Congressman Jason Chaffetz
GLENN: Last week somebody called up and said that they had seen a new congressman that had gone and bought a cot and he was going to sleep in his office on his cot because he, you know, felt that maybe he should be a little fiscally responsible. His name is Jason Chaffetz. He’s from the great state of Utah. I just found out, Stu said we might be surprised to find out that he’s Mormon. From Utah, really, Jason?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Yeah, it’s a shocker, isn’t it?
GLENN: It is a shocker. Congressman — well, first of all, congratulations on — or my condolences on winning and going to Washington.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Well, thanks. No, I’m fired up. I’m ready to get after it.
GLENN: Really? So I understand that you went and you bought a cot and you bought it at a store and I actually opened it up and tried it out in the store and your daughter was a little upset.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Yeah, I didn’t go into the store thinking I was going to buy that cot but it was only 44 bucks and the good folks at Coleman make a pretty good cot and I laid it out and said, yeah, you are going to love this one.
GLENN: This is like a grocery store?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Yeah.
GLENN: And so what did your daughter say?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: She was a little bit mortified. She was trying to pretend that she really wasn’t with that guy that was laying that cot out there.
GLENN: Listen. Congressman, if you are smart, what you are going to do is you are going to remind her of that all the time. So whenever she misbehaves, you say, you know what? You and I should go cot shopping.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: That’s right.
GLENN: Yeah, yeah. I do that all the time. I do this really uncomfortable white man dance with my kids and I’m like, hey, guess who’s going to go to the mall with me and guess what I’m going to do right when we go to the really cool stores? Yeah.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: I hope I never see it.
GLENN: That’s what they say. It’s amazing how well they behave after that. So congressman, you bought the cot because why?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Well, hey, look. I’ve got a young family, three kids. My son is 15, soon to be 16. I’d love to buy him a car and I just have this aversion to debt. I ran my campaign debt-free, I don’t have any personal consumer debt in my life and you get paid a lot of money to be a congressman but, you know, why would I spend $1500, $2,000 a month on something that I — a place I don’t plan to be. So 44 bucks and using the shower downstairs sounds good enough to me.
GLENN: Are you a clean person?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: My wife is concerned about the odor in that place but, yes, I’m a very clean person.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: I’ll be showering regularly.
GLENN: Okay, good. Hey, to each his own, you don’t have to. I prefer it myself, it’s a little tradition I do usually once a day. Now, you’re going into just a nest of vipers. You know that, right?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Oh, I know. It’s a place where a billion dollars is a rounding error and out-of-control interests and, yes, I understand it. I’m going in eyes wide open but I’m there to help make some changes.
GLENN: Why do you think — what did you do before this?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: I’ve been in the local business community for 16 years. I was the chief of staff to Governor Jon Huntsman and that’s kind of where I got to see up close and personal who was doing what and how and why I decided to run because I just was so fed up with what was happening and not happening in Washington, D.C.
GLENN: You know, I don’t know the governor but I know his father quite well. Is the governor as amazing as his dad is?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Yeah, they are amazing family. My mother had passed away from cancer in 1995. That’s the same year the Huntsmans started the Huntsman Cancer Institute and that’s really why I said, hey, I want to get in and help. I can knock some yard signs for the family who will pour hundreds of millions of dollars in to fight cancer and that started off a relationship where I ended up being with him for two years. A great family.
GLENN: All right. So what is it that you think? Because a lot of people say now nobody can make a difference. What is it you think you can do to affect change there?
CALLER: Well, I think the Republicans blew it. They had the House, the Senate and the presidency and I argued that, hey, if we want different results, we’re going to have to elect different people. And until the Republican party returns to those core conservative principles of fiscal discipline, limited government, accountability and a strong national defense, we will continue to suffer as a party and as a country.
GLENN: But they are not even going that way. Even — you know, the party elites now are saying that it is the problem with the party is — and I don’t know how this is even possibly said with a straight face — is that there are too many extremists, there’s too many people that are too far on the right in the party.
CALLER: No, the party became the party of appeasement and as they got closer to the center, they suffered more and more losses. It wasn’t a rejection of conservative principles that lost us, his many deeds in congress and the presidency and what not. It’s because we abandoned those core principles and until we get back to those core conservative principles, we will continue to suffer. And, you know, big spending and all of those things are killing our party. And we’re tens of trillions of dollars in debt.
GLENN: Tell me — we’re more than that. Now we’re — we’ve just signed on for another $7. — what is it? $7.5 trillion on the hook. They just appointed king with the treasury secretary. He no longer has to go ask anybody for permission. What are your thoughts on the bailouts? Today another $800 billion pledged this morning, this time part of that is going to go for credit card debt.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: I just absolutely and totally reject it. We cannot be running this government on a credit card. I do not believe that more government spending, more socialism are the answers to the challenges that face this country. If big government spending was the answer, as Senator DeMint said the other day, if government spending was the way to past prosperity, then our economy should be thriving because government is growing by leaps and bounds, spending literally trillions and trillions of dollars. I just absolutely reject that. We have a $3.1 trillion budget and why we can’t live within that is just beyond me. We spent last year $429 billion just in interest on our debt. It could have been used a lot better in other places.
GLENN: Could you give me an idea of where you think the country is as far as disenfranchisement? How destabilized is this country or what are we headed for if things don’t — if people don’t start pulling together?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Well, I think looking at our microcosm in Utah, people are absolutely fed up across both sides of the aisle. They clearly wanted change but, look, they want somebody who’s going to stand up and tell it to them like it is, and I think that’s the success of our story. Look, Chaffetz is a name you can barely pronounce, let alone spell. I was outspent by a 12-year incumbent Republican. I beat a Republican, beat one of our own. I was outspent by $600,000, but I had no paid staff, I did no polling, I gave out — I said no free meals. You come to a Jason Chaffetz meeting, I’m not going to buy you a free meal. We had no campaign office and we said I’m going to be debt-free, there’s no — if I don’t raise the money, I’m not going to spend it. And I won by huge numbers. I won by 20 points and I was outspent by $600,000. And I think that’s going to happen more and more across the country as people just get absolutely fed up and disturbed by what their government is doing and not doing.
GLENN: So congressman, what can people do? Probably the most asked question is, okay, I get the problem. I mean, we are in deep, deep trouble. Do you believe this, these are the days when the Constitution will hang by a thread?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Yeah, I do. You know, when I read a quote from Barack Obama who just said, quote, we’ve got to focus on making sure that we’re creating those 2.5 million jobs. It’s not the proper role of government to create the jobs. It’s the business community. It’s the local business community that creates the jobs. It’s the proper role of government to get out of the way. And somehow we think that government’s going to come in and solve everything and be this nanny state, and I absolutely reject that. Absolutely reject it. They have promised to put root beer in every drinking fountain and it ain’t gonna happen.
GLENN: What is it that the average person can do?
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: They have got to look at who is representing them in Washington D.C. and come to the realization that it’s not everybody else’s congressman but theirs, and they’ve got to dive deep into these issues and stand up. Remember the immigration debate when everybody got up in arms a year or so ago and said, no, absolutely not, we’re going to reject that. We need that kind of activism throughout the American public on this issue.
GLENN: That’s exactly what the American people did. The American people rejected the $700 billion bailout. They were pissed about it. They are still pissed about it. And it wasn’t even about that $700 billion. We found out that they didn’t use that money the way they told us they were. They used the loophole in the law that they passed to be able to now bypass congress and spend us into oblivion anyway.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Yeah, the numbers are so absolutely scary. I will be loud and I hope he’s on that lectern and I get the same vote as any other congressman there and I am going to do absolutely everything we can to remind people that we have to cut the size and scope of government. I haven’t heard throughout the presidential campaign where anybody thinks they are going to cut anything.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: We cannot be all things to all people.
GLENN: They are saying now again that they don’t have to worry about spending, a deficit doesn’t matter and that’s insanity. Congressman Jason Chaffetz, we’ll be watching you, sir. Thank you very much.
CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Glenn.