Rudy Giuliani on Government Reform
Former Mayor of New York City; Republican Candidate for 2000 Senate (NY)
A: The President must be free to defend the nation. While the Congress has an essential constitutional role in our national defense, the Supreme Court has also recognized that the president has certain core constitutional responsibilities to ensure that our nation can defend itself and our fundamental liberties in times of emergency. Controversies on this question are as old as our Constitution, and have been faced by many of our most respected presidents, and they will not disappear even after we have succeeded in the war that terrorists have declared on our citizens and homeland. Our aim must be to strike a balance between order and liberty that addresses the challenges we face within the bounds of the Constitution.
THOMPSON: I supported tort reform with regard to securities legislation. I supported tort reform with regard to product liability legislation, things that have to do with interstate commerce. I think it appropriately passed. I supported and worked for those things. Local issues belong at the state level. Most states have passed tort reform. That’s our system. It’s not all federalized.
When Republicans use the term tort reform, they’re generally talking about making it more difficult for individuals to file lawsuits against, say, doctors, toy manufacturers or dry cleaners for alleged wrongs, or in some cases capping the monetary damages that plaintiffs are awarded.
It’s hard to see how anyone could think that Thompson was the “single biggest obstacle” to these changes in the legal system when he was in the Senate. Thompson voted with a majority of his fellow Republicans on some measures, with a large bloc of Democrats on others, but he was no crusader, nor did his vote ever prove decisive (none of the votes were that close).
GIULIANI: The line-item veto is unconstitutional. I took Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court and beat him. It’s unconstitutional. What the heck can you do about that if you’re a strict constructionist?
ROMNEY: I’m in favor of the line-item veto. I had it, used it 844 times. I want to see Libby Dole’s line-item veto put in place. I’d have never gone to the Supreme Court and said it’s unconstitutional.
Q: Do you believe it is?
ROMNEY: I believe the line-item veto, if properly structured, passes constitutional muster. I’m in favor of the line-item veto to make sure that the president is able to help cut out pork and waste.
GIULIANI: You have to be honest with people. The line-item veto is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled on it. I am in favor of a line-item veto, except you have to do it legally. If I had let Pres. Clinton take $250 million away from the people of my city illegally and unconstitutionally, I wouldn’t have been much of a mayor.
Also, Giuliani is slightly off when he compares the US to other nations. That same study did find that the total costs in 2003 and 2004 amounted to 2.2% of the US’ gross domestic product, a figure that is double Germany’s 2003 costs (1.1% of GDP) but not quite twice as large as Italy’s (1.7%). The 2006 update of the study, however, found that costs as a percentage of GDP had slipped to 2.09% in the US.
A: The vice president’s office has to be worked out with the president. And the thing that’s clearest about it, now that we’re at war, is that a vice president has to be just as capable, just as ready to take over that office, literally on a moment’s notice. And that should be the major qualification. And then it should be in the discretion of the president and the vice president to decide on what kind of responsibilities they should have.
Q: But would you like to have a vice president like Vice Pres. Cheney, with that wide range of responsibility?
A: I thought the division of responsibilities between Pres. Reagan and Vice Pres. Bush was a good one. I thought it was a really comfortable one. And I’m comfortable that you select somebody who can step in on a moment’s notice with experience, background, knowing what’s going on.
A: The sentence was grossly excessive in a situation in which at the beginning, the prosecutor knew who the leak was, and he knew a crime wasn’t committed. I recommended over 1000 pardons to Pres. Reagan when I was associate attorney general. [The sentence] argues more in favor of a pardon because this is excessive punishment. Ultimately, there was no underlying crime involved
A: As the Club for Growth pointed out in the report they did on me, I ran one of the most fiscally conservative governments in the last 30 years. Spending actually decreased in comparison to the increase in population and inflation. Spending in NYC decreased more than just about any other state, considerably less than the federal government, while I was the mayor.
Q: And yet, when you were mayor, Pres. Clinton--when he had that power back in the mid-’90s, he used it to line-item veto what he said was excessive Medicaid spending. You not only opposed it, you took him to the Supreme Court and you got it ruled unconstitutional. So it’s because of you we don’t have the line-item veto.
A: The line-item veto is unconstitutional, and I’m a strict constructionist. If we want the line-item veto, it has to be done by constitutional amendment. The reality is it so fundamentally alters the separation of powers, it’s unconstitutional. The Supreme Court decided that. I believe that. And of course, it was in the interest of my city to advocate for it. It was my job to protect the people of NYC, and I did it vigorously and strongly and we were correct in our interpretation of the Constitution. And the president was incorrect.
But as with many City Hall administrations that preceded Giuliani’s, there was also patronage, cronyism, deep debt, concessions for favored unions and companies, scandals, mismanagement, & undue secrecy. It was hardly a “government reinvented,” a slogan which proved to be mere ideological posturing. It was, beyond the bluster, much closer to business as usual than many might believe.
When Giuliani asked for 90 days after 9/11, he was pummeled, but he was right. As we are sitting here, more time has passed since 9/11 than it took to defeat the Germans and the Japanese in WWII, and other than repairing the subway and the PATH line, nothing has happened. For 90 days, he would have had the full attention of the Congress.
At the time of the mayoral runoff election, Giuliani made one last attempt to extend his mayoralty by attempting to undo term limits.
He was talking about trying to overturn term limits so he could run again. It is one thing to seek a onetime extension right after an attack--whether he was right or wrong I will leave to others--but it is quite another to use the attack to change the law permanently, which I thought was improper.
The ideas about “reinventing government” found in the book of the same name by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler proved extremely useful: as much as possible, I tried to run the city as a business, using business principles to impose accountability on government. Objective, measurable indicators of success allow governments to be accountable, and I relentlessly pursued that idea.
I am not above using good ideas that originate from places on might not expect me to mine. I expanded several programs that [Democratic mayors] had implemented.
In politics, there is an outcry whenever an officeholder who has received campaign contributions from a particular industry supports a position perceived as favorable to that industry. The implication is that, say, the tobacco industry’s contribution “bought” the official’s support or at least bought access. I would be the last to say it never happens, but much more common is a company choosing to support those it views as sympathetic to its interests. At any given moment in my administration, someone who supported me was angry because I didn’t do what they hoped I would do. If they withdraw their support, you don’t want them around anyway. There’s no one thing you can do to establish the principle. All you can do is keep making decisions based on what you believe, and by your example, you will demonstrate your independence.
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Mayor Rudy Giuliani(NYC)