Rep. Bachmann: Do We Want ‘To Watch Ourselves Collapse From Our Own Welfare State?’
March 30, 2010 - 7:33 PMRep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told CNSNews.com that 'expensive entitlement programs' are bringing our country down,' and Americans will have to choose between surviving as a country or collapsing 'from our own welfare state.'
In an exclusive interview, CNSNews.com asked Bachmann if she supported, for example, phasing out Medicare Part D, a program enacted in 2003 by President George W. Bush and a Republican-controlled Congress that subsidizes the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries. (The program is currently estimated to cost $16.6 trillion over the next 75 years.)
“I think that program needs tremendous reform, because we're now at a precipice here in our nation where we can't afford all of the entitlement programs,” said Bachmann. “Just like you saw with GM and Chrysler, the very weighty, expensive benefit-heavy packages rendered those companies uncompetitive with Toyota and other companies. We're seeing the same thing in the federal government.”
Bachmann continued: “These very expensive wage-and-benefit packages that we're paying to federal employees, but also very expensive entitlement programs are frankly bringing our country down and we have to make a decision: ‘Do we want to survive as a country or are we going to watch ourselves collapse from our own welfare state?’ It's really up to us to make the decision.”
Rep. Bachmann, elected to Congress in the 2006 mid-term election, blamed Democrats for making entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare “unworkable” today.
“They (Democrats) like to act as though they want to save them (entitlement programs) and we want to end them when, in fact, it's been just the opposite,” said Bachmann. “The Democrats unfortunately have been in a situation where they have made those programs unworkable, which means vulnerable people who are dependent on those programs may not have them to take care of the needs that they need.”
“That's what we are trying to do,” she said. “We're trying to help those who are the most vulnerable in the United States to make sure that they can have benefits that they are hoping for and that they worked for but that won't be the case.”
She also warned that the United States is close to losing its AAA bond rating.
“This year, not into the future, but this year is the first year that Social Security is putting more money out than what it’s taking in,” said Bachmann. “Well, that's called being overdrawn at the bank.”
“That’s happening this year, seven years ahead of schedule,” she said. “Medicare is dead broke within seven years, and it could happen sooner than that. In the midst of that, we're seeing a brand new entitlement (the new health care law) waking up that is being forced upon us? When the boat is already sinking financially? Remember, Moodys is coming out saying the United States in all likelihood will lose our triple-A bond rating. This isn't a game anymore, this isn't a political sound-bite anymore. This is reality.”
In a previous interview with CNSNews.com, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) echoed Bachmann’s concerns about entitlement programs. Ryan cited a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that says the federal government already faces a “fiscal gap” of $76 trillion, meaning that over the next 75 years the cost of the benefits promised in federal entitlement programs exceeds the tax revenues expected to pay for them. This amounts to almost $250,000 for every single American and about $650,000 for every American household.
“All those unfunded liabilities, all that debt I’ve been telling you about, is before you pass this budget,” said Ryan. “That’s if we don’t pass the budget. If we pass the Obama budget, it just gets worse. He doubles the debt in five years and triples it in 10.”
A transcript of CNSNews.com’s interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) follows below:
CNSNews.com’s Nicholas Ballasy: “Every House Republican voted against the health care bill. Are you partaking in any efforts to repeal the legislation?”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.): “Oh, absolutely. The bill passed near midnight on Sunday night. I instructed my staff on Sunday night, ‘We have to repeal this thing.’ I spoke with Mike Pence on the floor and said we've got to repeal, we have to have a discharge petition. At the same time my colleague, Steve King, went to Eric Cantor and gave the same exact message and so that morning, on Monday morning, we independently had bills drawn up for repeal, dropped them, and introduced them first thing in the morning. So did Sen. Jim DeMint [R-S.C.] on the Senate side.
Bachmann: “We're urging all of our colleagues, both in the House and in the Senate, everyone should file repeal bills of Obama-care and we should all get on each others’ bills to let the American public know that we are unanimous in wanting to repeal this unconstitutional bill and replace it with true, good, honest health care reform that will actually benefit the American people and not break the bank.”
Ballasy: “Thirteen state attorneys so far are suing the federal government over the individual mandate in the health care bill. Do you agree with those lawsuits and what do you think the end result will be?”
Bachmann: “Oh, I believe that we're going to see challenges at every level. I was just, as a matter of fact this morning, with the Virginia attorney general, and he is going to be the first one in the country to file his claim. He's in the ‘rocket-docket,’ which is the fastest legal court system in the United States, and he anticipates in about a year and a half, this case should be before the United States Supreme Court.
Ballasy: “Do you think they have the grounds for a repeal, overturning it?”
Bachmann: “I believe, he, I know that the attorney general in Virginia is basing his claim on the individual mandate and I think that there is merit in this claim, because never before in the history of our country has the federal government forced an American to do something pro-actively, forcing an American as a mandate of citizenship to purchase a product or service against their will. And again, this is a government- mandated product and government essentially will set the price on that product.
Bachmann: “So, there’s no way out. The American people will be forced to purchase it. This is the grounds for redistribution of wealth. This is how President Obama will achieve his objective of redistribution of wealth. When you force an American -- as a condition of citizenship -- to purchase a product or service against their will and the federal government essentially sets the price for that product, then there's no freedom left for the individual. It is a different matter when a state makes a mandate -- the federal government is limited. The federal government, Article 1, Section 8, has limited enumerated powers. The federal government is without power to force an American citizen to purchase a product or service against their will. So yes, I do believe there's strong grounds for the unconstitutionality of this individual mandate in Obamacare.”
Ballasy: “I interviewed Delaware Senator Tom Carper (D) who is also a former governor of the state. He said it's not likely that this is ultimately going to be overturned, and he knows some pretty good lawyers who would agree.”
Bachmann: “I would disagree. I think it has a very strong chance of being overturned and I hope that it is, and I think you'll see challenges immediately in the court system, challenges immediately here in the legislature – you've already seen them. We've already seen the lawsuits filed, we've already seen the legislation filed. What's interesting is President Obama campaigned, when he was running for president as being a ‘uniter.’ Unfortunately, the president has proven to be one of the biggest dividers of this nation that we've ever had in the presidency.”
Ballasy: “When looking at the tea party movement, the last rally, we've seen some stories that have come out: Representative [John] Lewis and Representative [James] Clyburn have said there were racial incidents at the tea party. Did you see anything like that, that was consistent with their stories?”
Bachmann: “I did not. We had over 30,000 people here on Saturday [March 20] at the west side of the Capitol, a tremendous group of individuals trying to get the attention of Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and the Democrats saying, ‘Don't take away my health care from me.’ I met with – the media tends to portray the people who are in the tea party movement as toothless hillbillies, as rubes from the backwater who don't know what they're talking about.”
Bachmann: “Do you know who I met on Saturday? I met surgeons, anesthesiologists, family practice guys, interns, I met pharmacists, I met business owners, lawyers. I met people from all walks of life – apolitical people, 75-year-old women who came out. I didn't see any indication of racial tensions. I didn't see any indication of being personal, against personal members of Congress. What I saw were people that were fighting for their constitutional liberties and fighting for our country. And I think it's a tremendous affront trying to castigate people who are fighting for our country as somehow being racially motivated. I didn't see that at all.”
Ballasy: “You, during your time in Congress, have been critical of excessive government spending and social programs. Can you point to any social program that the Republican Party has dissolved and shut down over the last 50 years?”
Bachmann: “Well, let me go to the first part of your question. President George Bush spent way too much money as president and he did that with the help of a Republican Congress. But in his worst year, he spent something over $450 billion dollars. In just his first year alone, President Obama spent over $1.4 trillion in deficit. There's no comparison. There’s no moral equivalency. George Bush's worst year was $458 billion or more in debt as compared to Barack Obama, $1.4 trillion in debt.”
Bachmann: “This year President Obama is going to break even his own record. He's going to quadruple that amount of debt; that's more than -- if you take all the presidents from the first day George Washington came into office as president through George W. Bush leaving office, President Obama in his first year accumulated more debt than all of those presidents combined. So there's just no comparison in the amount of debt that was accumulated.”
Bachmann: “Now, the second part of your question had to do with spending programs, and I'm without knowledge as to what programs they did or didn’t do away with. I was here during the last two years of President George W. Bush, but that was under Democrat rule in the Congress. Speaker Pelosi dominated the House and [Sen.] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] dominated the Senate, and so I was never here when the Republicans were in control in the House.”
Ballasy: “Do you think programs like Medicare Part D, which had a lot of Republican support, with a Republican-controlled Congress -- and I understand you were not in Congress at that time – but do you think a program like that, specifically Medicare Part D, should that program be dissolved?”
Bachmann: “I think that program needs tremendous reform because we're now at a precipice here in our nation where we can't afford all of the entitlement programs. Just like you saw with GM and Chrysler, the very weighty, expensive benefit-heavy packages rendered those companies uncompetitive with Toyota and other companies. We're seeing the same thing in the federal government. These very expensive wage and benefit packages that we're paying to federal employees, but also very expensive entitlement programs are, frankly, bringing our country down, and we have to make a decision: ‘Do we want to survive as a country or are we going to watch ourselves collapse from our own welfare state?’ It's really up to us to make the decision.”
Ballasy: “You see some Democrats who say, ‘Okay, if Republicans are so concerned about the cost of our social programs that we started, let's see them try to end them, politically. Let's see them try to get out there and tell the American people we're going to end Medicare, we're going to end Social Security over time.’ Do you think those kind of programs could be ended at this time and we could begin to phase those programs out?”
Bachmann: “Well, that's the scare tactics that the Democrats like to bring up every year. They like to act as though they want to save them and we want to end them when, in fact, it's been just the opposite. The Democrats unfortunately have been in a situation where they have made those programs unworkable, which means vulnerable people who are dependent on those programs may not have them to take care of the needs that they need.”
Bachmann: “That's what we are trying to do. We're trying to help those who are the most vulnerable in the United States to make sure that they can have benefits that they are hoping for and that they worked for but that won't be the case because, remember, this year, not into the future, but this year is the first year that Social Security is putting more money out than what it is taking in.
Bachmann: “Well, that's called being overdrawn at the bank. That’s happening this year, seven years ahead of schedule. Medicare is dead broke within seven years and it could happen sooner than that. In the midst of that, we're seeing a brand new entitlement waking up that is being forced upon us? When the boat is already sinking financially? Remember, Moodys is coming out saying the United States in all likelihood will lose our triple-A bond rating. This isn't a game anymore, this isn't a political sound-bite anymore. This is reality. What this means is all of our interest rates will go up if you're buying a home, if you're buying a business, if you're buying a car, student loan, interest rates are going up. Plus for the United States, our interest rates will go up too and that's the biggest problem we have in the United States today is all of the welfare payments we're paying out, the entitlement payments – that, coupled together with interest on the debt, those two alone have the potential of wiping out all other spending at the federal level. It's really about spending. At the end of the day, that's America's problem.”
Ballasy: “The ‘Contract with America’ released by the Republican Party in the 1994 congressional elections called for the following departments to be shut down: Commerce, Education, Agriculture and Energy. Do you think any of these should be closed today?”
Bachmann: “I think that the contract that was made in 1994 was one where, I think it was 10 items -- I wasn't here at the time, I was at home having babies at the time -- but I think that was one where the Republicans promised that they would have a vote on a certain number of bills within the first 100 days. I think the current Republican Congress needs to also come up with a vision for the American people -- how we're going to right the ship. And this is a different time than 1994, and we have to come up with an agenda that gives the best path forward for the United States, and I believe we will.”