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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript

Interview

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Congressman Goodlatte, good to have you on.

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R), VIRGINIA: Good to be with you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I want to begin with the fact that you, you were one of the drivers behind the House legislation that the Senate did reject this morning. Are you, sir, are you satisfied that you have had your say here and now it's down to the talks between the House speaker and the president?

GOODLATTE: Well, I think what's really important here is that the Senate in rejecting what the House did now has an obligation to work in a bipartisan fashion.

If they reject the plan the House sent, which raises the debt limit, as the president requested, but it also cuts spending, caps spending, and leads to a balanced budget, in fact a balanced budget amendment that I introduced on the first day of this Congress, the Senate has an obligation to produce something that the House can then negotiate with the Senate on.

I'm pleased that they're still having discussions at the White House, but those discussions have never resulted in anything that either the House or the Senate could vote on, and the president has never put anything in writing that we could score, that we could have the green-eyeshade people in the Congressional Budget Office say this is how much it would cost, this is how much it would save, this is the tax proposal.

Whatever the proposal might be, if the president wants us to vote on it, he's got to give us something in writing.

BALDWIN: Yes. Well, speaking of the talks as they are just talks right now as you point out between the president, between Speaker Boehner, do you foresee repercussions among Republicans against Speaker Boehner should he cut a deal with the White House to keep the government from defaulting come August 2?

GOODLATTE: No, I think that the speaker is fully aware that, unlike the president, who is the only elected official in the executive branch that can act unilaterally and can make a proposal on his own, whatever the speaker discusses with his president, he's got to bring back to the House, particularly to the Republican Conference, and he will then get a very clear idea whether that's something that would pass or not.

So we have a lot of confidence in Speaker Boehner, in Majority Leader Cantor in the negotiations that they have conducted. I think they have represented our position well. But you can't judge a package until it's actually produced and brought back to the Congress.

And, again, with the clock ticking down, it's urgent that the Senate or the president put something forward. We have already voted to raise the debt limit, subject to what we think the American people want. And that is cutting government spending and balancing our budget.

BALDWIN: Well, I don't know if you listened to the president today. I was sitting there taking notes. Because he really tried to make it palatable to the Americans so that we understand these complicated debt talks, right, that everyone's having day in and day out. And the president today said that your refusal to lift the debt ceiling to pay the government's bill is like -- what did he say? He says: "The U.S. doesn't run out without paying the tab. We pay our bills. We don't run out on the tab."

That is pretty simple language.

GOODLATTE: Sure.

BALDWIN: Do you disagree with that?

GOODLATTE: Well, of course I do because the House has already voted to raise the debt ceiling. We have sent that bill to the Senate. The Senate rejected it this morning by a narrow vote, and we certainly understand the Senate doesn't have to agree with the House. But if they don't agree with the House, they have to produce something else that we can deal with.

And the president asked for a clean lift of the debt ceiling. That has two problems. One, we voted on it in the House, and it was overwhelmingly defeated. Not only all the Republicans, but almost half the Democrats, voted against that.

But the other problem is that the bond rating agencies, Moody's, Standard & Poor's, they have made it clear that not only can we not default -- and no one here thinks that we can default on our obligations -- but not only can we not default, but we also have to put this government on a track to reducing spending or they will lower our bond rating for that.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: I was talking to Mark Zandi just the other day from Moody's. And at the time, he seemed pretty optimistic. But I think everyone agrees that we can't afford to default whatsoever.

But I do want to show you a poll, sir. We have this poll. It shows the numbers -- 34 percent of Americans now agree with your position not to raise anyone's taxes to help pay down the debt. So if the government defaults, if the government defaults, if the economy then obviously would go south, will you get the blame, Congressman Goodlatte, or do you assume that folks will say that it must be the president's fault?

GOODLATTE: I suspect that different people will place blame in different places. But we don't want to default. We don't want to get blame. We want to get credit for doing our jobs.

And, in fact, if the president has a tax proposal, put that on the table. Many have said in the House that if the taxes are net neutral -- in other words, if the tax increases are offset with tax cuts that help the middle class, for example, dealing with the Alternative Minimum Tax, that that would be something that we'd also consider.

But we can't consider anything unless somebody puts it across the table, either the president or the Senate. We're ready to act on whatever they send. We're ready to negotiate with the Senate if they send something back in response to what we sent them. But they haven't done that, and I think that's unfortunate because we have, you know, 10 days or so left to get this done before August 2.

BALDWIN: We do, indeed, 11 days. And as you mentioned, the talk is happening, but you want to see it in writing. And the American people want to know what is in the details as well.

Congressman Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, thank you show much for coming on.

GOODLATTE: Thank you, Brooke.

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