In an exclusive one-on-one interview, recorded earlier this week, I spoke with Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, for West Palm Beach-based ‘Conservative Republican Forum’- on BlogTalkRadio.
The interview with the Congresswoman who sits on the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees, covered topics ranging from what qualities she would like to see in the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, to the efforts to defund, repeal and replace Obamacare, to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s handling of border security and immigration enforcement.
I began by asking her, “As a business owner, a mother and a constitutional-conservative what qualities would you like to see in the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee?” Bachmann- who has not announced whether or not she will run for President in 2012- answered, “What I think we need to have in the 2012 nominee is a strong, courageous, constitutional-conservative who will be willing to come in and make the decisions that will be very difficult ones that will have to be made, but they will be bold enough to do that and by example I would mean the full repeal of Obamacare.”
She went on to say, “…if we are able to replace President Obama in 2012, they [the nominee] will face down probably the largest spectrum of special interest groups that we have ever seen arrayed before and there will be screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth from everyone, from the media… as well as industry groups who seek to gain by having contracts with the federal government on implementation of Obamacare. So I think we will need a very strong individual, we will need a person who understands our times, who knows what to do and has the requisite political courage to make those important and very strong decisions.
Congresswoman Bachmann, who is the founder and chair of the House Tea Party Caucus, was asked about the House Republican leadership’s commitment to their promise to repeal, defund and replace Obamacare and what rank-and-file Republicans should make of the decision of the House Rules Committee to reject an amendment, by Iowa Congressman Steve King (R)-to the Continuing Budget Resolution-that would have fully defunded Obamacare.
Bachmann seemed sincerely unhappy with the answer she had to give. She began by saying, “I think what rank-and-file Republicans need to understand is that there is a commitment.” However she continued by explaining, “the insidious nature of what President Obama and Speaker Pelosi put into place in order to actually implement Obamacare.” Since Obamacare will have such a negative impact on South Florida’s Medicare recipients, I thought this was an important question to ask.
“We were under the thinking that we would have it within our authority in the House of Representatives to defund Obamacare. What we came to understand- You have to remember because Speaker Pelosi infamously said “we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it”– what we came to understand is that Speaker Pelosi put the funding for Obamacare into mandatory spending (which is two-thirds of the Federal Budget, including Social Security and Medicare), which means we are prohibited by law from touching that spending. They knew what they were doing, because they knew that they wanted socialized medicine to continue even if they lost the majority.”
The Congresswoman urged conservatives not to lose hope. She said instead, “what this does need to do is give us motivation to make sure that we win the Triple Crown in 2012. In other words we have to win the White House, win the Senate with 60 votes and the House of Representatives. This will be an uphill battle, but we can do it. The Tea Party demonstrated that we can have victories and we need to band together and explain to people that the only way that we will get rid of this government takeover of private industry and all of the sea of red ink that the liberals are producing is if we replace the White House, the Senate and the House.”
In light of the disappointing information about the prospects of defunding Obamacare, I asked Bachmann whether eliminating the funding for the new IRS agents that would be needed to enforce some of the provisions of Obamacare was still a possibility.
Her answer to that was query much more promising: “That is something that we’re looking at; as well we want to be able to do that. And I’m so happy that you brought that up, Steve. It’s important that your listeners know that the enforcement mechanism for Obamacare is now through the IRS. So the IRS now will take on a dual role. Their original charge was to collect revenues for the government. But now the IRS will effectively become the benefits manager for healthcare. So now think of how bizarre this will be, when we have problems with our healthcare, we’ll be contacting the IRS because they will be the benefits manager. So this is just one more huge hassle and huge bureaucracy that’s being created. Because remember with Obamacare we’re not getting more healthcare. We’re not getting more doctors or nurses or more healthcare. We’ve bought a bureaucracy. So we will be spending over a trillion dollars on this new welfare system in healthcare, but all we’ll be getting is a bureaucracy and of course the bureaucracy’s job will be to say NO. So what a deal, pay more, get less, that’s the future of socialized medicine. And no other nation has had any other experience with socialized medicine other than pay more get less. So we have a motivation and a reason to get rid of this program. And trust me, between Steve King and myself and others we are going to continue to look at this to figure out anything that we can do to stop implementation of Obamacare.”
Next I asked Congresswoman Bachmann if she “thinks that anyone in the Obama administration really has a grasp of just how harmful continually increasing our debt and massive deficits are to our economy.” Her answer was direct and typical of this straight-talking Tea Party favorite, “No. Other than the Debt Commission, that the President supported, there is a column that came out today by both former-Senator Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the two co-chairs of the President’s Debt Commission- one a Republican, one a Democrat- they both agreed that not enough money has been cut, either by the administration or by the Republicans. They’re recommending that more be cut and that we deal with the obvious cost driver in this budget, which is the mandatory spending under all of the healthcare/welfare programs.”
In terms of the federal government’s unsustainable borrowing to pay for Social Security, Bachmann said, “This game doesn’t last very long and the music stops. And so we have to reform Social Security, we have to reform Medicare. Quite simply it must be done and we can do it, that’s the good news. So people who are currently on Social Security and Medicare they would be able to continue their same benefits- it would be very difficult for them to change their current circumstances- the government can keep our promise with them, but for future retirees we will need to make adjustments and I think we can actually make positive adjustments that would mean even a better ending point for future Americans.”
Since our local retirees depend so much on their Medicare and Social Security benefits, it’s important that they understand that those who are currently receiving those benefits would be unaffected by any changes. But it’s also important that they understand that without significant reforms future generations will have to accept changes to an unsustainable system.
Moving on to the issues of border security and immigration enforcement, I asked her, “What is your opinion of the job Secretary Napolitano is doing on border and immigration enforcement?” Once again Bachmann didn’t mince words, “I think it’s been a failure. If you look at the statistics, we do not have an airtight border. We do not have a border that is impenetrable and everyone realizes that there can be mistakes and lapses. But unfortunately we would prefer that that would be the exception rather than the rule. The rule today is that there is fairly lax border protection… the first duty of government is to secure the safety and security of the American people and a large part of that as we have seen in recent years has been with a failure to secure our borders and our ports.”
Following up on the performance of Secretary Napolitano, I inquired whether it was appropriate for Secretary Napolitano to travel to the Afghan/Pakistani border and to actually deploy our very limited border patrol agents to help them secure a border that probably can’t be secured. The Congresswoman said, “That doesn’t really bode well for a good story line here in the United States when we are dispatching Americans to secure other nation’s borders. I understand that there can be an American interest in doing so, because that may mean that we would be saving the lives of our American soldiers, and I certainly am in favor of that. But I think that both of those ends do not need to be mutually exclusive. Because again she is the director of homeland security, and as such, her position demands I think a greater attention to securing the American borders and unfortunately that has not been done.”
My final question for Congresswoman Bachmann was about her reaction to the congressional testimony of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who infamously referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as a “secular organization” that has “eschewed violence”. She was limited in what she could say due to her position on the House Intelligence Committee, but I think what she did say was telling. “I think there is information available publicly, to anyone who would like to discern that information, as to what the Muslim Brotherhood writes about themselves and what their positions and views are. And I think that is readily available for people to read. Now because of the position I hold on the Intelligence Committee, our committee is tasked with dealing with the nation’s classified secrets and because of that I am not in a position to comment.”
You can listen to this interview in its entirety (as well as our interview with a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon & author of ‘Pentagon Prayer’: Dan Holdridge) here.
Steven Rosenblum is the host of ‘Conservative Republican Forum’- on BlogTalkRadio and a 2010 GOP