Interviews

President's Jobs Plan Sparks Democratic Backlash

Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader on potential primary challenger for Obama, economy

 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Welcome, everybody. I’m Neil Cavuto.

And he came from the left, but now might be feeling simply left out because increasingly on the left they are just opting out and speaking out each day, every day, one Democrat, then another Democrat, all having fits about this Democrat and a jobs bill they say won’t create jobs and increasingly calling into question whether he will keep his job. Many in the president’s own party clearly indicating they have their doubts, so many courts about a half-trillion dollars in new spending some Democrats say is too much and others say is not nearly enough, and a ballooning scandal involving a now bankrupt company that once looked like a good use of green, now just having embarrassed Democrats seeing red.

And since Republican Bob Turner upset nearly a century of Democratic rule in a congressional district once occupied by a guy named Weiner, growing fears this president ain’t exactly looking like a winner, growing talk of a challenge within his own party.

To the guy who says, forget the challenge, forget the president, forget the party, maybe, while you are at it, forget both parties.

Disheartened Ralph Nader says it is time for something bigger because right about now, this particular president, well, he actually could not be looking smaller.

Ralph joins us in Washington.

What is going on here, Ralph, apart from just this increasing repudiation of the president? It’s one thing on the right, but now on the left. What is going on?

RALPH NADER, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, a lot of liberal progressives remember his promises in 2008. He was going to push for raising the minimum wage to $9.50. It is now $7.25. He has never mentioned it since.

He was going to make it easier for workers to form trade unions so they can organize the way investors and corporate executives are. He hasn’t done that. He said he was going to revise NAFTA and was skeptical of some of these job-depleting trade agreements to Third World countries, and he has gone just the opposite way. He’s supporting the South Korea one.

He has continued the military and foreign policy of George W. Bush. And he supported the extension of the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthy. So, those are some of the things...

CAVUTO: OK. Well, outside of that, all right?

NADER: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But in all seriousness, very early on, Ralph, you didn’t like the way things were going in this administration. Now, many on the right have argued he has done more liberal things than they can count and they are sick of it.

But there is a growing progressive movement and led I think by you early saying, wait a minute, you are not going far enough. But the president is getting it from both sides of the Democratic Party, the progressives and the more liberal like you who say you should have done and should be doing more, and the more moderate conservative Blue Dog Democrats types who say you are doing too much.

Is he doomed within his own party? In other words, is he losing both the left and the right?

NADER: He seems to. It is a little early to write him off, as you know.

But what is important is he should pursue redirections in this country that are definitely supported by a majority of the people. You talk to conservatives who work in Wal-Mart; you think they want to work for $7.42? Do you think people, chambers of commerce all over the country do not want a public works program to repair America, all these public buildings and...

CAVUTO: Well, actually there are a lot of chambers of commerce who wouldn’t support a public works program because the history has been good money going after bad.

(CROSSTALK)

NADER: Well, actually, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on record as supporting it.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, no, no, no, what they are not for is wasted infrastructure spending like we just had the last go-around. They want it more targeted.

NADER: Well, of course. Who is for wasteful spending?

(CROSSTALK)

NADER: What?

CAVUTO: That’s the rap against this president that he is.

NADER: Yes. Yes.

CAVUTO: So, now we get back to this basic point of whether there is going to be a challenge to this president. You have run as a third-party candidate. You have been a burr in the saddle to Democrats for a while. What now?

NADER: Well, we are going to be releasing a letter signed by over 40 people with distinguished backgrounds in labor, military, foreign policy, environment, consumer, you name it. And that letter will go out to maybe 200 people around the country, maybe some former university presidents, former elected members of Congress who have retired, maybe some progressive business leaders, civic leaders.

And the pitch is, look, take six months off from your routine, form a slat, challenge Obama in the primaries, not that you will defeat him. You can’t with a slate. But you will hold his feet to the fire and make him address many of the major agenda items supported by a majority of the American people.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, have you had anyone respond to that, Ralph? Have people said that they would be interested?

NADER: The letter will be going...

CAVUTO: Oh, it hasn’t gone out yet.

NADER: The letter will be going out in a few days.

Neil, I will send you a copy.

CAVUTO: OK.

NADER: The important thing here is if he is not challenged from the progressive liberal wing of his party that elected him, there will be a very dull campaign. People will be no enthusiastic. More and more people will stay home, Democrats, and it is not good for him. If he is a good debater, if he knows his facts, he will want to be challenged because he will come out much sharper in terms of the demarcation...

CAVUTO: Well, I don’t know about that, Ralph. I will talk to Pat Caddell, who is a great historian on this stuff. Normally, when a president is challenged within his own party, he loses. But you might be right about it would sharpen his skills, maybe too little, too late at that point.

But having said, do you think is there the appetite, whatever the frustrations people feel with this president and Congress -- its approval ratings are nothing to write home about -- that that a third party might be more welcome or is it such a hurdle that it just can’t happen?

NADER: It is a hurdle if you are not a multibillionaire. If you come in like Perot or like a Bloomberg or someone else -- and there are a lot of billionaires -- then you can get open the ballot because you have got the money to hire the petitioners and you can qualify and it will be a three- way race.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: What about you? Are you ever going to run again?

NADER: No, very unlikely.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Why?

NADER: The important thing -- because it is a two-party dictatorship unless you are worth billions of dollars to overcome all the obstacles, harassment, and all the...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Yes, but you are talking about having a slate going out, a slate of people who could challenge Obama. Obviously you’re setting the stage for something that doesn’t necessarily involve billionaires.

NADER: Yes. Well, this is basically an agenda debate inside the party. And that is very, very important to get anyone enthusiastic about defeating the Republicans.

The Republicans are so extreme on the right. They are crazed, Neil. They’re crazed. Look at Cantor. The other day, he said, no, we should not send money for hurricane victims, some in his home state of Virginia, until there is a set off on the deficit. These people are absolutely crazed. There has never been a Republican extreme party in the history of the United States.

CAVUTO: Well, there is nothing wrong with just making sure whatever you do is paid for, right? That’s not a crazy concept.

NADER: Wait a minute. You have got an emergency here. You have got people -- floods. You have got people who need food. Their kids need shelter.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Wait a minute. You could draw definitions of emergencies and problems all the time. There could be disasters left and right and you have got to be able ahead of time to help those very people out have money in the till to address them and help, right?

NADER: That is true, but you do not hold it up until they get through the House and Senate with a set off.

CAVUTO: So you actually still hate Republicans more than Democrats; that’s fair to say?

NADER: Well, Republicans are no longer what they were. You do not have Saltonstall or Richardson or Javits.

CAVUTO: Yes, but you just said neither are Democrats.

NADER: These Republicans, Neil, they would scare you if you would listen and read what they are saying.

(CROSSTALK)

NADER: They are totally crazed on Capitol Hill. They don’t care if millions of Americans die from preventable causes, whether it’s hospital infections or...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Now you are getting a little wacky. And you’re a smart guy.

(CROSSTALK)

NADER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

CAVUTO: All right.

NADER: Eight hundred Americans die every week because they can’t afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated.

CAVUTO: You are saying there’s a Republican cabal to say screw them all and we hope they die? Think that through.

(CROSSTALK)

NADER: No, they are juvenile, monetized minds.

CAVUTO: OK. All right. Well, you always speak your mind. We can politely disagree, but it’s always good seeing you.

(CROSSTALK)

NADER: Let me give you an idea of how to jump-start the economy.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Real quick.

NADER: All these companies sitting on $2 trillion, idled money, $2 trillion, these are nonfinancial numbers like Apple and so on. If they would give more dividends to their shareholders, instead of sitting on idled money, there would be more consumer expenditure, more consumer demand.

And we are starting with Cisco. Those of you, who are Cisco shareholders, contact me at shareholders@Nader.org, because this is a whole new stimulus because this money is their money, Neil. This is the money of the shareholders that these managers are sitting on. And they have got to give dividends.

CAVUTO: Well, they generally sit on that cash for research and development or to expand. It isn’t always going to dividends, right?

(CROSSTALK)

NADER: Yes. No, they are just sitting there at 0.2 percent interest in rollover bonds, overnight bonds. The point is that they have got to give more money back to their shareholders. Apple is sitting on $75 billion.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, it’s nice to see a liberal going after Apple. That doesn’t happen.

So, Ralph, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you very, very much.

NADER: Thank you, Neil. Keep it up.

CAVUTO: All right, buddy, Ralph Nader.

All sides are covered here. But that is interesting within the Democratic Party, this revolt going on.

Content and Programming Copyright 2011 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright CQ-2011 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.