Does Obama want to redistribute income?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: And in the "Impact Segment" tonight, while Mitt Romney is dealing with a videotape that makes him look a bit callous there's also a tape of President Obama that makes him look a bit radical.


OBAMA: I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence, facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot.


O'REILLY: Now, my interview with Barack Obama in 2008, I asked him about the income redistribution deal.


O'REILLY: You're taking the wealthy in America, the big earners, ok?

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: You're taking money away from them and you're giving it to people who don't. That's called income redistribution. It's a socialist tenet.


O'REILLY: Bill, Bill --

O'REILLY: Come on, you know that. You went to Harvard.

OBAMA: Teddy Roosevelt supported the progressive income tax.


O'REILLY: All right, here now to analyze "New York Times" columnist, Thomas Friedman, the author of the book now out in paperback "That Used to be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How We Can Come Back".

All right now, when I interviewed Barack Obama he clearly did not want to be labeled an income redistributionist, he clearly didn't. Yet, years earlier he said he was. Is that -- should I resent the fact that he wasn't being honest.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean I don't know where he was coming from earlier, Bill. You know what strikes me is where we should be right now. And this is really what you know we've been writing about. I want everyone in America -- this is where I think the President should be and where Romney should be. I want everyone in America to have a chance to -- to be their own starter upper, to be out of the 47 percent. That's to me what the election should be about.


O'REILLY: But it isn't about it.

FRIEDMAN: Not who is in the 47 percent. But how do we get everybody out of the 47 percent.

O'REILLY: Ok but let's talk about income redistribution.


O'REILLY: Because I think beyond a reasonable doubt that that's what President Obama's economic philosophy is. Now does that make a stronger nation giving people assets, giving people money? I would -- does that make a stronger country if we do that?

FRIEDMAN: Well you know there is no question you want some level of social safety net because that goes with capitalism.


O'REILLY: Right but capitalism is not income redistribution though. It's not.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I mean, the President has got to answer that one.

O'REILLY: But -- but look, you've traveled the world, ok?


O'REILLY: I mean you spent a lot of time in China. Are societies stronger, that spread the wealth around by government fiat -- are they stronger?

FRIEDMAN: Look, I think the societies that are strongest, Bill, are those that combine a healthy public-private partnership where the public enables people through infrastructure through social safety nets for people who can't keep up and unleashes the private, ok, through investment and through the right laws and regulations that stimulate people to invest and start things up.


FRIEDMAN: When you go to Hong Kong, for instance, I just came back from China.

O'REILLY: Right.

FRIEDMAN: What you see -- you know when you see the tall buildings in Hong Kong, to me Hong Kong is kind of British rule of law with all that unleashed Chinese energy --


O'REILLY: But there's no income redistribution going on in Hong Kong.

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely, yes.

O'REILLY: That's capitalism at its highest level. If you don't -- if you don't make it there, you're floating in the harbor.


FRIEDMAN: That's not quite -- it's not quite as bad.

O'REILLY: Oh boy you know how ruthless that capitalism is there.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, yes.

O'REILLY: Your newspaper the "New York Times" believes in income redistribution and believes in social justice and is right down the line with Barack Obama on that philosophy.


O'REILLY: But in your book, you say that one of the reasons that America -- and you believe America is a weaker nation now than it was say 20 years ago, right?


O'REILLY: Ok. Now one of the reasons that we are weaker is because we took a wrong course after 9/11. Is that correct? Am I reading correctly?


O'REILLY: What was the wrong course.

FRIEDMAN: Well the wrong course was that after 9/11 we thought at the end of the Cold War, we thought the end of the Cold War was a great victory and Bill, it was. It was a great victory over communism and totalitarianism.

O'REILLY: All right.

FRIEDMAN: But here is the problem. We thought it was a victory that allowed us to put our feet up, that victory unleashed things that you and I like. It unleashed two billion people around the world to compete with us, to collaborate with us. We kind of -- we kind of put our feet up and the Chinese, the Brazilians --


O'REILLY: But what should we have done differently? I mean, we want these societies to be competitive and to develop their own economies because that helps us. What should we have done differently after the Cold War, anything?

FRIEDMAN: Well, yes to me it was -- it's basically five things. If you look at how we got rich as a country we didn't get here by accident. We got rich because we actually had a formula for success. We educated people (inaudible) wherever the technology was.

O'REILLY: Right.

FRIEDMAN: We had open immigration policy that attracted the world's most talented and energetic immigrants to start all these new companies. We had the best infrastructure, we had the smartest rules, rules that incentivize risk-taking but prevent recklessness and we have the most government-funded research into medicine, science that pushed out the boundaries so that venture capitalists could come in.


O'REILLY: All of that is good. All of that is good.

FRIEDMAN: Yes but if you look --

O'REILLY: But we have that now though. We spend more money in this country Mr. Friedman educating our students than any other country in the world except Switzerland. And there is only eight students in Switzerland, ok they are yodeling. We spend more money, all right and it's still not enough. We want more, we want more. And I'm a former teacher.


O'REILLY: All right, it's bull. It's not money. Here is what it is. And this is what your newspaper won't recognize. It's personal responsibility. That's why the country is weaker than it was in the past because we individual Americans aren't taking responsibility for our actions.

FRIEDMAN: Well there is no question you know that is part of it. And if you read our section in the book about actually education, our argument is, yes, we need better teachers but we also need better parents.

O'REILLY: Better parents, right.

FRIEDMAN: They need better community leaders.

O'REILLY: But you can't force parents to be good. How can you do that?

FRIEDMAN: Yes you can't but you can model it all right and you can -- it's something that has to be inspired. And you're absolutely right, Bill. You can't force it ok, but it is something that can be inspired by local leaders and national leaders.

O'REILLY: Do you think Mitt Romney is a mean guy who doesn't care about the folks? Do you really think that he is an aristocrat and he couldn't care less about the working people?

FRIEDMAN: I never met the guy. I have never spoken to him. I don't really have a sense of him.

O'REILLY: All right. So you don't -- you are taking a pass on that. You don't know.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I only know what I heard. And what I heard wasn't particularly impressive for reasons I think you said in the introduction to the show.

O'REILLY: What do you mean what you heard?

FRIEDMAN: I mean what I heard on this tape, this last tape.

O'REILLY: Oh I don't even care about the tape.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, yes.

O'REILLY: But he governed Massachusetts in a fairly responsible way.


O'REILLY: All right, you know he gave the healthcare deal up there in the sense that the people wanted it in Massachusetts. He made it happen for them. And you can debate that all day long. But now he's supposed to be some big greed head. And I know the guy. I worked in Boston for a long time. He is not.

Do you think it's fair that he has been branded that way by the media?

FRIEDMAN: Here is what I think or what I feel about him, I know where you stand. I watch your show. I know where you stand.

O'REILLY: Right.

FRIEDMAN: One of the things I felt about Romney from the very beginning is that he is pretending to be someone he's not. You talked about the governor of Massachusetts, sort of a typical northern liberal Republican. That's not what he has been running as.

O'REILLY: He's morphed, right, he's morphed into a more conservative thing. But here is what I object to. Barack Obama is not some communist who was born in Kenya. Although the far-right will label him that ok? But the far-left labels Romney as this guy who has got money hidden in the Caymans and couldn't care less and wants to stomp and fire people.

I just think the press is irresponsible on both sides.

FRIEDMAN: But Bill, you know, he has so much of a pulpit now to really define himself.

O'REILLY: Well, he has to do it, right.

FRIEDMAN: And I think he hasn't done that.

O'REILLY: All right, Tom Friedman thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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