OTR Interviews

Gingrich: Economy Is 'Crumbling Under Bureaucratic Socialism,' Obama, Congress in 'State of Denial'

Former House speaker discusses Thursday's GOP presidential debate, the Iowa straw poll and lack of leadership on the economy

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Are we in economic denial? We are broke, we need jobs, Washington is in a mess, and the Wall Street world is crumbling. So exactly what is being done right now to fix our struggling economy, and will it work? We asked Republican presidential contender and former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker nice to see you, sir.

NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: I must note, you have a nice relaxed Iowa look about yourself. No suit and tie tonight.

GINGRICH: We are on the way to the parade which kicks off the fair. Tomorrow morning at 8:00, the fairground opens. I was there at WHO, and people are already eating and having a good time. It is going to be a great fair.

VAN SUSTEREN: Great time in Iowa but not so great across the country. The Dow plunged 519 points, essentially wiping out all the recent gains. Why did it happen? And what should we do about it?

GINGRICH: Well, we have been following policies that aren't going to work. They aren't working. I think Congress should come back in and start by passing the repeal of the Dodd-Frank bill on day one, move to repeal Sarbanes-Oxley on day two. Go through as many federal regulations as they can and repeal them in order to let state governments, local governments, businesses focus on doing their jobs.

This economy is crumbling under a bureaucratic socialism in which Washington dictates every aspect of life. The result is people aren't hiring. Folks are running out of money. I think we are going to see the economy stay in deep trouble unless there's a profound change in direction.

VAN SUSTEREN: You say Congress should come back in. Are you suggesting they come back right now or wait until the end of the recess, number one? Number two, the president is about to go on a nine-day vacation to Martha's Vineyard. Washington is a ghost town.

GINGRICH: I just think when you have 14 million Americans out of work and another 10 million either underemployed or have given up looking, and you see the disaster, 2,000 point drop in the last 14 days of trading on the Dow Jones average, for example, you have to ask yourself, shouldn't the political leadership of the country do something?

I'm respectful of the fact that August vacations are sort of sacrosanct. I'm also very aware if we have three, four more weeks of this kind of decay they are going to come back in September to a country that is in very, very dangerous condition.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why don't they do that? Why doesn't the president stand up and demand that the speaker and Senate majority leader do it? Why don't they do it themselves? What can be going on in their minds as to why this isn't urgent and shouldn't be done now?

GINGRICH: I think they are in a period of denial. You look at the mess over the debt ceiling and you think to yourself, it should be possible for Americans to come together and find a way to do some things. I mentioned a couple that don't cost money. Repealing Dodd-Frank would actually save money. Repealing Sarbanes-Oxley would not cost any money. There are a number of other steps you can take like that. Cleaning out many of the unnecessary regulations by enforcing the 10th amendment would not cost money.

So without getting into a budget fight there are six, eight, nine things you can do overnight. I've been talking with a gentleman name Michael George who helped found a management system. He believes if you tried to modernize the federal government you would save $500 billion a year. That's $5 trillion over 10 years.

I don't sense any appetite in Washington for serious thinking about doing it differently. It's as if everybody says we want a different outcome. Now let's go back and do the same stuff that isn't working. And I think that is unfortunate in both parties. We need to take a deep breath, step back and realize that this ain't working and it is time to try some very different, new approaches.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think everyone is hanging his or her hat on the super committee. But the committee report doesn't come until November. Should we be satisfied that is a structural change that is coming and perhaps they can fix things, or should we be impatient, and is that a compromise trying to at least get something passed, or is that caving in? Tell me what you think about it.

GINGRICH: I think, first of all, that the Congress ought to focus operate economy now, not wait until November not look for some magic. Second, I believe this so-called super committee should have all of its meetings in public, on C-Span. Every proposal should be in writing on the Internet.

I am deeply opposed to 12 people becoming a super Congress, hiding, and then magically springing a bad idea on us at Thanksgiving. It is like being told we need to cut off your right leg or we can shoot you. Which do you prefer?

I'm fed up which the series of crises in which politicians come up with a set of bad choices and ask us to pick which we dislike least. I think what we ought to have, frankly, is the legislative process, committees doing their job, subcommittees doing their job. We ought to have hearings on new ideas, new approaches.

Twelve people can't possibly understand trillions and trillions of dollars. And I'm very dubious we keep shrinking the circle. There are 435 house members, 100 senators. They should all be engaged. They should all be helping draft this. It should all be out in the open for the American people.

But creating jobs now I think comes before you get to that committee. And Congress ought to come back and focus on this economic crisis and pass the kind of things I just described. If you repeal Dodd-Frank you would overnight liberate community banks, enable small businesses, realtors, home builders, all of them to have a dramatically better future. The turnaround would be 24, 48 hours. The minute they knew it would happen, you would see economic activity picking up.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tomorrow is a big night in Republican politics. It is the Iowa debate. And of course FOX News is part of this debate, sponsoring the debate. What's your strategy?

GINGRICH: My strategy is to be very clear about solutions, to focus on solutions, now, to suggest that talking about what I would do in January of 2013 in a country that has three wars underway, faced with a crisis at the United Nations in September over the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, is faced with a decaying economy, that it would be nice for the presidential candidates to describe leadership right now. What should be done right now?

And I will focus by effort tomorrow night in Ames -- I'm looking forward to being there, to focusing on what we need to do right now in national security and in economics, in order to get in country on the right track.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you expect that President Obama will be the main subject and the opponent of all the candidates, or will the candidates attempt to contrast and compare each other in a different position so we can see how anybody is different or how anybody is the same?

GINGRICH: I don't know what the other candidates will do. I'm going to focus on what America needs to get done. I'm not going to focus on President Obama. I think everybody understands he's failing. The question is what would succeed.

This isn't just partisan politics. It isn't just name-calling. The question is, what is each candidate's solution at a time when America's economy is in desperate trouble? And I think we need to have a real focus on how we would lead, what we would propose, and how we would get things done in a positive way. There's enough negative news in the real world we don't have to make negative political news. We have to offer I think genuine, positive solutions to give people a sense of hope.

VAN SUSTEREN: While you're debating on the state, I want you to know that we on Gretawire.com are going to have a live chat, so that's a warning, beware.

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: OK, I look forward it to.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)