OTR Interviews

Santorum: Pres. Obama really doesn't have a good track record of bipartisan leadership

Is president overplaying political advantage at the expense of progress in fiscal cliff talks?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 4, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: So does President Obama really seem to think somebody made him king? Former presidential candidate and senator Rick Santorum joins us. And before I even ask you, you've got a new book out, "American Patriots."

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR/PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you very much for the new book.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now to the issue, the president being accused of being a king, arrogant, stubborn, not brokering an agreement, not being serious and much more. Is that fair?

SANTORUM: Look, I mean, this is a negotiation right now. And obviously, you know, both sides are going to be throwing bombs at each other until you get to the serious negotiations.

Probably the most troubling part of that is that, you know, the president doesn't seem to be willing to come forward with specific ideas on how he's going to get there. And the one point that I will agree with what the Republicans are saying is this deal is not going to happen unless the president leads. This is not -- his experience -- unfortunately, the president's experience in the past in getting legislative accomplishments was just working on the Democratic side of the aisle, "ObamaCare," the stimulus package, things like that.

And if you look at the Obama accomplishments, they all occurred when he had super-majorities and control of everything. But there really isn't a good track record of him leading a bipartisan group together. And that's what's going to have to happen here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain this to me. The president wants a certain amount of revenue from taxes on the rich, right?

SANTORUM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. The Republicans said, OK, we'll give you that certain amount of revenue and do it on the rich, but the way we'll do it on the rich is deductions and closing loopholes that impact only the rich.

SANTORUM: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: So the president gets the same amount of money. He gets it from the same people. But rather than raising taxes, the Republicans say, We're going to do it this way, and he says no. Why does he say no to that? It's the same money and the same people giving it up.

SANTORUM: Yes. I think he's saying no because he likes the deal that he has in place.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's the same amount of money!

SANTORUM: No, no.

VAN SUSTEREN: The same people. And it's -- I mean, I mean, it's the same revenue and it's from the same people!

SANTORUM: Yes. The reason -- the reason I think he's saying no, and I think he will say no to just about anything the Republicans put forward, is because the fallback position is better for him than any deal that the Republicans are going to put forward.

And the fallback position is a tax increase on everybody and back to where -- pre-bush tax cuts, and he can then have his big increases in taxes, and then at the same time blame Republicans for taxes going up on lower-income people. That's a win for him.

VAN SUSTEREN: You think he wants to raise taxes on lower-income people?

SANTORUM: Because he'll be able to blame it on the Republicans, and eventually, Republicans and Democrats will come together and they'll probably cut some of those taxes back. But he'll have a victory in getting all of his tax increases that he wants. Here's the other big victory...

VAN SUSTEREN: But he gets -- but he gets -- but he gets all the tax revenue -- he says, you know, he says, This is how much tax revenue I want, and I want it from the wealthy and I want it through tax rates going up.

SANTORUM: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: The Republicans say, OK, we'll give you this amount of revenue, and we'll get it from the same people, the wealthy, but instead of raising their taxes, we're going to take away all the deals they get that only impact the rich. And he says no to that.

SANTORUM: Well, what does that tell you? That tells you that he really doesn't just want that, I mean, because if he did want that amount of money from the rich, the Republican plan accomplishes it.

So what does he really want? What he really wants is more taxes, which is what he gets if he does nothing. And here's the most important thing. He gets big cuts in defense, which he would never get under a negotiated deal of any kind with Republicans and Democrats. He gets half a trillion dollars in defense cuts.

Yes, he gets a half a trillion dollars in cuts in domestic programs, but there are going to be more than that. There are going to be much than that in any negotiated deal, so this is actually a very good deal for the president to just say, I'm putting forth good faith, and if you don't do everything I want, then I've got a fallback I can live with.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well here's another thing that he says, and maybe you can explain this one. He says -- he's quoted today -- "Let's let tax rates on the upper-income folks go up, and then let's set up a process with a time certain at the end of 2013 or the fall of 2013 where we will work on tax reform. We will look at what loopholes," and he goes on.

What American is ever going to believe a president or anyone else that later on, the government is going to do this?

SANTORUM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean -- I mean -- does he think -- I mean, it's -- it's absurd!

SANTORUM: Because...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, no American is going to trust -- like, I'm here from the government and I'm here to help you, or, Don't worry, we're going to do this later.

SANTORUM: It goes back to the basic premise I think I've stated, which is I don't think the president really wants a deal. I think he's happy with the deal he's got, and unless the Republicans...

VAN SUSTEREN: He has no deal!

SANTORUM: But he does! He has -- he has the deal that was put in place over a year ago, which is all the tax rates going back to where they are, and two big cuts, a big cut in defense and a big cut in domestic programs!

VAN SUSTEREN: So he wants to go off the cliff.

SANTORUM: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: He wants to go off the cliff.

SANTORUM: Well, he doesn't see it as a cliff. He sees it as actually a pretty good deal that they negotiated over a year ago that puts him in a position where he doesn't have to negotiate, that he can -- he can...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well...

SANTORUM: ... negotiate from a position of strength.

VAN SUSTEREN: But he slight a slight other problem, and that's at the end of December, we're going to bump up against the debt ceiling. And he wants -- and he wants that debt ceiling to go up.

Now, here's another thing he did, which maybe you can explain this to me. But we've had all these problems with running up the debt, you know, this unlimited credit card here in Washington. Well, the president sent the secretary of the Treasury up last week to come up with another brilliant idea, which is this. The president no longer wants to get permission from Congress to raise the debt ceiling. He wants to make the decisions himself. So he's got this unlimited credit card to run up the debt ceiling, and he thinks that that's going to go over.

SANTORUM: This really hearkens back to two presidents, Wilson and Roosevelt, both of whom, when they were up against Congress that made it very difficult for them to get their things passed, they simply changed the rules. That happened in the progressive era. It happened again with Roosevelt.

Obama is looking -- is taking a page out of their book. And the two things he wants to do is, number one, you mentioned before, no congressional approval of a debt ceiling.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's...

SANTORUM: And second -- and they're going to do this one, it looks like, unless some rational Democratic senators come to their aid, which is change the rules of the Senate to make 51 votes all that is necessary to pass a bill in the United States Senate. It will eliminate, by and large, the filibuster.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, every -- every majority party wants to do that.

SANTORUM: Yes, but...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean -- I mean...

SANTORUM: They're the only one that's going to do it. They're actually threatening to do that. In fact, they are scheduled to vote to do that, to change the rules in a way that's never been done before! It's been threatened before, but no -- nobody's ever pulled the trigger on it. And it looks like they're willing to pull the trigger to get what they want, which is a majoritarian rule to be able to force things down the throats of the American people that they don't want!

VAN SUSTEREN: If he -- if -- if he gets his revenue but makes no structural change in the way we do business, we're going -- I mean, if there's no effort to do that but he just gets his revenue, that's managing a problem and it's going to get worse. That is not dealing -- that is not trying to...

SANTORUM: It's not managing the problem, it's mismanaging the problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, at -- at best -- at best.

SANTORUM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it's certainly not solving the problem.

SANTORUM: No, it's not.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is not going remotely in the right direction!

SANTORUM: The problem is spending. If you look at, historically, since World War 2, we've spent about between 18 and 19 percent of the overall economy has been government. That's the percentage of economy -- economic activity the government has consumed.

If you look at revenue, we're at about 16 percent, so we're a little lower than it. If you look at spending, we're at 25 percent. We're way out of kilter when it comes to spending.

And the president, all he wants to focus on is the little -- and that -- and the reason we're at 16, not 18, is because of poor economic growth. He doesn't want to focus on the problem, and that -- and that's because he wants to transform what American government is about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it because he thinks he has a better idea, or is it because he's stubborn and arrogant?

SANTORUM: Look, I -- I don't -- do I believe the president is stubborn and arrogant? He may be. I don't really know him that well. But what I will say is that he is convinced that government should have more resources and make more decisions in America, and that's what the course we're headed on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you. Always nice to see you, sir.

SANTORUM: My pleasure. Thank you.