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CNN "Newsroom" Transcript: Fiscal Cliff

Interview

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MARQUEZ: We're just 10 days away from the country going over the so- called fiscal cliff, automatic tax increases on nearly every American and huge spending cuts to defense and social programs are set to take effect the 1st of January. That is unless the president and Congress reach a new budget deal. But most lawmakers have deserted the capitol to be home for Christmas leaving America teetering on the brink.

One of those enjoying Christmas back in California is Republican Congressman Tom McClintock joining us from Sacramento, California. Congressman, you are a Tea Partier. You're part of the Tea Party caucus, but you supported house speaker bane area "plan b," Yes?

REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK, R-CALIFORNIA: of course, I did. Again, there is no Bill before the Congress that proposes raising taxes on millionaires or anybody else for that matter. There is a law that goes into effect in ten days that raises taxes on millionaires, small businesses filing as millionaires and everybody else. Boehner's bill tried to stop that for everybody else. If a lifeguard sees 10 swimmers drowning off of his beach and can only reach nine of them to save them, it doesn't mean that he's drowned the tenth one. All in nonsense somehow Boehner was trying to raise taxes is just that, nonsense.

MARQUEZ: Your point is if you are anti-tax, vote for this bill.

MCCLINTOCK: He was trying to stop a massive tax increase, and unfortunately, some of my colleagues didn't see it that way.

MARQUEZ: How bad is it up there? Americans look at what's happening in Washington right now and want both sides to get to work. I know it can be very collegial up there but in these meetings behind closed doors, what's the atmosphere like?

MCCLINTOCK: Miguel, bad process creates bad policy. And what we're watching today is extraordinarily bad process. For example, the president is not supposed to be part of the negotiations of the legislative branch. He is a separate branch of government. The deliberative process is supposed to be contained independently within the two houses. The House and Senate are supposed to act independently of each other. In order to do so in order to deliberate, we've got to be in the same room to deliberate. Instead we're scattered across the country. I'm embarrassed to be speaking to you from my district when we should be back in Washington right now.

When each house then comes to its own independent judgment upon the course of action, then we've got a conference process that's very good at resolving the differences between the two houses. But it has not been invoked. Only then is the president brought into the process. What we've got now is a couple of legislative leaders sitting behind closed doors coming up with plans that they then drop in the laps of both houses of the Congress for a take it or leave it vote. That doesn't end well.

MARQUEZ: It's just so frustrating. How bad is it for Speaker Boehner right now? This is a guy who put up a plan and his own party couldn't get it to pass. How is that playing out? Where does that leave you guys?

MCCLINTOCK: Two years ago Speaker Boehner promised to restore that process around which our entire government was designed. And so far he has failed to fulfill that promise. I fault him for that. The plan that he produced I thought was sound. That's why I supported it. But it is -- it obviously did not command a consensus within the House of Representatives and that's because it was bad process.

We have committees that are supposed to be -- supposed to include people who have got expertise, years of experience in those fields, and that represent the diversity of opinion within the House of Representatives. They're supposed to be producing these proposals. Unfortunately they've been sidelined. The House has been sidelined, and instead this whole process has been abdicated to legislative leaders. Our system was not designed to operate that way and it invariably produces terrible public policy.

MARQUEZ: Is a deal going to get done, yes or no?

MCCLINTOCK: Well, that requires fortune telling skills and I don't have any. It has to be because the alternative is unthinkable. On January 1st, we're going to see more than a 20 percent increase in the tax burden of this country in a very brittle economy. That is going to be devastating.

Frankly, the president's insistence that we raise taxes on those very wealthy folks who make over $200,000 is disastrous because many of those very wealthy folks aren't even folks. They're 1.3 million small businesses that file under subchapter S, and 84 percent of net small business income would be hit by that tax increase. That's going to cost, according to the congressional budget office, more than 200,000 middle class jobs, 700,000 if you believe Ernst and Young. That would be devastating. There's got to be a resolution to this. I certainly hope that the president doesn't get his way, and impose massive tax increases on these small byes.

MARQUEZ: Congressman?

MCCLINTOCK: -- two-thirds of the jobs we depend on in our society.

MARQUEZ: Congressman, thank you very much. Try to have a merry Christmas.

MCCLINTOCK: Thanks for having me, Miguel.


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