OTR Interviews

Fear of ObamaCare and the tragic decline of unions

Former Reagan adviser Pat Buchanan on hard times for the AFL-CIO, its search for a new strategy and how they could all be tied to Obama's Affordable Care Act

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 14, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Hypocrites or maybe even plain rotten? Congress passed ObamaCare. The president signed it into law. It is designed originally to cover the entire nation, except for them. They don't want it!

As Congress and the president dashed out of town last week for vacation, lawmakers first sneaked around and exempted themselves from the very law they passed that they want to cover you!

So what's with that? The bill isn't good enough for them? Or are they too good for it? One Republican representative saying she won't accept special treatment that you don't get.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, W. VA.: I think it's about fairness. It's about holding lawmakers who made the law accountable. If it's good enough for the American public, it should be good enough for us to be treated the same way we would be if we were the general public.

And under these provisions that the administration just put forward, we would get a special subsidy. And I don't think the American people want that, and I'm not going to accept it and I'm going to encourage my colleagues to not accept it, either, and to make it so it's not the law of the land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you want your representatives to do the same? Former senior adviser to President Reagan Pat Buchanan joins us. Good evening, sir.

PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER REAGAN ADVISER: Good evening, Greta. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. And this congresswoman says she plans when she gets back from vacation to introduce no ObamaCare subsidies for members of Congress. Your thought, sir.

BUCHANAN: Good for her. I mean, she apparently believes in what the country used to believe in was shared sacrifice. If we're in it, we're all in it together. You remember we were just talking about George H. W. Bush. I mean, he goes down and volunteers at age 18. You get the families of the rich and famous are out there fighting alongside the guys who come from West Virginia. That's the way the country used to be.

But this Congress of the United States, what does it do? It exempts itself from the kinds of things it imposes on the general public!

VAN SUSTEREN: And I should add that conversation about President Bush 41, you and I had in the Green Room, not on air, in case viewers want to know where that one came from.

All right -- all right, here's the problem. I was with her for a second I thought, OK, good. She's going to pass that law. I mean, good for her. And then I read a little bit deeper, and she said the bill would not affect staffs!

BUCHANAN: You know, that's...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, so (INAUDIBLE) like, Really? I mean, like, if she's going to -- if she's going to go for -- you know, go for it the gusto...

BUCHANAN: Why did she...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... why (INAUDIBLE) this -- why didn't she include her staffs?

BUCHANAN: Did you hear the reason, or read down into the reason why it would cause...

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, yes!

BUCHANAN: A brain drain from Capitol Hill, if you can believe it!

VAN SUSTEREN: There are -- first of all, I don't know whether there's any -- (INAUDIBLE) what are all these people on Capitol Hill going to go get jobs? There are no jobs! Everyone's going to stay put. Nobody's -- nobody's moving anyplace because nobody can get a job anyplace! There aren't any jobs!

BUCHANAN: Well, it's not only that, I mean, look, people in the government of the United States, it used to be -- maybe it's a little different now. If you take salary, wages, benefits, health care, pension put together, at one point not so long ago, they were double what the average American makes and earns each year. They're not going to go running off that Hill if they've got to pay for their health care the same way as every other American does!

VAN SUSTEREN: And with all due respect, a lot of the employers out there are -- like, they're really aggressive, hard-working young people. It's not going to -- and who are very happy to have those jobs on Capitol Hill, as they should. But it's not like (INAUDIBLE) this enormous brain drain if they don't have ObamaCare! And they were the ones that were complicit writing it with their bosses! So the idea that -- you know, idea that now -- now this bill would -- would include members of Congress back into ObamaCare, but would now exclude their staffs -- go figure.

BUCHANAN: You know, I think Americans see something as almost un-American and offensive in people that impose sacrifices on others that they're not willing to impose upon themselves when they are writing the laws.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, going back to ObamaCare, and even to the election of President Obama, he had an enormous amount of support from the unions. Now the unions are -- not all of them, but a lot of unions are very unhappy with him. Some of them are not happy with ObamaCare. But even the whole idea of union participation -- what -- since -- you know, what's going on with sort of the unions in this country?

BUCHANAN: Well, in a way, if you're a union person, it's a tragedy. Let's take 1946, about 1950. One third of all Americans in the private sector were unionized. They were in unions. It is now in the private sector down probably to 7, 8, 9 percent, or something like that.

What happened to them? Automation happened to them. You got technological change, NAFTA, GAT, globalization. What happened is the American Congress and the president told corporations, big companies, transnationals, Look, you've got problems with the union. You got problems with regulation. Move your factory over to Mexico. Move it to China. Move it to Indonesia. Get rid of your American workers and all of these problems, then you bring your goods back here free of charge. You put them in Wal-Mart, and that way, you can kill the factories that remain in the United States of America.

Greta, between 2000 and 2010, the first decade of this century, we lost 55,000 factories and 5 to 6 million manufacturing jobs. That's what's happened to the manufacturing sector.

But I'll tell you what's coming now. It's going to happen to the public sector unions, as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the public (INAUDIBLE) a little bit different, though. I mean, at least -- at least when you're negotiating with the private sector...

BUCHANAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... is that, you know, you've got shareholders to deal with on the employment side. With the public sector, is that there -- the negotiation (INAUDIBLE) been on a level playing field because the ones negotiating want you to vote for them so they want to -- they have an incentive not to play hard with you!

BUCHANAN: Right. Here's what -- like in Wisconsin. Before Scott Walker...

VAN SUSTEREN: The great state of Wisconsin are we talking about?

BUCHANAN: Great state of Wisconsin.

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) great state of Wisconsin.

BUCHANAN: Here's what happened. The unions go and they get a good Democratic liberal candidate, and they say, We're going raise all this money for you. They raise it for him and he wins the election. And then the union guys come in to the governor and say, We'd like to negotiate with you now on what wages we get.

And so both -- you've got -- you don't have competition. You don't have an adversary proceeding. You've got individuals who are the beneficiaries of unions who negotiate with unions.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's the -- and that's the public sector. But here's sort of an interesting statistic. Workers -- and I'm trying to figure out the worker satisfaction with unions.

BUCHANAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Workers getting dissatisfied with unions. The participation rate used to be 11 -- used to 20.1 percent in 1993.

BUCHANAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now it's 11.3 percent. So it's a decline in participation in the private sector.

BUCHANAN: Take a look again. Let's go back to Wisconsin. When they eliminated the dues check-off for public employees -- in other words, they didn't take the money out of their wages and just send it directly to the union -- the unions had to get it from the workers. One third, as I understand it, of the public employees simply dropped out of the union, put their dues in their pocket and kept their jobs.

And the point is that -- look, I think unions, Greta, have done some wonderful things. I mean, you got the eight-hour day. Get rid of child labor. We don't want things like over in Bangladesh where that...

VAN SUSTEREN: The fire. Terrible fire!

BUCHANAN: ... children dropped right on all those women.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, horrible!

BUCHANAN: I've seen the -- before they were there, those textile plants were down in the Carolinas and Louisiana and places like that.

But unions have done some good things. But they've done some insane things. Let me tell you one story. I was out in St. Louis. I just came from New York journalism school, and I'm in the union. You know, I have to join the union. And so they say, We're going to all support the strike in New York by the printers.

I said, Are you guys nuts? I said, They will kill those newspapers up there. We shouldn't support the strike. They said, You contribute to the union fund or you lose your job. So I had to contribute.

What happened? Bertram Powers, the printers -- he killed those - - he killed the -- four of the seven newspapers in New York died within three years as a consequence of those strikes! That was union stupidity.

VAN SUSTEREN: Pat, as always, thank you. Nice to see you.

BUCHANAN: Good to see you.