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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" Transcript: Sequester

Interview

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REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: Rachel, great to be with you.

MADDOW: So do the markets know something we don`t know? Is there any
chance of this being averted now? Or is this done?

BECERRA: I think they`ve been cooking in all of these shenanigans
that we`ve been seeing in Congress principally driven in the House by the
Republican majority for quite some time. And so they`ve become accustomed
to this the way I think the American public has become accustomed to this.

Unfortunately, I think this has become the new normal for Republicans
to try to govern. It`s not business as usual for the average family in
America, but I think Republicans have decided that in order to fulfill
their agenda to make government smaller, they`re going to do it this way
even though it may cost the American economy 750,000 American jobs.

MADDOW: Well, let`s try to figure out the weight between those two
different things. If you`re saying for the average American family, this
is not going to be business as usual, we`re looking at 3/4 of a million
jobs that are going to be cost by doing this, but in terms of sort of the
media reaction to, it the general public`s reaction to it so far, and
certainly the market`s reaction to it today, it`s cooked in, people have
expected that nothing was going to happen and so this apparently is
something that we all are going to try to roll with -- do you think that
latter set of circumstances is inappropriate?

Should people be more freaked out than they are?

BECERRA: Well, if you`re the average American, you should be getting
freaked out simply because this new normal is not good. It is not good for
the economy to have a ratcheting up of job creation. We`ve had over 6
million jobs created in the last three years, which is great -- 166,000 new
private sector jobs last month.

But now, you`ve got Congress by its inaction, and you`re right, the
House Republican leadership told us all go home today after 2:00. We`re
going to now cost the economy 3/4 of a million jobs by not dealing with
this so-called across-the-board cut, the sequester.

And so while the economy wants to launch, here you`ve got this
manufactured crisis where Republicans decided not to try to come up with a
bill to deal with the sequester, and so we may lose 3/4 of a million jobs.
That`s not the way to do business. That`s not the way to govern the
largest economy in the world.

MADDOW: As we blow through tomorrow, with no House in session and no
Senate in session, is the harm that you`re saying is going to be done by
hitting this deadline, by hitting the sequester, is it reparable? Can
something be done when Congress comes back on Monday to undo the fact that
we`ve blown through the deadline? Can it retroactively been fixed?

BECERRA: You know, you can deal with some of this. But the reality
is that you`re now placing in the minds of our business leaders, in the
minds of the average American family, this -- the sense that you can`t
trust that the congressional leadership, the politicians will do this the
right way. Even after the president put a balanced plan on the table to
deal with the sequester cuts, even as you just showed in your earlier clip
that the Senate passed a bill by 52, 51, 52 votes, but because of the
shenanigans through the filibuster, Senate Republicans were able to defeat
a majority-passed vote -- passed bill.

That`s the kind of thing that makes you feel like -- well, I shouldn`t
have confidence that even though the economy`s giving me signs that the
markets are going to grow, job opportunities are going to grow, I can never
trust that the politicians are going to make it -- let us continue that
growth. And that`s the difficulty, is we`re almost setting into the
mindset, cementing into the mind of the American public that Congress can`t
do its job.

MADDOW: You have a leadership role among congressional Democrats.
When you see Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid go into that meeting tomorrow with
Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, the president and the vice president,
when they have that very top-tier level meeting tomorrow -- are you
expecting that to just be talks about this in a general way or is that
actually going to be a working meeting where some sort of plan for
retroactively fixing this thing might be announced at the end of that
meeting?

BECERRA: I think, Rachel, that the president is going to try to have
a huddle with congressional leaders and find out, can we get somewhere?
You didn`t like my balanced approach. What can you come up with on the
Republican side?

The Republican bill in the Senate didn`t even get all Republicans to
vote for it. And in the House, as I mentioned, the House Republicans
didn`t even offer a bill for the last 56 days since the beginning of this
calendar year. And so, I think the president probably is going to ask,
what -- where can we go? Is there any room for negotiation? Or are we
just going to go through this brinksmanship all over again?

By the way, that`s why I voted against this so-called fiscal cliff
deal back at the beginning of the year on January 1st, because I knew that
what that deal would do was spawn three more fiscal cliffs -- the one we`re
experiencing now. In the next few weeks, we`re going to have perhaps a
government shutdown if the Republicans try to use that to try to extract
more harmful cuts to very important programs. And then again, we`re going
to deal with, guess what? The debt ceiling limit.

MADDOW: The debt ceiling. Yes.

You know, you probably shouldn`t be able to call it a crisis when you
can plan them out in advance on your own calendar, months ahead of time.
But that`s what we do now.

Congressman Xavier Becerra, Democrat of California -- thank you for
your time tonight. Appreciate having you here.

BECERRA: Thank you.


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