SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. We're going to interview all the major independent party candidates for president on this program between now and November, from the Libertarian to the Greens. Over last two weeks, we spoke with Libertarian Bob Barr and independent candidate Ralph Nader. This week, we have the Constitution Party candidate, the Reverend Chuck Baldwin.
(Soundbite of speech)
Reverend CHUCK BALDWIN (Constitution Party, 2008 Presidential Candidate): If you want our borders to continue to be open, Barack Obama will accommodate you. John McCain will accommodate you. If you believe that we need to expand NAFTA and WTO, that we need to remain loyal to the United Nations and use our troops for United Nations missions, et cetera, then both Barack Obama and John McCain will accommodate you.
SIMON: The Reverend Chuck Baldwin joins us now from the studios of member station WUWF in Pensacola, Florida. Mr. Baldwin, thanks so much for being with us.
Rev. BALDWIN: Scott, thank you very much.
SIMON: Let's begin, certainly, with the dominant news of recent weeks. What would you do about the economy if you were president?
Rev. BALDWIN: I'd like to see the 16th Amendment overturned. I'd like to see the IRS disbanded. I'd like to disband the Federal Reserve. I'd like to appoint a secretary of the Treasury that understood sound money principles. And I just think that as long as we have politicians like Barack Obama and John McCain that are not willing to address the problem for what it is, realize it for what it is and handle it in the way that it needs to be handled, there is going to be no lasting solution.
SIMON: As you know, the $700 billion rescue package has passed Congress and was signed immediately by President Bush. So on taking office, even if you wanted to abolish the federal income tax, you would have to come up with at least $700 billion. How would you do that if you're going to abolish the federal income tax, much less pay for roads, bridges or taking care of Army veterans?
Rev. BALDWIN: Right. What we have to do is slash spending. There are only two ways to do it. You either slash spending or you increase income. And I would prefer to slash spending. I remember back in 1994 when Newt Gingrich orchestrated his Contract with America. I'm sure you remember this. He promised that he would do ten things, one of which was eliminate five federal departments, such as Department of Education, Energy, Commerce, et cetera. They reneged on their promise. They did not slash spending. They did not eliminate any federal department. I would like to fulfill what Newt Gingrich promised but then did not fulfill.
I would like to implement an across-the-board 10 percent general tariff on all imports coming into the United States to take the place of the income tax. And with a slashed federal budget for those things which are necessary, such as the things that you just talked about, I would eliminate foreign aid, and I would take that money and use it for the interests of the United States of America instead of sending it all over the world to people that don't even like us. And I think it's time that we had a president who put America first.
SIMON: What would you do with more than a hundred thousand U.S. troops in Iraq?
Rev. BALDWIN: The record all over the country is saying that I would bring our troops home as quickly as possible. Obviously, this has to be done securely and safely for those that we are extracting. Not only our military personnel but our hundreds of thousands of civilian personnel that are over there. So this would have to be done in a very safe and secure manner.
It's my view that we should not have gone in at the beginning but that's moot at this point. President Bush sent them there. Now we've got to bring them home. We've got to put our troops in a position where that they are able to defend our country, and as long they are bogged down in the sandbox in Iraq, they're not maneuverable. They are not able to exercise the great maneuverability that we have as a military. And I think it's essential to our safety and security that we bring our people out of Iraq.
SIMON: But immediately, as opposed to, say, the 16-month timetable that Senator Obama has suggested and, for that matter, Prime Minister al-Maliki.
Rev. BALDWIN: The sooner the better. Whatever that timetable is, we have to set it in motion. I think the problem to this point is that we haven't had a commander-in-chief who has been willing to set that process in motion. And I would, upon assuming the White House, I would set that motion in progress.
SIMON: Rev. Baldwin, you, I know, are opposed to abortion, and you believe that the Republican Party has not been serious about opposing abortion.
Rev. BALDWIN: Oh, I think that's putting it mildly. You know, every four years at the national election, they come out and say that, you know, the conservative Christians have got to vote for them. The pro-life conservatives need to vote for them because they're the pro-life party, et cetera. But I think the track records speaks for itself.
It was a Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointments that gave us Roe v. Wade. It was a Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointments that gave us Doe v. Bolton. It was a Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointments that has led the court ever since 1973, and the current configuration, I believe, is 7 to 2 in favor of Republican appointments. And nothing has been done to overturn Roe v. Wade or to end abortion on demand.
Beyond that, look at from 2000 to 2006. The Republican Party controlled the entire federal government, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. And for six years they did nothing to end abortion on demand or overturn Roe v. Wade. When George W. Bush became president in January of 2001, more than 1 million unborn babies were being killed in the mother's wombs every year in this country. When George W. Bush leaves office in January of 2009, there will still be one million-plus babies aborted every year in the wombs of their mothers. The Republican Party, when it comes to the life issue, is all rhetoric. And I can't believe that they can come to the pro-life community in 2008 with a straight face and say, vote for us, we are pro-life, vote for us, I am pro-life, and expect to be taken seriously.
I think it's time that people who really do believe in the sanctity of human life, who believe that it's the responsibility of government to protect life, even life in the womb, that they should look for people that are not just talking the talk when it's election time but people who really, truly believe in the sanctity of human life. And it's obvious that John McCain, George W. Bush, Republican Party is not serious about it.
SIMON: The Reverend Chuck Baldwin, Constitution Party candidate for president. Thanks so much.
Rev. BALDWIN: You're more than welcome.
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