This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: What is that on President Obama? Well, nothing yet, but in just a few hours, he will have something grand. President Obama will be wearing the medal, the Nobel Peace Prize. At this very hour, the president is wheels-up, crossing the Atlantic in Air Force One. And in just a few hours, he touches in Oslo, Norway, to take home one of the most prestigious awards on the entire planet.
Now, the question -- does he deserve it? He is facing some controversy tonight. Not only was he just days into his presidency when he was nominated, but the prize is for peace and his critics are pointing out that he was just ordered -- or has just ordered, rather, troops to Afghanistan. So will he get a frosty reception?
Former Speaker of the House and author of the new book "Rediscovering God in America," Newt Gingrich is here with us. Mr. Speaker, does he deserve this award? And how does he accept it?
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, of course he doesn't deserve it. He was nominated when he'd been in office 10 days. He hasn't brought peace anywhere on the planet. He's achieved nothing of great substance in foreign policy.
But more importantly, if he had really had a sense of, I think, the right gesture, he would have asked the widow of an American soldier or Marine who had died in Iraq or Afghanistan to accept the award for America. America deserves a significant award for having extended freedom through Europe in fighting the Nazis, extended freedom through Asia in fighting the Japanese, extended freedom around the world in fighting the Soviet Union and containing it for 44 years.
And in recent years, more Muslims have been protected by Americans than by any other country in the world and there's been a greater effort to bring freedom and opportunity to people of all nationalities by Americans. And it would have been a great gesture if the president had said, You know, I really don't personally deserve this, but America as a country sure does. That would have been something people would have applauded.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he sort of said that when the announcement was made, but this did seem most peculiar because I think he was -- he was nominated just a few days into -- he was hardly, you know, in the White House two weeks when he was nominated. You know, why in the world -- I mean, why was he nominated? What was the theory behind nominating him? Not that he might not deserve it later, but he certainly did not have any record, good or bad, at that point.
GINGRICH: Well, look, in the modern era, the Nobel Prize is dominated by a group of leftists. It tends to go to people who are on the left. Ideally, they're very critical of America. I think there was enormous relief on the left when President George W. Bush left office, and they all had hopes that Obama was going to be their candidate.
I'd be very curious, if they had to vote over, now that he has increased the number of American troops -- and remember, he'd already increased the number of American troops in Afghanistan earlier this year, so the 30,000 is in addition to an earlier increase in troops. There will be three times as many Americans in Afghanistan under President Obama as there were under President Bush.
And I wonder if the left-wing committee in Oslo would have voted for President Obama if they'd realized he was actually going to try to defend freedom instead of simply caving in.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, so at this moment, he's at 35,000, 45,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, and he's got to -- and he's headed to Oslo. So you know, he's obviously in a little bit of a fix in terms of if -- you know, how -- you know, what words to use, what to say when -- when he's awarded this medal. So what -- I mean, if he doesn't have some widow on board on Air Force One with him to sort of accept the award, what are the words that he should use tomorrow?
GINGRICH: Look, I would never advise President Obama on language. He is a charismatic, articulate person. He is very good at setpiece speeches. I am confident they've been working on this speech for months. I'm sure it will somehow sound good. The question will be whether it has any contact with reality.
He is giving this speech at a time when the North Koreans continue to build nuclear weapons, the Iranians continue to build nuclear weapons, the war in Afghanistan continues to go bad, Pakistan is in trouble, the whole problem of Iraq, where five car bombs went off yesterday. You know, the realities around the world may almost be loud enough to drown out President Obama's words.
But you know, I think all of us ought to look on it with interest. He is a very bright guy, and I am confident that if all that is required is a speech that he'll be able to rise to the occasion.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so you've said that he didn't deserve the award. Who -- if you were the Nobel Peace Prize committee, who would you have given it to?
GINGRICH: Look, there are a lot of people who have earned the award. There are dissidents in Cuba who've been in jail for years. There are people in Afghanistan, in Iran, in Iraq who have sacrificed for freedom and who have risked their lives. There are many people around the world who've actually done things to earn a genuine recognition from the world for their valiant efforts. I think that wouldn't be a challenge. You could find many people who fit that standard.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's switch gears to your old stomping grounds, Capitol Hill. The Senate, which have -- has been -- the Senate Democrats have sort of met behind closed doors the past 24, 36 hours. As best we can figure out, the public option, they've decided, is off of the table. I'm -- I'm -- we haven't seen the exact details and I don't know to what extent it truly is. But what are your thoughts about this?
GINGRICH: This has been one of the stranger periods in recent Senate history. Senator Reid seems to believe that if he announces some kind of press gimmick, gets a page one headline in the newspapers, that the rest of his fellow senators are dumb enough that they will think they have to do whatever the headline said.
In fact, I was told this evening that the deal he announced last night doesn't exist, there is no compromise, even the people who were in the room don't believe there was a deal, and that this is another example of Senator Reid for the sixth or seventh time trying to find a way to have good PR in order to stampede things. I think that they are a very, very long way from getting to a solution.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's a lousy way to get PR if, in fact, your information is correct -- how good is your source? -- if there's no deal and no compromise because that's a far cry from what everyone's been reporting and saying for the last 24 hours. It's a lousy way to get PR if it turns out you've got egg all over your face on it.
GINGRICH: Well, look, when you had one of the senators who was in the meetings said the most they agreed to was to send the ideas to the Congressional Budget Office to get them scored, that they had no agreement on it. Another senator said flatly if it doesn't have the public option, he's a no. A third senator said flatly if it does have a public option, he's a no. And a fourth senator said he didn't agree to anything and didn't understand why they were claiming it was an agreement.
Now, those are all four quotes on the wire this evening.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so have you spoken to anybody separate from those quotes? I mean, can you give us any -- do you have an inside scoop that -- or not?
GINGRICH: No, my sense is, just from talking with the folks at the Center for Health Transformation, who have really been following this for the last 24 hours, and particularly Dave Merritt and Jim Frogue, who've been keeping me informed, that all of their contacts on Capitol Hill tell them there is no deal. It is not -- it's a long way from being done. It's probably now -- Marty Gold, who used to be the parliamentarian for Howard Baker and for Bill First, said that he believes it's technically impossible now to get anything out before Christmas. And I think you're going to find presently that the whole thing fades and that they go home for at least 10 days and then take it back up again in mid-January.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I know that you always use the term that -- I mean -- I mean, everyone on Capitol Hill -- I don't mean you necessarily -- use the term "score," that it gets sent over to the CBO to be scored. I know everyone uses it so frequently that it's -- it's acceptable. But for some reason, that rubs me the wrong way. It's being sent over to try to do some cost analysis. And the fact is, correct me if I'm wrong, is that you can't do any -- I mean, you can't do any cost analysis, that it's impossible to do a cost analysis, so that everyone's come up with this code word...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... called "scoring." Am I wrong?
GINGRICH: Well, no, no. You use cost analysis. Look, I'm a constant critic of the Congressional Budget Office. I think they need to become much more open, much more transparent and much more accountable. But if you're going to have some idea, like let's let everybody buy into Medicare, somebody ought to try to do an accounting and tell you what that's going to cost. And I think...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's an estimate.
GINGRICH: ... when the Congressional Budget Office...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, that's -- that's...
GINGRICH: ... does that accounting...
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but they call it "score"...
GINGRICH: Yes. That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: We keep using...
GINGRICH: You're exactly right...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... the term "score." Why don't we say "estimate"?
GINGRICH: Well, yes, I'm very happy -- that's probably a good idea. I'll steal it from you. I think "estimate" is a good idea because the truth is, they're often -- they're sometimes off by as much as a factor of three. They guess it's a dollar, it's actually $3, or they guess it's $3, it's actually a dollar. The word "guess" wouldn't be bad, either.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right...
GINGRICH: ... give you a guess for what it's going to cost.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but I certainly would like -- with that guess, I'd like the track record of how successful the person has been at guessing in the past. That might be instructive, as well.
But we're going to take a quick break, Mr. Speaker.
Coming up: Why did our government give $6 million to someone for a big ad campaign? Since when is our government in the commercial business? And $6 million? And wait until you hear whose name is tied to this. That's coming up.
Plus, Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Lindsay Graham join us. Don't go away.
VAN SUSTEREN: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is back with us. He has a new book out, "Rediscovering God in America," now updated wit the great photography from his wife, Callista. Signed copies, of course, are on sale at Newt.org.
But before you go to that Web site, President Obama wants to use financial bail-out money to help small businesses. Is this some tricky accounting? Is this a stimulus 2, as some Republicans say?
Mr. Speaker, before we even get to that, during the break, it occurred to me you're not in a studio. And since I don't know, I figure the viewers must wonder. Where are you?
GINGRICH: Well, I'm in Atlanta, where my granddaughter, Maggie (ph), is going to be in the Atlanta Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker." So her brother, Robert (ph), and I spent the afternoon watching her practice with the Atlanta Ballet. And as you know, as a grandfather, there are few things more thrilling than to watch your granddaughter, 10 years of age, trying out for something like "The Nutcracker." So the Christmas spirit is definitely upon us as we look at this.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, that -- so that mystery is solved. Now to the other mystery. Are we having a "Stimulus 2"?
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we talked a little bit about scoring versus estimate, guess on the CBO. Is this discussion about this jobs bill -- is that really just stimulus 2?
GINGRICH: You know, I talked to a senior Republican who was in the meeting with the president today, and they said it was almost unnerving how little he seems to understand about how business works and how small businesses work. The House Republicans have an entire package of job creating ideas that don't cost anything, but they restrict government, they reduce regulations, they make it easier for small businesses to hire people, and yet they couldn't get the president to pay any attention because they didn't spend a lot of money through bureaucracy.
And I think one of the great tests of the next few years is going to be between those who believe in trickle-down bureaucracy, which is surely a failed concept after the $787 billion stimulus, and those of us who believe in liberating small business, reducing their taxes, reducing their red tape and making it easier for them to hire people.
I think the president clearly is beginning to figure out that at the current unemployment rate and with the current economic prospects, he had better focus on the economy. The problem is, his advisers are so left-wing and tend to be so socialist that they don't have any idea how to help small businesses. And by the way, they won't approach the National Federation of Independent Business or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturing, or anybody else who represents actual job creators.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, one of the problems you have if you have people who are only, for instance, from the academics -- you only have the -- the economists, rather than the person who's actually run a small business -- is you run the risk that the people look -- that (ph) who's ever trying to solve these things looks at the world as some sort of econometric model and not sort of a real practical, How do you pay the -- how do you pay the electrical bill or how do you keep the machinery running?
Does the president have any of those sort of hands-on people, business people, at all advising him, if you know?
GINGRICH: No, to the best of my knowledge, there's nobody who has a direct job experience meeting a payroll. There are people who've worked in private law firms. There are people who've worked in jobs in big corporations, but nobody who's actually been out meeting a payroll and creating jobs.
But it's worse than that. If you look at the Environmental Protection Agency this week basically threatening a command-and-control economy -- that's a White House word -- command-and-control economy over carbon, and you're a business or you're a cattleman -- remembering that the largest source of methane is cows -- and these people are just nuts.
And they're out here right now threatening virtually every business in America with an entire new wave of regulations on top of tax increases. And remember, the very day of the job summit, the Democrats in the House passed an increase in the "death" tax for next year, which is an absolutely anti-small business provision. I mean, it's almost like they're totally out of touch with practical reality.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this jobs bill -- we only have 30 seconds left. Is it really sort of code for "Stimulus 2"? Is it -- I mean, it -- you know, because I have such a -- I have such a thing about the way we describe these things and -- you know, that sometimes it's...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... they disguise the real purpose.
GINGRICH: The way...
VAN SUSTEREN: Whether it's a good purpose or bad purpose.
GINGRICH: It's bad purpose that's designed to give politicians and bureaucrats more of your money so they control more of your life. And it will fail to create jobs, just as stimulus 1 has been a grotesque, very expensive failure that has cost many Americans their jobs and has extended unemployment.
VAN SUSTEREN: I could tell you like it, the stimulus 1.
GINGRICH: I was just...
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, I got to go.
GINGRICH: You know, it's not a theoretical question. It failed. All righty.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm just teasing. I'm teasing you! Tell your granddaughter congratulations. Mr. Speaker, thank you.
GINGRICH: I thought you were -- I thought you were leaving me there. I was going to wave. Goodbye, goodbye!
VAN SUSTEREN: Goodbye.
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