GOP principles with Thaddeus McCotter

GOP principles with Thaddeus McCotter

Peter Robinson: I am Peter Robinson. By the
way, please be sure to follow us on Twitter at In 2002 Thaddeus McCotter was elected to the
United States House of Representatives from Michigan?s 11th Congressional District just
northwest of Detroit. Since 2006 Congressman McCotter has served as Chairman of the House
Republican Policy Committee, a position that makes him after the minority leader and the
minority whip the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. Now in his
fourth term, Congressman McCotter appears often on radio and television, becoming one
of the new faces of the Republican Party. Dennis Miller refers to you as ?young Thad,?
I understand. McCotter: He refers to me as a lot of things,
some off the air we cannot repeat here. Peter Robinson: Really? All right. McCotter: He is from Pittsburgh. He tends
to be surly. Peter Robinson: [Chuckle] All right. A Detroit
man would tend to know that. Segment one, where the GOP stands. A couple of figures.
Gallop polling in 1991, three years into the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Americans
who identified themselves as Democrats and Democratic leaning, 44 percent. Republicans
and Republican leaning, 48 percent. Republican up four. 2006, your third term in congress
and five years into the presidency of George W. Bush, Democrats and Democrat leaders are
at 40 percent; Republicans and Republican leaners ? I beginning your pardon, the Democrats
and Democrat leaders at 50 percent, Republicans at 40 percent. Republicans down ten. What
happened? McCotter: Well, first just let me say I am
the fourth highest. Peter Robinson: Fourth! Who did I leave out? McCotter: Mike Pence, the Conference chair? Peter Robinson: Sorry. McCotter: ?who puts everybody on TV, so I
do not want him mad at me? Peter Robinson: All right. McCotter: ?or you will never see my face again,
which might please many. Peter Robinson: All right, you are number
four. McCotter: Four and 65. So if you go back?let
us go back to 1964. Nineteen sixty-four Lyndon Johnson landslides. Republican Party dead.
Nineteen sixty-eight, Richard Nixon elected president. Speaking of him you go to 1973-74
Republican Party dead. Carter elected in ?76. Oh?1980 Ronald Reagan elected president. In
1992 Bill Clinton defeats George Bush, they control everything. It is the end of the Republican
Party. It is dead again. Nineteen ninety-four happens. From 2006-2008, Republican Party
dead. I expect that history will repeat itself. But after the Republican Party in many ways
it is one based upon events, a very tumultuous time in America?s history. A lot of the difficult
decisions that were made by the administration and by the congress were not greeted very
well, but then again there were never very many better alternatives to put forward at
the time. Internally what we became was a national party in our minds as opposed to
what we really are, which is as a Republican Party. We are not an ideological national
movement. We are a philosophical movement based upon people who get elected by district
politics as the art of the possible. We can differ on certain things. We have the shared
principles and then we apply them to the problems of the day. What you started to see was as
we became more national, more centralized, which is the antithesis of what the Republican
philosophy is, we began to forget that we represent districts and that you cannot do
certain things and expect to get reelected, because your public will not allow you to
do that; and spending is one of the classic examples. Peter Robinson: Okay. You are giving me something
that does not compute immediately for me, which is the argument that one of the problems
the party got into was that it became national rather than local. But I thought that under
Denny Hastert and Tom Delay and the explosion of discretionary domestic spending that what
was taking place was a kind of hypersensitivity to congressmen ? to Republican members of
the House, district by district by district, in which they were attempting ? the leadership
then was attempting to play the Democratic game of shoving pork back home as fast as
possible ? as much as possible as fast as possible. McCotter: No. Thank you. That was more of
a symptom rather than disease itself. Peter Robinson: Oh, really? Okay. Explain
that. That is a? McCotter: Largely the symptom was if you look
at ? take for example an issue like free trade? Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: ?and argue the merits of it however
we want. We can argue the nuances. But if you take free trade and you look at where
a lot of our seat were lost in the Ohio River valley, in the Northeast, in the Midwest,
these are not hotbeds of free trade. Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: So what would happen is as members
cast difficult votes, to get them to cast votes that their constituencies might not
like or that went too far too fast, the default position was well, we will try to help you
out with this project in your district. The spending became, to a certain extent, a symptom
of members doing things that their constituents did not like and then the spending would be
the default to try to okay, we will make them like you with spending. So spending was a
problem in terms of some of what we did, but it was largely a symptom of the overarching
failure to understand that the party can only move forward so fast on certain issues if
the constituencies of the members who are sent there do not want them to go that far
that fast. Peter Robinson: So the Chairman of the House
Republican House Policy Committee is telling me that the Republican Party erred not by
being too provincial, but by being too ideological. You were a piecemeal, bit-by-bit, let us see
what we can get? McCotter: I am a Russell Kirk conservative.
I am a Ronald Reagan conservative. Russell Kirk was born in Plymouth, which is in my
district. Russell Kirk, where conservatism is a negation of ideology. Politics is the
area of the possible, something Ronald Reagan knew very well. Again, I am 44. I am a Republican
because of Ronald Reagan. You are a servant of the people. You have to help show them
where you need to go. You have to be willing to lead, but you also have to make sure that
they are willing to follow because you made a compelling case. Peter Robinson: Well, all right, let me try
again, this _____ (00:05:58) of the business?a common understanding, and frankly, it seems
to me to fit the facts, that during the George W. Bush?and last question on the past, by
the way, we will come to the present in just a moment?but that President Bush, President
George W. Bush, made a decision which was he needed to go to war. It was going to be
difficult to carry the country with him and in particular it was going to be difficult
to carry his own members with him, in the House particularly, so he said to Denny Hastert
and Tom Delay, spend what you need to spend. Is that accurate? Is that what happened? Is
one of the? McCotter: Well, I would not [overlapping voice]. Peter Robinson: ?was the war a step too far? McCotter: I was not privy to those conversations,
but let us just put it this way. There were many of us who understood, coming from a philosophically
conservative background, that when you look at the reconstruction of Iraq, that was where
the strategy in Iraq had its problems, and that bipartisan support, although it was before
my time, right before I got elected, a bipartisan vote to authorize force for regime change
in Iraq. Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: That was bipartisan. Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: It went well until the reconstruction
phase. There were many of us who said you cannot have a top-down, Great Society Meets
Baghdad approach out of the Green Zone to creating model democracy in Iraq. You have
to start from the traditional roots of order and build up like the United States did from
town halls and so forth. What happened was there were not enough voices arguing that
to the administration within the administration, and many members got caught up in the hope
that somehow the Green Zone top down would work. Instead, what we should have been doing
since 2003, and people like myself argued, was we should have been doing something like
the Petraeus Plan from day one. And it should have been planned ahead of time even before
the authorization of force was acted upon. Because before you get into something, you
have to know what you are going to do; and to take the approach that some of this was
an academic exercise on a blackboard instead of trying to emancipate people to enjoy their
God-given liberty and allow them to develop their democracy themselves with US assistance
from the grassroots up. That would have been a much better approach. But when you talk
about how the Republican Party responded to this, I think a lot of the spending also came
from well, we know if we have problems over this issue we have free trade; if we get the
war this will help you in this district, instead of trying to be willing to go out there and
differentiate it yourself from a bad policy of this scale or to work internally to get
that administration to change it. Peter Robinson: So the money was the attempt?the
huge increase in discretionary spending was the attempt to help members who were being
dragged along by an over-ideological? McCotter: It was not the only part but it
was a large part of it. It was a large part of the symptom. Peter Robinson: It was a large part of the
plan. All right. Segment two. The crash and the stimulus. Two quotations. The Economist
magazine, quote: As policy makers struggled to save the economy from collapse earlier
this year, conservative activists?that would include you?railed irrelevantly. But you are
not ? you have to ? I mean anybody who is activist enough to get elected to the House,
I think that includes you. I will ? I assert that. Second quotation, Congressman Thaddeus
McCotter: President Obama?s stimulus package represented a quote, a trillion dollar obscenity,
close quote. Why is that not irrelevant railing? McCotter: I think we had to point out that
our prosperity comes from the private sector, not the public sector, underlying two things
? the president has two principles that we disagree with. I think one? Peter Robinson: This president. We are now
on President Obama. McCotter: This president. Peter Robinson: All right. McCotter: Although in fairness let us go back,
if you want to go back to the Wall Street bailout, we can do that. It is another point
[overlapping voices] that he agreed with, but it was not his policy as it was implemented.
If you do not reassert every chance you get, the public?s ? the public sector is not providing
your prosperity, then you are not doing your job as a Republican. You also wanted to point
out that we have principle differences with the president. And that if you take a trillion
dollars of borrowed money and try to grow the economy through it, it was essentially
a government stimulus bill. You are going to drag out this depression and you are going
to be worse off than if you had done nothing. So I think that it is quote/unquote not railing
to point out the substantive differences between us and this administration; and I think it
is also critical to the American people to know not only did we quote/unquote rail against
it, we also provided our own stimulus plan that was dependent upon tax relief for working
families, for small businesses that by the econometrics of this administration would
have created twice the jobs at half the cost. They decided to, shall we say, go it alone
with their stimulus. Peter Robinson: By the way, could I just ask
you a question? Let me ask this. The difference between the stimulus ? the TARP, the Hank
Paulson/Ben Bernanke/George W. Bush bailout measure and the bailout measure put forward
by President Obama, my question is what did it feel like in the House? On TARP you had
your own administration begging Republican members to go along. It was extremely difficult
to figure out. I was trying to figure out how many Republicans were going to ? they
were essentially cutting the deal with the Democrats and trying to bring some Republicans
along. On the Obama stimulus package, Boehner and Cantor and Pence and I presume you were
right in the middle of it actually held every Republican member in opposition. They did
not get a single Republican vote on that bailout. Do you in the House feel energized? You have
found your political footing now. You have found a way to unite the Republican members.
What is with the difference in morale and feeling? McCotter: Well, with the Wall Street bailout
what we saw? Peter Robinson: Wall Street bailout meaning
the Paulson? McCotter: Yeah, the Paulson? Peter Robinson: All right. McCotter: So. It is where it came from. Peter Robinson: And Bush. McCotter: Right. With the Wall Street bailout
what you saw was an administration doing the antithesis of what so many of us had come
to Congress to do, and in fact one of the things we found most repugnant was the saying
that these companies, these banks are too big to fail. At other times in the nation?s
history, be it Andrew Jackson or be it Theodore Roosevelt, they were not allowed ? no private
entity was allowed to say, we are too big to fail, because nothing is bigger than the
American people. Only they are too big to fail. So from the very premise that somehow
working people?s money had to go to the people who had caused the problem and helped collapse
the credit markets, I think was repugnant to a lot of us; and the fact that it had been
borne out over time plays into the second part of your question. Because even after
that thing was passed, all of a sudden it was Paulson or Bernanke saying the toxic asset
part of this, which so many of you said would not and we derided you, ah, we are not going
to do that. We are going to recapitalize the banks now, which is a vastly different proposition
than the removal of the toxic assets. So when you go in flesh forward? Peter Robinson: Did you feel that had been
a bait and switch? Or that they were? McCotter: Well, I thought the whole thing
was ridiculous. Peter Robinson: You did. McCotter: From the beginning I thought it
was a fundamental shift in how the Untied States government works vis-?-vis the private
sector and vis-?-vis most importantly private citizens. When you flash forward to this,
you had a lot of our leadership that had supported that, was very upset at what happens or did
not happen with the unfreezing of the credit markets that it had not worked. So when you
get into the stimulus plan and [overlapping voice]. Peter Robinson: Wait. Our leadership?you are
talking about House Republicans? McCotter: House Republicans. Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: Because they supported the president,
a lot of them. And when they found out that it did not work and it wound up, from the
day we passed it, not being implemented as we had been told, even those of us who voted
against it, they were kind of upset. As I think you can imagine, human nature being
what it is. So having gone down that path and having had a lot of conservatives and
a lot of American people tell them that they did not like the Wall Street bailout, they
certainly did not want to exacerbate that problem. And so the reaction of the Republican
Party to the president?s trillion dollar stimulus was not? Peter Robinson: President Obama?s. McCotter: ?President Obama, was not based
upon just a knee jerk reaction we do not like this. It was again a second reminder of the
fundamental principle our prosperity comes from the private sector, not the public sector. Peter Robinson: Why did? McCotter: There was very little whipping,
if any, going on. Peter Robinson: Why did President Obama leave
it to Nancy Pelosi and Harry ? actually, as best I can tell, it was mostly the House Democrats
who drafted the legislation. Why did he do that? Here Rahm Emanuel is a very tough chief
of staff. They are a very disciplined organization down there in the White House. Why did they
field out the drafting of this critical ? his first big piece of legislation to the
House Democrats? McCotter: Well, that is one of the mysteries
that they are going to have to answer. Peter Robinson: All right. McCotter: Because when? Peter Robinson: It did not make sense to you
either. McCotter: No. The president had come to our
conference. He had talked to us. It had gone rather well. Very personable, and pledged
to work with us. We set up the cancer working group of which I was a part of and some other
members and came up with the plan I talked to you about. And that was at the president?s
request, was where are your ideas? So House Republicans came up with our ideas, Eric and
[overlapping voice]. Peter Robinson: Eric Cantor? McCotter: Yeah, Eric Cantor and [overlapping
voice]. Peter Robinson: Paul Ryan in on that? McCotter: Yeah, Paul was in on that. And they
taken ? you know, Cantor and Boehner take it over, present it to him and we do not hear
anything back. They went their own way. Now why they did that, I do not know. I do not
think it would have been very hard for them to get maybe 30, 40 Republicans to buy into
something reasonable. They just decided they were going to do without us. I think they
were so sure that it was going to be successful that they really figured that we were cutting
our own throats in opposing, because from their mindset the chance to pass a trillion
dollar spending bill and take it around their country for the next two to three to four
years saying, look what wonderful things your government is doing for you by giving you
recycled money back that you will have to pay interest on. Well, they seemed to think
that is all right. For the rest of us it was like it is not going to work. Peter Robinson: So what we have here is a
truly thoroughly ideological administration. McCotter: Well, I do not know that it is ideological
if you are a Democrat and you look at this. This is how you get elected. Peter Robinson: Ah, all right. McCotter: It is the redistribution of wealth,
the targeted interest. Peter Robinson: Got it. Segment three. Obama-Care.
Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, on President Obama?s position on healthcare, quote: What
a revulsion. Close quote. Would you care to expand? McCotter: The voters are revulsed by it. And
I think that the thing that I would like people to focus on is that while they are running
ads against Republicans like myself and others? Peter Robinson: They are? They are spending
money in your district right now? McCotter: Not an active D&C. It is the ?
it is one of their 136 special interest groups? Peter Robinson: Oh, yeah. McCotter: ?their Astroturf. Peter Robinson: All right. McCotter: And when you see what pharma is
going to do, and others, good luck. The American people do not like this. They are reading
the bill. This is not a disinformation campaign by anybody except the White House to try to
portray their plan as anything but a pass to single payer. That is what it is. Americans
do not like it. Peter Robinson: The single payer being the
federal government in the end. McCotter: Government run health care. Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: They do not like it. Their own Democrats
do not like or the bill would have been passed. He has talked about what went wrong in the
first segment. Well, here is a consequence of what went wrong. They can pass whatever
they want. In the House, majority rules. In the Senate they got 60. Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: If Democrats define this healthcare
bill to be too repugnant to vote for, all the yelling about going it alone?they have
been doing that from the beginning. All the attacks on Republicans, all the smears on
the tea party and the grassroots activists and the normal people who rise up against
this bill?sideshow. As a practical legislative matter, if Democrats support the administration?s
plan, it would have been done by now. If Democrats support the administration?s plan, it will
get done in September. We are witnessing an internal debate amongst the Democratic Party
and what they are finding is that when you start a bill from the left with Waxman, Miller
and Pelosi, three millionaires from California, you have trouble getting the to the center
of American politics because your own people do not want to do it. Peter Robinson: More legislative analysis
then. How many Democrats?give me ? remind me of the numbers. Are there 198 members
? Republican members of the House as I recall. McCotter: Oh, not that many. Peter Robinson: No? McCotter: There are 178. Peter Robinson: Sorry, 178. So how many Blue
Dog Democrats are there? How many? McCotter: There ? it depends on your definition
of Blue Dog. The organization, I think, has about 50 or so. Peter Robinson: Fifty. Well, let me put it
this way, then. If you are Rahm Emanuel down on Pennsylvania Avenue trying to game out
your next step in this legislation. How many Democrats are giving you trouble right now? McCotter: Anyone who has gone home to their
districts. Peter Robinson: [Laughter] Really? McCotter: Oh, you have a hard core. Even the
progressive caucus is unhappy. They are in a whip saw. The president, by laying out principles
or passing suggestions as to what he thinks should be in his most important [overlapping
voice]. Peter Robinson: Let me quote you again?the
president quoting you: The president has a position. He has no plan. McCotter: Right. Peter Robinson: And again, he has farmed out
the job of drafting an effort to reform, let take over, regulate one-sixth of the economy
to Nancy Pelosi and a handful of the House Democratic leadership. Am I right? McCotter: And the problem is the whip saw. Peter Robinson: Okay, give me the [overlapping
voice]. McCotter: Now look. If this were a question
of governance and you saw the public reaction to this, you would say to yourself, okay? Peter Robinson: Back off. McCotter: ?okay, let us, all right, all right,
all right. I get it. You do not want to do it my way, okay, what can ? let us work with
both sides. Let us see if we can start in the center. What can we do? At this point
you are seeing the single payer now as a shibboleth of the left. He had floated trial balloons
about maybe going toward the center and starting like Senator Lieberman has recently said,
start in the middle, scrap, but start in the middle and build out. But that is causing
just a huge rift in his own party. Now when we talked about what went wrong, a lot of
times the Republican Party would start a bill on the right and do the same thing: try to
get to the center and you would see the arguments within the Republican Party and the cleavages
within our different coalitions and different districts. Ultimately the public decided that
is not how they wanted us to govern. Now the 2006 mantra was send George Bush a message
and get rid of his rubber stamp Congress. Well, what we have been witnessing since the
beginning of this administration has been ? it is a pneumatic rubber stamp. I mean
artificial deadlines, bills written, read, passed. He sets another deadline. Passed.
He sets another deadline. [Sound] Maybe not. Well, we have had enough of that. But the
Democratic Party itself is now having one of those internecine battles over what this
thing will look like, and until they decide whether they can accept something and pass
it or they really are serious? Peter Robinson: So the Democrat from let us
say ? let us leave aside Henry Waxman down there in Beverly Hills because his ? they
are all rich and they are all liberal. They are ? that is a ? let us say the Democrat
in Arkansas where it is plausible that he could get a primary challenge that would be
serious or that there might even be a Republican. So that Democrat, he is between a rock and
a hard place. I am testing this to see if I understand your point. On the one hand the
left of his party, the base, the people who raise the money and lick the envelopes, want
single payer. They want effectively some sort of socialization of healthcare and they are
insistent on it. This matters a lot to them. And then he is going home and holding these
town halls and discovering that his ordinary voters do not want it. They are suspicious.
That is the problem he has. McCotter: So we have to ? it is a typical
problem. It is a problem that we used to see ourselves. Peter Robinson: Okay. So what do they do about
it? [Overlapping voices]. McCotter: They are going to have to make a
decision. Peter Robinson: Congress goes back into session
on September 8th. McCotter: They are going to have to make a
decision. They have a leader of the party. They complain that we do not have a quote/unquote
leader of the party. Well, that is largely due to them winning the White House and controlling
the congress. So my point to them is if you are ? when you talked about ? when I talked
about the president having a position, not a plan, he now has a problem. Because what
you are going to see if you watched, the left and the right of the Democratic Party, the
center left, are starting to have this feud. And what will happen is a large part of what
we went through is you will see primaries between these two wings of the party, absent
of presidential intervention to say this is what I want. The president is the only one
in that party right now that can come in and say we are going to do it this way. And then
at least they will know where they are. Peter Robinson: So, is he ? he is off at Martha?s
Vineyard right now. Has he told ? has he said to Rahm Emanuel, you got a week. I am resting
up here and enjoying myself but when I get back to Washington I want you to have figured
out a plan. And we are going to? McCotter: I do not know. I am not privy to
those conversations. I would think that the president would just say, look, this is what
we are going to do come hell or high water. We are either going to go to the center and
work out and build a bipartisan bill to deal with specific problems or we are going to
go for the whole thing and make a mess. The problem that they have first and foremost,
though, is not Democrats, not even Republicans. The American people do not want this. Peter Robinson: Got it. Segment four. The
war. First Iraq. Retired General Jack Keane stated on this program not too long ago that
the war in Iraq is substantially won. Do you agree with that? McCotter: I do not think anything substantially
won. You are either won or you have lost. So if we are making progress with the Petraeus
Plan, yes. If the surge worked to date, yes. Are we close to giving them a chance to do
what every country would hope would have, if you have your liberty now keep it. You
cannot guarantee the liberty of another country but you can give them a fighting chance to
keep it. Peter Robinson: The responsibility now rests
properly with the Iraqis, not with us. McCotter: Not fully. Not fully yet. Remember
what General Petraeus did and those soldiers did despite their congress in 2007 telling
them it was doomed to failure, has been to jump ? what is generally what a nine to 12
to 11 year counter insurgency and done it in about two years. So this is fragile. It
is very fragile. The reconstruction that should have been occurring since 2003 at the grassroots
is starting ? continuing. It is settling down but you can see as we pull back from the cities,
it also offers an opportunity for other nations or people within Iraq itself to cause problems.
I would say that it is fragile. But you cannot simply say something is substantially won
and walk away. At this point we were making progress. The progress is fragile. We have
to hold that progress because it will affect Afghanistan, Pakistan, and everything else
[overlapping voice]. Peter Robinson: Are you satisfied that the
Obama Administration is behaving ? is conducting the Iraq aspect of the war on terror adequately
at present? McCotter: It depends ? you are looking at
the specific theater of Iraq the concern would have been the hasty withdrawal. A lot of us
were very happy to see that the president, upon entering office, did not go in there
[overlapping voices] yeah, we are setting an artificial deadline, we are all going to
leave. No. It was a far more responsible approach. If you are talking about Afghanistan, that
remains to be seen although his emphasis on Afghanistan, his understanding that it is
a crucial theater, is very heartening, too. So I think that you will see some bipartisan,
where it is warranted, praise for the president for at least not doing many of the things
that had come up in the primary as campaign slogans. Peter Robinson: The day before this taping,
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, said that the situation in Afghanistan
is quote ?deteriorating,? and the commander on the ground General McCrystal is completing
a strategic review that is widely expected to result in a request for more troops. Not
long after coming into office, President Obama increased our commitment of troops to Afghanistan
by 17,000. I am a layman. I read the press. It looks as though the Pentagon is teeing
up a request for more. Your comment? McCotter: I wait for the general?s review
to come forward. I would not be surprised if that was the case, but we will allow him
to make that determination. One of the fundamental problems we have with Afghanistan is the incursions
from ? within the tribal areas of Pakistan. Peter Robinson: Pakistan, right. McCotter: We have to work with the Pakistanis.
As dangerous and difficult as Afghanistan is, we have got to work with the Pakistan
government not only in terms of the military assistance within those regions to help stop
the incursions, but we also have to work with them in a preemptive way to ensure a civil
society there. They are our partners. They are our allies. What we cannot allow is to
have a solely military focus or a heavily military focus in Afghanistan without paying
any attention to a lot of the deep seated problems that the people of Pakistan have
in terms of governance, in terms of infrastructure. Because what will happen is if you stay in
Afghanistan long enough even to make it work, which I think is still possible, if Afghanistan
deteriorates to the point it becomes heavily radicalized, that is a nuclear armed country.
It is on the border of another nuclear armed country. They do not have the best of relations.
So you have to do the whole war for freedom in the context of running the gamut from the
Middle East and including many of the neighboring countries such as communist China and Putin?s
Russia that can play a role here constructively or deleteriously. Peter Robinson: The question about the difficulty
of conducting a war in a democracy. Listen to a few figures, a poll from the economists.
Question: Would you say the US is winning the war in Afghanistan? Yes, 18 percent. No,
42 percent. Do you favor increasing the number of troops? Favor, 32 percent. Oppose, 41 percent.
What do you think will eventually happen? The United States will win the war, 35 percent.
The United States will withdraw without winning, 65 percent. So the question here is the president
has to ? has faced in it some ways the same problem that President Bush faced, which is
that conducting a war in a democracy is hard. What should the Republican Party do? Is this
one area where there is a clear ? where it is the responsibility of Republicans to stand
with the president and try to help him bring the public along? McCotter: Well, first, thank God we live in
a democracy, even if we have been unfortunately drawn into the war for freedom. We were attacked
on September 11 by people in Afghanistan. Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: I believe you can get a direct argument
out of that. But what you also have to understand is look at Iraq. You just said the general
was on ? and I would think most Americans think we are substantially winning now in
Iraq. Peter Robinson: Mm hm. McCotter: That was not the case in 2006. Events
on the ground tend to dictate it. Democracy is again, thank God, do not like long drawn-out
wars. We are not a bloodthirsty people. Free people tend to love life and tend to despise
war, as it should be. But what we have to do?we have never been, anything but, willing
to be helpful with Afghanistan with the president. Peter Robinson: We being the House Republicans. McCotter: The House Republicans and Senate
Republicans, too. You have not seen any gratuitous shots by any Republican I can recall as to
what the president is or is not doing in Afghanistan. In many ways we are honoring what we had said
we had hoped would happen when President Bush was in office. We understand the responsibility
and the necessity of winning in Afghanistan just as we did in Iraq. And I think we are
all willing to help the president do that as a matter of national security. And as terms
of the polls, the American people are very practical people. If they feel that something
is working, they will change their opinion of it. If they think something is not working,
then they will change their opinion of that, too. Peter Robinson: Segment five, final segment
to last. Rebuilding the GOP. Journalist and historian Sam Tanenhaus in his new book?have
you looked at this one yet? The Death of Conservatism?ready? McCotter: Waiting for the Cliffs Notes. Peter Robinson: [Laughter] It is a short book
[overlapping voices]. McCotter: ?at a university. I already picked
one up. Peter Robinson: These moments revitalized
liberalism. It has illuminated a truth that should have been apparent a decade ago: movement
conservatism is not simply in retreat. It is outmoded. The evidence is not recorded
merely in election returns and poll ratings and more telling evidence. It is in the realm
of ideas and argument, I say, to the Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee.
It is there that conservatism is most glaringly disconnected from the realities now besetting
America. Close quote. McCotter: I always like it when an academic
tells me what reality is. See my quest? Not you. I think he is absolutely wrong. Peter Robinson: He is a journalist, too, but
[overlapping voices]. McCotter: Well, whatever, great. Doubles his
pleasure. Peter Robinson: [Laughter] McCotter: All right. Look. All I hear out
of the Democrats and out of liberalism is the 1970s. We are in the 1970s. Look at cap
and trade. There is nothing but Carter and environmental policy, tax increases, okay.
Maybe go back further in the ?70s to give them more credit. Look at the foreign policy
of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. It is 1970. Hm. The problem is that
the Democrats fundamentally have a highly centralized bureaucratic twentieth century
? mid-twentieth century model of governance they are trying to stick on a twenty-first
century globalized world. It will not work. I would ask the gentlemen to look around the
world and see where the information revolution, globalization itself in terms of trade and
in terms of people coming together?it has empowered citizens and consumers. To foist
a twentieth century model, and you could even go back to the nineteenth century, and say
that somehow this is reform, is not going to work. You can look at the healthcare debate.
We are going to have the government do it. There is nothing. So let us disempower citizens.
Let us disempower consumers. Let us highly centralize and empower the government to take
care of us because a bureaucracy knows best. That is antithetical to everything that is
going on, and that is what the central tenets are, have been, and will remain, including
the wealth ? the redistribution of wealth, the empowerment and expansion of government.
Let us argue that he is absolutely wrong. Peter Robinson: Let me tell ? let me try something
else on you, a few statistics here. Simple ones. One hundred and seventy-eight Republicans? McCotter: I don?t do story problems. Peter Robinson: ?(laughter) one hundred and
seventy-eight Republicans in the House?do I have the number right this time? McCotter: Last time 179, we got the Mcq seat
coming up. Peter Robinson: All right. A hundred and seventy-nine
Republicans in the House. How many black representatives? Zero. How many Jewish? One. How many Hispanic?
Four? How many women? Seventeen? So I put it to you that the GOP is represented in the
House of Representatives looks like the party of white males, and white males are not going
to get you to a majority coalition in the nation. McCotter: I would ask the Democratic Party
if they would give us back all the female members that they beat in 2006 and 2008 on
our side, if they would give us any of the African American or Hispanic candidates or
Jewish candidates that we had run and they had beat. I would also ask them to note that
one of the places we are being beaten is in the Northeast and in the Midwest, which are
very highly in many of these seats such as my very Catholic seat. And so I think that
when you look at the Republican Party you can look at it as a?let us see, a collection
of groups, which we do not do. We look at it as a collection of people who voluntarily,
individually come together behind sets of principles. And you can vote for them or you
can play that game as to how they add up. Now as the son of a Truman Irish Catholic
Democratic father, I would not be in the party except for Ronald Reagan and the principles
that he set forward for. So you can look back at a time when Catholics did not vote for
the Republican Party and very few Catholics were represented within the Republican Party.
You can then go through other groups. You can continue to see historically where African
American were largely Republican and now they are not. But there are all these changes.
But I do not view it that way. I view it as seat by seat. But if the Democrats want to
talk about why we do not have more of any individual background in the party, why I
would argue that they should concede those seats to us so we can be more as they would
like to see us. Peter Robinson: One hundred and seventy-eight
Republicans in the House, 77 from the South. From New England, zero. The party, the Republican
Party, as represented in the House of Representatives, is the part of the South and the Plains and
the Rocky Mountains and you cannot get to a majority coalition in the country without
the seaboards. So is there something in that that the Republican Party for one reason or
another has lost the ability to resonate, to reach people in the urban, seaboard areas? McCotter: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
If you look at 2006 election results we had an unpopular war that was not going well that
happened on the Republican watch. We were thrown out because of it. If you look at 2008,
McCain and President Obama were relatively close until the Wall Street bailout and the
recession really took over. Peter Robinson: Right. McCotter: Part of us in Michigan felt it sooner.
War. Prosperity. You had two major issues the Republican Party was wrong on. It does
not mean there has been a fundamental 80-year shift or 40-year shift for them any more than
there was for us. I think what the people really want to see is they want a Republican
party that is philosophical, that understands that you work for the district that you were
elected by, you have to move in a philosophical fashion. They do not want crazy, radical stuff
from Republicans or Democrats. You see, the Republican Party was viewed as a creator of
chaos to the American voter in 2006 in Iraq and in the domestic economy in 2008. They
are now viewing President Obama and the Democrats as exacerbating that chaos with things such
as cap and tax a trillion stimulus and now they are talking about a trillion dollar healthcare
takeover. What the Republican Party? Peter Robinson: So the opening here is to
present the GOP as the party of domestic tranquility. I am trying a little TURP on you again here. McCotter: No. But what we are is we are a
party that believes in the emancipation, the inherent sanctity and dignity of the individual,
everyone?s God-given right to freedom both abroad and at home. We spread it abroad. We
protect it at home. We believe five fundamental principles. Our liberty is from God, not the
government. Our sovereignty is in our souls, not the soil. Our security is from strength,
not surrender. Our prosperity is from the private sector, not the public sector. And
our truths are self evident, not relative. We agree that that is the philosophical basis.
Different members from different districts may have different takes on applying it to
the challenges of globalization and getting America forward. Peter Robinson: Some good news. In late June
the generic congressional poll: If the election were held today would you vote for a Democrat
or a Republican showed the GOP ahead of the Democrats for the first time in months and
months and months. And a narrow advantage has by now, late summer, widened. A recent
poll showed the GOP up by four points, which is not huge, but it ain?t nothing. Question
one of two: Is that temporary? If President Obama ? when congress returns to Washington
on September 8 and the president says look, here is where we are going on healthcare.
Let us stop this nonsense. I am uniting my party. We are moving ahead. Does the country
swing back to the Democrats? Is it temporary or is this something deep that you can take
advantage of in 2010 elections? McCotter: Well, to finish the previous point
and answer your question, first, I do not believe in polls. They go up, they go down.
They are based upon the practicality of policies that are presented by the governing party.
We are not them right now. So their policies are unpopular. They can change them. They
can make them more population. I would argue they would have to come closer to us. Peter Robinson: Is generic polls ? and can
they make it easier for you to recruit good candidates for 2010? McCotter: I do not believe in polls. I think
they will know in their communities whether what is worth ? whether what has been proposed
by Washington and some of it that has been implemented is good for them or not. And if
there is discontent within districts, people will rise up and say I want to run to try
to change it. I do not think centralized, nationalized parties are the best way to go
in terms of candidate recruitment. I think you have to have people motivated by what
they watch from their friends, their neighbors, their community. Nisbet read him ? but my
point is about the Republican Party is if we are seen as a party of fundamental principles
the American people agree with and we are committed to conserving a cherished way of
life and allowing the American people to channel constructive change by empowering them to
do so, we will be where we need to be in the age of globalization as a part of it. Peter Robinson: Congressman Thaddeus McCotter,
Chairman of the House Republican Policies Committee. Thank you. McCotter: Now do not give me that guy?s book
as a going away present. Peter Robinson: Sam Tanenhaus. I will get
him to sign it for you. McCotter: Yeah. Can I put my hat on and stand
on it while I change my light bulbs? Peter Robinson: It is not that thick. McCotter: For Uncommon Knowledge and the Hoover
Institution, I am Peter Robinson. Page 1 of 15

2 thoughts on “GOP principles with Thaddeus McCotter

  1. @dalecampbl5 So a year has come since you posted, the Republicans won HUGE in 2010. What else are you completely wrong about?

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