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Dr. Larry Arnn’s Hillsdale Dialogue on the President’s Heritage Foundation Address

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HH: I am joined by Dr. Larry Arnn, because it’s the last radio hour of the week. That means it’s time for the Hillsdale Dialogue. All things Hillsdale are available at The Hillsdale Dialogues, which we’ve been conducting since 2013, are available at And we’ll be back in Article I in two weeks of the Constitution. But this week and next, the President has been to the Heritage Foundation, and we want to focus on what the President had to say, because Dr. Arnn has a long and productive relationship with the Heritage Foundation. How long have you been on the board, Larry Arnn?

LA: You know, I don’t know. I think it’s 324 years.

HH: Yeah, it’s been a while. Honestly…

LA: (laughing) It’s been a long time.

HH: When they start carbon dating your furniture, it’s been too long. (laughing)

LA: (laughing)

HH: But you, you know, what was its original purpose? What does it do? And why would Donald Trump go there to make a big deal address?

LA: Well, it was, so Ed Feulner, an old friend of mine in every sense, he started it with some other people, Phil Truluck came soon. And he had worked in the House of Representatives, you know, for Melvin Laird and Don Rumsfeld among other people. And he thought that they were being outgunned by the academic world, you know, which is all very liberal. And they couldn’t get any information to argue for what they believed in. And so he started up this, it was really the first thing like it. Brookings is older than Heritage, but Heritage was founded to support three things it has now, but they were all present at the beginning – free markets, national security and a strong culture of freedom and morality. And so they started this thing up, and it, you know, surprising to everybody involved, it got big. And it’s old now, because this was, this started in the mid-70s, ’74 might be the year. And so it’s been around for a long time.

HH: Yeah, I told people, in fact I was walking with the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt and talking about the Heritage Foundation and the fact that the President had gone there, and I said you know, they were, they were well-established when we got here 30 years ago.

LA: Yeah.

HH: And Ed Feulner is like the Energizer Bunny. The guy doesn’t stop. You and I are about the same age, and I hope we can go as long and as well as Ed does, but the President picked Heritage. Why did he do that?

LA: Well, they reach a lot of people, and they, among the think tanks in D.C., have been you know, open to him, friendly to him. Their job is not supporting people for president, but they, you know, they’ll talk to anybody who’ll listen to them. And they recognized pretty soon that Trump is saying a lot of things that are good. So there’s room to work there.

HH: Now let’s start by playing the President’s opening remarks. I’ve got 10 cuts of the President there, and then I have a little Ted Cruz, our mutual friend, the Senator from Texas, debating with Bernie Sanders on Wednesday night. Did you watch that, by chance?

LA: No, I didn’t, but I wish I had. I didn’t know it happened.

HH: Oh, if it had been a fight, they’d have stopped it. Honest to goodness, it was bad. It was pretty funny. So Bernie was not going to be doing that, he’s not going to pick up, no mas, no mas. No rematch for Bernie Sanders. Here is the President at Heritage on Wednesday night, cut number 1:

DT: I’d like to begin by providing a quick update on our economy. I don’t think too many people in this room will be upset, but the stock market hit today 23,000. That’s an all-time record high, so congratulations to everybody in our country. It’s an incredible honor to be here tonight to celebrate this really wonderful foundation.

HH: Why do you think he starts that way, Larry Arnn?

LA: Good manners, and you know, he’s, Trump is in the, so first, you’ve asked me to explain Donald Trump, and that’s a handful.

HH: Yes, it is.

LA: But you know, I happen to admire Donald Trump. And so I’ll speculate. First of all, it’s good manners, but second of all, you know, Trump is in the victory business. He likes to win. And so people who support things that he likes, he’s all over them, and vice versa. (laughing) You know, if you don’t support something he likes, you might just hear from him.

HH: And why the market, because the market is a risky thing.

LA: Oh, I see.

HH: 30 years ago yesterday, the market fell 22% in one day. You remember Black Monday?

LA: Yeah.

HH: I was in the government at the time. And so it’s a risky thing, actually, to talk about markets, because they’re independent of the presidency. They reflect underlying economic conditions, but they are independent of the presidency.

LA: Well, you know, that’s true, and of course, that is risky, but you know, he’s a risk taker. But just consider this, right? The markets used to be a lot more independent of the government than they are today, because the government is, you know, a little over half the economy. And its regulatory power, you know, extends, for example, over the supply of money. And so that has big short term and intermediate term effect on what the markets do. In fact, the chairman of the Federal Reserve is to be selected soon, and there’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal about that this week, and it’s written by George Schultz and John Cogan, but they didn’t recommend who I recommend, which is a colleague of theirs, John Taylor. He should be appointed.

HH: That, two votes. Hear, hear, I second the nomination.

LA: Yeah.

HH: A guest on this show a lot.

LA: Yeah, he’s just a wonderful guy, and he’s just made for that job. He would be an inspired choice. Anyway…

HH: When I say a lot, it’s like once a year for 18 years, but that’s, but still a lot.

LA: Yeah, I’ve known him a long time, and I just regard him, just, there’s just hardly any limit. For one thing, his character is really good. But he’s the one who figured out a lot about this stuff, about how the Fed should try to provide steadiness and stability and not try to make the economy grow or contract. So anyway, he, but so the government is very important, and Trump is unabashedly pro-growth, pro-business, right? And he’s, the tone of politics has altered significantly, you know, partly because he’s prepared to say just about any outrageous thing, and that liberates other people to be, you know, to say things that they’ve been afraid to say, like, you know, the culture of America under Obama had some restraint, you know, some, like if you make a living and make a profit, that’s kind of embarrassing, isn’t it?

HH: And Senator Dan Sullivan said on my show Thursday that Raqqa fell, and it’s not being covered, because it’s been done by Donald Trump, and it’s been done because he had his generals change tactics so that your lifespan wasn’t very long if you were driving a tanker to Raqqa. And that’s something that no one was willing to say until recently, but it doesn’t even get much notice when Dan Sullivan says it.

LA: In the New York Times this week, there’s a spread mostly of photographs about what the defeat of ISIS looks like. And in Iraq and Syria, there’s a bunch of devastated cities, because they’ve gone in there and they have just destroyed ISIS in all the major cities in Iraq. And so that’s a big achievement, and that’s what he said he’d do, and that’s what they’re doing.

HH: And Dan Sullivan said Secretary Mattis said the goal is the annihilation of ISIS. That’s the goal. And it’s been done, but we don’t see much about it. Meanwhile, the President said this about the Constitution, Larry, cut number 3:

DT: We’re here to ensure that we defend this legacy from any threat, foreign or domestic, that would seek to weaken our values, diminish our freedoms, or dissolve the bonds that hold us so strongly and firmly together. As our nation has responded in recent weeks to a series of heartbreaking tragedies from the catastrophic storms to the devastating wildfires to the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, we are reminded that no destructive force on Earth is stronger than the courage, character and love of the American people. This is a time of great challenge for the world, but also a time of great opportunity. We can unleash the creative power of our citizens, unlock new frontiers in science and medicine, and usher in prosperity for communities all across our land. But to achieve these great things, we must hold fast to the values that define who we are as a people and as a nation. Everyone here tonight is united by the same enduring beliefs. We believe that the Constitution is the greatest political document in human history, and that judges should interpret the Constitution as written.

HH: And so Larry Arnn, nothing to argue about there.

LA: Yeah, except to point out that Donald Trump has been saying that for decades. And that was a great revelation that came to be, because he wrote a pretty article in January of 2016 about the Constitution. And I caused a lot of my students to go look up what he says about that. And it turns out since sometime in the 90s, at least, he’s been talking about that thing. He’s for limited government, and he has in his mind, and has had for a long time, that if you pass the laws through agencies that are delegated the authority to do that, and not through the Congress, that that is a breakdown in the rule of law, and so remarkable.

HH: And he is right. He is right. I’ll be right back. Dr. Larry Arnn and the Hillsdale Dialogue, all things Hillsdale at Stay tuned.

— — – –

HH: Here’s a little more Donald Trump, Larry Arnn, from the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday night past, cut number 2:

DT: Everyone here tonight understands a core truth, that for America to have confidence in our future, we must have pride in our history. As Americans, we have inherited a special legacy of freedom, culture, laws, traditions and values. Your organization is named the Heritage Foundation, because you understand that our glorious heritage is the foundation of everything we hope to achieve. You understand that human progress must be built upon a firm foundation of timeless truths. These truths are immortalized in our founding documents. And the most important truth our founders understood was this. Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God.

HH: Larry Arnn, what’s interesting is I’ve been talking about the Heritage Foundation for 35 years. I’ve never reflected on their name until Donald Trump did.

LA: Yeah, that’s right. Isn’t that good? You know, he’s an insightful guy. And you know, he has speechwriters, I happen to know some of them, but they have great respect for him. And so that was right.

HH: That was right.

LA: And see, if we want to criticize Donald Trump, let me do that. So he said that the Constitution is the greatest political document in history. But of course, he did just make an indirect reference to the Declaration of Independence, which is at a minimum a rival to the Constitution as the greatest political document in history. So I think he should be more cautious about that.

HH: It is the apple of gold in the frame of silver, to borrow from one of our friends.

LA: That’s right.

HH: Loosely-defined friends. Now, he gets Trumpian. Cut number 4:

DT: We believe we should preserve our history, not tear it down. Now, they’re even trying to destroy statues of Christopher Columbus. What’s next? It has to be stopped. It’s heritage. We believe that America is a nation of opportunity, because we are a nation of laws. And we support the incredible men and women of law enforcement. We believe that our great American flag should be treated with reverence and respect, and that young Americans should be taught to love our country, honor our anthem, and proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

HH: Now Larry Arnn, what’s interesting about this is that to go Trumpian is to go retro in a certain respect, quaint, 8th grade civics, Columbus Day statues, say the Pledge of Allegiance, honor our flag and our police officers. That’s considered controversial.

LA: Oh, yeah. Well see, that, there we go. Now we’ve reached the heart of it, you know. Donald Trump was criticized indirectly without quite naming him by a former president this week, so I won’t name that president, either. But incivility is one of the charges. Incivility is common in our politics, and I wish that Trump would not use some of the language he uses. I do very much. And there’s a couple of things he’s written in his book that I’m ashamed of him for. But having said that, Trump is a fighter, and if you attack him, he just comes right back at you. And what he did there is he just, right there, in what you just played, is he stepped on, you know, the worst kind of minefield. He’s claiming that the United States of America is better, and that we’re supposed to respect it, and that, you know, the terribly oppressed class, players in the National Football League, should respect the flag and the people who fought for it and the freedoms that it stands for and guarantees to them. You know, think of this. There’s an article in the paper this week about a big party congress in China. And the members of the party have broke into song and wept with joy at the image of their leader, right? Nobody asks you to do that in America. We don’t want Donald Trump, we can throw him out in four years. And that’s the great thing about the country.

HH: Yeah, and by the way, at that wonderful people’s congress, not one woman, not one woman at all in the governing body. I just thought for our revolutionary friends out there, they might want to notice that. I’ll be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, Stay tuned. It is the Hillsdale Dialogue.

— – – — –

HH: Hard for me to say anything nice about Boston sports, but I love the people who play them. Now the Patriots are a different subject, and I believe that Dr. Arnn and I believe, my guest, Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College, that the Patriots are misnamed, that they are in fact a syndicate, something along the lines of an organized crime organization.

LA: (laughing)

HH: Don’t you agree with me about that?

LA: Well, they’re a pretty good football team, Hugh.

HH: No, no they’re not. They’re not. No, Belichick, no, no. Okay, let’s go back to Donald Trump, got into foreign affairs at the Heritage Foundation mid-week in Washington, D.C., cut number 5:

DT: We’ve made historic strides in the fight against ISIS, dealing them one brutal defeat after another. We’re confronting dangerous regimes from North Korea to Iran. Last week, I announced our strategy to ensure the Iranian dictatorship never acquires a nuclear weapon. And we have imposed tough terrorism sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. I also cancelled the last administration’s one-sided deal with the communist Cuban regime, and we will not lift sanctions until political and religious freedoms are restored for the Cuban people.

HH: Now Dr. Arnn, I thought about that. I played that a few times this week. The NeverTrumpers, who are our friends, and we have many, if that speech had been able to be given by anyone else on the debate stage, they would have been cheering. But they can’t bring themselves to cheer it now.

LA: Yeah, I mean, Cuba is, we have to remember what the alternatives are here. Cuba, you can get arrested because the leader doesn’t like the look of you.

HH: Yeah.

LA: And you can be imprisoned, and the judge will not be fair that hears your case, not independent of the executive. And that’s the same thing in China, right? And so these alternatives in the world are stark. And Trump is reminding us of them, and thank God for it.

HH: And he went further south after that, cut number 6:

DT: At the same time, we are confronting the socialist oppression of the Maduro regime. The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. We stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela in their struggle for freedom.

HH: Now Dr. Larry Arnn, it reminds me of the carnival shooting gallery with the ducks in a row, and he’s knocking them all down – Cuba and Iran and Venezuela, he’s saying what ever neoconservative has wanted to be said, and which every Reagan conservative has wanted to be said for the past eight years. He’s saying it.

LA: That’s right. If, you know, just think about that point, too, that it’s, to have a repudiation of socialism in principle. What is socialism? Winston Churchill said that it could not be fully implemented in England without the use of secret police. Yes, he meant a gestapo. In 1845, he said that. Is that true? Well, why would it be true? It might be true, because if we’re all human, and you give a few of us the opportunity to allocate all the property for all of the rest of us, the rest of us are going to be dependent on that few. And that’s a fundamental violation of government by consent, and that is contained in that principle.

HH: He begins then to make an assessment of his nine months in office at the Heritage Foundation. Donald Trump continues, cut number 7:

DT: Here in America, we are strengthening our own freedom by appointing judges to the bench who will support and defend the Constitution of the United States. With your help, we have not only nominated but confirmed the new Supreme Court Justice who is doing a spectacular job, Neil Gorsuch. We have taken action to repeal the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan, and we have ended finally the war on clean, beautiful coal. People are going back to work. They’re going back to work. Over the last nine months, we have removed job-killing regulations at a record pace. In fact, in nine months, we have more, they say, than any president in history, and we’re nine months. And there’s more to come. We have statutory guidelines. We have to go by a period of time. But there’s much more to come. And I believe in regulation, but it has to be limited to what we need. We want clean water, we want clean air, it has to be fair. We also want, by the way, jobs.

HH: Last week, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EPA, was on this program, Dr. Arnn, and said that the Clean Power Plan was improperly promulgated, but it will be properly reviewed, and if necessary, revoked pursuant to the APA, ditto the overreaching rules on Waters of the United States. And there’s a regulatory budget, and there is a requirement that for every new rule, two much be revoked. He’s right about the regulatory revolution, but most reporters don’t see it, so they don’t write about it.

LA: Yeah, the, I made a visit to the Domestic Policy Council the other day, where of course we have someone working from Hillsdale College. And it’s just awesome what they’re doing. And here’s a caution point. First of all, they have thought up these two things. They have thought of many more things than this, but they’ve thought up, first of all, that if you’re going to make a regulation, you have to repeal two. But second, there’s an overall budget for the cost of regulation, first time in American history. And the people who pass the regulations, the people who design the regulations, they have to now pay attention to that. And there’s a bunch of experts, probably the best qualified civil servants in the government working for the Office of Management and Budget, and they take an overall view of that. And I’m told by people that most of them like this exercise. They like to be able to plan how efficiently to serve the public good. So that’s new. But here’s my cautionary note. These people, many of whom, by the way, have wide government experience, you know, from the head of the Domestic Policy Council worked for Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush in the past. He says we’ve thought up some new things, and they’re very effective, but of course, the first time we lose a presidential election, they’ve learned all these tools, and they’re going to use them fast. And so we need to pass some laws through Congress so that this stuff can’t just vanish in a day.

HH: Yes, and that has not yet happened. But he had some hope in here about getting Congress to move. Let’s get to that, cut number 8:

DT: Finally, we are going to bring back trillions of dollars currently parked overseas. You look at the money that can’t come back into our country, I’ve been saying for years it’s $2.5 trillion dollars. Democrats want it back, Republicans want it back, and they have for a long time. They’ve never been able to make a deal, lack of leadership. They’ve never been able to make a deal. We’re putting that in our tax plan. We’re going to bring, I think it’s going to be, over $3 trillion dollars. It could be substantially more than that, because if I’m saying $2.5 trillion dollars, and I’ve been saying it for many years, we know one thing. It’s a lot more now. Nobody really knows the answer. I will tell you I think it’s very substantially over $3 trillion dollars that will be brought back in our plan, and put to work in our country, not some other country. Our framework provides a one-time low tax on profits currently sitting offshore so that this money can come back right where it started, come back home to America where it belongs. And believe me, we can use it in this country. We need it so badly for so many things, including infrastructure, which we’ll also be doing.

HH: He’s an optimist, Larry, that the Democrats will work with him on this. What do you think?

LA: Well, they’ll do it when they have to. So he’s, you know, busy trying to make it so they have to. And partly, that speech and such speeches, right? He’s, he, the thing that I like the best about Donald Trump is that there’s direction everywhere, and almost everywhere I like the direction. But it matters that it’s incessant, that it’s pushed all the time. And you know, sometimes he’s rude about it. But gracious sakes, they’re rude to him, too. And you know, I wish he were as eloquent as Winston Churchill. For that matter, I wish I were.

HH: Okay, one more cut before the break. This is Donald Trump talking about Obamacare, cut number 9:

DT: And our regulatory reductions are going to put more Americans back to work, and more lobbyists out of work. I don’t know, there could be some lobbyists in this group. Sorry. Which is why regulatory reform is a crucial part of our drive to drain the swamp. On the economic front, we’re upholding the legacy of America’s greatest presidents from Washington to Jackson to Lincoln by defending American industry and defending our American workers. We want more products stamped with those beautiful words and letters made in the USA. To restore opportunity and freedom, we must continue our campaign to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare. And I’ve been hearing that phrase for seven years. Seven years, I’ve been hearing it. So have you. And I got here, and I thought maybe when I sit down at that desk the first day, January 20th, I’ll have something to sign. It’s not as easy as we thought, but we’re going to get it done. You watch. And I’m pleased that Democrats have finally responded to my call for them to take responsibility for their Obamacare disaster, and work with Republicans to provide much-needed relief to the American people. While I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray, and I do commend it, I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.

HH: So Larry Arnn, I don’t the Democrats are getting on board. The Alexander-Murray deal has fallen apart the very week it was introduced, and I don’t know that he’ll have something to sign. But I’m glad that he ended the subsidies, because it was an appropriation without authorization. It violated the Anti-Deficiency Act.

LA: That’s it. That’s it. And that act, you know, we do have a government of laws when they’re enforced. And one of the laws is that if you spend money in the executive branch without an appropriation from the Congress, that’s a crime.

HH: Yup.

LA: You can be prosecuted for that. And that’s a very old law. That law is from the 19th Century. So why would they pass such a law? The answer is because you can’t spend the resources of the American people without the agreement of two branches of government. And you know, that just means that in our legacy, in our Constitution that Donald Trump is celebrating, we get to control where the money goes when it’s public money.

HH: And we’ll be back to talk more about that in the final segment of this week’s Hillsdale Dialogue. Stay tuned.

— – – – —

HH: Dr. Larry Arnn, one more cut of the President at the Heritage Foundation of which you serve on the board for many years, cut number 10:

DT: In addition to simplification, the other pillar of our tax plan is reducing our crushing business tax so that we can restore America’s competitive edge. Today, our business tax rate is 60% higher than our average economic competitor. This is a giant self-inflicted economic wound. That is why we will cut the corporate tax rate from 35% all the way down to not more than 20%, way below our average competition out there in this very competitive world. And for small businesses that file taxes as sole proprietors, S-corporations or partnerships, we will cap the top tax rate at a maximum of 25%. That’s a tremendous reduction from what it is, and I will tell you it’s the biggest reduction in taxes in the history of this country. For the more than 30 million American small businesses in America, our plan cuts their top marginal rate by about 40%. This will be the lowest top marginal rate and income tax rate for small and medium size businesses in more than 80 years.

HH: You know, Dr. Arnn, let’s close there. The Senate passed the budget. So now, they have to have a conference on the budget, which they’ll agree on a budget, and they’ll have reconciliation opportunity, and the House has to come up with a tax bill, and the Senate has to come up with a tax bill, and then they’ve got to send it to conference and get it done. There is talk of taking the Senate 24/7, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That came from Ron Johnson and Dan Sullivan on my show yesterday. I think they ought to do that. I think people have had it with the Senate. And they want a tax bill.

LA: I think that that’s evident, and it’s, I think it’s evident to the Senate, which means it’s really evident. (laughing) They can see, and you know, we had, we have these huge issues, and the election, which is a very unusual election, the 2016 election, and the Republicans held the Senate and the House, and they did, you know, they improved in the House a bit and all that, and Donald Trump was elected, and they haven’t passed the bills. Well, you know, Mitch McConnell got rid of the blue slip. We talked about that last week. And they, you know, if they’re serious, then they should work.

HH: They should work, and not only work, but work to the exhaustion of the other team. Dan Sullivan, the Alaska Senator, said whenever we do this, Schumer folds. And he’s right, but we don’t do it. And it seems to me that Steve Bannon, and he’s not a friend of mine, I don’t know him, I have spent 30 seconds with him on the phone, but he may have done a service by putting the fear of the Lord in the caucus.

LA: Yeah, there’s a lot of people out there who think the government doesn’t work for them anymore. I think there’s an economic component to it. Trump was talking about that. You know, people, you know, jobs, it’s hard to make a living anymore, and a lot of people are getting really rich, and fewer people are making decent livings. All that’s true, but another thing is there’s a fear that this government doesn’t work for us anymore. And the people in the government, too often, don’t quite understand that fear, and it’s time they did.

HH: Now I have to play for you one little bit of Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, cut number 13, please. I’ll cut it off as we get going, because we’re almost out of time.

TC: I think the death tax is one of them…

BS: The estate taxes, they call it the death tax.

TC: No, it’s the death tax, because it kicks in when you die. You paid taxes your whole life…

BS: No, you, your family pays it, yeah.

TC: And then when you die, you see two people – the undertaker and the tax man.

BS: No, you…

TC: That’s not fair. And let me point out…

HH: Now stop. That’s all I wanted to play for you. If it was a fight, they would have stopped it, Larry Arnn. Bernie Sanders doesn’t really have you, and then Ted Cruz said what is the difference between the tax policy of the Democrats and the socialists, and Bernie paused for a good 10 seconds and he said I don’t know.

LA: (laughing)

HH: (laughing)

LA: Yeah, that’s not, you know, Ted Cruz said that’s not fair? That debate’s not fair.

HH: That debate is not fair. And I wish they would have it more. The more we do that, the more we win. That’s why I want Republicans to come out and talk. And they’re afraid to come out and talk, because it, sometimes, they don’t, they don’t, they’re not used to it, Larry. But if they try it more, they’ll get better at it.

LA: Ted Cruz is just sparkling smart, right? And he is a salty guy. He is ready to fight. He could show the way for the rest of them.

HH: I hope he hears that. I hope he does indeed do that. Dr. Larry Arnn, Hillsdale College, thank you.

End of interview.


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