Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Opponents Prepare to Challenge Bush Budget Cuts

Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release Feb. 15, 2005


Opponents Prepare to Challenge Bush Budget Cuts and Drive to Privatize Social Security

- Interview with Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, conducted by Scott Harris

Listen in RealAudio:
(Needs RealOne player or RealPlayer)

After winning a narrow victory in the November 2004 election, President Bush set out an audacious set of foreign and domestic policy goals in his State of the Union address and his administration's budget proposal. In his State of the Union speech, Mr. Bush gloated about the higher than expected turnout in the Iraqi election and threatened the nations of Iran and Syria, demanding they comply with Washington's blueprint for a democratic transformation of the Middle East.

On the domestic front, the president made many questionable declarations about the imminent demise of the Social Security system while proposing that the nation follow his prescription of moving toward costly partial privatization of the popular New Deal era program. In his administration's 2006 budget proposal, Bush put forth a plan that would eliminate or deeply cut programs benefiting veterans, food stamp recipients, students and farmers, while increasing funding for the Pentagon. The dramatic cuts were said to be the start of a plan to reduce record deficits amassed during the president's first term in office.

But much of the country greeted Bush's audacious agenda with skepticism, noting that with the U.S. tied down in a bloody guerrilla war in Iraq, threats made against Iran and Syria were mere empty gestures. And although solutions to long-range shortfalls in Social Security and current budget deficits could easily be addressed with a rollback of the president's tax cuts primarily benefiting the rich, these obvious resolutions were willfully ignored. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, who takes a critical look at the president's agenda and the strategies being discussed to oppose his policies.

Roger Hickey: Well, it's really ironic that the president claims to be a champion of democracy around the world and he also claims to be pursuing terrorism systematically and effectively. That's probably the one issue that got him elected -- the claim that he's a fighter against the forces of terrorism. But in reality what he has done and continues to do, is stir up massive reaction to the United States and to even the notion of democracy, especially in the Middle East, where he has spent the treasure and the blood of American soldiers in a really ill-considered adventure. There were no weapons of mass destruction, there were no imminent threats to the United States at all, and Osama bin Laden is never mentioned in his speeches any more, because the full force of the U.S. military is focused on the maintenance operation in Iraq and threatening countries like Iran and others. The neocons around Bush have created a mess. It's costing enormous amounts of money in terms of the federal budget, and it is amazing to see them trying to package this mess as a crusade for democracy. It's far from it.

Between The Lines: Roger Hickey, in looking at the Bush administration's proposed budget specifics, deep cuts, elimination of some (social) programs. The Bush administration seems to be targeting all these programs for the poor and disadvantaged. And they justify it by saying that this is an effort to reduce the deficit. Does it make any sense to you?

Roger Hickey: It makes a lot of sense. They have, on purpose, created this deficit. When the Bush administration came into office, there were large surpluses; we were actually paying down our debt. And we had money to attack (child) poverty and other noble causes, fix Social Security. If fact, they have systematically created this federal deficit by cutting taxes for the very wealthy. And these tax cuts now have given us a massive problem, a problem that the president is now addressing by slashing the budget. It's health care for young children that's on the chopping block; it's nutrition programs; it's education. This president tries, claims to be an education president. He temporarily increased spending for education while he was trying to get the "No Child Left Behind" act passed and now education in this budget is targeted for steady reductions. This plays very, very well to Bush's Republican hard-core supporters, especially the very wealthy. But this is a budget that is going to hurt the middle class. It's going to be a bloody battle. If the Republicans stay together, they may have the votes to pass it. And then on top of this budget-cutting, Bush will then try to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy and make them permanent. And so, you're going to see additional holes blown into the federal budget for the out years, as they call them.

And then you have the Social Security privatization plan, which all experts estimate is going to cost $2 trillion in transition costs over the next 10 years. Those are major, major impacts on the federal revenue, which this budget does not take into account. It's quite a mess.

Between The Lines: Roger Hickey, as you survey the Democrats and other opposition voices out there, what are the chances the country is going to respond effectively to defeat this agenda, whether it be the foreign policy agenda, the privatization of Social Security, these deep cuts in the federal budget?

Roger Hickey: Well, I do think that on foreign policy, the president has got a shot in the arm in terms of the election. Polling shows that people are feeling a little bit better about the "Iraqi adventure. " But that's not going to last long if the Bush administration does not figure out an exit strategy. And I think there will be continuing calls -- as Ted Kennedy called for just the other day -- a plan to remove our troops from the Middle East and from Iraq. This is similar to the Vietnam War when Nixon tried to "Vietnamize" the Vietnam War. More and more members of Congress are joining with average people in the street, saying "let's see a plan for withdrawal."

In terms of the domestic bloodbath that is the federal budget, just about every group that you can imagine, every organized civic association and group that represents working families is engaged in trying to stop the cuts. I think there will be victories against the Bush budget although the Republicans have the votes; they stand united to pretty much pass whatever they want. I think the one place where the Bush administration is going to find their Waterloo this year is going to be on this plan to privatize Social Security. The Republicans are divided; the Democrats are united in opposition to privatization. There is hope and there is a likelihood that Bush is going to see his winning streak broken and turned around.

Contact information and related links can be found on our website at


Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending Feb. 18, 2005. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Anna Manzo and Scott Harris.



It's your future ... help make a difference against the corporate media's blackout of news and viewpoints like those in the interview above by helping us distribute to a wider audience in 2005! Please send your donation to:

Squeaky Wheel Productions, Inc. P.O. Box 110176 Trumbull, CT 06611

*** Please note: If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible, please make your check out to our fiscal sponsor, The Center for Global Communications Foundation Inc. (or The Global Center) and send to the above address.***



PRINT INFORMATION: For reprint permission, please email

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news