CNN's Jake Tapper hosted conservative radio show host Mark Levin for a lengthy interview on Friday's The Lead. Levin touched on President Obama's foreign policy, Obamacare, what happens in a government shutdown, and he previewed his forthcoming book "The Liberty Amendments."
Levin skewered President Obama for talking with the President of Iran but refusing to negotiate with Congress over spending. "Now, the Iranians, sure, we'll talk to them. This is a first. Boehner, no, no way I'm going to talk to them. Does he even understand how silly he looks?" Levin asked. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
"This is a regime that hangs gay people. This is a regime that kills American soldiers. This is a regime as I speak that's torturing freedom fighters in that country. Meanwhile, he talks about the Republicans as if they're holding hostages," Levin stated.
He continued sounding off about the current spending battle:
"And I just want to inform some of the folks there at CNN, the Tea Party is not like the reptile house at the zoo, this tiny group of people. It is people who are concerned about $17 trillion in debt, $90 trillion in unfunded liabilities. This president has added enormously to this. So it's kind of ironic that he's talking about paying our bills and the debt and so forth when he's accumulated so much of it."
And Levin also playfully explained what a "French Republican" is: "A French Republican is a Republican who beats up on conservatives and is constantly praising the Democrats and contributing to the massive spending in this country while they go home and pretend otherwise."
Below is a partial transcript of Levin's interview which aired on The Lead on September 27 at 4:19 p.m. EDT:
JAKE TAPPER: I'm joined now by a conservative radio host, Mark Levin, he's the author of "The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic." The author of the New York Times bestseller and host of the nationally-syndicated Mark Levin Show. Mark, thanks so much for joining us. Obviously we had this interview planned previously to talk about your book and to talk about the budget fight, but President Obama gave us some breaking news to talk about. What's your reaction to news of this phone call?
MARK LEVIN, radio show host: That's my reaction.
TAPPER: A yawn. Just for the transcript.
MARK LEVIN: Well, I'm sorry. But the dictator of North Korea going to call him next and we'll sit down with them and so forth? The fact of the matter is, did not this moderate say that they're not changing policy with respect to their production of nuclear weapons? Didn't he say that? Well, so what are they talking about on the phone? I have no idea. I don't know what progress they're talking about. It's amazing to me. The irony is unbelievable. The President gets up there, he talks in very nice prose about this is the first time we're having this discussion. This is a regime that hangs gay people. This is a regime that kills American soldiers. This is a regime as I speak that's torturing freedom fighters in that country. Meanwhile, he talks about the Republicans as if they're holding hostages. One of his flunkies was on your show yesterday talking about them having bombs attached to their chest and "I'm not going to talk to them." Now, the Iranians, sure, we'll talk to them. This is a first. Boehner, no, no way I'm going to talk to them. Does he even understand how silly he looks?
TAPPER: That was one of the things I noted is that Republicans have been very critical of the fact that President Obama putting outstretched hands to talk about – to talk with dictators, whether it's Bashar al Assad or now Rouhani, whereas there's very strong criticism he's not doing enough to negotiate with Congress. His position on the government shutdown is Congress cannot achieve unto itself, it doesn't have enough votes in the Senate, to get rid of ObamaCare, and therefore, it's not fair, nor democratic, to try to force defunding of ObamaCare through – by threatening a government shutdown or by threatening not to raise the debt ceiling. Why is he wrong?
LEVIN: Oh, I see. So the only Congress that was democratic was the one that passed ObamaCare. So we're stuck with it forever. And I understand when he was a senator and he voted against increasing the debt ceiling, that was not going to throw the economy into hell. No, no, no, no. Now as President of the United States, he's talking about a government shutdown, we have to pay our bills. Does he even understand how this works? You're paying existing interest, principal and pensions. Existing. Not prospective. We take in $200 billion a year. That covers all that and more. He doesn't want to negotiate because he doesn't want to talk about that. That's perfectly fine.
Now, we've shut down the federal government 17 times in 19 years. I've got it right here. It's NBC so it must be true. From 1976 to 1995, people got their checks, the military didn't go home, the border was as secure as it was then as it is now. So all these scare tactics mean nothing. And I just want to inform some of the folks there at CNN, the Tea Party is not like the reptile house at the zoo, this tiny group of people. It is people who are concerned about $17 trillion in debt, $90 trillion in unfunded liabilities. This president has added enormously to this. So it's kind of ironic that he's talking about paying our bills and the debt and so forth when he's accumulated so much of it.
TAPPER: Without question, there's a lot of people who are concerned about the debt and the Tea Party caucus and Tea Party patriots, the groups around the country –
LEVIN: So what's he going to do about it?
TAPPER: Here's my question. Why is President Obama the only one responsible for the deficit if Congress is not able, both the House and the Senate, to pass a budget that starts to bring the United States within its means?
LEVIN: That's an excellent point and you're exactly right, which is the reason I wrote this book. But he talked today about the budget. The person who is stopping the passage of an annual budget is Harry Reid. Harry Reid's working with the White House. The House as I understand it, keeps passing budgets, sending them to the Senate and they die. So I don't know what he's talking about. We need to have a budget every year, okay, tell your friend Harry to get a budget. You do control the Senate. You do control the White House. There are still some Democrats left in the House. And there's some French Republicans left in the House who will go along with you –
TAPPER: I wanted to ask, what exactly is a French Republican?
LEVIN: A French Republican is a Republican who beats up on conservatives and is constantly praising the Democrats and contributing to the massive spending in this country while they go home and pretend otherwise.
TAPPER: Okay. Why French? Just because of Vichy France, or is there –
LEVIN: I could have said worse. Yeah, exactly. I could have said worse, but French seemed fine to me.
TAPPER: Let me ask you a question about not so much the government shutdown which might happen come midnight Monday, as Monday becomes Tuesday, but the debt –
LEVIN: But Jake, can I ask you something?
TAPPER: Sure. Of course.
LEVIN: What happens when the government shuts down? What happens?
TAPPER: What happens when the government shuts down? Various government agencies tell non-essential personnel, it's a specific label –
LEVIN: I was in the Reagan administration when we shut down the government I think it was six times. And essential personnel make up like 40 or 50 percent of the personnel in the bureaucracy. So I just want people who watch CNN to understand it's not like Saturday and Sunday when the government really shuts down and there's nobody in the offices, or a government-paid holiday when nobody's in the offices. There is actually people in the offices, the military doesn't go home, the border patrol doesn't go home, the ships don't go into dock. I just want them to understand the Social Security checks are still cut. We're talking about the rest of the government.
TAPPER: Point taken, sir. I want to talk about the debt ceiling, though, because as you know, the debt ceiling is whether or not we pay the bills that have already been incurred. This is the spending that has already taken place that the House, the Senate, President Obama already have allowed to happen, and not raising the debt ceiling as you know can cause serious harm to the American economy for a number of reasons. Why is it fair for the Republicans, the House Republicans, to use the debt ceiling – I'm going to try to avoid using any of the metaphors that offend people, but why is it fair to use that as a bargaining chip when it's not their economy, it is all of our economy, it is the United States' economy?
LEVIN: Because we live in what's called a constitutional republic. And it's interesting under Article One, spending, taxing, borrowing has to come from the House of Representatives first. Maybe the President doesn't understand that. So if he's really concerned about a government shutdown, he's really concerned about the debt, he would have spent the last five years trying to figure out how to work with Republicans but he doesn't. And so we have, for instance, ObamaCare. And what does he do? He decides who gets waivers. He decides who benefits. He decides what he's going to extend and not extend. That's not the way our republic works. So he should pretend I guess that John Boehner's the President of iran, maybe get a phone call, maybe they could tweet each other and maybe have a discussion about the constitutional responsibilities of both, but Obama, when it comes to domestic policies, it's his way or the highway. When it comes to foreign policy, he's quite the appeaser.