OTR Interviews

Buchanan: 'Barack Obama Is a Drug Dealer of Welfare'

Is the secretly-recorded video of his '47 percent' comments a fatal blow to his campaign - or his chance to cement his conservative credentials?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, a new recording surfaces. This time, it's President Obama who gets caught! Just found, a 1998 audiotape of then state senator Obama saying he believes in redistribution. Check this out.


STATE SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.(1998): I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources, and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot.


VAN SUSTEREN: The Obama tape coming on the heels of the controversy erupting yesterday over secret recordings of Governor Mitt Romney at a fund-raiser earlier this year.


MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And the president starts off with 48, 49 (INAUDIBLE) he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax, 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. So he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich.


VAN SUSTEREN: And now "tape-gate" sending the presidential campaign into a frenzy.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: When I saw this, the first thing I thought of, All right, we have a golden opportunity. I don't care how this is being cast by the media. That's predictable.

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The policies of this president have hurt the 47 percent! Mitt Romney is merely talking about the political challenges that he faces.

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: He should never apologize. Actually bring on the discussion. Maybe it's time to bring on this discussion. He should not apologize, and he shouldn't even come close to apologizing!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, what do you think of the Mitt Romney video where he wrote off (INAUDIBLE)


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you're President of the United States, you are president of all the people, not just the people who voted for you.

N.J. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: You've got to look at what the guy has talked about through the whole campaign. He believes that every American has to have skin in the game, has to have a stake. And he doesn't want what the president wants, which is a bigger, more bloated government that's taking more people's money and being more oppressive on people's lives. He wants to empower individuals through sacrifice and opportunity to be able to make their lives as great as they can and to make America greater.

JOHN SUNUNU, ROMNEY ADVISER/FORMER N.H. GOVERNOR: The real story behind these comments, the fact that it's -- what's behind it is President Obama's very deliberate attempt to do class warfare as part of his campaign strategy. It's President Obama who has decided to divide the electorate down those levels.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST-"THE VIEW": I get the general feeling that with more and more people becoming dependent on government, that by next July, we could perhaps be celebrating dependence day, not Independence Day.


HASSELBECK: This is not something I'm just feeling alone!


HASSELBECK: There are two philosophies...

WALTERS: That doesn't make it so.


LIMBAUGH: This could have been, could be the opportunity for Romney and for that campaign to finally take the gloves off and take the fear off and just start explaining conservatism!

OBAMA: As we try to resuscitate this notion that we're all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking how -- what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live?

And my suggestion, I guess, would be that the trick -- this is -- and this is one of the few areas where I think there are technical issues that have to be dealt with, as opposed to just political issues. I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources, and hence, facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot.

MITT ROMNEY: Frankly, we have two very different views about America. The president's view is one of a larger government. There's a tape that just came out today where the president is saying he likes redistribution. I disagree. I think a society based upon a government-centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money -- that's the wrong course for America.


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the hits keep coming from both sides. So who is winning this battle of the tapes? Former senior adviser to President Reagan, Pat Buchanan, joins us. Nice to see you, Pat.


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so this certainly does divide the two candidates. Is it -- are these good synopsis of the two different positions?

BUCHANAN: This is good to have this division, this argument, Greta, because this is what this campaign should be about. Frankly, it is what this generation is all about.

You have in the United States of America something approaching half of the American people now who pay no income taxes and half the American people who get -- strictly get benefits from government. What Governor Romney was saying is it's hard to appeal to folks on the basis of tax cuts when they pay no taxes, and then you we got to pare back the welfare state, but they do get all these benefits.

Look, this is the great issue of our time. We see it ongoing in Europe. You see it in California. You see it in these cities that are going under. Can you have a system, a society, where there are far more tax consumers than there are taxpayers? John C. Calhoun said that is the beginning of the end of a democratic republic, and we are in the fail-safe zone right now and almost crossing that line! This is a great debate to have in the end of this campaign!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, both -- I mean, there is -- there is some battle over what the 47 percent means, I mean, how many people pay taxes or don't pay taxes. I'm not going to get into the hair splitting on this.

But I'm curious, is how -- how do the two campaigns get these points out to the American people? Because this (INAUDIBLE) the discussion of some sort of salon, where people talk about this -- you know, about the different issues. I mean, how do they make these real for the people?

BUCHANAN: I think the way they do it is you -- Governor Romney should do it. Now, where I disagree with Governor Romney -- of those 47 percent, you got good folks down there in Florida. Let's say a retired couple, a fellow's a sergeant in the Army. He had his wife getting Social Security, maybe veterans benefits, not paying taxes. Those folks are with you!

Governor Romney shouldn't write off any voters, but there's other folks clearly that are getting all these benefits that really -- really just live off the benefits and aren't trying. He's going to have a tough time with them.

If I were him, I would use examples. Use the state of California. Look at what is happening in Illinois. You've got a liberal mayor and a very liberal union. They're at war with each other inside the party of the public sector.

Look at Europe. Look at France. Look at Spain. Look at Greece. Look at Italy. The public sectors have gotten so huge that these places are collapsing and people are leaving. That is what is happening to us! Thirty-seven percent of our entire GDP now is consumed by government -- 24, 25 percent at the federal level, 12 percent at the state and municipal level. It's about 55 percent in France.

This is the great cause of our time! Are we going down the road? Barack Obama, in my judgment, is a Fabian socialist. You saw the redistribution, and by that I mean he's not Bernie Sanders, who's right out in the open and honest about it, but he's a Fabian socialist who wants to move through gradualism and reform, step by step, until a majority of Americans are dependent upon government. When that happens, the party of government wins every election!

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I'm sort of curious. We have only this snippet of it, and I'm -- you know, I always want the whole thing so I can -- so I'm satisfied I can put it in context. But -- but what's interesting is that what he said was, in part -- and I realize it's only in part -- he said, "I think what we're going to have to do is somehow resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all."

In the last four ears, has he resuscitated the notion that the government actually can be effective?

BUCHANAN: No. Look, let's take one example, food stamps. I grew up in D.C. -- 800,000 people here in D.C., born in the '30s during the Depression, grew up in the '50s. Nobody in D.C. of those 800,000 was on food stamps. City's now 600,000. One in every five people are on food stamps!

VAN SUSTEREN: What happened?

BUCHANAN: This is just it. The whole idea -- we used to have -- read FDR talking about, you know, relief being a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. We got to get off this welfare, is what he said.

And in that sense, if it's a narcotic, Barack Obama is a drug dealer of welfare! He wants permanent dependency, in my judgment, of all these folks on the federal -- somehow getting benefits, benefits, benefits, and paying no taxes!

Now, I think you've got -- Governor Romney is the complete opposite. We believe in temporary help for anybody that's in trouble. You should have a floor of decency under any family. Unemployment should be temporary. Unemployment benefits should be. Food stamps should be temporary. What are we doing with 47 million people permanently have to be fed by the government?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's a lot -- much easier to move people off food stamps and move them off unemployment if the economy is revved up and going, if they had someplace to go.

BUCHANAN: Indeed. But look at what we did in the '90s, the Republicans and Bill Clinton did. They said, OK, two years on welfare, and then off. You got to get workfare. You got to go get a job.

I mean, you cannot -- look, the society cannot carry forever a huge, vast and growing class of folks who are permanently dependent upon the government of the United States and state and local government while you're shrinking the number of people that are contributing and paying the taxes! When the tax consumers outnumber the taxpayers, it is all over for the GOP, and it is all over, I think, for this republic!

VAN SUSTEREN: I suspect if President Obama were here, he would say the reason that he talks about the redistribution is because he doesn't want the United States to become essentially a gated community, where you have the haves and the have-nots as so extreme that even the haves have to live behind bars to be protected.

BUCHANAN: Ronald Reagan said something different. He said a floor of decency under every family, but no roof over any man's head. This idea -- look, redistribution is -- it's got to be permanent because the most successful, hardest-working, most energetic, most ambitious -- they're going to rise up and make more and more and more. He's going to come in and scoop it off for eternity, to give to folks who aren't making that much?

That is socialism! That's not the country we grew up in!

VAN SUSTEREN: Whatever happened to our middle class?

BUCHANAN: The middle class is shrinking. One of the things is the mammoth size and dependency of governments at all levels. I mean, 37 percent of GDP going for government! Look, that's like World War II! I grew up during World War II. It used to be we were down to 20, 25 percent! It's 37! The French are at 55! They're raising the tax rate to 75 percent! The rich guys are headed for Belgium!

VAN SUSTEREN: Pat, always nice to see you, sir.

BUCHANAN: Oh, it's delightful.