On Monday’s broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” in an appearance to promote his new book, “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) weighed in on the Republican side of the 2016 presidential contest and what he hopes those candidates aim to accomplish if they were elected president.
Transcript as follows:
DAVID WEBB, fill-in host, “Hannity”: For more 2016 reaction, a colleague to many of those presumptive Republican candidates and the author of the new book, “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document,” the senator from Utah, Mike Lee.
Red, white and blue — you’ve laid it all out here. I had a chance to go through it this weekend. So first, your take on the announcement tomorrow.
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: Well, first of all, I welcome the fact that we’ve got three of our really strong constitutional conservative Republican senators wanting to run for president. We’ve got Cruz already in the race, Rand Paul announcing tomorrow, and we expect that Marco Rubio will probably be joining the race sometime soon.
I work with all three of these gentlemen. They’re three of my closest allies in the Senate. And I have nothing but great things to say about all of them.
At this point, I think it’s a question of the more the merrier. It’s an issue of which one will represent us best in the White House and will help restore constitutionally limited government. And every one of these senators has something different to offer in that quest, and I wish them all well.
WEBB: OK. Every one of them does have something to offer. The primary’s a base play, the first debate in August. You talk about the Constitution and bringing it back. All of these candidates will say that, but there’s a point at which they have to come together. And this is the challenge. Can they get their respective parts of the base, and then as this whittles down, come together? Do you think we see some of that before August, or will this be a fight until August?
LEE: I think we will see some of that before August. And you know, my focus has been on the policies, rather than the specific personalities, and I think the policies that will emerge in this debate will help identify one of these candidates as the front-runner not based on who they are but based on what they do, based on the policies that they embrace.
And I think the one that embraces constitutionally limited government and the need to restore it most effectively and most energetically will be the one who earns our nomination.
WEBB: Senator, what do you think are some of the key points that need to come out of this? Rand Paul considered probably one of the more radical ones in a good way on tax reform. You’ve got Jeb Bush. You’ve got Senator Cruz. There are different versions of this. Tax reform, our economy — we had a bad jobs report — matter of fact, a dismal jobs report last week. Tax reform’s a part of that, regulatory reform. Do you think that this is going to be a dominant issue?
LEE: Absolutely. I think all those things will be dominant issues. And I think whoever gets the nomination is likely to be the one who can connect the dots, connect where we are now to where we want to be and help identify how it is that conservative principles, time-honored conservative principles and adhering to them, sticking to them, will help the poor get out of poverty, will help the middle class get ahead because, really, our government, our constitutionally limited government, works because it fosters an environment in which economic mobility is the norm.
That’s what helps this be the kind of place where someone can be born into poverty and reasonably expect that they can retire comfortably if they work hard and play by the rules.
WEBB: How big is foreign policy, when you look at what’s going on now, this White House’s attempt to get some form of a deal, the criticisms are flying around. But how big an issue will foreign policy be, in your estimation?
LEE: Well, I think it’ll be a big deal. We face a lot of threats all over the world. And right now, we have a government led by an administration that projects weakness abroad and overbearance at home. I think we need to flip that around. I think we need to be stronger abroad. We need to make sure that our enemies fear us.
And at home, we need to make sure that our citizens don’t fear us. We want the government fearing the people, not the other way around. That’s really why I wrote this book, is to help restore that concept to the American people.
WEBB: The Senate is typically called the president’s body. Whatever president is in the White House, you sit there in the Senate, and there’s a lot of — just call it a lot of things on our plate. What about the Constitution and the responsibilities — the constitutional responsibilities of the Senate? Will we see more of this now that Harry Reid’s out, or at least out of the majority leader’s position?
LEE: Absolutely. And you know, one of the points that I make in this book, in “Our Lost Constitution,” is that these days, most of our laws are actually made by executive branch bureaucrats. You know, I’ve got this visual aid in my office that I reference in the book. It shows that there are 80,000 pages added each year to our federal law by executive branch bureaucrats, and only a few hundred added each year by Congress.
That means measured by volume and measured by economic impact, most of our laws are being made by people not of our own choosing. As well- intentioned, well — educated, hard-working and specialized as those people in the executive branch bureaucracies may be, they don’t work for you. They don’t work for me. We don’t have the opportunity to fire them. It’s one of the reasons I wrote this book.
WEBB: Well, let’s (INAUDIBLE) put in a plug for that again, “Our Lost Constitution: Willful Subversion” of what I call our legal DNA, “America’s Founding Document.”
Quick question to wrap this up. Your goal, some of your key goals in the Senate this year.
LEE: OK. What I would like to see the Senate do is start moving toward tax reform, tax reform that would help the American people, especially hard-working moms and dads who are being hit and hit hard by a tax system that punishing them for being married and also punishes them for having children. We need to get rid of the marriage tax penalty and the parent tax penalty.
I’d like to see Congress moving in a direction also of sending more of the spending authority and the revenue collection authority for our transportation infrastructure back to the states. And I’d like to see Congress moving in a direction of protecting religious liberty.
WEBB: All right, well, we’ll keep an eye on you guys. You know I do. I do it every week. Senator Mike Lee, his brand-new book, “Our Lost Constitution: Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document.” It’s our Legal DNA. I’m big on that.
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