This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," March 27, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: A dictatorship? A power grab? Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says President Obama is making the biggest power grab in American history and moving America towards a dictatorship. And he's here. Joining us live is former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Good evening, Mr. Speaker. And a power grab? Is President Obama doing a massive power grab?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, sure. They're doing a power grab in virtually every way. My specific reference was to dictatorial powers that I thought the secretary of the Treasury, Geithner, was asking for, where he would decide what companies to take over, he would decide under what circumstances. And let me tell you, the American system was not built for one bureaucrat to decide whether or not they could take your property.
But take a look, Greta, at a couple other things. When the House last week passed a bill that said they could go back and take 90 percent of the money from the people at AIG, everybody was happy with that for a second. But wait a second. What if, in fact, then that means Congress can take 90 percent of your money? If they can take one group's money, they can take another group's money, and they can do it after the fact. And by the way, those bonuses had been approved by Congress in the stimulus package they voted for.
So the hypocrisy and the, I think, danger is very real. And then look at what they're trying to do on the budget, where they're trying to ram through a resolution to break the rules of the Senate, to be able to get through both an energy tax increase and a massive change in our health system on 51 votes, which is clearly a power grab of unprecedented proportions. I think dictatorial is a strong word, but it may, frighteningly, be the right word.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And just as a tease to the viewers, in the next segment, we're going to explain where you are, and we have another special joining you. But we're not going to do that right now.
All right, let's go back to this whole business of power grab and dictatorial. I did a little research, and I've got a strange bedfellow for you...
GINGRICH: Wait a second. I just have to say -- I just have to say -- wait a second. I just have to say I just watched Gretawire live about Deb's (ph) daughter's wedding, and I can't believe the range of things you're into right now. But go ahead. I'll try to stay with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: And that's a tease to the viewers to watch Greta live wire because there's a wedding that's going on tomorrow that we've been waiting for for three years. And it may come across as being way too normal. We've expected the very bizarre, and we may be disappointed.
Anyway, I've got a very strange bedfellow for you that -- and that is Senator Robert Byrd, the -- one of the -- is a Democratic U.S. senator. He wrote on February 23 a letter to the president complaining essentially of a power grab. He's complaining that by naming health czars or urban affairs policy experts or energy experts at the White House, that what he was trying to do was grab power from the U.S. Senate. So it's not just the former Republican Speaker that's got some sort of rub about a power grab. You've got a strange bedfellow here, the Democratic senator from the state of West Virginia.
GINGRICH: Well, you know, Senator Byrd is an extraordinary expert on the history of the Senate, has actually written several books about the history of the Senate, and he's aware of the fact that the Senate is supposed to protect freedom. And what the president's doing is in every way possible he's trying to get around the law and get around the rules by centralizing power without being accountable to anybody.
It started in some ways with the stimulus package, which we now know was passed, $787 billion, 1,100 pages -- nobody read it. When it turned out, embarrassingly for the Congress, that it had a provision in there that approved AIG giving out bonuses, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, said, gosh, he didn't realize it was in there because they rushed it through. Then it turned out that Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, said, you know, he didn't really put it in there. It was put in there by the Treasury, which has to be, frankly, a lie because the Treasury is not allowed to write legislation, only the House and Senate can.
But what you're seeing is a rush to try to radically change America before the American people have a say in it. And I think this budget, which is the next cycle -- where, by the way, they're trying to hide trillions of dollars in debt by only giving you the first five years of the budget and not telling you about the second five years, where the debt balloons. There's something just phony about this whole approach to trying to govern without being honest with the American people. And Senator Robert Byrd was right in his letter to the president.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so the Congress really does have egg all over its face for not reading about -- reading that bill that they voted, the stimulus, with all the bonus and everything. They have egg all over their face. But for some reason, I find it hard to believe that the former -- or not the former, the current Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is going to cede any sort of authority to the president, to let him do sort of a power grab, as you suspect, and even as Senator Byrd has suspected. I mean, she's not going to want to give up any of her turf. I mean, at least I wouldn't.
GINGRICH: Look, first of all, Speaker Pelosi, who is the most left- wing member of the leadership, is having a great day. The powers that Senator Byrd's worried about are all in the Senate. It's the Senate which has the power of confirmation. The House doesn't. So she doesn't mind if that power is taken away from the Senate because it doesn't belong to the House.
But look what she got away with in the stimulus package and in the appropriations bill. In both cases, the total, by the way, of almost $1.2 trillion -- the entire bill was written in the House under what is, in effect, a dictatorship. And let me tell you, she's running the House right now like it's a dictatorship. Nobody gets to offer amendments. Nobody gets to dissent. Nobody gets to have any ideas unless they come from Speaker Pelosi and her cronies.
And what's the result? She is the most powerful person in government today. President Obama is the second most powerful person in government today. And frankly, the Senate is a distant third and doesn't matter very much because the Senate Democrats kept getting told by Harry Reid, You got to vote -- no matter how dumb it is, you got to vote to defeat every amendment so we can get these things passed exactly how Nancy Pelosi wrote it. I think Nancy Pelosi is clever. She's not going to complain because she's the big winner so far in taking control of what's happening to America.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Fast-forward. Let's pretend we're talking three years from now. How is this going to play out, or how is it likely to play out?
GINGRICH: Well, I think it's a rate (ph) that the left-wing Democrats are alienating America with a big energy tax, with a war on churches and charities, with a big effort to raise taxes on every successful American, with an enormous increase on the federal debt. I think the odds are fairly good they're going to lose control of the House next year and lose a number of Senate seats. And I think by 2012, the country will be in a choice of socialism or free enterprise, which kind of future do you want.
And my hunch is the Democrats can't win a campaign that is open, aboveboard about whether you want cronies, politicians and bureaucrats to run your life, or you want to have a choice as a citizen about what you do with your own money as a customer and not as a ward of the state.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the tea parties that they're having around the nation -- April 15, a number of states are going to have tea parties -- that just sort of a passing fancy, or is that a grass-roots movement?
GINGRICH: No, I think the tax day tea party movement, which is actually Americansolutions.com, is helping with a great deal. Over 300 cities have people signed up already. And I think these tea parties -- remember, the House and the Senate will pass the first round of a really bad budget next week. They will then go home for two weeks. These tea parties come right in the middle of that congressional recess.
And my challenge is, to every member of the House and Senate, have the courage to go to a tea party in your state or your district and listen to your citizens. My prediction is there'll be over 300,000 Americans at the tea parties, and I think it's the beginning of a huge movement of fundamental reform not just for Washington but for places like Albany, New York, Sacramento, California, Trenton, New Jersey, all the places where the lobbyists, the politicians and the bureaucrats have been running over their citizens.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mexico -- how serious a problem? I mean, we were just down in Mexico and we were immersed in it, and so, you know, we may have the viewpoint that this is, you know, much more serious than it is. But it certainly seems incredibly important to the American people.
GINGRICH: Mexico is our most populous neighbor. It is extremely important to America for Mexico to be prosperous under the rule of law and self-governing. There's an enormous war under way between the drug cartels, as you know from your trip, and the Mexican government.
I was fascinated by Secretary Clinton's comments on two levels. First of all, we should control the border. We should cut off all the flow of guns into Mexico and all the flow of drugs into the United States. That would strip the cartel of their weapons and their money. So if we controlled the border, we would have an enormous step in the right direction to help the people of Mexico control their own lives.
But in addition, I thought it was fascinating that Secretary Clinton admitted that our drug problem here in America, the drugs we buy that are illegal, are a major part of the problem both in Mexico, and by the way, also in Afghanistan. And I'll be fascinated to see if Secretary Clinton is able to convince the Obama administration that we need a genuine anti-drug program in America that would truly be effective and that would break the back of the drug habit, which has been a growing problem for us for 40 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: We only have about 40 seconds left and then we've got to go to break. But listening to you is, I think that you admire Secretary Clinton.
GINGRICH: I think Secretary Clinton is an intelligent, hard-working professional. I think that she is probably the best single choice that President Obama's made for the cabinet. And I think that what she's trying to do in Mexico I thought was very courageous and very straightforward.
Now, again, we'll have to see how it gets translated when you get back here. Are they really serious about controlling the border? That would be a big breakthrough. Are they really serious about controlling drugs? That would be amazing from a liberal Democratic administration. If she can pull off those two, then my hat's off to her.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, if you will stand by because up next, we have a very special guest joining us in Atlanta with the Speaker. This one's so special. The two of them are in Atlanta for a special event. It has to do with our 40th president, Ronald Reagan. That's next.
Plus: How much of us -- that means you -- does China own? China's buying more and more of our massive debt. And what happens if China decides to stop buying it? Could that be worse than being owned by China? We're going to tell you.
Plus, listen carefully to this question and get ready to gasp. Did white people with blue eyes cause the global financial crisis? Wait until you hear who said that. Wow. We're going to tell you who.
VAN SUSTEREN: We continue now with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and he has a very, very, very special guest with him, his wife, Callista. They are in Georgia for the Atlanta premiere of their documentary, "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny." Nice to see you, Callista. Glad you could join Mr. Speaker. All right, Callista, how's the...
CALLISTA GINGRICH, WIFE OF NEWT GINGRICH: Hi, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: How's the evening tonight? How was this presentation tonight?
CALLISTA GINGRICH: Well, we had a great evening here in Atlanta, the Atlanta History Center. We had over 500 people for our premiere, and we've heard really great comments. And we're just -- we're so thrilled so many people could be here with us this evening.
VAN SUSTEREN: Callista, tell me, why did you and the Speaker do a documentary on President Reagan?
CALLISTA GINGRICH: Well, Newt and I both loved Ronald Reagan, and we wanted to share his inspiring story with all Americans, and including those Americans who may not remember the horrors of communism in the Soviet Union.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, one of the things, Mr. Speaker, besides the Soviet Union that's in this documentary is the fact that President Reagan had to deal with the economy. And you talk about sort of the three pillars of his presidency. What do you think he'd think about the way the economy is being handled now?
NEWT GINGRICH: You know, Callista and I have talked about this a lot because there are a couple of scenes in the picture where Jimmy Carter sounds amazingly like President Obama -- a lack of confidence, a misunderstanding of free enterprise, a disbelief in American business. Ronald Reagan said over and over we have to go back to first principles. And first principles are the work ethic, savings, lower taxes, allowing the American people to keep their own money.
I think he'd look at the current mess and he would say the last two years have just been, frankly, the wrong direction. And he would be as critical of the Bush-Obama plan in 2008 as he would of the Bush-Obama plan in 2009 because it's a big spending, high tax, big bureaucracy program that Reagan would have told us simply won't work.
VAN SUSTEREN: Callista, in terms of doing this documentary with the Speaker, where did you guys travel? I mean, where did this take you? Because I know it took you all over.
CALLISTA GINGRICH: Yes. We had a lot of travel involved in producing this documentary, which was produced with Citizens United. Its president is Dave Bossie. We've worked very closely with him our director, Kevin Knoblach (ph). And with them, we went to the presidential library in Simi Valley, California. We also went to the Reagan ranch just north of Santa Barbara, and we did that last May. And in June, we took a trip to Europe, and we started out in Normandy and we went to Pointe du Hoc, where the Army Rangers scaled the cliffs and Reagan gave some of his most memorable speeches.
And then we went Gdansk, Poland, and that, of course, is where the Lenin shipyard is and where Lech Walesa began his Solidarity movement. And finally, we went to Prague, Czech Republic. And here we had the privilege to interview President Lech -- excuse me -- President Vaclav Havel.
VAN SUSTEREN: Callista, if there's something sort of out of the movie that really stunned you in your research that you never knew about before you started this, what is it?
CALLISTA GINGRICH: Well, President Reagan was an incredible man, but I think one of the most surprising things was that he was really an enigma, as well, and there was such a large part of him that he protected. He had a very -- he was a very private person, and I didn't realize that before we did our research for this documentary.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, what kind of man was he? I mean, we see these clips. We read a lot about him. But what was -- I mean, you've researched him.
NEWT GINGRICH: Yes. You know, one of the things that most struck me -- and I talked to his son, Michael Reagan, about this the other day. When we were out at the Reagan ranch -- which is a remarkable place to visit, and the Young Americas Foundation is doing just a great job with it -- there's a picture on the wall I had never seen before of Ronald Reagan in the late 1930s in a genuine U.S. Army cavalry uniform in a cavalry unit because it turned out that starting with his days in Iowa and then transferring over to southern California, he was in the Army Reserve in the cavalry. This is still back when they had horse cavalries.
Now, think about this. Ronald Reagan's career goes from the horse cavalry all the way to spaceships and being on the moon and all the things we take for granted. And I had never realized that well before World War II, he had a deep patriotic desire to serve his country and that he had volunteered to serve in the Army Reserve at a time during the Depression when it wasn't very common and when it was a real sacrifice of his time and effort. That was probably the biggest single thing I learned.
And if there was any one thing that I wish President Obama could learn from President Reagan it was that he had a deep confidence in the American people and a deep belief in first principles. And that's why he was prepared to make sure that the American people were the center of power, not the government. And I think that grew out of his Illinois background and his childhood, and it's fundamentally different than the way the modern left thinks about America.
VAN SUSTEREN: Callista, we can't show the viewers the video and have them listen to both of you speak about this documentary without telling them how they can see it. How can they see this documentary?
CALLISTA GINGRICH: Yes, well, this documentary is available on Gingrichproductions.com and it's also available on Reaganmovie.com. So either place, they can purchase the documentary.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you both, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for bringing your wife.
NEWT GINGRICH: Nice to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know I love -- I love cheeseheads. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And she's a cheesehead, like I am.
CALLISTA GINGRICH: Thanks, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you both.
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