Interview with Representative Michele Bachmann 'I Have a Spine Made Out of Titanium'
Michele Bachmann, a darling of the Tea Party movement in the US, voted against President Barack Obama's budget compromise last week. She spoke with SPIEGEL about the need to cut spending, the US involvement in Libya and her fight for principles.
SPIEGEL: Representative Bachmann, President Barack Obama plans to get US debt under control by raising taxes, but also via the kind of drastic spending cuts that you have long been demanding. A breakthrough?
Bachmann: The President's speech was more of the same. He said he had a plan for spending cuts, but then he talked about the need for more spending and more taxes. It sounds like the same story we've been hearing since he claimed that his trillion-dollar stimulus would keep unemployment from going above 8 percent.
SPIEGEL: Last week, you voted against the budget compromise for 2011. The budget includes cuts worth $38 billion. Why are you so opposed?
Bachmann: The deal that was reached is a disappointment for me and for millions of Americans who expected $100 billion in cuts. Instead, we've been asked to settle for $39 billion in cuts. We're missing the mandate given us by voters last November.
SPIEGEL: How deep would you like to see the cuts ultimately be?
Bachmann: I think that my opinion has been from the beginning that we need to have a defunding of Obamacare in any final agreement. There is no other issue like Obamacare that has unified people across America. We're talking Democrats, independents, apolitical people, Libertarians, Republicans. All people want to see Obamacare defunded.
SPIEGEL: Yet the majority of Americans support the idea of universal health care.
Bachmann: Obamacare is a crime against democracy because a material part of that bill was not disclosed to the Senate nor to the House of Representatives. The funding was hidden in the bill. That was fraud and I can't vote for any budget that fails to bring back that money from Obamacare.
SPIEGEL: The US is currently struggling with an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent. If the government slashes spending to the degree that you wish, would it not lead to a loss of jobs?
Bachmann: Job creation comes from the private sector. Job creation doesn't come from the federal government creating more jobs.
SPIEGEL: But when the government slashes spending, jobs are lost.
Bachmann: Not at all. I do not believe that that is true. I think that the private sector will get a signal that they will be able to keep more of their money.
SPIEGEL: If the main goal is cuts, why do you link controversial issues like abortion?
Bachmann: We have to look everywhere, and we shouldn't protect programs like Planned Parenthood, especially when so many people find it morally reprehensible to spend that money on Planned Parenthood. Everyone should have to sacrifice.
SPIEGEL: Your party describes Obama as a socialist but is it not your fellow Republican, President George W. Bush, who is largely to blame for the deficits?
Bachmann: All the big spenders are to blame. There is no question.
SPIEGEL: You are seen as a possible Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential election. What sets you apart from the other potential Republican candidates?
Bachmann: Number one, no one is an announced candidate yet. But I think what sets me apart from the others who are being mentioned as possibilities as candidates is the fact that I have a proven record for four years in Congress of being a fighter. I've been a fighter and an advocate for the principles back home that people sent me here to represent.
SPIEGEL: Don't politicians have to be able to compromise?
Bachmann: I have a very strong, very proven record that I am not a compromiser. I came here as an outsider to fight the current political climate in Washington, D.C., and I have stayed true to that. I have a spine made out of titanium.
SPIEGEL: You have been critical of the US involvement in the military operations in Libya. How can the US remain the one and only superpower without getting involved in such crises?
Bachmann: It is the United States that makes the sovereign choice. That is no other nation's choice but the United States.
SPIEGEL: Why was it a mistake to intervene?
Bachmann: The Obama doctrine now says that President Obama will use our United States military for humanitarian purposes. He went into Libya for humanitarian purposes. Since that time, we have seen murders and riots break out in Syria, and a number of people have been killed in Syria. So does that mean that our United States military should also intervene in Syria and get involved in that conflict? It would take very little for the United States to be involved in multiple efforts all across the world. The fact is we simply do not have the resources to do that.
SPIEGEL: Is that not just an excuse to look away?
Bachmann: Our primary obligation with the United States military is to secure the safety and security of the American people. Secretary of Defense Gates has said there is no vital American national interest in Libya. What in the world are we doing in Libya if we do not even know if our own Defense Secretary knows what our military goal is?
SPIEGEL: Thank you very much for this interview Congresswoman Bachmann.
Interview conducted by Marc Hujer