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REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, D-FLA.: Thank you.
BAIER: You're both campaigning...
REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-VA.: Good morning.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Good morning.
BAIER: ... for candidates around the country, so we'll start out with a very straightforward question to both of you. Why should American voters send your party to Washington?
First, Congressman Cantor, why should voters give Republicans another chance?
CANTOR: Well, clearly, Bret, over the last 20 months the country has seen what the other party has to offer. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of coming together in terms of trying to come up with solutions to get people back to work.
And now we've got a sense across the country, with unemployment hovering around 10 percent, 86 percent of the country knowing someone who's out of a job -- people want things to get better.
And as you know, the Democratic candidates across this country are running as fast as they can from the agenda that President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have put forward, whether the stimulus bill, the cap and trade energy bill, the health care bill, or the fin reg bill. All of those things have not even been discussed on the campaign trail because they're wildly unpopular.
And on top of all that, we have laid over $4 trillion of additional debt onto the backs of our working families and small businesses in the last two years because of this agenda. People have had enough, and the Democrats haven't listened.
And we as Republicans have positive alternatives every step of the way. And hopefully November 2nd comes. We can have a new day in Washington. We can come together and actually work on some things that will produce some results and get people back to work.
BAIER: Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, why should voters keep Democrats in power?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, Bret, you'll notice that Congressman Cantor said nothing about what Republicans would do, which is generally what you're supposed to do when you're trying to give voters a reason to choose your candidates over your opponent's candidates.
This election really is going to be a very clear choice. American voters are going to have a choice between Democratic candidates and Democratic incumbent members who have been pushing hard to turn this economy around, create jobs, have saved or created through the recovery act over 3 million jobs, passed health care reform, which took insurance companies out of the driver's seat when it comes to deciding about patients' health care choices, and put patients and their doctors in their rightful place where they belong, making those choices, made sure that Wall Street wouldn't continue to run amok, which the Republicans allowed to happen, struck a balance between the appropriate level of regulation and making sure we had appropriate consumer protection in place, and allowing those businesses to continue to thrive, and focus on making sure that we could give 98 percent of Americans a tax break, focusing on middle class tax breaks and focusing on small business tax breaks, Bret, giving 16 different tax breaks in the last -- a little more than two -- a little less than two years to small business owners, and taking this economy from bleeding 750,000-plus jobs a month to now adding an average of 100,000 private sector jobs a month.
We literally have now created 863,000 private sector jobs just this year alone, more jobs than the entire Bush administration created.
And the Republicans offer more of their failed policies of the past, take us back to the stranglehold that they had when it came to tax cutting policy, focused only on the wealthiest, exploded the deficit, took a $5.6 trillion surplus to a $1.3 trillion deficit.
And now they want the keys to the car back. And American voters understand that if we want to keep fighting to move in the new -- in a new direction, we've got a long way to go. And we need to make sure we continue with Democrats being in the majority. And that's why we will hold the majority on November 2nd.
BAIER: Congresswoman, there is a new Democratic strategy memo that is public this weekend. Stan Greenberg and James Carville write this, quote, "Voters are not moved by Democratic messages that say 'go forward, not back,' mention President Bush, compare then and now, or even hint that the economy is showing signs of progress. After hearing this battle of Republican and Democratic messages, 8 percent shift their vote to support the Republican, while only 5 percent move to the Democrats. We lose ground. These messages are helping the Republicans."
You've just used one of those phrases, Congresswoman. So is the Democratic messaging working?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you know, I don't think that most members in the -- that are running for reelection use polling memos like Stan Greenberg and James Carville's. I haven't seen it.
What I know is that they are running on their record. They are running on the choice that they have. The Republicans' -- the Republican choices that have been offered across the country are, you know, pretty extreme.
You've got a stranglehold that's been taken over -- the Republican Party by the tea party. You have a disturbing trend in the corrupt and pretty despicable recruitment job they've done where they have candidates that have been accused of sexual assault in recent weeks.
You have one candidate in Ohio who actually thinks it's a good bonding experience to go re-enact Nazi battles with his son. I mean, those are their top-tier candidates that are in their young gun program.
And so if that's the offer -- the choice that Republicans are offering, then I think Democrats are going to be successful, because they have been represented by members who they know. They're going to be choosing folks like Joe Donnelly and Marcy Kaptur and Betty Sutton, and not this, you know, amorphous blob of attacks that the Republicans have -- levying against us. They just aren't going to stick.
Congresswoman Cantor, Republicans rolled out the "Pledge with America" back on September 23rd, yet more than two weeks later it's not really mentioned that often, unless it's being attacked by Democrats.
Here's what the Washington Post wrote about it, quote, "For all the fanfare and publicity that accompanied the pledge's release, relatively few Republican candidates nationwide appear to be adopting it as a guiding vision, much less incorporating it into their campaigns."
Why not talk about it more? And is the pledge working?
CANTOR: Bret, there is absolutely discussion about the pledge in all the races that I'm in over the course of the last several weeks. What we've got is now a new crop of young leaders energized to go to Washington for the right reasons.
Now, Debbie went and launched into her attacks as to some of the reports about candidates that are running, and particularly the one in Ohio having to do with the Nazi re-enactment. She knows that I would absolutely repudiate that and not support an individual...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you haven't.
CANTOR: ... who would do something like that. I'm doing it right here.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You haven't.
CANTOR: I'm doing it right here, Debbie. You know good and well that I don't support anything like that.
But what I would say, Bret, is our candidates are out there, like Corey Gardner in Colorado, Ryan Frazier, a young African American leader in Aurora, like -- somebody like Martha Roby in Alabama. We -- we've got Randy Altschuler in New York 1.
These are the type of people that have had experience thus far in their life and been successful, some in the private sector as small business people, and understand what we've got to do to get this nation back on track.
And they're talking what about we have put forward with the pledge. And basically, the sense of the "Pledge to America" is this. Republicans understand when we were in charge, we got fired in '06. We spent too much money. We defied the trust that the people had put in us. And we know that there is a better way.
We've also seen the errors being committed by the current Democratic majority in the White House which have exploded the size of government, which has led us to incur more debt than we have in this country in the last 200 years. And we need to actually come together and begin to cut spending, rein in the size of government and get people back to work.
BAIER: Congressman, not...
CANTOR: We've put forward ideas...
BAIER: ... not included in the pledge...
CANTOR: We've put forward ideas in these -- in this -- in this pledge, Bret, that we have been talking about over the last several months. Unfortunately, Debbie and her party are unwilling to sit down and talk about anything that works.
BAIER: Congressman, not included in this pledge are any details about cutting the country's entitlement spending -- Social Security and Medicare. So are you in favor of raising the retirement age or possibly cutting benefits to deal with this situation?
CANTOR: Well, Bret, what we have said in the pledge is we intend to deal with the real question of long-term fiscal sustainability of those programs and, hence, our economy.
But what we have seen transpire over the last year is it has been our side, the Republicans, that have put one plan out there. And in the process, what has then happened is all the nice talk that Debbie and others may say -- is unfortunately, they start to attack us as wanting to deprive seniors of their Medicare or Social Security, et cetera. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We as Republicans understand that we have got to protect these...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The proof's in the pudding.
CANTOR: ... entitlement programs -- these entitlement programs for our seniors today. And we have to sit down and have a discussion. We need more ideas on the table.
We shouldn't see the Democrats continue to attack an idea that's been put out there. Let them come bring more ideas. Let's commit ourselves to dealing with these programs and stop the politics...
BAIER: All right.
Congresswoman, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has committed to an up-or-down vote on the president's debt commission recommendations by the end of the year. They're expected December 1st.
Already, Democratic member of the commission Alice Rivlin is reportedly preparing to unveil a plan that could include cutting Social Security benefits or raising the retirement age to 70, or maybe both.
So if the debt commission recommends that the age goes up for Social Security, or means testing, or cutting benefits, even if it's under -- for under -- Americans under a certain age, would you vote against those recommendations?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, let me just address what Mr. Cantor just talked about, because their proposal for Social Security reform and entitlement reform with Medicare is to privatize Social Security, and I mean, I have...
CANTOR: Well, here we go again.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... debated his colleague Paul Ryan.
CANTOR: These are the attacks, Bret.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, no, no, no, no. I didn't interrupt you.
CANTOR: These are the attacks.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Eric. Eric, I did not interrupt you.
BAIER: All right. Hold on.
Congresswoman, go ahead.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: They have proposed...
BAIER: You have the floor.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Excuse me. I politely listened to you.
Eric and his colleagues, including Paul Ryan, who I have debated and stood right next to me and acknowledged that he has proposed privatizing Social Security, particularly for the generation younger than 55 years old right now -- they would yank the safety net out from under our seniors...
BAIER: A portion of their...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... put -- turn Medicare into a voucher program -- turn Medicare into a voucher program.
Eric is a part of that Young Guns Book where they tout that proposal. So one thing that I know that voters don't want -- and I represent a state with a tremendous number of seniors. They don't want to see their safety net yanked out from under them.
BAIER: OK. So your answer is no.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And, Eric, I'm more than happy to sit at the table with you.
BAIER: Your answer is that you would vote no if the debt commission comes back with recommendations that include any of that.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I want to see what the debt commission comes...
BAIER: I know, but right now...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I want to see what the debt commission comes back with.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You didn't -- Eric also avoided answering the question. I'm going to tell you that I want to hear what the -- what the entire...
CANTOR: Debbie, you've just said...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... range of proposals that the debt...
CANTOR: ... you've just said that we put a -- you just said we put a proposal out there.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, no, no, no. I want to see what the debt commission...
CANTOR: You've not -- you've not had an equal proposal.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You did, you...
CANTOR: You've had no ideas put forward. This is what I'm saying, is we've got to come together. You know what? I want to -- why don't you and I go sit together?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Eric, we do have to come together.
BAIER: I've got to interrupt.
CANTOR: Let's talk about it.
BAIER: I've got to interrupt here. Let's -- let's...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I would be happy to sit...
BAIER: Hold on.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Let's do that.
BAIER: One at a time.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'll go to dinner with you. You guys have refused to do that.
BAIER: I'm glad that we could set up dinner.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I would be happy to...
CANTOR: Oh, come on.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... sit down at dinner with you.
BAIER: Now, hold on one second. Let me just take control.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: If you want to sit down and hash out what we can do...
BAIER: Let me just ask a question.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... to reach a compromise on Social Security...
BAIER: And then we'll take turns here.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... I'll be glad to do that.
BAIER: We still have time. Let's try to get as many as we can in here. A big issue today...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Bret, we'll just leave you out and Eric and I will work things out.
BAIER: OK, good. Dinner. Sounds great.
A big issue today, foreclosures. As the number of foreclosures increase, a number of banks around the country are now freezing foreclosure sales.
First to you, Congresswoman, do you in favor -- favor and do Democrats favor pushing for the freeze or moratorium of foreclosure sales?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I do. I mean, I come from a state where the foreclosure problem has been extremely vexing. We have -- we've had a number of different programs that the administration -- the HAMP program and the Hardest Hit Fund -- those are programs that have gone a long way -- Neighborhood Stabilization Program that gives cities and counties and local governments the ability to buy properties back and try to keep people in their homes, but -- those have worked to a certain degree, but the banks have really been refusing to work out -- particularly the larger banks, to work out mortgages.
CANTOR: Now, come on.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... Administration...
BAIER: Here we go again.
CANTOR: People have to take responsibility for themselves. We need to get the housing industry going again. We don't need government intervening in every step...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We need to strike a balance.
CANTOR: ... of every aspect...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We need to strike a balance, Eric.
CANTOR: We've already...
BAIER: OK. All right.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: When people are being drummed out of their houses...
CANTOR: There's no question about it, but you can't go in -- you can't go in because...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But you don't support balance.
CANTOR: ... because of this situation...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You support only...
BAIER: Hold on one second. We're going to save it for dinner again. Hold on. One more question.
CANTOR: There you go.
BAIER: Congresswoman, do you think it was a mistake for Democrats to leave Washington without taking a vote on whether to extend the Bush era tax cuts?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think it was disgusting that the Republicans held the middle-class tax cuts hostage and this obsession that they have with providing tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
We certainly could have voted on making the middle-class tax cuts and tax cuts for working families permanent had the Republicans not insisted that the only way they would support those tax breaks is if we also added $700 billion to the deficit to give tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. That's what was really disturbing.
BAIER: Your response?
BAIER: Last word, Congressman.
CANTOR: Bret, they're in complete control. It was a bipartisan majority that felt we ought not to put taxes on anybody right now in a recession. And this question about the $700 billion...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And, Eric, you would have...
CANTOR: ... the proposal by the White House is...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... voted just for a middle-class tax break.
CANTOR: The proposal by the White House is a $4 billion cost. Let's be honest. We know what the numbers are. But they're in complete control, Bret. That's why we're going to do well in November.
They have turned their backs on working families, small business people...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, please.
CANTOR: ... and the people want a better way. They want this country to get back on track.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The voters of America...
BAIER: ... Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... know better than that.
BAIER: ... thank you very much. We learned a few things. One, you should go to dinner.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.
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