Bad for Martha, Good for Bush?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto", March 8, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Is what’s bad for Martha Stewart good for President Bush? My next guest says the president’s crackdown on corporate crime is yielding results. With us now, Republican Congressman Roy Blunt, who just so happens to be the House majority whip.

Congressman, Mr. Whip, what about that? Does it help the president to look like "I’m spearheading this effort to crackdown on corporate crime?"

REP. ROY BLUNT, R-MO., MAJORITY WHIP: Well, the president has done that. He’s called on the Congress to do things. We have done them. Those things we didn’t need to do he’s done on his own, and so they’ve acted aggressively to remove board members who weren’t responsive.

I think over 100 cases, where they’ve tried to either remove corporate officers or board members who weren’t doing what they were supposed to do. And my sense is the president has always come across in the country as more of a Main Street Republican than a Wall Street Republican. And being willing to go after these major figures in Wall Street who have created, you know, lack of trust in the financial markets, is a worthy thing to be concerned about and worthy for the president to be a leader on.

CAVUTO: I don’t want to be cynical or jaded, Congressman, but is that how one can read John Ashcroft himself indicated two weeks ago this multiple count indictment against WorldCom former boss, Bernie Ebbers?

BLUNT: I don’t think that that is why they would be doing this. I really do think that the president is offended by those who have misled their shareholders, by those who have overstated their own profits, hid their own compensation packages.

I really think it is something that the president and the administration are offended by. They understand the impact it has on the fabric of the investment community. And they are legitimately doing what they need to do here.

CAVUTO: Still, his opponent is casting him as a Wall Street buddy, with all the tax benefits and capital gains. Really the stuff that benefits the fat cats. Which wins out ultimately do you think ultimately?

BLUNT: I think what’s going to happen ultimately is that the economy is on the way back because of the president’s policies of tax cuts and incentives to invest. At the end of the day, that is what matters, not how you get this economy started, but the fact that it does get started.

That creates jobs, opportunity, and secures people in their retirement funds and other funds. You can’t find an economist who argues that those tax cuts and those incentives weren’t the thing that got the economy back headed in the right direction.

CAVUTO: You were among a very few, Congressman, who had said, you know, be careful bashing Wall Street or investors, because there are a lot of investors out there. Something to that effect. I apologize if I didn’t get it right. Do you think that the Democrats risk shooting themselves in the foot by making this a class warfare game?

BLUNT: I think what’s going to happen is you’re going to find so many inconsistencies in what people have done and now what they say. Who they’ve associated with, who they now attack. I think that is -- you know, hypocrisy is in politics the most dangerous of all sins, it seems.

And I think there is going to be plenty of evidence that these guys in the primary have been, particularly John Kerry, has wound up to be presenting a totally different picture of himself than the facts will show. And that is much more dangerous than having admitted where he has been on issues.

CAVUTO: Yes. The bottom line, it would help the president to see a lot of the fat cats behind bars?

BLUNT: Well, you know, I think it helps the president to show that he is aggressively trying to create an environment the people can invest in. I don’t know that the president has been particular benefit from people going behind bars. I do know that seeing people take their board responsibilities and their officer responsibilities more seriously is helpful to the economy, and that helps the president.

CAVUTO: Congressman Blunt, always good seeing you. Thanks.

BLUNT: Good to see you.

CAVUTO: Stop by more often, all right?

BLUNT: Good to be here.

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