Fox News Network
SHOW: YOUR WORLD WITH NEIL CAVUTO (16:00)
June 28, 2004 Monday
HEADLINE: Interview With Stephen Moore, Peter King
GUESTS: Stephen Moore, Peter King
BYLINE: Neil Cavuto
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now that the handover is complete, is it time for Iraq to start paying us back? Stephen Moore says yes. He's president of the Club for Growth in Washington. But Republican Congressman Peter King of New York says this is totally unreasonable. Mr. King, of course, is a member of the House International Relations Committee.
Congressman King, to you first. You think it's a bad idea, why?
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, I do. First of all, this is like a classic case of understanding the cost everything and the value of nothing. I generally agree with Stephen Moore as far as flat tax, as far as supply side economics, as far as tax cuts. When we talk about Iraq, this is a foreign policy issue.
And even apart from the economics of it, the signal we'd be sending to the Arab world, the signal we'd be sending to the people of Iraq, the signal we'd be sending to our allies is that the United States is in it for the money; either that or they get the impression we're trying to pull out, we're trying to get our money back, we're trying to guarantee we get paid.
The main thing here is to stabilize Iraq, to make Iraq a secure government, hopefully at least a reasonable democracy. And that's going to save us billions of dollars in the future. More important than that, it's going to save us billions of dollars as far as war expenses but also it's going to save many American lives.
CAVUTO: Stephen, what do you think of that?
STEPHEN MOORE, CLUB FOR GROWTH: Well, to some extent I agree with Peter King. And by the way, Peter, I think one thing that would help Iraq is a flat tax idea. So I think that would help a lot. But what I'm talking about is the $20 billion to $25 billion, Neil, that we just gave Iraq, that money is not for defense, it's for the economic rebuilding and the infrastructure of the country. I don't see any reason why that shouldn't be paid back in a form of a loan to U.S. taxpayers.
After all, when you look at the debt that's owed by the Iraqis, the two countries that are owed the most money are France and Russia. And as you know, Neil, they did nothing to help with the liberation of Iraq. So I.
CAVUTO: Well, this new government is technically not obliged to honor that, right?
MOORE: Well, I hope not because the French and the Russians think they're going to get repaid. So what I'm saying is that over time, and let's not forget, Neil, that Iraq has the second or third most oil than any country in the world. So this is a country that is-as Mr. Bremer recently said, is temporarily poor, but it is asset rich. And what I'm saying is, why not get paid? Today is great day for Iraq. They have got their political independence. What I'm saying is, why not their financial independence by paying us some of that money back?
CAVUTO: Congressman, it doesn't sound like a bad idea. They do have a lot of oil, we could siphon at least some of that to help pay for our considerable cost. What would be the danger?
KING: Well, first of all, the rebuilding of the infrastructure is inextricably intertwined with defense. These really are two sides of the same coin because main reason for rebuilding the infrastructure is to get Iraq back on its feet, to take strength away from the terrorists and to provide a climate in which the new Iraqi government can function and crack down on the terrorists and hopefully eliminate them and kill them.
As far as-whatever money we get in the future, to me, that would be more than counterweighted by the fact that we would be sending a signal of no confidence, we'd be acting as if we're trying to get our money back. To me.
CAVUTO: But Congressman, in all reality-I understand your position, sir, and it's well stipulated, but the reality is, we could never get back all the money we have spent in Iraq. I mean, that's unrealistic. So who's to say there's any harm in just getting some of it back?
KING: I'm saying, let's worry about that tomorrow. Right now the important thing is to make sure we stabilize Iraq, that we save American lives. And the way we do that is by getting the infrastructure rebuilt, getting the economy on track, getting the...
CAVUTO: All right, I want to stop you there. Stephen, what about that, not now, don't raise this issue now?
MOORE: Well, look I don't think they should have to repay us right immediately, that is why I would do this in the form of a loan that they could pay back in 10 -- over 10 -- five, 10 and 20, years. But let's not forget...
CAVUTO: But how much, Steve, would you have them pay back, I mean, when all is said and done we're going to be looking at a hundred billion dollar war; right?
MOORE: About-the $20 billion to $25 billion that is being used to rebuild the refineries, the oil pipelines, the infrastructure of the country, and my point is here that if you look at the world price of oil today, it's what, $38 to $40 a barrel, and you know, it only costs the Iraqis less than $2 a barrel to produce that oil once they are fully functional. What's wrong using some of that oil money to be used to repay taxpayers rather than to gouge American motorists who are going to be purchasing that gasoline?
CAVUTO: All right. Congressman final word, what do you think of that?
KING: I would rather have John Negroponte, our new ambassador, have the leverage of holding $20 billion and him deciding when that money is going to go out, how it's going to be done, and not have to worry about a loan. That gives us tremendous influence and sway over the new government coming in in Iraq.
MOORE: But Peter, let's make sure that Iraq does not join OPEC, because they-the people we've liberated shouldn't be gouging us with high oil prices.
CAVUTO: You don't think they will join OPEC?
KING: You and I agree more than we disagree.
CAVUTO: Steve, no offense, you don't think they will join OPEC?
MOORE: I don't think they should. Now look...
CAVUTO: Well, I agree with you, but I think they will.
MOORE: I know, I think that's an outrage to the American consumer.
CAVUTO: All right. Well, I think we all ought to wake that up to that very real possibility. Steve Moore, thank you very much.
MOORE: Thank you.
CAVUTO: Congressman King, always a pleasure.
KING: And we can work for flat tax together.
CAVUTO: You just get everything in there.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT