Uploaded on Jun 26, 2011
Governor Chris Christie's interview with David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press on June 26, 2011 (Transcript Below)
MR. GREGORY: Governor Christie, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ): Happy to be here.
MR. GREGORY: I want to talk more about the pension victory in just a minute. But what you're dealing with in New Jersey is obviously the big battle here in Washington too. That is the debt, that is closing the budget deficit. And we have an impasse here in Washington. Now the president's going to have to step up his involvement. The battle, of course, between spending and taxes. What's the way out of this mess here?
GOV. CHRISTIE: The first thing is that the president had to get involved personally. And what I found in New Jersey, in our experience in dealing with what you just talked about, was there is no substitute for the three leaders in the room having to look at each other and having to hash this out. And everybody's got to put skin in the game, David. I mean, I gave on things that I wanted. Obviously, the Senate--Democratic Senate president in my state, and the Democratic speaker gave on things they wanted, and we came to a compromise that didn't violate our principles. And that's the key. You can't ask people to violate their principles. And so there has to be a way to find principled outcome where people are also compromising. And what the specifics of that's going to be are going to be up to the president, the speaker and Senator Reid. But they need to get in the room and finish this off.
MR. GREGORY: The president himself has a certain leadership style. You said yours is different.
GOV. CHRISTIE: Yeah, I said that.
MR. GREGORY: How so? And where do you think the president has gone wrong, particularly in this fight over the debt and the deficit?
GOV. CHRISTIE: Well, listen, here's what I did in New Jersey. I put out this pension and benefit plan first in September, and I did 30 town hall meetings across my state selling the plan, increasing the public pressure on the legislature that something needed to be done, and convincing the public that my approach was a reasonable one. Now, I compromised off my approach. But I think if you're the executive, you've got to be the guy who's out there pushing and leading. You can't lay back and wait for somebody else to do it. And I think if the president's made a mistake here, it's this laid-back kind of approach where he's waiting for someone else to solve the problem. Some people say it's a political strategy. No matter what it is, it's not effective in solving problems. I think what we did in New Jersey proves that's the effective way to do it. The executive needs to lead and then bring people to the table to forge compromise.
MR. GREGORY: Do tax increases of some stripe have to be on the table in these national budget talks, whether they're revenue increases that don't come from changing tax rates, but some other way to increase revenue at the same time that you're cutting spending back?
GOV. CHRISTIE: You know, I don't know, David, but I'll tell you this, those guys sitting around that table are the ones who are in the best position to make those decisions. They're the ones who've studied the federal budget and what's going forward here, and they're the ones who're going to have to decide what the elements have to be. But I will tell you that I get a sense in New Jersey, at least from our perspective, that our state is extraordinarily overtaxed. We're the most overtaxed state in America by all the calculations. And so I know there's not an appetite in my state for increased taxes because people think government spends too much in our state.
MR. GREGORY: You hear a lot of national Republicans and tea party Republicans, like Senator DeMint of South Carolina, he said this week, "Look, there's got to be a balanced budget amendment if we're going to ultimately raise the debt ceiling," which is what is at issue here in the debt talks, raising that debt ceiling so America doesn't default and can't pay its bills any longer. And without that, there'd be extreme political peril for Republicans, he warned. This is what he said to ABC this week.
SEN. JIM DeMINT (R-SC): I think based on what I can see around the country, not only are those individuals gone, but I suspect the Republican Party would be set back many years.
MR. GREGORY: He's saying if they don't vote for it, Republicans could be voted out of office and the Republican Party could really be set back. Is the tea party going too far? Is there too much of a purity test here?
GOV. CHRISTIE: Well, I don't think there should be purity tests on people. I think we have to make commonsense judgments on things. However, as I said before, we got to stand by our principles...