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SCHULTZ: Let`s bring in Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey tonight.
Also with us is former labor secretary under President Clinton, Robert
Reich -- also the author of "Beyond Outrage."
Gentlemen, great to have you with us tonight.
REP. BILL PASCRELL (D), NEW YORK: Hello, Ed. How are you?
SCHULTZ: Congressman, let`s start with you first. What do you expect
with Paul Ryan at the helm of these negotiations?
PASCRELL: It doesn`t send -- I`m not frightened about that situation.
In fact, one of the things that Paul does bring to the table, and I think
it`s necessary here, Ed, is urgency.
This is an urgent situation we need to address. If we kick this can
down the street, and I would contend that if you do away with all of the
Bush tax cuts and we supposedly start anew in January or February, I don`t
think that helps us down the path. I think we could strike a deal to get
218 votes. We need about 30 or 40 votes on the Republican side in the
House of Representatives.
This is a time when we`ve got to step up to the plate.
SCHULTZ: What do you got to give up to get that, though?
PASCRELL: Well, we`re going to have tax cuts, only tax cuts but we`re
also the middle tax cuts -- there needs to be cuts in the budget. And
we`ve got to start that process.
That was part of the president`s deal. It`s a balanced approach. I
think it`s the correct approach. What the numbers are we can debate, but
what the philosophy is and the specifics are, it`s critical to get a
SCHULTZ: I don`t disagree with that, but I disagree with Paul Ryan
being an honest broker and demanding that there`s going to be some major
changes in Medicare and Medicaid. He`s going to go after the poor,
PASCRELL: Well, none of us are going to accept cuts in Medicaid
benefits. None of us are going to accept a different module for Social
Security on the Democratic side. What we need to work out is how much are
we going to cut in taxes? What are we going to allow?
I mean, the Republicans are holding the middle class hostage here. We
could have done this five months ago and that is -- as the Senate did --
and that is provide the tax cuts and let them continue for the middle
We have other taxes we`ve got to debate here. We have to talk about
the taxes in terms of what people are paying in payroll taxes.
SCHULTZ: Well, I guess I kind of thought that the hostages saw the
gates open on November 6th.
Robert Reich, what do you make of this?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: The interesting thing here, Ed,
is that the Democrats are holding tough and the Republicans seem not to
have remembered who won the election on November 6th. They -- by putting
Paul Ryan in there as the chief negotiator -- are putting somebody in who
really did say all during the election, we are going to cut Medicare, we`re
going to cut Social Security, we`re going to cut programs for the poor, and
we are going to cut taxes on the rich. Well, that was repudiated by the
electorate very, very clearly.
And right now, have a chance, a very important, historic chance to illustrate for the public exactly whose side the Republicans are on. And the Republicans are clearly on the side of the rich and not on the side of the middle class.
There will be, I think, a day of reckoning and that day of reckoning
is going to be in January if we go over the so-called fiscal cliff, which
is actually more of a hill than a fiscal cliff. What that means
essentially is that all tax rates go back to the Clinton tax rates. The
Clinton tax rates were not that horrible. I was very happy to be and proud
to be a member of the Clinton administration and we had a very good
SCHULTZ: Congressman, are you OK with that? Are you OK with those
PASCRELL: Ed, let me tell you this, Ed, I don`t accept -- and I
usually agree with the professor -- I don`t accept that we should all just
wait until the new administration comes in and the new Congress is sworn.
I don`t think that puts us in a better place at all.
We could -- we could raise a lot of money and lose a lot of money at
the same time if we let all the tax cuts expire. There`s no guarantees
that the middle class tax cuts will pass when we get to January or
February. You`re going to have just a few less Democrats -- Republicans,
rather, in the House of Representatives. I don`t agree with that. I think we should make an effort.
Let me tell you something, Ed. I think we should look at the example
of president when he was a senator, Senator Obama and Senator McCain, when
they made that decision in September, both of them, in the heat of a
presidential election in 2008 --
PASCRELL: -- to put differences aside and support us -- you know,
there`s got to be some common good here. We`re going to resolve this
SCHULTZ: I don`t disagree with that. I totally agree with you.
There`s got to be -- but I don`t trust the Republicans that they are going
to put Medicare and Medicaid off to the side.
PASCRELL: Well, we`re not. We`re not going to accept that and you
SCHULTZ: OK. Mr. Reich, you think the Democrats can hold the line on
REICH: Well, they have to hold the line. That`s what the election
was all about.
I mean, do we want to sacrifice Medicare and Medicaid? The public
Do we want to increase taxes on the wealthy and give everybody else an
extension of the Bush tax cut? The public said overwhelmingly yes.
SCHULTZ: All right.
REICH: Democrats know they got a mandate at least on that from the
public. And the Republicans seem not to have heard what the public said.
And if the public -- if the Republicans are going to do what they have
done for the past four years, which is essentially say no to everything,
not compromise at all, then we`re going to go over the so-called fiscal
cliff or hill. We`re going to go back to the Clinton tax rates. The
Democrats are going to have a chance --
SCHULTZ: All right.
REICH: -- to negotiate new taxes that do raise taxes on the wealthy
and make retroactive to January 1st.
PASCRELL: Well, you --
REICH: And then the Republicans will be the minority party in the
House beginning January 1st, 2014.
SCHULTZ: We`re going to have to leave it there. Congressman Bill
Pascrell and Robert Reich, great to have you with us tonight.
PASCRELL: Great to be here, Ed.
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