Gingrich: Maybe Obama Should Be Talking Jobs, Not Tea Parties

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 30, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama is talking tea parties.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a part of the Tea Party movement that actually did exist before I was elected. We saw some of it leading up to my election. There's some folks who just weren't sure what whether I was born in the United States, whether I was a socialist, right? So there's that segment of it, which I think is just dug in ideologically. And that strain has existed in American politics for a long time.

Then I think that there's a broader circle around that core group of people who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much.


VAN SUSTEREN: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. Well, the president is talking tea parties.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think it's all kind of strange. The president ought to be talking jobs. He ought to be talking energy. He ought to be talking getting the deficit under control.

VAN SUSTEREN: He probably got asked it, though. I don't know...


VAN SUSTEREN: Someone said, What do you think of the tea parties?

GINGRICH: Right, but I think that you probably get asked things you're willing to talk about. And this country is faced with enormous problems, and I think that the president ought to focus on trying to get us to solutions to those enormous problems.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except let me just bring one thing -- thought to it, though, is that the people who are members of the Tea Party about which he's speaking today are people that I don't think got a lot of attention from the Democratic Party until just recently. In fact, they were actually criticized and made fun of last summer by many Democratic leaders. So I actually see this as sort of the president saying, Look, these are people who have -- some have legitimate concerns. So it's a good -- it's a first- time recognition.

GINGRICH: I think that's the first time I've heard any major Democrat indicate that maybe those citizens -- after all, these are citizens. Maybe those citizens have a right to raise some questions and a right to be engaged. You know, they went through a cycle right after the vote on the health legislation where they were shocked that people were angry and they were trying to get all of us to believe there was something startling about the fact that people were angry. Well, if you watched the way they passed the bill and the tactics they used to pass the bill, it shouldn't have surprised them that people would resent it and people would be pretty aggressively angry about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I remember when Senator Scott Brown was an elected in Massachusetts, they were stunned, like, Oh, you know, I -- we didn't realize that this could happen. And it was so stunning because all last summer, all we ever talked about were town hall meetings, that people were calling their members of Congress, calling their senators. It was -- it almost seemed like a sense of arrogance towards it, they didn't matter.


VAN SUSTEREN: You know, that they were insignificant.

GINGRICH: I think you now have two countries, in a way. I mean, Arthur Brooks, the head of the American Enterprise Institute, has a book coming out in June called "The Battle." And he takes all of the Gallup data and he shows that we're about a 70 percent center-right country and about a 30 percent hard left, and that there's really fundamental differences.

And part of what you're seeing happen is the people on the left -- the president, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid -- are talking to themselves. And they don't want to take seriously the size of the population that is worried about jobs, worried about spending, worried about deficits. And so they say, Gee, there's got to be something going on out there because it can't really be these things.

But the fact is, I think, that they're about to collide with the country, which is fundamentally worried about government being too big. You know, Rasmussen came out with a survey today and said the substantial majority of the American people would repeal the health bill. Now, that's a fairly startling number to continue to be there, you know, after a week of the president trying to sell it, after the fact that it passed. The country's going, yes, but we -- this is not a good idea. Overwhelmingly, the American people think this bill is going to make their health care more expensive.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm a bit surprised that the Democrats aren't a little bit smarter, sending people out to these tea parties because I think some of the remarks made by Democrats have been to think that every single member of a tea party is questioning where the president was born. You know, there are some who are doing that, and you know, they have been -- they have been dismissed, and nobody is -- no legitimate person is questioning at this point where he was born. But there are all these people in the tea party who have other concerns that are legitimate concerns that are just completely -- completely ignored. Instead, they get dumped into the other category.

GINGRICH: Well, but I think that's partly denial. I think -- I think there's a -- whether it's the elite media, like The New York Times, or whether it is the politicians on the left, if they grant that these citizens have legitimate questions, then they have to start answering them. And it's easier for them to try to survive by saying, Those don't count, there's got to be something wrong with those people. They're either...

VAN SUSTEREN: Or they raise a nutty concern.

GINGRICH: Yes, they're either nuts or they're racist or there's something wrong with them. But the fact is, the Tea Party movement I think draws directly from the Ross Perot movement of 1992 and 1996, very similar people, very angry about government, very worried about the deficit, very concerned about their own take-home pay and their own jobs. And there's really a direct progression from Perot's rebellion starting in '92 to the Tea Party rebellion that's under way now.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think they make a mistake by defining the Tea Party by a fringe element within the Tea Party, rather than sort of looking at, you know, what generally is the complaint of many of them.

GINGRICH: Yes. One of the great strengths of a democracy is that the people talk back to you, unlike dictatorships. And a smart politician, somebody like Franklin Delano, Roosevelt listens very carefully to understand what people are saying because in the end, the people are sovereign. In the end, they get to decide, as Scott Brown proved in Massachusetts, or as Governor McDonnell and Governor Cristie proved last November. And so I think that it's always a mistake -- whether you're Democrat or Republican, it's always a mistake to quit listening and to cut off your constituency because in the end, you can't fire voters. The voters can fire you...

VAN SUSTEREN: But you can't fire the voters.

GINGRICH: ... but you can't fire them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, if you'll stand by, we have much more with you in a few minutes.

And next, Speaker Gingrich takes you into the future. Now, what does that mean? Find out next.


VAN SUSTEREN: Just how much will this new health care bill cost your children? Speaker Gingrich is back with us.

Mr. Speaker, for the next 10 years, we're going to be collecting revenue to pay for health care, and it's for six years of services. In the following 10 years, how do we collect the money? And are we only going to get services for six years, then I assume we have to pay for the full 10?

GINGRICH: Well, you know, when Bernie Madoff did something like this, he went to jail because it's illegal. Politicians can get away with it because they write the rules. The fact is, this bill does not pay for itself, doesn't come close to paying for itself. The fact is that it's a Ponzi scheme and they're basically saying, you know, Let's count 10 years of revenue, six years of spending, gosh, look, it's balanced. Well, all you got to do is use common sense. If it takes 10 years of revenue to cover six years of spending, then on the 7th year of spending, you're deep in the hole. And I think that we're going to find that this bill is very, very expensive.

VAN SUSTEREN: Or in the next 10 years -- or in the next 10 years...

GINGRICH: Excuse me.

VAN SUSTEREN: In the next 10 years, you're only going to get -- you're going to get six years of services and you got to pay for 10.

GINGRICH: Well, here's the crisis they're going to face. On almost every front, the health system is going to turn out to be much more expensive than they're estimating. Now, do they raise taxes radically? Do they close hospitals? Do they quit paying doctors? California today, Medical, which is their version of Medicaid, pays about 39 percent of the cost. The other 61 percent is a hidden tax on every Californian who has private insurance and raises the cost of their hospital stay or their doctor visit. If you expand that and you, in effect, are saying across the whole country, We're demanding services we're not going to pay for, at some point, the system just breaks down. I mean, it just ceases to function.

VAN SUSTEREN: I suppose if everybody -- if we had full employment, lots of jobs, we wouldn't have quite that problem, which is my segue to my next question. You have a job summit coming up.

GINGRICH: We're in St. Petersburg tomorrow night, in Florida. It is a very sober time in St. Petersburg. Forty-eight percent of the houses have mortgages bigger than their value. Twenty-four percent of the houses are in the process of foreclosure. Florida announced last Friday that they have the highest unemployment rate in the history of the state.

And I think it's going to be a period of really talking and telling the truth and trying to say, What do we need to do to get America back on track, which is to get an America that creates jobs, that competes successfully with China and India, and that enables us to, frankly, afford to pay for things because we're earning the money. And I think this is going to require very big changes, much bigger changes than any politician's currently willing to talk about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is Florida, though, a little bit different than many other states? It has a high percentage of people who are retired and who might not have a current -- they don't have -- they don't have jobs. They're not making an income, they're living off their savings. You've also got the situation where a lot of the homes are second homes because people who are snowbirds, certainly from my home state or other. So does - - does Florida have a peculiar sort of demographic in terms of their economy and their people?

GINGRICH: Well, look, Florida's a little bit different, but Florida's been a golden state for 40 years. It's been booming. It's been growing. It has a lot of industry and it has a lot of service industries. It's had a very booming tourist industry.

If you talk about housing values, you'd certainly say Florida, Arizona, Nevada, California were the center of the problem. But when you talk about unemployment, the truth is, California and Michigan are much, much worse hit than Florida.

I think the whole country is faced with a core crisis of resetting our economy, recognizing that the habits and patterns of the last decade aren't going to survive, and that, frankly, the Obama administration so far has made it all worse rather than better because they keep piling up even more debt. I think the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new budget projects $10 trillion in deficit over the next decade. That's -- I mean, that's such a big number, it's hard to imagine what it means.

VAN SUSTEREN: The stimulus bill -- are we -- should we be patient and see if it still works? Is it a total flop or is it indifferent or what's your...

GINGRICH: No, it's not a total flop. It's about a 90, 92 percent flop. But it's -- I mean, there -- there are some things in there that were very good. There are some things that are useful, reasonable investments. I think they total probably $23 billion, $24 billion out of $787 billion. A lot of it, frankly, actually allowed the politicians to put off real decisions for an extra year because it gave them the money at the state capital or city hall or county commission to avoid making tough decisions. Well, we're going to run out of that this year. We're now faced with the fact that government is too expensive. It is too big. And we're going to have to fundamentally replace a lot of failing systems if we're going to get back to being a successful country.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know (INAUDIBLE) they get on the street here in Washington, and you don't feel unemployment because of the government here and government's not cutting people. You go, you know, 20 miles outside D.C., and you see shop after shop after shop with "For lease" signs, businesses just closed down.

GINGRICH: Oh, I -- look, we -- when you go to Atlanta, where one of my daughters lives, or you go to Miami, where another daughter lives, or you criss-cross the country, as I do, making speeches and talking to people, this is a country in which the average American understands we are in deeper trouble economically than anybody who -- today who is under 80 years of age has ever seen.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's grim. Mr. Speaker, thank you, sir.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

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