CNN Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics - Transcript
Senator, first of all, is-you know, just on the budget itself overall, the president is trying to hold the line on spending. But everybody seems to be, at least a lot of Democrats, jumping on what he's chosen.
Isn't it going to be a matter of, you know, what's easier to cut, what's harder to cut? You know, hasn't the president at least tried to make, you know, a stab at this?
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Well, Judy, maybe he has, but his own budget director can't name the 150 programs he said he'd cut. I can't find the 150 programs he said he'd cut. And some of the programs that he'd cut are probably one of the reasons why the mayors are in trouble in terms of crime.
He's eliminated the cops program. He's eliminated the Burn (ph) grants. He's eliminated what used to be a $2.6 billion from the federal government going to the cities and the communities to fight crime.
He's eliminated Amtrak at a time when we're talking about energy independence. And just in my little state, to be parochial, 750,000 tickets a year are bought to get on Amtrak. Imagine what the Northeast Corridor will look like.
And so, I mean, the things he's chose that are the most obvious I think are ill suited. And then he hasn't been straightforward with us.
He told us the Medicare bill was going to be about $500 billion. It's going to be $1.2 trillion. An he doesn't even include in the budget, Judy, any money for the war in Iraq or in Afghanistan. And this is just absolutely ridiculous.
WOODRUFF: Well, Senator, give us a couple of examples of what you think should be cut. Clearly you disagree with the president's tax cuts and think they should be...
WOODRUFF: But beyond that, what programs deserve-deserve trimming, deserve cutting out?
BIDEN: Well, I think one of the things we should be going back and look at-and the president is right, but I haven't seen what he has done-is the tax structure and all the loopholes that still exist in the tax structure. He's talking about cleaning up the tax structure.
There are programs that range from energy programs we have, that are very little return on any investment, and there are a whole range of programs I'm confident that exist in the social sector that warrant being cut, eliminated. And so we should be constantly reevaluating them.
But the bottom line, Judy, is look at the numbers. If you cut all of the social programs, all of the non-mandated programs, anything but defense in the non-mandated programs and go forward with the tax cut, and you don't include the trillion-dollar cost over the next decade to privatize Social Security, there's not enough money if you cut everything. You cut out the Justice Department, you cut out all-you don't have enough money to get close to balancing the budget.
WOODRUFF: Senator, let me quickly move you to an international topics.
BIDEN: Sure. WOODRUFF: Iran, the new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, today said in a speech that Iran must halt its nuclear program or she said next steps are in the offing. Iran came right back and said they have no intention of doing any such thing.
BIDEN: Well, you know, I wish I knew what the administration's plan was. They don't like the European initiative because they're not fully participating in it to try to negotiate a verifiable deal with the Iranians whereby they cease and desist from the missile and the nuclear program. They said even if they're prepared to do that we still aren't ready to make a deal with them.
They say this is unacceptable. They say that military force is not something on the table right now.
So what's the plan? What is the plan? What is their strategy?
And, Judy, I know you're tired of hearing me say this, but I said it the last four times I've been on your-for years. This is still a divided administration in some senses, and I wish the president would make a decision on what is the strategy with regard to Iran. I don't know what it is.
WOODRUFF: Senator, let me finally ask you about Iraq. You have written in "The Washington Post" and elsewhere that the United States needs to bring in international support for Iraq. And yet we have the secretary of defense, Mr. Rumsfeld, saying today that while more NATO nations have offered help for Iraq's security forces, these pledges have not materialized.
How big a problem?
BIDEN: It is a giant problem, Judy. And look, we have an incredible opportunity with this powerful election that took place. I think we have to set up a contact group. That is, the EU, NATO, the United States, and other major countries, including two Arab countries, and sit down and say, how are we going to help Iraq transition through this next period? That includes training.
I met for a couple hours with my colleagues, a few of my colleagues, with President Chirac not but two weeks ago. He showed us, he talked about a written offered he made to train 1,500 specialized forces in Iraq. Schroeder stands up and says he will do it.
Let's call them on their offers. None of that has been done. And Condi Rice, I think, is getting it right.
She's at Brussels now with NATO. She said all of those nations are prepared to be involved.
They need a seat at the table, Judy. We have to change the way we train these Iraqi forces. It's our exit strategy. And we have to provide for some relief for Iraqis in real distress.
We haven't spent but $2.5 billion of the $18.4 billion emergency money to alter their lives. We've got to change the whole way we do that. We can do it. There's an opportunity.
I see no-I don't see a plan yet. And that's trouble.
WOODRUFF: Senator Joe Biden calling for much more international involvement in Iraq. Senator, thank you very much.
BIDEN: Thank you.