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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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SCHULTZ: Joining me now is Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland,
former DCCC chairman. And I think he might be -- knowing that this is a
very serious time in American history, but there are moments of comedy
coming out of the Republican caucus tonight.
Congressman, there is breaking news from the Hill right now. There
will be no vote on "Plan B". The speaker has pulled his own bill.
Here is the statement his office has just released. "The House did
not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient
support from our members to pass. Now, it is up to the president to work
with Senator Reid on legislation and avert the fiscal cliff. The House has
already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1st tax rate
increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that
will begin to address our nation`s crippling debt. The Senate must now
act."
Congressman, your reaction. What happened with John Boehner today?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: I was going to say, Ed, from the
beginning of your introduction to just a few minutes ago, we got the
announcement that they were folding up shop for tonight and maybe longer
because Speaker Boehner, having walked away from negotiations with the
president and cooking up this "Plan B", which was never going to go
anywhere in the Senate, now is not going anywhere in the House because he
can`t even persuade his own members to pursue this option.
The speaker should get back in the negotiations with the president.
The president has met him more than halfway. And now, it`s time for
Speaker Boehner to either let the House vote on the proposal the president
has put forward or give up the game. I mean, at this point, if he can`t
persuade his own members to go for "Plan B", it`s time for him to let the
American people speak. They`ve been very clear that they support the
approach the president`s taken.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, you stay with us. Chris Van Hollen, we`re
waiting to hear from Majority Leader Eric Cantor. And we`re going to go to
him in just a moment.
Congressman Van Hollen, how embarrassing is this for Boehner? He`s in
quicksand right now.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, it`s very embarrassing for the speaker, and it
demonstrates what many of us said all along, which is that he unfortunately
cannot control his own Republican caucus. The Republican caucus in the
House of Representatives has become a very extreme group, way out of the
American mainstream, captured by Tea Party extremists so that even John
Boehner, the speaker, their leader, can`t get them to support his proposal.
And I should say, Ed, his proposal would still give people earning
over a million dollars a year a $50,000 tax break compared to the Senate
Democratic tax bill. In other words, they get a $50,000 break at least
compared to what happened if they went over the cliff or if we got the
Senate bill. And at the same time they were actually proposing to increase
taxes on 25 million American families by taking away some of the tax
deductions for middle-income Americans to send their kids to college and
things like that.
So, it was a bad plan. But he couldn`t even sell his bad plan to very
extreme members of his own caucus.
SCHULTZ: This moment I think is a hangover from 2010. These Tea
Partiers have come in here, and they have bent the right wing -- they have
bent the Republican caucus so far to the right -- I mean, they put cuts on
the table that no one was even talking about tonight. They won`t even
raise taxes on people making above $1 million.
I mean, what does that tell you how far -- I mean, it doesn`t matter
what President Obama puts on the table. This wing of their party will not
accept anything -- it seems like -- to get us to where we have to go.
So, Congressman, does this officially make it a Republican problem for
us going over the cliff?
VAN HOLLEN: Oh, there`s no doubt about it. Even if they had passed
"Plan B", as Harry Reid and others said, this was going to be a fast trip
over the cliff.
SCHULTZ: What should the Democrats do now, Congressman? What`s the
next play here?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, we need to call on the speaker to bring up the plan
that`s been proposed by the president. It`s a balanced plan, as you well
know. There are lots of things in that plan that I don`t like and lots of
Democrats don`t look. I still have reservations about them. We`d have to
fix parts of it.
But at the very least, let`s bring up that plan, put it to a vote.
That`s true democracy. If the speaker really wants to allow the process to
work, let`s have a true democracy, a true majority vote in the House of
Representatives, and then we could pass a true balanced plan, the kind of
compromise plan that the president has put forward.
SCHULTZ: You said earlier today on MSNBC that you think that Boehner
is stringing this out because he`s concerned about his position as speaker
of the House. Has he lost control of his caucus tonight?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, clearly he has. And it reinforces the point that I
did make earlier today, which is a concern I`m sure he has that if he were
to allow the House to have an up or down vote, you know, just -- let`s
allow a majority in this House to work its will on a proposal that`s put
forth by the president after certain negotiations, preliminary negotiations
with the speaker, that there`s a very real risk that he would lose his
speakership.
So I suspected all along he may be dragging this out until January
3rd, which is when he is up for his election in the House for speaker. And
I would hope he would put the country over the politics of the Republican
House caucus, because what we are seeing tonight is they are a really
extreme group. They`re willing to drive the country off the cliff. And
it`s really a sad day for the country and the overall process.
SCHULTZ: So if you just joined us, breaking news tonight. The
speaker of the House does not have enough votes. They have canceled the
vote on "Plan B".
Chris Van Hollen joining us here on THE ED SHOW.
Congressman, when you look at what the president did, he put Social
Security on the table. This is, of course, what the Republicans have
wanted all along. They have wanted took after the big three. And they
didn`t even go after that offer. Change CPI -- they didn`t even go down
that road.
What does that tell you about Republicans? I mean, we`ve seen all
this obstruction over in the Senate. We`ve seen obstruction and the
failure to bring up bills on jobs that the president wants in the House.
And now, tonight, they couldn`t even get their own caucus together.
We`ve had 34 months of private sector job growth. I mean, the
country`s running without Republicans right now. Fair statement?
VAN HOLLEN: It`s running without Republicans. But the problem is
that we need Republicans to help us avoid going over the fiscal cliff,
which would be a huge increase on middle-income Americans, which would
definitely hurt the economy.
SCHULTZ: Have you ever seen anything like this?
(CROSSTALK)
SCHULTZ: Have you ever seen --
VAN HOLLEN: So what they`re doing, they`re holding the entire country
hostage as we speak.
SCHULTZ: Absolutely.
VAN HOLLEN: We`ve got 11 days to go before we go over the cliff. And
as one of your earlier guests said, they`re just putting their foot on the
accelerator.
You know, the bill -- the cut bill that they brought up today, Ed, was
a reflection of priorities because while they still are trying to put a tax
bill on the floor that provides a $50,000 average tax break to people
making over a million dollars compared to the Senate bill --
SCHULTZ: Yes.
VAN HOLLEN: -- they called today for cuts that would cut 300,000 kids
from the school nutrition programs and reduce nutrition and food programs
for 22 million Americans with families.
I reminded my colleague, Paul Ryan, the chairman of the Budget
Committee, of the comment that his running mate made during the election
about the 47 percent, when Mitt Romney said, you know, the 47 percent of
America was not Mitt Romney`s problem.
And what they did today in the House in terms of their cut bill was to
make good on Mitt Romney`s promise, that they don`t care about that 47
percent.
SCHULTZ: Quickly, I have to ask you this. Eric Cantor could not
deliver the right wing tonight for John Boehner or did he purposely not do
it?
VAN HOLLEN: Oh, I don`t know what`s going on in the Republican
caucus. As far as I could tell, Eric Cantor was working with the speaker
to try to round up the votes.
SCHULTZ: OK.
VAN HOLLEN: And, frankly, it`s a reflection on the inability of the
entire House leadership to convince the far right of their party to prevent
us from going over the cliff that brings us to the point where we are right
now.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Chris Van Hollen, great to have you with us.
Thanks so much.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you, Ed.

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