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I wanted to ask you about the second term, since you've got so many big things planned and things you're trying to do. First, on Social Security, you had said when you addressed this question of double taxation of dividends back in the first term, that there was a good case for just getting rid of that double taxation; there was no reason to kind of quibble and do a half measure really get rid of it. And I wondered, since you've laid out a clear goal about the benefits of these personal savings accounts whether you're tempted, as you draw up this plan, to make them bigger and basically have that be the dominant feature?
Look, I know it's very tempting, on your part, to try to get me to lay out the plan right now. But here's what's going to happen on this issue, in my judgment. First of all, I'm serious about addressing it. We've started the process. First step is to make sure that everybody understands we have a problem. In the campaign there was a little bit of doubt as to whether or not there was a significant problem. Remember, I said there was a problem and my opponent said there wasn't. And so we've got to make it clear, the nature of the problem, in order to be able to effect a solution.
Secondly, I will come out with a specific plan at some point in time. I think I have that obligation to do so, in order to get people to either rally around it or fine-tune it or go against it. It's got to fit into what is required to deal with an $11 trillion present value unfunded liability, coupled with some basic principles. And one of the principles you mentioned is personal retirement accounts, personal savings accounts, as a way to, one, encourage ownership, two, get a better rate of return, in order to enhance whatever benefits will be available for younger workers. Three the key on this however, is to make sure that an entire constituency doesn't get frightened, which would affect the legislative body, which is seniors who have already retired or are near retirement. Nothing will change, and it's going to be very important for me to articulate all that.
In terms of the judges, they will be people who strictly interpret the Constitution.
Everyone we've talked to for this article has talked about how much history you read. So we wondered if, knowing what you know now, you think either more highly or less highly of your predecessors?
Of my predecessors? Very interesting. More highly of them all.
All of them?
Well, I would say all of them. I haven't analyzed every one of them, but I feel more highly about them because they served right here in this office. I've got a much better appreciation of what they've been through, some more than others. I would say Lincoln, my appreciation for Lincoln has grown immeasurably. He is a President who was a visionary for the good of the country. I've got his painting right there. And he's there because he had this great vision about a United States of America in incredibly difficult times.
I have sat here and thought about what it would be like to be the President when brother was fighting brother and cousin killing cousin. And the deep anguish his writings reflected about seeing the country torn asunder. And, yet, he had a clarity of vision the whole time. He clearly saw what needed to happen about keeping this country united. There's a great painting in the Treaty Room, which is my office, where there's Lincoln with Porter, Grant and Sherman I've got to make sure those three are the three I think they're in a rainbow, sitting on a boat outside of Richmond, informing them that the peace will be one that keeps the union intact.
You know, again, Franklin Roosevelt, in dealing with an isolationist nation running up to a war, was a, I think, an interesting part of history. I'm reading a Max Frankel book now into how Kennedy handled the Cuban missile crisis. I'm not in a position to opine on it yet, because I'm only about a quarter of the way through.
All the people who serve here serve in different circumstances, but they have the same basic requirement, and that is the capacity to make decisions and know where you want to lead. And so, you know, I admire anybody who's been the President. I admire some more than others.