A Legislative 'Abomination'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," February 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, who is in charge, President Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, or Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer called the House stimulus bill an "abomination." Hard to pronounce that, Charles. Charles is here. I can hardly even say that. It's good that you wrote that.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I was being generous in calling it an abomination. It's worse than that.

VAN SUSTEREN: You skewered them today! The name of your op-ed was "So much for hope and fear," and then you -- then you skewered them.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, look, what Obama ended up with is a trillion- dollar boondoggle under the name of stimulus. And I think he's exploiting the fact that people want a stimulus. There's a broad consensus in the country, conservative and Democrat, for a stimulus. But what you got was a package that's in part stimulus, small part stimulus, and the rest is a wish list that liberals have been sitting on for half a century and they're getting under emergency procedures.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the way that you laid it in your op-ed today is that -- the way I understand -- I shouldn't be telling you what you said, but anyway, I'll try it anyway -- is that the whole sort of -- the theme was hope at the inauguration, that we're going to have hope, and then the way that the bill is pushed through is it scared the living daylights of us that we're going down.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, exactly...

VAN SUSTEREN: Which we very well may be.

KRAUTHAMMER: And it -- I mean, it contradicts a lot of what Obama says he was about and what he campaigned on. It wasn't only that he had said, I'm hope and not fear, because he's selling this on threats of catastrophe and a crisis and we will never emerge if it's not passed by the 13th of February. It's that also, he campaigned on a man who would redo our politics, eliminate all the lobbying and come and be a Mr. Clean.

Instead, he's produced a bill with so much stuff in it, so much special interest -- the frenzy of lobbying is unseen in the history of our republic. It's a trillion dollars that's going to pass in 10 days. The piranhas are out there. And it's exactly the opposite of the kind of open government you talked about...


KRAUTHAMMER: ... Where the mayor of Chicago...

VAN SUSTEREN: I -- I -- what's with that?

KRAUTHAMMER: ... Says, I'm going to hide this stuff. I don't have to tell you. I'm going to hide it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I was actually -- I couldn't believe that the mayor of Chicago, that he thinks -- not that he thinks, we are going to hand him a check and then he gets to do what he wants without telling us, and it's not even his money. You can't even borrow from the bank that way. But the other thing that's so baffling to me is that these numbers are so huge that I think to myself, How do they come up with these numbers? And some are actually quite precise, like $2.188 billion or something.


VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, like, what...

KRAUTHAMMER: It's got comical precision. You know, it's $2.188 and not 162. The answer to your question that you asked Senator Landrieu is it's entirely arbitrary.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it's a guess. It's a game. It's a guess.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's either a guess, it's either out of a hat or it's a compromise. Somebody had 2.1, somebody had 2.3, did a median, you took an average. There was a third -- the guy who said, I want half a million for a hospital here. You subtract that. You end up with an arbitrary mess, is where we are.

VAN SUSTEREN: And unfortunately, that's sort of the way it's done on Capitol Hill, but that's still sort of disturbing. I'd almost rather go to Vegas and do evens or odds because at least there are two shots there and it's pretty obvious.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, remember Obama, he campaigned quoting Martin Luther King as saying that he's for the "fierce urgency of now." Well, that includes $100 billion for livestock insurance. That's the fierce urgency of now that he's given us.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. But that -- and that's sort of the whole battle about whether there's a lot of extra pork stuff in that. But let me ask you this, is that -- is that there's a big discussion that this isn't bipartisan. So what? He won. I mean, like, that's what he wanted, right? Why -- why -- why do -- why is there such a discussion about the bipartisan? Is that just sort of a sore loser on the Republican side?

Watch Greta's interview with Charles Krauthammer

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it is, in part. Look, if he passes it with only Democrats, he's the president, Democrats are in charge, and that's OK. He wanted the Republicans because right now, he owns the bill, he owns the pork, he owns our recession.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it was written by the...

KRAUTHAMMER: And he owns our economy. So everything hangs on him. He wanted to have Republicans in so Republicans are in on the landing, if it's a crash landing.


KRAUTHAMMER: It's a political thing. It's not as if he owes the country...

VAN SUSTEREN: But if it's successful, also on the flip side, he looks like he's the hero.

KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: If it's successful.

KRAUTHAMMER: So it's a big -- it's a gamble on his part. It's not that we have to have agreement. What he needed -- it would have helped him to get the cover because nobody has any idea if this is going to work.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, so it's safer. So he's either going to be a hero or a villain, one or the other.

KRAUTHAMMER: Depending entirely on how it all turns out. And he doesn't know. No one knows.

VAN SUSTEREN: Charles, thank you.

KRAUTHAMMER: A pleasure.

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