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Fox News "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" - Transcript


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WALLACE: Dominic Di-Natale reporting from Libya -- Dominic, thanks for that.

With the first Republican presidential debate to be shown on here FOX News Channel only four days away, the field is far from settled. One potential candidate who enjoys strong support in the Tea Party joins us now.

Congressman Michele Bachmann, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: Let start with the budget, because you want to go even farther than House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. You voted for the Republican Study Committee plan which would cut spending by $3 trillion more over the next 10 years and balance the budget by 2020, not 2040, as Paul Ryan does.

Let's take a look, though, at some of the big differences. You want to cut $700 billion more than Ryan from Medicaid. You want to raise the Social Security retirement age for people who are now 59. And you would change Medicare to a voucher system for those who are now 59.

Question -- Paul Ryan doesn't go far enough?

BACHMANN: Well, remember, both Paul Ryan's budget and the Republican Study Committee budget changed the trajectory that we're on. We are on a trajectory of failure right now. So, both Paul Ryan and the Republican Study Committee were making very good responsible choices, they're trying to get America's house to balance. That's what we have to do.

WALLACE: But, if I may, you're saying let's go even further, faster than Paul Ryan?

BACHMANN: Well, remember again, what both of those bills are. They aren't pieces of legislation. They're aspirational documents, which means these are goals that we're trying to come toward.

And one thing that I have heard all across the United States, people want us to get our financial house in order. They recognize we may not have 26 years to get our financial house in order. We may need to do it sooner.

And so, people want to us get serious. People who have been doing this in their own lives and with their own businesses don't understand why Washington is taking so long to get our house in order.

WALLACE: But I just wanted to make it clear -- you stand by your vote for the Republican Study Committee plan. There is nothing in there that you say would go too far?

BACHMANN: Well, remember, what -- again, this is an aspirational document. It's not legislation. It may --

WALLACE: But would you support all of those things we just talked about?

BACHMANN: What I'm saying with that vote is that we have to make decisions. We aren't saying that every single decision that's in that bill, or aspirational document, will be the final result. But what we are saying is we have a conviction, those of us in the Republican Study Committee, those of us who supported Paul Ryan that we thank them and applaud them, that they want to get in the game and they want to make sure that we don't go down in flames with our economy.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about one specific -- and it may be the most controversial in both plans. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that under Medicare premium support, which both plans would have, seniors would bear a much larger share of their health care costs, than they would under the current plan.

What do you tell people nearing retirement who say I can't afford to pay more of my own health care costs out of pocket? Which is what the Ryan and the Republican Study Committee plans would do.

BACHMANN: And I understand that. I put an asterisk on my support and I put a blog posting up that said just as much. That is my area of concern. I support these bills with that proviso, because there are a number of people across the United States who have exactly expressed the fear that you just mentioned.

I think that's what we need to do with Medicare. It isn't that we are saying that we don't want people to have the health care. It's -- will there be a better way to fund it?

I think there is a better way than the way that the federal government is currently funding the program. Various ideas were put out on the table. Even Paul Ryan said he was open to tweaking his position that he has staked out.

One position that I'm concerned about is shifting the cost burden to senior citizens. Seniors are saying, "Look, I'm not in a position to be able to handle that." I also share that real fear. That's why I put the asterisk out there.

Will there be greater efficiencies? I think so. Will there be choices and options that I think we should offer people? Absolutely.

In the private sector -- I'm a private business person, my husband and I have our own business. What we try to do is offer better solutions all the time for our customers. The federal government isn't keen on doing that.

That's what I think the ingenuity is behind what Paul Ryan wants to do and behind what the Republican Study Committee wants to do, new and different ideas. That isn't the be all and end all. We're only just starting.


BACHMANN: But with the proviso and the asterisk that I agree with the concern for senior citizens and their fear that they will have to assume the cost themselves. One thing we also need to focus on --

WALLACE: Well, let me -- let me ask you this. You're not wedded to the idea of a voucher plan for Medicare?

BACHMANN: I'm wedded to the idea of efficiencies and cost-cutting and savings.

WALLACE: But not a voucher plan?

BACHMANN: How we get there is open to discussion. Plus, the other thing that we should focus on would be cures -- cures for things like Alzheimer's, cures for things like diabetes. It's very expensive to just cover the care for sickness. I'd prefer to see money that we have at the federal level go for cures.

Probably one of the best examples is polio. If you look in the 1950s, polio was a huge issue. And government was forecasting at that point that we might be looking at $100 billion in costs.

Today, polio costs us really virtually nothing. Why? A private charity, March of Dimes, put money in to finding a cure. We all have the little vaccines that Jonas Salk came up with. Thank God. I would like to see that with Alzheimer's and diabetes and others.

WALLACE: You're a hardliner. I think you would agree on the question of the debt ceiling. You say you won't vote to raise it. You won't vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling unless Obamacare is defunded. And you suggest that the government should pay its debt first and then worry about its other obligations and perhaps cut some of the spending for other obligations.

Here is the problem with that, Congresswoman -- Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin says, "Adopting a policy that payments to investors should take precedence over other U.S. legal obligations would merely be default by another name." So, you're willing to default on our debt?

BACHMANN: Well, let's face it. If we continue on the trajectory that we're going right now of borrowing money that we don't have, because 41 cents of every dollar the federal government spends today is borrowed money. So, every hour, we are borrowing $188 million. So, about a fifth of $1 billion in the hour you're on today, we will borrow.

We can't do that. This -- the music is about to end. The game is going to be over.

So, don't let anyone tell you that by increasing the debt limit, the ability for the federal government to keep borrowing, that somehow that's going to show the world that we're even more credit-worthy because we're borrowing? Very soon, Chris, we are going to be at the point where we're going to be -- we're going to be borrowing more money so that we're essentially having a $4 trillion budget and $2 trillion of it will be borrowed money. We can't live that way.

WALLACE: But here's the question.

WALLACE: Top officials and everyone from Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, to Republican House Speaker John Boehner say this: Default will raise interest rates on our debt, which will therefore not lower the deficit, but increase the deficit because we are going to have to pay higher interest rates. It will raise interest rates for mortgages and loans for individuals, and it will threaten our recovery.

I want you to give me a single piece of hard evidence that defaulting would not be a disaster.

BACHMANN: Who is advocating defaulting? I'm not. No one is advocating defaulting. That's why Senator Pat Toomey and Representative Tom McClintock have a bill that would direct the treasury secretary to first pay off all obligations, and after that, prioritize spending.

WALLACE: But you just heard the deputy treasury secretary say that's default by another name.

BACHMANN: Well, that is his opinion. My opinion is we could go with the Toomey-McClintock plan. We could pay off the debts first and prioritize. What a shock to the ruling class in Washington, D.C. They don't have all the money they want to spend. We never did have that ability to be able to spend all that money.

WALLACE: Don't you worry , I mean, what our creditors would say, what the financial markets would say if we don't raise the debt ceiling and we have to start doing that? As I say, everybody from Ben Bernanke to your speaker, John Boehner, say it would be a financial disaster.

BACHMANN: Well, I don't know if you heard what I said. I am not calling for default.

WALLACE: But if you don't raise the debt ceiling, that is what is going to happen.

BACHMANN: But that's not true. Because what we would do is, again, we'd prioritize spending. Just because Congress has authorized spending for various programs doesn't mean that we have to fulfill that spending.

If you look at the off-the-charts increases in spending from 2008 until today, we have accumulated $4 trillion in debt just in the time that President Obama has been in office. We just can't do that. Just because Congress in its wisdom has authorized almost 50 percent more spending than what we can afford doesn't mean that we should do it.

It's like if my family was overspending or if your neighbor's family was overspending, you cut up your credit cards, you'd sell the boat. You'd sell your vacation home if you had one. You wouldn't be going out to eat.

You'd make every decision you could to scale back and then you'd consolidate. Everyone else is doing that. The only one not doing that is the political class here in Washington, D.C. And all I'm saying is that if we continue this fantasy of thinking that if we can continue to raise the debt ceiling, somehow that will bring prosperity.

It's game over. It is not happening. We have to realize we're only accelerating decline for the United States. That is not going to bring us into prosperity.

WALLACE: I want to switch to foreign policy. You say that we should have stayed out of Libya.


WALLACE: We're going to have Lindsey Graham on in a moment. Is he wrong when he says in fact we should get more deeply involved and in fact should take out Qaddafi? I would also like your reaction to the missile strike overnight that apparently killed some of Qaddafi's family.

BACHMANN: Well, remember, Defense Secretary Gates said we were not attacked by Qaddafi, nor were we threatened attack. He also said we have no vital national American interest in Libya. Those are the two prerequisites for our United States military entry.

He was later asked what our military goal was in Libya. He couldn't state what our military goal is. What in the world are we doing in Libya if we don't know what our military goal is? And if we still aren't sure about who the opposition forces are? What possible benefits--

WALLACE: When you say the opposition, you mean the rebels?

BACHMANN: The rebels. What possible benefit could there be for the United States if in fact we could potentially be benefiting Al Qaida of North Africa or Hezbollah, which is a very strong likelihood?

This would be a terrible mistake for this reason, because if we give Al Qaida of North Africa access to sustained revenues from oil, they could continue to fund global terrorism. How is that going to help anyone? This is a disaster in the making.

That's why President Obama's policy of leading from behind is an outrage. And people should be outraged at the foolishness of the president's decision. He said he wanted to go in for humanitarian purposes, and overnight we are hearing that potentially 10,000 to 30,000 people could have been killed in the strike. Those are some of the reports.

WALLACE: In the NATO strikes, 10,000 to 30,000 people?

BACHMANN: There is a report that came out from an ambassador from Tripoli that said we won't know until we're able to go in.

WALLACE: But did the NATO strikes killed 10,000 to 30,000 people?

BACHMANN: A report that came out last night from the Tripoli ambassador said that potentially there could be 10,000 to 30,000 --

WALLACE: When you said the Tripoli ambassador, you mean the Libyans?


WALLACE: So you're believing the Qaddafi regime?

BACHMANN: We don't know. We don't know. All I'm saying is that --

WALLACE: Do you think Muammar Qaddafi is a reliable person?

BACHMANN: I don't think anyone thinks that. When President Obama went in, his doctrine was to enter into Libya for humanitarian purposes.

The point of what I'm saying is that we are seeing many, many lives lost including innocent civilians' lives. What will be the ultimate objective and gain? I don't see it. I think it was a foolish decision to have gotten involved.

WALLACE: We are running out of time. You're a tax lawyer, which may surprise some people. You're a successful businesswoman. But the rap against Michele Bachmann is that you say some -- forgive me -- flaky things.

I want to run through a couple of them. One, in March, you told a crowd in New Hampshire this.


BACHMANN: New Hampshire, what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You're the state where the shot was heard around the world Lexington and Concord.


WALLACE: Lexington and Concord, New Hampshire?

BACHMANN: Well, you know, after that, I promised I would never again use President Obama's teleprompter and I intend to keep that promise.

WALLACE: OK. In 2010, you said this at a Tea Party rally.


BACHMANN: Now the federal government owns or controls 51 percent of the private economy. We're on to them. We're on to this gangster government and we are not going to let them have their way.


WALLACE: Briefly, what does "gangster government" mean? And secondly, our brain room, which is the Fox News Research Department checked it out. They say if you add up all the companies that the U.S. government has a stake in -- General Motors, Chrysler, Fannie, Freddie, AIG, on and on -- it only adds up to 1.3 percent of the private economy. Not 51 percent, 1.3 percent.

BACHMANN: Well, the numbers that I had gotten were ones that I had read from a professor of economics who had said we were over 51 percent. And that was something that was reported in the "Investors Business Daily." And that was my source for that comment, and I stand by that source that I've cited at the time. And the previous question that you had was?

WALLACE: Gangster government.

BACHMANN: Yes, well, I think that it is gangster government when you have President Obama taking away the property rights of the secured preferred bondholders of Chrysler and essentially giving their private property interest over to the union interest in Chrysler.

We had over 3,400 pink slips given to dealerships across America by the Automobile Task Force. These are privately owned and held automobile dealerships, and the federal government pulled the rug out from under those dealerships and essentially took away their private property interest.

That's a gangster government when government makes the decision, as opposed to the free market, about who will win and who will not survive. If you are politically connected, you survive, and if you aren't, you don't. That is a gangster government.

WALLACE: Finally, Congresswoman, one last question about, explicitly about the campaign. I'm curious about the fact you're appearing here. You appear in a lot of places, but you are unwilling to go up against your fellow candidates in South Carolina at the debate Thursday night. Do you not feel you are ready for primetime?

BACHMANN: Well, I was just on primetime yesterday and the evening before. I was in New Hampshire --

WALLACE: But you weren't in a debate with the other candidates.

BACHMANN: Well, I was with Mitt Romney, with Tim Pawlenty, with Rick Santorum --

WALLACE: Yes, but separate speeches.

BACHMANN: And with Herman Cain. Well, we were back-to-back with each other and all on the same topic and all being asked questions. So I've already been there, done that.

I'm not making my formal announcement either way until June. So I didn't feel that it was appropriate to be in the first official debate, which Fox will be sponsoring on--


WALLACE: Are you going to get in the race?

BACHMANN: I'll let you know in June.

WALLACE: Congresswoman, thank you so much. Thanks for coming in. Please come back and tell us whether or not you're going to run. Perhaps we'll be seeing you on the campaign trail.

BACHMANN: Thank you, Chris.


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