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Published on Jun 27, 2011
Governor Christie was on Fox and Friends to discuss landmark pension and health benefit reform. June 27, 2011. (Transcript Below)
Steve Doocy: Now right here live from the curvy couch, the Governor of the great state of New Jersey Chris Christie. Good morning to you.
Governor Christie: Hey Steve. Good to see you.
Steve Doocy: OK. So the President is going to sit down with the top guys from the Congress today because they couldn't figure it out. You know, the Republicans have a plan. Where's the President's plan?
Governor Christie: Well, it's about time the President gets in the room, and that's what I've been saying since last week, is that, you know, you can't fix these things. He's not a prime minister, OK? You're the President of the United States, so get in the room and get to work, and listen—
Steve Doocy: Why hasn't he done that so far?
Governor Christie: I don't know. You'd have to ask him. I mean I—
Steve Doocy: Why do you think?
Governor Christie: I don't know. I'm not a mind reader. But all I know is he took this job, and this job is about making things happen and hopefully he's going to get in there and make it happen. I mean I negotiated this pension and benefit deal with the Democratic leadership in my legislature. I didn't send my Lieutenant Governor to do it.
Alisyn Camerota: And so how did you do it? Because you are part of a state that has a Democratically-controlled state legislature.
Steve Doocy: It's a blue state.
Alisyn Camerota: Yeah. And you have done what so many other governors have been unable or had such a hard time doing. You have radically cut into pensions going forward, the pension plan, so how did you—what did you say to them to get them to go along with it?
Governor Christie: Well first off I came out with a plan first. I took risk first and angered the public sector unions first back in September of last year, and then I did 30 town hall meetings— Steve was at one of them, across the state to sell the plan, to make sure the public understood. $54 billion in pension debt? And $67 billion in health insurance debt? It couldn't be sustained. That put public pressure on Democratic leaders. Then also to be fair the Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney, he's been advocating this for five years as a moderate Democrat. And so I had a partner there I could work with. The Assembly Speaker came forward and said she understood how grave the problem was and they're really courageous. I have to give credit to the two of them because I wouldn't have been able to do it without them. But then what we did at the end, there were a lot of differences between our plans. The two of us got in a room, three of us got in the room for the better part of two months on and off and just hammered it out until we all gave a little bit more than we thought we would to get a deal that's now going to save taxpayers 132 billion over the next 30 years.
Brian Kilmeade: But you do say too I didn't get everything I wanted.
Governor Christie: Of course not. You never do, especially in divided government. I mean they're a coequal branch of government and there are some things they wanted that I wouldn't have wanted in the plan, but they also suggested some things that they didn't want to accept either. That's the nature of compromise. But what we didn't ask each other to do was to compromise our principles, and that's the difference and that's where the President's got to get to today. Republicans have certain principles they're going to want to stand on and he's got to find a way—
Brian Kilmeade: No new taxes.
Governor Christie: He's got to find a way to get around that and I think there are ways to do it.
Brian Kilmeade: Right, and especially if there's a history. I think Republicans feel as though that $38 billion that they thought they'd cut turned into 357 million and they feel as though they were burned last time. In your experience how much does past negotiations deal into future negotiations?
Governor Christie: A lot, a lot, especially if they're the same characters sitting around the table which there will be, and so past scars tend to make future agreements a little more difficult, but what I'd say to my Republican friends, these problems are too big to worry about what happened in the past. You know, be like Ronald Reagan. Trust but verify.
Steve Doocy: Sure. So, you know, the President has been late to the party. He's had everybody else working on this thing. Do you think there are a lot of people looking in on what's going on thinking, you know, this is the number one thing. We're teetering on bankruptcy. It looks like he's not interested.
Governor Christie: Yeah, you know listen, I think it's a concern. That's why I said it last Friday publicly and repeated it again yesterday on national television. I don't think there's any substitute for presidential leadership no matter who the president is...