Following is the text of my Monday night interview with Michele Bachmann:
KUDLOW: And we welcome back to The Kudlow Report House member from Minnesota,
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.
Ms. Bachmann, welcome.
BACHMANN: Larry, it’s always a thrill to be on your show.
KUDLOW: All right.
BACHMANN: Thank you.
KUDLOW: All right. And thank you.
Listen, before we start talking about the debt ceiling and the economy and the lack of jobs, I want to ask you about a very odd attack your friend Governor Tim Pawlenty–I’m putting it up on the full screen, I want to give you a full chance to respond. He said it on one of the Sunday talk shows, he says, `Her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent. It’s nonexistent. We’re not looking for folks who, you know, just have speech capabilities. We’re looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I’ve done that. She hasn’t.’ That’s from Governor Tim Pawlenty from your home state. I want to get your reaction, please.
BACHMANN: Well, when I went into Washington, DC, I took the oath of office the same time that Nancy Pelosi took the gavel. Nancy Pelosi was not exactly interested, Larry, in my pro-growth policies of cutting spending and cutting taxes. But what I did is I stood up to her, I stood up to Barack Obama, and I worked tirelessly against the stimulus spending, against their no-growth in American energy policy. And I–my voice brought literally tens of thousands of Americans to Washington, DC, to do everything that we could to just beat Obamacare. People know that I mean what I say and I say what I mean, and I have actively fought at every level on these policies.
When I was in Minnesota serving in the state Senate and in Washington, DC, I did everything I could to defeat cap and trade. I didn’t work to implement cap and trade. I always worked very hard against the unconstitutional individual mandate in health care. I didn’t praise it. So there’s a very different record, and I think people appreciate my fight.
BACHMANN: And they know that I’ll do that in the White House.
KUDLOW: Yeah. No, with respect, I understand that. And the issues, that’s what’s propelling you. You just took the lead in a new poll in Iowa. You’re ahead of Romney now. Pawlenty’s way back at 9 percent. But I guess I’m just wondering, you and Pawlenty know each other many years. He says he campaigned for you. Is he attacking you because you pulled way ahead of him? Is that what’s going on here? Is this typical primary-type politics?
BACHMANN: Well, I don’t know the thoughts and intentions of his heart. I only know that I have a very strong unparalleled record of standing up for the little guy and fighting against the big government politicos in Washington, DC. And that’s what I’ll do in the White House. We need a real American who’s a fair-minded, reasonable thinking person who–I was born in Iowa. We need someone like that in the White House to take those commonsense ideas, because, quite frankly, a lot of grandparents are worried about their grandkids, and they’re going to–if they’ll have the same opportunity. That’s what I want to do, take that fighting spirit to the White House.
KUDLOW: Do you think you have enough executive experience, which is another one of Pawlenty’s little snippets at you, that you’ve never run anything. He ran the state of Minnesota for two terms. I mean, that was a criticism leveled at Barack Obama. Do you think you have the executive experience?
BACHMANN: Well, my husband and I–I’m a federal tax litigation attorney. I have a post-doctorate degree in federal tax law from William & Mary. I’ve worked for years in the United States federal tax court. We’ve also started our successful company. I have executive experience in the real world in the private sector. It’s nice to have government experience. But, quite frankly, I think what’s more important is am I right on the issues and am I right on policies. Clearly President Obama has been wrong on the issues. And I think that’s what I would bring to the White House is a very healthy perspective of pro-growth policies to finally turn the economy around and create jobs again.
KUDLOW: You know, speaking of policies and the issues, your first TV ad, you say it’s time for tough love. You say the country is not going to fall apart without a debt ceiling increase, and you, yourself, are opposed to the debt ceiling increase. You’re very important because of your tea party roots, and a lot of people in Washington on the Republican side are taking their cues from you. Are there any conditions under which you might vote in favor of a debt ceiling? What would you propose if you had a magic wand?
BACHMANN: Well, what I would propose is dramatic cuts in government spending. We don’t see that from President Obama. Instead, today he said that small businesses need to eat their peas. In other words, he wants to have a trillion dollars in new taxes on small businesses, like the one I’m sitting in today, Larry. It’s Semtech. It’s a great company. It’s in Indianola, Iowa, but they’ve had to deal with tough love. They’ve lost half of their employees because of the very bad economy the construction industry is going through right now. It’s time for the federal government to have some tough love and tighten their belts and do some serious downsizing.
Until we see serious downsizing, until we see the repeal of Obamacare, at least the defunding of Obamacare, I don’t think we should be scared into thinking that we’ve got to continue to up the limit on the government’s credit card. Because, quite frankly, we can very easily make sure that we direct Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, to first pay off the interest on the debt, make sure our military men and women get paid for, and then deal with our priorities. Yes, we’d have very sacrificial consequences, but when are we going to get serious about deficit reduction? When are we going to get serious about not adding to the deficit? President Obama’s not there, but I am. I’m there, because it’s time that we think about the next generation and job growth in the United States.
KUDLOW: I want to get to job growth in a minute, after Friday’s dismal report. But just on the debt ceiling deal, there is talk about lowering cost of living for Medicare and Social Security, and there’s talk about a $500 billion cut in Medicare, presumably to hospitals, doctors, and other providers. Could you live with those entitlement cuts?
BACHMANN: I think President Obama was dangling those out there, and I think he has since pulled all of that off the table. I think that may have been part of a kabuki dance in Washington, DC, where it was some political maneuvering on his part. But, again, a lot of this is just more shadow boxing because with the president’s plan, he’s looking at all of these so-called cuts in years well beyond the beginning year. What he wants first of all, Larry, is to increase taxes on job providers, and then way off into the future, that’s when he’s looking at cuts. I think what the American people want to see from this president is that he recognizes, A, the failure of his own
economic policies, particularly the stimulus where his own economists say it costs us $278,000 per job that aren’t even lasting. They’re going away. It’s a complete failure, that’s why we have to change course.
KUDLOW: What’s your growth vision? Following from Friday’s terrible jobs report? And in particular, Ms. Bachmann, small businesses are not creating jobs, they’re actually losing jobs, as they’ve done for recent months, and in fact for this whole so-called recovery. What is stopping small business job creation and how would you get it into a true recovery?
BACHMANN: Well, it’s fairly simple. There’s complete uncertainty out here, and so companies like Semtech are sitting tight because they’re looking at every level. They hear the president this morning say he’s going to raise taxes, here’s a pro-growth policy. What we need to do first all is have the government announce that they’re going to dramatically scale back on spending, dramatically scale back. Number two, we need to cut the taxes on job creators. We have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. We need to take that down dramatically to being one of the lowest.
KUDLOW: How much should we cut it? How much–what kind of…
BACHMANN: Well, I would want to…
KUDLOW: What–are you a flat tax proponent or what’s your tax plan?
BACHMANN: I would love to see the corporate tax rate go from 34 percent down to 9 percent. I’d like to be the envy of the world on our corporate tax rate. I’d like to give zero out capital gains tax and zero out the dividends tax, zero out alternative minimum tax, and zero out the death tax. Because what we need to focus on is investment, productivity. And what we need to do is broaden the tax base. That’s part of the problem. Only 53 percent of Americans even pay any level of federal income taxes, 47 percent do not. We need to broaden the tax base because everyone benefits by having safety and security in our nation. And so everyone needs to pay something.
Second, we need to get rid of the overregulation. The biggest regulatory burden right now is Obamacare. I am committed to the full-scale repeal of Obamacare and to rolling back cap and trade. We need to very seriously look through the EPA and find out what works, find out what doesn’t, and get rid of what doesn’t work.
KUDLOW: All right. All right. I appreciate it very much. We’re flat out of time. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the new leader, according to a recent poll, in the Iowa Caucuses.
Congresswoman, thank you very much.
BACHMANN: Thank you, Larry. Appreciate it.