Glenn interviewed Senator Mike Lee of Utah on radio this morning. Senator Lee is the author of the new book The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government.
Read the FULL transcript below:
Senator Mike Lee is on with us. He is the author of the book The Freedom Agenda: Why A Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government. A great, great book. This guy is a, not only a deep thinker, constitutional scholar, but an honest, honest man. He is one of the very few in Washington that I could look anybody straight in the eye and say, I trust Mike Lee. Mike, welcome to the program.
LEE: Thank you very much, Glenn.
GLENN: First time, first time we ever spoke, you were running and you were on ‑‑ weren't you on the ‑‑ you were on the road some place when I called, right?
LEE: Yeah, I was driving to an event, just going through Provo Canyon in Utah.
GLENN: And I called Mike up because somebody had told me, you should talk to him; I think you'd really like him. And I was ‑‑ I'm very skeptical on every politician. You remember the first question I asked you?
LEE: You asked whether I'm concerned about the welfare of my soul. Fantastic question, by the way.
GLENN: What did you ‑‑ what did you think when you first ‑‑ because you knew who I was, right?
LEE: Of course. Everybody knows who you are.
GLENN: And when you ‑‑ when I asked you that question, what went through your head?
LEE: Well, immediately I thought that was not the question I expected to get from a radio and television news personality.
LEE: But I nevertheless understood why it was important to you to ask the question because so many politicians lose their souls. They lose their souls because they are not concerned about the welfare of their soul on an eternal basis. They don't think that through. It made sense to me that you'd ask it.
GLENN: Yeah, you're going into the den of iniquity. Mike, we are ‑‑ is this true: A week from Friday we ‑‑ the United States government is out of money again?
LEE: That's correct. Instead of passing budgets as we're required to do, the Budget Control Act of 1973, we've been acting under a series of short‑term continuing resolutions and we're running up against the deadline of our current continuing resolution.
GLENN: Okay. So wait a minute. This is not ‑‑ this is not the debt ceiling? This is just, we don't have a budget?
LEE: Correct. We don't have a budget.
GLENN: How do you run a business, a government, anything without a budget? How does that ‑‑
LEE: Well, you shouldn't. You shouldn't. And that's why congress has required itself by statute to pass a budget each year. But it doesn't do it. And when it doesn't do it, the procedure is to adopt what's called a continuing resolution which says we will just extend what we spent last year, at least year's levels with the following minor adjustments. And so it's a way of punting. But we've been punting now for several years, and it's created a problem. This is part of why we're $15 trillion in debt.
PAT: And I'm sure, Mike, this is one of the reasons you wrote your book, which is terrific. The Freedom Agenda which talks about the necessity for a balanced budget amendment. Is that even possible? Is it ‑‑ you know, you talk about it in the book, but can it happen in reality?
LEE: It's absolutely possible because the American people are demanding it. You know, according to a source no more conservative than CNN, 75% of the American people want a balanced budget amendment and this is why I wrote my book. I wanted to explain to the American people and give them the tools that they'll need to explain to their friends, their family members, their neighbors why it is that we need this and why it is that congress ‑‑
GLENN: So give me the thumbnail. I'm sitting ‑‑ I'm going to ‑‑ I'll play the ‑‑ I'll play the typical neighbor who's not really, you know, paying all that attention and has kind of been ‑‑ you know, went through the public school system where I'm indoctrinated and I'm damn near a Marxist now.
LEE: Great, great. Well, we would start then with the principle that whenever government acts, it interferes with our own individual freedom.
GLENN: It protects. Look, you know, you guys are ‑‑ you just want to shut down the government, you want to go back to, you know, the Founding Fathers. They didn't see all these things coming. They didn't understand terrorism. There are people that are hungry. There are people that are ‑‑ no jobs that are out there. How can you possibly even think that you can cut the budget?
LEE: Well, actually the Founding Fathers did understand this and this is the whole reason why I wrote the Freedom Agenda. They understood this very thing. They understood what enthusiasm consolidate power in a national government and you place no restrictions on that government's power, inevitably that results in a form of tyranny. Inevitably even if it's tyranny by degrees, the freedom of the people is squelched.
GLENN: So what are you going to do? You want to cut all these things and put the corporations in charge, put these private corporations that are completely out of control and corrupt?
PAT: Let children starve?
LEE: No. We put the American people back in charge, but more than anything ‑‑
GLENN: But the American people are slaves to these giant global corporations.
LEE: Well, that's not true, and it's more accurate to say that they're required to work three or four, five months out of each year just to pay their federal tax bills, just for the federal government. But what we're seeing now, Glenn, is that as I explain in my book, you've got a convergence of people, of Democrats and Republicans, coming together behind the idea of a balanced budget amendment because whether you are someone who is most concerned about preserving our ability to fund national defense, or on the other hand if you're most concerned about funding entitlement programs, all of those programs will be placed in grave jeopardy if we continue borrowing at current rates.
GLENN: Mike, help me out. Help me out on this. It makes zero sense to me that right now the IMF, Germany, everybody, everybody is lecturing Greece, Spain: You've got to cut this way in these ways, you can't have this program or this program. And the people are rising up and saying, who are you to tell us? And yet we're saying that we need to spend even more money which will put us in exactly the same position of now not being able to decide. You're not going to ‑‑ we're not going to have a conversation with the IMF or some global organization when the crap hits the fan. Nobody's going to talk to you about healthcare. Nobody's going to talk to you about Medicare. Nobody's going to talk to you about Social Security or defense. They'll say cut and you do or you're out.
LEE: Well, that's exactly right. And this refers to the limits of our natural mathematical borrowing ability, not to be confused with our statutory borrowing authority.
There will come a point within the next few years when we will no longer be able to borrow through the federal government, at least not at rates of $1.5 trillion a year or more without paying astronomically high interest rates, which will end up forcing us to make immediate painful Draconian cuts to everything, every federal program from defense to entitlements.
If we do this the methodical way, the way I advocate and outline in my book, we can make the necessary cuts but we can do them over time, we can do them gradually so that they don't have to cause unnecessary pain, unnecessary problems for everything from defense to entitlements.
GLENN: You want to get serious about the budget, you really want to understand where to go and you want to (loss) listen to something, to restore constitutional government, Senator Mike Lee, the Freedom Agenda. One quick, maybe two quick political questions. Mike, feel free not to answer this. What do you think of the current crop of GOP candidates?
LEE: You know, I haven't yet made up my mind, Glenn. I will start with the ‑‑ my reaction that any of these people would be so much better than our current president. I'd be thrilled to have any one of them in the White House instead of ‑‑
GLENN: Ron Paul? Ron Paul?
LEE: ‑‑ President Obama.
GLENN: Hang on. Ron Paul?
LEE: Including him. And ‑‑
GLENN: Okay. I think so, too.
LEE: Excuse me?
GLENN: I agree with you on that one, but ‑‑
GLENN: I'm concerned about his foreign policy.
LEE: Yes. I disagree with certain aspects of his foreign policy, particularly his recent statement expressing a lack of concern for what would happen if we had to confront a nuclear Iran.
LEE: I couldn't disagree with him more that that's none of our business. A nuclear Iran is an existential threat to America.
GLENN: You know, I just had ‑‑
LEE: We can't have that.
GLENN: I just had a guy on the TV show last night who is a spy. He's been a spy for a long time in Iran. He has been there. He's been around Ahmadinejad. He knows all the players, et cetera, et cetera. He is so concerned that an EMP is coming our way, he said there's ‑‑ without a doubt an EMP will be launched against the United States because he said it will kill so many people and it's the cheapest way to knock the United States completely out.
LEE: I hope he's wrong in that prediction.
GLENN: I hope so, too.
LEE: I fear that he could be right. Because so much of what we do, everything we do requires the use of equipment that would be severely damaged, even destroyed in most instances.
GLENN: Yeah. I mean, tractors wouldn't work. Tractors wouldn't work, refrigerators wouldn't work, cars wouldn't work. I mean, it would be devastating. And if you ‑‑
PAT: Airplanes fall out of the sky if that's true.
GLENN: Yeah. If you're living in the United States, you're not used to not having, you know, cars, elevators, refrigeration. How far do you live from a farm, for the love of Pete, where the rest of the world, you know, the third world, the people that we would be, you know, fighting against, that's not that far. They can stop doing that. You know, you couldn't knock them back out if you had an EMP dropped on us first, but I mean, they would be able to just clean our clocks if we didn't have our technology.
LEE: We are a soft target in that regard and that's a matter of great concern to me.