This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 24, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: So, did tonight's speech change any minds or are the Republicans still standing strong?
Joining me now is the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele.
Mr. Chairman, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.
MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CMTE.: Good to be with you, Mr. Hannity.
HANNITY: OK, one point — I'm not going to get through to Democrats; 1.3 trillion, 410 billion, 9,000 earmarks. We're being told this is fiscally responsible.
STEELE: Sean, at some point we're going to get to real money. We have passed that point, though. The American people have to realize that since Barack Obama has taken the oath of office he has spent $36 billion a day. And I don't care how you cut that.
HANNITY: $36 billion?
STEELE: $36 billion a day with this package that he has now gotten into the system. We have looked at a trillion dollars of cash coming out of our pockets, into the government.
Now this week, they are going to present an omnibus bill with 9,000-plus additional pork barrel spending projects for a total of $400 billion, $1.4 trillion in a week. Not bad for a guy who wants — talks about smaller government, right?
HANNITY: Will Republicans — Bobby Jindal addressed this, you have addressed this. I have addressed this, that Republicans lost their way as it relates to fiscal responsibility. Now they seem to be realizing, after two significant election losses that the American people want fiscal responsibility. Are they pledging no earmarks themselves?
STEELE: Absolutely, they better be, if they know is good for them they had better be. And the reality of it is — look, you know, since I've become chairman of this party, some three weeks ago, I have put us on a 12-step program to recovery. I get it. We lost our way. We messed up. We got to Washington, drank from the Potomac, got all high and happy and acted stupid. We spent money, we grew the size of government and we have paid a dear price for it. I think we know of what we speak when we talk about the impact on this country and families and communities, from excessive government spending and overreach by the federal government.
So, I think right now we're in a better position, Sean, to make the argument that a fiscally conservative approach, with sound, prudent fiscal policies and economic policies is the best way, trusting smaller government, trusting small businesses to grow us out of this situation.
HANNITY: What do you make of the speed by which it seems that Barack Obama wants to move here? They have already started this week. They have their health care summit moving forward. We know there is a little backdoor — they are working on the census, they're working on perhaps some version of censoring talk radio, or opposition talk. They're moving very quickly to get these things done. They have used a lot of fear tactics. The president backed off that today.
Do you see this as an huge power grab? And do you think he's basically using all of his political capital early, now?
STEELE: I think he is, to a certain extent, using lot of his political capital early for a lot of reasons. This is a massive reorientation of the government and the economy of this country. You want to do it as quickly as you can and, of course, as you know a fast target is a hard target to hit.
But the reality for me as the chairman of the Republican National Committee, for the Republicans in the House and the Senate is to try to be as one-step ahead as possible to make sure the American people see the transparency that this government claims should be there. And to expose for what it is, the excessive spending, the continual use of pork barrel through earmarks, and the like.
So, we want to be diligent here. We want to be responsible. The president tonight called on us to streamline, to get the excess fat out of the system, and to produce prudent policies. We are down with that.
HANNITY: How realistic -–
STEELE: That's exactly what we want to do.
HANNITY: Why should we have faith, hope and confidence — we have the massive, you know, most massive pork-laden bill ever passed, last week. I almost found that — it's beyond incredulous to believe it.
STEELE: Well, it is. And that's why I think it is important for particularly from my position to make sure that the American people know what's in this legislation. What's in this bill, the impact it is going to have on families.
I've said all along, Sean, yeah, you put this kind of cash into the system sure there is going to be a period of leveling off and things will look good but the hard stuff is yet to come. And we need to be on top of it.
HANNITY: Michael Steele, all the best. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate your time.
STEELE: Thank you, buddy.
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