This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The House of Representatives says its members, they're packing their bags and they're going home for the holidays, abandoning health care reform for the year 2009. Nonetheless, the Senate continues to push on full steam ahead, vowing to pass a bill before Christmas. But what's the rush?
One of the most important issues of our lifetime, you think our lawmakers would want to take their time. I've said the Democrats are rushing this through because they don't want this bill to see the light of day and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he made that very point on the Senate floor earlier today.
MITCH MCCONNELL, R-K.Y., SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It stands to reason that we would devote significant time and attention to it. Indeed, some would argue that we should spend more time and attention on this bill than most, if not every previous bill we've considered. The majority obviously disagrees. Why? Because this bill has become a political nightmare. A literal political nightmare for them.
HANNITY: And as health care continues to tank in the polls, Democrats do not seem to be getting the message that Americans may have just had enough. No, they've gone on quite the holiday spending spree in the fast few days. For example, just last night, the president signed a $1. 1 trillion spending bill into law. It is intended to jump-start the economy and stimulate the job market. And I thought the stimulus was supposed to do that.
Oh, and there's the issue of the national debt. The Democrats seem blind to the perils of that too. In fact, the House yesterday passed legislation allowing the federal government to raise the debt ceiling $290 billion, all to finance its operation for just an extra six weeks. So when would the spending binge stop and who's going to stop it? Joining me with answers is former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Governor, great to see you.
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Sean. Good to be with you.
• Video: Watch Sean's interview
HANNITY: All right, governor, let's start with — let's start with the economy. We got to raise the debt ceiling again, we're going to raise it that amount of money for six-week period of time? You know, that — and Nancy Pelosi says we're going to run on the economy. We're going to run on jobs. I'm thinking, how can you run on that?
ROMNEY: Well, they can't run on what they're doing. The first stimulus, almost a trillion dollar as you point, out was a stimulus that didn't create private sector jobs. It is created by the government. It has gone array, and just like a ship without a router in this case the Democrats are not stopping in saying, "OK, where are we heading, and are we going in the right direction?" Instead, it's like, "Give it more energy, full steam ahead, lay down the throttle." It's not working; the American people see it's not working. Spending massively more money is not creating jobs, borrowing your way to prosperity is not possible, it's the wrong course, America knows it is. And the Democrats seem to be troubled but I don't think I care for them as I do about the country. This is a real problem for America long term.
HANNITY: I agree. But politically it seems stupid. I mean, are they not looking at the polls? Do they not see what happened to New Jersey and in Virginia? It seems to me that, you know, to go with stimulus II and keep pushing health care when 61 percent of the American people don't want it. It doesn't even seem politically like the smart thing to do. What do you think their rationale is? Can you figure that out?
ROMNEY: Well, I they're saying that if they throw enough bails of money out of airplane doors, that somehow something's going to stick and the economy will start again and they will get credit for it, without people recognizing that when you do things like that you'll hurt the economy long term. I think the American people — the American people a lot smarter than the Democrats give them credit for. They realize that this mass suspending and borrowing is going to hurt America. And whether it gives us a temporary bump at some point down the road or not, it is the wrong course for this country and they're not going to take it anymore.
HANNITY: All right, President Obama has been in the office for almost a year. How bad has he performed in the economy? If you will grade him, what would you give him?
ROMNEY: Well certainly, a failing grade. The economy is not better. He said, "Give me your trust, we'll spend a trillion dollars almost and if we do that we'll keep the unemployment level below 8 percent." But if you don't give him the money, he said, "It'll get up to 10 percent." Well, we gave him the money and it's already above ten percent. It has not worked. The stimulus has not worked and then for him to focus his attention on this health care bill which no one understands which will dramatically change the nature of health care, 1/5 almost of our economy, that's an enormous mistake of judgment. He has really gone awry. Instead of focusing on what's more important, he focused on his pet ideological projects and those things that run America off the rail.
HANNITY: OK, now he's on his way to Copenhagen. We'll get to that in little bit here. Obviously they're focus on health care which is exactly again will going to cost a lot of money. So, the question — what over-all grade will you give him as president?
ROMNEY: Well, I typically not give grades. But I can't give this president the passing grade. This is the president who unfortunately used his political capital on his first year in office to work on cap-and-trade, to go across the country and campaign for his health care plan, instead of focusing on the two major issues that America faced at the time he came into office. One the economy, and number two the conflict in Afghanistan.
He got involved in this things way too late in the process and now he's trying to catch up by throwing good money after bad is not going to work. It's the wrong thing for the country.
HANNITY: Well, as you analyze the health care bill, where do you see it? You got Ben Nelson now saying he doesn't think he can support this bill — I'm not sure that there's going to be any moderate Democrats that opposes it. Dick Durbin in a very candid moment actually said he doesn't know what's in the bill. So, he doesn't know what's in the bill, you know, he's a leading ranking member of the Democratic Party in the Senate. How are the American people suppose to know what's in it? From what you do know, what do you think of it?
ROMNEY: Well, it's really hard to know what this bill is all about. Sean, you recognize that. It changes every day. It's going to go in the conference committee and get completely re-written at that point. They're going to try and come out with something because they figure anything is better than nothing. I don't think that's right.
Health care is way too important in this country to rush something through this virtually no one has read, that the American people had not had the opportunity to understand, and thoroughly vet. That's the wrong way to go and I think Americans will be very, very angry if they try and push something like this through. The right course is to take the time and thoroughly analyze each aspect that they're trying to deal with, compare it with other programs around our country and around the world, make sure that people understand it, get the votes to support the real reforms that are needed and strip off the provisions that make no sense at all such as — such as cutting Medicare by some $500 billion.
HANNITY: What are the Republicans doing right and what are they doing wrong in their opposition to the president? I mean, they're repulsing the health care bill, they're repulsing cap-and- tax, the stimulus, but then some Republican supported earmarks this week with this bill that the president sign yesterday. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? And what would you advice them going into an election where obviously they have a pretty good chance at winning?
ROMNEY: Well, I think they were surprised a bit. Because this president while he was campaigning and even when he first came in office said that he would work on a bipartisan basis.
He met with Republican leaders and said, "I want your ideas on the stimulus." But before they put forth any of their ideas, he put out a plan of his own or Nancy Pelosi did. He said he wanted a bipartisan health care approach. But instead of actually sitting down with Republicans and by the way, a number of Republicans put together a bipartisan health care bill that had a lot of important reforms, that was swept aside. And came — he came out instead with something which is exactly what the liberal groups had long been hoping for. So, I think the Republicans are a bit surprised here that this has turned into a far more partisan approach than anything they had led to believe would occur.
And as a result, the best thing they can do is to stand up and be counted. To shout down those things that are unacceptable. And then to put forward our own good ideas and we are a party of ideas, have been from the beginning. We are now. We have a health care plan. We have an energy plan. We have plans that relate to winning the war in Afghanistan. These kinds of things we got to put forward. But stopping President Obama's agenda is also a very important agenda item for us.
HANNITY: Governor, good to see you. And thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Sean. Good to be with you.
— Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!
Content and Programming Copyright 2009 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, LLC'S and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.