Uniter or Divider?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 20, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: True bipartisanship, that's what Democrats are looking for from this president in the next four years. Many say he needs to change the way he works with those in the Democratic Party.

Joining us now as we continue to watch the parade, Washington Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee.

Congressman, what do you make of today's festivities?

REP. HAROLD FORD JR., D-TENN.: The president said it well there at the luncheon. You really sit back and marvel at how great a country we are. We transfer power peacefully. You have the opponent of the president sitting a few feet from him.

We read around the world where candidates for office are being poisoned by their opponents. We read how chaos and violence erupts in some nation. We are the greatest nation in the world, and today is one of those great, great, great expressions of it.

CAVUTO: Congressman, you're a young guy. What are you, about 18 or 19 years old?

FORD: I just turned 21. Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: I thought so.

FORD: I'm 34.

CAVUTO: Well, a lot of people say, I mean, some day that could be you up there. Do you ever get that feeling?

FORD: Well, you know, just a great day to be an American, and I'm excited about next week as we get ready to go back to work.

CAVUTO: You're not answering my question. Do you ever think of being president?

FORD: I love what I do — God willing and voters permitting.

CAVUTO: Are you running for Senate in your state?

FORD: I'm just going to let you just ask me the questions.

CAVUTO: Well, I guess what I'm asking for is in these next four years, the feeling seems to be that many in your party who have their eye set on the other agenda are not going to be concerned about the president's agenda or things like Social Security reform or tax reform and we're not going to see progress. What do you say?

FORD: I disagree. I think a lot of us are ready to focus on a lot of the big issues. We may have different priorities in terms of the order. I don't think Social Security is as much of a crisis as the president makes it out to be, in light of tax reform and education and health care, not to mention Iraq and national security. So I do hope that we can find ways to find common ground on all these issues.

CAVUTO: Well, let me ask you about that common ground, Congressman. One of the ideas that's been bandied about by some Republicans has been even raising the income threshold for Social Security as a bone, I guess, to Democrats to get you guys to go along with some privatization of it. What do you make of it?

FORD: Well, if we're talking about extending the solvency of Social Security, I think you have to look at raising the taxable maximum, which is the jargon we use here. The amount is now about $89,600 we need to raise up.

Maybe even raising the retirement age, cutting it off at a certain age, saying those who are 50 today or 51, 52, who are expecting it, you would receive it, but the younger workers like myself, we'd have to wait, like you and I.

I think the real issue for the president that was not just Democrats. Remember, a second-term president after his second year is pretty much a lame duck by — and is perceived that way by even his own party and the opposition party.

And he'll face some opposition in his own party, as we saw yesterday. Bill Thomas announced that the president's Social Security plan, as is, is dead on rival in the Congress. Bill Thomas is a powerful member of the Congress, as you know, the Ways and Means chairperson.

CAVUTO: Right.

FORD: The president understands he's going to have to reach out to the Democrats. I liked his tone. I liked his message. I liked his delivery, and I look forward to working with him. We'll see if we can get some things done.

CAVUTO: Congressman Harold Ford Jr., thank you, sir. I always appreciate it.

FORD: Thanks for having me on.

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