Full Transcripts and Video of the Louis Gohmert Interview
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Interview with Congressman Louis Gohmert
R.O. You have just been re-elected to serve a seventh term in the U.S. Congress representing the first district in the Great State of Texas. Compared to your first term that started in 2005, what new challenges do you see for Congress in 2017?
L.G. Well…Donald Trump has made a number of promises of things that he wanted to accomplish and the biggest job for any Congress is getting important new ideas through, passed by both the House and the Senate, so we can get them to the President’s desk, so he can sign them into law. I have been saying, as Donald Trump has, that Obamacare has done great damage to people’s health. I’ve talked to so many people across East Texas that thought Obamacare might be a good thing, but then when they got insurance that was approved by the government through this…they call it the Affordable Care Act, but from what 95% of the people we’ve heard from say, it’s unaffordable. Their premiums they’ve had to pay every month for health insurance went up dramatically, sometimes two, three, four times what they were ten years ago. Also, they started having bigger and bigger deductibles, so that they had to show that they had already paid six or seven thousand dollars before their insurance would reimburse them anything at all. For a lot of young people in East Texas, they’d say “I don’t have six thousand dollars, so I’m paying two or 300 dollars more a month for insurance and I’m not going to get any of that back unless I’m in a terrible wreck or something and run up more than six thousand dollars in expenses, but I don’t have six thousand dollars, and if I don’t pay the first six thousand, insurance doesn’t pay the rest.” So anyway, they were very disturbed that they were not getting anything. Some have said they were getting a subsidy from the government to help me make my payments, but they were still having to pay some and they weren’t getting anything back. Others have said, “Hey look, I’m 60 years old. I’m a single man. I don’t need to have coverage for having a baby, but the law required it under Obamacare”. You had to have maternity coverage, so we’re wanting to pass a repeal of that law. 2500 pages, and it wasn’t just about healthcare. I mean, there was a provision in there that gave the President the right to create a new cadre of officers and non-commissioned officers that were at his beck and call for emergencies. Originally it was said to be medical emergencies, but in the end, it said at the end of the provision it was for international emergencies, and I’ve been asking what is this for? Are they going to be trained with weapons? Are these in addition to the military? Or are these like Hitler’s Brown Shirts, where they answer only to the leader and not to anybody else? I never got any answers. The administration…there are so many things in there that we don’t need, that we need to repeal the whole thing. What I saw in my first term in 2005 and 2006, Republicans had the Presidency, they had the House majority, had the Senate majority, and President Bush had promised “If you elect me to a second term, I’m going to fix Social Security. We’re going to reform it, so it will be there for future generations, and we’re going to fix the tax codes so it’s fair”…so people like the ultra- rich Warren Buffet don’t pay a lower percentage than his secretary. He made all these promises and I agreed with his promises. We came in and they started slowly pushing for Social Security reform, for tax reform, and then 6 months into the year we hadn’t accomplished anything. And then they said “We’ll get it in the next few months”, and after 9 months around October they said “Well, we’re not going to be able to get it. We’ll do it next year”, and then in January of 2006, the leaders of the House and Senate Republicans said “Well, now we’re in an election year again. We can’t really do any of those things we promised this year.” I got up and I said, “We got to do them this year”, but that was a minority voice, and the Republicans didn’t do anything of any significance. So, that’s a long way of telling you, to me the most important thing is that in the next six months, we repeal Obamacare and give people the chance to get cheaper insurance that is specific for the person. We need to turn insurance around so the employer does not own the policy, because the way it’s been, the employers would pay toward health insurance, and if you let that employer…if you got fired or if you left voluntarily and went to another place to work, you lost your insurance. You couldn’t take it with you. We want to get that turned around so the employer, the boss, can pay toward your insurance, but you own the insurance, so when you leave there, if you do, and you go work somewhere else, that policy goes with you. You don’t get cut off just because you go work somewhere else. So, there are a number of things like that, and we all agree if you’re a dependent living at home and you’re 26, I would agree to higher than that. If you’re a dependent still living with your parents, you oughta be able to be on their insurance, otherwise things like that we can agree to. We need to get those things completely passed, repeal Obamacare, and get a good system in place within the next six months, because I’m really afraid if we don’t do it quick, it’s not going to happen and people are going to continue to suffer. Also, we’ve got to rein in the EPA…they’re out of control…they want to shut down our power plants, and if they have their way, we’re going to be having trouble getting electricity. It’s going to go through the roof. That’s something we’ve got to reform very quickly. Anyway, we do need to do tax reform. I would love to throw out the Internal Revenue Code. Get rid of it completely, and then just have a flat tax, where if you make more money, you pay more. If you make less, you pay less. If you have a flat percentage, everybody pays the same amount, the rich pay their fair share, the poor pay much less a percentage, but an equal fair share, and everybody’s helping to pay the government. I also think we ought to get rid of the tax that President Clinton pushed through in 1993. It’s made senior citizens pay tax on their Social Security. I mean, that Social Security was a tax that they paid and their employer paid all of those years until they retired. They shouldn’t have to pay tax on it when they are getting it back. So, there are a number of things, and I’m excited about having a new President take office tomorrow. I’m excited about the fact, well…I’ve talked to President, uh, President-Elect Trump personally, alone…a few different times, and one of the things…I was in the Army for four years, and we were not in combat any of my four years, but I’ve seen what’s happened. We went to war in Afghanistan against the Taliban in October of 2002. You know, a month after 9/11 when we found out they were behind the planning and effort to hit New York and the Pentagon on 9/11, but in the following seven years, there were still Americans that got killed during that period under President Bush, but the war was winding down. President Obama, before he was elected, said he’s going to make that a priority to wind that up and finish that off and win. The trouble is, we’re worse off now than we were eight years ago in Afghanistan. We’re worse off now than we were eight years ago in Iraq, but in Afghanistan, for example, there are four times as many American military that have been killed under President Obama’s command then were killed under President Bush’s command. When the war was supposed to be winding up…four times more Americans killed in the last eight years. Most people don’t realize that, and it’s because the rules of engagement for the last eight years would not allow our military to return fire when they were fired upon if there were any civilians anywhere in the area that might get hit, so we had four times more people get killed…Americans…because they couldn’t protect themselves. If they saw somebody get ready to shoot at them, they couldn’t shoot them before they got shot, because the rules of engagement required they get shot at before they could defend themselves. That got a lot of our guys killed. So, one of the things we need to do in a hurry is give our military the right to defend themselves. If it’s important enough to send our military to a foreign country, it’s important enough they be able to defend themselves, no matter what, and we protect our military so we don’t continue to lose four times more than we did in the first seven years of Afghanistan. You asked what are our priorities? To me, those are very important priorities, and we’ve got to stop the EPA from shutting down our power plants in Texas, especially East Texas. There’s thousands of people that lose their jobs. There was a lady that lived outside of Carthage…80 years old. She told me that her price of her energy bills were going up and up. She said, “I’m afraid, that since I was born in the house and we didn’t have electricity, we didn’t have propane. The only thing we had was a wood burning stove. I’m afraid if my price of electricity and gas keeps going up, I’m not going to be able to have anything but a wood burning stove. Well, the trouble is, if we don’t stop the EPA very quickly, she wouldn’t be allowed to have a wood burning stove. So, those are some of the priorities that I think we’ve got to get to, to help all Americans, but especially East Texans, to get on with life…to get jobs, and I’m being told that just in the anticipation in the things we are about to do, that there are oil and gas companies that are already asking people to come work again. It’s exciting times.
R.O. With Texas being one of four states bordering the country of Mexico, your perspective on immigration might be different than someone living in a non-border state, such as Nebraska. In your opinion, how important is the illegal immigration issue compared to ISIS or the economy?
L.G. Well, that’s the trouble. All of those issues…ISIS, the economy, and the border…they all go together. We now know…the F.B.I. director has confirmed we have ISIS in every state in the Union. We also keep reading and hearing stories about ISIS and other radical Islamists working with drug cartels to get people into this country. So, that is one of the aspects of controlling our border. Just last week, I was asked for an interview by a Mexican television station, and they were very concerned about Trump wanting to build a wall, and I asked him, “Why is Mexico not one of the top ten economies in the world? You’ve got some of the hardest working people in the world. You have so much in the way of natural resources.” They’ve got coal, they’ve got a massive amount of oil, natural gas, they’ve got copper…they’ve got things that so many countries of the world don’t have any of, and they are so blessed with natural resources. With the hard working people, natural resources…they are like we are, between the Pacific and the Atlantic. They’ve got the Gulf of Mexico between them, but they could be exporting all over the world. Why are they not one of the top ten economies? The answer is the drug cartels are so vicious and have so much control that creates so much corruption in Mexico, they’re preventing Mexico from reaching their potential. How could you stop the drug cartels? The number one way is to build a wall to control what comes into America. We can stop the massive amount of drugs coming into America, and that will cut off the money the drug cartels are making. They’ve received billions of American dollars for drugs, and they are the ones who have been getting paid by people from South America, Central America, Mexico to come into the U.S. illegally. They’re “Coyotes”, they call them…they bring them across illegally. The drug cartels get paid by those people. Well, if we control who comes into the country, we can control…we can prevent most of the drugs from coming in. That makes the drug cartels very weak. It allows the Mexican government to function more appropriately, and they should then rise to become an incredibly good neighbor…having good jobs, less corruption…MASSIVE less corruption, and they could end up being a really close friend. So, I said, “You’re worried about a wall when actually, it will do wonders for Mexico and help your people…help in all kinds of good ways.” So, it’s a great issue for us, and it will help make a good neighbor of Mexico.
R.O. President-Elect Trump built his campaign on building a wall along the southern border to control illegal migration. The Texas-Mexico border makes up the lion’s share of the border at 1,254 miles. How effective, if completed, do you believe the wall will be in stopping illegal immigration into your state?
L.G. Well, if it’s built appropriately, it will be very effective. There are some areas where we already have a wall, and then on either side of the wall we have roads, so that our Border Patrol, our DEA and others can patrol the roads. The wall is a problem to get over, but you have a wall and then you have a road…and wide enough where you can turn around, because if it wasn’t wide enough to turn around between the fences…you have the wall, then two fences, the road…you gotta be able to turn around because people would see the Border Patrol go by and they’d go behind them knowing they couldn’t back up and catch them, so you got to be able to do a turnaround, but, we’ve done this before. We’ve got some places where that is what’s there. It’s extremely effective. Others say well, they are good at building tunnels. Look, the Israelis have a fence. 75% of their wall has a fence, and yet they’re able…wait..then they have a fence out from there and they have the roads on either side so it can be patrolled. They have microphones that are so sensitive. They have monitoring equipment where they know if someone’s trying to dig a tunnel. We have equipment now, we’ve come so far. If we will spend the money on monitoring equipment, we’ll be able to tell if somebody’s digging a tunnel underneath and be able to stop them, but Congress, while President Obama was in office…I was here…we appropriated four billion dollars, with a B, billions dollars to build part of our wall, and then Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security said, “We don’t need that”, and so I’ve asked, “Where’s the 4 billion dollars you didn’t spend on the wall? The Trump administration was made aware of that, so they’ve asked Homeland Security “Where’s all the four billion dollars you decided not to use on the wall.” I think a lot of that money is still available.
We need to find it and we can start immediately, even without a new appropriation. That again, going back to your first question, it’s one of the things we need to get to immediately.
R.O. During the 2016 primary season, you were a huge advocate and surrogate for Senator Ted Cruz. After Senator Cruz suspended his campaign, how difficult was it for you to switch gears and get behind the Trump campaign?
L.G. Well, that’s a great question because it was a little difficult, because…you know, Ted is a dear friend, and we had been working together, standing up and fighting for the same things we thought were inappropriate, and so it was tough. There have been insults to Ted and his family, but what I came around to understanding was…that Justice Scalia had died last year. If Hillary Clinton replaced my friend Justice Scalia with someone that believed like she did, that the second amendment only applies to the military, only the military should be allowed to have guns under the second amendment…she believed, as did Loretta Lynch, that we should have a law that made it a crime to question whether climate change was man made or not. As I’ve said on the House floor, I believe in climate change. We have it four times a year in East Texas. We have Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. We have climate change every year…whether it’s man made, whether we have an effect that we can change? That’s debatable. They want to make it a crime to disagree. That’s like what was done when Galileo started saying, “I’m not sure that everything revolves around the Earth”. So anyway, I knew that would be dangerous. I also know that there are people that would be in the Hillary Clinton administration who’ve said in writing that they believe Christians are a big threat…they’re our biggest hate group threat, and that people who believe in the Constitution, people that believe in the 2nd amendment right of Americans to keep and bear arms…they think that is a big threat. I knew if Hillary Clinton were elected and she appointed Scalia’s replacement, people that have strong Christian beliefs as I do…going back to my days as a young Cub Scout, Boy Scout…I believed in God…I took an oath. I took an oath when I went into the United States Army for four years, and I said “So help me God”…I took an oath when I became a prosecutor in East Texas. I took an oath when I became a felony and district judge in East Texas, and I took an oath to the Constitution when I became a chief justice, and I took an oath each time I had gotten re-elected to Congress. The oath, So help me God, is very important to me, and I was afraid that was at risk. When I analyzed that, and I had three different opportunities to talk one on one with Donald Trump, I became convinced this is what we have to do. I didn’t get on board with Donald trump immediately, but I became a whole hearted supporter. He said some stupid things. He said some things about, and I think could have been considered…and I think were sexually…totally inappropriate, but as I’ve told Fox News, you’ve got to look at who he was. As a Christian, I know the Bible says when Paul, Paul says when I was a child I spoke as a child, but when I became an adult, I put away childish things, so I can say when Donald Trump was hanging around Bill Clinton and making contributions to Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, and when he was hanging around the Democrats, he spoke like a Democrat. Since then, he has become a Republican and he has put away childish things, so I could get behind the new way he was talking and the new things he was supporting, so…that’s how I ended up being there.
R.O. Many may not know that you are an Eagle Scout. In the history of scouting since it began, only two percent of scouts have earned this rank. If a boy like me were to ask you what effect scouting has had in making you the man that you are today, what would you say to him?
L.G. Well…it’s hard to weigh the effect, but it’s had an effect. The effect is ongoing. It’s in my commitment to God and my country, and I guess one of the best ways to assess its effect on me is to look what others say about the effect on me. My oldest daughter a few years back had made me a present of a collage…to where she took a lot of different pictures and things and put them together. You know what a collage is? A lot of different pictures in it, and put it in one picture. There were things from when I was a Boy Scout, a picture of when I was an Eagle Scout. There was a picture of me playing football in high school, and different things…one article about when I had a great game playing football in high school, and I was kneeling down in it and I liked it. There was a picture of Russia because I was an exchange student in the Soviet Union…when it was the REAL Soviet Union, but the biggest thing on there, she had made a copy of the Scout Oath and put that on there, and I thought, wow…that’s interesting. The most prominent thing, in how my oldest daughter assessed my whole life, the thing she chose was the Boy Scout Oath. Well, I said, “Katy, do you see me as a Boy Scout?” She says, “Daddy, you’ll always be a Boy Scout.” Now that’s my oldest daughter and she is brilliant. All three of my girls did extremely well all the way through school, in college, and that was her assessment, and I’ll always be a Boy Scout. I still try to be prepared. I still try to be on my honor and do my best to God and my country. I still try to obey the Scout Law. I try to help other people at all times, and I do try to keep physically fit, and I try to make sure my morals are intact, and I try to stay awake as to what’s going on, and I try to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. I’m an old guy, but some of those lessons are still there, and I still try to be prepared, and I try to do a good turn…more than one good turn a day. I would say when I was…one of my daughters had a big prom coming up at Harvey Hall, and there were mostly moms there that were doing the decorations, but I was out there helping, and one of the ladies said, and they had a big scissor lift that would lift you up 20 feet to the ceiling. They were trying to tie a big 15 pound decoration and she had 50 pound fishing line, and she says, “ Does anybody…can anybody tie a knot that won’t slip out, because my knot keeps slipping out?” I looked around, and so she came down and I got on the scissor lift. I went up there, and there were a number of them…you can imagine. It is important that if you’re going to hang 15 pounds over people’s heads, it’s important that it not fall on their heads. So, I got up there and I took her fishing line…made a loop and the rabbit came out of the hole, around the tree, back down in the hole, and it held. Of course, that bowline was not going to slip under any circumstances, so I mean, even little things like that. I’m not sure I could still tie a sheep shank. Anyway, there’s a lot of knowledge I never forgot. It has an effect and it always will.
R.O. Thank you so much.