- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2002

Retiring House Majority Leader Dick Armey urged Republicans yesterday to fight for school choice, enact market-based Social Security reform and "give America a fair, decent and honest tax system."
Mr. Armey, a Texas Republican who didn't seek a 10th term, also warned that some of the terrorist-fighting measures proposed by Congress and the White House put the "blessings of our liberty in peril."
"I believe we are in danger of having liberty crowded out by what seems to be another more urgent concern: the concern for personal safety," Mr. Armey said in his last formal address to press gathered at a National Press Club luncheon.
Mr. Armey said enactment of the USA Patriot Act that he supported last fall "cut a fine line" between protecting liberty and improving security but did not overstep privacy boundaries that he fears programs such as the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness project will.
The developmental awareness project seeks to identify terrorists by sifting through transactional data such as private credit card and travel purchases. Critics say it could lead to privacy violations.
Mr. Armey was an economics professor at the University of North Texas before running for Congress and had little to say about the resignation yesterday of Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey.
"Every economist I know has it exactly clear in his mind how they would have done the job," he said, so it wouldn't be fair to respond to the resignations.
"My feeling is that the secretary of the Treasury should be the most prominent spokesman for an administration's policy, and [ONeill] never had that role. Why? I don't know," Mr. Armey said.
When he vowed to "never again run for public office," Mr. Armey added that he has little desire to be picked for either White House vacancy.
"I love the House of Representatives," he said. "I don't believe I'll ever have a better job. I had the best job in my life, and I gave it up for something better, my wife."
Mr. Armey predicted that Republicans will be a governing majority for many years to come, "and they'd better come to terms with that fact." We've passed the last election cycle "in which the old Social Security demagoguery will work against Republicans," he added.
"Social Security as a political debate is over," said Mr. Armey. "Now is the time for us to start treating retirement-security reform as a serious, adult, policy debate. [Its time] we respect what the American people can and do for themselves."

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