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Fox News "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" - Transcript


Location: Washington, DC


WALLACE: Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the debt commission sounding the alarm that the congressional super committee will fail to meet its November 23rd deadline to find $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts.

Now, 100 members of Congress representing both parties, calling for the super committee to go big and cut the national debt by $4 trillion dollars.

Joining us is the congressman the leading the group of 100, North Carolina Democrat, Heath Shuler; and Idaho Republican Mike Simpson.

Congressmen, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."

Let's start with the letter that your group, 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans sent to the super committee this week and here is the key sentence. "To succeed, all options for mandatory and discretion spending and revenues must be on the table."

Congressman Simpson, as the Republican, will you support more revenues either from raising tax rates or cutting deductions, closing loop holes as part of the plan to cut the deficit.

REP. MIKE SIMPSON, R-IDAHO: You have to. The reality is you can't get to $4 trillion without revenues. And we might have different ideas about what those evidence would like, I think you could get additional revenues by actually lower the tax rates and eliminating all these exemptions underneath and that time of thing.

And I think you'd an economic boom in this country and the revenue would come in the federal government.

So, more revenue is key to this.

WALLACE: But when you say it, you would take the money from closing the loopholes as the Bowles-Simpson said, and use that for deficit reduction. You wouldn't make it revenue neutral.

SIMPSON: No, some of it would go to deficit reduction. It has to if you are going to get to $4 trillion and everybody agrees we have to get to $4 trillion to stabilize our debt and start decreasing the deficit.

WALLACE: All right. Before I bring in Congressman Shuler.

Two points, Grover Norquist, which I'm sure you're familiar, the head of Americans for tax reform has a pledge that you and all but six House Republicans signed to oppose any net increase in taxes, exactly the opposite of what you just said to me.

And I also want to play what House Speaker John Boehner said this week. Take a look.


SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: Our conference is opposed to tax hikes because we believe that tax hikes will hurt our economy and put Americans out of work.


WALLACE: Question -- how many House Republicans do you think will follow you and are willing to break their pledge? And quite frankly, I put their political futures at risk to make this deal.

SIMPSON: Well, first the pledge, I signed that in 1998 when I first ran and I didn't know I was signing a marriage agreements that would last forever. And I think the majority of the members of Congress understand that you have to have additional revenue.

SIMPSON: If you look at the percentage of the GDP that comes into the government right now, it's about 14 percent, 14 percent to 15 percent. It's traditionally been 18 percent, in that neighborhood. So, the revenue coming into the government has decreased as a percentage of GDP. And the expenditures that used to be around 19 percent are now up at 25 percent. We got to bring those closer together again.

WALLACE: OK. And that brings me to Congressman Shuler.

Will you support real cuts, raising the eligibility age, slowing the growth of benefits as part of the deal to cut the deficit? And would you accept the deal that the Simpson-Bowles commission, the presidential commission, which was basically about three-one spending cuts to tax increase?

REP. HEATH SHULER, D-N.C.: I think both Simpson report not only reflects the members of Congress feel about the program, but what the rest of the world is looking at America to say, are you going to make these significant cuts?

And when it comes to entitlements, it has to be on the table. We cannot do this without entitlement. We can't do it without revenue.

WALLACE: When you say all on the table, but I must say, Mike Simpson went further. He said he would support it. Would you support it?

SHULER: Absolutely. In order to save these programs, we have to make sure they have more sustainable resources, but also get rid of the fraud and abuse that's been in the program for quite some time.

WALLACE: Do you think that President Obama going around the country, blaming the do-nothing Congress, making it sound as if all you need to do is get millionaires and billionaires to pay more taxes, do you think that's constructive and setting the stage for a compromise?

SHULER: Well, far too often, we've seen how politics has played such an important role in Washington, especially the closer we get to the presidential elections. The most important thing we can do is, both Democrats and Republican come together as Mike and another 100 members, and adding every day to the list, work together to make sure that our debt and deficit spending that we have been having over the last decade doesn't continue, that we have a more sustainable path for our future. And we put the next generation into situation where they're not having to pay everything. Every dollar that we borrow is a tax on the next generation.

WALLACE: So, to answer my question directly. Do you think what the president is doing these days is constructive or not?

SHULER: Well, I think it's -- it would be much more helpful if the focus was on what he can do and the support he could give the super committee. The problem that you have is the politics.

If he supports the super committee, or he supports one way, that pushes of my colleagues on the other side in the opposite direction. So, I think, in one sense, if he's, you know, on the sidelines and allow that the members of the Congress, and rank and file members that continue in our numbers and support the super committee to do something big, $4 trillion-plus. I mean, Mike and I would like a $5 trillion or $6 trillion and put everything on the table.

WALLACE: Let's talk about that because you both had mentioned it. The super committee charge is to come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by the day before Thanksgiving. But both of you have talked repeatedly about $4 trillion. Why isn't $1.2 trillion enough?

SIMPSON: Because that doesn't pay down our deficit and kicking the can down the road and, frankly, we are out of road. We have to make difficult decisions. And no matter what the super committee comes up with, it is going to be a difficult vote for every member of Congress because there's going to be part of it that they don't like.

But the reality is that, if I'm going to make a difficult vote that I'm willing to make, I want it to mean something and I don't want it just kicking the can down the road.

WALLACE: You know , Congressman Shuler, for all of these talk about -- well, your group is growing. The prevailing sense and conventional wisdom here in Washington right now is that the super committee is deadlocked, that in fact, the great chances are that they're not going to come up with any deal before November 23rd. Before we get to whether that is real or not, what do you think the impact would be if the super committee comes up empty, on the markets, on the credit rating for this country?

SHULER: It would be devastating to our country, that not only look as if the Congress is more dysfunctional that it already is. But the whole world is watching, that we're going to be able to come up with something that big.

And having the support of 100 members and the 45 members in the Senate.

So, not only have a bipartisan, But this is bipartisan way that we an support those 12 members and say, we have your back and we know you have to make difficult decision and choices that's going to impact us not only here in the U.S. but truly what's happened all over the world. We need to continue to be the leaders of the world. And the way we do that is those members need more than our hundred members in the House. We need more members of Congress to join us. WALLACE: I'm going to pick up on that in a second.

But, your thoughts, Congressman Simpson about the impact if the super committee doesn't meet that November 23rd dead line.

SIMPSON: As he side, the world is watching, and I actually think the market would start to tank if the super committee doesn't come up with something because I think they're looking -- you know, the markets will either correct the situation or we will. And I think the economy will suffer greatly and the American people will suffer greatly.

And who is going to suffer the most whenever the economy goes down? It's those who are less well off.

So, we have to do something. And the tough thing is -- I know it sounds ridiculous and everything else. We've got to put aside our elections. We've got to put aside the Republican and Democrat.

We've got to put aside politics, and we've got to do what's right for the country. This is one time where I think it's critical. We've got once chance to fix this and this is that chance.

WALLACE: Now, I guess what I don't understand and it is impressive and that's why we are having you on the program, a hundred members signing this. As I say, 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans is a big deal.

But there isn't seem to be a sense. I mean, maybe I am missing something. Is there a growing move? Because the general opinion I think, the conventional wisdom, is this isn't going to get done.

That the committee -- we may get to the 1.2 trillion but they are not going to make a bargain and the Republicans are not giving up on taxes and the Democrats aren't going to give up on serious entitlement reform.

SIMPSON: We didn't want to put pressure on the committee to do something. What we wanted to show them that there is support out there to do something big. And getting hundred members of congress to sign it is nearly impossible. So, when you 100 -- now, we have 103 and more members are looking at it, I think you'll see that number. And I think overwhelmingly as I talk to people, even people who didn't this sign the letter know that this is the right thing to do. And we'll just a little nervous --

WALLACE: Do you think and -- you know, Republicans have pretty been strong about opposing the revenue, do you think how many Republicans do you think would go along?

SIMPSON: I couldn't give you a number. But I believe there is a majority in Congress of Republicans and Democrats in a bipartisan basis. And that's the more important thing.

You look at anytime in this country that has the problem, the solution is a bipartisan solution. If it was a Republican only sort of proposal, it wouldn't work and wouldn't go anywhere, because Democrats only propose it would not go anywhere. It has to be bipartisan.

WALLACE: Last thing. And you said you didn't want to put pressure on the super committee, but -- Congressman Shuler, they are the guys and women who are deciding this issue and they have two and a half weeks.

I think at this point, 12 members of the super committee are seen largely as agents of the congressional leadership and the members -- the leaders who appointed them. Should the members break with the leaders, act as independent agents, and make the grand bargain and let the political chips go where they may.

SHULER: Well, certainly, I agree with that Mike and I would have been really good option to have on the super committee.

WALLACE: There may be a reason.


SHULER: But reality is. You have over a hundred in the House statesmen and women, and in the Senate who -- Senate who are acting in the way that give them that support. And if that is the reason for the leader, it's to say we have your back, we know it's tough and it give them the opportunity to break from the leadership role.

They were appointed by our leadership. And that's not a reflection, of the U.S. and it's not a reflection of what's true in our Congress.

We have to see the middle of the road, Tuesday group, the Blue Dog members, continue to step forward because we represent 80 percent of America.

WALLACE: And to give you the last word, Congressman Simpson. Good.

The super committee membership, they break with the leadership. Should they act independently and take into their own hands.

SIMPSON: They need to do what's in the best for the country. But if you look at the recent comments of Speaker Boehner, he has suggested that revenue can be on the part, that it's going to be apart of the solution.


WALLACE: We just hear him say, here, tax highs no.


SIMPSON: Nobody is in favor of increasing tax rates. But we are in favor of increasing revenue. We have to increase revenue.

So, I think Speaker Boehner wants a big deal. He tried to negotiate, one with the president earlier on the debt ceiling limit, that didn't come about. But I know in speaking with him, he wants to solve this problem.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you both so much. We'll stay on top of the story.


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