(CNSNews.com) - When
She went on to say that the “government has been acting outside of its jurisdictional boundaries,” that the “dramatic welfare state experiment” of the 1960s had been “an abject failure” and that the nation now needed “to pull back from that, retool, and focus on what the priorities are of government.”
The Associated Press reported today that Bachmann is “not ruling out” a run for president of the
So, where does she stand on other issues?
Here in their entirety are the video and transcript of
In July, Bachmann founded the House Tea Party Caucus which she chairs. The group focuses on fiscal responsibility, adhering to the U.S. Constitution and limited government. She and her husband, Marcus, have 5 children and have cared for 23 foster children. Congresswoman Bachmann, thank you for doing this interview.
Rep. Michele Bachmann,
Jeffrey: Now, let me ask you this. If you were president of the United States right now and you were looking at the economic situation we face today and also the somewhat longer term fiscal consequences the nation faces, what would be your top legislative priorities for dealing with these things?
Bachmann: Well, I think first of all, I would respect the people of this country and I would lay out where we’re at right now just like Glenn Beck has a green chalk board and he lays out a scenario. I think that’s what we need to do. The American people need to know really the precarious precipice that we’re standing on right now with our economy. If we look forward even a decade, we’re in a situation where we can’t sustain where we are now. So, we need to let people know where we are and offer the alternatives. And, quite frankly, government has been acting outside of its jurisdictional boundaries. That’s why the government is in trouble. In the mid-sixties in engaged in a dramatic welfare state experiment. It’s been an abject failure. We need to pull back from that, retool, and focus on what the priorities are of government.
Jeffrey: Congresswoman, one element of that 1960s expansion of the welfare state was in 1965 Lyndon Johnson, a Democratic president, signed Medicare into law. Today, the Medicare system faces, according to the Peterson Foundation, $38 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and Social Security faces another $7.7 trillion in unfunded liabilities. In fact, they say that if you put all these programs together--entitlement programs--the government has now promised $61.9 trillion in entitlement benefits to people now alive that will not be met by current tax code. In other words, they won’t get enough revenue.
Bachmann: So, Terry, another way of saying that is government has made promises that it has absolutely no possibility in the realm of the universe of being able to deliver, because they made promises based on the labor of generations yet unborn. And so what they actually did is they promised servitude for new generations that are coming up. The generation that’s coming up--that’s, for instance, 23 years old right now--they’re going to see such a reduced standard of living that they’re lifestyle will have very little in common with what ours is today. That’s what we’re doing. We’re taking away a future and a hope from the next generation.
Jeffrey: Given the status quo, there’s no doubt this is what your children face and what my children face: a crushing tax burden to sustain this welfare state. We now have a Republican majority house. What is the Republican majority house going to do--what ought they do--in the next two years to start to grapple with this?
Bachmann: Well what they have to do is reign in spending in a way that has not been done in previous administrations and in previous congresses. So, again, we lay it out for the American people, and then we need to go through entitlement reform whether it’s on Social Security or Medicare. Those programs were always about the most vulnerable in our society. We have to make sure that they are solvent for the most vulnerable. And for people who are 65 years and older, they can’t change, because people at that age can’t make alternative adjustments for their future. And [for] people that are age 60 to 65, there can be very few adjustments. But for people below the age of 60 we have to put reforms going forward so we aren’t stealing the future from our kids, but so we also aren’t changing the future for people who are currently on Social Security. This can be done. That’s the good news. But we have to just look at the example of
Jeffrey: Congressman Paul Ryan from
Bachmann: I think the kind of creative thinking that’s coming out of that bill is the inspiration that we need to look at here in the United States Congress in that we need to put ideas on the table that aren’t going to bankrupt the next generation. And if we look at these positive alternatives whereby people can actually retire with a lot more money than they would get on Social Security, the real myth that people need to understand is that people think that the money that’s been taken out of their checks for Social Security is actually in a bank waiting for them in Washington, D.C. I wish it was. The sad news is that if you open up that bank vault door, all you have is moths and feathers flying out, because there’s just a box of IOUs in there. There’s no money. So, we need to let people know the truth and that’s that previous Congresses have stolen all the Social Security money. There is no money there and so we have to face a reality going forward where we need to change it so people can have more control over their retirement.
Jeffrey: When President Obama did an interview with Jon Stewart of “Comedy Central” recently. Stewart gave him a little bit of a bad time, suggesting that he had been timid in the pursuit of his health care reform. And Obama said that he thought that it was as significant as any piece of legislation, but that it was only the beginning and that there’d be more to come. As you know, Obama Care calls for subsidized--mandated health care, first of all. Everyone must purchase health insurance, but that people making up to 400% of the poverty level, which is almost $90,000 for a family of 4, will get federal subsidies to buy insurance in these exchanges that have been created. First of all, do you favor totally, completely repealing Obamacare?
Bachmann: Yes. I do. I was the first member of Congress to go to the floor and introduce a bill that would repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel. It was 41 words long, very simple. It would eviscerate the entire bill and that’s what we need to do--because it is the government takeover of one-sixth of the economy. And we already see the devastating impacts. It doesn’t work. We know that it doesn’t work because the White House has already issued 111 wavers or pardons to big corporations, big universities, big labor unions who have enough money to buy big lobbyists. So what this shows is really the corruption of the federal government. Unless you’re well politically connected to the White House, you’re going to have to pay these out of control costs. And, so, why should a carpet layer from
Jeffrey: Congressman, you say you want to repeal Obamacare “lock, stock and barrel.” Are you confident that the Republican leadership in the new Congress will allow members to have a straight up or down vote on complete and utter repeal of Obamacare?
Bachmann: If they don’t I think there needs to be an insurrection here in
Jeffrey: Congressman, you don’t sound totally confident that the Republican leadership will allow a straight up or down vote on repeal.
Bachmann: Well, I take them at their word. I believe the best in them, and I take them at their word when they say this is what they’re going to do. But if they decide they’re going to cave or go weak in the knees, you will see members of Congress who will stand up against our leadership because we’re going to stand with the people on this issue.
Jeffrey: John Boehner and Eric Cantor have told the Republican members of the House that they will allow this vote. Have they told you that they will allow this vote?
Bachmann: They have said that they stand for the repeal of Obamacare, yes.
Jeffrey: But they’ve also said--in the Pledge to
Bachmann: That’s where the problem will be. Because if we want to replace it with Obamacare-lite where the federal government comes in and tries to have interventionist policies, we are going to continue to see failure. We need to return free markets to health care.
Jeffrey: Specifically, in the Pledge to America, they were talking about things: forcing insurance companies to insure people who had previously existing conditions, no cap on benefits for any particular problem that a person might have, so limitless outflow from the insurance companies to pay for whatever disease or problem a person happens to have, children being allowed on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26 years old. Should the Republicans actually be engaging in that kind of federal micromanagement of the insurance market or is that the wrong way for Republicans to go?
Bachmann: I think it’s the wrong way for Republicans to go. And I have a bill that would get to cost. That’s the real issue. It’s dealing with cost. And if you let any American buy any health insurance policy they want with no minimums and buy it anywhere in the United States--allow people to purchase the policies and pay the co-pays and high deductibles and all the other medical related expenses with their own tax-free money and then deduct the rest on their income tax return and have real tort reform--everyone in the United States will see their health-care costs go down, because there is no perfect system. Even if you have government completely take over and socialize medicine, which is President Obama’s wish list, even if you have that you will still see denial of care. Why?
Jeffrey: Won’t you see more denial of care?
Bachmann: Because there will be rationing. And we’re already seeing the beginning of rationing. As a matter of fact, we know what Obamacare is all about at its essence. We’ve already had leaders in the Democrat party say it’s all about redistribution of wealth. Because we didn’t buy more health care with Obamacare, what we bought was bureaucracy, the most massive government-created bureaucracy in the history of the
Jeffrey: I think you were referring there a moment ago to Dr. Donald Berwick—
Jeffrey: --who is the unconfirmed director for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Bachmann: That’s right.
Jeffrey: He has never been called even to a confirmation hearing. The Senate had a brief hearing with him a few weeks ago. When the Republicans take over do you think that he should be called into committees in the House of Representatives and made to explain what he means by the redistribution of wealth through the health-care system and his view of how that ought to be applied here in the United States?
Bachmann: Of course he should. Of course he needs to do that. And what the Republicans need to do is make sure that we put forward a bill or we zero-out all funding for any Obama nominee or zero-out any funding for the current czars, for instance, that the president has, zero-out the implementation of Obamacare, zero-out funding for the 16,500 IRS agents who will be the enforcers of Obamacare. All of that needs to be zeroed out. That’s the beauty of conservatives winning in this election, because the House has the power of the purse and we can zero that out in our budget.
Jeffrey: Let me put a finer focus on that. Let’s say you do have the up-or-down vote on repealing Obamacare in the House and it passes, it’s not reasonable to believe that that bill would actually get through the U.S Senate and through a conference committee and to the desk of President Obama and that he would sign it. Are you guys advocating that in the House, the House simply decline to fund Obamacare and kill it through the power of the purse?
Jeffrey: Do you believe the Republican leadership will follow along with that strategy?
Bachmann: I believe that’s the correct strategy for them to follow.
Jeffrey: And if they pursue that strategy eventually there would have to be some sort of clash between Sen. Harry Reid’s Senate and John Boehner’s House of Representatives over what sort of appropriations bills would end up becoming law.
Bachmann: That’s what we’re supposed to do here in Congress, is make our case based upon a principled argument. And we need to make that argument, because to go down the road of funding Obamacare will lead us to socialized medicine.
Jeffrey: As you know, every year at the end of September, the fiscal year comes to an end. The federal budget bills come to an end. In order to keep the government funded until October 1st Congress actually must enact legislation to make the money flow. Do you anticipate that if this Republican House of Representatives does its job that there’s going to be, more or less, a Battle Royale at the end of fiscal 2011 where the Republicans in the House are battling with the Democratic leadership in the Senate and in the White House over whether or not they’re going to pass appropriations that keep Obamacare and these other things going?
Bachmann: Well, there needn’t be. It’s not inevitable. But what we’ve seen so far is the administration and the Congress have been engaging in fantasy economics that don’t work such that we’re at the point that President Obama is telling us that the new normal will be elevated levels of unemployment.
We don’t have to accept their utopian vision of economics. What we can deal with reality based economics and we can put forth our positive agenda and I really think that the American people will be taking it out on Harry Reid and President Obama if they don’t listen to the results of the first Tuesday in November.
Jeffrey: So you’d be ready to make that fight.
Bachmann: Absolutely. That’s why we’re here
Jeffrey: Congressman, let me turn to some social and cultural issues.
Earlier this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a talk where she said that her favorite word was the “Word made flesh,” namely Jesus Christ, and that she believed that she had a duty to pursue policies that were in keeping with the values of Jesus Christ. A reporter from
Bachmann: I think the answer would be John 1:1. The Word was God and the Word was with God from the foundation of the Earth. So, prior to our even being here on the Earth, the Father and the Son were together because all things were created by Jesus Christ and with the Father and held together. And I believe in a triune God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. That’s when Jesus was created. It’s hard for us to understand, beyond our limits of time, what eternity really means. I don’t know that the mind of man can truly conceive and understand eternity, but we know from the Word of God--I believe the Word of God--that Christ was preeminent. That He was preeminent and before all things and created all things. So, therefore, He always was one with the Father.
Jeffrey: And He became flesh, became a human being--
Bachmann: And dwelt with man.
Jeffrey: And dwelt among us.
Bachmann: And dwelt among us.
Jeffrey: And did Jesus have a right to life from the moment of conception?
Jeffrey: Do all human beings have a right to life?
Bachmann: Yes, they do.
Jeffrey: Should there be legal protection for every human being from the moment of conception?
Bachmann: Yes, there should be.
Jeffrey: Now, we know that there are people in the Republican Party in Congress who don’t necessarily share that view. There clearly are Democrats who [don’t] share that view. The President of the
Bachmann: Well, I think one thing that we can do, quite simply, is to withhold funding from Planned Parenthood. It’s the largest provider of abortion in the
Jeffrey: And the fact of the matter is if the Republican majority in this House of Representatives does not appropriate money that can go to Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood cannot get any funding.
Bachmann: Well, it wouldn’t mean that Planned Parenthood would go out of existence, because they do have their own independent funding, but what it would mean is that the taxpayer would no longer be funding that. Also, for the first time in American history under Obamacare--socialized medicine--under President Obama, we have taxpayer funding of abortion. President Obama denies that, but we know that it’s already happened in the state of
Jeffrey: Another issue is United Nations family planning which gets money indirectly from the
Bachmann: Yes, it should.
Jeffrey: And should the Republican leadership and the Republican majority be ready to have a battle at the end of the fiscal year, where potentially the government could be shut down for a day or two or a week, if President Obama and Harry Reid insist that there be money for abortion?
Bachmann: I don’t think anyone benefits by shutting down government. I think it’s a bad idea to go that far to shut the government down, but I do think that we need to make it very clear to the administration and to Harry Reid that they need to pay attention to what the people want. And the people want to see government go on a way slimmed-down diet right now and get our house in order. But, again, I think it is incumbent upon us as the members of Congress to let people know--not for the purpose of scaring them--but to let people know the stark fiscal realities that we’re facing right now as a nation. And can’t we at minimum start with defunding things like Planned Parenthood and paying for other’s people abortions that are highly controversial and are violating our principles of the Declaration of Independence, our inalienable right to life. That we can at least agree on, that we should defund that.
Jeffrey: A related issue in terms of funding and moral controversy: the National Portrait Gallery, which gets $5.8 million per year in funding from
One of the exhibits was a video that included the image of Jesus crawling with ants and some other rather graphic things, but they also have in this exhibit two male blood brothers naked, kissing one another, with one holding a gun to the other’s chest. A Mapplethorpe portrait that the museum itself says is sadomasochistic--shows 2 men in leather and chains. They have a photo of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts. Yesterday, the museum removed the video tape that showed the image of the ants on Jesus Christ. Was that enough, congresswoman, or should this exhibit be closed down and removed from a taxpayer funded museum.
Bachmann: These are highly provocative, highly offensive displays that the Smithsonian has put forward and when people understand that we are about to fall off a financial precipice—so much so that within literally about 11 to 12 years we are looking at 80 percent of our budget being tied up with entitlements and interest payments on the debt, we won’t be able to keep the courts open, to keep the road’s running--I think we can at least start by defunding very offensive exhibits like this.
We’re moving in a completely different era now with our federal budget than we have ever known before in this country. And, so, we can’t afford the luxury of these kinds of items anymore in the budget. What’s more important? That we keep a road running or that we put money into exhibits like this? We’ve got to priorities now.
Jeffrey: Prospectively, you believe that the National Portrait Gallery should be defunded and the $5.8 million it got, it shouldn’t get in the future?
Bachmann: Prospectively, what we need to do is focus on the highest priorities of government. If you look strictly at our constitutional duties, under Article I of the Constitution, you don’t see that this is an obligation of the United States Congress to do this kind of funding.
And, again, that was the message of the first Tuesday of November: Don’t tax me any more. Don’t spend more than what you take in. Act within the limits of the Constitution. I say: Let’s act within the limits of the Constitution. That’s why I’m sponsoring now weekly classes on the Constitution. Justice Scalia will be coming in. We will have the top, platinum-level constitutional scholars coming in every week. I think it will be obvious to us going forward as members of Congress that we don’t fund these types of initiatives you just talked about because they are outside of our constitutional parameter.
Jeffrey: Right. But, right now, just a few blocks from us, the National Portrait Gallery is sitting there and there is this photograph of two naked brothers kissing one another, of the men in chains that, on the wall it says this is a portrait of a sadomasochistic couple. And, quite frankly, my conclusion is that what the museum is trying to do is mainstream this type of behavior—basically, teach people that this is normal, this is okay, this is acceptable, and introduce this into our culture.
This is a major tourist attraction in the nation’s capitol. We’re coming up on the Christmas season. This is the kind of place where families ordinarily would bring their children. They have Charles Willson Peale’s portrait of George Washington after the Battle of Princeton on the wall down the hall from this exhibit, Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of John Adams, John Trumbull’s portrait of John Adams. Should this exhibit remain there now? Should it be allowed to continue and just deal with the future going on? Or is it an outrage that this thing is there and that it really ought to be shut down because the message it sends is not one that the
Bachmann: It’s not an exhibit that I would go to and it’s not one that I would want our children to go to and see either. And I think that, again, when the fiscal realities hit this nation and we see that there isn’t money to even keep open a court system going forward, I think that the American people are going to be shouting so loudly that the money just won’t be there for those kinds of exhibits and I think that we’re going to see a real change.
Jeffrey: Let me ask you about the issue of immigration and border security. The Department of Homeland Security has a metric it calls “border miles under effective control.” And originally it was their measure of deciding whether they were actually doing a good job of securing the U.S.- Mexico border which is not quite 2,000 miles long. And according to what they themselves say, the Department of Homeland Security, they haven’t even put half of that border under effective control. Effective control meaning they can actually go out and intercept someone trying to cross the border. Do you think this Congress can act to force the administration to actually do something to secure the Mexican border?
Bachmann: The House can, but most likely we will not see action in the Senate. That’s what’s so sad right now. Harry Reid I don’t think will do anything to make sure that we can secure
Jeffrey: Governor Jan Brewer [R.-Ariz.] told me recently in an interview that she didn’t think President Obama wanted to secure the southern border of the
Bachmann: No, I don’t think he does. I don’t think he does. I don’t think it’s within him to do it.
Jeffrey: Why do you think he doesn’t want to secure the border?
Bachmann: You’d have to ask President Obama, but I think that his actions and his statements certainly show that he has no interest in securing that border.
Jeffrey: Governor Brewer suggested, actually she said, that one of the reasons she thought he didn’t want to secure the border is because by allowing the inflow of illegal immigrants to continue eventually he could change the political character of the
Bachmann: If that was true, what a selfish motive that would be on the part of the president. I don’t know, you’d have to ask him. I wouldn’t read the thoughts and intents of his heart. But I would say we know empirically and statistically this is killing our country financially to have this level of unrestricted border crossing. That is one of the first duties of government--to secure our borders.
Jeffrey: Congresswoman, the U.S. House of Representative and Congress just passed $1.15 billion to pay compensation to African American farmers that allegedly were discriminated against. What’s going on there?
Bachmann: Well, it appears that there’s massive and unmitigated fraud. The Black Farmers Association themselves stipulates that they believe there were about 18,000 black farmers in the United States between 1981 and 1987, the years in question when allegedly the USDA discriminated on giving loans to black farmers. Again, 18,000 farmers. A settlement was made by the federal government to about 16,000 black farmers. Now this is unbelievable to think that every black farmer in the United States applied for a loan, was qualified to receive the loan, was turned down for the loan and they were turned down because of discrimination. That would be an unbelievable figure.
What’s even worse is in the vote that we just took in the United States House, we gave an additional $1.15 billion to 94,000 claimants. When you have a universe of 18,000 black farmers, we’ve already paid out compensation to 16,000 and now we’re giving $1.15 billion to an additional 94,000 claimants, there’s obvious fraud here that can’t be accounted for. And what’s even worse, if there was that massive level of fraud across every USDA department in the
Jeffrey: You do believe there was some discrimination and that those who were discriminated against should get some compensation.
Bachmann: Yes, we do. If there is discrimination that occurred and the original litigants on both sides of this issue said that they felt that there were maybe three to four hundred possible cases of discrimination, and in their wildest imagination the outermost number of potential claimants could be maybe as many as two to four thousand--that’s on both sides.
Jeffrey: And you believe the USDA should fire anybody who’s responsible for discrimination.
Bachmann: Yes, absolutely.
Jeffrey: And should Congress investigate this to find out a) who committed discrimination, and b) the extent of the fraud?
Bachmann: We have to. It’s our fiscal and fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to do an investigation and we don’t have the facts and circumstances of even one case before Congress to show discrimination. Yes, there may have been discrimination, and if there was we need to go and investigate that and see if the proper amount of money was awarded to the claimants. Perhaps they deserved more. We don’t know. But, certainly, if there was a total universe of 18,000 people and now well in excess of 94,000 people are getting paid out, there’s obvious fraud that’s going on here. And the very first judge that ruled in the opinion wrote that this was about 40 acres and a mule--in other words, the judge saw this as reparations. Well, this is not reparations. This is being sold to the American taxpayer as discrimination. So we need to find out what this is, and we have to have an investigation of Pigford. And this will be such a toxic vote that members of Congress have taken that I think this will rival the Obamacare vote going forward because of the massive corruption and the cover up of this corruption on the Pigford case.
Jeffrey: You think that members of Congress who voted for this, they simply want to turn their back. They don’t want to know the truth?
Bachmann: Well, I can’t say, again, what’s going on in their thoughts. I think that there are some fair-minded members of Congress who legitimately believe that people were discriminated against. But I have statements from whistleblowers that have come forward and said this is massive fraud. Whistleblowers within the FBI, within the USDA, black farmers themselves who will testify that this was out-and-out fraud.
Jeffrey: And you want to see all these folks brought before Congress--
Bachmann: Yes, yes, absolutely.
Jeffrey: --and testify in open session so that people can see what they say on the record.
Bachmann: Absolutely. And I think it’s also imperative that the taxpayer knows--we need to know who is the recipients of this money because it’s over $50,000 in tax free money that each claimant is given. And what we’ve been told by whistleblowers is that there are--because USDA has not been forthcoming in giving us information either--that there are people living in urban areas who’ve never been on a farm, never owned a farm, that have been given money from this Pigford settlement.
Jeffrey: And they will actually identify the people, the individuals?
Bachmann: No, not the actual individuals. We need to have them identified. Shouldn’t we have enough transparency and openness and accountability that the taxpayer should know who every claimant is? If they’re getting tax money, we should know who these taxpayers are, what their nexus is to farm, did they try to apply for a loan, they legitimately qualified, and they were turned down? We need to know. What we’re hearing from whistleblowers is they don’t even know if three hundred people qualify for discrimination loans, let alone well over 94,000.
Jeffrey: Over and above that 16,000 that they paid more than a decade ago.
Bachmann: That’s right.
Jeffrey: Congresswoman, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Bachmann: Thank you.