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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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Let"s go now to Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Will you--let"s get to the point of taxes here. Will you support a tax increase for any income class, zillionaires, millionaires, billionaires, anybody? Yes or no?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN ®, TENNESSEE: I do not support tax increases.

We have--many of our--

MATTHEWS: In any income group? For any income group?

BLACKBURN: -- small businesses--our small businesses are telling us

and most of these, Chris, file on individual income tax forms.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BLACKBURN: And our small businesses, 90 percent of the employers in this country, are telling us, Do not raise our taxes, we can"t afford it. The uncertainty--

MATTHEWS: Of course they do.

BLACKBURN: -- of regulation, the heavy hand--we"re trying to create jobs.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BLACKBURN: And if you look at the small business numbers, about 70 percent of the jobs we"ve created--

MATTHEWS: OK--

BLACKBURN: -- over the past decade have come from small businesses.

So no, you don"t want to tax those small businesses.

MATTHEWS: So let me ask you about billionaires, trillionaires,

whatever, anybody that makes millions of dollars a year. Should they pay -

I"m just wondering how we"re ever going to balance the budget. You can"t come up with $1.6 trillion in cuts right now. So in the end, you"re going to have to do something with revenues. Why shouldn"t the very rich be those people providing those revenues for the government?

BLACKBURN: Chris, you--

MATTHEWS: You can"t cut it enough to balance the budget, can you?

BLACKBURN: What people don"t--yes, you can.

MATTHEWS: Where are you--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Tell me where you"re going to cut $1.6 trillion in government spending.

BLACKBURN: What the president doesn"t seem to understand, Washington does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.

MATTHEWS: I know--OK, I know this song.

BLACKBURN: We are in the middle--

MATTHEWS: That"s a song.

BLACKBURN: -- of a spending-driven debt crisis--

MATTHEWS: That"s lyric. That is a lyric to a song, Congresswoman.

BLACKBURN: No, it isn"t a lyric. It"s a fact.

MATTHEWS: I"m asking you, though--

BLACKBURN: It"s a fact.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you for a fact, not a song. How do you reduce the federal deficit by $1.6 trillion--that"s the deficit right now--by cutting? Give me your cuts for $1.6 trillion. That"s how much we"re over right now.

BLACKBURN: Let"s start with the Ryan budget.

MATTHEWS: Let"s start with it? OK.

BLACKBURN: It is going to hit the floor tomorrow. That is $6.2 trillion in spending reductions over the next decade. Go to the Republican Study Committee budget--

MATTHEWS: OK--

BLACKBURN: -- that is going to be even more of that. And they"re listed--you can go to my Web site--

MATTHEWS: OK--

BLACKBURN: -- Blackburn.house.gov.

MATTHEWS: Will you vote for it?

BLACKBURN: You can follow the links. They"re there. And my buddy--

MATTHEWS: Will you vote for the Ryan budget?

BLACKBURN: Yes, I"m going to vote for Ryan budget and I"m going to vote for the Republican Study Committee budget, too. It is time that we get this--

MATTHEWS: OK.

BLACKBURN: -- country on the road to fiscal health.

MATTHEWS: What are we going to do--

BLACKBURN: And there is a way to do it.

MATTHEWS: OK, let"s talk about the two big issues. Let"s talk about Medicare and defense. Medicare--everybody knows that"s driving the budget. Let me ask you this right now. Can we tell seniors that instead of paying for their health benefits, which we do now--the federal government does now under Medicare--that we"re going to give them a check which will pay a portion of their medical cost, and then they have to go out and find an insurance company to insure them. Do you think that"s good idea? That"s the Ryan idea. Is that a good idea?

BLACKBURN: What we have in the Ryan budget, where seniors have more options, more--things that are--more familiar to them via Medicare Advantage. What you"re going to see is more options for seniors, but these won"t kick in until you get to--I think it"s 2021. So people that are under 55, 54 years old--

MATTHEWS: Right.

BLACKBURN: -- are going to see a change and it will be--

MATTHEWS: What"s the option here?

BLACKBURN: -- similar to the Medicare Advantage program.

MATTHEWS: Tell them there"s no more Medicare--but you say they have an option, but they don"t have an option of keeping Medicare as it is. They don"t have that option under the Ryan plan.

BLACKBURN: They have an option of expanding the coverage that they have. Talk to people that are in the Medicare Advantage program. It works.

MATTHEWS: No, no.

BLACKBURN: They"re happy with it.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BLACKBURN: They like having--

MATTHEWS: OK.

BLACKBURN: -- the opportunity to have--

MATTHEWS: This is where we go into--I respect you, Congresswoman.

You"ve been elected so many times, and you"re great to come on the show. But here"s the problem. The reason Medicare was passed in the "60s is because the private sector wasn"t providing medical care for people. Once you reach your 70s and 80s, nobody"s going to bet on you having great health. They know it"s going to be expensive. You"re going to be making a lot of costs for that company. So the government has to pay it. That"s why people have Medicare, why they like it. You"re saying a private company is going to go out and insure somebody in their 70s and 80 against not having big medical costs? They"re going to think that"s a good investment?

BLACKBURN: Chris, I"ve got to tell you, as we have talked with our near-seniors and with seniors, those that have more options like having more options. They will tell you that. But the Ryan budget does not touch those that are seniors and near-seniors. It moves back down--remember, Medicare is a program that has been coming--that money has been coming out of your paycheck. The government has first right of refusal on your paycheck. What we want to do is preserve the program.

The way you do that is to move back down the age tables a little bit and then say, Let"s look at options and give you more options. And do I think it"s going to work? Yes, I do. Did the prescription drug benefit program come in under budget? Yes, it did. Have seniors responded and have insurance companies responded to the opportunity to provide--

MATTHEWS: OK--

BLACKBURN: -- seniors with more options? Yes, indeed, they have. And I think that what we need to do is realize that cutting what the federal government spends--

MATTHEWS: OK--

BLACKBURN: -- beginning to make some serious decisions and have some adult conversations needs to be done. And for the future--

MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I agree with you about that.

BLACKBURN: -- of my two grandsons, I"m willing to have those conversations.

MATTHEWS: OK. I"m worried about--I keep asking people, both parties, including yours, how do you get rid of as $1.6 trillion deficit right now?

BLACKBURN: You stop spending.

MATTHEWS: And I get answers that have nowhere near come through with the money. The money is nowhere near even--

BLACKBURN: I"ve just given you two. I"ve just given you two.

MATTHEWS: It is not $1.6 trillion--

BLACKBURN: The Ryan budget--

MATTHEWS: -- this year. It just isn"t.

BLACKBURN: Well, the Ryan budget comes into primary balance--

MATTHEWS: It doesn"t kick in--

BLACKBURN: -- in 2015, and the Republican--

MATTHEWS: -- until people turn 55 at some point down--

BLACKBURN: -- Study Committee budget comes into primary balance in 2014.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BLACKBURN: Great country song, when (INAUDIBLE) hole, stop digging, and that"s exactly--

MATTHEWS: OK.

BLACKBURN: -- what the U.S. House of Representatives needs to do.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.

BLACKBURN: Thanks, Chris.

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