"Face the Nation" transcript: December 18, 2011
Schieffer: Did you, while all this was going on, know that there was something going on? We just had six executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who were just indicted but a civil lawsuit, fraud suit was filed against them for misinforming people about this. Did you at the time suspect that there was something wrong here?
Gingrich: I think that civil suit tells you what was going on and why it was wrong. Nobody is walking in and telling me, look, this is how dumb we're being. This is the size of the risk we're engaged in. Do I think that there's a purpose to try and help poor people get into housing? Yes. I started out I think in 1994 with Habitat for Humanity. We actually got one of the companies to help try to get every member of congress to build one Habitat house. My motto was to help the poor earn their housing, not to try to give them housing they couldn't afford. And I kept trying to find a way to use conservative principles to help poor people acquire housing which I think is still a worthy goal.
Schieffer: Let's talk about another big issue in the campaign. That is immigration. Mitt Romney has taken such a hard line, it seems to me, on immigration that some within the Republican Party are saying, he is simply running off Hispanic voters. Do you agree with that?
Gingrich: I'm not going on comment on Governor Romney. I will say that I do not believe that the American people are going to tolerate going after somebody who has been here 25 years, who has a family, has children and grandchildren, belongs to a local church. What I proposed is very standard things. Control the border by January 1, 2014. Make English the official language of government. Go to a much better visa program that's much... that makes it more desirable to visit the U.S. Legally. Go to a better deportation program to move people out who shouldn't be here. Have a guest worker program outsourced to American Express, Visa or MasterCard so that you know that fraud is very unlikely. And have much steeper penalties for employers who hire people illegally. In that context what I've said which I think most people think is common sense which is there is a group of people who have been here a long time. We've talked about creating a citizenry view board in the World War II selective service model.
Schieffer: Could you.
Gingrich: One last thing. If somebody has been here a long time and has an American family willing to sponsor them, they should be subject to review to get a residency permit not citizenship but a residency permit. I disagree with some of my friends. I do not believe the American people are going to send police out to round up folks who have been here 25 years.
Schieffer: That's the question I'm coming to. There are 11 million of these people. I mean, what are you going to do with them? You can't build that many prisons to put them in. You can't get that many buses to haul them back.
Gingrich: Seven or eight or nine million would go home and get a guest worker permit and come back under the law. The last two million are people who have been here a very long time. They are really part of the community. They're not citizens but they're part of the community. The folks, you and I may well know some of these folks. And 25 years ago, they did something wrong but they've been very good neighbors. They belong to the local church. As I said one of the requirements would be they have to have an American family sponsor them to be eligible for review by the Citizen Review Board. I think it's a responsible position that recognizes the humanity of the problem but firmly establishes the rule of law.
Schieffer: The last American troop left Iraq today. Overnight. I just wonder at the end of this long war, do you have any thoughts on that?
Gingrich: Well, I said in December of 2003 both on Meet the Press and on Newsweek that he had gone off a cliff. Ambassador Bremer had given us an assignment we couldn't do. I think we're going to find through our great sadness we've lost several thousand young Americans and had many thousands more wounded undertaking a project we couldn't do. Last week when Maliki visited the president one of the people in his entourage was a commander in the Iranian revolutionary guard. I mean people do not understand how much the Iranians have penetrated Iraq and that the vacuum we've created will lead to I think a very, very unstable and very unpleasant environment in Iraq.
Schieffer: We have just a short time left. Let me just ask you, did you think six months ago that you would be where you are today?
Gingrich: You know, when I came on the show at one point and it was, as we were sliding down, and I thought I could fight my way back up to being in the top three or four. But I think positive ideas and positive solutions, the contract we laid out at Newt.org has attracted people. I think they like the idea of somebody who is determined to be positive.
Schieffer: Mr. Speaker, thank you again for coming this morning. I'll be back with some final thoughts in just a minute.
A modest proposal: Let's have TWO Congresses
After watching Congress flounder around for an entire year and manage to accomplish nothing, I've come up with my own reform plan. Just create a second Congress.
How do you do that? Hey, it's a campaign year, you can promise anything!
Here's a broad outline about how it would work: members of this Congress would be elected for one year - and barred from ever running again.
Since no one would have to worry reelection, they could dive into all the heavy lifting - entitlement reform, deficit reduction, tax policy, and rebuilding our roads and bridges and schools.
It's not exactly a new idea - I sort of modeled on the first Congress. Getting reelected was the last thing on those guys' minds. They were worried about being HANGED if it didn't work out. So they put all their chips on the line and went for it.
With my new Congress doing the work, what would we do with the old Congress? Well, they'd still be there. We'd just strip them of all power and no longer pay them.
With nothing to do, they could devote themselves full-time to what they do best - plotting against one another, dunning people for money, cranking out press releases, issuing declarations, dreaming up excuses, threatening to shut down the government every month or so, and otherwise finding ways to avoid doing anything that actually mattered to anyone but them.
Since it would no longer cost us anything, instead of feeling disgust, we might be actually moved to look kindly on them. We might even say, "Now THAT'S entertainment!"
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