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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

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CROWLEY: Joining me from her home state of Florida, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, thank you so much for being here. Let me start out with a big piece of business on Capitol Hill, and that is coming up with some kind of jobs bill that might move the meter on the 9.1 percent unemployment rate. On your side, you have a bill that's essentially the president's bill that Congressman Larson has put out there with only a handful of Democratic co-sponsors. Why is that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the co-sponsorship is really not reflective of the widespread support that exists in the Democratic caucus and in the country for the American jobs act. You know, polling shows overwhelming support for Congress to pass the entire bill. It's absolutely critical.

We've got economists like Mark Zandi who say that the American jobs act would add 2 percentage points to the GDP, drop the unemployment rate by about 1 percent. I mean, those are a real shot in the arm to the economy that would create jobs now. And it has got widespread support, not just among Democrats but by Americans.

Sadly, Republicans, because they're only interested in one job, Barack Obama's, don't seem to be interested in getting jobs created now.

CROWLEY: So the challenge will be for Democrats and Republicans to come together to do something. Because the reality is, their bill is rolled out in the Senate, is not going to be acceptable in its totality for Democrats, and Republicans don't like what is the president's bill.

So it seems to me that you all have some hard bargaining coming up. And I wanted to play you something from the Republican radio address which comes from Congressman McCarthy and what he had to say about this jobs bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY WHIP: The president needs to get off the sidelines and get involved. The president needs to come off the campaign trail and get to work. In the spirit of working together on jobs, I urge the president to call on leaders in his party to follow the House. Listen to the American people. Stop pushing ideas we know won't work and pass these jobs bills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So Kevin McCarthy from the Republican leadership. They're in charge over there. Is the president -- because he has been criticized even by Democrats in the past for not being actively involved in saying, here's what I want, here's what I'll back. Do you sense that this time around the president is more actively involved?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: My colleague, Mr. McCarthy's comments just do not pass the straight face test. The president has been out there stumping around the country for jobs, for people to press their member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, to pass the American jobs act.

What is it that, Candy, that Republicans are opposed to? Are they opposed to putting veterans and teachers and first responders like firefighters and police officers back to work? Are they opposed to extending the payroll tax cut and adding one to small businesses to put an average of $1,500 a year in families' pockets? Are they opposed to fixing bridges and building roads?

This is -- the American jobs act would be an immediate shot in the arm to the economy that would create jobs now. The so-called Republican jobs bill would just allow corporate America to write their own rules again. And it has been analyzed to conclude they would create no jobs now. There isn't even a certainty it would create any jobs at all. No one has found any evidence that it would. So at the end of the day, we need jobs now. That's what the American people are clamoring for. The public needs to get on-board.

CROWLEY: As you know, though, that while we can ascribe all kinds of motives to the Republicans about wanting to keep the president to a one-term presidency, when they took a vote in the Senate on the president's bill, there were two Democrats who voted against them.

One of them was Senator John Tester, a senator from Montana. He's up for re-election. And he said that he voted against it because it simply didn't produce enough jobs. And part of what he wrote was: "Only 20 percent of the $447 billion," which the president's bill would cost, "was dedicated to physical infrastructure and only about half of that money would have been able right away. Over $250 billion of the bill was devoted to temporary tax gimmicks that do not create jobs." He's talking here about continuing the so-called holiday for payroll taxes.

So, this is not a man looking to unseat President Obama. This is a man running for his own re-election, and doesn't that tell you something about a constituency out there that isn't ready to accept the president's plan?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, look, we are not a party that demands unanimity, by any means. Majority of the United States Senate voted in favor of moving on the American Jobs Act.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And because of Republican's interest in only Barack Obama's job -- I mean, Mitch McConnell -- we can only take them at their word, Candy, and Mitch McConnell said at the beginning of this Congress that his number one priority was defeating Barack Obama, not creating jobs.

And I have tremendous respect for Senator Tester, but, you know, to be opposed to legislation because it doesn't do enough when we can't even get the Republicans to support what the president has proposed, you know, I have respect for his opinion but the American people right now need us to put a shot in the arm to the economy so that we can continue to get it turned around.

You know, we've stopped the economy from dropping like a rock, like it was before President Obama took office. We've begun to turn things around but we need to pick up the pace of recovery and we need that short-term infusion so that we can do that.

And we need Republicans and Democrats to work together. You know, where is the leadership on the Republican side? You want to talk about sitting on the sidelines? They're the ones that have just been crossing their arms and hoping for failure.

I mean, how could -- it's so irresponsible for them to allow the economy to just remain stagnant, you know, so that they can get a political...

CROWLEY: I think they would disagree...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... victory in the election next year.

CROWLEY: Right. I think they would say they don't want the economy to stay stagnant but they have different ideas. But let me move you on to a couple of things. And one is...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: They should offer them.

CROWLEY: There is the super committee out there that, by the end of this year, has to have a vote on $1.2 trillion worth of cuts, and without which, any agreement there, if there is no agreement in Congress, there will be huge cuts in defense, along with domestic problems as well.

But Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, said, no, this would be really damaging. Are you completely comfortable with the default position which, by law, would require these deep cuts in the Defense Department?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What I'm comfortable with is that Republicans and Democrats should come together on that super committee and that the leadership should press their members -- the Republican leadership should press their members to do what President Obama and Speaker Boehner...

CROWLEY: But would you be comfortable if it comes...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... originally planned to do.

CROWLEY: ... to the trigger? If it comes to the trigger, would you be comfortable with the sorts of cuts that would be required of the Defense Department?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We need the kind of balance that the mandate of the super committee would produce. I'm comfortable if we balance cuts with revenue, asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share to make sure that we don't only focus on the benefits for the wealthiest Americans.

That we need to make sure we do this with revenue and cuts. The default is, you know, not the worst option but it would certainly be better than the Republican proposal to get to $1.2 trillion, which is piling all the cuts on the backs of the middle class. That's unacceptable.

CROWLEY: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you so much for joining us this Sunday morning. Appreciate it. Up next, a live report from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication ceremony.

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