RUSH: But it’s still growing after all of these years. It’s still growing.
GILLESPIE: It’s not growing everywhere though, Rush, and, look, I understand the point, but it was still growing when we had the government shutdown in 1995, and I was right there with Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey and Tom DeLay. The fact is that fight was over the size of the increase. We haven’t had a negative rate of growth in government spending, I don’t know when the last time would have been. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. I’m just saying let’s not kid ourselves. A 2% increase in growth reflects the fact that you cannot have a 2% increase in non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending without cutting some things. We have cut programs and eliminated programs, too, by the way. Look, I’d like to do more, but we don’t have a big majority in the Senate and there have to be compromises made along the way, but that is not abandoning the Reagan principles. I can’t remember. I worked on the Hill in the second Reagan term. I don’t know that President Reagan ever proposed a budget that actually had a reduction in the absolute level of federal government. We have a growing population. The size of the populace grows every year, and demographics and things affect some of these mandatory spending programs, and Social Security and Medicare, and I am all for increasing our spending in homeland security and defense right now in a way that wins the war against terror and makes us secure from the threat of potential terrorist attacks.
RUSH: Nobody has any quarrel with that, and certainly not me, but here’s what limited government’s always meant to me. It really has not even added up to or equals money. The problem that I have with the expanding government is that it takes over more and more of the individual person’s responsibilities in life.
GILLESPIE: That’s right. That’s right.
RUSH: We already have a party, the Democratic Party, who is willing to rob people of their ambition, of their desire, and of their potential by providing virtually as much of their daily needs and wants as possible, and, you know, when we expand the domestic agenda and spend so much on education and do all of these things that are designed to get votes from those people, some of us get concerned here that what we’re going to actually end up doing is destroying the strength of the country by reducing the number of people who actually can provide for and take care of themselves and reach new heights of potential. That’s the big concern with it.
GILLESPIE: No, look, and I agree with that, the money is a barometer, I think, and it’s an indicator, but it’s the principle and the philosophy that’s important. Look, Democratic capitalism is the most effective system ever devised by the mind of man to meet the needs of the people. And it is the most humanitarian system ever established. Michael Novak got it right when he wrote the spirit of Democratic capitalism, that is the model to pursue. The rest of the world has understood that and is following our model, and we need to be true to our own principles. We do have to fight with the other party. They are constantly on the attack, constantly pushing for new federal programs, constantly pushing for higher federal spending.
RUSH: Why are we going along with them?
GILLESPIE: We’re not going along with them, Rush.
RUSH: Wait a minute, $400 billion in a new entitlement, a Republican doing this? We let Ted Kennedy write the education bill – farm bill, $80 billion, Daschle got disaster payments twice in this bill. There’s redundancy in there. There’s a lot of things, you mentioned Reagan, and I may be wrong, but I just don’t see Reagan as having done these things.
GILLESPIE: Well, again I am certain that we are the party of lower government, and I understand your point about the prescription drug benefit. This is one of the conversations I had with Joe and others at the Union Leader, and one of the things that they’re upset about, but the fact is, Rush, if you were going to have a Medicare system, and create it today, you would not create it without a prescription drug benefit. I understand the concern about the entitlement, but the fact is we are providing this benefit in a way that allows for patients to make their own decisions, that allows for private providers to provide the good and the service, and that injects market principles into the Medicare system. The Republicans in the House, and as far back as Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey when I was working there were promising a prescription drug benefit to the American people. The Republicans in the Senate campaigned on a prescription drug benefit, and the president campaigned on one. We have to be as a party good to our word to the voters.
RUSH: Well, I understand.
GILLESPIE: And I was criticized for saying that, but that is a fact. When we say something, we have to mean it at the polls, and we did tell American seniors that we would provide this benefit in a cost-effective manner, unlike the way the Democrats do it.
RUSH: Well, I understand but this prescription drug is going to pay for people’s drugs, they could pay for themselves. Like Bill Gates.
GILLESPIE: We don’t know that yet, Rush, the House bill is much more targeted, the senate bill has positive aspects.
RUSH: But forgive me, isn’t the president supporting the Senate version of this?
GILLESPIE: No, the president’s urging the conferees to work out and take the best from both sides and get a strong bill. I was asked, this was not reported by the Union Leader but they said, well, don’t you have to do Ted Kennedy’s support to pass a prescription drug benefit and I said I don’t believe you do. I believe you could pass a prescription drug bill in the Senate over the objections of Ted Kennedy and if Ted Kennedy wants to filibuster that and obstruct that, as party chairman, I’m happy to have that debate, and that’s what I said. That was not reported in the Union Leader. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you today to characterize my own views on these issues as opposed to having them characterized for me.
RUSH: Let me run one more thing by you, and I think this is a transcript of your appearance yesterday with Neil Cavuto on Fox.
RUSH: And he asked you about the old-time effort of the Newt-era congress to eliminate the Department of Education. You said that efforts to eliminate the Department of Education were defeated and this is you speaking; tell me if this is right: “So I noted that that issue,” the Department of Education being eliminated “is settled, but I also noted that this administration has applied conservative principles to the now settled federal role in education.”
GILLESPIE: That’s correct. That is what I said at the Union Leader.
RUSH: What is the settled federal role in education? That there is going to be a massive federal role in education, are we now concluding?
GILLESPIE: I did not say a massive federal role. I would not like to see a massive federal role in education. The federal role in education right now is below 10% of what’s being spent on education in this country, but what I said was, if we’re going to have this federal role, and we made the effort, we charged the Hill, we were defeated, and I don’t believe that as a political party you can constantly go back and re-fight old battles. I think that’s one of the problems with the Democrats today; they continue to fight the battles of the nineties and the eighties and even the seventies. When I’ve watched their debates I feel like I’ve tuned into that Fox sitcom, That 70’s Show, sometimes. But the fact is if we’re going to have a federal role in education, we should apply our conservative principles and I believe the president’s program does. He has put the emphasis on parents and on students, he is empowering parents, he is making the system accountable as opposed to making it a bow to the entrenched labor unions and the education establishment. And I think that is an improvement on federal education policy. The federal education policy that we now have.
RUSH: Okay. Well, this is, I guess, this would sum it up for me, that you all have concluded that there is, because of the failed effort to eliminate the Department of Education, that it’s decided, it’s done for, there is going to be a federal role in education. And see, some of us think that that’s not good, and it’s worth to continue to fight for, because the teachers unions run education and the focus is not education, but we’ve got stories from around this country about how kids aren’t be educated properly, they can’t read their diplomas when they graduate and all this sort of thing, and we’re throwing more and more money at it, test scores are not improving, home schooling is on the rise. It seems like there are other opportunities rather than just to settle for a Democrat-lite version of being involved in education.
GILLESPIE: I am not in favor of a Democrat-lite version, and, again, I understand the conservative concern over the federal role in education. What I stated is a reality, which is that we waged this fight. No one waged it more vigorously than I did. You can look at the quotes in the paper when I was the spokesman for the House Republican conference, but we lost. And now we have to try to make it a conservative approach in a way that I think the president has done, in the way that others are doing in local communities across the country with things like vouchers, with things like educational choice, which empower parents and empower students. We do have to wrest control of our education system in our schools from the powerful teachers unions and make sure that they are serving the needs of the students and improve them. I think that’s why the president’s accountability standards are starting to see some positive effects of that. But this is my view, and now I’ve said it for myself, and I’m comfortable with my view on this.
RUSH: All right. Well, there’s some people who think that the voucher program is a great one that we’ve sort of caved on it because there’s too much opposition to it but that it is worth fighting for particularly when you look at the primary support from it comes from the minority committee which knows that their kids are in the worst schools in the country and they’d love the opportunity to be able to send their kids to the same schools that Democrats send their kids to with, you know, the private schools with their own money, and it’s Democrats standing in the way of that opportunity, and if we’re trying to get more of the black vote to turn out for Republicans, vouchers is a good starting point to do it.
GILLESPIE: Rush, I agree with you, and I have made the case, I’ve worked on a number of political campaigns and have made the case and you’re exactly right.
It is a great issue and I do think we have a chance to increase our share of the African-American vote on a conservative principle with vouchers and it works, and I’m all for it. I’m saying that that is part of our policy options when it comes to education.
RUSH: Well, Ed, look, I’ve got to run here because of my commercial break commitments, but I really appreciate your time. I’m glad that you participated in this, and I’m sure people enjoyed hearing from you. I really do appreciate your time, and we’ll do it again sometime.
GILLESPIE: I appreciate your time, Rush, thanks for having me on your program.
RUSH: Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee on the Republican Party’s role and view on the concept of limited government.