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MATTHEWS: Sounds good. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama earlier this month up in Pittsburgh. Can he tap into the worst oil spill in U.S. history and wrangle the votes to push through an energy bill that forces this country to embrace a green future?
Democratic congressman (SIC) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is a Democrat from Florida and Republican congressman Steve Scalise is a Louisiana guy. He"s a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a Republican, and he"s casual for us today.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, I want you to take a listen to what Senator Tom Coburn--he"s from an oil patch state, like you. He"s from Oklahoma. He said this about the EPA"s plans to regulate carbon emissions. Quote, "It would be stupid for us to do this now, when the rest of the world is not coming along at all. Even if it is the right thing to do, now is not the time to do it."
What do you make of a congressperson, or a senator in this case, who says he doesn"t want to do the right thing because other people aren"t doing it?
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), ENERGY & COMMERCE CMT.: Well first of all, Chris, I think that it"s really a shame that the president is trying to capitalize upon our disaster in shifting--instead of focusing on helping us recover and doing his job, which he"s not doing on the ground, he"s talking about this cap-and-trade energy tax, which I don"t think is the real answer for energy policy because it would run millions of jobs overseas and it would make our country more dependent on Middle Eastern oil. So that"s not the answer.
MATTHEWS: What should we do to change our dependence--or remove our dependence on fossil fuels in the future? Looking down the road to the fact we"re not going to have fossil fuel, looking down the road, where we know it"s dangerous to the climate at some point--at some point--how are we going to shift to new energy sources, sir? How are we going to do it?
SCALISE: I"d like to see--I"d like to see us using an "all of the above" strategy, Chris, where we actually don"t just use our domestic energy resources, but we also do more to explore wind and solar. But you"ve got to recognize wind and solar aren"t going to get us where we need to be alone. We need to do more nuclear power. We need to move more to natural gas and clean coal technology. And fossil fuel"s going to be a part of that, but we need to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
And his plan not only raises taxes and runs millions of jobs overseas, it increases our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. So it"s the wrong approach to an energy policy. I"d rather see us go in a direction that actually uses American innovation and technology instead of one that puts more taxes and runs more jobs out of our country.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, is there a Republican energy plan? Or is it just to say no to your plan?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, the Republican energy plan has been driven by slogans: drill, baby, drill; all of the above.
None of those things are going to make sure that we can create green jobs, millions of green jobs, and not get beat by China and India when it comes to the innovation that Congressman Scalise is talking about.
I mean, I--believe me, I come from a Gulf state, one that depends on a $65 billion tourism industry, a coastline that is most pristine in the country, and one that is potentially facing the oil that has leaked out of the rig off of--of Steve"s shoreline.
We--if this isn"t an example of why we need to wean ourselves off of our dependence on oil, period, and focus on the American innovation that we know is possible, so that we can create renewable sources of energy, then I don"t know what is. But all of the above is not...
MATTHEWS: What is the--I"m a big deal-maker. I love deals. I love the old-time Senate, where they cut deals in Congress and they moved forward. They didn"t just bitch and take positions and give press releases and make speeches. They actually could say, a year later, something got done during that year.
Now, I want to ask you, Congressman, is there a chance here to move ahead with an energy transition based upon, say, Dick Lugar"s plan? Is there something Lindsey Graham"s moving to over there?
Let"s look at this. Here"s Mitch McConnell"s position, which I think is not a position. He said: "What I believe most of my members, if not all of them, will not be interested in is seizing on the oil spill in the Gulf and using that as a rationale, if you will, for passing a national energy tax referred to down here at the White House as cap and trade."
Now, that"s a negative position. What is the positive position in
terms of moving forward? And do you support some kind of negotiation with
the Democrats, which never seems to get done in this presidency? You guys
McConnell from day one has said you guys" platform is no. That"s your platform.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That"s right.
MATTHEWS: That"s what...
MATTHEWS: Is he right? Is McConnell right? The smartest move for your party is to screw things up for the next couple of years, right through November, get the country completely bollixed up, and they will vote Republican out of desperation, and you will have more power? Is that the strategy of the Republican Party this year? Because McConnell says it is.
SCALISE: Yes, first of all, Chris, I"m a co-sponsor of a bill called the American Energy Act, which is a comprehensive energy plan. The president has refused to meet with Republicans who have an alternative idea, because he wants to just go out there and say, falsely, that we"re just the party of no. We have got bills.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That"s just not true, and you know it, Steve.
Give me a break.
SCALISE: But, Debbie, we have got a bill. You might not like our bill. You might want a tax on energy, when the president"s own budget director said it would add over $1,200 a year on energy taxes.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No. What I want is for you to actually be willing to come to the table. Come to the table.
SCALISE: Oh, I will be happy to come to the table, but not to raise taxes, not to run millions of jobs out of our country.
SCALISE: And, so, that"s the difference.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That"s the easy way out the Republicans always go...
MATTHEWS: Would we be better off weaning ourself on fossil fuel over time, Congressman? Would we be better off? Just a simple question would we be better off weaning ourselves from oil over time, all oil?
SCALISE: I think we all recognize we need to do more to promote alternative sources of energy. But nobody is suggesting that you"re going to be able to put a wind turbine on the top of your car and drive around. So, we have got to be realistic about energy policy as well.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That"s the long way to say, no, they don"t, because they have a very short-sighted view of what we can do in terms of renewable fuels. We--oil...
SCALISE: Well, we have got a plan.
MATTHEWS: We know we"re moving there. Let"s not act like we"re all troglodytes, neither one of you.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have to.
MATTHEWS: The fact--we"re moving towards hybrid cars. we"re moving towards electric cars.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Electric car.
MATTHEWS: ... solar works in some cases, where the climate has a lot of heat, a lot of sun, air. Wind works with there"s a lot of wind, North Dakota, places like that.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, let"s just go positively. Is there a future for an alternative to oil? Is there a future for that, yes or no?
SCALISE: Oh, yes, there is.
MATTHEWS: Or are we going to always need oil? Will we always need oil?
SCALISE: Well, I think, if you continue to promote alternative sources of energy, you will ultimately get to a point where you can replace it. We"re not there yet and we"re not anywhere close. Let"s work to get there.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But we have to make the investment.
SCALISE: But by taxing energy, running millions of jobs out of our country, that is not the answer.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have to make the investments that we need to--we have to use American ingenuity, American innovation.
Steve and his colleagues have to be willing to stop saying no and sit down at the table with Democrats and work out a renewable energy plan that focuses on getting...
MATTHEWS: I want to go to the congresswoman first. I want to ask you both...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you said no to that, too.
SCALISE: Yes, and look how well it"s worked, billions of dollars in debt, and it didn"t work. We"re losing jobs.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, get out of here.
MATTHEWS: You said that president won"t meet with you guys.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have gone from bleeding 700,000-plus jobs to creating 400,000 jobs.
MATTHEWS: Can we take two minutes here, ladies and gentlemen, to try to have a negotiation?
MATTHEWS: Congressman, let me ask you this.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Scalise...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... economy Obama inherited from George Bush.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Scalise, let me ask you, you said you can"t meet with the president. What would you do with the president, I mean in the middle of the table, not on your side of the table, going towards the center, meeting halfway with Markey and those guys on the cap and trade side?
Is there something in the middle that could get done between now at the end of the year which you reasonably believe would be a compromise, sir?
SCALISE: I think the first thing that we need to do is, let"s put some things on the table. But the president has got to take new taxes off the table.
Our economy is suffering right now, mostly because of the bad policies coming out of Washington. And they continue to raise more taxes, and it"s crippling our economy. So, the president has got to take new taxes off of the table.
MATTHEWS: What are you putting on?
SCALISE: And his cap and trade bill has billions of dollars in new taxes.
MATTHEWS: What are you putting on the table? What are you willing to compromise on?
SCALISE: Let"s look at how to utilize our resources in this country today to go and invest in those technologies of the future, but by using innovation and incentives, not taxes and running millions of jobs out of our country.
So, there"s a different approach, but, hopefully, we can sit down. I know the president doesn"t want to meet with us. He would rather just bash us. He won"t even meet with us to talk about the problems we"re dealing with right now in the Gulf, where we have laid out some real ideas to fix our solutions.
The president today--I was in Grand Isle today, all day, meeting with local responders. And guess what, Chris? They still are getting told no by this president and this administration on plans to protect the marsh, still to this day.
MATTHEWS: OK. All I know is, the president went up to your Republican retreat and met with all you congresspeople. He also went to Blair House and met with all of your leaders.
MATTHEWS: I do know he does meet with you. But I"m not sure meeting is the issue here. It"s compromise on both sides.
Do you think you can compromise from your side, Congresswoman?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Absolutely. If the Republicans would be willing to sit down around the table and...
MATTHEWS: What I see here...
MATTHEWS: What do I see? If the Titanic sank today, you know what the Republicans would be saying? Don"t be telling the shipping lines they need more life rafts or life preservers. Don"t get involved with industry telling them what to do.
At some point, the government has to intervene, because the private sector is not doing the job. The private sector is what we"re seeing on that live bug every night on television.
By the way, Congressman, that"s the work of the private sector without regulation. That"s what it looks like without being taxed heavily.
SCALISE: Well, but the federal government is the regulator, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Your oil patch people have been getting away for centuries without paying taxes.
You have had the biggest tax breaks in the world because you have controlled the Ways and Means Committee. You have controlled the Finance Committees and the regulating committees to the point there is no regulation of safety.
MATTHEWS: You have had your way. So, that works. And we"re seeing it every night on the air.
SCALISE: If the Titanic sank today, I"m sure the president would try to blame it on George Bush. And we have seen where that has gotten us.
MATTHEWS: Well, that"s not useful.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: BP...
SCALISE: If you look, we have got real solutions, and the president still to this day isn"t working with us.
MATTHEWS: OK. We have got to go.
MATTHEWS: I like arguing.
Thank you, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir. Thanks for coming in here on Friday, Congressman Scalise, Republican from Louisiana.
SCALISE: Thank you.
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