballistic missile comes headed towards Canada, whether they participate or not, the United States, in all likelihood, intercept that ballistic missile.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: Also tonight, exporting America. Our guest tonight is Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO and he'll discuss how we can stop the exodus of American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets.
Also, broken borders. New York is making it harder for illegal aliens to obtain a driver's license and the crackdown is sparking a lot of criticism. The commissioner of New York's Department of Motor Vehicles joins us.
Plus a special report on the high cost of cheap labor. Day labor centers are a way to get illegal immigrants off the street, but they cost money. And now Arizona may be prohibiting using taxpayer dollars to pay for them. That and a lot more tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
But for now, back to Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Kitty. And we'll be watching at 6:00. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: He's been criss-crossing the country, making his pitch to change Social Security. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not only do we have a problem, but we have an obligation to fix it.
ANNOUNCER: But is the president's sales job working? We'll take a look at some new poll numbers.
Should the Ten Commandments be allowed on government property? On the eve of a Supreme Court battle, we'll speak with Roy Moore, who was ousted as Alabama's chief justice for refusing to remove such a display from the Alabama judicial building.
Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Even some Republicans now say they believe President Bush may need to revise have his plan for personal retirement accounts to get Social Security reform through Congress. And Democrats who are fighting the Bush plan are eager to point to their GOP colleague's concerns and to the public's reservations about reform. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has been checking out the latest poll numbers.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): In February, President Bush began his big push for changes in Social Security, so what happened? The public pushed back, according to the latest CNN/"USA Today/Gallup poll.
In early February, just after he spelled out his ideas in his State of the Union speech, 43 percent of the public approved of the way President Bush was handling Social Security. Now only 35 percent approve. A majority disapprove. The president is losing ground. Republicans argue Social Security has to be rescued from an impending crisis.
SEN. JOHN SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: What we need to do is put together a plan that gets us to a strong, sustainable, solvent Social Security system.
SCHNEIDER: But the sense of urgency has actually diminished. In January, nearly half the public thought the government should make major changes in Social Security in the next year or two. That number has dropped to 38 percent. The number who say no major changes are needed within the next ten years has been going up. Democrats think they understand what people want and Republicans don't.
SEN. JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY: The problem is they don't seem to be listening with regard to the desire of the public to maintain guaranteed benefits.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats have not really presented a plan to do that, but the public still trusts Democrats more than Republicans on the issue. Conservatives see the AARP, which claims 35 million members over the age of 50, as a major obstacle to the president's Social Security plans. The AARP has enormous credibility. Three quarters of Americans have a favorable opinion of the organization. Even two-thirds of Republicans have a positive view of the AARP. Democrats sound confident, even cocky.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: This privatization plan is sinking like a rock.
SCHNEIDER: While Republicans are sounding nervous about the prospects for change.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The chances of that are probably not as high as I'd like to believe.
SCHNEIDER: The idea was for President Bush to reassure older Americans that Social Security would not change for them and to rally younger workers, who are thought to have very little confidence in the Social Security system. But that's not happening. Older people remain strongly critical of the president's Social Security plans and he's been losing, not gaining support on this issue among younger workers -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And the White House says he's still going to be out on the trail to sell it. He's not giving up.
SCHNEIDER: Apparently not.
WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider in Los Angeles. Thanks.
So, will President Bush have to compromise sooner rather than later on personal retirement accounts? Up next, I'll talk with a Republican who has floated his own alternative to the Bush plan about the state of the Social Security debate.
Also ahead, a leading figure in the fight to allow religious monuments on public grounds. I'll talk with former Alabama chief justice, Roy Moore, about a Supreme Court showdown tomorrow.
And later, find out why a top Hillary Clinton adviser may have ticked off George Pataki.
WOODRUFF: Back now to the debate over Social Security. Republican Congressman Clay Shaw of Florida has suggested an alternative to the president's idea of personal retirement accounts. He wants to create government subsidized saving plans outside of Social Security. I spoke with Congressman Shaw and I asked him if Mr. Bush is going to have to compromise on this issue.
REP. CLAY SHAW (R), FLORIDA: Well, the president has already said that he's reaching out and, sure, he's going to have to compromise. In politics you never get everything that you want. And the president has made it very clear in the State of the Union Address that he's looking for other ideas. He's put his ideas on the table, but he's looking for others.
My plan differs from him mainly in that I don't use any of the trust fund assets to fund personal accounts. And I think that's probably the plan that is eventually going to bring about the Democrats to come to the table and start talking with the president and the Republicans and the Congress to get this thing done.
WOODRUFF: Well, to do it your way, the so-called add-on rather than the carve-out, because you would, as you say, not use trust fund assets, what indication do you have the president is prepared to go along with this?
SHAW: Well, I don't have -- I mean, the president is not going to negotiate with himself, so...
WOODRUFF: But you've talked to Vice President Cheney, you've talked to Karl Rove, we understand.
SHAW: Yes, I have. I have talked to both of them. In fact, during the campaign I talked to the president himself. I was on a bus with him for over an hour and, obviously, Social Security came up and we talked about it.
WOODRUFF: Did the vice president and did Mr. Rove like your ideas?
SHAW: Well, they didn't criticize it. They listened with great patience. I'm close, personal friends with the vice president, so our discussing something like that is not that unusual. But Dick Cheney was very clear with me that he says, we're going to pass a Social Security reform bill, but at no time did any of them say that it's our way or the highway. And that's not the way that this president negotiates.
If the plan is more in your direction or the direction of what you're proposing, would that still be, though, a win there the president?
SHAW: Of course it would. It would be a big win for the president. The big obstacle and the big thing that we have to introduce into the Social Security system to make it safe and sound for the future generation is personal savings accounts. And mine has that most important facet to it.
WOODRUFF: Let me finally ask you about a comment -- a statement today by a number of leading Democrats in the House. They are critical of the Social Security Administration. They say, in effect, it's being used by the Bush administration. They talk about the agency systematically altering its publications, its press releases, Web site content and so forth, to indicate that Social Security is unsustainable, that it must change. Apparently Social Security employees out on the -- making appearances with Republican members of Congress or the administration. Is there a new policy inside the Social Security Administration? SHAW: Judy, the gloomy outlook that we're getting from the Bush administration is the exact same outlook that we got from the Clinton administration. And that is that there are too few workers coming on now to take care of the retirement benefits for many -- a growing number of seniors. There's no question about it.
And there were 43 workers per retiree back in the '40s, now they're down to three, soon it will be two. It's a pay-as-you-go system. Bill Clinton...
WOODRUFF: You're saying it's not...
SHAW: President Clinton was very much aware of the problem and he wanted to find a solution himself.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Sander Levin is saying this is a "blatant change in message and tactics," it's "shameless politicization."
SHAW: Well, Sandy is wrong.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Clay Shaw, I talked to him yesterday.
Just ahead, the legal debate over religion in public life as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in a Ten Commandment case. I'll talk with former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore who fought his own legal battle over government and religion.
WOODRUFF: The United States Supreme Court hears arguments tomorrow over monuments placed on government property in Texas and Kentucky which feature the Ten Commandments. The court will consider whether the monuments amount to a government endorsement of religion. When asked about the Texas monument in the new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 76 percent of respondents said the Commandments should remain on display, 21 percent said the monument should be moved.
Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has filed a friend of the court brief in this case. Moore, you may recall, was removed from the bench more than a year ago after he defied a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from inside the Alabama judicial building. Roy Moore has written a book titled "So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny & the Battle for Religious Freedom." He joins me now from New York.
Judge Moore, good to see you.
ROY MOORE, FMR. ALABAMA CHIEF JUSTICE: Nice to be with you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Judge Moore, what do you think about the court refusing to hear your case back in 2003 -- well, and I guess more recently, but agreeing to hear these other cases tomorrow? MOORE: Well, I think the United States Supreme Court is avoiding the true issue. The true issue in this case is not the Ten Commandments. It's about whether or not the state can acknowledge God, and that's exactly what the federal district judge said in my case. It wasn't about the Ten Commandments, nor is it about the Ten Commandments in these cases.
They will argue a historical context and minimal references to God and so forth. But they will not argue the sovereignty of God. And certainly it's my position and the position of the First Amendment, in my opinion, that the acknowledgment of God, the sovereignty of God, can be and should be allowed.
WOODRUFF: Well, this is seen as a majority conservative court, why do you think they would fail to do what you think they should do?
MOORE: Well, for 60 or so years the court has been off the path of the First Amendment. They've started to say anything about God had to be excluded from public life. And certainly this contradicts the history, the logic and the meaning of the First Amendment. Without the acknowledgement of this specific God, there would be no First Amendment because the freedom of conscience, the right to believe what you want, comes from this God. And that was recognized as late as 1931 by the United States Supreme Court in U.S. versus Macintosh.
WOODRUFF: I know that this is a subject that we could spend many many minutes if not hours discussing, and our time is limited. Let me just quote to you what a conservative rabbi from the state of New Jersey has written in a column in USA Today, the newspaper. He said, "displaying the Commandments in the public square does more to divide," he says, "than unite." His name is Gerald Zelizer. He goes onto say, "their meaning is so diverse in each faith that an underlying shared truth and morality is not achievable here."
MOORE: Well, I think the rabbi is disputing his own doctrine in the Jewish Shema, which is found in Deuteronomy, the Ten Commandments were posted not only on the post of the house, but on the gates of the city. That was a public place. Certainly the display of the Ten Commandments represents the acknowledgment of that God which both the Jews and the Christians worship. It was that God that gave us the Ten Commandments, the divine revealed law from which we get all morality.
Morality is not contained in the Constitution or in the Declaration. It comes from the common law right out of the holy scriptures. And we've got to recognize the source of that morality.
WOODRUFF: Very basically, Judge Moore, what do you say to those people who believe that religion should be practiced in private and that putting a monument like this out in public is not fair to those who don't share the Christian or the Jewish faith?
MOORE: They've got to understand in this country, Judy, that this nation was founded upon the acknowledgment of a specific God and that God is not religion. Religion is the duties we owe to the God, that God in the manner of discharging those duties according to the definition by the United States Supreme Court. What the courts are doing today is not ruling by law, they're ruling by feeling. They've departed from the explicit textual provisions of the First Amendment and departed in a meaningless test that have no relevance to the law. That's why this book will explain those propositions, and it's so important to understand this because federal and state officials who acknowledge God...
MOORE: I'm sorry.
WOODRUFF: I was just going to interrupt because I do want to ask you one other question, and that does have to do with politics. A lot of speculation about you and Alabama, that you may run against that state's governor, Bob Riley. Are you seriously thinking about that?
MOORE: Well, I have carefully considered it because I've been asked by many people, but it's too early to make such decisions now. And I'll continue to, you know, speak about this book and the issues that confront Alabama and our country under the First Amendment.
WOODRUFF: Have you given yourself a timetable to make a decision?
MOORE: Probably in early summer, late spring, some...
WOODRUFF: Sounds like you're leaning toward it.
MOORE: Well, I'm considering it.
WOODRUFF: Considering it seriously.
MOORE: Well, yes.
WOODRUFF: Is the White House giving you any encouragement or are you in communication with the White House at all one way or another?
MOORE: No, I haven't talked to anyone in the White House about this. This is mostly in Alabama.
WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we're going to leave it there. Judge Roy Moore, former Alabama state supreme court state justice.
MOORE: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.
MOORE: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Straight ahead, Pataki for president? A New York Democratic strategist finds the idea, he says, a little funny. We'll tell you what he had to say next.
WOODRUFF: Checking our Tuesday "Political Bytes." New York Democratic strategist Howard Wolfson is taking aim at Republican Governor George Pataki. Wolfson, who was an adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton, tells The New York Times a potential White House run by Pataki would be quote, "laughable." A Pataki spokesman told the newspaper the comment reflects nervousness among Democrats. Pataki might decide to run for another term as governor. Wolfson, we should add, was just named to help lead communications and strategic planning for the state party (UNINTELLIGIBLE) seen as strengthening the influence of Senator Clinton.
Centrist Democratic leader Al From is not hiding his dislike for at least some members of the liberal wing of his party. From, who leads the Democratic Leadership Council, tells NBC's "First Read" that the party should, in his words, "reject Michael Moore and the MoveOn crowd." He went to label moveon.org as a group of what he called, quote, "elites, people who sit in their basements all the time and play on their computers," endquote.
A well-known Democratic strategist is taking over a different left-leaning political group with roots on the Web. Longtime party activist Harold Ickes is the new president of Americans Coming Together. He succeeds Ellen Malcolm, who announced the change in an e-mail to the group's supporters. Malcolm is returning to run Emily's List, that's the political group she founded 20 years ago.
And, finally, this note about yesterday's program. CNN's Robert Novak reported an item about Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean and said that when Governor Dean spoke to students at Cornell University last week, Dean remarked that in 30 years Social Security would lose 80 percent of its benefits. Bob Novak misquoted Governor Dean, it turns out. Bob tells us that he intended to report that Governor Dean said that in 30 years, if nothing changed, Social Security would be reduced to 80 percent of its current benefits. We apologize for the mistake and we're happy to set the record straight.
So, that's it for this Tuesday edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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