MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript: Government Shutdown

Interview

By:  Charlie Dent Pete King
Date: Oct. 1, 2013
Location: Unknown

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Congressman Peter King, my friend, I want to ask you -- I`m not putting any words -- because I`m not sure where you`re at politically right now or where you`re at with your party or the country. So I`m going to give you full time without interruption to explain Peter King`s position on this situation where we have a shutdown U.S. government.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Chris, there`s absolutely no reason for the government to be shut down. This was a fool`s errand that was started by Ted Cruz. But we can`t just blame him. We have to also blame his acolytes in the Republican conference, who -- 30 or 40 of them who stood with him, who were willing to undo what John Boehner wanted to do, which was to pass the CR, move this along -- a continuing resolution, move it along.

They insisted on going this route of attempting to defund Obamacare and threatening to shut down the government if it wasn`t done. We got locked into this.

Let me just say we are where we are, and I blame Ted Cruz and his supporters for doing that. I also feel, Chris, very strongly that it`s time for the president of the United States to get involved. He can blame us. He can blame the Republicans. All that`s fair comment. But he is the president. This is his government. These are his people--

MATTHEWS: OK, while you`re at it--

KING: -- that are being furloughed.

MATTHEWS: You`re an excellent legislator. You were friends with Bill Clinton.

KING: Right.

MATTHEWS: You do things that surprise a lot of people. How does the president -- I believe he can`t give up the baby. That`s his health care law.

KING: Right.

MATTHEWS: Is there anything else he can use to compromise with the hard right here? What would work?

KING: I think -- I don`t know if you can compromise with them at all. But I think if he can come up with a reasonable proposal that a majority of Republicans would support, then we should go with that. We can`t allow ourselves to be bound by this hard right of the party. I consider myself conservative, but I see the Ted Cruz wing, these people have no interest at all in keeping the government going. I think they can be very damaging to us.

If the president can come up with a reasonable proposal which shows meaningful cuts or meaningful reductions in spending or whatever, something to put on the table that John Boehner can show that he achieved something by this, then we should go with it.

And we can`t allow Ted Cruz to have a veto power over what we do, over what the president does, over what the country does. We have to get the best arrangement we can, the best deal we can. As -- you know, the term that Tip O`Neill loved, get a deal. Get a deal that works--

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about that. Let`s--

KING: -- for both sides.

MATTHEWS: -- try and do some nonpartisan bipartisan good -- Mr. Dent, just a minute here. I know Peter well. I don`t know you yet. Let me ask you about a possible deal. Suppose the president went on television tomorrow morning and said, You know what? This is hurting the country, but what`s going to hurt the country more is if we have to default come the end of the month. So here`s what I propose. I will give up a portion of the Affordable Care Act. I will give up this medical devices
tax, which is about $30 billion. I`ll give that up, but I need a deal on the debt ceiling, as well. Would you go along with that three-part deal, this for both the debt ceiling and the -- and the continuing?

KING: Chris, if we can put them all together, yes. Now, whether that particular or not -- get it on the table. If we can wrap everything up at one time, yes. Now, would the medical device be enough? I don`t know. I`m not the guy--

MATTHEWS: But for you it`s enough.

KING: -- doing any negotiating -- for me, it`s enough, sure. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Mr. Dent. Same -- well, let me ask you just generally where you stand and then where would you like to see this thing reach some kind of closure so we don`t have a default, which nobody with a brain or a heart or a conscience about this country wants to see happen.

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, look, I agree with what Peter said. There`s absolutely -- there`s no reason for a government shutdown. And I certainly would, under any circumstances oppose, this country defaulting on its obligations.
The deal that you just mentioned, Chris, is one that I can warm up to. I have been one of the key proponents of repealing the medical device tax. I`ve been working in a bipartisan manner with some of my Democratic friends and colleagues in the House who also want to repeal that device tax. They just want to pay for it. I think we could find an agreement on that issue as--

MATTHEWS: Would it get--

DENT: -- part of the debt ceiling.

MATTHEWS: -- half your caucus? Would it get you the Hastert rule? Would you get half your caucus? Would it work?

DENT: I don`t know, but it would certainly get a number of folks. In states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Minnesota, this device tax is a very big deal -- Massachusetts. But I believe a large number of our members would vote for it.

Now, you`re not going to get the two or three dozen members who have a hard
time voting yes for anything, but we have 180 to 200 members of the House
Republican conference who do have a serious sense of governance and do believe we have an affirmative obligation to govern. And I believe that most of those folks would be very amenable to that kind of arrangement.

MATTHEWS: When you go home -- look, I will now urge you. You`ve had your free opportunities. I`m going to now give you some leading questions here. I`ve had some wild people on this show the last couple weeks. I`ve had members -- they know who they are -- who say, I really can`t say with my lips that this man, Barack Obama, was legitimately elected president. They choke on that.

How many are there in the Congress on your side that represent that sort of rejectionist front? We don`t like this guy, we don`t like anything with his name on it, we want him to get out of here, we want to erase his record as if he were never here.

Congressman King, how many people are like that?

KING: I would say there`s--

MATTHEWS: They want to put the Barry Bonds asterisk next to this guy. He didn`t really hit these home runs. He had a problem. We wish he had never come.

KING: I would say there`s probably 30 or 40 like that, as there were a number of Democrats who felt that way about George Bush, and going back to when you and I first met, Republicans who felt that way about Bill Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Really?

KING: This is a dangerous aspect of our government.

MATTHEWS: What is?

KING: The fact that we have people who are willing to demonize the president of the United States because he`s in a different party. When I got elected in `92, I had Republicans elected with me who said they would never enter the White House for even social events so long as Bill Clinton was president.

And when George Bush was there, you had Democrats who had this Bush obsession. And now, obviously, with President Obama, it`s definitely there. There`s no doubt about it.

MATTHEWS: Well, they missed some good times with Bill, didn`t they.

KING: That`s right.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Mr. Dent, your district, I don`t know it as well. I come from the Philadelphia area. You`re one of the areas up by Lehigh Valley, which has always been the swing part of the state, working people, factory people, hard-working people, not suburbanite types really, but Pennsylvanians to the core.

How is your district reacting to this kerfuffle, these things going on right now, this government shutdown with a possible default?

DENT: Well, look, most of my constituents who are philosophically conservative believe in order and stability. They don`t like uncertainty. They don`t like chaos. They don`t like instability.You`d be surprised. Most of my constituents want to make sure the government is operating. They do not want us to default on our obligations. Many of them certainly do want to see changes to this health care law. There`s real concern. I`m not going to kid you here, Chris. There`s a lot of concern about that law.But at the same time, they don`t want me to shut the government down because of that -- because of the health care law. So I would say that most of my constituents are fairly pragmatic. They`re very concerned about what they`re seeing here in Washington, and they think we`ve all lost our minds. And they expect us to behave like adults and get to a reasonable resolution in a bipartisan manner.

MATTHEWS: Do they -- do they grasp it the way you grasp it? Do they see it as a set of -- I look at things like the inability of Congress to get the appropriations process complete in time, the inability of the two Budget Committees to even meet. Let me go back to Mr. King. I mean, I worked on the Senate Budget Committee under Senator Muskie, a real conscientious Democrat who worked with Henry Belman (ph), the Republican, and they had the same budget. They would really work things out.

Today, we can`t even meet the deadline of the two Budget Committees meeting
to agree on the appropriations and really set a budget framework. Things are backed up so far, it`s easy for somebody like Ted Cruz to come in and put a detonator through the whole system and blow it up easily with one vote.

Your thoughts, Mr. King.

KING: Yes, Chris, I agree. And you know, my district -- Ronald Reagan I think carried Long Island by more votes than any other area in the country -- a lot of Reagan Democrats, a lot of blue-collar conservative-oriented people. They would be against what`s called Obamacare. But they think we`re crazy for even thinking of shutting down the government.They want to get results. They want to get things done. And they -- again, the art of making the deal. If I can get them 60 to 70 percent of
what they want, I`m doing the job. Nobody expects 100 percent. We`re
realists. We`re pragmatic. Basic conservative values, but get the deal
done. Move the government forward. Keep it running, and make sure we get
the job done. That`s a basic issue.

MATTHEWS: You know who those people are (INAUDIBLE) they`re the subway
alumni of Notre Dame--

KING: That`s right.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: -- the people that didn`t go to college maybe, but get up in the morning on Sunday morning to see if Notre Dame won.

KING: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: That`s our people. Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Peter King of New York--

KING: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: -- and Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.

KING: Thank you, Charlie.

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