Mandeville, LA - Exclusive Transcript - Tim Carney was on the line with Mike yesterday discussing everything from Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney to ObamaCare, here's a small excerpt of his interview when asked about the Romney Plan for Health Care, check out the interview for the rest! "What he wants to do is not what Ryan wants to do. He wants to sort of save money by overturning ObamaCare, which is actually something more than Ryan wants to do because ObamaCare has in it cuts to Medicare, Medicare Advance. Because Romney would overturn ObamaCare, he would undo those cuts, so he would increase Medicare spending. Ryan says that’s a part of ObamaCare that we’re definitely going to preserve, those Medicare cuts. Romney gets credit for being a little bit conservative because he’s talking about repealing ObamaCare, but one of the things he’s doing in that is increasing Medicare spending back to old levels."
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Tim Carney, let me ask you, Tommy Thompson wins this primary Tuesday night in Wisconsin over, one, a conservative, and two, a Tea Party conservative. You wrote about this this morning, about how Tommy Thompson is a confidante of Newt Gingrich. You also were one of the guys, speaking of being pilloried, that was on the lead of the Gingrich as corporates lobbyist and expander of government. Tell the audience a little bit about Tommy Thompson and the Gingrich connection.
Tim Carney: Well, back in the day, 1994, there was the Republican revolution that some people have called the Gingrich revolution. You remember the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives for decades. Finally Newt Gingrich put up his Contract with America. He was, I think, the minority whip and he said we can be the majority. All these ideas of government reform and transparency, they all took the lead and Republicans take over the House in ’94 and Gingrich becomes speaker.
One of the freshmen, one of the many vaunted freshman was Mark Newman. He was given a spot on the Appropriations Committee, which is a huge honor almost never given to a freshman. He had proposed, when Bill Clinton was taking America off to war in Bosnia, that we’re not going to fund the war until Congress passes a resolution authorizing Bill Clinton going to war, that whole separation of powers thing. He couldn’t get a vote on it. He couldn’t stop the funding and couldn’t get a vote on the Bosnian war. The Republicans and Democrats didn’t want it.
Then the Defense Appropriations bill came up on the floor of the House of Representatives and Mark Newman voted no. You might think that’s a protest vote, but it was an impermissible act of dissent, what Mark Newman did. If you are on the Appropriations Committee, you are not supposed to think of yourself as an individual. You’re not supposed to even think of yourself as a Republican or Democrat. You are a member of the appropriations party and any disagreements in the appropriations party happen in the Appropriations Committee room. Once you march out onto the House floor, you vote together as a block. You pass every bill that came out of the committee. He voted no on a bill that he thought was funding an unconstitutional war. Gingrich and the appropriations Chairman at the time, Bob Livingston, who is now a lobbyist, they both stripped Newman of his subcommittee spot, basically of all his power on that committee.
Now here we are 18 years later. Tommy Thompson, former lobbyist, revolving-door guy, we can get into that if you like, is running for Senate in Wisconsin. Running against him, as the Tea Party-backed guy, is Mark Newman. Of course Newt Gingrich, now a lobbyist, shows up in Wisconsin to make sure that his fellow revolving-door, corporate welfare lobbyist Tommy Thompson has his support and backing and Mark Newman, the guy who actually stood for what Gingrich always pretends to stand for, isn’t getting his support. Sure enough, on Tuesday in a three-way race for the conservative vote was split two different ways. Tommy Thompson, the K Street candidate as I call them, won with one-third of the vote.
Mike: And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. This is how the game is played. I have your blog page at Examiner. One of the things I enjoy about your writing, Tim, is not only your honesty but your bipartisanship when it comes to pointing out -- it’s great fantasy and promotion to say that one party is the party of fiscal restraint and discipline and what have you and the other party are just a bunch of drunken sailors, as John McCain called them, but that is not the case. History does not bear that out. There’s not enough of a revelation, as you just delivered to the audience. I didn’t know that story about Mark Newman. I’d never heard it before. I’m glad I know it now. I bet there are more stories like this, aren’t there?
Tim: Yeah. It was Novak who introduced me to the idea of the appropriators party. Also, when they took over, they made sure to hire on a bunch of the Democratic lifelong Appropriations Committee staffers because they’ve got the experience. They didn’t replace the staff with anybody who was a believer. The way congressional arm twisting works, and I have friends who follow, say Medicare Part D, where they expanded Medicare, the Republicans, to include prescription drugs.
If you watch CSPAN, they say, “This will be a 15-minute vote” and the clock ticks down to one second and holds there, usually for about five or ten minutes. The Medicare Part D vote back in 2003 was held open for over an hour while they twisted arms and broke arms, the Republican leadership, to get to that one extra vote where they could pass it. One of the things they did is a Republican leader walked on the floor with a check made out to the campaign of a current congressman’s son. He said, “Here’s the check. Switch your vote.” The guy said, “No, I’m not voting for this bill.” He tore the check up, the Republican leader. I’m not going to name names because I’m forgetting it. Look it up. My friend David Freddoso has written about it. He tore up the check and he goes, “All right, there goes your son’s contribution.” He turns it up and throws it into one of those spittoons on the floor of Congress.
Mike: Tim Carney from the Examiner Online is with us on the Dude Maker Hotline. Talk a little bit about what you just said about the difference between the parties and spending. Talk a little bit about the inner workings of the current leadership in Congress, of which Paul Ryan is a member. We may view Paul Ryan -- I do believe he is very honest, very serious. I’ve never doubted that. His remedy, though, leaves an awful lot to be desired if you’re trying to get that graph, instead of going on the ski slope up to a mountain of Breckenridge, we want the black ski slope down to the bottom of Breckenridge. Paul Ryan doesn’t even come close to this, yet he has become conservative Wunderkind. You blogged Monday or Sunday about this. What do you overall think of the pick?
Tim: Overall, as far as the pick goes, within the realm of Republican politicians who might possibly be picked by Mitt Romney, I think Paul Ryan was one with which I’m pretty happy, a guy with which I generally agree. On the whole spending debate, I’ll tell you why Ryan was a guy who stood out for me. I remember during the 2010 election, Republicans were talking about how they’re going to cut spending. Unlike ObamaCare, we’re not going to cut Medicare. Of course we’re not going to cut defense.
I think you know that if you look at Medicare and Social Security, that’s half the budget. Then you look at the other half, which is the part that’s appropriated, the appropriations where Congress makes the actual decision. You cleared half the pie Republicans said they weren’t going to touch. On the other half, you cut off another half of the half, a quarter of that pie, which is defense spending. You’re left with one-quarter of the pie, which is social spending and other stuff. Republicans say they’re going to trim some of that. That’s the narrow confines in which most Republicans talk about cutting spending because they’re afraid to touch stuff like Social Security and Medicare.
That’s why I’m pleased that Paul Ryan has gone ahead and said Medicare is a disaster. The spending isn’t just now more than it’s taking in. The number of people on it are increasing every year and the amount of money spent per person on it is increasing, and both of those things are increasing more than our economy could possibly be considered to grow. This is this time bomb set in our government to explode, swallow up huge portions of all the money made just going into Medicare. Paul Ryan said we’ve got to come up with a way to fix it. As you said, he’s not cutting Medicare. He has a plan to slow the rate of growth of Medicare over the future. For that he’s being pilloried. For anybody who sort of gets beat up and abused and bears slings and arrows for trying to fix a problem that everybody knows exists, I think deserves some respect for it. That was what was kind of behind my Ryan column on Monday.
Mike: Tim Carney from Examiner Online is on the hotline with us. Ryan is a good guy in that respect. We don’t know an awful lot about Governor Romney and how he has dealt with those specific issues in Congress because he obviously hasn’t been there. He was in the State of Massachusetts, though. Have you had time in your busy schedule to actually check out any of the Romney plan and what do you make of it?
Tim: I haven’t spent too much time on the Romney plan. What he wants to do is not what Ryan wants to do. He wants to sort of save money by overturning ObamaCare, which is actually something more than Ryan wants to do because ObamaCare has in it cuts to Medicare, Medicare Advance. Because Romney would overturn ObamaCare, he would undo those cuts, so he would increase Medicare spending. Ryan says that’s a part of ObamaCare that we’re definitely going to preserve, those Medicare cuts. Romney gets credit for being a little bit conservative because he’s talking about repealing ObamaCare, but one of the things he’s doing in that is increasing Medicare spending back to old levels.
I don’t think Mitt Romney is anybody who has principles, conservative or not. I think he’s probably a good family man, upstanding, moral man, but politically, I think he is a managerial technocrat. He thinks of himself as the CEO, the consultant who comes in and solves the problem however he thinks fit regardless of what rules might be set or principles or anything like that. Given the horrible state of Medicare, I think there’s some chance that what he’ll do is come in and say, “I’m sorry, the only way to fix this is to cut it back,” kind of like what Chris Christie is doing to some extent in New Jersey. Christie is not a conservative. He’s just a guy who’s like, “I’ve got to roll up my sleeves and solve this problem” and he ends up acting like a conservative because of the nature of the problem.
Mike: What is interesting about the whole Medicare thing and Romney’s role in it is, of course, that Medicare is a program, just like Medicaid, that ultimately has to be administered by the state. Of course, in Romney Care, you basically have the folding in of the two. You get the best of both worlds. You get to have a state program that’s financed by the other 49 states. What you’re basically saying, just to put a summary on it, is that Governor Romney may come in and say, [mocking] “That little part of Medicare right there and that over there and those over there, those are GST steel plants. I’m closing them. Those are not going to be productive for Bain Medicare,” right? You’re hopeful.
Tim: I’m saying there’s a chance.
Mike: He says there’s a chance. Tim Carney from Examiner Online is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us. There are so many things that I could ask you about individually speaking. Let’s talk about the vice president, and I mean individually speaking spending. You can spin lots of yarns as you do in your columns. Let’s talk about the vice president for a moment here. You had a piece out two days ago or yesterday about the vice presidential gaffe. You run in these circles, Tim. You’re actually there in the belly of the beast. I just have a sneaking suspicion that all of these attacks, killing the Soptic wife, the felon didn’t pay the taxes, now the chain gang is back, because it’s all happening and has the same push to it, the same flavor, this seems to me to be very Axelrod-ian and intentionally done. What do you say?
Tim: Yes. There are a few reasons why Democrats would want to be doing this. One is, the way Mitt Romney handled the primary season was to sort of stay out of it as long as possible, and he did. He didn’t offer plans, he didn’t offer himself, he didn’t offer an explanation of who he was until shortly before Iowa and more after Iowa on New Hampshire and the states he thought he should be winning. He’s doing that again. He doesn’t want people to get sick of him. He was hoping people would be focusing on the economy and Obama for now. The Obama people and David Axelrod and the campaign are too smart for that. They’re saying if Romney isn’t going to define himself, we are going to define him. That doesn’t require any truth or accuracy or anything like that. They’re coming out and trying to turn some of the Bain Capital stuff into ruthless capitalism. Literally they’re saying he gave a guy’s wife cancer in order to make profit, which sounds like the plot of some movie written by some crazy anti-capitalist Hollywood person. I can’t figure out how they make money by giving somebody’s wife cancer, but probably Mitt Romney has is the accusation.
The second reason to do it is, by getting personal about Mitt Romney, you might bring out one of his flaws. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but he doesn’t like to be questioned and threatened. In person, he has this tick where he’ll lift his lip and sneer. He did this in some of the Republican debates. I saw him do it on the campaign. There’d be a nice, friendly crowd except one person who was a Democrat or Santorum supporter or, God forbid, a Libertarian who would ask him a tough question from the audience. He would have that tick. Everybody would be like, “Wow.” He just went from being the nice, friendly, churchgoing dad to the awful boss who’s about to fire you.
When Romney came and did an editorial board interview with us at the Examiner, he came and sat down with all the guys on our commentary page, national reporters, editors. One of them, our guy Phil Klein, asked him a question about Romney Care. Romney gave some surface answer that had sufficed in the past. Phil Klein at the Examiner knows more about Romney Care than Mitt Romney does. So he then said, “The reason your answer doesn’t work is X, Y, Z” with a follow-up. The staffers all turned and looked at Romney with a shocked look on our face. All of us who were expecting this one-two combo sat there with a smile wondering how Romney was going to do it. I was watching his upper lip. I saw Romney look down, take in a deep breath and then put on this fake stage smile and laugh and say something complimenting Phil, “Wow, you really know your policy, Phil. I should hire you in my HHS” or something like that. I was like, “Wow, he’s been coached.” When he wants to yell at you and fire you, he’s supposed to smile and laugh. How long can he hold that back when guys like Obama and Joe Biden, of all people, are making these awful personal attacks on him. He’s going to lose it. When he loses it, everybody is going to look at him like that guy who just flipped out at a party and killed the buzz.
Mike: I had that instinct, Tim. Thank you for making me feel better about my instinct.
End Mike Church Show Transcript