Interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann

Interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann

By John King, USA - June 16, 2010

KING: One of President Obama's most persistent critics is Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. "The Washington Post" Dave Weagle (ph) writes that during a Heritage Foundation speech this week Congresswoman Bachmann accused the president of quote "voting present" on the Gulf Coast oil crisis.

Weagle (ph) also writes that Bachmann told him BP has to pay legitimate claims, but quote, "if I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there we're not going to be chumps and we're not going to be fleeced."

Representative Bachmann is with us to go "One-on-One". What do you mean by that? That BP should stand up and say hey Tony Hayward, the CEO, will be up before the House tomorrow. We're not chumps. We won't be fleeced.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well first of all, I'm not here to shill (ph) for BP. That's not the goal. BP clearly is at fault here. They need to pay every last dime of damage and that's what needs to be done. But at the same time, we don't want these payouts to become political. We don't think it's a good idea for the federal government to see private industry as essentially a piggy bank for the federal government. So every claim needs to be paid out. And we actually had a process set up through the court system. That's why this was kind of an unusual process. We already had a system set up to deal with claims in the case of oil spills where a court independently without any political implications would pay out legitimate claims. Now we don't have that situation. This is an appointee from the Obama administration who will be doing the payouts. And it's the pay czar dealing with the administration. So this is very different from what we've done in the past. And while it's important that all the claims get paid, let's just make sure that this isn't a permanent ATM card.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They say, the administration says this process with Ken Feinberg, who did this for 9/11 victims will be faster. They hope more efficient than any court system would be. You disagree?

BACHMANN: Well, I don't know. I hope that that's true. I will give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt that I agree with them, that I hope that's what it will be. A lot of people don't realize that BP already had, I was curious on this, they had 600 people who were already paying out claims. There were 43,000 claims filed. 20,000 claims had already been paid off. It was in BP's best interests to make sure the claimants were satisfied otherwise the claimants could go into a court system which is far more expensive. So as long as people are getting their claims paid, everyone is happy. We want that to happen, because as you showed earlier on your tape, real people with real lives and real livelihoods are at risk right now. And it's a tragedy on a number of levels, not only personally and economically, but the environmental disaster is real and it has to be accounted for.

KING: Where do you see the risk that the government is either taking money it's not entitled to or gaining control that it shouldn't have?

BACHMANN: History of the last 18 months. Because the federal government effectively took equity ownership of AIG, a private insurance company. They took ownership of Bank of America, Citibank. They took over GM and Chrysler. They took over the entire student loan industry. Today the federal government owns over 50 percent of all private home mortgages because they own and control Fannie and Freddie. This is a complete difference in the way that the United States was run 18 months ago. But today it seems like the automatic effort from the government is let's have the federal government take over private industry. We don't want that to be the automatic response of government because we're a free market economy. And unfortunately, the Obama administration hasn't been making any efforts to unwind the government out of these private industries. We're still deep into GM, deep into Chrysler, et cetera. And I just think we don't want to have the federal government take over effectively the oil industry either.

KING: Voting present for anyone who doesn't understand the language of Washington, means you show up and get to vote yes or no, yay or nay, but you get to take a pass. You dodge the tough decision. You say the president is voting present on the gulf crisis. Did he change your mind last night with his speech? Did he change your mind today by getting BP to put up this money?

BACHMANN: I think whether a person is on the conservative side of the aisle or the liberal side of the aisle, there is unanimous agreement in panning the president's speech last night. It was seen as fairly weak. The president didn't focused precious little on the whole idea of actually stopping the leak. And the plan wasn't evident. When the president made statements, there weren't specifics. So a lot of people I think were not real happy with what they saw. Today I think people are happy that BP has made their decision. Because, again, the president didn't show what his legal authority would be for him to force BP to pay the $20 billion. But BP on their own has put this money up. One thing that does that is positive is it lets people in the United States know BP is making an admission. They've made a mistake, and they're going to be true to their word. That is a positive going forward. But again, the focus needs to be -- the main thing has to be on the main thing, John, which is stopping that leak and mitigating the damage. Unfortunately, people locally in Louisiana are saying we've had to fight the government as well as BP. Let's just be about mitigating the damage so we don't get oil into the wildlife, into the marine life, into the marshland. That's what we don't want to have happen. Because you can write a check, but we're talking about environmental degradation. We don't want that to happen. KING: Let me ask you a political question before I let you go. Your governor, Tim Pawlenty established political action committees in Iowa and New Hampshire. He says it's just about supporting candidates this year. Most people reel read into it because of the other activity that he is preparing to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. If he runs does he have your support?

BACHMANN: He is making steps I think to let himself be known. But he hasn't clearly made any decision yet. And I haven't backed in candidate yet and said I'm necessarily going to be in their team. It's very early in the process.

KING: If you could pick who would it be?

BACHMANN: Well, we'll find out. After 2010 it will become much clearer. I do know as I've been speaking to people, especially in my district in Minnesota, they see President Obama as a one-term president. So thing is a very strong likelihood that we'll see a change after this election.

KING: When you make a pick, come back and share it.

BACHMANN: I will. I promise you. Thank you, John.


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