RAY SUAREZ: Mr. Speaker, thanks for making the time for us today.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT: My pleasure. Great to be with you.
RAY SUAREZ: Your majority leader, Tom Delay, he referred to the numbers in the most recent Bush tax proposal as a floor, not a ceiling. What's the sense of the caucus? Are there people starting to worry about the size of deficits along with the size of the budgets?
REP. DENNIS HASTERT: Tom was standing next to me when he made that remark, and I thought, well, that's interesting. But what we want to do is to do the things that we have to do to get this economy going again. We understand that the responsibilities we have to education, we have to health care and those spending responsibilities. Some people would like to say, well, you know, your tax cuts are competing with spending. People need to understand there's child care in there, so people can save for their kids' tuition, that everybody gets everybody a cut across their numbers and percentages. So everybody's paying less taxes-- that if you spend your life building up a small business or family farm, that when you want to pass that on to your kids or your grandchildren, the government doesn't come in and take three-quarters of it away. So if you're two young people who decided to get married, you know, you're almost $1,400 more in taxes because you're married, rather than being single. It doesn't make sense. So that's what those tax cuts are all about: Trying to bring some permanency. It's things that change how people live.
RAY SUAREZ: The last time the Republicans held the House, the Senate, and the White House, it didn't last very long.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT: Three weeks, I think.
RAY SUAREZ: How do you make sure history doesn't repeat itself?
REP. DENNIS HASTERT: Well, on our side, we just need to make sure that we keep all of our members together, and everything that we do in our spare time is to make sure that we have a stronger majority. The president has helped us. The vice president has helped us do that to a point.
RAY SUAREZ: Does it also mean that now people who have issues that are dear to them in more the social agenda-- faith and values agenda-- feel bolder, feel more confident in knocking on your door and saying, hey, let's start moving some of this legislation on abortion, on religious schools, on various issues that we felt we couldn't bring to the front in earlier Congresses?
REP. DENNIS HASTERT: Well, I think there is always those things that you have to balance out. There's some problems out there on abortion, a lot of different points of view on abortion. We're going to have people with their points of view on that. We'll go through the process. And we'll debate a couple of those bills and see whether they pass or not. On the other hand, on education, there's a lot of things we need to do education. There's a lot of people in this country and a lot of children in this country that aren't very well served today by the educational system that is there. I think probably 70 percent of kids are fairly well served, but there are some that aren't. How do you take those kids that aren't well served and give them better alternatives? Religious education might be part of it. Vouchers might be part of it. Tax credit on education might be part of it. Better teachers in classrooms are certainly a part of that as well.
RAY SUAREZ: Mr. Speaker, a pleasure to talk to you.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT: My pleasure, thank you.