Transcript: Lott on Stimulus Package

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Following is a transcripted excerpt from Fox News Sunday, November 18, 2001.

TONY SNOW, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: President Bush will sign an airline security bill into law tomorrow, but what about an economic stimulus plan? For answers, we turn to Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott.

Also here, Fred Barnes, who's in for Brit Hume. Brit has the day off.

I want to begin by showing you a quote from Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. It has to do with who's responsible for the foot- dragging on the economic stimulus bill.

He says, "They," meaning Republicans, "killed our economic recovery and homeland security bill. If they think the answer is billions of dollars in tax cuts for wealthy individuals and profitable corporations, they need to explain to the American people why that is."

Your response?

SENATE MINORITY LEADER TRENT LOTT, R-MISS.: Well, they rammed through a totally partisan bill through the Finance Committee on an 11-10 vote. We told them then, if you try to go to the floor with this package — which is really just more typical Democrat spending programs; it really won't have a stimulative effect — it won't get through the Senate. We told them that, they knew that. And then when the vote occurred on the Senate floor and everything came to a halt, then they start trying to blame somebody.

I mean, they put things in here that clearly can't be identified as helping, you know, stimulate the economy immediately. Bison meat here, funds for investment bankers there; watermelon subsidies somewhere else. Many are good programs in other areas which I also support at another day in another bill, but clearly not stimulative in terms of causing economic growth.

SNOW: Where did you come up with that graphic?


LOTT: Well, you know, we've learned that demonstrative evidence is worth more than a thousand words. Everything from cherry subsidies here to movies, I might add.

Look, we all know what needs to be done. We do need to do a package. It needs to be limited, targeted, have an immediate positive effect on the economy, not a negative long-term effect, and create growth, more than a dollar for a dollar.

How do you do that? First of all, we are going to have to something more on unemployment compensation. But on the other hand, we've got to do some things that give people incentives to create more jobs and grow in the economy.

FRED BARNES, FOX NEWS: Senator, on this dispute with Senator Daschle, is it incumbent upon the Senate majority leader in war time to lean over backwards and compromise with the president, which obviously Senator Daschle has not done on the economic stimulus package?

LOTT: Well, I think it is.

BARNES: In other words, does Senator Daschle have to play a different role than just being the partisan leader of Democrats in the Senate?

LOTT: Absolutely. Clearly, he's got to be non-partisan. He's got to work with Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate and the president.

Now, let me just say in several of these bills, he has done that on the counterterrorism bill. In other areas it's not been quite so, but particularly on the stimulus package it has become, unfortunately, very partisan. And I — you know, I don't want to absolve either side.

My argument is, look, let's put that aside, let's get this job done. And I don't know, I'm beginning to wonder if Senator Daschle really wants a stimulative package for the economy, because he's shown no movement toward sitting down and getting a serious discussion going.

BARNES: Senator, let me ask you about someone that you and Senator Daschle met this past week, and that was President Putin of Russia. Now, I've two questions here.

One, is his camaraderie and friendship with President Bush genuine? And secondly, do you think maybe they, although they didn't announce anything on missile defense, that maybe they've come to a general agreement on what they're going to do on that subject?

LOTT: Well, clearly they have a very personal relationship. There is a genuine camaraderie between them, because I've seen him around others, including us, and it's not nearly as open and warm and even humorous as it is with the president. That event at Crawford at that high school was really an incredible scene to observe in the way they related to each other.

I do think that they have more of an understanding and more of a commitment to each other than they can make publicly right now.

BARNES: On missile defense?

LOTT: Even on missile defense. You know, President Putin can't go back and say, oh, well, you know, I agreed to just eliminate ABM and, yes, go forward with missile defense.

LOTT: I think they have some understanding, some meeting of minds which will evolve over a period of time.

SNOW: Does that — would that...

LOTT: I don't know that now. Let me make sure, I don't have inside information. But just from watching them and listening to what they say, I have a feeling that's how it's developed.

SNOW: Do you — does your feeling tell you that that would result in a shared anti-missile defense system?

LOTT: The president has said all along, I believe, even back in the campaign, that he would be willing to share information on missile defense. This is not an offensive weapon. And if it's a good defensive weapon for us, we should be willing to share it with others around the world, because others are threatened, including Russia, by the way.

SNOW: I want to back up. You said that you think Senator Daschle may not want a program that has a stimulative effect. Does that mean that you think he wants to see the economy in bad shape as next year's election approaches?

LOTT: All I know is that, in spite of all my efforts last week working on aviation security and trying to get the discussion started seriously on a stimulus package, I couldn't get him to do it because he kept insisting on adding $15 billion more in spending that Senator Byrd is asking for, and wouldn't agree for the Finance Committee and Ways and Means Committee leaders to sit down and begin this discussion.

Now, when are we going to do it? When we come back after Thanksgiving, there will only be a couple of weeks or so before the Christmas holidays. We need to do this now if we're going to do it at all.

And I'm beginning to wonder if they'd rather — basically are saying, do our spending package or we won't agree to anything.

SNOW: On the other hand, the president's been talking about being non-partisan, and he doesn't appear to have taken a very clear stand. Doesn't he have some obligation to say what he wants?

LOTT: I think he does, and I have encouraged the White House officials this past Friday to get more aggressive in that area. I believe they will. And I expect it to take place during the next week. And when we come back after the Thanksgiving recess, there'll be a lot of pressure to do the right thing for the American economy.

SNOW: Well, I want to be straight here. A lot of people can speak for the president, but only the president when he speaks really has impact. The president's going to have to be the one who makes the statements.

LOTT: I believe the president will have to do that. I believe the president will do that.

The president made a very clear stand, by the way, on this additional profligate spending, which we may eventually have to do. But he said, if you do that, I will veto it. And I think it kind of shocks the members of Congress that the president was so firm. He didn't get mad bit. He just said here it is. And he said I have to go to another meeting, got up and left. So I think he will be very, very blunt about it.

BARNES: Military tribunals, the president has authorized them for terrorists who are seized. One, do you agree with Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that Congress should have hearings on this? And, two, do you think the tribunals are a good idea?

LOTT: I think it's all right to have a hearing on it. But as is always the case, for the most part, I don't agree with Senator Pat Leahy on this.

You know, I think that the military tribunals make sense. We're dealing with people that have been involved in an act of war. These are foreigners, these are terrorists. And we should have a process to get them to quick and sure trial.

And I know there'll be people on both sides philosophically that say, "Oh, wait a minute, what are we giving away here?" The answer is not much. This is — we need to be careful about constitutional guarantees. But again, these are people involved in horrendous acts of war that are foreigners, that are terrorists, and we should use these military tribunals.

BARNES: Let me ask you a couple Afghanistan questions. Do you think the Northern Alliance should be blocked from forming a government while once again the administration and the United Nations and so on tries to form some multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan?

LOTT: Well, I think there's been a little bit of the typical U.N. wringing of hands worried about forming a government. I think we ought to take out the Taliban and Al Qaeda and bin Laden any way, any time and as soon as we can throughout Afghanistan.

Yes, we want, you know, to help humanitarian effort. We'd like to have a coalition government. But I don't think we should be involved in holding back our allies in routing out the Taliban and Al Qaeda wherever they are. We ought to do it right now. We can work through being helpful and, you know, a government. We're not going to walk off and leave them after this is over.

But, you know, I don't think we ought to be obsessed with, you know, the next government. We ought to be obsessed with getting the people that have been killing people all over the world and responsible for over 4,000 people's lives up there in the rubble still in New York City. I think the American people want us to go forth and do the deed.

SNOW: All right. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, thanks for joining us.

LOTT: Thank you, Tony.

Copyright © 2001 by eMediaMillWorks, Inc. All rights reserved.