GOP Still Refusing to take a Balanced ApproachMay 07, 2012
CONGRESSMAN CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Good morning, Craig. MSNBC's CRAIG MELVIN: The Budget Committee meeting today. You are concerned because Republicans want to cut even more, $261 billion from Federal programs. What's the problem as you see it, Congressman? VAN HOLLEN: Well, the problem, Craig, is more of the same. Meaning we all agree we have to reduce the long-term deficit. Democrats have proposed to do that in a balanced way. Meaning we make some tough cuts but we also closed a lot of these tax loop holes to help reduce the deficit. Our Republican colleagues refused to close any of these tax loop holes for the purpose of debt reduction which means, simple math; they whack everyone and everything else harder. What they're going to propose today is to cut deeply in the food and nutrition programs for kids. They're going to take about 300,000 kids off of the children's health program -- they'll no longer get that coverage. They are going to cut Medicare by two percent and allow that part of the sequester to go forward all because they refuse to end the taxpayer subsidies for the oil and gas industry or other loop holes that encourage American corporations to ship jobs overseas. MELVIN: Congressman, here is the thing. Republicans will have and most certainly continue to make the argument through November and beyond that, look, we are the party most serious about belt tightening in Washington. Here is another example of us trying to do that and Democrats like Congressman Chris Van Hollen being obstructionist. How do you counter that argument? VAN HOLLEN: Well, there are two things. First the most important thing we can do to begin to reduce the deficit is get the economy moving again and the President has proposed a jobs plan including a major infrastructure investment plan, which Republicans continue to sit on. Secondly, there is no debate about the need to reduce the long-term deficit. The question is how you do it. We put forward very concrete proposals. We make some tough cuts. For example, we get rid of a lot of these farm subsidies. The Republicans today aren't going to touch subsidies for some of the big agribusinesses. They're going to cut food and nutrition programs for kids so we've said, we need to do a mix of cuts but also revenues generated from closing some of the tax loop holes and because Republicans have all signed this pledge, the Grover Norquist pledge, saying they will not accept one penny for deficit reduction from closing loop holes or getting rid of the big subsidies for the oil companies. That means they hit everybody else harder. That means they end the Medicare guarantee in their budget. That means they whack other important investments in our economy. MELVIN: Will Democrats be offering their own proposal to replace the automatic cuts this time around? VAN HOLLEN: Yes. What we're going to pro-pose is a balanced plan that actually addresses the whole ten-year sequester. The Republican plan is focused just on the one year. We say we need to get together to take a balanced approach. We point out some of the key areas that we need to address in order to get that but let's be real. At the end of the day this is only going to happen in a bipartisan manner. And, unfortunately, our Republican colleagues continue to refuse to take the same kind of balanced approach recommended by bipartisan groups. MELVIN: Is it realistic to expect that Democrats and Republicans are going to be able to hammer out a budget deal before the election? VAN HOLLEN: Well, I'd like to say yes but unfortunately I think the answer is going to be no for the very reasons we're talking about right now. We will continue to put forward a balanced approach. At least to date our Republican colleagues continue to reject that and unfortunately today in the Budget Committee I think they'll once again reject that. MELVIN: An exercise in futility perhaps. VAN HOLLEN: That is the sad part of all of this. It would be best if we could resolve these big issues before the election. This is what the campaign is all about. After all Mitt Romney has said that the House Republican budget is a wonderful document meaning he's embraced this idea that we're going to protect all these tax breaks and the consequence of that is that you're going to end the Medicare guarantee, make deep cuts in education, cut investments and infrastructure even when we have huge unemployment in the construction industry so people are going to have a very clear choice. MELVIN: Congressman Chris Van Hollen from Maryland. Congressman, always a pleasure. Thanks so much. VAN HOLLEN: Very good to be with you.