by David Walker
GLENN: David Walker, he was the comptroller general of the United States. He was the CEO of the U.S. Government Accountability Office. I love that, accountability. He is a nonpartisan, he's worked under Republicans, Democrats. He is the guy who really understands how the books are kept in Washington. We had a conversation on TV last night and we've got about, we've got under five years to convince the world that we're not insane. We have about five years to reverse the spending and get ourselves under control, less than five years. It's up to the Chinese. Anytime they say, nah, we're done, we're done. Less than five years. That's what we're facing.
How bad is it? Really bad. Can it be solved? Yes. And as I'm talking to David Walker last night, he's got a book called Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility, he brought to my attention the same exact thing that I think most Americans understand and we talked about yesterday. One of the things that we must do. David walker is with me now. Hi, David.
WALKER: Glenn, great to be back with you.
GLENN: The thing that we were talking about last night was the gerrymandering.
WALKER: That's correct. I mean, basically in all but two states in the United States, the state legislatures basically draw districts to protect their party, to protect incumbents. That results in a polarized House of Representatives which
GLENN: Explain wait, wait. Explain, because I don't know if people you know, people hear gerrymandering and I wrote about it in the book Common Sense. And I showed the pictures.
GLENN: I don't think people really understand the average person, what that means and how that affects things.
WALKER: Well, what it means is that now with sophisticated computer modeling and with all kinds of data, state legislatures can end up drawing really weird looking congressional districts that can span hundreds of miles which you've shown in your book Common Sense in order to make sure that their party will win the seat in order to protect incumbents. And of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, all but about 60, you know if a Democrat or Republican's going to win before the race is even won.
WALKER: Absent some major national event. By the way, we may have seen one last night.
GLENN: Oh, I think we did.
WALKER: All right.
GLENN: This is what keeps people like Barney Frank in office.
WALKER: It's what keeps people that are far to the left of center.
WALKER: And far to the right of center in office, right?
WALKER: And this country is in the sensible center. It's center right. That's where it is. That's where deals are done. The problem is that who represents us, that's not where they are. They are disproportionately on the polls and that's why we don't get anything done. By the way, last night, Glenn, was not about a Republican victory. It was a victory for independents and a victory for we the people.
GLENN: David, let me ask you this. I said last night on the show this is we the people, us against the machine. This is a machine that has been created under the guise of our Constitution. They have just created this machine that keeps incumbents in, keeps corruption going, keeps the spending going. It has nothing to do with Republicans and Democrats. It has everything to do with just power.
WALKER: It does. And it has to do with what do we need to do to save the republic and to try to make sure that our future will be better than our past. I mean, we need dramatic policy operational and political reforms, and all those are laid out in the back Come Back America.
GLENN: Just give me a couple of them. One of them is redistricting. Can that even be done?
WALKER: It can be done without a constitutional amendment. States can do it themselves. And some have already done it. California, by the way, has just decided to do redistricting. If you want to accelerate it, you could try to do it through a constitutional process. So it has been done, it can be done, but we need to accelerate it.
GLENN: Okay. What are some of the other things that you think, if you had three things Americans should demand right now.
WALKER: On the political side or overall?
WALKER: Oh, overall. First we have to reimpose tough statutory budget controls. We had them in place from 1990 to 2002. When they expired in 2002, things have been out of control. We've got to reimpose them. Once we turn the corner on the economy and start getting unemployment down. We've got to do that. By the way, last night, which hasn't been widely reported, the White House and the Democratic leadership agreed to form a fiscal future commission that will report back at the end of 2010 and will be guaranteed a vote in congress. That's in the book. It's something I've been arguing for for a while.
GLENN: I don't believe it.
WALKER: They did.
GLENN: No, I know. I know they did. I don't believe their intent is pure. David, you and I disagree on one thing.
WALKER: Yes, sir.
GLENN: You think that this is just incompetence and greed, et cetera, et cetera. I contend that no one can be this irresponsible, this greedy, this incompetent. This is gross negligence that is criminal. And if and I don't think that it's all just gross negligence. I think this is, part of it is intentional on those on the uber, uber left.
WALKER: Well, my view is it's not criminal, but it is gross negligence. And what we have are fiduciary breaches. You know, our elected representatives have a fiduciary responsibility to the people to do what's right for today and tomorrow. They are breaching their responsibility.
GLENN: If this exact stuff that you warned against when you were in the system and you're saying stop it, stop it, stop it from both the Republicans and the Democrats, if this stuff were happening in the private sector, would those people go to jail?
WALKER: They would be wiring wide stripe suits with numbers on them.
GLENN: Then why is it not criminal because the laws are
WALKER: Because there's not a law that says they can't do it. You know some of the other things that we need, you know, Glenn, is that we need some constitutional amendments. How about a limit as to how much debt as a percentage the economy we can take on? There's absolutely no limit to the nation's credit card that we have right now. We need that, too.
GLENN: This is the kind of thing, though, David, that was the '94 Republican revolution which is the laws that apply to the citizens need to apply to those in Washington. Why do we not have financial laws that apply? The same things that we have to abide by, they have to.
WALKER: Well, there's a lot of double standards and it's wrong and it needs to change. But again the key is what do we need to do to get back to the basic principles and values under which this country was founded? What do we need to do to be able to have a more representative democracy? How can we end up starting to make tough choices with regard to spending, with regard to our budget practices and tax policies so that our future will be better than our past? It's tough work but we need to get started now before the Chinese lose patience with us.
GLENN: All right. So David Walker was the chief bean counter, if you will, for the United States government. For how many years, David?
WALKER: About ten years I was the chief auditor.
GLENN: And so you know where all the bodies are buried, all the things that are there. How long before I mean, because the Chinese aren't stupid. They are our bank. Just like anybody else. You have a revolving loan. You go to your bank and you say, hey, I've got to refinance this. If you're a company that is out of control, eventually your bank says, I just can't keep doing this; you're out of control." How long do you think the bank, China, has left in them before they say, you know, guys, you can't do this.
WALKER: Less than five years. Less than five years. I think that we must demonstrate within the next couple of years that we are going to take steps to start putting our financial house in order. And we need to make progress towards doing that. Not just words. Actions. There's a chance that this fiscal future commission can get that done. I hope they put the right type of people on it. I hope they engage representative groups of the American people around the country with the facts, the truth, and the tough choices. People need to be held accountable for what not only they do but what they fail to do and hopefully this will help assure that that happens.
GLENN: If they asked you, would you go on it?
WALKER: If I was asked, I would serve because I think I've got a background that's well qualified for it, plus I've been in 46 states talking to the people in the last four years. I think I've got pretty good sense about where they are.
GLENN: The death, possible death of healthcare where they were saying, you know, we're going to save Medicare and Medicaid and by expanding it, et cetera, et cetera, this is a very hopeful sign, don't you think?
WALKER: Well, there's only several there's only a couple of ways that healthcare reform's going to happen. One, is the house was to pass the exact same that the Senate passed, it wouldn't then they could send it to the president. Or if they could end up getting, you know, a Republican to switch, then they could end up getting the 60 votes that they need. That's an if. My view is we need healthcare reform but we need to control costs first. You can't add on a wing to a house that's structurally unsound and headed for foreclosure. That's what people are talking about doing now.
GLENN: You just said you've been in 40 plus states in the last couple of years. If they just jam this healthcare bill through by either, you know, bribing another politician or by just jamming it through by voting for the, voting for the Senate bill, would do you think the response of the American people would be?
WALKER: Outrage. Look, I think if they tried to push this through on a straight party line vote, what you would see is that you would see outrage among the public and you would also see large portions of the bill repealed in the future. There are things in here that you could get bipartisan support for. Insurance reforms, modest expansions of Medicaid. Those kinds of things you could get bipartisan support. But building a wing onto a house that's structurally unsound and headed for foreclosure, making more promises when we have $38 trillion of unfunded promises is not something that will last.
GLENN: David Walker, the author of the book Come Back America, we'll talk to you again, David.
WALKER: Great to talk to you.
GLENN: You bet, bye bye.