Gingrich on 'Edge' About Health Care and Potential U.S. 'Catastrophe'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is a veteran of the Capitol Hill health care wars. So will President Obama get the bill he wants as quickly as he wants it? And what does Speaker Gingrich think about the Democrats' plan? Speaker Gingrich joins us live. Nice to see you, Mr. Speaker.


VAN SUSTEREN: First of all, let's do some big picture questions. Do we need health care reform, in your opinion?

GINGRICH: Absolutely.


GINGRICH: We need health reform.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. What do you think about the -- the three different plans that are sort of weaving its way through Congress?

GINGRICH: Well, the liberal plan in the House makes no sense at all. It has no reform of costs. It is a massive increase in spending. It is much bigger government. And it will kill jobs.

Now, in an economy that's moving towards 10 percent unemployment, where the Federal Reserve warned last Thursday that we only have five years with no net new jobs -- think about that, five years trapped at 8 percent, 9 percent, 10 percent unemployment with no net new jobs, I can't imagine -- it's almost suicidal to think about passing a giant tax increase spending bill to further crash the economy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where do you think, if we had a Democrat sitting here, what would the Democrat say -- "Oh, no, Mr. Speaker, you're wrong. We'll raise a little surtax on the wealthy and that will pay for and it all will be fine and the 40 million plus will be taken care." Is that this sort of the thinking?

GINGRICH: I do not know what the thinking is. I do know that the administration, the director of the budget admitted yesterday that there is $239 billion in deficit in the bill that they are not counting. That's because they using it to pay the doctors to get the AMA, the American Medical Association, to support the bill.

I do know that the director of the Congressional Budget Office testified in the Senate that not only is there not anything which reduces costs in this bill, it will actually raise the cost of health care, and that is the director of the Congressional Budget Office.

I do know that if you want to create jobs in America -- and I am doing a press conference at the National Press Club tomorrow morning for American Solutions on four major tax cuts, because if you want to -- and this is what I find so difficult to understand -- if you want to create jobs in America, you want to help small business.

Well, the very people they are talking about being taxing are small business.

VAN SUSTEREN: You said at the outset that you think we need health care reform. You have your program, American Solutions. So tell me. What is your solution to the health care? If you had the authority...

GINGRICH: Let me just say, at American Solutions we are doing tax cuts for small business and for economic growth.

I also founded the Center for Health Transformation, and Nancy Desmond is the president of it, Dave Merritt is the public policy vice president.

Three or four quick things. Jim Frogue at the Center for Health Transformation just published a book last Friday which is available online called "Stop Paying the Crooks." {

We think there is between $70 and $120 billion a year in fraud and corruption in Medicare and Medicaid.

VAN SUSTEREN: Incompetence, or actually fraud, where people try to cheat?

GINGRICH: Let me give you two examples, a dentist in New York who filed 982 procedures a day.

VAN SUSTEREN: A computer should pick that one up.

GINGRICH: It's all paper.

VAN SUSTEREN: Not to be mechanized -- I got stopped in India when I used my American Express three times at the same store -- I happened to buy three different things.

GINGRICH: And you know what that teaches you?

VAN SUSTEREN: And when I got back here, there was a light on my telephone saying I used my American Express three times.

GINGRICH: You know what that teaches you?


GINGRICH: The U.S. government does not run American Express yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: But they may.

GINGRICH: But if they do, they won't be able to catch that.

My first point is exactly what you just said. Incompetent government would be able to run Medicare and Medicaid -- first example from "The New York Times," which estimates that 10 percent of all Medicaid in New York State is fraud. That is over $4.4 billion in a year in New York State alone.

Second example -- five pizza parlors in South Florida file as HIV-AIDS transfusion centers, and get paid. That's called theft, OK?

VAN SUSTEREN: I agree, but...

GINGRICH: So our first point is, you want real health care reform? How about if we save $70 billion to $120 billion a year by no longer paying the crooks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do we need to put a whistle blower provision in so that...

GINGRICH: You have to have an electronic health system, you have to hire a company like TSIS (ph) or American Express, somebody whose specialty is monitoring transactions, and you have to pull up all -- another example...

VAN SUSTEREN: They stopped my third transaction in India because they couldn't figure out why somebody was buying three things in the same store. They stopped by credit card.

GINGRICH: Let me give you a similar example. The last director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services pointed out they found one case where a doctor had filed for four colonoscopies on the same person in one day.

Now, my reaction was I certainly hope that is fraud.

VAN SUSTEREN: I was not even going to go saying anything about that one.


GINGRICH: But we also have a very bold proposal. In the Alzheimer's study group and the Alzheimer's solution group , which Michelle Stein leads, we have had three Nobel Prize winners and 125 other neuroscientists who have told us that they believe if we put the right investment in a Alzheimer's we will get a cure between 2020 and 2025.

Alzheimer's is a $20 trillion cost to the government between now and 2050, and enormously painful also for every family involved and a big cost to state government and a big cost to private families.

So if we could have a right program and we can get a breakthrough in the next 10 or 12 years, we might be able to save $9 or $10 trillion.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think -- the thing that's sort of my theme, and obviously I am hung up a little bit, is the fact that nobody is going bill this bill that is so profoundly important.

Do you think that the people who are voting on this, who are supporting it and fighting it on this side of the aisle, do they feel any sort of moral responsibility to see what is actually in that bill?

GINGRICH: No. I think the disgrace, first of all, of passing $787 billion spending bill...

VAN SUSTEREN: We've been through that one. We've done that one.

GINGRICH: ... followed by -- remember, without reading it, followed by -- remember, on the energy tax, they bought votes the last night and submitted a 300 page amendment at 3:00 in the morning and voted on it at 4:00 in the next afternoon with no one having read it.

This bill is already 1,000 pages long. Several blue dog Democrats went down to the White House to negotiate today. The White House is trying to find a way to buy them off. My guess is that you might well see a 500- page amendment at 5:00 in the morning next week before they vote at 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I'm hoping that the president when he gets up to give his press conference tomorrow night tells the American people that he's going to insist that people who are actually voting on this read it and make a learned judgment on whether it's good or bad, and not just shove it through and shove it down our throats.

GINGRICH: I wish the president would say three things tomorrow night, which I'm afraid none of which I think he'll say. My news letter tomorrow lists 10 questions the White House Press Corps ought to ask him

But I wish he would say three things. First of all, we are going to slow down. This is life and death for individuals, could be life and death for the country. It's the largest section of the economy. We should not ram something through that we do not understand.

VAN SUSTEREN: Or haven't read.

GINGRICH: Or haven't read. But first of all, let's slow down and get it done over the next five or six months, not over the next 10 or 12 days.

Second, I wish the president would say he is not going to insist on the left wing bill that raises taxes, increases government. He appeared to sit down with the Republicans and Democrats together to be genuinely bipartisan.

And third, I wish he would take this Federal Reserve report that says we're going to get no net new jobs for five years and say, faced with that, let's rethink our priorities, because our number-one priority should be jobs here, jobs now. It shouldn't be, you know, let's get around to it someday after the energy tax and after health and this and after that.

People need to understand, we are at the edge of a really serious economic problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: And a catastrophe, because that's where going right now. That's my tease.

Mr. Speaker, stand by, because speaking of that catastrophe, that's what we are talking about next, what is that catastrophe. That's coming up next.

Plus, does President Obama wear, quote, "Mom jeans." The president's fashion critics had a field day over the jeans you wore to the All-Star game. And now, the president is fighting back -- don't blame him.



VAN SUSTEREN: We are back to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, the catastrophe that you are warning us about that we've been teasing throughout the show, what is it?

GINGRICH: Well, I spoke, I was asked by the Heritage Foundation to speak as part of their national Defense fund. And I outlined the fact that you could have a nuclear event. You could have an electromagnetic pulse attack, which would knock out all the electricity in the country.

You could have a biological attack. You could have a cyber attack, which would knock out -- by taking out the information systems in large parts of the country.

Or you could have a breakdown in a form we don't understand because some of the science that is developing around the world is not in the United States. We don't what it is anymore.

And my point was that if you are thinking about -- and my vision is that we want to be safe, prosperous, and free. And the save comes first, because if you're not safe, you're not going to get the prosperity and freedom.

I think we are really underestimating how dangerous the world is.

VAN SUSTEREN: If that's true -- all of those things are terrifying and it makes me want to run down into the basement like in the '50's shelter and get some canned goods -- but how would you do things differently?

GINGRICH: First of all, it means you have to have a more robust and a more significant national security and homeland security system. It means you have to control the border. It means you have to have intelligence system that you're supporting, not one you're undermining every morning.

It means you have to think about a robust missile defense. We also have to think about in a very serious way North Korea and Iran. These two countries are drifting steadily towards becoming much more dangerous.

You just came back from India. You look at the situation in Pakistan, which has a significant number of nuclear weapons. We all focus on Iran, which is trying to get nuclear weapons, or North Korea, which has two or three, but Pakistan has a significant number of nuclear weapons and a relatively unstable country.

And I think you have to ask -- and there is the fact that we have this terrible dilemma that the more successful we are at stopping terrorist attacks, the easier it is for people to relax and say, "Why are you worried?" It is kind of like, your seatbelt works, why do you keep putting it on?

Well, there are people around the planet who get up every morning trying to figure out how to kill Americans. And the fact that for the last seven years we have been pretty successful stopping should not kid us. I mean, we have been actively trying to stop terrorist attacks on a delete bases worldwide.

And my point in the speech at Heritage was that we have to fundamentally rethink our national defense system. We have to recognize both the short-term problem, where I think Secretary Gates is being very serious about trying to reshape the budget, but we have long-term challenge.

China is going to be a significant competitor, not an enemy, but a significant competitor in the next 25 years. If we underfund science and technology and new developments and new capabilities, we are going to find ourselves one morning and a very disadvantageous position that could become very dangerous.

My only point of every American is, look, we have been amazingly fortunate since 1945. We are the most powerful nation in the world, and that has been good.

Taking the risk of growing weaker, and taking the risk of letting other people compete more effectively, means we will be in much greater danger and will be much less safe.

And, in an age of the kind of weapons I described to you, that can manifest itself not in a military defeat over there. That could manifest itself in a catastrophic event that fundamentally changes American life.

VAN SUSTEREN: President Bush every morning got up and dealt with all these problems on his plate. I assume President Obama is likewise doing it and taking it seriously, both of them.

Is there anything profoundly different that you would do? These are not problems that could be solved overnight.

GINGRICH: I would do things profoundly different from both President Bush and President Obama. I would take the electromagnetic pulse problem, for example, very seriously.

My friend and co-author Bill Fortune just wrote a very good novel called "One Second After," which really shows you what would happen in a small town in North Carolina and if we were attacked -- an electromagnetic pulse is like a giant lightning strike. It knocks out the electric generators. It knocks out all these lights. It knocks out the television. It knocks out your telephone. And does it permanently. It does not come back.

So you suddenly have, for example, every person who depends on insulin can't get any more because the refrigeration is gone. Every schizophrenic who is dependent on drugs can't get them because...

VAN SUSTEREN: Every breathing machine in every hospital...

GINGRICH: It is a catastrophe. That's one.

Two, nuclear weapons are real. We have people out there trying every morning figuring out how to get a new clear weapon or dirty bomb, which is a very inefficient new clear weapon.

My only point is we need to have a much more robust national security strategy, a much more robust homeland security strategy, and there is a simple measure. Are we controlling the border? If we are not controlling the border, who are we kidding?

VAN SUSTEREN: We obviously need to have a long discussion about this, and I'm going to draft you to come back and do that.

Mr. Speaker, thank you, sir.

GINGRICH: Great to be with you.

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