Tom DeLay on CNN on Social Security and redistricting

The transcript:

JUDY WOODRUFF: With me now to talk more about the president's Social Security reforms and other issues is Republican Tom DeLay of Texas. He is the House majority leader. He joins us from Capitol Hill. Mr. Leader, the president is leaving the door open to raising the current $90,000 income cap on which Social Security is taxed. If that were to be raised, would that be a tax increase?

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, Judy, the president is right in listening to anybody that wants to talk to him about any issue as to how to preserve and strengthen Social Security. But I, for one, am one of those that didn't come here to raise taxes. And it wouldn't do any good if you raised -- took the cap completely off.

It pushed the problem down maybe five to six years. It doesn't fundamentally fix the problem.

We can do this. We can strengthen and preserve Social Security and retirement security for our seniors and every generation, and we can do it without raising taxes.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying that would be, in your eyes, a tax increase if that happened, raising the cap?

DELAY: To everybody that makes over $90,000 a year, it's a tax increase.

WOODRUFF: So how do you do it if you don't, in some way or another, increase taxes or have enormous borrowing?

DELAY: Well, obviously, you have to first recognize the problem. As you well know, in 1945, there was 42 workers paying for every retiree. And in the 1950s, it was 16 to every retiree.

Right now, it's three workers working for every retiree. And by the time my daughter retires, it will be two workers for every retiree.

That is a real problem. And it's also a problem -- when they created Social Security, life expectancy was 60 years old. It is now 77 years old. And in just three years, the baby boomers start retiring. And the hit on Social Security is going to be mammoth.

So you have to understand, first you have to let people control their own retirement security. And secondly, those that are presently retired or about to retire, guarantee their benefits. That combination can more than fix the problem.

WOODRUFF: Are you advocating raising the retirement age?

DELAY: Not necessarily. Although, I think we can create a system where people can decide what their own retirement age is rather than the government making that decision.

And they can -- they can decide when to retire on their own. Particularly if they're the younger generation that has their own personal accounts. They ought to be able to decide when they retire and when it's more beneficial to retire.

WOODRUFF: Two other very quick things. First of all, how much Republican opposition is there still out there to the president getting what he wants, do you think?

DELAY: Well, I think there's some, but there is not very vocal. At least our members in the House understand that there is a problem, that we have to find a solution, that we can't just put this off for future generations.

Judy, every year that we wait adds another $600 billion to the cost of how to fix it later. We have to fix it now. And we know that we have to fix it now. Our members know that we have to fix it now.

Unfortunately, the Democrats won't admit that there is a problem, and certainly they're not going to provide any solution. We came here to provide solutions, and that's what we're going to do.

WOODRUFF: Mr. DeLay, I want to ask you finally about what -- one of the things that governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to do, and that is reform the redistricting for not just legislative, but congressional districts in the state of California. You and I were just talking about this. You said to do it would set a bad precedent.

DELAY: Well, I'm very worried about this precedent of creating commissions to redistrict or to -- the system now of allowing judges to draw the lines. Our founding fathers envisioned having a House of Representatives that reflect the politics of the moment and reflect the politics of the people that they are representing. And they set up the system to do that for the state legislatures to draw these lines.

If you have a small group of people in a back room drawing the lines, what you'll end up with is a incumbent protection system instead of a system that truly represents the will of the people.

WOODRUFF: But don't -- but isn't there already a massive incumbent protection system with so little turnover?

DELAY: Yes, it's called judges. When the Democrats in Texas saw that they no longer were the majority party, they used judges to protect them. And they went 20 years being a minority party with a majority of the congressional delegation. And they used judges to do it. That makes my point for me.

WOODRUFF: We are going to leave it there. It's something I know we'll want to talk to you about again.

Congressman Tom DeLay, he is the House majority leader.

It's good to see you. Thanks very much.

DELAY: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.