Presidential hopeful Rick Perry says the deficit-reduction supercommittee failed because President Barack Obama refused to take a leadership position. The Texas governor also told Fox News’ Brett Baier Monday America should take the lead role in dealing with the civil strife in Syria, should not wait for U.N. action, and if elected he would consider not funding the international organization, in part because of how it treats Israel.
In a wide-ranging interview, Perry was asked about everything from foreign policy to his stances on Congress being exempt from insider-trading laws, which prevent most Americans from gleaning information about companies in advance that could lead to financial gains in the stock market.
Baier asked Perry his reaction to the supercommittee throwing in the towel earlier in the day, abandoning its effort to reduce the nation’s debt and cut $1.2 trillion from the nation’s deficit in the next decade.
“Obviously, this is, frankly, what a lot of us expected . . . being the president of the United States, you’ve got to lead — and this president has not led on this issue,” Perry said. “We know what the problem is: We’re spending too much money . . . and it’s one of the reasons I laid out that 20 percent flat tax to get Americans working again.
“And that’s what this was always about: How are we going to get Americans back working again? And this president, if you think about it, he was looking for someone to blame,” he said. “He didn’t want to be in a leadership position. And I think this was a contrived opportunity for him to pitch this over to Congress — now Congress has fouled up.
“Well, that is one of the reasons that I am calling for a part-time legislature, because I think Americans are fed up with Washington being so broke-down and corrosive that they can’t fix anything,” Perry continued. “And the president of the United States is playing into that. I think Americans are ready to throw it away, cut the pay in half, cut their staff in half. And if they don’t have a balanced budget on the way to me by 2020, cut the pay in half again.”
On foreign policy, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer asked the Texas governor whether as president he would support the armed resistance in Syria, seeking to topple President Bashar Assad.
“Let me back up and say we missed great opportunities — Iran is the real issue in the Middle East from my perspective — and we had the opportunity in 2009 with the Green Revolution to use the economic sanctions, to use diplomatic sanctions over covert,” Perry said. “We had an opportunity to help the citizens overthrow the repressive regime and to stop them in their quest to get nuclear weapons in 2009 . . . this president and this administration was talking to Syria and the Iranians and we wasted a great opportunity.
“The point should always be when there is this type of oppressive regime obviously working with Iran in that area to be very hostile to our oldest friend and longest serving democracy, Israel, we need to put everything on the table there,” he said. “There should not be anything set aside that keeps the pressure off the individuals.”
Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol then asked Perry whether he would wait for U.N. imprimatur before committing America to take action against Syria, including a no-fly zone above the Middle East nation’s skies, as was done in Libya
“I would not spend a lot of time waiting for the U.N. — I will tell you that my position on the U.N. is if they continue to go around as they, the Palestinians state tried to do, that we need to sit down as a country and have a conversation about the continued funding of the United Nations in the best interest of America. I have some real questions about whether or not,” Perry said. “We can get in to the whole foreign aid: I’d start at zero on every country and let them prove up why we’re sending that money.
“But the U.N. in particular, also, all too often is not acting in America's best interest — and that has to be the first question anytime,” he said. “The idea that somehow or another we just need to write a blank check and say here because we’ve always done that. is not acceptable. We have a country with an economic crisis on its hands — there’s Americans out there without a job.”
On other issues, Perry said:
• On Congress being exempt from insider-trading laws: “Well, I think the first thing you do is pass a piece of legislation to say it's illegal. Any congressman or senator who used the insider information — if you did it, you would go to prison. If a member of Congress or senator used their position to profit, they need to go.
• On his tax plan, which offers a choice between a 20 percent flat tax or staying with the old system: “The reason we leave the old system in place is there are a few folks [who] set their business model up to use the old system. But the vast majority of people . . . you fill that out 20 percent. You take the deductions for the charitables, you take deductions for your local taxes, you take the deductions for your mortgage, get rid of the cap gains, get rid of the dividends tax, take 20 percent.
• On the criticism he took for Texas offering in-state tuition to children of illegals and whether the GOP is hostile to immigrants: “Not at all — as a matter of fact when you think about the state I represent and our population as approaching 37-38 percent Hispanic — my brother-in-law in Hispanic. Mexico is our number one trading partner. But we understand the important issue is securing the border. We know that the border is being used for a host of illegal activities up to and including Iran working with the Zeta cartels to come in the country and commit an act, to murder a Saudi diplomat. We know Hamas and Hezbollah— that border has to be secure.”
• On which countries should receive U.S foreign aid: “Obviously, I would cut out foreign aid to China . . . and I understand humanitarian, but when you have got a country that is engaged in the type of moral dilemma that — the government is forcing people to abort the children.
“ I don't know whether Venezuela is getting any money or not, but we sure shouldn’t send them anything in foreign aid. We're sending them plenty in foreign aid because of our petro dollars going down there. That is one of the reasons we need to be independent in this country so that no more dollars go to the countries that are not working for America's best interest.”
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