U.S. Senator John E. Sununu
GLENN: Wouldn’t that be a dream come true. There’s got to be a roadblock on these crazy, crazy policies and honestly, America, is Al Franken, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid, Barney Frank and Barack Obama, is that the face of America? Is that a representation of what you believe in? People ask me all the time, "Glenn, what can I do?" I’ll tell you what you can do. You can start concentrating on some of the races that are happening in states to be able to have somebody at least be a speed bump on the way to a socialist state and somebody who has a spine. So we thought we would start connecting out and looking for some of these senators that are in close races and get a feel tore them and see if they will actually have a spine, if it comes time to stand up against all these things, will they do it.
Senator John Sununu is with us now. Hello, Senator, how are you, sir?
SENATOR SUNUNU: Good afternoon. I’m going to be more than a speed bump, Glenn.
GLENN: I hope so.
SENATOR SUNUNU: I will stand strong, believe me.
GLENN: Okay, let me ask you a couple of questions. First of all, when it comes to guns, I know you have an excellent record on guns. I’m very concerned about the possibility of civil unrest in this country. I am very concerned about Barack Obama and Joe Biden and their record on guns. Can you see any scenario to where you would say, you know what, we need to suspend the Second Amendment, we need to reach out and take away guns?
SENATOR SUNUNU: No, no, of course not. Of course not. You know, the operative language there is it’s an amendment. This isn’t a suggestion. It’s a constitutional right. And the thing to be concerned about is really the way in which we lose a right like that. It’s not all at once.
SENATOR SUNUNU: No one will talk about suspending the Second Amendment but they will talk about a new rule on registration, a new rule on licensing, a new restriction on who can own a handgun, a new restriction on where you can. I mean, we saw the D.C. gun ban and so, you know, someone like Barack Obama in the heat of a campaign uses carefully scripted language to suggest one thing but, of course, his record isn’t just a little bit different than what he says. Go back to his record as a state senator in Chicago. I mean, it was about confiscation.
GLENN: Senator, what is the Second Amendment? If I hear one more person say it’s about hunters rights, what is the Second Amendment there for?
SENATOR SUNUNU: It’s the right of an individual to keep and bear arms.
GLENN: For what purpose? Why did they put that in there?
SENATOR SUNUNU: Well, two things. One, personal protection. Protection of your family and your property. And two is because it ultimately does provide a check, as the founders knew. We needed a lot of checks and balances on the potential, the tyranny of the states.
GLENN: Got it, okay.
SENATOR SUNUNU: You know, state power can be exercised in many, many different ways. And we give the state power. We give law enforcement power. But that always has to be checked.
SENATOR SUNUNU: By protections for personal freedom, civil liberties, right to bear arms and the like.
GLENN: Okay. I could vote for you now on the gun issue. Now talk to me about the —
SENATOR SUNUNU: You were pretty tough.
GLENN: Talk to me about the economy now.
SENATOR SUNUNU: Well, you know, this is the biggest financial crisis we’ve seen in 70 years. It’s frustrating because we’re in uncharted territory and we don’t — and we should never use a crisis like this as an excuse to take power away from individuals, power away from investors or small businesses and so I certainly won’t support any effort to do that and I think ultimately we need to recognize, you know, where we have regulation. The reason for regulation is to protect the individual, protect the consumer. You know one thing I did five years ago is I saw the taxpayers were exposed to what Fannie and Freddie were doing. So Chuck Hagel and I wrote a bill in the Senate five years ago to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These are government-sponsored companies. They shouldn’t have had trillion dollar investment portfolios. I think you did a couple of programs on this.
GLENN: Yes, I did.
SENATOR SUNUNU: Every Democrat voted against our bill in the Senate banking committee in 2005. They were protecting Fannie and Freddie. You know politicians pressured Fannie and Freddie to lend to people that weren’t creditworthy. They didn’t like our bill because it was too tough and now unfortunately taxpayers were put on the hook.
Now, moving forward we’ve got to make sure that these companies are taken off the government backstop, they should compete privately. Taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing their business.
GLENN: Why wouldn’t we — because I know that you voted for the bailout bill. Why, A, why did you do that; and B, why, if we did a bailout bill, why wouldn’t we say just like we do with the FDIC, if we have to come in and bail you out, we’re closing you down, we’re going to sell you off and close you down.
SENATOR SUNUNU: Well, sure. That’s a fair question. What we did say is if you participate in the program, you’ve got — you know, we can take a warrant for the upside, you’ve got to — it’s a temporary program, it’s available to everyone, we’ve got limits on the golden parachutes obviously, you shouldn’t be paying golden parachutes if you are receiving some government support. To be clear, you know, I said no action, I didn’t think we should have taken any action on AIG, on Bear Stearns, on Lehman, I said so at the time, because we shouldn’t be picking individual companies. The reason I think to take some steps to give Treasury an ability to step in here is the credit markets. You know, our credit markets were absolutely frozen.
SENATOR SUNUNU: And that prevents access to credit for a family, a student loan, a home loan at risk. That’s the only reason to act.
GLENN: Tell me about taxes. We have out-of-control spending, we have a debt that is about to crush us, we’ve racked up another — we’re about to approach, I bet you, the first trillion dollar deficit.
SENATOR SUNUNU: First and foremost, the way to balance a budget is by cutting spending. You don’t balance a budget by raising taxes. I don’t know anyone that’s ever balanced a budget by raising taxes. In ’97 the balanced budget agreement we put together cut taxes and controlled spending. That’s the key. I’m one of only 15 senators in the Senate that voted against the Bridge to Nowhere, I’m sorry to say, but I am pleased to say I was one of them. I voted against — I mean, the farm bill we had was a disgrace. Terrible for taxpayers in New Hampshire, terrible for taxpayers nationwide. My opponent came out and said she would have supported it. It had subsidies for farmers earning $750,000 a year. Now, I suppose a few people in the Midwest may think that’s great but it’s not a good deal for New Hampshire. Look, we need to control spending. We haven’t done it.
GLENN: Will you stand firm on cutting spending and firm on raising taxes, no matter what you would hear? Can you make a case, can you foresee a case —
SENATOR SUNUNU: Here’s what I’m pleased to say. I don’t have to convince you. I just need to get you to go and look a little bit at my background and record. Now, you know, I’m sure there are a couple of votes someone could find in six years in the Senate that they thought, well, you could have been tougher on this program, but I’ve never voted to increase taxes. I voted consistently against pork barrel spending on the Bridge to Nowhere, farm bill, I opposed the transportation bill that had thousands of earmarks in it. I even took a stand against the 2003 energy bill. It was a Republican bill. It didn’t allow drilling in ANWR, it didn’t lift the ban on offshore drilling but it spent a ton of money and had a lot of subsidies in it.
GLENN: I’m going to go — if you don’t mind holding on, Senator, I want to hold you over to the next break because I want to talk to you a little bit about energy.
SENATOR SUNUNU: You bet.
GLENN: What can you do? Get involved locally if you hear somebody that you agree with. More with John Sununu coming up.
GLENN: >From New Hampshire, an election where it is close, Senator John Sununu. He is a Republican and a guy who said he won’t be a speed bump in congress, that he will actually have a spine and stand up. Senator, the problem with Republicans right now, for people like me, I voted Republican my whole life, I have a really difficult time voting for the GOP or really supporting them because I don’t think they’ve learned their lesson since 2004 and 6. What is the lesson that you think the Republicans should have learned? What is their base telling them that they don’t get?
SENATOR SUNUNU: It’s hard. I can’t answer for every Republican activist or supporter in the country that was, you know, frustrated and angry in 2006, but I do think first and foremost, stand up for what you believe in and, you know, the core Republican values, limited government, low taxes, local control, controlling spending. And I think on some of the big spending bills that we just mentioned before the break, we had a budget-busting transportation bill that I opposed. It was pushed forward by the Republicans. In 2001 we had a budget-busting farm bill which I opposed but it was pushed forward by Republicans. You know, that’s the problem.
GLENN: You are exactly right.
SENATOR SUNUNU: We had that prescription drug benefit which I opposed because it just didn’t have enough long-term checks on the growth in the program and didn’t do enough to encourage competition and choices for seniors’ healthcare. So I think that’s first and foremost the thing that we got away from and it hurt in 2006.
GLENN: All right. Talk to me a little bit about oil. Are you a global warming guy?
SENATOR SUNUNU: Drill here, drill now.
SENATOR SUNUNU: You know, the problem with the left on energy is their energy policy for 20 years — you know, I have to give them credit for consistency. 20 years, 30 years maybe, it starts with a list of the things they won’t do. They won’t drill offshore, they won’t drill in northern Alaska, they won’t explore oil shale, they won’t encourage nuclear power, and it ends with a dream where everyone is driving an electric car driven off a grid powered with solar energy and there’s nothing in between. There’s no middle. There’s no — there’s not, "Well, how do we even get from here to there," let alone they don’t think about the cost effect. Look, in New Hampshire, I’d like to see us use more alternative energy but in New Hampshire five years from now most people will still be using oil to heat their home.
SENATOR SUNUNU: So I want to keep the price of that oil down. How do you do it? Lift the ban on offshore drilling, produce in northern Alaska, use oil shale, and we also have a great power plant, a nuclear power plant. Seabrook here in New Hampshire. It’s the last one that was commissioned in the U.S. and it’s one of the best performing and one of the ones with the best safety record. That’s what we need more of in America.
GLENN: The difference between you and your opponent in New Hampshire.
SENATOR SUNUNU: Well, she’s against lifting the ban on offshore drilling. She spent 30 years trying to destroy the nuclear power industry in America. She supports oil windfall taxes which Jimmy Carter tried in 1980 and it increased our dependence on imports. You know, she supported the farm bill that had subsidies in it for farmers making $750,000 a year. She tried to get New Hampshire a sales tax. Glenn, you might know, New Hampshire is the only state in the country with no sales tax, no income tax.
GLENN: I love you.
SENATOR SUNUNU: You put a sales tax on people in New Hampshire, you hurt them but you also destroy all of our small businesses and our border towns, the city of Nashua, town of Salem, they do well because people come to New Hampshire from Massachusetts and Maine and Vermont to shop. So it would destroy our economy. So big difference on leadership, on energy, on tax policy. She’s a creature of the far left and I obviously have a good record. Standing up for what I think is right for New Hampshire, sometimes that’s put me at odds with the party but I really believe that I do what’s in the interest of the state and the country every time.
GLENN: Senator, I can’t vote for you but I have been thinking recently about contacting somebody in ACORN to register me there in New Hampshire.
SENATOR SUNUNU: Don’t even go there. Don’t even go there.
GLENN: But I think if I’m technically dead, I could vote for you if they could get me registered. If I were dead or a cartoon character.
SENATOR SUNUNU: I can’t give you any advice there. I hope you will encourage your listeners, and I will say certainly for your listeners in the New Hampshire area, we have a debate that’s going to be played on New Hampshire public television. I’m sorry. That’s the only viewing choice. But at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, New Hampshire public television and, hey, I would love for everyone in New Hampshire just to watch that debate and make a good informed choice for themselves. They can also go on our website and we’ve got to a connect there for the downloading and live streaming for the debate on the Internet as well.
GLENN: One last question. Any way you find yourself supporting any choice that would cause you to support the Fairness Doctrine?
SENATOR SUNUNU: No.
GLENN: You stopped my heart there for a second.
SENATOR SUNUNU: No, no.
GLENN: Okay, good. Thank you, senator. I appreciate it.
SENATOR SUNUNU: Great to be with you, Glenn. All the best.