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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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MATTHEWS: OK. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is a Democrat from Missouri.

Congressman Cleaver, a couple of questions. What do you think Eric Cantor"s plan to demand cuts in the government budget in order to help the people here in Joplin?

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: I think Mr. Cantor probably misspoke. I can"t--I refuse to believe that"s what he was actually trying to say. We have 134 people dead in Joplin, Missouri, and devastation like we"ve never seen in any city in Missouri in its state"s history. So, if the federal government does not have a role to play in helping people survive, then we don"t need a federal government.

And, I guess the sad thing would be is that we didn"t get an offset before we went to the aid of the Haitians and we didn"t get an offset when we went to the aid of the Japanese after the tsunami. And, unfortunately, it looks like we"re going to do an offset. But I think the way it was presented to the American public was probably not as compassionate as I believe Mr. Cantor is.

MATTHEWS: OK. I"ve got a question about a larger question. Even in the dangers of earthquakes, tornadoes, and whatever, and this is this whole question of another Greece. We"re getting warnings from Geithner, the secretary of treasury, if this Congress doesn"t get its act together, doesn"t reach an agreement on the debt ceiling before this August deadline, we"re going to have a real problem with our credit in the world. The United States won"t be paying its bills.

You have Greece, you know, the biggest news out a few minutes ago, just saw it. Greece may well default. Here"s a major country in Europe. Do we want to follow them?

CLEAVER: Absolutely not. We do have one difference between the U.S. and Greece and that is we have a central bank, which can print currency almost unlimitedly, whereas Greece doesn"t have a central bank. The central bank is actually the European bank. And they can"t print the euros.

MATTHEWS: Yes. But you want to start printing money like Mugabe is doing it?

CLEAVER: No.

MATTHEWS: I mean, we can"t do that either.

CLEAVER: No, we"ll have $100 bill worth 35 cents.

MATTHEWS: Right.

CLEAVER: But I do think that we cannot have a technical default or any kind of default because it will cause the United States to lose its place among the nations around the world. Our currency"s now the preferred currency of the world. It"s hailed back by most countries when they make big purchases like oil or airlines.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

CLEAVER: And so we can"t do that. It will damage the United States internally.

MATTHEWS: Great. Thank you so much. I agree with you completely. We"ve got to get this done. Thank you, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri.

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