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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

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REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Where should the emphasis be when it comes to cuts? Boehner says he`s got to have spending cuts. There`s not enough spending cuts.Where do you think the emphasis should be when it comes to spending cuts in an effort to get a deal?

FRANK: Well, being that I`ve done a lot of work in banking, I`ll quote somebody who had a great relationship to banking. The bank robber Willie Sutton. They asked him why he robbed the banks at least reputedly and he said that`s where the money is.

So, if we`re going to cut, let`s go where the money is. In the military budget, particularly in that part of the military budget unrelated to legitimate national security needs, unrelated to the need to protect people who really are in trouble.

We are still fully stocked to when a thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union long after there isn`t one. We are still protecting Germany, Italy, England, and Austria from Stalin and his successors even though they are now strong enough to meet a threat which in fact doesn`t exist.

I just had my very able aid Marcus Rose check this for me. Over the last 10 years, we have spent $3.8 billion in Medicare. That`s true. During that same period, we spent $5.6 billion on the military. The military has been going up faster and it includes an awful lot of expenditure, unnecessary.

And, by the way, we`re reading today that Canada is now reconsidering whether they`re going to buy the F-35. The F-35 is a very, very well- conceived airplane that`s proving to be a great financial disaster. If any agency, the Department of Housing, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, had a disaster as remotely expensive to the taxpayer as the F-35, my conservative friends would be screaming.

So, yes, I agree with them. Ironically, that`s one area where the Republicans want to spend more, where Mitt Romney criticizes the president for not spending enough.

And I`m very encouraged, Ed, that in this last election, for the first time in my memory, a Democratic president stood up to a Republican who tried to spend more on the military than even the military`s asked for and he won anyway. Having said that, I have to say I think the president still is suffering from a little cultural lag.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

FRANK: So, yes, there are agricultural subsidies to rich farmers that can get cut. I will tell you that I do not believe in this situation, we should be trying to put men on mars, men and women. I want to do scientific experimentation.

Well, let me talk briefly about where I don`t want to cut because what`s interesting as I listen to my Republican friends, they have an interesting formulation. In the end, they might be willing to tax the rich if we will help them attack the poor. It`s really quite an extraordinary equivalence.

In particular, they say they want to restrict the cost of living increase that goes to people on Social Security. There are women living not far from where I`m sitting now here in Washington who are living on $1,500 a month. And they get tens of dollars in a cost of living increase.

And by changing the cost of living increase, you reduce it.

We have people who`ve worked, women, men who worked 45, 50 years, they
hit 65. Now, they want to tell them they can`t get Medicare.

SCHULTZ: Sure.
FRANK: It`s very interesting. Boehner is saying, OK, Mr. President, you tell us about the cuts. The reason is that the cuts the Republicans are hoping to get are so unpopular and I think so socially outrageous that they`re afraid to put them forward.

But let`s understand, that`s their equation. They might in the end grudgingly go along with a very, very small tax increase on the richest people in the country -- by the way, I was talking to a very good friend who`s one of the wealthiest businessmen, most successful businessmen in Boston, and I asked him, if we were to raise the marginal income tax at the extent we`re talking about, would he notice it if his accountant didn`t call him up and tell him. He said of course not.

SCHULTZ: OK.

FRANK: So their price for a small tax on the very wealthy is increasingly putting pain on the poor.

SCHULTZ: Well, Congressman, you`ve covered a lot of ground there. I want to go back to the first part of your answer. Do you think Democrats should be going after defense spending? I know that`s what you think.

FRANK: Yes.

SCHULTZ: But I have not heard that narrative played out much in the House and it sounds like you`re advocating closing a lot of bases that are overseas in the countries that you mentioned.

FRANK: Exactly. By the way, we still have Marines on Okinawa. I think people thought when John Wayne died, that was the end of that.The Japanese are strong enough to defend themselves. Yes, they did terrible things 70 years ago, but that`s over.

SCHULTZ: So the Democrats aren`t being strong enough in this area. Am I hearing that?

FRANK: No, but I`m pushing. Ed, you`re right. And as I said, I think the president makes some mistake (ph) -- Leon Panetta, who`s a great guy, he had a great career, but when he became secretary of defense, he said we can`t hollow out the military the way we did after the Cold War. Except you was the budget director after the Cold War.

And I think Budget Director Panetta under Bill Clinton made more sense in military spending than Secretary of Defense Panetta. But it`s getting better.

I authored -- I co-authored an amendment this past session to freeze defense spending, to reduce what was recommended by the appropriations committee. Not enough of a cut. But for the first time in my congressional career, a good majority of the House voted to reduce what the appropriators wanted.

My co-sponsor, by the way, was a Tea Party Republican and 80 percent of the Democrats voted with me. So, I think you`re going to see, particularly now that (INAUDIBLE) --

SCHULTZ: OK.

FRANK: Either you make substantial reductions in the military or you make substantial reductions into medical care. And I think when that choice comes, the Democrats are going to get --

SCHULTZ: All right. I want your take on this, here`s John Boehner talking about his future as speaker. Here it is.

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BOEHNER: I`m not concerned about my job as speaker. What I`m concerned about is doing the right thing for our kids and our grandkids. And if we don`t fix this spending problem their future is going to be rather bleak.

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SCHULTZ: Congressman, quickly, what`s your take on that? Is he concerned about his future and that`s why he`s not coming to a deal with the president? It`s very clear what the president wants to do?

FRANK: No, he`s got this right-wing Republican constituency to which he is responding. And again, it`s not simply that they resist taxes on the very wealthy. These are people who want to undo what steps we`ve taken -- we have increasing inequality in this country. And if you want inequality, what we need is healthy increased dose of it.

SCHULTZ: OK.

FRANK: So, no, he is simply reflecting this -- I have to say this. I have no reason to think that there is any conflict between what he wants to do personally and what his caucus is trying to get him to do. Fortunately, as you`ve just pointed out, the American people disagree with him, both on taxes and Social Security and Medicare.

SCHULTZ: Across the board. Absolutely, across the board.Congressman Barney Frank, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate your take.

Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of your screen. Share your thoughts on Twitter with us @EdShow and on Facebook. We want to know what you think. Coming up, after weeks of Republican attacks, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice drops out of the running for secretary of state. MSNBC`s Jonathan Alter and former RNC chair Michael Steele with reaction. Stay with us. We`re right back.

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