Transcript from: Listening to America, Host – Ross Perot
MR. PEROT: Good evening, this is Ross. Thank you for being with us tonight.
Since the beginning of the year, we have been visiting with some of the most respected leaders in Congress from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Tonight, we’re going to change our focus and look at Washington through the eyes of a long time political observer and a member of several administrations. Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan is with us tonight.
MR. PEROT: Pat Buchanan was born and grew up in Washington, D.C. He comes from a large family. He has nine brothers and sisters. He was the valedictorian of his senior class at Gonzaga Catholic High School.
He graduated with honors from Georgetown University, and received his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1962. He was a senior advisor to President Nixon from 1966 to 1974. He traveled with President Nixon as a member of the delegation to open up the People’s Republic of China, and he was present with President Nixon at the final Moscow-Yalta Summit in the summer of 1974.
Mr. Buchanan also served as assistant to President Gerald Ford, and was the White House Communications Director for President Reagan from 1985 to 1987.
He was present with President Reagan on both his first and second Summits with Mikhail Gorbachev.
He has written a number of books, the last one is titled, Right From the Beginning.
He has been a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, co-host of CNN’s Crossfire, and host of Mutual Radio’s, Buchanan and Company.
In February 1993, Mr. Buchanan founded The American Cause, an educational foundation dedicated to the principles of freedom, federalism, limited government, traditional values and a foreign policy that puts America first. Mr. Buchanan is married to the former Shelley Ann Scarney.
Pat, it’s great to have you with us tonight.
MR. BUCHANAN: Ross, thanks for having me on. I’m delighted.
MR. PEROT: I’m sure it’s been a busy time for you, but you’ve been out on the campaign trail and that’s always an interesting experience. How is it going?
MR. BUCHANAN: It’s going very well, Ross. It is a very interesting experience. We’ve been traveling to many states, spending a good bit of time in the early primary states like Arizona and Iowa and New Hampshire. We were just up in Pennsylvania for a short tour there and down to Delaware. I guess we’ve hit about 20 states so far and it has beem pretty exhausting, but we’re pacing ourselves a little bit better than we did in 1992, I think.
MR. PEROT: Yes, you learn from experience. Pat, update us on NAFTA. You had very strong views on NAFTA. Where do we stand now?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think, Ross, we were promised that illegal immigration would go down, that we would have a trade surplus and that the relationship with the Mexican government would be smooth. I think what happened with NAFTA is a real disaster and it demonstrates that Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan were right. We now have a trade deficit that’s going to be looking about $15 billion this year which translates, even according to Mickey Kantor’s statistics, into 300,000 lost American jobs. Illegal immigration is up along the border and we get to pay $50 billion in direct American gifts and loan guarantees for the privilege of having this done to us. Ross, I think it’s proven to be a terrible mistake to get the United States government into partnership with the Mexican government.
MR. PEROT: I read this week that 20 percent of the Mexican work force is now unemployed, that’s a half million people who have lost their jobs just since the peso devaluation. Do those numbers tie in with what you’re hearing?
MR. BUCHANAN: They do, indeed, Ross, and the Mexican workers are decent, hard-working people. They put in a full days work for what they earn and they have seen their real incomes fall down below what they were in 1980. Now they, of course, have seen the value of their peso be cut in half by their own government. You, yourself, predicted the peso was overvalued during the NAFTA debate. It’s right there on the record. You haven’t gotten much credit for it, Ross, but the truth is that it was far overvalued, and now we’re paying the consequences of having been mislead by the political leaders of both of our parties. The bailout was unconscionable.
MR. PEROT: Where is GATT and the World Trade Organization? Bring us up to date on that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the World Trade Organization has come into existence and the Japanese, Ross, are about to take us to the World Trade Organization if we impose any sanctions upon them for not opening their market to American autos and auto products. Let me give you a couple of statistics, Ross. In the last 25 years, Japan has bought 400,000 American cars. They have sold us 40 million cars. Now, that’s not fair trade. When the United States went into negotiations with them, the Japanese had said simply, “look, we like the situation the way it is.” I can understand that. Why should they trade in a trade policy that’s working for them, to adopt one that’s failing for us? But if the United States imposes any sanctions, they’re going to take us to the World Trade Organization and have us sanctioned and condemned.
Now, Ross, I think the whole GATT situation is really going to come to a great climax if Japan succeeds in having America condemned as an unfair trader. I think the American people, when they focus on that, will react, and I think that will be the moment to rearrange the world trade in a manner much more conducive to the national interest of our own country.
MR. PEROT: Well, all these little nations’ votes count just as much as ours do and they have a history in the United Nations of voting against us about 70 or 80 percent of the time, don’t they, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: They sure do and if the ruling goes against us in the WTO and then we appeal it to the entire organization, you’re right. Despite our foreign aid, most of the nations in the WTO, which are about 120 now, have a record of voting consistently against the United States.
MR. PEROT: Pat, we’ll be back in a minute.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right.
MR. PEROT: Hello, Martha, in Santa Monica, California.
CALLER: Hi, Ross. I guess we got interrupted there. Nice to talk to you and Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hi, Martha.
CALLER: Yes. I heard something the other day that Senator Moynihan said and I think that capsulizes the feeling out here. There’s a great deal of frustration over such things as NAFTA and GATT and so on. He said that there will be this enormous frustration and a lot of unhappy events as long as Congress continues to govern in secrecy. That is the way most people feel about NAFTA and GATT. It is opening our borders to all kinds of mishaps, also in GATT. I would like you to tell us what we can do to overturn NAFTA. I do believe, if the people understand how it’s going to impact and has impacted on their lives, that they will act to overturn it.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Martha, I think that the hardest thing to do is to get a politician to admit he made a mistake. The fellows up on Capitol Hill are not about to step forward and call for the repeal of NAFTA and admit they made a mistake. I think you’re going to need a new President because Mr. Clinton has committed himself very much to NAFTA and, to a great degree, both he and the Republicans who supported him, are saying this is not the fault of NAFTA. But you’ve really got to ask yourselves — I mean, the argument they used for that $50 billion bailout was quite simple. They said, the world financial system will collapse if we don’t do it which raises a valid question. Who got us into this situation where the entire American financial system was at risk because of something done by some incompetents in Mexico City? I think we’re going to need new leadership to turn it around because the present leadership, quite frankly at the top of both parties, is committed to these global trade deals.
MR. PEROT: Let’s go to Mark in Rochester, New York.
CALLER: Hello, Pat. How are you doing?
MR. BUCHANAN: Hi, Mark, how are you?
CALLER: I always encourage people to call 1-800-GO PAT GO.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, thank you.
CALLER: I have to tell you something else. I just want to know which one of you guys is going to be doing the State of the Union message in ’97.
When this stuff comes out and a lot of people, you know, they say their eyes glaze over when it comes to trade talks and stuff, but the fact is NAFTA, GATT, the bailout, and every single time we’re in a trade deal like, Ross, you’ve always said, let’s take the same deal we give everybody else. We have to do two things, Pat. The thing you have to plug is stop all foreign money from lobbying this country. The best money Congress can buy — it’s not even American money. The Congress is being bought by foreigners.
Capital gains — just one more thing here, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
CALLER: Always stress, we want capital gains for new and expanding American companies. I don’t want people getting a capital gains tax credit for investing in Sony and Toshiba and Toyota. I want to say, if you want to create the jobs in America, then we’ll give you the capital gains tax treatment. How does that sound?
MR. BUCHANAN: It sounds good and I think, in terms of the capital gains, you’re exactly right. If you put the money in and invest in new businesses that expand in growth and create jobs, that’s one kind of capital gain. It’s another to buy art pieces and then let the value of them grow and then sell those —
CALLER: Foreign investment — I mean, why would you want to invest in Taiwan and then have a capital gains tax cut for this country’s taxes? We’re losing the tax base.
MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with you. Mark, how do you go about restricting these lobbyists who will claim First Amendment Rights, they say, well, listen, you can’t tell me —
CALLER: Well, First Amendment Rights, Pat, are for American citizens.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
CALLER: You know, I don’t see the extrapolation —
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, let me mention one. Suppose they say, look, I work for the Toyota Company. They’ve got subsidiaries in the United States and they pay my salary, so what?
CALLER: Well, the point is, I would like to see a few politicians stand up. If you can’t do it legally, let’s at least have a couple patriots like you and Perot stand up and say, “I’m against it.” Take the pledge. I mean, my God, we’ve got a country that’s the best — you know, the Congress, that’s the best foreign money can buy. There’s something real wrong about that and, I’ll tell you, there’s 20 percent of the people that have voted for Perot and another 20 percent that would have voted for him, and you and Alan Keyes are the only ones that are for America first. And if they think that all these Perot voters are just going to march in lock step and vote for Dole or Gramm or any of these guys, there’s an automatic loss. There’s only two people that can win the presidency, either you or Perot, or possibly Clinton in a three-way. But the Republicans, unless they have you, Pat, don’t have anybody that can win.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I do think we have reach with a lot of the voters and maybe we can get Ross to comment on that. They voted for Ross because the Republicans had walked away from many of the economic ideas they themselves had espoused, because they had negotiated these unfair trade deals and they seem to be surrendering American sovereignty to global institutions. I do think some Republican leaders, however, are saying that if we get Clinton nominated and we nominate a Republican and Ross stays out, that by default, the United We Stand voters, the Ross Perot voters, will go Republican because they really cannot stand what Bill Clinton has delivered.
But, Ross, you want to get in here on this?
MR. PEROT: Just to this extent. I think the general mood of the Independent voters now is to give the Republicans a chance to deliver —
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. PEROT: — it’s just been a little over a hundred days. It’s very important that they deliver on the Balanced Budget Amendment because that one got through the House, and stopped in the Senate. Now, Pat, what’s your view on the Balanced Budget Amendment? Do you think it will get through the Senate before ’96?
MR. BUCHANAN: I’m afraid, Ross, that it will not get through. I’ll tell you why. They say that Mark Hatfield, the lone Republican, was responsible, but I’ve heard from folks who say that the Democrats were holding out a couple of votes — that if Hatfield had come across for the Republicans, another Democrat would have dropped off. My guess is, Ross, that the Balanced Budget Amendment will not pass the United States Senate.
MR. PEROT: Well, that’s going to be a very important one, I think, for the Independent voters, don’t you?
MR. BUCHANAN: It’s going to be a tremendously important issue and so is term limits going to be an important issue. Folks are waiting for that Supreme Court decision which could overturn the term limits that have been voted to the State Legislature level, I think that’s one area where the Republicans did go in the tank. They really did not fight for term limits. I would like to see, Ross, legislation which could pass by simple majority in both houses which says, in effect, that the States of the Union have the authority to set term limits upon their members of Congress. If the Congress passed that, before the Supreme Court ruled, I think it would send a tremendous message to the Court, “keep your hands off this issue.” This involves us, the Legislative Branch, and we believe it involves the Tenth Amendment state’s rights. Thomas Jefferson, himself, said that the states have the right to set terms on the individuals they send to the Congress of the United States.
MR. PEROT: We’ll be back in a minute.
MR. PEROT: This is Ross. Our guest tonight is GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. Call us at 1-800-447-3768.
Now, let’s go to Frank in Albany, New York.
CALLER: Good evening, gentlemen.
MR. BUCHANAN: Frank, how are you?
CALLER: All right. Yourself?
MR. BUCHANAN: Okay.
CALLER: Listen, Mr. Clinton again — and I’ve been criticizing this guy since January of ’93 — he got before the Aging Conference Committee this past week on C-SPAN. Wednesday again he was wailing for the economy and all. Maybe you can just explain to me again, for the third time. He told the crowd that, due to his administration, if you factor out the interest on the debt, that the budget would actually be in balance and experiencing a major surplus. Can you tell me in any fashionable or rationale, is this possible?
MR. BUCHANAN: How Mr. Clinton says the budget would be balanced if you factored out interest on the debt?
CALLER: That’s correct.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, interest on the debt is running, I believe, between $200 and $300 billion, in that neighborhood, and of course, the debts that we’ve run up, that $5 trillion or so, spending for all the things we did during the Cold War and building the Great Society and that money is owed. It’s like saying, if we didn’t have to pay for national defense, we’d have a balanced budget. But you’ve got to pay your obligations on your debt. I think, making a numerical point, that might be true, that interest is an enormous part of the federal expenditures right now.
MR. PEROT: Yes, he could have said it more directly. Interest doesn’t buy the American people anything. Right, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. PEROT: But that would just sort of sum it up in a nutshell.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right. It sure would.
MR. PEROT: Great. Let’s go to Dusty in Pilot Point, Texas.
CALLER: Hi there, Ross and Mr. Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hi.
CALLER: I’m a member of the Future Farmers of America organization.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
CALLER: And I was just wondering, how will this so-called Balanced Budget Amendment effect all of these hard-working farmers out there in the potato industry?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that’s a very good question. I think, as a future farmer, my friend, you want the government of the United States to be solvent. You don’t want, with your tax dollars as you grow up and work your farm, to be paying off interest on debts run up by folks in Washington, D.C. before you were even born. I think it will make for a better country. It will make for a stronger dollar. It will make for a more secure nation if you get your fiscal house in order. Just like your family, if you’re running up debts every single year and you’re going out and gambling and wasting the family’s income, and running yourself deep into debt, you’re going to destroy your family and you’re going to have an unhappy life. A nation that does what we’ve been doing is facing the same kind of future. So I think, my friend, if they get that Balanced Budget Amendment and, more important, they get that budget balanced as soon as they can and start paying down that debt, I think your future might then be more like the future that Ross and I had when we were growing up in this country and it was a great country. We didn’t do things like that in the Eisenhower era. I think he balanced three or five of the budgets he ran in those eight years.
MR. PEROT: An interesting number here. We fought and won World War I for $28 billion. That’s just small change when you look at the annual interest on our debt today.
Let’s go to Vincent in Kingwood, Texas.
CALLER: Congratulations, Mr. Perot —
MR. PEROT: Yes.
CALLER: — for spending all of your time — you’re dedicating your life to our country, our troubled nation here, and we appreciate that.
MR. PEROT: Thank you.
CALLER: I’m a founding member [of United We Stand America]. Anyway, Pat, congratulations. I wish you the very best. If everybody has got to phone, PAT GO PAT to get you in there, what would you first do when you become president to reduce the debt and the deficit?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I’ll tell you what I would do. I think there are a number of areas. The first thing you’ve got to do is reduce the size of the federal government and your road-map is the Constitution. You ought to get the government out of those areas where the government has no business being and that’s, for example, primary and secondary education and welfare and things like that. I would put a cap on all those programs, block grant the money back to the states, let the federal bureaucrats go, shut down the federal departments and agencies, and gradually reduce the block grants over time to zero. I think then you’ve got to take a look at the trade treaties that are unfair to the United States of America. We can’t continue to run a $200 billion merchandise trade deficit, either. I would use executive action. It might bother the World Trade Organization to simply make these deals fair for the United States of America. Japan has run a $66 billion trade surplus with us every single year. The Chinese are doing about the same thing now with a $30 billion trade surplus. I’d say, this ends. And, if necessary, I would impose some sort of tariffs on their goods coming into the United States until they opened up to American exports. I think we could move to a flatter tax system where you get the intrusive IRS out of your life and people can spend their time thinking about where they want to invest and work and save. You would rearrange the tax codes to put incentives for saving and investing and working, rather than the incentives that they have in the tax code now which, in many cases, are for welfare. So there are a lot of things you can do, and I think it would be a dramatic first eight months until August of 1987 and we could look back on a lot accomplished.
MR. PEROT: We’ll be back in a minute.
MR. PEROT: Our guest tonight is Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. Call us at 1-800-447-3768.
Pat, what realistically can we do about illegal immigration?
MR. BUCHANAN: Ross, the illegal immigration that comes across the border maybe — one, two, three — nobody knows how many millions come across each year and many go back. I think what you need to do, quite clearly, is first put a security fence along those 68 to 70 miles at the six major border crossings. I think that will diminish it dramatically.
You know, I was driving along the Everglades, Ross, from the west coast along what they call Alligator Alley. I saw this big security fence on one side of the road and on the other side of the road. They were to prevent me from going in there and poaching on the alligators. Now, I can’t understand why a country can put up those sort of fences to protect alligators from me, but simply cannot defend its own southern borders from what really is an invasion of illegal immigrants. Something like one million are apprehended each year. I think we could reduce the number who come across by perhaps a million a year or two million a year if we put a security fence on there, use the national guard while the security fence is being built, and then go after the illegal immigrants in a more decisive manner than we’ve done, not only in the last three years, but in the last 15 years.
MR. PEROT: Let’s go to Bonnie in Orange County, California. Hi, Bonnie.
CALLER: Yes, Mr. Buchanan, I have a question. Here in California, we voters voted and passed Proposition 187.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
CALLER: As you know, that would deny Welfare and medical and educational benefits to illegals.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. If we stop the illegal immigration and get a moratorium, in my judgment, on legal immigration which is a million a year, I think we can create a tighter job market with a real income of working people, minorities and others, which has been going down for 20 years. It can start back up again.
MR. PEROT: Let’s go to Tom in Rochester, Minnesota.
CALLER: Yes, Pat. Tom here. Mary and I met you in Boston and we’ve corresponded. How are you doing?
MR. BUCHANAN: I’m doing fine. Thanks for calling.
CALLER: You bet. Fun to hear you. You and Ross were right about the trade wars and GATT and NAFTA , and you’re right about immigration. How do you stop the Democrats from stealing your 1992 speech, Cultural Values? It seems that their —
MR. BUCHANAN: The news picked up a copy of that and has been running around New Hampshire with it.
CALLER: And even Mr. Gramm is back-peddling from Cultural Values. I mean, what else is he stealing from you? What else does our nation have to know and do to prove our cultural stability?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, Tom, a friend of mine who’s a columnist said, every four years they all sound like Pat Buchanan. Pat Buchanan’s the only one that sounds like Pat Buchanan all the time. But I think it is a — and again, Ross deserves a lot of credit, and I think that it is clear that the country is moving toward the positions we argued in 1992. The Republicans have gotten to a position where they’re going to do something about the deficit or they’re against tax increases or they’re against quota bills. These were the issues we ran on, Tom. The fact that they’re moving toward them is a good thing. I think they’re going to be moving toward us. Take a look at the trade deals, Tom. Forty-three Republicans voted against NAFTA. On GATT we got 56. And, the Republican freshmen, I talked to them, they weren’t even allowed to vote. They had to run that through a lame duck session. That showed the establishment really is fearful. Fearful of the people, fearful of these younger Republicans. And then, when you had the Mexican bailout that Newt and Bob Dole went along with, they couldn’t even get it through Congress. The Congress said, “get that out of here.” Clinton had to do it by executive order.
Now, this Japanese trade deal. This is going to come up again and people are going to want action. If my party sits there and, in effect, supports the Japanese position, we’re going to be behind the curve again. But the country is moving ahead of the party and I think we’re bringing it along.
CALLER: We read a little bit about that Arizona victory that you had. Tell us about that. That’s awful.
MR. BUCHANAN: That was the shoot-out in Tucson. Well, Phil’s been winning all of the straw polls so we went to the Arizona Republican Assembly, Ross, which is a very conservative group like the California Republican Assembly and I spoke there and Phil spoke there. Then, they had a big vote and we did very well on that one and got a big play back East. But Phil had a good streak going for him.
MR. PEROT: Let’s go to Cheryl in Gilford, Connecticut. Hi, Cheryl. How are you?
CALLER: Hi, Ross. Hi, Pat. It’s an honor to speak with you tonight.
I have two questions. An article in this week’s Wall Street Journal from an economist at the American Economic Institute indicated that President Clinton has pulled off the biggest budget heist in U. S. history by refinancing 74 percent of the $4.7 trillion national debt short-term and, in fact, 33 percent of it has been renegotiated in one-year notes. I wanted you to explain to all the listeners what that means, what the impact on our economy and on the future will be.
My second question is about immigration. If Proposition 187 in California is found to be unconstitutional, what remedy do you think the people should look toward next?
MR. BUCHANAN: All right. Let me take the second one first. I’m a great believer that many federal judges are taking away the prerogatives and authority of the people and their elected representatives. I’m of the view that federal judges ought to be term limited just as well as politicians should be, because many of those federal judges have become politicians in black robes. That’s on the federal judges.
Now, on your issue, which I read, too. It was a remarkable piece. Did you see that one, Ross?
MR. PEROT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: I was astonished by it. I thought it was a terrific, fresh article and it said, in effect, that normally America has long-term debt so we know what the interest payments are going to be over a long period of time. But, Clinton has been rolling over. When the long-term debt comes due, in one-year notes and bonds, you have to pay the prevailing rate when they come due each year so that the interest that we’re paying on the debt could suddenly balloon and wipe out any cuts the Republican Congress could make. It was a startling piece and a lot of people called me when I was on the road about that. I, quite frankly, was unfamiliar with it and unfamiliar with the argument, and I found it fascinating.
MR. PEROT: We’ll be back in a minute.
MR. PEROT: Our guest tonight is Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. Call us at 1-800-447-3768.
Pat, when you’re out on the campaign trail, you really get an opportunity to listen to the American people. What are you hearing?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Ross, if I had to say one thing, it’s a real sense that the American people feel they’re losing the country they grew up in. It is not only they’re losing control of economic policy, they will not balance the budget, but it’s the country’s culture, they are more and more alienated from. I mean, they grew up in a country where their parents taught them what was right and wrong, and it was reinforced in their churches and in their schools and when they went to the movies on Saturdays. The messages were reinforced and the virtues were taught and emphasized and good triumphed and we all knew the clarity of right and wrong. They now see themselves in almost an alien nation and they don’t understand it. They see it sort of slipping away from them and they see the American dream slipping away from them and their children. There’s a real sense of distance from the entire political class in Washington, D.C. There’s no sense of trust as we all used to have, frankly, in the Eisenhower years and even in the JFK years when we disagreed with him, there was a measure of trust. This is our government. So I think that that sense of alienation and a cultural distance from the values that come through the popular culture is the greatest sense you get out there.
MR. PEROT: I read recently that, during the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, 65 percent of the American people trusted Congress. That number is way down now. Have you seen a recent number, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I know that Congress went way down to the point where it was down below 20 percent, almost in single digits. It’s gone up somewhat because the Republicans appear to have delivered a little bit or delivered good on their contract. But, Ross, take every institution in American life, the church, the medical profession, the presidency, the Congress, the courts, everything. You will find that confidence and trust and regard and respect for each of these institutions has declined in the last 30 years. I’ll tell you one reason, Ross. It’s because we see all these institutions through the lens of a determinedly hostile and negative media which is constantly in the business of tearing down, and I think this has an erosive effect over a period of decades.
MR. PEROT: It’s an interesting problem in that, if you even raise that issue in terms of trying to get rid of the sex and violence that the children are exposed to in the media, then everybody goes bonkers on First Amendment, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: They do, Ross. But I honestly — I’m beginning to believe, look, we’ve got an obligation to protect children from the kind of poisons they put in their stomach in food, but offer no protection from the poisons that go into the mind.
MR. PEROT: That nets it out.
Let’s go to Becklyn in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
CALLER: Yes, hi, Pat. Would you please comment on this economic man that seems to be pervading discourse on American politics? You know, that all society’s problems are economic in nature?
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
CALLER: I think Alexis deToqueville, the French philosopher, rightly observed that America is a great nation because America is a good nation and if she ceases to be good, she ceases to be great.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, this is my —
CALLER: Will you, as president of the United States, introduce a pro-life amendment to the Constitution if for no other reason but as a national gesture of repentance before Almighty God that maybe, just maybe, he would restore this great nation?
MR. BUCHANAN: You know, my friend, I think you’re touching on something very profound. It’s a fault of my party. You know, man is more than just economic man. When we get the capital gains tax cut and when we get the budget balanced, and when we get government spending under control, we haven’t solved all of America’s problems because America has not only a fiscal crisis, we have a social crisis and a cultural crisis, we have a moral crisis. You’re right about what deToqueville said and we’ve got to focus on getting this back to be a good country, even before we were a rich country. At the turn of the century, Ross, something like 90 percent of Americans, I have learned, would be poor by today’s standards. In other words, below poverty level in terms of real income. But America was a good nation, but we took a turn somewhere and it has become a nation that, in many ways, is not something we’re proud of in it’s culture and other areas. I think the caller has really got a point.
MR. PEROT: Well, we have two choices. If history repeats itself, we can recognize that, face it, and deal with it or we can pretend it doesn’t exist and our nation will deteriorate going through a period of crisis, but coming out of the crisis, we’ll rebuild our goodness again. Any intelligent group would not go through some horrible depression type situation in order to return to its basic values, I would think.
Let’s go to Shirley in Aurora, Illinois.
CALLER: Thank you. It’s really an honor to talk to you two.
Mr. Buchanan, I voted for you in the primary in ’92 and Mr. Perot, I did not go back to the Republican party, I voted for you and the General. So you two encompass my entire voting in ’92. It’s wonderful. My question actually is on Medicare but, you know, if there were ever a way for the two of you to team up, I think you’d have this thing licked. But, on Medicare, so many of our senior citizens are just the most wonderful people on this earth. They fought and died in World War II and raised their children. My parents were of that generation. I don’t believe the rhetoric from either party right now that tells us that our senior citizens are selfish. I don’t think it’s true. I think they’re the most generous, giving people and, if it means that they have to sacrifice with the rest of us in terms of Medicare and Social Security cuts, don’t you both think that they would not hesitate a minute to do it?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think that is very, very true. You’re exactly right about that generation. It’s my parents and my uncles who fought in World War II and the parents who came through the Depression and kept this country away from the lures either of fascism or socialism or communism and then did that tremendous job in World War II. It is really the greatest generation certainly of this century and maybe the greatest we’ve produced since the founding fathers. I agree with you. I think those folks, if people would speak to them, would be prepared to make their fair share of the sacrifice to get this country out of the ditch and to make it the kind of country that was handed down to them so they could hand it down the same way to their children and grandchildren.
MR. PEROT: Where do we stand on the Contract with America, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: A lot of it has been done. About nine of the ten have been done by the House, Ross. They failed with term limits so that’s not going anywhere. But the tax cuts are probably in trouble in the U.S. Senate. The Balanced Budget Amendment has already failed there. I think that a lot of the parts of that contract are in trouble in the Senate and a lot of Republicans are looking to the Republican Senate to see that they carry through on the commitments that were made. It’s going to be a very dicey situation. But the big trouble is going to be coming up — the big political problem is going to be coming up, Ross, when both houses go to take in that budget and try to cut it down to a balanced budget in the year 2002.
MR. PEROT: When do you think we’ll see that for the first time?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think you’re going to see it in this or next month. The Republicans are going to come out with their program and we’ll see if it’s the real thing or the old blue smoke and mirrors.
MR. PEROT: Well, Pat, it has been great to have you with us tonight. It’s been a terrific program. You’ve really had the switchboard lighted up and I really appreciate your taking time to be with us. I’m sorry we’re out of time. This hour just flies by as far as I’m concerned.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Ross, I appreciate very much you inviting me on there and we’ll have to get together again on one of these radio shows.
MR. PEROT: Okay, great.
MR. BUCHANAN: Okay, sir.
MR. PEROT: Good night.
MR. BUCHANAN: Good night, sir. Bye, bye.
MR. PEROT: Pat, thank you for being with us tonight. Thank you for joining us as we Listen to America.
United We Stand America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen’s action group committed to economic and government reform. The organization was founded by Ross Perot.