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Joining me right now is the Republican congressman of Texas John Culberson and Democratic congressman Brad Sherman of California. Congressman Culberson, I was just wondering -- I`m trying to speculate because I`ve never seen anything like this weekend -- do you think if Ted Cruz, the senator from your state, the junior senator, were to say, You know what? Let`s throw in the towel on this baby. We`re going to fight on the default issue. Let`s have the fight in two weeks.
Would that change people`s opinion, or are their opinions already set and it`s not about him anymore?
REP. JOHN CULBERSON (R), TEXAS: Well, the most important thing to remember, Chris, is that my job description is representative. And my constituents, the people of Texas, are adamantly opposed to the imposition of what we really ought to call "Democrat care" because this was jammed through on a straight line party vote in less than 24 hours without a committee hearing.
Remember, the Senate sent this over, Chris, on March 20th, the Rules Committee met, and less than 24 hours later, it was jammed through the House. So no one had a chance to read it. Even Speaker Pelosi said at the time we have to pass the bill to find out what`s in it.And for a bill of this magnitude, with the effect that it`s having on driving up premiums and making the cost of health insurance unaffordable to so many people, and the intrusion of the federal government into our personal lives...
CULBERSON: ... people of Texas don`t want any part of it. And we simply want to use whatever legislative vehicle we can to stop it, repeal it, defund it, delay it, whatever it takes. I`m in there 110 percent.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Sherman, your view. Congressman Sherman, your reaction to that, what you just heard.
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: No one doubts that the Republicans hate "Obama care." The question is, are they willing to destroy the American economy and run up huge costs in the American government just to show us what we already know, which is that they don`t like "Obama care."
The fact is, "Obama care" is the law. It`s going to remain in force. And already, Democrats have made a huge concession. This is a funding bill. We have agreed to the Republican funding levels, which is the most important thing in a funding bill. We are coming in 7 or 8 points below the Senate budget. We`re coming in right in line with the Ryan budget.
That concession has already been made to the point where nobody`s even talking about it. And then we`re told that we`re going to mutilate the American economy
and government unless they get to win the battle that they lost on the
floor of the House in 2010.
That`s a rather extreme bargaining position. It`s not consistent with Americans who just want us to get along, compromise, and keep things efficient.
CULBERSON: Well, Brad, you`re...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congressman Culberson -- look, I think this is a good debate and we don`t know how "Obama care" is going to work or affordable care is going to work. Nobody knows that for sure, and there have been problems. You`re right about everything.
Let`s talk about technique here. Do you think the president of the United States is a rabbit? Do you think he`ll just run away? What do you think we will all think of him if he buckles to your demand to basically get rid of "Obama care"? What will you think of him then, as a person, as a man, if he does that?
CULBERSON: Well, it`s not -- it`s not our demand. It is the -- we are representing our constituents and we`re standing on principle. This bill...
MATTHEWS: Well, what would you think would be the response by eliminating...
CULBERSON: Well, the president has already...
MATTHEWS: ... his number one achievement?
CULBERSON: I think the president has already diminished himself in the way he`s handled the situation ion Syria and the way he has handled himself with Russia...
CULBERSON: I cannot imagine a Russian president Brezhnev...
MATTHEWS: So he`s through.
CULBERSON: I think President Obama has diminished the office by his own behavior...
CULBERSON: ... and not anything that we are doing.
MATTHEWS: OK. I didn`t want to get into this. I`m getting into this.
CULBERSON: Well, but, Chris, let me ask you this.
MATTHEWS: Well, I have one question, though. Go ahead.
But let me tell you, my friend Brad Sherman and I, we work together very well. We have already passed in the House the military appropriations bill. We have passed funding for the Pentagon, for military construction, for veterans, for energy and water. And we did that back in June.
And the Senate could have avoided this by simply passing those essential bills that they have had for 90 days. This would not be a problem for our military or homeland security, by the way.
MATTHEWS: OK. Everybody is watching this to see how the congressman is.
Let me just straighten the record out here. Do you believe that President Obama was legitimately elected president twice, legitimately elected president?
CULBERSON: Oh, of course, absolutely. And the question is, though, that...
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re not a birther? You`re not a birther or anything like that?
MATTHEWS: You don`t question his birth as a natural-born citizen?
CULBERSON: No, sir.
We have a -- no, sir. We have a legitimate difference on principle here, on we don`t want the federal government socializing the greatest health care system created in the history of the world.
MATTHEWS: Was the Affordable Care Act -- good. That`s your philosophy. I accept that. Do you think -- do you believe that the Affordable Care Act was passed legitimately by the Congress, both houses, 60 votes in the Senate, and signed by the president, and he was reelected?
CULBERSON: Well, of course.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe all that to be true?
CULBERSON: Of course, Chris.
But laws can be changed. In fact, Congress changes laws all the time. And we`re elected to do so.
CULBERSON: And we are -- we have been in this last election -- this was a keystone of Ted Cruz`s election and of my election is that I support Ted Cruz. We are both committed, as are the Texas Republicans, to defund, delay, repeal Obamacare.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. That`s all true. But you know what?
Congressman Sherman, I have to say this before you say it. Every American knew that Obama was for Obamacare when they reelected him. Every American knew that. Mitt Romney ran against him on it. The public chose Obama for a second term knowing he was Obamacare. And they said yes. That`s my point. Yours.
SHERMAN: A majority of Democrats voted to have -- be represented in Congress by a Democrat. It`s just due to the gerrymandering that we have a Republican majority.
Americans overwhelmingly say we may -- we`re divided on whether Obamacare is good or bad. But we`re united in the belief that we should not shut down the government or impair our credit in order to eliminate Obamacare.
It`s one thing to be convinced that we should take a particular course of action on health care. It`s another thing to destroy our economy in order to get what you want or even get what your constituents want.
CULBERSON: Actually, Brad, we took care of the credit problem in the bill that we sent to the Senate, had language in it that said the United States will always pay principal and interest on the debt. And the Senate stripped that language out.
CULBERSON: So, we`re committed to protecting -- we`re committed to protecting the full faith and credit of the United States, as you know, Brad.
SHERMAN: Could you imagine going back to your district and saying we paid China and we`re not paying Social Security recipients?
CULBERSON: Actually, Social Security, Brad, runs on autopilot. And those checks will continue to go out.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you, Congressman Culberson. Congressman Culberson, let`s move ahead two weeks.
SHERMAN: You`re confusing the appropriations process with the debt process. When we...
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go ahead just two weeks from now. Congressman Culberson, tell me about your thinking about the debt and the question of extending the debt limit and how you deal with those amendments. A lot of them have to do with oil and gas. I understand the interest with oil and gas. But what do they have to do with the debt limit?
Why would you put in access for exploitation of federal lands, access for offshore oil? What does that got to do with keeping the government`s full faith and credit out there? It seems to me not germane, unless you`re an oil guy. Why are we talking about those amendments?
CULBERSON: Magic number in the House is 218. And our leadership is looking to find a way to save -- to get 218 votes, and at the same time try to save enough money to offset the increase in the debt limit, which my constituents also feel very strongly about.Texans do not want the government to pass this debt on to our kids, nor do I. So we`re looking for a way to offset that debt increase at least dollar for dollar.
MATTHEWS: Is Boehner buying votes? Are Boehner and Cantor buying oil...
MATTHEWS: ... votes?
CULBERSON: No, of course not. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. This is a matter of principle.
MATTHEWS: What did you mean by that then?
CULBERSON: This is a matter of core principle.You have got great ideas that have passed the House that conservatives believe in as a matter of principle. And by putting these different ideas together on the debt ceiling bill, Chris, they`re just -- they`re matters of principle that, hey, I think that`s a great idea and that might help cause me to support...
MATTHEWS: What`s the principle -- what`s the principle in exploiting federal lands for oil and gas? What`s the principle involved there, unless you`re one of the Koch brothers?
CULBERSON: Well, because we can make the United States -- we can make the United States energy-independent, Chris.We have discovered more oil and gas in the last 10 years than has been discovered in the entire history of the United States. But President Obama and the Democrats are trying to block its production. And it`s crazy. I would love to tell the Middle East to basically, you know, pound sand. We don`t need your oil or gas because we have it right here in the United States, in particular in Texas. That`s why.
Brad Sherman, Congressman, why do you think all these goodies have been added to the bill arguing whether -- if the Democrats don`t agree to oil and gas exploitation and exploration into federal lands, if they don`t agree to offshore oil, if they don`t agree to the Keystone, the federal government is going into default. I think that`s an odd demand. That`s what I think. Your thoughts.
SHERMAN: Well, that`s what taking hostages is all about.The hostages aren`t germane to the ransom that you`re trying to get. If you can convince the American Congress that we ought to change our oil and gas policy, fine. But you don`t take the full faith and credit of the United States hostage.
Likewise, you don`t pass a law that says that the executive branch will have so much money, but it`s supposed to pay 19 percent more. And we do, unfortunately, pay -- borrow 19 percent of what we pay out, and say we have to pay China, but you don`t have to pay Social Security. You don`t have to pay veterans benefits.
MATTHEWS: We have to wrap. I`m sorry.
Congressman Culberson, please come back. We like -- we really like to have you. I like debating with you guys anyway. It`s more fun than anything I can think of anyway, because sometimes you`re right, maybe.
CULBERSON: It`s fun. It is fun, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, John Culberson.
CULBERSON: It`s fun. I enjoyed it. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And Congressman Brad Sherman, a good guy out in California.
CULBERSON: He is.
MATTHEWS: Up next, it`s your chance to play HARDBALL. I`m going to answer your Twitter questions coming up next.
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