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CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript


Location: Washington, DC


And as you hear it on this show every day, it's been almost a year since we lost our AAA credit rating. And it's all because of Washington's inability to work together. OUTFRONT tonight, one man who's a leader in the House and a member of the Super Committee which couldn't ultimately make a deal, Democratic Congressman James Clyburn. It is good to see you sir.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

AVLON: You've been in Congress for over three decades, so my first question is has it ever been this bad and who could you make a deal with on the other side of the aisle?

CLYBURN: Well I've been here a little short of two decades. I came here in 1993. But from afar, I have seen it this bad, maybe not over the deficit and over the budget. But I can remember the hustles and tussles back in the '50s and the '60s. I'm just old enough to remember all of those things and had a great interest in it. So I would say to all of the viewing public, the only thing that's different today than from 30, 35 years ago is the fact that there's instant news now. Everything is done in real time. And communications are so much better, and people are a little more tuned in. But these kinds of things are not all that strange to the Congress.

AVLON: Well, then give us some assurance. Tell us that behind the scenes at least there's some constructive conversation going on about how to deal with this fiscal cliff before we go over it.

CLYBURN: Well, I believe that the budget priorities committee, the committee on budget priorities and policies, they have said to us that this is not really a cliff in the common sense of the word, but more like a slope because I do believe that even after the elections, there is plenty enough time for us to come back here in a lame duck and do what is necessary to extend budgetary considerations for at least a year while we'll have time to really work on things we need to do. And that is to have the massive overhaul of our tax code. I think that we're in the trouble we're in today not so much because of people's priorities but because we have a problem with our tax code that needs to be fixed. I think that's what's important about that vote today.


AVLON: Well but, Congressman, you know that approach of, we'll all get together and work together after the election never -- someday never seems to come. You know you were on the Super Committee.


AVLON: And Republicans say that there was never a serious proposal from Democrats to deal with entitlement reform. So just help clear that up tonight. What specific concessions on entitlement reform did you and your fellow Democrats put forward on the Super Committee?

CLYBURN: There were a lot of considerations given and I think the -- you remember Senator Baucus brought an issue to the table that had massive entitlement controls. The last time I checked, he is, in fact, a Democrat. I would ask you to ask those Republicans, what kind of tax cuts, what kind of revenue (INAUDIBLE) did they ever bring into serous discussion? They never did bring any.


CLYBURN: And so that's where the problem was. We're supposed to have the people living on fixed income, people getting Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, they're supposed to make all the sacrifices while wealthy people continue to pump their earnings off shore and not even pay taxes on them. So this is the kind of stuff -- there's another report out today about the trillions of dollars that are being hidden in offshore accounts by very wealthy people while we're talking about making poor people suffer entitlement cuts.

AVLON: Well, Congressman, thank you for coming OUTFRONT. Let's hope a deal can get made before we go off that fiscal cliff.


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