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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Ed, always good to be with you.

SCHULTZ: You bet. Do we have positive move forward? We`re hearing
Republicans say they will give up some revenue. Your take on it?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, as you said, Ed, most of them are saying the right
thing, but the devil is always in the details. And it`s important to
remember that we already had a trillion dollars worth of cuts to the budget
as part of the Budget Control Act. Now it`s time to take the balanced
approach and that`s why it`s important to put revenue on the table. And we
have to ask higher income earners to contribute more.

So that`s what the president talked about during the presidential
campaign. He got a good majority. We know the exit polls support the
president. And that we just got to move forward.

And Republicans need to make sure they wake up to this fact before
January 1st would be best, but they need to recognize that come January
1st, if they`re not willing to deal with this revenue piece, the president
is going to be able to the American people and say, hey, you know what? We
want to give tax relief to 98 percent of the American people, but
Republicans are holding everyone hostage until they get those bonus tax
break for folks at the very top.

SCHULTZ: OK.

VAN HOLLEN: And I don`t think that`s sustainable for them.

SCHULTZ: All right. So the Democrats have been very clear. Got to
have some revenue on the table, it`s got to come from the wealthiest
Americans.

Republicans are saying, yes, we get some revenue, too. We want to
some spending cuts. And then they`re going to look right at entitlements
as you heard Mitch McConnell right there. In fact, he said this is the
real problem.

Are Democrats willing to buy into that, that the real problem is the
big three and you`re going to have to serve up some revenue in those
programs?

VAN HOLLEN: No, what Democrats have said with respect to Medicare is
that we can build on the approach that we took in the Affordable Care Act,
which is different than the Republican approach. The Republican approach
has been -- let`s pass on the costs and risk of higher health care prices
to seniors. They would do it through the voucher program. They would do
it through other mechanisms.

We`ve always said that`s the wrong approach. If you want to save
money in Medicare, you need to bring down health care costs overall, you
need to end the overpayments to the private insurance companies, which is
what we did in Obamacare.

And there are additional ways to save money by improving the
incentives in the Medicare system to end these overpayments. But we do not
support the Republican approach of transferring those costs on to seniors.
That doesn`t solve the problem.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

VAN HOLLEN: We need to contain healthcare costs throughout the
system, not just pass those costs on to seniors.

SCHULTZ: Can you keep Social Security off the table?

VAN HOLLEN: We have said and we have been very clear about this.
Social Security cannot be part of the deficit reduction talks. We are
willing to consider Social Security on its own merits to strengthen Social
Security, remembering that Social Security can pay 100 cents on the dollar
until the year 2034. After that, you do have a shortfall --

SCHULTZ: OK.

VAN HOLLEN: -- of about 25 cents on the dollar. We should plan
sooner rather than later, but that should not be part of the deficit
reduction equation.

SCHULTZ: Well, this is going to be the big fight, because the
Republicans want to privatize it. They`re going to go down that road and
when they say reform, they`re talking about cuts. So, that`s something we
got to follow.

You know, I get a little nervous, Congressman, when I hear about
framework and targets because it sounds like that might be an opportunity
to kick the can down the road. Straighten me out on that. Tell our
audience that this is just -- that you can feel confident in a framework
that we can move on.

VAN HOLLEN: Yes, look, you`re absolutely right. This is the moment
to deal with this issue because the Bush tax cuts expire by law at the end
of December. And it is time now to say to the country, we`re going to be
serious about the deficit in a sense we`re going to ask everybody to share
responsibility.

We already did these cuts. Now higher-income people have to
contribute more because if they don`t, the math gets pretty simple. That`s
when you do have big hits to people on Medicare. That`s when you cut
dramatically into our kid`s education.

So we said you got to share responsibility in this. And we should not
be kicking the can down the road when it comes to asking higher-income
people to pay more toward the deficit.

SCHULTZ: All right. Congressman Chris Van Hollen -- thanks for
joining us tonight on THE ED SHOW.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you, Ed.

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