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HANNITY:  Welcome back to Hannity tonight reporting from Florida.  Radio legend Rush Limbaugh sat down with me earlier today for an exclusive one-on-one interview from his studio in Florida.  We started talking about the Republican Party.  Take a look.

HANNITY:  You don’t do a lot of TV interviews, right?

RUSH:  I don’t. I’m totally satisfied with radio, and I want for nothing, I love it so much.  But this is special.  ‘Cause, Sean, I’ll tell you something:  The reason America is still America is in this room.

HANNITY:  You mean the camera people and you?

RUSH:  All of us.  But you and me, it’s an honor to do this, it’s great to be back on Fox News.  And I’m actually grateful for the opportunity here to be on the week you’re going back to 9 p.m., where you should have been all along.

HANNITY:  Well, thank you.

RUSH:  Happy to be here.

HANNITY:  We appreciate it.  I want to start with tax cuts.  All the years you’ve talked about it, Kennedy, Reagan, how it works; what do you think of the tax plan?

RUSH:  Well, you know, it’s good overall.  I mean, there’s some things about it — let’s look at the elimination of the deduction state income tax.  You know who’s gonna hate that?  California, Illinois, all these blue states, that’s gonna cause a shortfall for them.  Those taxpayers are not gonna like it.  And if you look at the states with the highest state income tax rates, most of them are blue.  But here’s my basic problem with this.  I keep hearing everybody say growth, growth.  But the top rate probably isn’t gonna come down or much at all.  And that’s where the growth is.  Those are the people that hire.  Those are the people that own small businesses.  Those are the people that spend.

We still have a tax system and a way of explaining it that’s rooted in class envy.  We’re gonna give the middle class, the lower middle class, upper middle class a break; but the rich, we’re gonna soak ’em.  They don’t need a tax break.  They got enough.  And besides, they say we have to have a way to pay for it.  What do you mean, pay for it?  Why can’t Washington do with less, for once?  We got growth from Reagan.  I saw you talking about it last night.  How?  Top marginal rate over eight years went 70 to 28%.  Look what happened.

Why not do it again?  The reason is, everybody is afraid they’ll lose votes in the middle class ’cause there’s far more of them than there are people in the upper bracket.  The top 10% are paying 70% of all income taxes.  And how can you say they’re not paying their fair share, and why do we want to punish them further?  If you really want growth, lower everybody’s taxes across the board and get out of the way for all the revenue that’s gonna be coming in.

HANNITY:  He’s gonna have a corporate tax.  Trump wanted 15.  It’s gonna be 20.  Reconciliation kicks in, so they say.  But what’s interesting is, all right, the corporate taxes reduced, the repatriation is good.  You’re right.  New York, California, New Jersey, Illinois, they don’t get to deduct — I’m in New York.  It’s 10%.

RUSH:  Right.

HANNITY:  California is 13.5%.

RUSH:  Exactly —

HANNITY:  So lower rate, they might have 39 or 35, but they’ll pay more.

RUSH:  They’re gonna be paying more.  Now, I talked to some very powerful people.  You know, I’m a powerful, influential member of the media; I have access to powerful people.  And they’re laying this all off on the president, this upper bracket, no movement.  Because they know, when I talk to them, that I’m gonna be interested in across the board, everybody, ’cause they’re the ones talking growth.  They’re not saying we need to do this to generate revenue.  They’re saying we need to do this to reboost the economy.  Well, why are you gonna leave out the people that hire?  Why don’t we use those people as role models, inspirations?

It’s typical class warfare.  But, anyway, the guy that I was talking to, “Well, don’t talk to me.  The president wants this.  It’s the president’s insisting on it.  The president said that guys like him don’t need a tax break.”  So they’re laying this all off on him.  When I hear, “We have to find a way to pay for it,” that’s Washington establishment talk.  That’s Democrat talk, paying for tax cuts.  This thing, first day it’s presented is never gonna be how it ends up if they get a vote on it.  Don’t misunderstand.  There’s some great things in this.  Personal exemption doubles, repatriation is good.  But the thing that bothers me is that we still want to demonize and punish achievers.

HANNITY:  I was excoriated for saying I never got a — I never worked at a restaurant since I was 12.

RUSH:  Right.

HANNITY:  Worked in construction for years.  I was demonized for saying I never got a job from a poor person.

RUSH:  Right.

HANNITY:  Ever.

RUSH:  Well, see, you’re not supposed to say those things.  You’re not supposed to say things that contradict the narrative, and the narrative in Washington — look, it’s all about getting reelected.  It’s all about trying to claim that they have things in common with the middle class, the downtrodden and so forth.  That’s why I don’t think it’s really about growth.  It’s about politics and getting votes.

HANNITY:  Let’s talk about the Republican Party, we saw what happened with health care.  Let’s get your general impressions on health care.  And I’m convinced there’s a pretty significant percentage of Republicans in the Senate, they do not want this president to succeed.

RUSH:  Yeah, I agree with you.  I think it goes further than that.  I don’t think they expected to win.  I think they, like everybody, thought Trump was gonna lose in the biggest way.  I think they thought that at 8 o’clock on election night.  They weren’t preparing to govern. They hadn’t laid any plans for it. They have become accustomed to being, quote, loyal opposition, which means eventually caving and giving the Democrats what they want after putting up a good front. Seven years gonna repeal and replace Obamacare, but we can’t do it unless you give us the House, can’t do it ’til the Senate, can’t do it ’til the White House. Gave them all of that, and you know the drill.  You’re right, they don’t want to do it.  I think that the voters come second.

It’s kind of like this NFL thing.  The owners there have a real conundrum, a real dilemma, who do they choose?  Do they choose loyalty to their players or their customers, that’s a tough decision.  Republicans in the Senate and the House, who do they choose?  Donors or voters?  And I think they’re choosing donors.  The donors don’t want major reform.  The donors want amnesty.  The donors want comprehensive immigration reform.  When it comes to health care, you can tell, for seven years they passed bills with no problem.  You could tell they didn’t want to do it.  You could tell they didn’t want to repeal and replace it.  They were just saying the words.  And they all have their own individual reasons, but I think it’s donors influencing more than voters.  We’ll see.  But this is an embarrassment.  I mean, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity being totally squandered.  We’re never gonna have this chance.

HANNITY:  You actually said that if they were smart, and all they would do is keep their promises, they would govern for generations.

RUSH:  This is the deal.  I really believe that if for just three months, going forward, or if they had three months in the past, just three months, gut it up for three months and work with Trump on his agenda, on cutting taxes seriously, across the board, immigration reform, the wall, what have you, getting rid of Obamacare, which is just — it’s an absolute crime what has happened here and what that’s gonna mean to the country.  Just try for three months, make it look like there’s unity between the president and the people in his own party, and they would own Washington for a generation.

HANNITY:  Hmm.  I think you’re right.  I’m looking at the Republican Party.  I think Trump has a strong identity.  Ran on a platform, stick to it, every speech sounds just like his campaign speech.  Where’s the brilliant ideas?  How many years on radio have you talked about health savings accounts, health care cooperatives?  We don’t hear about that.  How many times have we heard about the wall?  I don’t see them embracing strong ideas and going and selling them, which I think they’d win on the —

RUSH:  I don’t think they’re conservative.  I don’t think they ever have been.  I think they are — look, there isn’t much conservatism in the establishment.  There are Republicans and Democrats, but it’s basically people who are pro-government, pro-Washington who think government in Washington is the center of the world.  They’ll give occasional mentions of these things that you mentioned, these policies to placate voters.  But going back to an original question you have here, they don’t want Trump to succeed with his agenda.  They can’t afford that.  I’m not exaggerating here and I’m not trying to say things that will be a sound bite that Fox replays the rest of the day.  They don’t want —

HANNITY:  Five days, Rush, they’ll play it five days. (laughing)

RUSH:  They don’t want — they can’t afford for him to succeed with his agenda.  They can’t afford it.  The lid’s blown.  The gig is over.  The joke is revealed if an outsider with no prior political experience can come in and fix messes that people have been promised would be fixed for 30 years, how does that make ’em look?  They can’t allow that to happen.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

HANNITY:  Welcome back to Hannity as we report from Florida tonight.  Rush Limbaugh has been one of the strongest voices against NFL players protesting our flag, our national anthem and he’s one of the NFL’s biggest fans.  Here’s what he had to say earlier today.

HANNITY: Let me go to the NFL.

RUSH:  All right.

HANNITY:  I want to read what you said, because I’ve listened to you all the years you’ve been on radio, and you’re probably the biggest NFL fan I’ve ever known.  You love the Pittsburgh Steelers.

RUSH:  I do.

HANNITY:  You saw what happened in the Pittsburgh game, and you actually said that — you pointed this out, it’s bigger than life to you, the NFL, and for the first time in 45 years you weren’t excited and that the myth that you’ve always had about these players in the NFL is gone.

RUSH:  Totally gone now.

HANNITY:  Totally gone.  You can’t recover it?

RUSH:  Well, maybe.  I hope — see, that’s the thing.  I woke up Sunday morning after the president made his comments in Alabama on Friday, I’m looking at the way the media’s covering it and what’s intended to happen on Sunday, and I’m saying they’ve hijacked the game.  The left has hijacked this game.  It used to be a respite.  It used to be a place you go to escape all this.  I really, you know, you think of the players, they can do things we can’t do when they’re performing at optimum level, it is just incredible to watch, the talent that’s on display.

And to watch them now get caught up into something that I don’t even think they understand.  You know their backtracking now, “Well, this is not about protesting the flag.  This is not about –” of course it is.  That’s how it all got started.  If they really wanted to make — do you think they could — if one of these players or group of them called you and said we want a half hour on your show, would you give it to them?

HANNITY:  Hundred percent.

RUSH:  Why do they do that?  Why are they messing around on the sideline disrespecting the flag, disrespecting the anthem, what’s the point?  They’re not accomplishing anything except harming the enterprise.  Whatever’s happening in the NFL right now, it’s not how you grow it.

HANNITY:  You said the owners are clueless, you said this is about race, and I think the most profound thing is you said is they’re now being used by the left in this country that wants to take away institutions and the NFL is an anathema to the left.

RUSH:  Well, you know, saying this is risky because it — I firmly believe it —

HANNITY:  Don’t get in trouble.  Don’t get in trouble.  Go ahead.

RUSH: I’m saying that people don’t look… When I say what I’m gonna say, people are gonna react, “Oh, come on. Are you serious?” I just want to tell you I am, and this is why I’m so concerned. I do believe that the left wants to cause great damage to the NFL. What does the NFL stand for? Masculinity, strength, toughness. So what are they doing to it? You go to college campuses now, and you’ll find classes on how to take masculinity out of men. It’s actually happening. There are studies and courses in college that do this.

It’s patriotic. You’ve got the flag, you’ve got the anthem, you’ve got uniformed military personnel — all the things that the left wants to erase from this country. They don’t like displays of patriotism, strength, rugged individualism. And that’s why the players are being used here. They think it’s about police brutality; they think it’s about righting social wrongs and so forth. This is an attack on the NFL as an institution, for shaking it down and lowering its profile and impact on American culture. We’re in the midst of a culture war; everybody knows it.

The left is doing everything it can to erase elements of our country’s founding, the traditions and institutions — and they don’t stop. And once they get their hooks in something… This is why I’m sad about it. They’re not gonna let go of this. So when I see the owners? They’ve gotta be scared to death. They have to be scared to death. On the one hand, do they side with their players? Linking arms? Go to sideline? Take a knee or whatever? That’s just driving the central fan base away. I almost think that it’s part of the strategy. If you did want to damage the NFL, what would you do? You would do something to cause its fan base to leave it. What’s happening?

HANNITY: This isn’t gonna end well, is it?

RUSH: No… Well, I hope it does. See, I love this so much that I live in constant optimism that this could be overcome and we can get back to it. But the problem is, Sean, everybody in management — everybody in corporate America — is under the false impression that this is a leftist, liberal country. It isn’t! It’s made to look it because the media is, and the media promotes it, and the media narrative is that America has progressed and now conservatism is a minority or that way of thinking is a minority.

And so everybody in corporate America who thinks they need to find a way to convince people to pay them to buy their product or whatever — is under a misunderstanding of who their audience is. Look who advertises in the NFL. Ford F-150! Everything that supposedly causes climate change the number one advertiser in the NFL: Guys, beer. Who’s being assaulted and attacked on all this? And the owners and the commissioner, I don’t know what their individual politics are. I don’t think they understand what’s happening to ’em.

I don’t think they understand what’s going on. They think they’re relating to the majority of their fan base? They’re not! They’re driving them away and I hate it! I don’t want the NFL to get smaller. I don’t want it to become insignificant. I don’t want it to be taken over by a bunch of wusses. I don’t want it to be taken care of by left-wing social justice causes. You know, use something besides the NFL sideline. Use something besides the flag. Use something besides something that people use to escape everything leftists are trying to force on us.

HANNITY: I’ll give them hours on my show.

RUSH: You hear that? You hear that?

HANNITY: Hours!

RUSH: Let’s see if they take you up on it.

HANNITY: Seriously. Tell me what you care about. I’ll have a big debate. I’ll bring up… I’ll do hour-long debates.

RUSH: You know what you’re gonna find?

HANNITY: What?

RUSH: This is gonna blow your mind. I think, Sean, that a lot of — I don’t know what the percentages are — a lot of these players really believe “hands up, don’t shoot.”

HANNITY: (groans)

RUSH: They really do.

HANNITY: Never happened!

RUSH: It didn’t happen, but the media says it did.

HANNITY: Yeah.

RUSH: And social justice warriors on the left, the civil rights community continue to say it did. You can’t blame ’em if that’s the only media they trust, if that’s the only media they watch. There’s that aspect of it. There is also, you know, the police brutality overall that they think occurs. More blacks are killed in Chicago by other blacks.

HANNITY: Nobody talks about it.

RUSH: Nobody talks about it.

HANNITY: I listed the names once.

RUSH: It doesn’t fit the narrative. But if they’re really concerned about all of the horrible things happening to them or African-Americans, it isn’t happening in the NFL! Seventy-five percent of the league is African-American — and wealthy and loved and adored and hero worshiped. And yet it makes no sense. And it just… It saddens me. I loved it! I didn’t watch football Sunday. I couldn’t.

HANNITY: I watched college football.

RUSH: Well, I’m not a big fan of that either ’cause of the cheap uniforms.

HANNITY: (laughing)

RUSH: I’m just kidding. I didn’t go to college; I don’t have an alma mater.

HANNITY: (laughing)

RUSH: That’s… I… They do look not as flashy. I told Lou Holtz that —

HANNITY: Yeah?

RUSH: — when he was coach in South Carolina. He understood what I meant; so we’re cool. But really, it’s… I’m gonna play golf on Sundays now. It’s just not… Sean, it’s not the same. You’re watching it, and the media can’t wait to tell us of all the discord — the sports media.

HANNITY: They never show the fans booing, though.

RUSH: No.

HANNITY: They don’t show you that.

RUSH: They’ll show you the players dissing the flag.

HANNITY: Yeah. All over.

Alright, we’re just getting started. We will have Part Two of our interview with Rush exclusive tomorrow.

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