GLENN: We have Senator John McCain on with us now. Welcome, Senator, welcome to the program. How are you, sir?
SENATOR McCAIN: I'm just fine, Glenn. How are you?
GLENN: I'm very good. I noticed today, breaking news, that in Florida ACORN has registered Mickey Mouse. I'm wondering if you are going to go for the mouse vote.
SENATOR McCAIN: Well, frankly some people, having worked in congress for some period of time, I prefer Goofy. But the fact is this ACORN thing is something that's been done before in the 2004 elections and 2006 elections and other elections, and it needs a full and complete investigation, and Senator Obama's ties to ACORN need to be known to everybody as well.
GLENN: In the House and the Senate, the President signed it, a bill over the summer actually gives now 4% of our mortgages. If you sign a new mortgage, 4% goes to fund ACORN. How did this happen?
SENATOR McCAIN: The way these things happen, I don't know if you recall but when this first rescue plan or bailout bill, whichever one you call it, was first developed before I came back from Washington, ACORN was going to get something like 20% of the additional funds that would eventually be raised thanks to Chris Dodd and the Democrats who had protected Fannie and Freddie and have been advocates of this forcing banks to extend home loan mortgage money to people that couldn't afford to pay it back. That's one of the major, the major factors in this housing crisis which then, of course, led to this meltdown. People, the pressures, enormous pressure from congress, the Community Reinvestment Act which basically set corridors for lending money to people that couldn't afford to pay it back and mortgages which were sooner or later going to go under. Meanwhile their executives, as you know, took 10, 20, 30, $50 million in compensation. It's one of the great scandals in American history.
GLENN: I will tell you, Senator, I thank you for being on the right side of this issue in the past with Community Reinvestment Act. You have been fighting against Freddie and Fannie. You did have it right, and I look at some of the stuff that has gone on. It's absolutely criminal some of the stuff that has happened. You know, I look at Barney Frank. How is it that the people that were responsible for this are now leading the charge along with Barack Obama to say we're going to reshape America and we're going to provide the oversight for it?
SENATOR McCAIN: You know, I don't know how it happens. I don't know why because as you go back -- and actually the Wall Street Journal and a couple of others have carried their quotes about when there was a movement to try to rein in and reform Fannie and Freddie. "You can't do that, this is scandalous to try to..." amazing greed, political contributions. It's amazing. And some of us did stand up and propose legislation to fix this problem and it's a fact two years ago Senator Obama didn't lift a finger and he got the second most amount of money from Fannie and Freddie in campaign contributions than any senator in history outside of Senator Dodd who, as you know also had a very interesting mortgage. So the point is that Americans are angry, have every right to be angry, they are not able to stay in their homes and it's -- and meanwhile they believe that all we're doing is bailing out the institutions that were co-conspirators in this and that's why I've focused so hard and so much effort to try to get people to be allowed to renegotiate their mortgage so that they can stay in their homes because it was a housing crisis that started this issue as you know, Glenn, and it's going to be fixing the housing by finding a floor on the declining home prices and have them start up again is when our economy's going to start up again.
GLENN: But how is it -- you know, I saw a guy who I thought was right on the money on a lot, the way a lot of people feel that was at your rally, stood up and said, "I want you guys to stop the socialist."
SENATOR McCAIN: Oh, yeah.
GLENN: Our country has been hijacked by socialists. So how are we ever going to find the floor on housing prices if the government, as you suggested, bail out the mortgages and buy up all of the bad mortgages? How do you find a floor when the floor's been artificially created by the government?
SENATOR McCAIN: Well, Glenn, the same way that they did in the Depression. There was a thing called a Home Ownership Loan Corporation. They went in, they said, okay, what's the value of your home, what's their mortgage payment you can make, people stayed in their homes, started making their mortgage payments and because there was interest rates associated with it, over a long period of time actually the government made a tiny bit of money. But the point is when someone is sure the value of their home, they are sure they can stay in their home, then they are going to start making those payments, et cetera. It's got to go along with economic recovery, creation of jobs and all those things. But if the value of homes keeps plummeting -- and one of the things you are going to bring up very legitimately, suppose the guy next door struggled, made his home mortgage payments at the level they are, paid his or her taxes and sees this good deal for the neighbor next door. Well, what happens to your home if the neighbor, the house next door is empty and vacant and deteriorating? Then the value of your home continues to decline.
Look, I admit this is radical treatment, but it seems to me that's better to go in and try and help the innocent bystander in this crisis than the institutions that caused the problem to start with. We bought up Fannie and Freddie, as you know. We're now going to pump $300 billion into these banks and other people who were co-conspirators in this, either knowingly or unknowingly. See my point? No?
GLENN: No, I see your point, and actually I was for the bailout at the beginning when it was three pages because I think you needed to do something but then I was with -- I was actually with you when you said it would be obscene for anybody to put pork in there and then we had --
SENATOR McCAIN: And they did.
GLENN: -- $150 billion in pork. But why did you sign it? Why didn't you stand up and say, no, it's obscene; the bailout is important but it's obscene?
SENATOR McCAIN: I came back and we got several solutions to put in to protect the taxpayer to give more options including insurance, to rein -- to put some restraints on CEO pay, to make several improvements in the bill. The stock market had just wiped out $1.2 trillion in American savings and pensions, et cetera. Hopefully this volatility will level off, and yesterday's incredible rebound in the market will stabilize the market. But to do nothing at that particular point, everybody I know told me was not the right thing to do, and I agree with them.
GLENN: I agree with you that we're facing something that we've never faced before. Are you concerned at all with the amount of money that's being pumped in? Are you concerned --
SENATOR McCAIN: I'm very concerned. I keep hearing --
GLENN: Are you concerned about a Weimar Republic situation in time if we don't stop this?
SENATOR McCAIN: I know this, that if something doesn't turn around, and again I go back to a whole lot of aspects of our financial system but what was the fact that lit the fire was home values and home loan mortgages and that has in my view. I think it depends on what we do, Glenn. If we do the right things for the American people, we don't continue this spending as Ronald Reagan used to say, like a drunken sailor, although that's an insult to drunken sailors, then remember part of the crisis that we were facing here is the out-of-control spending, the $10 trillion debt we're laying on future generations of Americans, the trillion dollars that we owe China. Look, it wasn't just the housing crisis at fault. It's the spending, out-of-control, unfunded debt that we're laying on future generations of Americans. So if we keep taxes low, we get the economy to grow, we stop the spending spree and not more and more just pouring money into the problem and writing everybody checks, the last package went into people's gas tank, right?
SENATOR McCAIN: So the point is if we get our fiscal house in order, emergency measures but then get back to good government the same way every family and every state government in America is supposed to do and that's live within our means, then I'm confident that the American worker, the American innovative system, Silicon Valleys all over this country, productivity, all of those things can lead us to a bright future. But it depends on what we do and do the right thing.
GLENN: Senator, we haven't spoken since you named Sarah Palin. We were on the Sarah Palin bandwagon, you know, months and months and months ago. I think she's fantastic. But I will tell you that I don't know if you've seen these. There are shirts now being sold that -- and excuse this -- but that say Sarah Palin is a C word, and I saw that. I was so outraged. I see that Larry Flynt is making an X-rated movie with a look-alike. Some of the bumper stickers that are out about her and yet nobody says anything about this, nobody seems to say anything about Florida Representative Hastings that says anybody toting and stripping moose don't care much about what they do with Jews and blacks, and we keep getting hammered, the conservatives keep getting hammered for being racist and sexist and everything else. It is an absolute outrage on what has been happening and how race is being used in this election. How does America survive when you try to have a decent dialogue with somebody and because you question their connections to Marxists, terrorists, or question even their policies, you're called a racist for it and yet they can get away with saying some of the most outrageous things ever?
SENATOR McCAIN: I'll leave that analysis to you but I would like to add one other point that is the most astounding that frankly I've seen in my political life and that was Congressman John Lewis who I admire, who I've written about. Yes.
SENATOR McCAIN: Who is an American hero, said that Sarah Palin and I were connected to segregation, to George Wallace and even mentioned the bombing of a church in Birmingham, you know, of a bombing in Birmingham where children were killed. That's the most outrageous and unacceptable statement I have ever heard in my life. Senator Obama has yet to repudiate that statement.
GLENN: Nor is he going to.
SENATOR McCAIN: John Lewis, I can't imagine why and how outrageous the statement was. But as importantly, every time there's been some comment or statement made by some idiot about Senator Obama questioning his patriotism or those kinds of things, we've directly repudiated it. Senator Obama has not repudiated John Lewis' remarks which are the most outrageous that I have ever seen in politics connecting Sarah Palin and me to the racist and segregationist policies of the 1960s, and I am astonished, I'm astonished that there's not been more of a reaction to it.
GLENN: Will you confront him with this tomorrow in the debate?
SENATOR McCAIN: If the opportunity comes up. But I made it very clear, I expect a repudiation and so do the American people.
GLENN: Okay. Senator, we look forward to your economic policy being released today and thank you very much for being on the program, sir.
SENATOR McCAIN: Thank you, Glenn. I always appreciate your great work. Talk to you soon. Bye.
GLENN: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Listen to the interview.