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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Balancing the Budget

Interview

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Location: Unknown

MATTHEWS: And keeping up the drumbeat, tomorrow House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi will hold hearings on how middle class families could be hurt
by the meat axe approach to spending cuts that could kick in March 1st.

Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff of California and
Politico`s Jonathan Allen.

Congressman Schiff, you`re up first. You got elected. You speak first
here tonight.

I was so impressed by the way you explained all this, this morning on
MSNBC. I would like you to do it again. Your take on what this fight is
about coming up March 1, sir.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, the fight is largely a fight
within the GOP.

You talked earlier about the schizophrenia within some of the GOP members.
That is most manifest in the House. They really have two minds. You have
got the Tea Party contingent that wants to tear down government that ran on
a platform of tearing down and has never made the transition to being for
anything. And right now they`re driving the train. They want the
sequester to go into effect.

They want it to go into effect because they want to show that they`re
serious about this and they feel that`s their mandate. At the same time,
it`s going to be enormously destructive to the economy. We are poised to
make a recovery, and if just the -- if the Congress could get out of the
way and stop manufacturing these crises month after month, I think we would
have a full recovery.

But what the president has proposed, which is a reasonable compromise,
that`s part spending cuts, part revenues is being rejected by the House of
Representatives` leadership and we are where we are.

MATTHEWS: Two major points I heard there at the beginning by the
congressman.

Jon, I want you to respond, first of all, the who. It is the hard right.
Every time the president -- you talk to people at the White House and they
say this president, whatever you think of the politics, doesn`t know who to
talk to on the Hill. There is no Boehner. He`s just a front man. Eric
Cantor has got his wet finger in the air trying to figure out which way the
wind is blowing.

Who is the president talking to? Is it just a clack of a bunch of right-
wingers who don`t want to talk to anybody then? How do they -- are they
Hamas? Who are they out there?

JONATHAN ALLEN, POLITICO: They are not Hamas. But, look, there`s nobody
who speaks with one voice for the House Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ALLEN: When there is a deal cut, it`s always Mitch McConnell and Joe
Biden, Senate minority leader and the vice president, on budget deals.

MATTHEWS: Well, yes, but who is Obama talking to, the president? Who can
he talk to?

ALLEN: I don`t think he`s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He has to send Joe up to find somebody of like mind to talk to
him?

ALLEN: Yes, because he doesn`t have relationships on the Hill. Whether
that`s his fault or their fault, there`s no relationships.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s -- OK, we agree on that, there`s no connection.
Congressman, back to you, the what. What I found profound in what you said
this morning is, it`s not -- sure, we`re going to argue whether one party
won 60/40 or lost 70/30 on who gets blamed. Forget the blame game for a
second. What`s going on with the economy?

I think the American people looking at the polling we got our hands are
have become very demoralized ever since the election. Ever since around
October, they have been seeing shutdown talk, debt ceiling talk, this
stupid name, sequestration, and all they hear is trouble in the nation`s
capital, the inability of our own government which has been elected to do
its job.

I think it`s hurting the economy. Your thoughts.

SCHIFF: Well, it`s absolutely hurting the economy.

And what people want in business and in their family life is they want some
stability. They want the ability to plan. They want to know, what are my
taxes going to be? They want to know, you know, am I going to have a job?
Am I going to be laid off?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHIFF: And all they want is some solidity to plan with. And when we go
through these manufactured crises, we deprive the economy and businesses of
that ability to plan. It`s incredibly destructive.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I hate to rush you, Congressman. Do you think the right-wing
people know when they`re sitting in their chairs voting no, no, no,
bringing one manufactured crisis to bear after another that they`re just
happy when they pick up the paper and say public confidence going down,
that`s good for our party?

SCHIFF: Oh, they do.

We know that Grover Norquist, starving the beast of resources. Now they`re
starving the beast of credibility. They`re starving the beast of the
federal government with any public confidence that it can actually solve
problems.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHIFF: And this is part of the destruction of our federal government.
And they would be delighted if people lost confidence in the government and
if they could further tear it down.

A lot of people run for Congress against the government. That`s a tried
tradition in American history.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHIFF: But, usually, once they have office and they have a responsibility
to govern, they find they have to be for something as well. But this crowd
has never made the transition to being for something.

MATTHEWS: But they take a salary, don`t they?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: They take a salary and they`re content...

MATTHEWS: Where they work in the United States government, they`re working
for the government to function, at least, even if they vote against it.

They do want a functioning government, but now I get the feeling they
don`t.

Your thoughts, Jonathan.

ALLEN: Well, I mean, I think there was a little truth serum there from the
congressman. You campaign against the government as though it was the
worst thing in the world and then you get there and you`re supposed to
change the stripes that you showed to the voters.

MATTHEWS: No, but you`re supposed to influence policy to the advantage of
the republic at some point.

ALLEN: Well, in theory, but all these guys...

MATTHEWS: Not shutting it down.

ALLEN: But all these guys are focused on their -- their very narrow
constituencies. And not -- even within their districts, it`s not...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. What do you think is the result? In Arizona, we just saw a
very right-wing crowd out there on immigration. When they pick up the
paper, "The Arizona Republic," and they see the government is shutting down
again and there`s questions about whether we can move a battle -- an
aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf if we need one, all kinds of
questions like that about security, do you think they`re happy?

ALLEN: I think, for a lot of people, the immediate reaction is great, the
government is shutting down.

And then when they go to get services from the VA or some -- people are
crossing the border or...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How about they get in an airplane and...

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN: ... the United States. They care about...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How about getting on an airplane and there`s nobody at the
conning tower?

ALLEN: So, it doesn`t take very long for the public to really get this.

MATTHEWS: OK. Great to have you on.

Congressman, I`m so impressed. Thank you so much. We will have you back.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.


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