This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY - One of my, uh, points on the Factor is that poverty is driven by the dissolution of the American family, that is the prime mover, okay. On your watch, median income has dropped seventeen percent among working families in this country. That's not a good record, it's not all your fault, part of it was this terrible recession, we all know that. Everybody knows that.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Okay.
O'REILLY - All right. But 72 percent of babies in African-American community are born out of wedlock.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Yeah.
O'REILLY - Why isn't there a campaign by you and the first lady to address that problem very explicitly?
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Actually, Bill, we address it explicitly all the time. I-I'll send you at least 10 speeches I've made since I've been president talking about the importance of men taking responsibility for their children. Talking about the importance of, uh, young people, uh, delaying gratification. Talking about the importance of, uh, when it comes to child rearing, paying child support, spending time with your kids, reading with them. So, whether it's getting publicity or not is a whole different question.
O'REILLY - But -
PRESIDENT OBAMA - This is something that we focus on all the time.
O'REILLY - Would you say it's been a hallmark of your administration to make that issue, because I don't believe it has. I know you've given the speeches, and I know you know - understand the problem, because you're a community organizer from Chicago.
PRESIDENT OBAMA -Yes.
O'REILLY - All right? But I don't see the pressure from the Federal government to go in and say, this is wrong, this is - this is killing, um, futures of babies and children.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Well first of all, I've just got to say, Bill, we talk about it all the time, we'll continue to talk about it, we're convening, for example, philanthropists and business people, city by city, who are interested in addressing these kinds of problems at the local level. There is an economic component to it as well, though.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Because - because what's interesting, when you look at what's going on right now, you're starting to see in a lot of white working class homes, similar problems - when men can't find good work, when the economy is shutting ladders of opportunity off from people, whether they're black, white, Hispanic, it doesn't matter. Then that puts pressure as well on the home. So you've got an interaction between the economy that isn't generating enough good jobs for folks who traditionally could get blue-collar jobs even if they didn't have a higher education, and some legitimate social concerns, uh. That compound the problem and so we want to hit both. We want to make sure that we're putting folks back to work and making sure that they're well-paid -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - But this is -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - We also want to make sure that we're dealing with some of the social issues that you're addressing.
O'REILLY - The secret to getting a je - good job is education. And in these chaotic families, the children aren't well-educated because it isn't - it isn't, um, encouraged at home as much as it is in other precincts. Now, school vouchers is a way to level the playing field. Why do you oppose school vouchers when it would give poor people a chance to go to better schools?
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Actually - every study that's been done on school vouchers, Bill, says that it has very limited impact if any -
O'REILLY - Try it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - On - it has been tried, it's been tried in Milwaukee, it's been tried right here in DC -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - And it worked here.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - No, actually it didn't. When you end up taking a look at it, it didn't actually make that much of a difference. So what we have been supportive of is, uh, something called charters. Which, within the public school system gives the opportunity for creative experiments by teachers, by principals to-to start schools that have a different approach. And -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - You would revisit that? I-I just think - I used be, teach in a Catholic school, a-and I just know -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Bill - you know, I - I've taken, I've taken - I've taken a look at it. As a general proposition, vouchers has not significantly improved the performance of kids that are in these poorest communities -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] [INAUDIBLE] -
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Some charters - some charters are doing great. Some Catholic schools do a great job, but what we have to do is make sure every child -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - I got three more questions.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Go ahead.
O'REILLY - All right. Keystone pipeline, new study comes in, environmental impact, negligible. Forty-two thousand jobs. You're gonna okay it, I assume.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Well first of all, it's not forty two thousand. That's - that's not, uh, correct, it's a couple thousand to build the pipeline, but -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Forty-two all told.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Well, that, bottom line is what we're gonna do is to, uh, the process now goes agencies comment on what the State Department did, public's allowed to comment, Kerry's gonna, uh, give me a recommendation, uh -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - All right, so I assume we're gonna do that, after five years -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] [INAUDIBLE] -
O'REILLY - Okay. I'll take that as a yes. Little Sisters of the Poor, come on, give them the little waiver that they don't have to -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - They have, you know -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Come on, the Little Sisters of the Poor? Give them what they want.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Bill, I -
O'REILLY - Right now. Let's-let's just do this.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Bill, take, here-here's the way this thing works. All they have to do is sign a form saying they don't - they are a religious institution -
O'REILLY - And then they get what they want, right?
PRESIDENT OBAMA - And - and they get what they want. What they - the problem is they don't want to sign the form -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Well, we'll -
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Because they think that that somehow, uh, uh, makes them complicit.
O'REILLY - I'm happy now that the Little Sisters are going to get what they want. Uh, now. Um. FOX News. Uh, I can't speak for FOX News. All right, but I'm - I'm, you know, the table setter here [INAUDIBLE] -.
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] [INAUDIBLE] -
O'REILLY - Do you think I'm being unfair to you, do you think I've been giving you -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Absolutely. Of course you have, Bill. But, I like you anyway, Bill.
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Okay, but - give me how I'm unfair.
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - It-it-but - look -
O'REILLY - Give me how I'm unfair. Come on, you can't make that accusation without telling me.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Bill - we've just run through an interview in which you asked about health, uh, health care not working, IRS where-where we, uh, wholly corrupt, Benghazi -
O'REILLY - All right.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Right, so the list of issues that you talk about -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - But these are unanswered questions -
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Yeah, but-but-but they're defined by you guys in a certain way. But this - look, this is okay. This-this is -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Do you not -
PRESIDENT OBAMA - If you want to - if you want to be President of the United States, then you know that you're going to be subject to criticism, and -
O'REILLY - But if it's unfair, I-I want to know if it's unfair. Is it un - criticism is criticism. It's my job to give you a hard time.
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Here - here - here's what I would say. I think regardless of whether it's fair or not, uh, it has, uh, it has made FOX News very successful.
O'REILLY - But if I'm unfair, I want -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Here's what - here's the thing you guys - here's what you guys are gonna have to figure out is what are - what are you gonna do when I'm gone? I'm telling you -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] [INAUDIBLE] [LAUGHS] -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] [INAUDIBLE] -
O'REILLY - Ah-ha-ha - ask President Clinton. Ask President Bush. I gave President Bush a real hard time. Are you the most liberal President in US History?
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Probably not.
O'REILLY - Probably not?
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Probably not. That's-that's fair to say.
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Who-who would be?
PRESIDENT OBAMA - You know, the truth of the matter is, is that when you look at some of my policies, um, in a lot of ways, Richard Nixon was more - more liberal than I was. Started the EPA. You know, uh, you know, started, uh, uh, a whole lot of the regulatory state that, uh, has helped make our air and water clean. Um.
O'REILLY - That's interesting - Nixon - that's interesting. I thought you were gonna say FDR.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Well, FDR - Johnson. But I tend not to think about these things in terms of liberal and democrat - or liberal and conservative because at any given time, the question is what does the country need right now? And what - right now what the country needs is, uh, roads, bridges, uh, infrastructure, we-we got 2 trillion dollars worth of, uh, unmet needs. We could put - be putting construction workers back to work right now, folks that you like to champion. Why aren't we doing it? That's not a liberal or conservative agenda -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] [INAUDIBLE] -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Well, why-why aren't we funding it? The, uh, when it comes - comes to something like basic research to keep our innovation edge. That's the thing that sent the man to space, that's the thing that created the internet. Why aren't we - why aren't we funding -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Because we have a seventeen trillion dollar debt. We can't do these things.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - No, the uh - but the reason we don't do them is because we're not willing to make decisions, for example, uh, our tax code is rife with loopholes -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - That's true, you can't -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - And for us to close those loopholes, we could put people to work right now. Is that a Democrat - is that a Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal thing? It's neither. It's common sense. That's what we should be doing.
O'REILLY -All right.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - In fact, you and I, if we sat down, we could probably agree on -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Well, I've said that on air. We don't disagree on -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Raising the minimum wage, something that you -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - But one - one thing we do -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Yes, right.
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - I support this.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - I know. And that's -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - You have to do it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - And that's -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - You want to get people off welfare, you raise the - minimum wage.
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - That's not a liberal or a-a conservative agenda.
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - No, fine. But I think that you are much more friendly to a nanny state than I am. I'm more of a self-reliance guy, you're more of a big government will solve your problems guy.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - And I - and I -
O'REILLY -That's it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - And I disagree with that because I think that what used to be considered sensible we now somehow label as-as liberal. Think about this - Social Security, Medicare -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - But you pay into that. It's the freebies that are the problem.
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Is it? What-what freebies are we talking about? Welfare, actually is worth less now than it was 20, 30 - it's worth less than it was under Ronald Reagan. And the uh -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Take a look at the disability explosion. I mean, it's insane. The workplace isn't any more dangerous now than it was it was 20 -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Well -
O'REILLY - years ago, it's through the roof. You know people are conning you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - You know, Bill, the point is, we have not massively expanded the welfare state. That's just not true. When you take a look at it, actually, that-the-the levers of support that we provide to folks who are willing to work hard, they're not that different than they were thirty years ago, forty years ago, fifty years ago. You and I took advantage of certain things. I don't know about you, but I got some loans to go to college.
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - Nah, I painted houses, I didn't get any -
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - The, uh, well, I, no -
O'REILLY [OVERLAP] - See, that's who I am. I -
PRESIDENT OBAMA - I painted houses during the summer too. It still wasn't enough. So, the, uh, so my point is is that that's not a nanny state. That's an investment in the future generation. G.I. Bill - is that a nanny state? My grandfather came back for World War II, you're about to write a book on World War II. Smartest thing we ever did was make an investment in the American people. When those guys came back from war, that's what created our middle class. We-we suddenly trained up and created skills for folks. We gave ‘em subsidies so they could go out and buy homes. Through the FHA, those things weren't giveaways. We-we understood that what that would do would create a base middle class of folks who were able to, uh, work hard and get ahead.
O'REILLY - The work ethic was different then than it is now.
PRESIDENT OBAMA [OVERLAP] - Well -
O'REILLY - All right, last questions.
PRESIDENT OBAMA -We'll have to improve the work ethic.
O'REILLY - And here's something that you and I agree on.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - What's that?
O'REILLY - And I'll tell everybody. You helped the Veterans. Now I believe the VA should be doing a lot more than it's doing. But you, I have come to you four times, and every time you have, uh, done what I have asked, and we have raised more than twenty million dollars for wounded veterans and their families. And I - you know, so when they say that you don't care and all of that I know that's not true. But fundamentally, the self-reliance thing in America I think is going down, and the nanny state is going up. Last word. You get it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - Here's-here's-here's what I believe. First of all, biggest honor I've ever had and will ever have is serving as Commander in Chief, and when you meet our military families and our men and women in uniform, they-they, uh. They are so outstanding. You just have to want to help. And you have done great work, Bill, uh, on behalf of our veterans. Number two, I think self-reliance is alive and well in America. I think the problem is people don't see as many opportunities to get ahead. My job as President, as long as I'm in this office, is to give them the tools to get ahead. They gotta work hard, they gotta be responsible, but if they are, let's make sure that they can make it in America. That's what it's all about. That's how you and I ended up sitting here talking.
O'REILLY - Mr. President, thanks, always a pleasure to talk with you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - I enjoyed it, Bill. Thank you very much.
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