This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," February 18, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody, rejoined right now by Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. This is his first national TV interview since becoming a senator.
CAVUTO: But very good to have you, and I apologize for our earlier problems, Senator.
SEN. SCOTT BROWN, R-MASS.: Oh, it’s OK. You — you adjust and adapt, Neil. It’s OK.
CAVUTO: All right. I think CNN was controlling our feed. I apologize for that.
CAVUTO: But, in all seriousness, Senator, this happens on a day we — we have this crazy plane crash in Austin, Texas. And we have a guy who is just ranting at the system, ranting at the IRS, ranting at big government, the need for health care — the — not the need for unions getting special care, I mean, really crazy stuff.
I would just be curious to your reaction to all that.
BROWN: Well, it’s certainly tragic, and I feel for the families, obviously, that are being affected by it.
And I don’t know if it’s related, but I can just sense, not only in my election but since being here in Washington, people are frustrated. They want transparency. They want their elected officials to be accountable and open and, you know, talk about the things that are affecting their daily lives.
So, I’m not sure if there’s a connection. I certainly hope not. But, you know, we need to do things better.
CAVUTO: You know, invariably, people are going to look at this type of incident, Senator, and say, well, that’s where some of this populist rage gets you. Isn’t that a bit extreme?
BROWN: Well, yes, of course it’s extreme. You don’t know anything about the individual. He could have had other issues.
Certainly, no one likes paying taxes, obviously. But the way we’re trying to deal with things, and have been in the past, at least until I got here, is there’s such a logjam in Washington, and people want us to do better. They want us to help solve the problems that are affecting Americans in a very real way.
And I think we -- I’m hopeful that we can do that, with a lot of the things that are coming forward. At least what I’m hearing through — in speaking with my colleagues, there seems to be a different feel. There’s, kind of, a message was sent with my election, the fact that I was, you know, pretty — elected by a substantial margin in taking the former Ted Kennedy seat.
They want — they want somebody different. They want differences up here, and I’m – I’m hopeful that’s going to happen.
CAVUTO: You know, both sides obviously want to work with you. I know Harry Reid talked to you over the weekend about, maybe, you could help him out on this jobs bill, this new jobs initiative.
CAVUTO: But it’s a mixed-blessing kind of a thing, because Joe Biden is criticizing you over the weekend.
How are you adapting just to that, you know, just the vagaries of Washington?
BROWN: Well, it’s no different. It’s just at a larger scale.
BROWN: I mean, I have been in elected office for almost 19 years, being a Republican in Massachusetts, five out of 40 in the — in the state senate.
Then, coming here, the vice president, you know, obviously, he took a swipe at me, saying that I didn’t understand that there were attorneys in military tribunals. Well, obviously, I do, because I’m one of them. I’m a military attorney, have been serving for 30 years, still serving.
He’s missing the point. He’s trying to shift it away from the administration’s I think mistake in not treating these people as enemy combatants, interrogating them pursuant to the applicable laws, and, then, instead of giving them thousand-dollar-an-hour attorneys at taxpayer expense, and giving them rights and privileges that they’re not entitled to, we should have them be represented by a captain, a major, lieutenant colonel, at taxpayer expense, in a military tribunal setting.
So, that’s the first thing.
The second thing, obviously, the majority leader did reach out to me and I was thankful for that. We are analyzing the bill. And, sometimes, I will be the 60th senator. Other times, I will be the 41st senator. And that’s the beauty of being in this position. And I’m looking forward to the challenges.
CAVUTO: Well, would you be voting for this $15 billion jobs bill, what you know of it thus far?
BROWN: Well, the first thing I’m going to look at — first of all, it went from, what, $87 billion down to $15 billion?
BROWN: So, there’s a strike that’s in the good column. Then I’m going to – we’re obviously analyzing it right now. We’ve had people come in and help me in some areas where I wasn’t totally familiar with.
But there’s some good — good parts to it, and there’s parts where I’m hopeful we can get an open and honest discussion about maybe amending certain parts to make it better.
There’s many different ideas out there, and my goal — and I’m hopeful that the leader’s goal and the minority leader’s goal is to get something that gets people back to work, because people are hurting. They want to work.
Americans are the hardest workers in the world, and they want to have the tools to do that. And there's a role for the federal government, but the federal government also needs to know when to get out of the way.
CAVUTO: Senator, the president established this debt commission today. What do you think of that?
BROWN: Is he going to tell us we're in debt?
BROWN: I mean, we already know we're in debt. We already know we're overspending. We've raised the debt ceiling to, what, almost $13 trillion at some point. And it's out of control. We need to get a handle on spending.
I have obviously been pushing, even during the election, for an across-the-board tax cut, looking at a payroll tax reduction to get the economy immediately jolted.
We need bold new leadership on these very important fiscal issues to get our house in order. A commission's going to tell us we're overspending. Great. We already know it. Let's move on and start solving some problems.
CAVUTO: All right. But the commission, I guess, will have anywhere from nine months to close to a year to decide that. By that time, we could be in a bigger hole, right?
BROWN: Of course we could. And I think they should just say, "Yes, we're in trouble. We need to start working." Everybody knows it, and it's a waste of paper, as far as I'm concerned. And we need to start focusing on putting people back to work. And we're not going to do it by a debt commission or — or other things.
We need to take bold action, you know, put a freeze on spending, put a freeze on certain parts of spending, obviously, a freeze on federal hires and — and pay increases, and obviously doing a top-to-bottom review of every federal program, coupled with the tax cuts and the payroll tax reductions to offer incentives for businesses to — to start to hire and work and get that economic engine.
Because once we do that, once we get the economic engine going, everything else will fall into place. We'll be the — not only the military power in the world, but we'll be the economic power. And that will give us the ability to do those — all those other things that people really come to expect.
CAVUTO: Senator, we mentioned Joe Biden a little while ago. He had said as well, in a separate interview with CBS, that we understand why they're angry, referring to voters. We get it. Washington right now is broken.
He sounded like you.
BROWN: Well, I hope — I'm glad I could help, you know, contribute to the vice president's knowledge of what's going on out there. Because I can tell you, people in my state were — are incensed at the way Washington is doing the backroom deals, the carve-outs.
And a lot of that happened with the administration in the health care bills. To think that Massachusetts would be subsidizing other states with Medicaid payments and — and that special interest groups were getting carve-outside, it's not — it's not the thing that — that we wanted.
And I'm hopeful, yes, that they recognize it. But if they're going to try to — move on and have reconciliation to put another version of health care through, without having the transparency, I guarantee you that will have repercussions come 2010.
CAVUTO: I would be curious, when you talk about freezing and spending and all this sort of stuff, would you go wider than the president is presently doing? In other words, would you be open to putting some of the so-called sacred entitlement programs, like Medicare and Social Security, on that freeze list as well?
BROWN: Well, I would have supported Judd Gregg's efforts to have an up-and-down, almost like a BRAC base closure commission situation. I — I commended publicly the president's move when the — when they didn't allow for that to move forward to do it through executive order. I think it's a good first step.
So I would — I would be willing to look at an up-or-down type of vote on something like that.
CAVUTO: You know, there are a number of Republicans who've been looking at the economic data lately, Senator, and saying, while it's still pretty bad, it is improving, and that this thought that maybe elections that were phenomenons, like yours, could prove to be short-lived events for Republicans, that, by November, we could see a steady stream of good news that will deny the — this big old victory that a lot of Republicans are counting on.
What do you think of that?
BROWN: Well, we've had millions of job losses right now. What — last month or the month before, what — they had 85,000 in that month, and they revised it to I think over 150,000.
CAVUTO: Right. Right.
BROWN: I could be a little off on those numbers. This month again, we had a job loss. Obviously, those are — those are improving, but also, the weather's improving. We're coming into the spring. There's going to be more economic activity naturally.
I'm very, very concerned about the high debt we have. How are our kids and grandkids going to repay the amazing amount of debt that we're incurring? And that debt service is just so burdensome right now, that all the other things that we want to try to do, whether it's for the people — you know, the arts or the military or education, where is that money coming from? And we need to get a handle on this before it's too late.
CAVUTO: Senator, I would be remiss if — I'm getting reports now that you are going to be introducing Mitt Romney at the CPAC conference. Oh, you did.
BROWN: I already did. I already did, yes.
CAVUTO: And I know that you and the former governor are quite close. Is he your guy for 2012?
BROWN: Well, I'm not sure what his plans are. But I — I was honored that he asked me to introduce him. And we've had a long relationship. When I ran for the United States — or, sorry, for the Mass. Senate...
BROWN: ... he was the — he was there, one of the first ones. And when I ran for the United States senator — Senate, he was the only one, him and Senator McCain, that actually stepped up and encouraged me and gave me guidance.
And I was honored to be there. And — and I didn't stay for all of his speech. I had other things I'm obviously doing. But I was honored to be there for him.
CAVUTO: I'm told you were a rock star.
BROWN: I enjoy music, if that's what you mean.
CAVUTO: You know, in a number of interviews, Senator, I guess in keeping to your sort of maverick reputation, you have expressed particular admiration for mavericks like John McCain, Joe Lieberman. Neither are very conservative.
So, what are you?
BROWN: You know, Neil, people try — have tried to pigeonhole me — pigeonhole me my life. And I'm — I'm Scott Brown from Wrentham. I still drive my truck. It's right — right across the street.
And, you know, and thank God I had it, because I had the four-wheel drive. When everyone else was walking around, I was zipping...
CAVUTO: That could come in handy.
BROWN: As a Boston driver in Washington with four-wheel drive, look out.
BROWN: I'm going to look at each and every bill. As I said, sometimes I will be the 60th senator. Other times, I will be the 41st senator. You can't tell me that — that there aren't good people on both sides of these issues that can't come together to try to solve our very real problems.
And I don't know how else to explain it. Yes, people don't know a lot of me, but if they look at my history, I have worked with — on both sides of the aisle. As a Republican from Massachusetts, I have had to.
Now, maybe other senators aren't used to that on both sides of the aisle. But, once again, if — if my being here has opened things up to the point where we're going to start solving these very real security, national security, as to how we deal with terrorism, how we deal with the economic problems that are facing our businesses, both large and small, how we get a hold of the issues that are facing everybody on a daily basis — take going out for dinner, going to the movies, putting kids through college, paying your mortgage, I'm very thankful for that.
If I have done one thing to shake up Washington, I can rest happy.
CAVUTO: Are — do you relate more to the Tea Party movement or the Republican Party?
BROWN: Well, it's interesting, you know. People say, you know, tell me about the Tea Party movement.
I have great respect for every person who wants to get involved with politics. When people were working for me, they didn't come up to me and say, "You know, I'm a Tea Party person." They didn't have hats and — and shirts. They came up and said, "Hi, I'm so and so. I want to help you."
And what the Tea Party movement, I understand, means is that people are fed up with the way the government is overspending, moving more in controlling our everyday decisions in our lives, and they want to make sure that they get a handle — the federal government gets a handle on the spending.
And, you know, I agree with that, and I think many Americans agree with that.
So if we can stop the spending and stop the tax increasing and have conversation, then good for them for getting involved, and good for everybody else getting involved. I don't care what political party you're from. Bottom line is Washington is broken right now, and — and we need to start to get back to basics because as terrorists are trying to kill us at our malls and our airports, I, for one, want to make sure that my kids and my family are safe.
And I want to make sure that we handle that problem first, in addition to dealing with our economy. Because if we don't do those two very important things, then everything else is secondary.
CAVUTO: On — on the economy, Senator, if you don't mind, we — we had signs today that inflation is popping up again, wholesale inflation rising more than expected, indications the Federal Reserve could be hiking rates sooner rather than later.
Are you worried that we could be in for Jimmy Carter stagflation-type history?
BROWN: I — I'm not sure. As you know, I'm new here. We have people that are coming in to help analyze everything that's going on. Neil, I don't even have business cards yet. Our office isn't even painted, with the weather.
CAVUTO: Well, you have the truck. You have the truck.
BROWN: I mean, I would love to come back and talk to you about fiscal policy, but all I know is the amount of out-of-control spending that we have, the out-of-control debt that we're incurring, something's going to give somewhere, and it's going to happen, I think, sooner rather than later.
CAVUTO: All right.
BROWN: And I'm hopeful that we can work together to just try to solve those problems.
CAVUTO: You know, you mentioned the truck earlier. I mentioned it a number of times. The president mentioned it, almost condescendingly, in a swipe at you during the campaign.
BROWN: Yes, yes.
CAVUTO: What did you think about that?
BROWN: I know.
Well, I told him — and I asked him when he called me on victory night. I said, "Listen, you know, do you want me to bring the truck down, because I am? Do you want to come and see it?"
BROWN: And I remember, during campaigning, I said, "Listen, you can criticize my policies. You can criticize my votes, but don't criticize — don't criticize my truck."
And people loved it. It was a lot of fun.
CAVUTO: Yes. You scored a lot of points on that truck.
You're also scoring points, nationally, in some of these polls nationally, believe it or not. I guess it couldn't be too surprising.
Random Republican polls, some have you as high as third or fourth in the 2012 presidential race. What do you make of that?
BROWN: Well, it's certainly flattering, but, as I said before, I don't have — I see the — I see the poll right there — I don't even have a business card.
BROWN: The only people that are talking to about those — those types of polls are you. I'm very excited to just...
CAVUTO: But you would have more experience, Senator, than the present occupant of the White House coming in.
BROWN: Well, whatever. I'm not even going to comment on that.
BROWN: I'm just so anxious to get to work...
CAVUTO: All right.
BROWN: ... and look forward to working for Massachusetts. It's — I will let you guys have fun with that one.
CAVUTO: And I will.
Scott Brown, thank you very, very much.
BROWN: Thank you, and thanks for having me back on after the technical difficulties. Thank you.
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