Are Inaugural Funds Better Spent Elsewhere?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 14, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, if my next guest had his way, there wouldn't even be events to protest next week. He wants the president to cancel the inauguration and spend the money on our troops instead.

Joining me right now, Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.

Congressman, why do you say this is a waste of money?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER, D-N.Y.: Well, I don't say don't have the inauguration or don't have the parade. I think it's the $40 million inaugural balls.

This is a very sober time. We've lost 1,300 troops overseas. Scores more have been injured. We have now nearly 50 percent of our troops on the reserve troops.

I just think that the weight of the time, just like Wilson and FDR before, dictate that we don't send the image that we're parading in black tie and champagne flutes, that we're taking these sober times with a sober attitude.

CAVUTO: Would you have recommended that, Congressman, if this were Bill Clinton?

WEINER: Well, I didn't vote for George Bush and I won't be going to any balls. And frankly, I'm not invited.

But that's not what this is about. What this is about is what I hear from my constituents, what I hear from many families of veterans. They say, you know what? At the same time we're going to have the fat cats in Washington wearing tuxedos, we're going to have our young boys and girls, young men and women opening up plastic pouches in the desert and eating their breakfast.

CAVUTO: You could say the same, could you not, about people who go out to eat or go out to shows or go out and do the average things we do in our lives?

WEINER: Oh, no. I think it's an entirely different matter when the president stands up and says, "Listen, I'm going to be celebrating at these different occasions."

CAVUTO: But he is adding military celebrations as well.

WEINER: He's having a military celebration, and I think that's appropriate. I maybe would do that one and not do all the other ones. Not do the different state balls.

Maybe do what FDR did, which is an open house at the White House where he served chicken salad and pound cake as an indication of the seriousness of the times. I guess it wouldn't be...

CAVUTO: He did that in 1944. His three prior inaugurations, those were some drastic times in and of themselves, he whooped it up just like anybody.

WEINER: Yes. You know what? I think the question is FDR also did something else. Throughout his administration he was very clear with the American people that these were times of sacrifice.

And as you know from the history, we were told to gather scrap metal and rubber and things like that as a way of securing a sense that we had something in common with the troops overseas. We're not really doing that in the last couple of years.

CAVUTO: So this isn't your effort. I don't mean to be jaded. You're running for mayor of New York. This isn't a way for you to glom onto an issue and score some points, right?

WEINER: No. I think you probably believe, too, these are very sober times. These are times that, I think, dictate perhaps a different approach to the way we do things. And let's face it, with $40 million or $50 million. Think of it what that could go for if the troops got it.

CAVUTO: Is Mayor Bloomberg, the guy you'll likely oppose if you get the Democratic nomination, is he beatable?

WEINER: I believe so. I believe that we have done a dreadful job in the city fighting for our fair share. Five hundred thousand children went hungry last year in the city of New York. We have real considerable problems.

CAVUTO: All right. Congressman Anthony Weiner, maybe Mayor Weiner. We'll see where things go.

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