Exclusive: Sen. Lugar Defends Votes on Stimulus, TARP and Supreme Court Justices

Exclusive: Sen. Lugar Defends Votes on Stimulus, TARP and Supreme Court Justices


In an exclusive interview with The Brody File, Sen. Richard Lugar defends his votes for the stimulus, TARP. and President Obama’s Supreme Court Justices, saying, “I believe I passed the best vote on the basis of the information that I had.”

Lugar is in serious danger of losing to Richard Mourdock in the Indiana GOP primary tomorrow.

Mandatory Courtesy: CBN News/The Brody File

David Brody: I want you to address your critics who go to look at the TARP vote, they look at the vote for the stimulus, they look at votes for Sotomayor and Kagan, what do you say? Do you regret any of those votes at all? Those four at all? Those are the ones they typically bring up: TARP, stimulus, and the two Supreme Court nominees.

Sen. Richard Lugar: I believe I passed the best vote on the basis of the information that I had, and I would say sort of taking these in order, on the TARP vote, I rejected some of the stimulus packages even back in the Bush administration. But, the Bush people came as ... the head of the Federal Reserve board, and said this is really a cataclysmic problem with regard to our banking system. It's likely to cave in. You can have your philosophical thoughts about this, but help us.

I voted for the TARP bill and the controversial portions that really saved the automobile industry in our country, and specifically the automobile industry in Indiana. Now, one can say, 'Well you shouldn't play favorites.' I wasn't playing favorites, I was trying to keep our economy in Indiana going and keep people employed.

Much as I did when I was a junior Senator, a rescue of Chrysler in 1978-79. At that time, President Carter wanted to just loan them $150 million, and I said no, we're going to have stipulations and they're going to have to do this, this, and this and likewise the UAW. The UAW came to me and said we've never had to consider something such as this, and I said well, consider it now.

Paul, the late Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts - We had a bi-partisan situation, overriding the chairman of the committee, then Senator Proxmire, or even Senator Garn, the ranking member. But, it did lead to Chrysler being saved, and paying off all the loan, and a nice celebration downtown at the Mayflower Hotel.

And I mention that because, pragmatically it appeared to me that if we were serious about jobs in our state and the automobile industry, we better do something about it in a practical way, and put stipulations on it that would lead to repayment of the money as the auto companies, or whoever, the banks would begin to prosper again.

Brody: Okay. Real quick on the judges?

Sen. Lugar: On the judges. Here was a question after Judge Bork, the conservative was shot down by the Democrats, then the next nominee. So Republicans came to me and said will you go before the Judiciary Committee? Because Judge Roberts is a Hoosier, and he had a Hoosier background. And so I did some research, and I went all the way back constitutionally, how people in the past had looked at what the role of the Senate was in these confirmations. And essentially, it was taking a look at whether the person had moral integrity, and whether there was judicial experience comparable to what was required.

And, I argued that for instance, Sherman Minton from Indiana, who was a Supreme Court Justice in 1936, did not even need a hearing before a Judiciary Committee in those days. But, in any event, whether my argument was that persuasive or not, Justice Roberts got 70 something votes, not all of them, but he got across the finish line. And then so did several other Republican nominees. As a practical matter, this is everybody's call, but there has been a so-called conservative majority on the Court in recent years.

And it didn’t come about by chance. And I would just say without really working together with other Senators and in some cases, although people reject bipartisanship almost as an evil, I would say at that point we didn't have a majority. We could have lost all of these nominees as a matter of fact, through a filibuster or through other means, but we won them.

Now, suddenly a Democrat is elected President of the United States, alas. And he nominates two people, Kagan and Sotomayor. I use the same criteria that I asked my Republican and Democratic friends to use with regard to the Republican judges, starting with Roberts. I voted in favor of both of them.

Some would say, well, you've got to analyze, are they a liberal? Or how far liberal on a scale of 1-10 or something like that? If we get back to that, after we elect a Republican president this time, and there are a couple of fairly elderly types on the Court, and we have a couple more nominees, we are back to the races again.

What I'm saying is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. If we're really serious about the Supreme Court and the Constitution, I think the course that I followed was the right one.

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