CBS's Wragge Frets: 'Should Unions Be on Alert All Around the Country?'

In an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge worried about the fallout from budget cutting in Wisconsin: "It seems to look like this governor [Scott Walker] is trying to basically break unions and that other states may then follow suit. Is this – should unions be on alert all around the country?"

Huckabee pointed out: "I think unions have to get realistic. They can't expect to pay $1 in and get $57 from the state as a pension match. Nobody else gets that." Earlier, Wragge expressed skepticism of Governor's Walker's handling of the issue: "...what you've seen...with the workers and the unions versus Governor Scott Walker and the teacher sick outs, do you think this was handled the best way it possibly could have been?" Huckabee defended Walker: "I think he's got to call attention to the fact that this is a serious issue....You can't borrow money that you can't afford to pay back."

In an interview with Walker on Friday, Wragge similarly portrayed the Governor's proposal to curb state spending on benefits for some public workers as a union-busting move: "You understand their position with some of the state workers, saying you're essentially taking away their voice by trying to break these unions. You understand that, correct?"

On Tuesday, in addition to discussing the budget showdown in Wisconsin, Wragge asked Huckabee about the possibility of a government shutdown in Washington over the federal budget: "Four working days for Congress to come up with something or it looks like there will be a government shutdown. Which is something that, I think, scares a lot people when they here that. It didn't work well for the Republicans back in '95-'96, could this impact them adversely if it were to happen again down the road?"

Huckabee responded: "It's a very different environment this time.... there, again, has to be, at some point, a reckoning with reality....we've got a government that just continues to dig, even though they're in an incredible debt hole." Wragge wondered: "Do you think this is something that happens or is it a lot more rhetoric?" Huckabee explained: "I think it could happen. And maybe it has to, because sometime, either now or later, the government's going to shut down, either from bankruptcy in the future or from a targeted effect to try get someone's attention that we're overspending and not managing at all."

Huckabee was on the show to promote his new book, A Simple Government. Following the discussion of a potential government shutdown, Wragge mocked the book's premise of manageable limited government: "Your book...is this your first foray into fiction?" Huckabee shot back: "...this book is written in such a simple way that even members of Congress can understand it and that's what I want to do with this book."

Here is a full transcript of the February 22 interview:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

ERICA HILL: And government shutdown. As the possibility looms large, the battle over budget cuts and spending reaches a fever pitch. So can Republicans and Democrats come to a compromise? We'll talk to one of the possible contenders for the 2012 GOP nomination, former Governor Mike Huckabee in a live studio interview.

7:17AM ET TEASE:

CHRIS WRAGGE: Coming up here on the Early Show, from the budget battles in Wisconsin and DC to running for President in 2012, Mike Huckabee is live in our studio to talk about politics and his new book.

7:21AM ET TEASE:

HILL: Seems to be a little bit of a game of political chicken in Wisconsin and in Washington this morning, Republicans and Democrats at odds over unions, and of course, balancing the budget.

WRAGGE: In DC, if the two sides don't come together soon, the government could shut down, just like it did back in 1995. And former Governor Mike Huckabee is live in our studio this morning. We're going to ask him about how he'd handle both situations if – of course if he's planning to run for president in 2012. We'll be right back with that and more here on the Early Show.

7:30AM ET TEASE:

HILL: Two big issues coming to a head very soon. The budget crisis in Washington, which could lead to a government shutdown, and of course that union showdown that we're following in Wisconsin, which could have a ripple effect across the country. Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee is live in our studio. We'll get his take on both of those issues and whether he may be planning a bid for president in 2012, and if so, of course, how he may address some of those concerns.

WRAGGE: Yes, lots of questions to talk to the Governor about in just a couple of moments.

7:36AM ET TEASE:

WRAGGE: Up next, former Governor Mike Huckabee is here live in our studio to talk about budget battles and if he is running for the White House.

7:39AM ET SEGMENT:

WRAGGE: When names are mentioned for the Republican ticket in the 2012 presidential election, Mike Huckabee stands at the top of many conservatives' lists. The big question is, though, will he run? The former Arkansas Governor is out with a new book, A Simple Government: 12 Things We Really Need From Washington. And he joins us this morning. Governor Huckabee, good to have us with us.

MIKE HUCKABEE: Thank you very much, Chris.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The Contender? Huckabee on Budget, Politics and the Presidency]

WRAGGE: I want to ask you about a couple of different things. And as a former governor who's had to balance state budgets, what you've seen in Washington with the workers and the unions versus Governor Scott Walker and the teacher sick outs, do you think this was handled the best way it possibly could have been?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Well, I think he's got to call attention to the fact that this is a serious issue. And it's not just in Wisconsin. It's all across the country. One of the things that I think is an important message – and frankly it's the center piece of my book – is to remind people that you can't spend money you don't have. You can't borrow money that you can't afford to pay back. Every citizen knows that. Every small business owner knows that. It's like government is the last entity on Earth to get that message.

WRAGGE: But I think in Wisconsin, specifically, it seems to look like this governor is trying to basically break unions and that other states may then follow suit. Is this – should unions be on alert all around the country?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think unions have to get realistic. They can't expect to pay $1 in and get $57 from the state as a pension match. Nobody else gets that. And that's what's unrealistic. So if the unions don't come to some type of reality, then they're going to get busted, and if not by the Governor, they're going to get busted by reality in terms of a budget that can't manage that sort of cost.

WRAGGE: Members of Congress right now are dealing with a budget battle of their own. Four working days for Congress to come up with something or it looks like there will be a government shutdown. Which is something that, I think, scares a lot people when they here that. It didn't work well for the Republicans back in '95-'96, could this impact them adversely if it were to happen again down the road?

HUCKABEE: It's a very different environment this time. I think, first of all, a lot of the things that were shut down are now automated, like Social Security checks and veterans checks. So it's not going to be as draconian, if it does happen. But there, again, has to be, at some point, a reckoning with reality. And a message that I hope that people will start really thinking about, and again, it is the center piece of what I say is a simple government, simple principles applied. And that means that if you are in a hole, the first thing to do is quit digging. And we've got a government that just continues to dig even though they're in an incredible debt hole. And the fact is, we are for the first time in our history actually spending more money than the entire Gross Domestic Product of the full country, that's unheard of. We've never been in that position before. We are now.

WRAGGE: Do you think this is something that happens or is it a lot more rhetoric?

HUCKABEE: I think it could happen. And maybe it has to, because sometime, either now or later, the government's going to shut down, either from bankruptcy in the future or from a targeted effect to try get someone's attention that we're overspending and not managing at all.

WRAGGE: Your book, A Simple Government, is this your first foray into fiction? [Laughs]

HUCKABEE: I've read a lot – well, I've written a lot of things. This could be fiction, in fact, A Simple Government, but I tell you Chris, this book is written in such a simple way that even members of Congress can understand it and that's what I want to do with this book.

WRAGGE: It reads like a presidential platform. Is this you saying to the people out there, 'I am going to run for president in 2012'?

HUCKABEE: Well, it's saying I very well may. I mean, I want to find out, does this message resonate with people? If they read this book, they're going to know where I stand. Not what someone says I say, but what I actually say. If they read this and say, 'You know what? That makes sense,' then that's an encouragement for me to take the next step. If they read it and say that guy is a nut, then, well, maybe I'll have a different conclusion.

WRAGGE: Well, we look forward to your decision.

HUCKABEE: Thank you.

WRAGGE: I know you're going to make a decision sooner than later. Governor Huckabee, thank you for taking the time. Good to see you this morning.

HUCKABEE: Appreciate it, Chris.

— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC