NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, the meeting is tomorrow, the president and top congressional leaders discussing these cuts at the White House, but only hours before the cuts actually kick in.
To Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen whether anything can come of that meeting.
Congressman, what do you think?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D - MD: Well, Neil, it's great to be with you.
I'm not sure whether we're going to need that caped crusader the previous guest was talking about. But, look, I think if the leaders can get together and do two things, one, come up with a plan to replace the sequester for a period of time, even if it's a relatively short period of time, two or three months, and then use that time to try and get a framework on the longer-term agreement to reduce the deficit in a balanced way.
CAVUTO: But you have done that before. Been there, done that.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, actually, the reason we keep lurching from artificial crisis to artificial crisis is we have not gotten one comprehensive sort of grand bargain done.
So if we can find a way to replace the sequester for a period of time and use that time productively to try and get a longer-term agreement so that, again, we're out of the sequester, we're out of the threat of government shutdown, we're no longer having these threats over whether or not the United States will pay its debts and its obligations, that would provide some certainty to the economy and allow us to move forward on the job front.
CAVUTO: But isn't the greater risk to our economy this constant maneuvering to do just what you're saying, that every time we're up against the brink, we find a way to just move the goal post?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, that's why I think we should use this time, next two or three months, first to replace the sequester, so you don't begin to see the very negative impact of the sequester.
And according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, if you allow the sequester to take full effect from March to the end of the year, you will have 750,000 fewer American jobs. That's not me. That's the independent Congressional Budget Office. So...
CAVUTO: But think that through, Congressman.
Let's say that's right. And quoting CBO, that's the latest number they're using, you're quite right.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes.
CAVUTO: But we're talking $85 billion, half of which is in forward years.
And this is something that has become the source of great acrimony, but you, who knows those budget numbers better than most, know that it's barely a rounding error, as I say, on a rounding error -- $85 billion, or really $44 billion, and we have north of $3.6 trillion budget, a $16 trillion-plus debt. My gosh, if we can't get around doing something like this, we will never get around to doing any of the things you outlined.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I agree that we should be able to reduce the deficit by this much and a whole lot more.
And just yesterday, for the third time this year, I asked for a vote in the House of Representatives on an alternative proposal that I put forward with some of my colleagues that would achieve the same amount of deficit reduction spread out over a little period of time through cuts and revenue. And you wouldn't have the economic disruption.
You wouldn't lose 750,000 jobs, which, in this economy, which is growing very slowly, is nothing to sneeze at.
CAVUTO: But do you think, Congressman -- now you talk generally about those job losses. The president talks about the likelihood of a number of beef inspectors going, air traffic could -- might be compromised, security at airports might be compromised.
I think he's exaggerating. I just think he's scaring us. I think even the White House is dialing it back. And, now, do you think, parties aside, that the president knows he is fear-mongering?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, two things, Neil.
The number I cited of 750,000 jobs lost between March 1 and the end of the year is not the president's number. It's not my number. That's the Congressional Budget Office.
CAVUTO: No, but you know what I'm talking about, all the others.
VAN HOLLEN: I know.
CAVUTO: We're going to eat horsemeat. We're going to -- it won't be secure at the airport. You know that's nonsense.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes. No, here's what I think, Neil.
It's true the sky is not going to fall tomorrow morning or Saturday morning, but things will get progressively worse in terms of the disruption throughout the economy, and all those things will happen as people are furloughed.
VAN HOLLEN: So, you can't take that much out of the services in that short a period of time and not have any impact on the economy, on -- and on people, whether it's at airports or food inspectors.
CAVUTO: All right. We will watch. We will watch.
VAN HOLLEN: But I think the more -- the more important thing, though, to keep an eye on is that aggregate 750,000 jobs number, which is very real, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
CAVUTO: All right. That's what we will hang our hat on for now.
But, Congressman, it's always a pleasure. Thank you. Be well.
VAN HOLLEN: Thanks. Thanks for having me. Thanks.