Senate Democrats

BUSH V. CHENEY: Who Speaks for the Administration?

Over the past two days, an unsettling pattern has developed. President Bush has continued to try to sell his flawed Social Security privatization plan with glossed over details and rosy scenarios. At the same time, Vice President Cheney has given straight answers to straight questions, acknowledging the real fears that Bush’s plan will cut benefits and dramatically increase the debt. It leaves one wondering, who speaks for the Bush White House?

WILL SURVIVORS’ BENEFITS BE CUT?

Cheney Said Survivors’ Benefits ‘Could be Addressed.’ “In response to a question, Cheney raised the prospect that Social Security survivors’ benefits “could be addressed” as part of the broader debate.” [Washington Post, 3/23/05]

But Bush Said He Has “No Plans For Cutting Benefits.” In response to a question as to whether his Social Security privatization plan would cut survivor or disability benefits, Bush said, “Well, as I said, we have no plans for cutting benefits.” [Transcript of Interview with the Washington Post, 1/16/05]

WILL THE WHITE HOUSE RAISE THE CAP ON PAYROLL TAXES?

Cheney Said Raising the Cap Would “Do Serious Damage to Our Overall Prospects for Growth.” “And if we were to try to solve that [the Social Security] huge deficit you see back there on the chart, strictly through tax policy by raising taxes, we’d do serious damage to our overall prospects for growth. We’d adversely affect unemployment, et cetera. So the President has made it clear that he doesn’t want to rely just on taxes as a way to solve this problem…And a lot of small businesses that’s a major hit, and they are, in fact, the backbone of our economy.” [Remarks by Vice President Cheney, 3/21/05]

But Bush Said Raising the Cap Is an Issue That Will “Go on the Table.” During an interview with regional newspapers, President Bush said, “The one thing I’m not open-minded about is raising the payroll tax rate. And all the other issues go on the table.” [Associated Press, 2/16/05]

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