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NBC "Meet the Press" - Transcript

Interview

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MR. GREGORY: Raul Labrador, you're a freshman Republican from Idaho, tea party-backed. A lot of your--and you've been instrumental in some of the talks on the House side, which included a balanced budget amendment, which is, you know, a poison pill in the Senate, as you know. Do you feel vindicated that you've stuck to principles? Or are you aptly criticized for failing to recognize what you and your colleagues are doing that leads to the political default that Tom is talking about?

REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R-ID): Well, let's talk about this for a second. We didn't create the problem. The problem has been created by the establishment of Washington for the last 30 years. The reason we have $15 trillion in debt is not because I was in Congress for the last 30 years, because of the people who have been here. And we, we came to Washington to change the way business was done. The American people have told us that they want us to change the way the business was done. Mike Mullen, who you, you quoted recently, he said...

MR. GREGORY: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

REP. LABRADOR: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said that the greatest national security threat to our nation is our debt.

MR. GREGORY: But we know this about the back...

REP. LABRADOR: And we know this.

MR. GREGORY: We understand the backdrop.

REP. LABRADOR: So we're...

MR. GREGORY: But there's still a question of how you unwind something so big when there is a real prospect here of financial calamity.

REP. LABRADOR: And I understand that. And, and if you look at what happened last night and this morning, John Boehner has been saying this entire week that the bill he first introduced in the House of Representatives was actually a bill that was supported by Harry Reid. Harry Reid has been denying it the whole week. He has been not telling the truth the entire week, saying that that was not the bill he agreed to. Then this morning we find out that the only difference between Harry Reid and John Boehner was the triggers. That's the only thing that--the only distinction. So now we know that John Boehner has been telling the truth the entire week. The bill that he first introduced in the House was the bill that he and Harry Reid worked on last week. He--if he would have had enough Democrats who would have voted with John Boehner, this, this would have passed on Monday and we wouldn't be at the moment of crisis that we're in right now.

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MR. GREGORY: Congressman, you've talked about something that is fundamental to this impasse. And I want to show it on the screen because some polling indicates what Americans oppose and what they support. This is what Americans are for, if you look at the numbers: a balanced budget amendment, which you supported, three-quarters of respondents; the cut, cap and balance plan, which is what the House passed originally with spending caps and the like. But, oh, guess what, they're also for cuts and tax increases, that balanced approach. But here's what they're opposed to, which makes it hard. Cutting farm subsidies, cutting pensions, cutting Medicaid benefits, cutting Medicare, cutting Social Security. So the bottom line is, the American people are sending mixed messages.

REP. LABRADOR: And they are.

MR. GREGORY: Makes it hard to govern.

REP. LABRADOR: Absolutely. It makes it very hard to govern. They come into my office and they tell me I want you to cut spending, but don't cut my program.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. LABRADOR: I hear that every single day. And the reality is that I, I want the American people to understand two things today. We will solve this problem. I'm tired of hearing all the media talking about how this is a crisis. We will solve this problem. It will actually happen and today we will have a plan. It might not be a plan that I agree with, but I think today or tomorrow we will have a plan and we won't go past this day.

The second thing, their Republicans actually proposed to get rid of all the loopholes already, and the people in the media never talk about it. The Ryan budget that was passed overwhelmingly by the House majority, in the House, actually has a plan for getting rid of the loopholes. I am for getting rid of the loopholes. I think it's fundamentally unfair that GE paid no taxes this year, and I think most of the American people agree with me. But what we need to do is we need to lower tax rates, and we need to broaden the base so everyone gets treated equally.

MR. GREGORY: Can I pin you down on one point?

REP. LABRADOR: Absolutely.

MR. GREGORY: If your speaker supports the compromise that they're negotiating today, will you vote yes for it?

REP. LABRADOR: I have to look at it. I'm not sure.

MR. GREGORY: But what, what has to be in it to get you to yes?

REP. LABRADOR: You know, for me the balanced budget amendment is really important, but I think there's enough members of the House that will probably support it so it can pass. I think the votes are there, and, and that's really important.

MR. GREGORY: The votes are there in the House. That's important because that's...

REP. LABRADOR: And I think the votes are there for it because the majority of the House have already voted for the--for this--a similar plan.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. LABRADOR: I think the votes are there.

MR. GREGORY: But they'll be no balanced budget amendment, which was a sweetener, which is how you got to 218.

REP. LABRADOR: But I think you will just lose a few votes, and I think it will get out of the House of Representatives.

MR. GREGORY: OK. So--will the tea party caucus vote no, but it'll still survive?

REP. LABRADOR: I'm not a member of the tea party caucus. I'm actually--I'm here to represent my constituents and the people of the United States.

MR. BROKAW: Can I ask you a question about Idaho?

REP. LABRADOR: Yeah.

MR. BROKAW: I mean, here's an example. You know, I've been looking at the numbers across the country about what states are the beneficiaries of federal aid. You're obviously a big beneficiary for a lot of reasons. You've got national forest land. The last numbers that I saw, you get a buck 28 back for every dollar you send to Washington. Now, that additional--that 28 cent premium, what would you be willing to give up? How much of it?

REP. LABRADOR: You know, if we got rid of that premium, what we would start doing is actually controlling our own destiny, and it costs us actually 30 percent more to use federal money. So I think it would be a wash. If you look at the schools, if you look at the roads, every time you do something with federal money because of the regulations and all the different things that you have to do, it actually costs you about 30 percent more to, to use that money.

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REP. LABRADOR: But, David, let's talk about the truth about what happened in Michigan. Governor Granholm actually supported the highest tax increases in the history of Michigan, and unemployment went from...

GOV. GRANHOLM: OK. Wait a second.

REP. LABRADOR: ...6.8 percent to 15.3 percent.

GOV. GRANHOLM: When I took over Michigan...

REP. LABRADOR: And...

GOV. GRANHOLM: Let's not get into an argument about Michigan.

REP. LABRADOR: ...that's a reality, that's a reality.

GOV. GRANHOLM: Michigan has the highest unemployment...

MR. GREGORY: Let him finish his point and then you respond to it.

REP. LABRADOR: And that's a reality. At the same time, you have the governor of Texas who actually supported tax decreases and more broadening of the base, and actually we have the fastest growth in Texas than any of the other states.

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REP. LABRADOR: I'm sorry, but I, I have to disagree here. And with all due respect, this--in the House of Representatives we actually passed a budget, we passed two bills that would have raised the debt ceiling. And I want to show you, this morning you showed--you actually saw on this show the failure of leadership of this administration. You asked David Plouffe a very simple question, "Will the military be paid?" Instead of telling you the truth, what he did is he demagogued. I want to show you real leadership. In 1985, the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, was asked the same question, and his Treasury Department said, "The secretary of the Treasury does have the authority to choose the order in which to pay obligations of the United States." This an official document from the Department of Treasury. "We are aware of no statute or any other basis for concluding that Treasury is required to pay outstanding obligations in order in which they are presented for payment unless it chooses to do so." And this president has not been willing to tell the American people that Medicare recipients and the military will be paid as long as we receive sufficient money in the Treasury. We have to solve this problem, I want to solve this problem, but there has been a failure of leadership from this president, and all he's doing is demagoguing and scaring the American people.

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