Chris Ryan and Walt Havenstein, 2014 Republican candidate for NH governor sat down at The Barley House for an in-depth discussion of the issues with former New York Governor George Pataki. The governor is considering a run for president. Before George Pataki arrived, Chris Ryan and Walt Havenstein evaluated the Republican field of candidates. Both agreed that it’s early in the process, so we will see what issues the candidates consider to be important and which common themes are developed. They predicted that foreign policy and national security will be the major issues.
George Pataki was a three term governor of New York. He has been out of office since 2006. That’s why the first question was why is he running now. Pataki stated that he is compelled to run now because he feels that the United States is in terrible shape, both globally an in Washington, D.C. He stated that government has grown too big, too intrusive, too expensive, and unable to perform its most basic mission–to provide for the safety of our people. As an example, he described the recent rise of terrorist groups like ISIS. Pataki was governor of New York on 9/11 which was an experience that he doesn’t want to live through again. This led to a discussion of his foreign policy views and as a state governor the extent of his experience in this field. Pataki echoed the Reagan policy of peace through strength. He stated that he is not a war monger and had two sons serve in the military. However, the United States has to lead. Otherwise, our allies don’t believe that they can rely on us and our enemies won’t fear us. He would favor building up our military and using allies in the Middle East region to destroy the bases of groups like ISIS. As governor of New York, Pataki frequently met with world leaders and diplomats in New York City at the United Nations. In addition, after leaving office, Pataki served one year as the United States Public Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. Chris wanted to know how he would go about building up the military. Pataki would pay for the increases by cutting down the size and scope of the federal government by 15%. He believes that our government has lost sight of its basic goal of providing for our common defense because government tries to do too much. Walt Havenstein, with a veiled reference to Senator Rand Paul, asked Governor Pataki how engaged the United States should be in world affairs. The governor sees two models that have been tried unsuccessfully: 1) our trillion dollar attempts at nation building in Iraq and basing huge numbers of troops; 2) our sitting back and “monitoring” terrorist groups and not fear the consequences. The result was that Al-Qaeda–without the financing, western recruits, and social media advantages of ISIS–was able to perpetrate a variety of horrible terrorist attacks, including 9/11. Pataki refused to discuss the foreign policy views of the other Republican candidates. He prefers to discuss the Obama foreign policies or Hillary Clinton’s failures as Secretary of State. Pataki thinks that president’s foreign policy shortcomings are as follows: Obama is unable to describe ISIS and the others as Islamic terrorists; he draws lines in the sand and then does nothing; he gives Yemen as an example of success in the region and then a month later it collapsed; states that we won’t use force which then confounds our allies; and Obama’s and Hilary’s reset with Russia is another mistake in a long list of foreign policy failures.
The second half of the interview dealt with domestic issues. Governor Pataki sees that there are three key problems facing the country. For the first time in his memory, Americans are not optimistic about the future. This is a total reversal of the American parents outlook that life would be improving for their children. He contends that government needs to stop stealing from the future in order to pay for programs whose purpose is to buy the support of the current generation. Next, government needs to change its role in our society. Government is the servant of the people and not its master. last, we are too divided in so many ways. Americans need to realize that we have more in common than the superficial things that divide us. The topic of American exceptionalism was brought up next. Pataki believes that our exceptionalism comes from our founding. People in other countries were given rights from the government gradually over time. In America, the people came together to form a constitution which gave limited power to the government. The people must come first and government must come second. Pataki wants the following changes made to the federal government: term limits; any laws that are passed must also be applied to congress; and members of congress will be banned from becoming lobbyists. The governor was asked about his accomplishments as the chief executive of New York. Pataki explained that he had inherited a deficit of $5 billion. He turned the economy of the Empire State around by cutting the state government’s work force by 15% and cutting taxes by $143 billion. New York is a deep blue state, but he worked effectively with the Democratic legislature. When he left office, the huge state deficit was replaced with a $4 billion surplus. In addition, the state’s credit rating had been raised, and there was an increase of 700,000 private sector jobs. He believes that implementing similar policies with the federal government will yield similar results. He believes that the president needs to show leadership. Pataki also believes social issues such as gay marriage, abortion, or common core education should not be decided in Washington. Each state should decide what is best for their state because he is against giving more power to the federal government. Pataki believes that the country is out of control because the government is not focused on its three primary goals: 1) providing for the safety and security of the people; 2) creating an economic climate that encourages large corporations and small businesses to invest and create jobs here; 3) maintain a safety net for those who are unable to achieve the American dream or to provide care for deserving citizens. For example, he mentioned the problems with providing health care for our veterans.
One part of the last segment dealt with how the Republican Party can win over working class Democrats. Pataki argued that it’s the Democrats who have been waging war against the middle class. He gave three examples–President Obama’s vetoing the Keystone Pipeline; economic conditions like high taxes and burdensome, job killing regulations; and the current state government of New York has blocked drilling for shale gas. He maintains that the Democrat Party ignores the needs of workers. Instead the party follows these policies to assuage the notions of the rich liberals on the far left wing of the party. Because we have the world’s highest corporate taxes, $2.2 trillion stays overseas instead of being invested in towns like Berlin, NH. In the last part of the interview, the governor was asked to assess the pros and cons of being out of politics for eight years. Pataki believes that it gave him a fresh perspective. It has allowed him to see the seamy side of lobbying and influence peddling. The wheeling and dealing that was employed in writing Obamacare was given as an example.
Walt and Chris then summed up the interview with Governor Pataki. Walt Havenstein felt that Pataki, as a moderate Republican, could do well in New Hampshire if he stays on a message of fiscal conservatism. Chris Ryan sees that a positive for Pataki was his ability to work effectively with the Democrat legislature in one of the bluest states.