OTR Interviews

Perry: Washington 'Needs an Incredible Overhaul'

GOP presidential hopeful on why Geithner and Bernanke should resign or be fired, transparency in government, amnesty versus securing the border, why Congress should be part-time and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 29, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, a very significant development in the battle for the White House. President Obama hits a new low. He now has the worst job approval rating of any president at this stage of his term, just 43 percent. So what will the GOP candidates do to cash in on the president's unpopularity?

We spoke with Governor Rick Perry earlier tonight.


VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: Good. OK, Governor, I'm going to help you out on one. I'm going to let you end a mess. Here's the quiz. Voting age in this country is what?


PERRY: It is 18.


VAN SUSTEREN: OK. I know you're getting -- you're getting -- you're getting grilled on that one.


PERRY: I know. Anyway, I -- from time to time, I will make a mistake.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, I'm just teasing you anyway. I'm -- you know...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... just having fun with you. All right, now for some real questions. You say that the Federal Reserve chairman, Bernanke, and the secretary of Treasury, Geithner, should be resign or be fired. Why?

PERRY: Well, look, when you look at $1.7 trillion that secretly was transferred over to Wall Street financiers, that is just totally and absolutely irresponsible and unprofessional. And frankly, if they worked for me, they would -- obviously, I understand the Federal Reserve chairman has terms. But I would ask them both to step down.

I mean, it's just -- that's what's wrong with Washington, D.C. It's why I've talked about the idea that we need to overhaul Washington, D.C. You can't just be nibbling around the edges.

This place needs an incredible overhaul, starting with making the Congress part-time. I have not had as big a response from people of all of the things that I've laid out, whether it was my energy plan, whether it was my 20 percent flat tax, whether it was the balancing the budget by 2020, as I have calling for a part-time United States Congress and Senate, the way our Founding Fathers looked and called for to begin with.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, you talk about $1.2 trillion secret loan that was to big banks by the Federal Reserve. That was done in December of '08, sort of in that gray area, after President Obama was voted president, but (INAUDIBLE) president-elect, and before he became president of the United States in January.

Does that fall on the plate of Governor -- I mean, of President Bush, or is that President Barack Obama, president-elect?

PERRY: I think -- I think that falls on the plate of Washington, D.C. Listen, all of Washington was at fault here. From my perspective, they should have been talking about reducing the tax burden and reducing the regulatory burden, not bailing out Wall Street financiers. That is the issue here. This is not a Democrat or Republican problem, they're both at fault when it comes to the TARP, to the bail-outs, to the stimulus. All of those collectively have made Americans really lose confidence in Washington, D.C. And so...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what I don't like -- you know what I don't like about it, the whole thing, is that it took so much -- it too almost three years of prying to find out who got loans. We still don't know exactly which banks got it or not.


VAN SUSTEREN: The thing that I think -- you know, look, I don't -- I don't know -- the Federal Reserve has a job to do. It's been lending money for about 100 years to banks. But the thing that actually sort of catches my attention is that, why does it take so much to get transparency in our government, to find out what they're doing?

PERRY: Right. Well, and you see that from top to bottom, people that are so recalcitrant to just -- to be transparent. It's one of the things I'm really proud of in Texas is that we've received awards for the transparency in our agencies. And again, I want to bring that to Washington, D.C. When you're not transparent, you can go work somewhere else.

From my perspective, trying to cover up those types of transactions is incredibly unprofessional, irresponsible, and it's not the type of people we need leading this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, immigration. I've been on the border with you, flown in a helicopter over the Mexico-Texas borders, and I know that you want to secure the border. But I'm curious. What are your thoughts about the 11 million people -- just so I'm clear -- the 11 million people in this country estimated who are here illegally? What would you do with them day one, day two, day three of President Perry?

PERRY: Well, the issue -- and I know it's one that people ask a lot, and the fact is, it's just an intellectual conversation until we secure the borders. One of the reasons that...

VAN SUSTEREN: Assume we do. Assume we -- I mean, that's a real problem. I mean, you can't just say secure the border and ignore the fact -- because I think the American people want to know, you know, are you going to let those 11 million people stay? Are they going to have a path to citizenship? Are you going to deport them? What's your plan?

PERRY: Well, one of the things we're not going to do is support amnesty. There's not anybody that's going to be -- I don't care whether you've been here 25 days or 25 years, there's not going to be amnesty involved in the program. Americans have made it very clear that they're not going to support amnesty. There are a host of ways to address this issue. But again, I'm not going to sit here...

VAN SUSTEREN: What would you do? Well, what would you do?

PERRY: But I'm not going to sit here and go through and talk about all the different options because there may be some ideas that haven't been talked about yet. So I'm going to stick with the folks like Sheriff Arpaio, who was with me today and who's endorsing my candidacy, and work on securing the border because until you get the border secure, all of these issues about immigration reform are frankly just intellectual engagement and -- and...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Governor, with all due respect, I think that's half an answer because I accept the fact that you want to do it in a two-stage process, first secure the borders. I understand that that's your first thing. But you know, I think the American people -- the voters sort of want to know what your sort of long-term vision is. Once you do secure the borders, some people, voters, may want you to have amnesty, some may want a path to citizenship, some may want you to deport them. But the American voters want to know, you know, what would your presidency do?

PERRY: And I think that is exactly the process we ought to go through. We ought to have that conversation with the part-time Congress and with the people of this country of, how do we want to deal with this? Are there people that we're going say, You know what? We're going to allow you to pay a fine. Are there people that we're going to say, This is how we're going to deal with you? Are there people that we're going to say, Listen, we're going to send you back to your country of origin, and you apply for a new type of immigration program that we're putting into place to speed up the ability for people who have certain skills to come in and be engaged.

But the idea that I can give you a piece of legislation today that ticks off...

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not asking you for legislation. I want your vision. It's not legislation, but there are very distinctive -- there are very different things that could be done, and I'm trying to understand, you know, what it is that you think would be the right thing to do.

I mean, you must have some idea in terms in terms of the 11 million because it's not an insignificant matter. It's not a hypothetical. They're really here. A lot of them have, you know, children here in the United States, born here in the United States. Some are good citizens -- some -- or not good citizens, but some are good neighbors, some are not good neighbors. And I would think that you would have some idea about once you secure the border as you want, what are you going to do about the 11 million?

PERRY: Well, and again, I think I've laid out a number of concepts and ideas. I don't know which of those the American people want, and that's the reason that we need to have this long and lengthy conversation - - not necessarily long, frankly, but a conversation and a discussion, a debate about how do we deal with these 11 million people.

I don't know that if I have all the right answers. And one thing I have learned, that on this very volatile issue of immigration and immigration reform, we need to talk to the American people. We need to get their input. We need to listen to them. I'm sure there are a lot of people that could say, Here's exactly what I would do, but the American people say, No, that is not what we're going to do.

So rather than put myself in a box and say, Here is exactly what I would do, I'm going to sit and have conversations with the American people. We've got plenty of time to do that because we're not going to secure the border with this administration. It's going to take a new president.

And I have the background and the track record to secure the border. And again, the sheriff of Maricopa County believes of all the candidates running, I'm the best one that can secure that border and keep America safe on our southern side.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, to the topic of Iran with the British embassy that's been -- there's protesters today at the British embassy. Hard to tell whether it's just sort of a one -- one-day deal with protesters, but they took down the British flag. They ransacked buildings. There's been a lot of destruction there.

If you're president of the United States, who would you be talking tonight to about Iran? What would you be doing?

PERRY: Well, the first thing I would be doing, as I said last week in the debate, was I would sanction the Iranian central bank. There needs to be clear and powerful messages to Iran that what they are engaged in is unacceptable. The idea that we're going to let the president of Iran and the mullahs who run that country get their hands on a nuclear device is just unacceptable.

So we need to put all of our options -- covert, overt, and obviously, the military option is on the table, as well. We cannot afford for this country to continue to be the destabilizing impact that it is on the Middle East.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of sanctions on the bank, the British have put blanket restrictions on the central bank of Iran, which has been very provocative in Iran. I'm actually not clear to what extent we are sanctioning that bank. We have lots of sanctions. Is it your understanding that we have not sanctioned the central bank of Iran to the extent the British have?

PERRY: That is my understanding. What I'm talking about is that you shut down their ability to do transactions. And at that particular point in time, Iran's economy really comes to a halt. And at that time, they know we're serious about dealing with them.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about Pakistan, when NATO -- NATO forces over the weekend striking, killing about 26 Pakistani soldiers, which has now jeopardized an already very poisoned relationship with Pakistan? What would you be doing about that?

PERRY: Yes, that's a complex part of the world. And frankly, we don't know all the details on whose aircraft, who called in the air strike, what have you. So I think trying to make a statement with any definitive answer relative to that event is a bit premature.

But we know that that entire part of the world, particularly you have a political -- you have politics and the political side of it, you have the military side of it, then you have the intelligence service side of it. And their relationship, particularly the intelligence service side, with Haqqani and that terrorist network, of great concern.

As I've said in my remarks before, I would start every country's foreign aid budget at zero, and then let those countries and their State Department allies, if you will, make the case for how much foreign aid's going to go to those countries because that is one of the greatest ways we have of influencing policy in some of these countries.

Pakistan is a huge problem. With Afghanistan and India both working together, we may be able to have some leverage on Pakistan that we didn't have before. But it is a -- it is a terribly complex and difficult country to deal with.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't dispute that it's enormously complex, but I'm sort of curious that -- we were on a trip with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about two years ago when she announced that the United States would be giving about I think $7 billion in humanitarian aid to Pakistan. They were very resentful because we wanted to know how they were going to spend it.

But my point is this, is that with that enormous amount of money from American people for aid, now if you fast forward to right now, we have a very bad relationship with Pakistan. So it's very curious whether -- you know, to what extent -- did we not give enough? Did we give too much? Why didn't that -- why hasn't that improved relations?

PERRY: Yes. Greta, here's, I think, where the mistake that we've made historically, is that we have given -- and all too often, this aid comes in the form of just money that the government then decides how to dole out.

I would require those countries to take that aid in the form of American companies coming in and helping them to develop, whether it's their infrastructure or some other type of economic infrastructure in their countries. And it does two things. Number one, it allows for our American companies to be able to be doing business in those countries. I think it helps export American values and the American way of life, if you will, democracy in some forms.

So I think changing the way that we deliver foreign aid, rather than just all too often money going to a central government and them deciding how that money is spent, could substantially be changed where American companies using American know-how on the ground could substantially help America's interest in those countries.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do we run the risk, though, of further enraging a population that already doesn't like us by seeing us as trying to bring our business interests -- a lot of those -- a lot of those countries want Americans just to go home. I mean, they don't like us. They've not been very receptive to our generosity. So if we do it your method, by sending American companies, for instance, to Pakistan, are we not likely to sort of amp -- you know, make the hostility towards us greater?

PERRY: Well, listen, I think you have to have the approval of those countries. And the fact is, if they don't want us there, then we need to go home. I mean, it should be that simple. If we don't -- if we're not meeting an obligation, if American interests are not being addressed in a proper way, then forcing ourselves upon these countries should not be in our game plan.


VAN SUSTEREN: Now, there's a lot more, so if you'd like to see our full interview with Governor Rick Perry, go to GretaWire.com.