TRANSCRIPT: Face the Nation

Various Networks
Various Networks

Schieffer: And good morning again we begin this morning with Congressman Ron Paul. The polls, Mr. Paul, suggest that you are now in the thick of it out in Iowa. Basically, in a statistical tie with Romney, with Cain, and with Mr. Gingrich so I want to ask you some questions now that you’re among the front runners we need to know more about your positions on the issues and I want to start with foreign policy because your statements over the years posted on your website and elsewhere. Some of the things you’ve said in the debates suggest that you believe that 9/11 happened because of actions that the United States took. Is that correct?

Paul: I think there’s an influence and that’s exactly what the 9/11 commission said that’s what the DOD has said and that’s also what the CIA has said and that’s what a lot of researchers have said. And just remember that immediately after 9/11, we removed the base from Saudi Arabia so there is a connection that doesn’t do the whole full explanation but our policies definitely had an influence and you talk to the people who committed it and those individuals who would like to do us harm. They say yes we don’t like American bombs to be falling on our country and we don’t like the intervention that we do in their nation so to deny this I think is very dangerous. But to argue the case that they want to do us harm because we’re free and prosperous is very dangerous notion because it’s not true.

Schieffer: I would question the import of what some of those commissions found that you cited there but basically, what you’re saying Mr. Paul is that is was America’s fault? That 9/11 happened and it was our fault that it happened.

Paul: I think that’s a misconstruing of what I’m saying because as Americans, you and I, we didn’t cause it. The average American didn’t cause it. But if you have a flawed policy it may influence it. Ronald Reagan went into Lebanon, he deeply regretted this because he said if he’d been more neutral, those Marines wouldn’t have died in Lebanon because the policy was flawed. The same think McNamara said after the Vietnam War. He wrote in his memoirs that you know if he would have changed…if we don’t learn from our policies, it won’t be worth anything. So I’m saying policies have an effect but that’s a far cry from blaming America. I mean in America, you’re supposed to be able to criticize your own government without saying you’re un-American and that’s what the implication is.

Schieffer: But you are saying it was the government’s fault. That basically what you’re saying. Let me move on from something else

Paul: I’m saying it’s the policy maker’s fault.

Schieffer: The policy maker’s fault.

Paul: Contributed to it.

Schieffer: Am I correct that your idea of how to discourage Iran from building nuclear weapons is to be nicer to Iran’s leaders? Is that correct?

Paul: No I think we have 12,000 diplomats…I’m suggesting that maybe we ought to use some of them but just think of how we prevented a nuclear war with the Soviets when the Soviet missiles were put in Cuba. We didn’t say we’re going to attack you. Kennedy and Khrushchev talked and they made a deal. You take your weapons out of Cuba, we’ll take them out of Turkey. That’s the kind of talk I want. I think the greatest danger now is for us to overreact and this is what I’m fearful of. Iran doesn’t have a bomb. There’s no proof, regardless of this recent report. And for us to overreact and to talk about bombing Iran, that’s much more dangerous. We’ve gotten the Libyans to get rid of their nuclear power and nuclear weapons and look at what happened to them. So we’ve got to understand that.

Schieffer: Mr. Paul I have to interrupt for a second. No one has suggested in the US government that we’re going to bomb Iran. What they’ve said is that we’re going to impose very tough sanctions. You are against sanctions on Iran. Is that correct?

Paul: Yes because sanctions are the initial step to war. I was opposed from all the sanctions for ten years and the bombing that was occurring with Iraq because I said it would lead to war, but if you say nobody’s suggesting it, why don’t you listen to the debates? Listen to the other candidates.

Schieffer: Mr. Paul, may I correct you? I am listening to the debates. You know there’ve been some candidates who’ve talked about that, including Mr. Romney. The United States government has not said we’re going to bomb Iran.

Paul: No, obviously they haven’t said that but the implication is that nothing is off the table.

Schieffer: Well yes alright. Let’s move on then. Do you think there is any place in the world where United States forces should be stationed? You’ve talked about bringing them home from Afghanistan, from Iraq. Is there any place where you think it helps us to have US forces stationed?

Paul: No other than the fact that I think a submarine is a very worthwhile weapons and I believe we can defend ourselves with submarines and all our troops back home. This whole idea that we have to be in 130 countries and 900 bases…now they’ve just invented a weapon that can hit any spot in the world in one hour. I mean what’s this idea? This is an old fashioned idea that you have to keep troops on 900 bases around the world. Makes no sense at all besides we’re bankrupt, we can’t afford it any longer

Schieffer: So if you were president, you’d bring home the troops from Japan, you’d bring home the troops from South Korea? You would?

Paul: Absolutely. And the people are with me on that because we can’t afford it, it would save us a lot of money. All of the troops would spend their money here at home and besides those troops overseas, aggravate our enemies, motivate our enemies. I think it’s a danger to our national defense and we can save a lot of money cutting out the military expenditures that contribute nothing to our defense.

Schieffer: Alright let me ask you about some domestic things. Your plan to get the country back on a firm financial footing is to close, including among other things, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, Commerce Interior, Housing and Urban Development. You would cut back the federal work force by ten percent. You’ve also suggested we should close FEMA, which is the emergency management agency.

Paul: Right.

Schieffer: I have to ask you this, what do you do about all the things that those agencies control, run, supervise, for example, what happens to the national parks if you close the Department of the interior? We just let them go by the bye or what?

Paul: No way and the program deals with this. There’s transition funds but we would like to see a lot of land sold off. We’re not going to just ignore the parks. Not at all. The money isn’t there. These are departments that are doing too much. The American people are sick and tired of our educational system. Just think of how we’ve been involved, give out loans, we educate students, the cost of education goes up, they graduate, they don’t have jobs and they have a trillion dollars worth of debt. We have to questions that. This country is in bankruptcy. We have to deal with it. We can’t remain in denial. And that is my argument and believe me this is why I’m getting a good reception on the campaign trail.

Schieffer: Alright well we want to thanks you for coming on this morning and answering the questions. Ron Paul, thank you for being here this morning.

Paul: Thank you.

Schieffer: We’re going to shift gears now and talk about what’s going on in Washington, inside the Beltway. That is this whole business of what are we going to do about the deficit, the so-called super committee. Joining us this morning Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey who is in the studio with us. Senator, it looks to me like this so-called super committee you might just call it the business as usual committee because it looks like the whole thing is just going to fizzle out. That nothing is going to happen.

Toomey: Well, I will acknowledge the time is short now. It’s going to be very difficult. But there were 12 members of this committee put in an enormous amount of time and effort into trying to accomplish something. It’s not entirely too late yet. It’s still possible. Still possible to reach an agreement but it will be tough given where the clock is.

Schieffer: Why? Everybody in America knows that something has to be done. Everybody in America knows there will be some bad things that everybody is going to have to take a little bit of the bitter pill. And yet the Congress cannot find a way to come together. Compromise has been a dirty word. Why do you think that’s happening?

Toomey: You know, it’s been enormously frustrating for me and for many of my colleagues. As I said we have 12 good people that worked hard on this. On the other side there was an insistence that we have a trillion dollar tax increase. There was an unwillingness to cut any kind of spending at all unless there was a huge tax increase. My friend Jim Clyburn, the congressman from South Carolina, said as recently as last week said twice the democrats never coalesced around any plan. So it was just very, very challenging, very, very difficult. There is still an opportunity. There’s a plan on the table that would at least take us halfway to our goal which is on the shelf, it’s scored and ready to go. If the democrats would agree to that, we could still get something done. If they come back with a counterproposal we’d work on it.

Schieffer: If the dog didn’t stop to make a phone call, he would have caught the rabbit. It’s all these if’s. As a member of this super committee, you actually proposed a modest increase in revenues by eliminating loopholes and some deductions. Some people are calling that a tax increase in exchange for serious spending cuts and some reform that went nowhere. One of the problems, Senator, is that so many Republicans– I think 238 congressmen, 48 senators including one democratic Senator Ben nelson and two democratic representatives plus all of the G.O.P. Candidates including yourself, Huntsman did not– signed a pledge sponsored by this group called the Americans for Tax Reform. This is a group headed by Grover Norquist. He’s not a household name but people in Washington are clearly afraid of him. It just so happens that our friend Steve Kroft interviewed Grover Norquist. They’re going to do a story about him tonight on “60 minutes.” Let’s get a little sample of Grover Norquist here.


Kroft: You make it pretty clear if someone breaks the pledge you’re going to do everything you can to get rid of them.

Norquist: To educate the voters that they raise taxes. Again we educate people to….

Kroft: To get rid of them.

Norquist: To encourage them to go into line of work like shoplifting or bank robbing where they have to do their own stealing.

Kroft: You got them by the short hairs.

Norquist: The voters do, yeah.


Schieffer: So there you are. Now you did actually sign that pledge. The Grover Norquist pledge. But you were willing to go ahead and put this plan out on the table. I think he said that if your plan was actually enacted, it would be poison.

Toomey: Well, let’s look. This is an indication of how far republicans were willing to go to try to find a solution here. First of all, I don’t think we have a tax revenue problem in Washington, we have a spending problem. As recently at 2007 with the current tax rate we had a budget deficit that was tiny 1.2% of GDP. But if we went into our respective fox holes and weren’t willing to consider the other side we were surely not going to get an agreement. So we asked ourselves is there any way we could find of putting some revenue on table because the democrats are absolutely adamantly insisting on this and do it in a way that wouldn’t be harmful to the economy. So consider this. We have an irrational counterproductive tax code that’s unfair and hinders economic growth. And we have in 13 months the biggest tax increase in American history. What we suggested was if we could reform the tax code, simplify it, lower rates, get rid of some of the loopholes and write-offs and the special interest treatments, avoid this gigantic tax increase that’s coming, we shouldn’t have to increase revenues to do that because it’s good pro growth and pro jobs policy. But we’d be willing to. If that was the price it would take to get democrats to agree to the strong economic growth program and some reforms that are really driving this problem. Reforms are the big entitlement programs. It was a reach for us to put that on the table. Grover Norquist was very critical of me personally and this idea.

Schieffer: You actually went against him.

Toomey: Yeah. I think what I’ve done is consistent with the commitment I made to my constituents because it would have gotten us that pro growth tax reform and avoided a huge tax increase. Not everybody sees it that way. I’ve taken a lot of arrows for this as my colleagues have.

Schieffer: What happens now? Let’s say the committee fails. Nothing happens. Automatic cuts go into effect at the end of next year. Do you think congress will actually let that happen or will they change the law before we get to this?

Toomey: The silver lining in what is going to be a huge disappointment for me if we don’t have real success here, the silver lining is we’re going to get the spending cuts anyway. That was designed into the bill that created the committee in the first place that raised the debt ceiling. The $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, however, I think need to be reconfigured. They’re done in a way that would be very harmful to our nation’s defense. Our own Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that they would hollow out our military. I think it’s very important that we change the configuration but that we not abandon the spending cuts because we need them.

Schieffer: Senator, thank you so much for being with us.

Toomey: Thanks for having me, bob.

Schieffer: We’ll be back in one minute and talk with West Virginia’s democratic Senator Joe Minchin. He has his own ideas on this.


Schieffer: We’re back now with West Virginia’s democratic Senator Joe Minchin. This is your first Sunday show apparently, senator. Thank you for being here. What’s your take on what’s happening here? It looks like this whole thing is going to just fall right on its face. Unable to come together and make some kind of a deal.

Minchin: Bob, failure cannot be accepted. We can’t fail. We can’t allow anybody to fail. I don’t want to be a part of a generation that turned over the keys to the next generation with the country in worst shape. That’s never happened before. I’m not going to stand still for that. I’ll do everything I can. We’ve talked about, you know, we have almost 140 members of Congress that have stood tall. We encourage to go big. We’re supporting the group of 12. If they can’t get to a deal, then they’re going to have to step aside and hopefully there will be enough of us stepping forward to basically reintroduce the Bowles Simpson plan. That’s really the one that we think has put this country back in our fiscal house in order, puts us back in shape.

Schieffer: What do you think, what impact is it going to have if this committee is unable to come to any kind of agreement? Do we run the risk of our financial securities being downgraded again?

Minchin: Sure you run that risk. That’s why I say failure is not accepted. We cannot accept failure. With that being said, we’ve got to move quick. We have a plan that’s been tested. It’s been bipartisan from its inception. It stayed bipartisan and it grew. The gang of six morphed out of that. 140 of us now are standing as tall as we can. We want them to be bold and go big. That being said, just think what would happen if we step forward if they don’t come to an agreement, we step forward as a group and we’re saying we’re going to put this on the table and vote for it. We need leadership. We need leadership from the White House to both the House and the Senate stepping forward and embracing this plan.

Schieffer: Is President Obama doing enough on this?

Minchin: Well, if it doesn’t work, then no one has done enough on it. He’s the leader of this great country. We want him to step forward.

Schieffer: What do you want him to do?

Minchin: Let me tell you in West Virginia what I did when I was governor. We had financial challenges but you had to step forward and put your politics aside. It can’t be about are you a good democrat or good republican. We needed to be a good West Virginian. Now we need to be a good American. It’s about our country. We can’t worry about the next election. It should be the next generation. Everything we do here is worried about the next election. How it’s going to affect us. Who can they blame? This is not the blame game. You never fixed a thing by blaming people. Yes we want to see the president take the leadership. We want to see members of congress in leadership take that position that they’ve been asked to do.

Schieffer: Let me tell you what some republicans say. They say the president has stood back because in his secret heart of hearts he really wants this to fail so you can bash the republicans for it to get re-elected.

Minchin: I don’t believe that anybody that is serving the public today, I don’t believe any of my 99 colleagues and anybody in the 435 members of congress, the president or anybody wants us to fail. Again, how would you want to be associated as a generation that failed America?

Schieffer: Would you want him to come down and campaign for you in the next election, President Obama?

Minchin: Well, this is not a team sport. Basically I have been able to say what I thought we should do in West Virginia. We did it. Our little state has six years of record surpluses. We’ve paid down our debt. We’ve got a good rainy day account. Three years of increased credit ratings. We’ve done very, very well. And the people respond to that. We want our president, no matter who your president is, you want him to succeed. We hope there’s a year left. Let’s hope that happens.

Schieffer: What do you think of congress right now?

Minchin: I’m frustrated. I’m very frustrated. Our approval rating is 9%. I talked briefly, I said we’re still trying to find the 9% think we’re doing a good job.

Schieffer: You haven’t found them yet?

Minchin: I haven’t found them yet, no. I’m ashamed. I have to apologize for what we’re doing. We didn’t get the successes in West Virginia by playing politics. You know, we were good West Virginians. We have a great state with great working people and people that are really compassionate.

Schieffer: Would you be willing to raise taxes if that’s what it takes to get our financial foot something.

Minchin: You don’t need to raise taxes. The Bowles Simpson laid out with the tax reform there’s revenue. They’re having a hard time figuring how to spend the revenue. If we just said we have a debt problem and we have an infrastructure problem any new revenue will only go to debt reduction and infrastructure spending, bridges, roads, things of that sort. We’re spending billions and trillions overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. I’ve said let’s rebuild America. Bring that home. You build us a bridge in West Virginia, help us build a school, we won’t blow it up. We won’t burn it down. We’ll be very appreciative.

Schieffer: All right. Senator, a pleasure to have you. On your first Sunday morning appearance. I hope we’ll see you again.

Minchin: Thank you, sir.

Related Topics: 2012 Elections, Congress, Democratic Party, House, Issues, News, Republican Party, Senate, Sunday Shows, The Page

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