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CNN "Piers Morgan Live" - Transcript: Shutdown Showdown

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MORGAN: Certainly is. Dana Bash and (inaudible), thank you both very much indeed. So, the house is set (ph). From the senate, joining me now is democrat Jim Himes on the Financial Services Committee and Republican Marsha Blackburn, Vice Chair of the (inaudible). Welcome to you both.

Let me start with you Jim Himes. I mean, there was a rising sense of tension now, if not outright terror that because of this intransigence particularly the part led by Ted Cruz and these 40 renegades and republicans as many see them, there may not be a deal that the debt ceiling deadline may come and go, and we could face a form of financial Armageddon. Is this likely?

REP. JIM HIMES, (D) CONNECTICUT: Well, it's hard to say at this point. Look, we're at the tail end of a 15-day period that was kicked off by Senator Cruz with, you know, around this idea that he had any probability or the republicans had any probability to all of repealing the Affordable Care Act, was never going to happen. Set aside the question whether it should happen. It was never going to happen.

Today, this morning, we actually have a deal being hammered up between the two senate leaders. The House Republicans stepped in and said, "Wait, we've got a bill that we're going to put forward, and of course that came apart as the day progressed in into the evening, so now we're back where we should've been all along with a very clean deal. We don't know what it looks like yet but that would raise the debt ceiling and avoid the prospect of default, and of course get the government started again. So we just have to keep our fingers crossed within the senate, that deal get struck.

MORGAN: Marsha Blackburn, let's talk about Ted Cruz for a moment because he's the man at the moment, good or bad depending on your view. He's clearly seems the most in part observed, he's making a bit of a dash to be a front runner for the republican nomination perhaps in 2016 and that's his real agenda here. But what's good for Ted Cruz and his personal political career might be disastrous for the American people if not his own party. What is your view of his behavior?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R) TENNESSEE: Well, I think that one of the things we all should do right now is not talk about personality. What we should be talking about is how we make certain that we get this nation on the track to fiscal health and responsibility. And one of the things we cannot do is continue borrowing $2 billion a day to keep the lives on. And, regardless of whether we like someone or don't like someone, what we have to realize is we've been through a process of people who were elected by their constituents to come to D.C. and express the point of view.

And so, many of us have constituents who say, look, jobs, the economy, getting us on the road to fiscal health, returning us to where we are going to see jobs growth, where we're going to see economic growth. That is item number one, dealing with the impact of ObamaCare on the economy. That's an important thing to do. And, Piers, we come, everybody bringing their best ideas and their best thoughts. And what we have right now is ...

MORGAN: The trouble -- the problem is...

BLACKBURN: ... the debt fund.

MORGAN: But the problem is ...

BLACKBURN: I wish we weren't here but we are.

MORGAN: Right. But Marsha Blackburn, the problem is it may be the best idea, the best thoughts for you and for Ted Cruz, but like I said, these best ideas and thoughts might be absolutely catastrophic ones ...

BLACKBURN: Yes. But, Piers, we're...

MORGAN: ... for the American people and the global economy. At what point is the out right selfish, self-interest of Ted Cruz and his colleagues outweigh the American interest in the global economic interest?

BLACKBURN: There again, I think that we don't do is talk about personalities ...

MORGAN: Oh, come on please, Marsha. Marsha.

BLACKBURN: No, not that. What we have to do is say ...

MORGAN: Of course it's about personalities ...

BLACKBURN: ... how do we deal with the debt ceiling and debt ...

MORGAN: Marsha ...

HIMES: Well, if we want to ...

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: No. This is what we need to put it ...

MORGAN: Marsha. Marsha, Ted Cruz ...

BLACKBURN: ... that the American people ...

JIMES: ... stop talking about Barack Obama ...

BLACKBURN: ... wants us to get this dealt with. We didn't want a government shutdown. We don't want to have a default on the debt. What we are doing ...

MORGAN: Right.

BLACKBURN: ... what House Republicans have done is we have passed four different continuing resolutions and a budget. And, you know ...

MORGAN: OK, let me ask you a question.

BLACKBURN: ... let's have it like this.

MORGAN: Let me ask you a question, Marsha.

BLACKBURN: The way eight bills we have passed since the last ...

MORGAN: I know. You've been unbelief (ph) of your response which the government's been shutdown for two weeks. Let me ask you this ...

BLACKBURN: Well, we wish it weren't shut down.

MORGAN: Well, I know you do. I know you do but sadly it is.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Let me ask you this Marsha Blackburn. Obviously you didn't want the government shutdown but it has shutdown ...

BLACKBURN: We know.

MORGAN: ... but it already has ...

BLACKBURN: Right.

MORGAN: ... for two weeks. Do you want the debt ceiling to run into default? Are you prepared to see that risk?

BLACKBURN: Absolutely not.

MORGAN: So what would you ...

BLACKBURN: Absolutely not.

MORGAN: ... what will you be doing ...

BLACKBURN: And ...

MORGAN: ... as a Party to avoid that?

BLACKBURN: I continue to work with other republicans in the House to see if we can find a resolution to this issue. We did not want to get right here to the last minute. What I want to see is as work through a plan so that we're dealing with our long term fiscal issues. Borrowing the amount of money that we are borrowing everyday is not a sustainable ...

MORGAN: All right. Let me go back to Jim Himes.

BLACKBURN: .... every economist around here tells us that.

MORGAN: Every economist around here tells me what is going on this utter (ph) none sense and should never been on (ph) to get this far ...

BLACKBURN: Right. But the borrowing is a part of that none sense.

MORGAN: There are many issues to deal with Obamacare ...

BLACKBURN: That's right.

MORGAN: ... and the American economy, and all sorts of things. What you don't do is shut the government down over what is a law. Let me turn back to Jim Himes. I mean, look, you know, you can take a view about this. It is all (ph) Ted Cruz is (inaudible) or you can say politically, him and the Tea Party element of the republicans, he seems to be holding all the cards playing them very intently, making himself extremely famous, and probably as I say a front runner for presidential run. But, how do we get to a stage where President Obama is so far has not managed to stop his shutdown, is on the brink of this awful debt ceiling deadline and largely how is he going to get into a room and make people see sense of the moment. You have to say, he is not shown greater this year because if he had, he would gotten insulted.

HIMES: Yes. Look, you know, the president doesn't legislate. He signs laws that are sent to him by the Congress of United States. And despite what Marsha is saying, you know, there has been nothing celebratory (ph) about what has happened in the last 15 days. It has been devastating for our economy, throwing people out of work. The economist will tell you that the kind of, you know, management by crisis that the Republican Party in the House has demanded for years now has probably caused the economy a million jobs. Far more jobs than they can point to any credible source as suggesting that the Affordable Care Act is damaging.

And by the way, forget about the jobs and everything else out there that is hurting the American people, it's devastated the republicans political fortunes. 74 percent of Americans disagree with how the republicans have handled this. So, if we're really had talked about what the American people want, the American people don't want this country to be managed from crisis to crisis with government workers or head start programs or military contractors being used as negotiating tools in some absurd political fantasy.

MORGAN: Let me ...

BLACKBURN: And that is why we continued to pass the bill and send them to the Senate.

MORGAN: Marsha, wait a minute. Wait a moment. Let me play you a clip.

BLACKBURN: It's not -- OK ...

MORGAN: Let me play you a clip ...

BLACKBURN: Yes, sure.

MORGAN: -- from President Obama talking about Speaker Boehner today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Speaker Boehner for example. Him negotiating with me is necessarily good for the extreme faction in his caucus focus. It weakens him. So, there been repeated situations where we have agreements, then he goes back and it turns out that he can't control his caucus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is a problem isn't Marsha Blackburn. Isn't it President Obama doesn't know who to talk to? Does he talk to Speaker Boehner that de facto (ph) representative of Republican Party or should he go straight to Ted Cruz, cut out the middleman, go to the guy who's wielding the power to shut down the government, threatening the default.

BLACKBURN: Well, it's amazing to me that the president would think that he should not be talking to Speaker Boehner. And, it is up to the President as the Commander in Chief and the leader to assemble people with the negotiating table.

I would remind you, Piers, that over the last 40 years or so, we've had 53 lifts to the debt ceiling. 27 of those have yielded spending cut to what our nation spend. All of those have been negotiated with some type policy reform and we have talked about this previously on your show.

Standard operating procedure in dealing with budgets and continuing resolutions and debt ceilings has been for one side to take their plan, the other side to take their plan to bid at the negotiating table and to work this out. It has been blatant lack of leadership that has been on full display for the world to see that we have a President who has chosen that he would rather see a shutdown than go to the table who is waiting until the last day to meet everyone at the negotiating table.

That is unfortunate. It is something that I wish should not happen. We have continued in good faith to pass the budget every year to send it to the senate, to pass appropriations, bills, which is the way we fill out our budget, send them to the senate. It is the senate that chooses not to take the action. That is Harry Reid's choice and decision.

MORGAN: OK. All right. All right, (inaudible).

BLACKBURN: And we would prefer that it not have happened.

MORGAN: Final words would you mind (ph), it's all the democrats fault, nothing to do with Ted Cruz, nothing to do with republicans, in fact, laid over (ph) the House of the White House, it's all their fault.

HIMES: Now, look, it's absurd. And there's just -- there's very few Americans who believe the story that this is the president's fault. John Boehner at any point in the last 15 days could have opened up the government by passing the Clean Senate C.R. and the republicans -- and look, tonight Marsha is talking about the debt in a long-term deal. And by the way, we agree on that, we should negotiate that. But remember, two weeks ago, we had nothing to do with negotiations in a long-term debt. It was about a repeal of ObamaCare and then it was a two-year delay of ObamaCare.

BLACKBURN: The continuing resolution (inaudible) ...

HIMES: And so, everyday, as the republicans have realized that their position is increasingly untenable and untenable it is, they have changed their position. So, even if the president were in -- you know, if the president had any ability to control the republicans and the House of Representatives, which by the way, the Speaker of the House does not have as evidence by the failure of his idea today even if the president could control the House of Representatives, what would you be negotiating on?

MORGAN: A little later there (ph), Jim Himes and Marsha Blackburn, thank you both very much indeed.

BLACKBURN: Thank you. Thank you.

HIMES: Thank you. MORGAN: Coming next, time is running out, what if Washington fails to make a debt deal. What will it mean to (ph) Wall Street to Main Street and around the world? What you need to know, coming next.

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