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Greta Van Susteren's "On the Record" Mark Kirk interview

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Greta Van Susteren interviewed freshman Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Tuesday.

Kirk talked about the introduction of his first Senate bill--turning over decisions about deficit reduction to a commission, taking the power away from lawmakers--and reminds all for no particular reason that was obvious-- that President Obama lost a House race in the year 2000--the same year Kirk won his House seat.

excerpt...."First of all the president and I ran for Congress the same year. I won and he was defeated. He then ran and won the Senate race and become our president. This is his so-called Senate seat, although I would argue it's the seat owned by the people of Illinois."

Kirk's first bill:

S.3988
Title: A bill to establish the Grace Commission II to review and make recommendations regarding cost control in the Federal Government, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Kirk, Mark Steven 1 [IL] (introduced 11/30/2010) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 11/30/2010 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

below, Kirk interview with Greta Van Susteren, host of Fox News "On the Record"

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, the newest member of the United States Senate, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you.

SEN. MARK KIRK, (R) ILLINOIS: Thank you for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: This is an inaugural interview at the United States Senate, right?

KIRK: It is. This is my temporary office, a double-wide trailer.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: How long have you been a senator?

KIRK: For 36 hours.

VAN SUSTEREN: First of all, we should talk about your office. I think it's safe to say the taxpayers are not breaking the bank. We have seen walk-in closets that were bigger.

KIRK: Yes. We are in a trailer in the Russell building and I'm told we'll get an office sometime in the future.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's spectacular. And you might want to change the sign. It says "senator-elect. You're not elect anymore. You are a senator for 36 hours.

But it's been a busy 36 hours. Lets' start with a letter that you wrote to the president of the United States. Why are you writing the president?

KIRK: I was concerned that at the Lisbon summit there was a proposal that came forward to include the Russians in the missile defense of the United States. I'm very concerned about such a proposal. They're providing nuclear material and upgrade to the Bushehr reactor in Iran. Other air defense equipment sold to them. Russia invaded Georgia. Not exactly a reliable party in the most sensitive defense program of the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think you will get a reply from the president to the letter?

KIRK: I think we will because it relates tangentially to consideration of the START treaty in which missile defense is a significant concern of Senator Kyl and others.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is your view of the START treaty now?

KIRK: Open minded. House members have no role in consideration of a treaty. So I just went from the House to the Senate a day-and-a-half ago. I asked Secretary Clinton to bring up her briefing teams and we are waiting to do that.

But I was also concerned about this entirely new proposal bringing the Russians into the missile defense program of the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the reaction of bringing Russians in? Are they really going to be brought in the missile defense?

KIRK: That is the question we lay out in the letter, because in Lisbon they said cooperative defenses to defend Europe will be put together by the United States and Russia. And for somebody who comes outs of the military, the question is, well, how much cooperation? Do Russians get to decide the sighting of a system, the design? Are they mutually staffing it? Will they be running radar? Is the data shared?

All those questions should be answered before we bring the Russians in to the most sensitive defense program of the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: You're still in the military?

KIRK: I'm still a reservist. We have three drilling reservists in the Senate. Senator Graham serves in the air force, Senator Brown serves in the army, and I serve in the navy.

VAN SUSTEREN: The first thing you do, one of the first things, only a senator for 36 hours is letter to the president. The president knows who you are, doesn't he?

KIRK: He does.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have a significant seat to him.

KIRK: First, the president and I ran for Congress the same year. I was defeated. He then ran and won the Senate race and become our president. This is his so-called Senate seat, although I would argue it's owned by the people of Illinois.

And after the president took office, Roland Burris was our senator. But the state of Illinois was required to hold a special election. I won that special election. And so I'm as a Republican filling the last month of the Obama Senate term and then into the new Congress for a six-year term.

VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama wasn't running against you for the Senate seat, but he campaigned hard against you.

KIRK: We had three visits by the president and the first lady and a number of cabinet officials. So it was an all-on struggle in the home state, but as the fiscal conservative I won.

VAN SUSTEREN: Numbers were actually quite substantial for the Republican as compared to 2008.

KIRK: That's right. It was a big shift from 2008. It sent a big message -- 48 percent of the Illinois voters voted for me, 46 percent voted for my opponent. This is a big change from the vote in 2008.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, in addition your 36 hours as a United States senator, not only have you written a letter to the president making demands, but you introduced a bill.

KIRK: I have, the Spending Control Act. It would recreate President Reagan's grace commission to have a bipartisan commission on how we reduce spending.

And added to that is the procedure we use to close down military bases. We finally found a way to make tough decisions, which is to have the legislation submitted by the bipartisan commission for an up or down vote in House and Senate, un-amendable. This is how we close military bases.

It'd like the Grace commission to propose spending reductions and then have the list come up to the house and Senate for up or down votes. As a congressman I introduced the legislation on Monday. As a senator, I introduced it in the Senate on Tuesday.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who is on the committee? Are these members of the Senate or other members?

KIRK: Equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.

VAN SUSTEREN: Members -- the reason I ask, it's not like you are outsourcing to somebody else, because one of the rubs I have sort of is when I see the commissions when members of the U.S. Senate or Congress don't make tough decisions they seem to create the commission and farm them out a little bit.

KIRK: Right now I worried about is we are spending money we don't have. And we should take one of the lessons we've learned about how to make tough decisions and cut spending, the base closing commissions, which has a critical power to submit a proposal for up or down, yes or no vote.

We see many of the commissions make good recommendations. But then Congress ignores them. The critical thing is how do we get these spending cuts actually implemented, because right now we are going to borrow over $1 trillion to run the U.S. government. And as we have seen in Ireland and Greece and other countries, that is unsustainable.

VAN SUSTEREN: Today's meeting at the White House, the president met with the leadership, Republican and Democrat. How do you assess that? Was it hugely successful? A photo op? What can the American people take away from that today?

KIRK: Republican leaders told us for the luncheon for Republican senators afterwards it was fairly productive. Mitch McConnell was pretty upbeat. And what we'd like to do is focus on the number one message from the 2010 campaign, which is we should prevent a huge tax increase hitting the U.S. economy December 31.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do they -- all the parties were in the room today. All the people can make the decision, the president, the Republicans, the Democrats, all the leadership. They've had since 2001. They know we're up against the clock December 31. I imagine the people have frustration they meet and don't make a decision and leave and they point others to make decision.

KIRK: I would suggest maybe even a smaller meeting of just the top Republican to house and Senate to Camp David for a long weekend. I think that's a better way to do it.

1 Comment

I recommend that as a first step an Act be passed that everything that represents the vast doings of the Legislative Branch, (with only one exception i.e. the Social Security Dept) be slashed by 10% within 3 months. Everything! Committees: staffs and salaries; Departments: headcounts and salaries; Agencies: headcounts and salaries; Legislator's: headcounts and staffs; Budgets: 10% fat off the bone....these are just a handful of examples within this bloated bureaucracy. You will be amazed how easy cuts become once the first step has occurred. Run the Congress like a businessman would run his business. If members decide not to cut any defense spending then the 10% there must come from somewhere else and so on.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 1, 2010 7:40 AM.

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