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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript - Budget

Interview

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MATTHEWS: Well, that doesn`t make any sense. Right now, that was House
Speaker John Boehner basically saying that President Obama is bluffing on a
budget that whatever he means doesn`t make sense, waiting to see what
Senate Democrats and House Republicans hammer out in their budget deal in
the Senate. Before he plays (ph) this in, Obama spent the last week wining
and dining folks in Congress, but I`m not so sure all the smooching is
going to lead to a grand bargain.

Why hasn`t the president put his deal on the table? That`s my question.
With me now is New York Congressman Steve Israel.

Steve, you are great -- you`re a great politician. And I want to you just
slice through the contradiction of what the Republican speaker said. He
said he`s old back and waiting to see what the House and the Senate do. I
understand why that would be a strategy.

But then he goes and says he`s already gotten his budget written. What`s
that mean? That makes no sense.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: You know, people listen to that and it is
why they are so distasteful about Washington. They are sick and tired of
listening to the speaker blamed the president for not producing a budget.

They just want us to get it done. They want us to solve the problem.

And I`ll give you specific examples of what the president has put on the
table which the Republicans rejected. Republicans say they want
entitlement reform, so-called entitlement reform. The president put on the
table and Democrats supported $716 billion in savings, innovations, and
efficiencies to Medicare.

What did John Boehner in the Republican Congress do? They vilified us for
it. Now, the president has shown his ability to more than meet the
Republicans halfway by literally traveling to their turf, going into their
caucus, and saying, let`s do something big, bold and balance, talking about
specific ideas. And what do they get in return? Vilification.
Chris, bottom line is this: the president and House Democrats want a
solutions-based budget with three principles. Number one, a balanced
approach. Number two, fair to middle class. Number three, the right
priorities.

The way you get all three is with one thing and that is compromise. We`re
still waiting for House Republicans to compromise.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you -- you ran the campaign for the Democrats to
win seats. You`ve done a good job.

ISRAEL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: But here`s my question, you know all the members and what
they`re afraid of. Would a Democrat, man or woman, wherever they live,
would they prefer a deal, a grand bargain, which includes some cuts in
Medicare, where they`re called savings or efficiencies, but cuts in the
spending on Medicare or Medicaid, in exchange for some kind of deal that
brings in more revenues? Would they rather have that or the sequester we
have now? Do they really want to have their name on the bill that cuts the
spending for Medicare, that has an impact on the safety net?

ISRAEL: It depends on --

MATTHEWS: Why would they want that?

ISRAEL: It depends on how you`re cutting Medicare. If you`re asking
seniors to now take a voucher that`s not going to cover their costs? Of
course not. If you`re asking the special interests to give up a little
bit, of course, the answer is yes.

Democrats want a solution. We want to go home to our districts and say
that we have solved this problem but it`s got to be solved in a fair way.

MATTHEWS: That would include cuts in Medicare of any kind.

ISRAEL: Look, we -- I`ll give you an example. We have already, as I said
before, we`ve already reduced the cost of Medicare $716 billion for which
the Republicans campaigned against us.

MATTHEWS: But what are the cuts? Tell me what they are. What are they
cut -- what are you cutting?

ISRAEL: On the provider side, we made some tough choices on the provider
side with respect to Medicare. But we don`t believe that if you`re a
senior, you should be the first to be asked to sacrifice the most.

MATTHEWS: I understand.
Look, here`s my question to you, look across the aisle. Do you see
Republicans willing to raise revenues by some kind of tax changes and
accept blame for some of these Medicare cuts? Why would any Republican
member want to be known as the guy or woman who raised taxes by any means
and also cut Medicare? Why would they want to join you on a deal like that
that would screw them twice?

ISRAEL: Well, because I think that they realize that the American people
want solutions and are tired of the chronic chaos and mismanagement. We
have asked the Republicans, we`ll continue to negotiate with you, we want
to compromise. Is there one special interest corporate tax loophole you
can put on the table?

MATTHEWS: OK.

ISRAEL: And the answer has been no.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think there`ll be a deal.

Anyway, thank you, Congressman. You`re a great guest.

ISRAEL: Thanks, Chris.

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