This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: In an appearance on "60 Minutes" last night, the president came out with an aggressive and highly personal dig at the financial sector. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street. The only ones that are going to be paying out these fat bonuses are the ones that have now paid back that TARP money and —
STEVE KROFT, "60 MINUTES" HOST: Do you think that's why they paid it back so quickly?
OBAMA: I think in some cases that was motivation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right, it's no secret the recession has been a painful period for many on Wall Street, but there's one sector filled with fat cats that the president seems to have overlooked. And that's the federal government. Not only is Uncle Sam virtually the only employer to have taken on more workers during the recession, but the number of federal employees making six figures has also sky rocketed.
• Video: Watch Sean's interview with Michael Steele
USA Today reports, quote, "The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession. Federal employees taking salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14 to 19 percent of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months, and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are even counted."
Now USA Today concludes that, quote, "Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time." Well, is that true for any other industry in the nation? And if not, the president may want to direct his anger elsewhere. At government.
Joining me now with reaction is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele. Before we get to the government side of this, you know, I used to be — I used to work in construction years ago. I've done every job since I was 12 years old, washing dishes. I was a busboy. I was a bartender. I was a waiter.
I've done every job there is. If rich people that the president seems to demonize regularly — if they don't spend their money, is it the rich people that get hurt or all the people with the jobs that are supported by rich people? Who gets hurt more?
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, it's certainly those in the middle class and the lower middle-class that feel the brunt of that contraction of those who have wealth who then take that wealth and invest it in the economy. They invest it if they are an employer in expanding their business and hiring other employees or they invest it in companies that do that, that afford those companies the ability to expand and hire.
So — I think, Sean, at the end of the day, you're looking at an administration that has a fundamentally flawed view of how free markets, free enterprise and the capital system that has built this nation works.
STEELE: When you have the president going on "60 Minutes" and chastising Wall Street, fat cats, whoever they happen to be, the people who help create the economic engine in this country to stimulate growth, but then called them into Washington the next day or so and say —
HANNITY: All right.
STEELE: "Look, we need you to go back and do the same thing over again," it doesn't make much sense, now does it?
HANNITY: But if these companies pay back the TARP money, which in many cases they have, and then they ultimately start making profits again, and they give bonuses to people — and the people that received bonuses paid their taxes on that, why would the president be angry? Why would he care?
STEELE: I think it's because — I think it really goes to how he ran the campaign and a lot of the things that the president said during the campaign. There is a fundamental effort afoot here to shift, redistribute the wealth that is created and earned in this nation to government through whatever policies, whatever means that fit, that work.
Health care is just the first wave. Cap-and-trade is the next. Card check is another way in which they empower those institutions that are either beholden to the government or the government itself.
HANNITY: All right. Let me —
STEELE: So the reality is, this is a very different type of view, on how we create wealth in this country.
HANNITY: Listen, but government jobs have never exploded except during this recession. It's the only —
HANNITY: It's the only area of the economy where jobs are being created. But, you know, we have this pork bill that was passed last week, and there were Republicans against sticking pork in these bills.
Chairman, Mr. Chairman, why won't these Republicans live up to those conservative values themselves?
STEELE: Well, I think, Sean, at the end of the day, this boils down to something that I've said really from the very beginning that this is a time where a lot of voters out there are watching. I've said before that those elected officials are going to have to go back and account to those voters on how those dollars are being spent.
When you have businesses closing, you have families up against the wall in their mortgage and the like, to know that there are millions and millions of dollars being spent in the way that we cannot afford right now, you're going to have to account for that. And that's whether you're a Republican or a Democrat.
HANNITY: But, Chairman, this is what has alienated conservatives from the Republican Party. I'm —
STEELE: Sean, Sean, I'm with you. And look, I can't short circuit the process. I can jump up and down all day long and scream at the top of my lungs.
HANNITY: Do you talk to them?
STEELE: . about the behavior. Absolutely. Absolutely.
HANNITY: And so these guys that are accepting these earmarks but yet preaching fiscal responsibility, they've heard from Michael Steele.
STEELE: They know I've talked to the leadership. I've expressed it to them directly that this is a concern for a lot of our base, for a lot of conservatives around the country, and at the end of the day, this boils down to one reality for every member of the United States Congress, House and Senate. They've got to go back home. They've got to account for votes. If they're going to account for how they've spent the nation's money at a time of recession.
HANNITY: My — from my perspective — you could tell me where you think I'm wrong — is that they've got the opportunity of a lifetime to literally distinguish themselves from a liberal socialist agenda, and then when they see that they want to take their piece of the pie and they make these backroom deals, it's sort of takes all their credibility that they're going to be different and throws it out the window.
And it seems to me like a missed opportunity. It seems to like it's time for Republicans to sign pledged that they will eliminate all earmarks. And I'd like to see that from the Republican Party.
STEELE: Well, Sean, I have been, you know, saying for a while that that is what we should do. That as a party, and I know I've heard it from the grassroots, that we should support, you know, an effort to step away from earmarks, from that reckless kind of spending, but again, it gets back to this reality.
You have members who will say, "Well, if I don't, then the Democrats will or someone else. That money will get spent."
HANNITY: But then they get to run on that.
STEELE: Well, but —
HANNITY: Then they get to show that they're different.
STEELE: Again, and you're making a good point. This is where you can begin to distinguish yourself and this is where I think you're going to see a lot of members do distinguish themselves in the coming months as people pay more and more attention.
I'm encouraging people to make sure Congress knows they need to listen to them first.
STEELE: Not the inner workings in the halls of D.C., but what's going on in communities across this country, and the people are saying, "Don't spend my money the way you're spending it, otherwise, it'll be the last thing you do as a member of Congress."
HANNITY: I think that's well said, Chairman. I'm glad you're sticking up to the members of your own party. I'm telling you, they absolutely are angering the base like I've never seen, and that was an opportunity to show leadership, and some of them blew it. But anyway, appreciate your being with us.
STEELE: All right, buddy.
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