Rep. Tom Delay, House Majority Whip

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 5, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews. 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: A president fighting to preserve his tax cuts. Democrats fighting to stop them. I'm not talking 2002. I'm talking 1982. And I'm not talking President Bush. I'm talking President Ronald Reagan. The economy was hurting, deficits were building, and many were arguing his big tax cuts enacted just the year before should be going. He didn't budge.

But the economy sure did and so did the stock market, unleashing one of the biggest booms in American history. Some lessons here? House Majority Whip Tom DeLay certainly thinks so. The man who calls himself a proud disciple of the Reagan revolution joins us right now. Congressman, always great to have you. Thanks for coming.

TOM DELAY, R-TEXAS, HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: Well, thank you, Neil. Good to see you.

CAVUTO: It's really amazing, isn't it, the parallels between then and now. What are the chances now of revisiting or junking the remaining tax cuts?

DELAY: Well, the big difference, Neil, from now to then is that, unfortunately, Ronald Reagan had a Democrat-controlled Congress. And George Bush has the pleasure of having a Republican-controlled House. And as we all know, the Constitution says all money matters with taxation starts in the House. So the big...

CAVUTO: But it can be stymied in the Senate, can't it?

DELAY: It can be stymied in the Senate, as it was yesterday when Daschle-crats killed the stimulus package, which is really unfortunate. We really want a growth package that will actually help the economy get going again. But we are going to try it again and we'll keep trying it until the American people convince Daschle and his senators that it's important for the nation.

CAVUTO: But, you know, Congressman, I've been hearing from some Republicans and a lot of the people on Wall Street who say, you know, the package that was ultimately junked was a good one to junk because it had more spending in it than they really wanted, and if you're going to have a stimulus plan heavy on spending, better to junk it than to have it anyway.

DELAY: Well, I don't know which one they are talking about. You know, the House of Representatives passed two stimulus packages. The second one was a compromise bill. That would have been done some good. The first one that we passed out of the House was a true growth package that did some pretty meaningful things. I wish we could have zeroed out capital gainings, but we'll try it again.

And what Wall Street and others ought to say is that we ought to take every opportunity that we can to change and reform the tax code into a more of a growth oriented tax code, and when we're running into a slow economy, in order to get the economy going, plus use the opportunity to do the right thing, that's what we're trying to do in the House. And that's what the president is trying do.

CAVUTO: Let's talk about another president, Ronald Reagan again, if you don't mind, Congressman.

DELAY: Not at all. I love talking about him.

CAVUTO: He had to revisit part of those tax cuts and he hiked them in 1986 under enormous pressure and duress from Congress, and something George Bush Sr. had to do when he had to hike taxes and thereby break a pledge that ultimately sealed his re-election. Do you fear that this president might have to visit the same history?

DELAY: Not at all because, once again, I remind you that both those presidents, Reagan and Bush, had Democrat Congresses that were spending in abandon. They didn't even keep their word with Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan wanted to cut taxes, which he did, but he also wanted to restrain spending. So did Bush. The agreement he made with the Democrat Congress when he raised taxes, for every two dollars of taxes raised, they would cut spending by a dollar. So you know, they didn't keep their word then either.

But we have kept our word to the American people in the seven years that we've been in the majority. I mean, we've balanced the budget, although Clinton took credit for it after vetoing the Balanced Budget Act of '97 several times. We are the ones that reformed welfare and got 50 percent of welfare recipients off the rolls, which was a huge savings to the federal government. We are the ones that have stopped the raid on Social Security being spent on other government programs. We are the ones that imposed fiscal responsibility, unlike the years of Reagan and Bush with the Democrat Congress, spending as if they had a blank check.

CAVUTO: But in the meantime, we do have to deal with this reality here of Senator Daschle junking this stimulus measure. Is it fair to say that we might never see it?

DELAY: I think it is probably so because...

CAVUTO: What is probably so, that we won't see it?

DELAY: That we won't see it, unfortunately. But it is a good campaign issue. I think the American people know now that the Daschle-crats are the obstructionists to the president's agenda. They are stopping everything that the House is trying do. We have got 50 bills sitting on Daschle's desk that he hasn't done anything with yet, an energy package, a trade promotion authority for the president, even banning cloning. He just refuses to bring up because the liberals in his caucus won't allow him to do that and he's a liberal himself. So we're going to have to deal with that. But I got to tell you, the American people are going to see it and they may speak to it in November.

CAVUTO: But I wonder who they will blame, Congressman. I mean, you could be right, that they will take it out on the Daschle-crats, as you call them, or they might take it out on your very thin majority in the House of Representatives and turn over control to the Democrats. You worried about that?

DELAY: I don't think that will happen. In fact, I know it won't happen. In fact, the Democrats in the retreat this last week admitted that they are not going to take back the House. We're going to grow our majority in this election.

And the American people aren't going to blame us because we're doing the president's agenda. We're doing all these things of cutting taxes and trying to stop spending and reforming all kinds of things and everything is being stopped in the Senate. It's pretty plain and the American people can see it.

CAVUTO: We know, very quickly, sir, that you are going to be, at least Fox News learned, attending a security briefing in the next 20 minutes or so. I think Donald Rumsfeld is supposed to be there.

DELAY: Right.

CAVUTO: I know you can't reveal too much, but what is expected to come of that?

DELAY: Oh, I think it is just an update of what has been going on, also reminding us, as George Tenet, the director of the CIA, testified today, that we're still vulnerable. But I think the American people feel comfortable that we have leadership in President Bush and his team. And they have a vision and a resolve to find these terrorists and root them out. So that's one way of stopping anything bad happening on our soil. But at the same time, the FBI and everybody is working super well together. And, you know, even though we're vulnerable, I feel very good about our leadership in stopping a lot of these things that might happen.

CAVUTO: All right. Mr. Majority Whip, thank you so much, appreciate it.

DELAY: Sure, Neil. Good to be with you.

CAVUTO: Tom DeLay in Washington.

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