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tv   Newsmakers  CSPAN  September 16, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT

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michael bloomberg. >> just let people eat. >> and chris christie. >> i think we're going to need a bigger chair. ha, ha, ha. i got to hit the can, it's intermission. >> it's eastwood and chair. chair it is. host: our nangse to nbc and "saturday night live" from last evening. we'll continue the conversation with jonathan allen here tomorrow on "washington journal" talking politics.
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[captions performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] hal rogers is, kentucky's 5th district, is our guest today, thank you for being with us today. >> thank you.
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>> joining us is staff writer lori montgomery, fiscal policy reporter for "the washington post," and humberto sanchez, staff writer for "roll call. "let's start with lori montgomery. >> you have had con -- been confronted with constant drama with the funding of the government. can you talk to us about the c.r. that just passed yesterday where there was a bit of drama. we were going to go with one number we thought we set last year, but no, that wasn't good enough, and now we came back to where we were in the first place. >> well, the budget control agreement passed, which was in the aftermath of the debt
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ceiling, the back of last year. overall spending is set for fiscal 13 at $1.37 trillion. well, the senate would have been marking that up to $10.47. we would have been automatically in disagreement with all of the bills. but we have gone ahead and passed through the committee bills, and seven of them on the floor of the house. in the meantime, the senate was
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saying, we were not going to youzhny of -- use any of those bills, so we had no one to negotiate with. so consequently, we came to the point where we had to pass something to keep the government open after september 30 fiscal year end, thus the c.r. >> was there an intention to change the number on the b.c.a.? my understanding was we were ready to move ahead with the b.c.a. number and it might have been passed. >> it would have been easier, i will say that. the democrats in the house, likewise, were committed to the $10.47 trillion number, so it made package in the house more difficult to go with the lower number. and it is conceiveable that if we had been able to pass our bill at $10.47, it would have
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made conferencing with the senate a lot easier. however, the senate was not going to help anyway, so it was a moot point. >> there is always discussion between the senate committee and the appropriations committee. and chairman ryan is now on the presidential ticket. and i was wanting to ask with a number set and another number set and going back to the first number, what has been your working relationship with senator ryan? >> very close. he's a bright, bright guy and knows his business. he's done a fantastic job, i think, over at the budget committee. as you say, there is always disagreement in the appropriations committee, but we have a warm relationship with chairman ryan, and i think he's done a wonderful job.
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>> the budget cut discretionary spending to, i believe, 16% of g.d.p., discretionary spending to something like 3.75% of g.d.p., which i think is less than we spend now just on defense. is that possible? are we reaching the limit of what is possible if we want to give people the things they expect from government? can we go lower than y we just did? >> i think we have just about reached the bottom on domestic discretionary spending. to make a point further, only a third of federal spending is what we appropriate. 2/3, of course, is automatic spending, the entitlements. when i first came to congress 32 years ago, it was just the reverse.
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entitlements were a third, we appropriated two-thirds. out of that third, we appropriate more than half for defense. now, we have cut $100 billion off of domestic discretionary spending. not military, just domestic. we have cut $100 billion just since i've been chairman. and to put that in somewhat of a perspective, normal discretionary spending is somewhere around $180 billion. we've cut $100 billion off. that's a significant cut. we have cut spending for three years in a row, which has not happened since at least the wind down of world war ii. so in the meantime, with the growth of the entitlement spending, we are seeing debt go out the ceiling. $1 trillion -- a trillion three.
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if you zeroed in all of the spending because of entitlement spending, we would still be in the red every year. the problem is not discretionary spending. we have done our job. the problem is with the automatic spending of cruise control entitlements. >> chairman, the house just passed and the senate expects to pass next week. is that going to expire? should we brace for another scenario with the government shut down? >> we have a lot of intervening events that are terribly important in the meantime. we now have removed from the table the possible shutdown of
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the government because of the passage of the c.r. however, we still have a decision to make on the bush tax cuts on the sequestration, particularly on the military. then, as you say, at that point in time the debt ceiling is going to be back with us again. no one knows when. so how we deal with these other two events or issues could have a fairly significant impact on the debt ceiling question. so it is good to talk about it. >> do you expect to still have a big constituency in your caucus looking for domestic discretionary cuts? >> yes. the caucus still wants to cut spending, and i support that. but the possible cuts to be made
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are going to have to come eventually from the mandatory field, because we simply don't have that much money in discretionary. if we cut it all out, it would make no difference. >> do you think you can cut the debt ceiling to the point it was the last time around? >> it is too early to talk about that. >> there was a push in the senate. i spoke with senator mccain yesterday who had an effort to diffuse this issue that was going to hit the pentagon. he and carl evan and several others were talking about a plan that might seek to replace the defense cuts. at long last, after all the fighting, raising some taxes. is that, do you think -- is such an idea -- would that be amenable in the house? is anyone talking about it do
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you think? as we get closer to the fiscal cliff, do you think it might become something people would be willing to consider? >> that remains to be seen. even in the heat of the elections this november, then is the time we need to sit down and be very, very serious about dealing with sequestration. it would be disastrous for the military especially. we would go back to pre world war ii army and marine personnel. we would go back to 1915 naval ships, navy ships. and in this kind of a world that we live in, we simply cannot do that. so i think the pressure would be intense. after the election. people say, well, the election is over, let's get down to business. i think the pressure will be intense to deal with the
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sequestration matter. and i have noticed -- i think it is the so-called "gang of six" in the senate that's talking about -- >> the gang of eight. >> of talking about possible sutions -- solutions, and i am glad they are. it is worth talking about that. >> would you personally support that kind of a tradeoff? some kind of revenue to pay down that debt? >> i think we need to talk about loophole closings. no doubt about it. but it has to be coupled with severe cuts on the entitlement side. >> you have been chairman of the appropriations committee for two years now, and it has been quite a ride for you. it is time for you to kind of reflect on your tenure. what sticks out for you in these two years that you've had the gavel? >> well, when i took the gavel
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january 11, and realized what we were going to have to do, i renamed the committee the discipline committee. i said to senator boehner, i said, i ran to be chief, but you've got me in charge of the latrines. [laughter] but it has been a tough time. we came in with the commitment to radically cut spending and get ahold of fiscal reins. it fell on our committee's lap to do the serious work of writing and spending on the discretionary side. all the while, we said we have to deal with entitlements. we will deal with small numbers on the discretionary side, but you've got to deal with those big numbers on the mandatory
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side. and there has been an effort in the budget committee's side to do that. as it turns out, we had early on in that fight, led us to this sequestration problem which we have now. which we've got some. >> is the public sufficiently set for the severe cuts in the entitlement program? >> no, it's not. >> who do you see in this party that -- who do you see that will set the for them? >> i think the president is the only person that has a megaphone big enough to gain the attention of the american public to have a
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serious discussion about what we need to do in our long-term fiscal policies of the country. he has to be the leader of that effort. >> and president obama, if re-elected, do you find him philosophically inclined to do this? >> well, i'm not sure about that. what happened last summer doesn't give me much confidence that he has that intent and capability. when we had the long, drawn-out negotiations on the debt ceiling matter, i wasn't happy with his performance there. >> can you explain why. >> because he would not budge. the norks were -- negotiations were not fruitful. i think mainly because he insisted on the tax increases
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that he knew we couldn't go on with. >> and your side was willing to negotiate? >> i'm sorry? >> your side was willing to negotiate? >> sure we were willing. in fact, the speaker was on -- was discussing with the president several times, and norks broke down, according -- negotiations broke down, according spot speaker, when the president insisted on a knew huge new crop of increases. >> do you think ryan -- paul ryan has done a good job talking about this issue? i have been startled to hear more criticism of president obama for cutting $760 billion from medicare than an informative sort of discussion about the changes that are going to be required. >> well, of course, the campaign is far from over. i think we'll hear more about
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this. people are beginning to -- as people are beginning to focus in on the election, i think you will begin to hear these numbers discussed more fully between now and the election. >> because what you hear is "president obama has cut medicare" so far. >> yes. >> frustration has grown out of gridlock and partisanship. you have been in congress a long time. are you a frustrated congressman? how frustrated are you, if you are? >> well, it is part of the business these days. the country is polarized. that reflects itself in the house. the house is a good reflection of the population. and we are polarized. the house is divided. and we've got a divided
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government. the senate, republicans in the house. so you are going to have naturally a lot of frustrating moments because of that simple fact. there is a division in the country about what we do with all these things. there is not a consensus that we can -- that can be reflected in the house. and so it is frustrating. but i tried to keep my calm, and i try to apply some sense of logic to what we do. >> has the thought ever occurred to you to say, i've served my role here, it is time to walk away? >> oh, no. i don't walk away from a challenge. >> on that note, the approval rating you have had in the
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entire years of service, you have spent so much time in this institution, how do you reconcile the outlook toward constitution and the institution as well? >> well, i think if you had taken a poll back in thomas jefferson's time and earlier in the country's time, you would have been able to say that the congress even then was a football to kick. that has not changed. nor will it change. the summit has always been a source of ridicule by the public. mark twain and will rogers and others may have been part of their career in the house and the senate. it is only recently there has been polling about this. but i think in the past you would seen probably the same. >> part of the job? >> part of the job.
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>> back to entitlements for a minute. it seems like people don't want to believe that the deficit is the result of programs that they really like. i wonder if as appropriations chairman you have come up with a snappy comeback for why waste, fraud, and abuse is not going to get us there. >> i wish i had a snappy answer to that. [laughter] but, you know, over half the american people draw a check, and over half pay no taxes. so it narrows the field of people who are deeply, deeply concerned about each of these programs. nevertheless, whatever we do to trim spending has got to be fair, and it has to be even handed. and people have the idea that we have to do something, and that
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case is not yet perfectly made. >> back on the appropriations side. i want to check 0 in on -- i want to check in with you on earmarks. the house and senate, do you think the process has been hurt by not having earmarks? do you think they will come back at any point? >> so long as the leadership in the caucus tell me to ban earmarks, i will absolute smartly and go about doing my business. but a lot of people think when you cut earmarks you are cutting spending. that is just not the case. that money instead goes to the executive branch. and the executive branch decides who they will give that money out to in grants and the like. so, in essence, the president's budget is a collection of
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presidential earmarks. and as you know, under our constitution, no money shall be expended according to our constitution except by appropriations. and it bothers me a lot when a city or a county or some governmental agency in my district, for example, asked me to help them with some problem that they have that they can't solve themselves. it hurts me that i can't advocate for that governmental unit that's invested. >> do you think you would go back to that as a tool in your arsenal? >> yes. >> what -- >> too early to say. it is up to the caucus what they
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want to do about that. >> on a different topic, can we get to the qe-3 decision? >> you have me way over my head in weeds on that one. i don't know yet. it is somewhat trouble some to me that the fed feels that kind of a need. but we have a pretty sick economy and a recovery that has not taken hold yet seriously. it very well may be the only thing that can be done at the moment, but i have not yet analized it. >> i'm wondering since the appropriations process in the past is one way people have looked for jobs creation, and not entirely successfully, what do you think the real key is to stimulating job growth in this country? >> i think tax policy and regulatory policy.
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i hear them every day back home. small businesses that are being killed with swarms of regulators that keep them from doing anything. and then this threat of the tax increase that would come if we do not renew the bush tax cuts. that would hit the small businesses who filed divisional tax returns. that would be a huge impact on them. so a lot of the small employers, that hire local, for most people, they are standing back waiting. and that is keeping the recovery from growing. >> senator murray, do you think it is ok to use this fiscal cliff as leverage at the moment.
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that we could in essence go over the cliff and appropriations, the cuts would not kick in immediately, i mean tax increases would not take effect immediately? is that true it is more of -- there is a little slope to the cliff? we would have a little time to go back and fix it? >> in my judgment, we have to make the cuts that the special committee mandated that we make. that's now the law. it is now early this year. it is now early next year. so how we make that easier to swallow, how we make that more fair, and how we protect important things like the defense of the country remains to be seen. i found her proposal in some
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degree, but not totally. >> in her argument, these things don't happen immediately. if you cut the pentagon, you don't immediately take $50 billion out of their pockets. it would be a gradual paydown, or the taxes come out of your pockets gradually. >> i know they are proposing sort of a downpayment in january and then stretching out and giving the ways and means committee, the appropriations committee, and the other committees in the house instructions about changing the cuts. sounds -- that sounds a lot like the reconciliation bill under reagan which we passed. they were set to take effect, and at the last minute, we lost our side, and did away with it. but that is, i think, the same
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principle. it may be the only way to go. we'll have to see. >> on the issue of the c.r., do you think there is a chance you could get this done in the lame duck? >> well, obviously i want to see the individual bills passed. in the house we spent all year in 150 hearings. we constructed all 12 of the bills. we made severe cuts where we had to to abide by the overall numbers. we terminated 150 different agencies or commissions and the like. all of that had to go to these individuals bills, of which seven passed the house floor. so we have a good -- a good amount of work done. at the same time the house -- we
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couldn't do the c.r. i would still like to see those individual bills passed, and i will do my part to make that happen, because they are good bills. if it takes an omnibus to make that happen, so be it. but they would be incorporated, hopefully, into that only bus -- omnibus bill. and we would go to conference in the senate and make that happen. that's what i would like to see happen, the sooner the better. >> back in the 1980's there was discussion on social security, people gathered into a room and created a fix, a generation ago. would the problem really be social security and medicare? can you see any practical move as far as social security, congressional commission for this age, having an infectiveness that do could bring the kind of focus and actually negotiate an outcome that would be appropriate? >> well, we had something like that back when we finally came
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up with the debt ceiling deal and the appropriations, and the $7 billion cut. i think we need to have a partisan/bipartisan group, including, of course, the president and the executive branch. but also, of course, members o the house and senate. and perhaps even outsiders. maybe more importantly, outsiders. that could put their minds to what we best should do to make the entitlement programs fair, even, but fiscally sound so that we save that for future generations to come. if we do nothing, those institutions are going to be


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