Is President Obama a Socialist? John Stossel Weighs in

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 4, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: Many Americans believe that President Obama is a socialist because he favors big government control of health care and the finance industry, among other things. And the president recently reignited that debate when he said this:


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We're not — we're not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned. I do think at a certain point you've made enough money but, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you're providing a good product and you're providing good service.


O'REILLY: With us now, Fox Business anchor John Stossel. So whenever the president does that, it just reignites, as I said, this paranoia that he is a socialist. There is something in the president's presentation that does bother capitalists. You know, he's making a judgment: "There comes a point you have enough money, so give it to me. I'll take it from you."

JOHN STOSSEL, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: I'll spend it better than you can.

O'REILLY: I will spend it better. You give it to me. And Americans, I think most don't want to give it to you.

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STOSSEL: Well, some do. The Gallup poll showed that Democrats are quite comfortable with the word "socialism." Literally, socialism means government owning the means of production. And Obama talks about the beauty of free markets. I don't know if he believes it. I think he — I'd call him interventionist, an arrogant interventionist. He has lawyer's disease. In law school they teach you that you can manage life with paper and procedure and micromanage everything so it's better if we just take money from the rich. We'll solve the world's problems. We'll decide how it should be spent.

O'REILLY: OK. I do believe he's a true believer. I don't know if I'd attach the word arrogant to it, but he's a true believer in the sense that if you have a certain amount of money, you being an individual, like Stossel and myself, or a corporation, like Exxon Mobil, if you make a certain amount of money, as he said, hey, that's enough. And then anything more that you have should be recycled for the greater good.

STOSSEL: Because you're making too much.

O'REILLY: But I ask myself that question, because I used to be a poor guy and now I'm a rich guy. And I don't — well, am I hoarding money? Should I give more money away? I mean, these are questions I think anybody affluent should be asking. These are legitimate questions. The problem with President Obama is I believe that he wants to take it, take it, not having you voluntarily give it. He wants to take it. There is where I think we get into trouble.

STOSSEL: Well, he clearly does. He's for raising taxes on the rich. But, even when you selfishly invest your money, don't give it to charity. Those investments, presumably create other jobs, do good things for the economy.

O'REILLY: if you're an investor, that's not being selfish. You're taking a risk.

STOSSEL: Sure it is. You're trying to make more for yourself.

O'REILLY: No, no, but I mean, that's being prudent. Not selfish.

STOSSEL: Self-interested.

O'REILLY: Look, you have families. Disasters happen. I don't want to be on the government dole ever. I don't want a nickel of their money ever. I'll make my own money.

STOSSEL: You are rich enough that you have...

O'REILLY: No, but that was my philosophy when I was poor. I never wanted their money. I'll make my own money.

STOSSEL: Good. Run your own life.

O'REILLY: But now the president of the United States for the first time in my lifetime, and I think Jimmy Carter felt this way, but I don't think he said it, OK? He's basically saying to the American people, you know, "We have a bunch of greed heads. We're surrounded by greed heads and we, the Obama administration, are going to deal with them. We're going to give it to you." And that's where the socialism thing comes in.

STOSSEL: And that's central planning. And the important thing about that, Hayek said this, is when government…

O'REILLY: Hayek?

STOSSEL: Frederick Hayek, the economist.

O'REILLY: Hayek?

STOSSEL: Hayek. He said the more government plans, the less individuals can plan, and that's the most important thing. We are prosperous because of individual decision-making not central planning. And Obama, call him a socialist or not, he wants more government control.

O'REILLY: Do you think he's a socialist?

STOSSEL: I don't think it's a useful term. He hasn't said — he did say "I prefer single-payer health care." He did take over GM. But he said, "We want to give GM back to the private sector."

O'REILLY: So you have suspicions that he may be?

STOSSEL: I call him...

O'REILLY: I can see this.

STOSSEL: I call him an interventionist.

O'REILLY: An interventionist. Nobody knows what that means.

STOSSEL: Well, nobody knows what socialism means.

O'REILLY: And nobody knows Frederick Hayek.

STOSSEL: Well, now they do.

O'REILLY: All right. John Stossel. Everybody knows Stossel.