Newt Gingrich Blasts Conduct of Elected Officials During Economic Downturn

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," December 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The Big Three were back on the Hill today, and with us now is the author of the best-selling book, "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

And by the way, check out his new DVD, "We Have the Power" hosted by Newt and his wife, Calista.

Mr. Speaker, I'm watching this sanctimonious guys standing from down high today, and I'm watching congressmen, and I'm thinking all right, now they just built a new facility for visitors at the U.S. Capitol. They told us it was going to cost $71 million. It ends up costing $621 million.

Nancy Pelosi, she has a private jet. Nobody talks about that. We pay for it. Harry Reid — I call her, by the way, you know, Princess Pelosi and Prince Harry. Harry Reid is — wanted this new facility because Prince Harry doesn't like the way people smell.

Here's the — watch this cut, and then I want you to respond and why aren't we more mad at the government than we are at the business they demonize?


HARRY REID (D-NV), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: My staff has always said, "Don't say this," but I'm going to say it again, because it's so a descriptive, because it's true.

Leader Boehner mentioned that tourists lined up in the summer and winter, long lines coming into the Capitol. In the summertime, because the high humidity and how hot it gets here, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol.



HANNITY: The unwashed masses. Mr. Speaker, can you put this all together?

Video: Watch Sean & Alan's interview I Part 2

NEWT GINGRICH, "DRILL HERE, DRILL NOW, PAY LESS" AUTHOR: Well, I think that the level of arrogance.


HANNITY: I don't mean to laugh. You know, they smell, we can smell them coming down.

GINGRICH:: It was a joke.

HANNITY: ... to which we spend $621 million. Go ahead. I'm sorry.

GINGRICH:: Yes, I don't think it was a joke.

HANNITY: Yes, I don't either.

GINGRICH: I think Senator Reid is not very interested in the average citizen unless he's taking money out of their pocket in a tax increase, but I think if you watch these congressmen and the arrogance and the meanness and you watch some of these hearings, and I'm not in favor of bailing out companies, but I watched some of these hearings, and I think it demeans America to have elected officials who can't balance the budget, can't fix the federal government, don't know what they're talking about, but use the power of their office to belittle and humiliate and attack.


GINGRICH: ... people who are working very hard to create jobs.

HANNITY: Well — and I want to get into this, and I'm not kidding, I think, I think it's Prince Harry. He doesn't want to be among the unwashed masses, and it's Princess Pelosi and her private jet, and we're paying the bill, and they're lecturing in their condescending way, you know, companies that are in real trouble.

Now the banking crisis, Mr. Speaker, was caused by Congress. They forced banks by law to make risky loans. Trade policy, energy policy, bad relationships with unions, economy CAFE standards and safety standards.

Didn't Congress also hurt the auto industry?

GINGRICH: Well, in a lot of ways, and the auto industry is — a tragic situation. Remember that when we say the auto industry, there are an awful lot of factories in America today that are not General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler that are doing pretty well, whether it's Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai. I mean it's amazing, if you look at the factories that are doing fine.

The fact is, over the years, though, that the Michigan delegation, and particularly the Democrats, with the Michigan delegation, has protected the United Auto Workers with really bad contracts, and the culture of the once big three, now troubled three, has been a culture which has refused to come to grips with reality, refused to try to change and reshape itself, and none of this is magic.

We've known for 20 years that the Toyota production system was a more powerful method of increasing productivity and solving problems, and yet the United Auto Workers refused to adopt that model, and General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler went along with them.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Speaker, welcome to the show. First of all, you don't want to give Harry Reid credit for his great old factory sense.

HANNITY: Prince Harry.

COLMES: I mean, obviously.


COLMES: ... he's very well developed in that area and I think you ought to give him credit for that.

GINGRICH: Alan, you know, you — you recognize that even by any plausible standard.

COLMES: Yes, well.

GINGRICH: ... that was — frankly what was bothersome wasn't that Reid was goofy. What was bothersome was he let you see the level of contempt he has.

COLMES: I don't see that way, Mr. Speaker.

GINGRICH: ... for the American citizens.


GINGRICH: What do you think he meant by it?

COLMES: Let me talk about the UAW. I think he was kidding. But the UAW said it's willing to delay billions of dollars in payments to a union healthcare trust. They're now willing to suspend their jobs bank program which allowed laid-off workers to continue drawing nearly full wages.

They're agreeing to delay — these are the workers now, the UAW. They're agreeing to delay a multibillion dollar payments to a retiree healthcare fund that they were scheduled to make starting next year.

The workers are really taking it on the chin here. They're willing to take even more sacrifices that I have to say they should get great credit for this, and this should enable Congress to say look, we appreciate what these workers are doing, let's save their jobs.

GINGRICH: Well, I have two questions for you, Alan. I mean, the first is when it was clear after last week that there were no possibility that an unreformed system was going to get any money, the United Auto Workers grudgingly, painfully, slowly gave as little as they thought they could get away with.

COLMES: Let's stop blaming the workers.

GINGRICH: Well, they made a program where you could be in a jobs bank for two years and draw your salary without doing anything.

COLMES: They're giving that up. They're giving up a whole bunch.


COLMES: And a whole bunch of other concessions right now.

GINGRICH: Right. And that's good. No, and that's good. And my question for you would be if they're prepared and the management is prepared to make the changes necessary to be competitive, why wouldn't the private sector then want to invest back in those companies?

COLMES: Well, the government should invest like they did with Chrysler, back up the loans, they get paid back, the taxpayer gets paid back, but it's the worker who's really making the biggest sacrifice here. The people who are making $12, 14, 15, $25 an hour. You know they're not the ones who caused the problem in the first place.

Why should they suffer?

GINGRICH: Wait a second, I'm not sure who caused the problem in the first place, Alan. If it's not, if it's not the management and it's not the workers, is this just all magic?

COLMES: Well, I'm not saying it's not the management. I mean maybe they didn't plan properly to develop cars quickly enough.


COLMES: ... or maybe they, they didn't think forward — they weren't forward thinking enough, but it's certainly not the workers' problem.

GINGRICH: Well, Alan, is any of the management leaving? I don't think so.

COLMES: But you can restructure.

GINGRICH: I think the management is sitting there saying loan me the money.

COLMES: You can restructure it and you can hopefully going to do away with some of the golden parachutes.


COLMES: The "Jerusalem Post" reporting that Israel is preparing options in the event they decide to attack Iran's nuclear sites, and it seems the plans are being drawn up without the coordination of the U.S.

We continue now with Newt Gingrich.

By the way, they asked for the codes in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War. Israel did. We didn't give it to them. And in case they wanted to go over and do something over Iraq. Do we give them the codes now?

GINGRICH: Oh, I don't think we will give them the codes because that would be in effect sanctioning their attack on Iran. I don't think we're prepared to sanction an attack on Iran.

I think even the Israelis have said they don't believe the Iranians will have a weapon before the end of 2009. I think President-elect Obama has every — should have the opportunity to see if he can bring more pressure to bear. He has considerable credibility in Europe. And he may be able to get much tougher sanctions than the Bush administration has gotten.

But, clearly, the Israelis are also trying to signal something very profound which is that they believe that an Iran that has nuclear weapons is a mortal direct threat to the survival of Israel, and they are not prepared to risk losing 5 or 6 million people in a nuclear exchange with Iran.

COLMES: But you would.

GINGRICH: And they are prepared to preempt.

COLMES: You would agree that the idea of attacking now before, as you say, President-select Obama gets in, has the opportunity to try to do something either diplomatically or with sanctions which the "Jerusalem Post" in the story said was working — were working with greater and greater frequency, that that opportunity should be given a chance to flourish before we go in and start a war, right?

GINGRICH: Yes, I think that the Israeli government probably would be best served if they created a deadline of sometime next fall and basically told the new American president that they're willing to do anything they can to help him achieve a non-nuclear Iran prior, say, to September or October, but that there is a point at which they will not run the risk.

And I think, frankly, if you look at the language of Ahmadinejad, the leader of Iran, the things he said about wiping Israel out, the threat they face given the history of the holocaust, and the fact that a handful of nuclear weapons would be a new holocaust, it would wipe out millions of Israelis.

I don't think you can ask the Israeli government to not take steps to proactively defend itself against that kind of threat.

HANNITY: I agree with that wholeheartedly, Mr. Speaker.

I want to go back to the issue what I was bringing up earlier. I want you to explain one thing to me. If everyone's so angry at corporate jet use and corporations that have perks, why isn't there that same anger at Speaker Pelosi?

You didn't have a jet as a speaker, correct?

GINGRICH: That's right.

HANNITY: You didn't have one. You didn't have one to take.

GINGRICH: No, and I — look, and I opposed giving one. I don't think the speaker of the House should have an Air Force jet. I think it's a misuse of Air Force personnel. I think there's no practical reason for it.

The speaker of the House is provided security as I was and as Speaker Hastert has. And is.


GINGRICH: They have been for much of modern times. They should have security. And one of the people on the security detail carries a classified satellite phone that enables you to be in direct touch with the president or the Pentagon.

HANNITY: Absolutely.

GINGRICH: ... or whatever.

HANNITY: That's important.

GINGRICH: But you do not need to have a personal jet to run around. And in fact, any of it is fundamentally wrong because it distances a member of the House of Representatives from the public they serve and.

HANNITY: All right But I guess — I think the left has successfully demonized big business. I think you'll agree with me on this. But yet, when I look at the track record of Pelosi, Reid, the Democrats, she has a private jet, Harry Reid — Prince Harry doesn't want to be around the unwashed masses.

I look at the — they bankrupted the Social Security and Medicare for the most part. We have a plan to fix any of these things. They spend instead of 71 million, which they said would cost for the visitors' center, it's $621 million.

Why is there not — which is my question. Why not more anger when it's far more egregious in government than in corporate America?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I find when I go around the country, there is a lot of anger. People are disgusted with the Congress, and I also find that people instinctively share what you just said.

I think people know that there's something fundamentally wrong with how Washington works, and there's something fundamentally wrong with how the Congress is currently working, so I don't think the average American feels very kindly about this.

Now the elite media is not very excited about filming Speaker Pelosi in her airplane and is not very excited about asking what the carbon foot print of her airplane is or getting involved in any of the things that they would use to attack, say, the head of General Motors.

But I do think the average American instinctively knows that the congressional system is not working and that it's out of control.

HANNITY: Well, it's certainly amazing to me, but you know what, Harry Reid, if you don't want me around, you don't have to build a $621 million facility. We'll just stay away from our House. And maybe we'll push him out of the House.

COLMES: By the way, I want to say you — you do not smell. I've been close to you. I mean, great. Good cologne.

GINGRICH: I'm not, I'm not getting in the middle of this conversation.


HANNITY: Mr. Speaker, great to see you. Thanks for being with us.

COLMES: Good to be with you both.

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