Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) spoke with Fox News Radio's Guy Benson and reacted to revelations out of journalist Bob Woodward's new book. Senator Sasse criticized the administrations response. Saying,
"I've wanted the White House for a long time to be acting like a team on a mission. Obviously, this is not the same as the flu. This is this is much worse than this. This is like what Influenza A was in 1918, which was a new and really, really destructive, deadly thing. And we've got all sorts of tools at our disposal and in 2020 that we didn't have in 1918 and we needed to be acted with with more urgency and seriousness than the U.S. government delivered on to the American people."
Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Full Transcript: Guy Benson: The Guy Benson show, we are back, we are live on Guy Benson, thanks for listening. Podcasts always free. Guy Benson show dot com. Joining me now, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, up for reelection this cycle. Senator, it's great to have you back.
Senator Sasse: Guy, thanks for the invite. Good to be with you.
Guy Benson: So I want to talk about your op ed in The Wall Street Journal. But first, I would be remiss if I did not at least ask you about your reaction to what we've seen today, this Bob Woodward book, the audio from the president back in February and March, what he was saying publicly versus privately. Your reaction?
Senator Sasse: Yeah, well, I mean, this this isn't this being Cobh, it isn't a political problem and it isn't a public relations problem. It's a public health crisis that has also created an economic crisis. And we have economic crisis is getting it all marital and public health crises. And tens of thousands of Americans have died from the virus. Tens of millions of Americans are out of work because of the lockdown that flowed from the virus and from some government mistakes in response to the virus. Deadly serious stuff. And from the very beginning, I've been pushing that we needed a much more aggressive testing regime. Americans had some lead time on the virus, but that time didn't translate into enough action. So I've been pretty clear for a long time that I've wanted the whole White House to start acting like a team on a mission, trying to tackle a real problem, not trying to manage, you know, short term media.
Guy Benson: Right. And when the president tweets in March, a comparison of corona virus to the flu. But in February, he's telling Bob Woodward on the record, this is a lot worse than even a bad flu in terms of deadliness. There's a disconnect there. I mean, some of the complaints about Trump I think are unfair. That one seems at least to be a pretty clean hit to me.
Senator Sasse: Yeah, I've I've wanted the White House for a long time to be acting like a team on a mission. Obviously, this is not the same as the flu. This is this is much worse than this. This is like what Influenza A was in 1918, which was a new and really, really destructive, deadly thing. And we've got all sorts of tools at our disposal and in 2020 that we didn't have in 1918 and we needed to be acted with with more urgency and seriousness than the U.S. government delivered on to the American people.
Guy Benson: Senator, you have a piece in The Wall Street Journal yesterday. Make the Senate great again. I saw this floating around on Twitter. I said, all right, I'll give it a click. And I would ask you about your race this year, but your opponent is challenged. I'll put it that way. And it seems like you are in pretty good shape to win another six year term. So you're starting to think about this place. We're gonna be spending a lot more time, years of your life. And you, I think, undeniably correctly, identify the Senate as a place of real dysfunction. And we know that the Democrats would agree, but they think it should be, you know, in some cases be abolished or you should add some Democratic senators from D.C. or you should get rid of the filibuster, even though they want to use it a few more times before they get rid of it. That's not your approach. What sparked the thought process behind this op ed? And then if you could just summarize thumbnail sketch, what's your what's your suggestion here?
Senator Sasse: So big picture. The problem is I would get them I'm one of eight out of a hundred people in the Senate who's never been a politician before. When I was running in 2013 14, I beat up on President Obama a lot for executive overreach. And I got to admit, when you sort of step back and take a historian view of it was one of my previous callings in life rather than just a candidate's view. The problems of executive overreach have grown every decade in America since the 1930s, really every single decade since 1930, more and more power gets sucked up into the executive branch. And the problem with executive overreach is really fundamentally about legislative underage. We've got a bunch of people in Congress who don't really want power. They want fame. They want it. They want short term punditry. They want to go on TV at night and be able to rant. And that's different than wanting to actually solve big problems that Americans face. Five and 10 years into the future. And so when I've complained about executive overreach from President Obama and then President Trump has done some similar things and I'm asked about it, I've been critical of this administration as well. And so a lot of folks have asked me, you know, constituents in Nebraska, but also folks like The Wall Street Journal editorial page or academics saying, well, what are your solutions to this solution? Is that the United States people, the people of America and the United government, actually need the great deliberative body. And it turned out our founders knew that they wanted to make it really hard for government to act. They wanted a separate power, both vertically and horizontally. Most of power in government should be at the local level. And of the little bits that should happen that way off in Washington, D.C., we should distinguish between legislative, executive and judicial branches and the legislative branches. Article one, the founders vision for a reason because we're the people who can get hired or fired. The fact is we should be doing but the netted out hard decision making. That includes a bunch of tradeoffs. But the Congress doesn't do that. It punts all the power to the executive branch. And I think it's because most of these people are desperate to not make a decision big enough to make anybody mad so they can keep they want to be able to keep their job. And so I think what we ought to do, first of all, we should have term limit. I think an ideal way to do it would be a single 12 year term if we weren't going to have term limit. We should at least cancel fundraising. When people are in D.C. and the people's work exists to be done. It is a commonplace thing to go to a two thousand dollar a plate fundraiser with lobbyists and then go back to the Hill and have to vote on stuff that's before those people. And that feeds CEOs big seeds of public distrust. We should be having a debate on the actual Senate floor right now. And senators are on TV making a speech and it looks like they're in a chamber that might be full. That's because there are rules in the Senate that prohibit C-SPAN from actually showing you that the chambers empty. That camera has to zoom in on the individual senator. And so the public is misled to think other senators are probably there. Usually there is zero one or two people in that chamber when that senators making their speech committee hearings are about trolling for soundbites. It's not about asking real questions of witnesses and trying to learn more. I think, you know, going back to Neil Postman amusing ourselves to death public discourse in the age of show business, the book 30 years ago that predicted a lot of the impotence of the bodies like the Senate that basically grandstand for cameras most of the time and write some stuff on which get the cameras out of those committee room.
Guy Benson: Right. So let me just jump in on that point. I'm still sort of recovering from your stinging rebuke of punditry, which is my job.
Senator Sasse: you're actually good at it. Your colleagues should go try to compete with you if they actually want to compete. They've said get elected and then don't do the people's work.
Guy Benson: Yeah, I guess that's a good point. It is my job. It's not their job. Although I guess, as you say, it's part of the job, maybe too big a part of the job. But that was your first bullet point of your of your action items that you would like to see happen. Cut the cameras. And look, I watched that hearing with the attorney general in the House a couple weeks ago, and it was just an absolute embarrassment. And Democrats were particularly disgraceful. But even the Republicans had their little speeches. Many of them ready to go. That had nothing to do with questions. They didn't let Bar really talk. And it is just the whole point seems to be to score points and get a viral moment. And then you can fund raising. Raise your profile if you're in the House, maybe run for Senate or whatever. Maybe run for president. Right. That's clearly the game that's being played. You say cut the cameras. I'm open to that, but. Part of the reason that I watch C-SPAN as much as I do, aside from being a weirdo and a nerd, is that I actually appreciate that degree of transparency where it's not necessarily backdoor stuff. You can actually watch your elected officials inaction in real time. What's your counterpoint to that? I feel like there is value there.
Senator Sasse: Yep. So, first of all, I'm talking about releasing audio as it's happening. So I'm not talking about eliminating transparency. I'm talking about eliminating the game, as you put it, of people basically just trying to score a viral video for anybody who seriously wants to pay attention to these debates. We should have immediate transcripts and immediate audio available of all of them. But the problem with video is it distorts what's happening in the room. No one's trying to persuade anybody else in the room. Let me give you the counterpoint. The one committee in the Congress that I think definitely works is I'm privileged to sit on the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Intelligence Committee is eight Republicans and seven Democrats and basically all eight Republicans. And at least five of the seven Democrats show up almost all the time. And because there are no cameras, everybody actually acts like an adult. And you know what happens if you're dealing with Paul Nakasone, the brilliant four star Army general who runs the National Security Administration and is smartly by President Trump dual had it as the head of the Cyber Command, or if you're in there with Gina Housefull, who's the head of the CIA. It turns out they know a lot of stuff that we don't know. And normally, congressmen, senators act like jackasses that know everything before anything has ever happened. And it's not true. It's grandstanding. But when you're with the head of the CIA or the head of the NSA, it turns out they know a lot that we need to learn from them to make sure the work is being done well and honorably and according to law on behalf of the American people. And when you're in a place that doesn't have cameras, people ask a lot more serious and a lot more humble questions and actually yields outcomes. Right now, when you think about the shortening duration of jobs in America, when you think about how cyber warfare is going to change the face of war not just as an abstraction, but potential conflict between the US and the Chinese Communist Party in the South China Sea in the next decade. There's a lot of real work we should be doing, and people who are just grandstanding for soundbites shouldn't shouldn't have these jobs because they're not fulfilling their obligations of public trust.
Guy Benson: Senator, I know you've got to run here in a second. I guess my last question is this. I'm rolling through and scrolling through your piece in the bullet points. I'd say I'm on board for most of them. Could be persuaded on a few others. But I also see a cause because I'm happy with this stuff. And I think it's a good idea. I'm convinced it will not happen because it feels like good ideas come to Washington too often to die. Or any. This is all aspirational or any of these truly realistic based on your actual experience as a senator.
Senator Sasse: Well, let me I mean, I'm not talking about the dorm west. Yeah. I mean, the reality is that with our commute schedule, we're really different. So people spent more time in the district or their state with their people. And then when when we were here, we should work a heck of a lot more hours per day and days per week than we were. I don't think that's going to happen. Know, I proposed a dorm for the Senate so people just could, you know, view it as if you've got 12 to 15 hours a workday obligations. But one thing that I think is on the horizon is the potential for having a real budget. Right now, the most powerful constitutional power that the Congress is supposed to have is the power of the purse. And yet we're at our most unserious and the way we budget. Seventy one percent of all of our obligations are off book because they're on the entitlement programs and we don't budget budget for that. It's just on autopilot. And we have these annual brinksmanship fights with continuing resolutions and omnibus spending deals and debt ceiling hike, none of which is ever serious. It's always a choice between zero percent of what we spent last year, meaning shutdown or one hundred and two percent, which means just assume government was doing great, had no oversight, was required. I think if we move to a two year budget and we did some stuff to tackle, the sort of anachronistic distinction between appropriating and authorizing some reform could come. And I've had probably 35 or 40 senators come talk to me today about pieces of this op ed. And so I'm hopeful that over time we need to reform this institution and some people are serious about it.
Guy Benson: Yeah, and maybe if you're going to do those two year budgets, have them on off year's, not election year. Maya, there might be a little better. Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, my guest here on the guy Benson. So, Senator, thank you so much for your time. Don't be a stranger. We love to talk to you again.
Senator Sasse: Thanks for the invite.
Guy Benson: We'll be right back with more after this.