OTR Interviews

Gingrich: Obama Is the Most Successful Food Stamp President in American History

GOP presidential hopeful on Greece's catastrophic debt and unrest, U.S. lessons and his 'food stamp' comments on President Obama

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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Footage of shouting and protests in Athens, Greece

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: That's Athens, Greece. Violence is seizing that city. Protesters hitting the streets, enraged about the potential of new austerity measures. It's no secret is in trouble. It's government is trying to find its way out of a catastrophic meltdown resulting from the staggering national debt.

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And what is happening in Greece is striking a nerve here in the United States? How about our own debt? Joining us Republican presidential contender and author of the brand new book "A Nation like No Other," former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, nice to see you. We see what going on in Greece now about these new austerity measures that may go into effect. Any chance the United States is remotely heading into the direction Greece is?

NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A chance we are headed towards the huge financial problem. They are professional anarchists who want to create violence. The best thing the police there can do is lock them up. These are people who want violence.

There were several thousand peaceful protesters more like what happened in Madison, Wisconsin here. Those were folks representing government unions didn't want to see their contracts changed. The real violence is caused by people out to create violence. It's nothing about the meltdown.

The problem the Greeks have and the problem we have is that politicians have promised more than they can deliver. People like the promises. When you start saying we're going to have to change it people start counting up what they are going to lose.

In Greece they are in so much trouble they could lose one-third of their total value. If you are somebody who has been working all your life, could you lose a third of everything you saved your whole lifetime. And it's combined with real anger at Germany, which occupied Greece in World War II. You have a combination of nationalism and real economic fear coming to the. I think it is going to be a mess and it is going to stay a mess for a long time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here in the United States the president is meeting with leaders on Capitol Hill. Republicans say no to tax increases. Democrats are not going as far as spending cuts Republicans want. So there's a line drawn in the sand, do you agree?

GINGRICH: I think the line has been drawn. On the Democratic side it is a silly line.

VAN SUSTEREN: I would expect you to say that about the Democrats, because it is the other party.

GINGRICH: Republicans ought to say we'll accept the cuts the Democrats have offered, whatever that number and we'll raise the debt ceiling the amount the Democrats are prepared to cut. That might be three months, two months, whatever. Let the Democrats decide how long the debt ceiling is going to last by the amount they are willing to cut. With 14 million people unemployed, to have a tax increase to further weaken the economy is truly socialist economics. It makes no sense at all in this country to raise taxes right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you were still speaker or president that would be your line. Under no circumstances taxes being raised, correct?

GINGRICH: My line would be we ought to have dramatic economic growth package and get people back to work because nothing will do more to balance the budget than getting people to work.

VAN SUSTEREN: If that is your position and if the Democrats are unwilling to change their position, and that's as far as we get in terms of -- both sides will say you have compromised, the fact is nobody is moving any closer, what would happen?

GINGRICH: I think the House Republicans should pass the package the Democrats have offered on spending side. Democrats can decide if they want to obstruct or not and the president can decide if he wants to sign it.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think will happen?

GINGRICH: If the Republicans are calm and cheerful, the president will sign a spending cut only bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: You think the Republicans will not budge on the tax cuts and the Democrats will move closer to the Republicans' position?

GINGRICH: Democrats are faced with a real crisis. The president is about to preside over the United States defaulting on its debt. He can't do that. So he is going to have to in the end agree to something. The Republicans are in a position to say they are very happy to avoid a default if he will sign a spending cut bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think what the Democrats will say, they are going to say the Republicans just want the rich to have all the money and they are willing to put the country in default to do that.

GINGRICH: Right. If you are the Republicans you should say we have more people on food stamps today than ever before in history. President Obama is the most successful food stamp president in American history. We need a program to put 14 million Americans back to work. We are committed to creating jobs. The Democrats are committed to killing jobs. You decide which future you want, paychecks or food stamps?

Republicans shouldn't flinch because Democrats yell class warfare. Republicans shouldn't blink and run for the hills. They ought to be calm and say this is the Obama depression it is going to get worse under his policies and we ought to change it now.

VAN SUSTEREN: The thing that always bothers me is that there's talk about whether to raise taxes, not raise taxes, spending cuts, but there seems to be little talk about waste and fraud and improper payments.

I have a copy of improper payments by the federal government. The numbers are staggering for last year. Department of Health and Human Services Medicare fee for service, %34.3 billion improper payments. Medicine -- Medicaid $22.5 billion dollars, unemployment insurance department of labor overpayment $17.5 billion, billions and billions of dollars. That seems like it would be so politically attractive that any party would seize upon an opportunity to do that.

GINGRICH: I think it is frankly mystifying. At the center for health transformation a couple years ago we published a book called "Stop buy paying the crooks." We thought that title would be catchy enough that Washington pay attention. We believe the total amount of fraud and theft in Medicare and Medicaid is $720 billion a year.

VAN SUSTEREN: But why?

GINGRICH: I can't tell you. IBM and dell and other high-tech companies have offered to show how to save 125 billion dollars a year. American express, IBM and Visa have offered to show most of the fraud, in Medicare and Medicaid.

You cannot get either the Congress or the president who slow down and look at better management. It is either do you want more or less? I would like a lot less theft. It is very hard to get them to pay attention. You raised the right point. There are potentially a trillion dollars or more sitting on table in savings over the next 10 years if we would have a serious initiative on managing the federal government.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker we are going to take a quick break. I hope you'll stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Breaking news in Afghanistan, a deadly, savage attack by the Taliban at a Kabul hotel. A dozen people murdered at a place where many guests are Americans and journalists. They seized the hotel dressed in civilian clothes and stormed inside. Right now the United States is sending more troops to the hotel.

Newt Gingrich is back with us. What do you think about that?

GINGRICH: I think we are drifting to a very, very dangerous situation. None of the generals recommended the speed of the drawdown the president wants. We are beginning to lose in the region.

You just had a meeting this week in Iran the president of Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iran to sit down with Ahmadinejad, the dictator of Iran. That has to be seen as an insult in the United States. Iranians just got elected vice president of the general assembly.

And if you watch what is happening there's a steady drift from the United States at a time when the president is signaling his desire to get out as fast as he can and potentially faster than the generals think is safe.

VAN SUSTEREN: I sort of thought the president was listening to his generals and taking advice from the commanders in the field. Today, there was a question and answer with Senator Lindsey Graham in which it seemed to indicate that the president's option was not recommended by the generals.

GINGRICH: I thought Senator Graham did a good job today. Generals have an obligation to answer honestly, if asked the right question they will never volunteer. They shouldn't. In the way the senator set it up was right. Neither General Petraeus nor any other senior general recommended this speed and scale of withdrawal.

The danger is twofold. The first is, the president is now signaling to the world we are getting out. The French are getting out faster. NATO forces will draw down quickly. If you are the Afghans and Pakistanis, do you want to rely on the United States or look around the region and look at China, look at Iran and say, gosh, maybe I better find a new ally because maybe the Americans are going to be gone.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think the president will revisit his draw down in light of what happened today?

GINGRICH: I think the president is under enormous pressure from the anti-war left. They thought they nominated him and beat Senator [Hillary] Clinton in order to get somebody who is much more anti-war. Instead he's given them an additional war in Libya. He's under some reelection pressure.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess when it comes to war the last thing we want to do is accuse people of acting for political reasons.

GINGRICH: You should go to the White House and ask the president why did he overrule all his generals? What is his rationale? What secret knowledge does he have that leads him to overrule his generals? He seems determined to have the drawdown finished by sometime next year. Why? What is the magic of the dates the president is picking? I don't have an answer.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'd love to have him come here. I would love to ask him that question.

To your campaign, how is the campaign going?

GINGRICH: Much better. We've been gradually recovering from the consultants who left us in debt and since they've been gone we've been raising more than we've been spending.

More importantly we had today the three Huckabee co-chairman for Georgia all endorse me. We are now seeing people come our way in a serious way. I'll be in Iowa for 16 days in July and August, including being at the Clear Lake parade on the 4th of July. So I'm looking forward to it. We had a good trip to Iowa last Saturday.

This going to be a long campaign. On my side it is going to be a substantive campaign about how to create jobs, renew American exceptionalism.

VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone says create jobs. How do you convince voters that you know how to create jobs better than somebody else?

GINGRICH: You have to have a plan, which I do. Starting with tax cuts and deregulation and an American energy policy many second, I worked with Reagan in the late 70s, early 80s and he created an enormous wave of new jobs. In 1994 I became speaker and we followed the same strategy of lower taxes, less regulation, welfare reform, and we brought unemployment down from 5.6 to under four percent.

VAN SUSTEREN: So how come you aren't killing everybody in the polls in Iowa?

GINGRICH: It is going to take time. In 2007, Giuliani and Clinton were going to be the nominees. At this table in 1979 Teddy Kennedy was beating Ronald Reagan by 60-30.

I'm convinced over time people will know we are in real trouble. They also know people are very worried about the radicalism of this president, the values he represents. I think it is a combination of an economic policy reasserting American exceptionalism and having serious about national and Homeland Security.

Having done this before, if you go back to 1994, nobody in the city thought I was going to become speaker. Nobody thought the Republicans were going to be a majority.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, thank you, sir.

GINGRICH: Thank you.