CNN Crossfire - Transcript
NOVAK: Now, Congressman, with a big deficit and a war going on, you can't cut defense spending. Isn't this the time to cut nondefense spending? Even Franklin Roosevelt cut the nondefense spending during a war.
REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, first of all, one word you will not hear this administration use when they talk about the budget is a simple word called balance.
Bush has never sent over a balanced budget. This is not balanced. It keeps raising the national debt. And the deficit is hundreds of billions of dollars. When Bill Clinton was in town, he sent over a balanced budget. We had the largest surpluses that the country has ever seen. So, on one level, we have the fiscal imbalance in this administration. On the other level, in terms of the cuts, Republicans have been in the majority for 10 years.
Every single program that the president says he wants to cut, the Republican majority in the House and the Senate has supported over the last 10 years.
FATTAH: So are they wasteful...
NOVAK: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
FATTAH: ... and my colleagues put in wasteful spending or are they needed programs that we need to move the country forward?
NOVAK: I got your point. And you state it beautifully.
But I still would like you to answer my question. When you've got a big deficit, got a deficit, and when you got a war going on, isn't that the time to have a 1 percent decrease in nonsecurity spending?
FATTAH: I think that, at the end of the day, the Congress will meet the budget of ceilings that the president has laid out. We'll have a different set of priorities. But the point you need to know is that no president at war cut taxes $1.5 trillion, like Bush did.
NOVAK: You didn't answer my question. I tried twice. I won't try a third time.
FATTAH: The reason why we have an imbalance is because he wanted to help some of his wealthiest friends pay less in taxes and have no sacrifice, while we have the rest of the country feeling the pains of this war.
CARVILLE: Congressman LaHood, you have one of the most agriculturally productive districts in the country in the area surrounding Peoria, Illinois in central Illinois. The president is calling for cuts in agricultural programs. Do you remember any time during the campaign when he was campaigning in the Midwest, in the Farm Belt that he was talking about cutting agricultural programs?
REP. RAY LAHOOD ®, ILLINOIS: Well, one of the things he has talked about in the budget is trying to make permanent the tax cuts.
LAHOOD: That's a good thing for folks in agriculture.
LAHOOD: To eliminate the inheritance tax.
CARVILLE: Right. Right.
LAHOOD: To make the tax cuts permanent, to make the child tax cut permanent, those are all...
CARVILLE: So we can expect Ray LaHood to be on the point cutting these agricultural subsidies and helping the president get this through?
LAHOOD: Well, the president proposes and the Congress disposes.
LAHOOD: The president has proposed cuts in the past in agricultural programs. The best thing we can do for our friends in agriculture is make permanent the elimination of the death tax, the child tax credit and the tax cuts that have helped all Americans.
CARVILLE: How many people in your district have lost their farm because of the estate tax?
LAHOOD: A lot of them have been able not to pass their farms on.
We've lost the ability of the family farm to be passed on because people have to sell off half the farm in order to pay the so-called inheritance tax.
NOVAK: Congressman Fattah, person who is nonpolitical-Republicans and Democrats all hang on his word-is the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.
And here's what he says about the present administration policy. He says-quote-"The voice of fiscal restraint, barely audible a year ago, has at least partially regained volume"-end quote. In other words, he says that, by cutting these domestic programs, we've got fiscal restraint. Is Greenspan deluded?
FATTAH: Well, I think if you really look at what he said, he talked about the irresponsibility on the front end. He says it's like what we have now is, we have central banks around the world retreating from U.S. assets.
We have the highest deficits ever. We've added over $2 trillion under this administration to the national debt. He's right when he talks about the inheritance tax being a concern to some in our country. But for every child born, we have a birth tax now of $36,000 in debt that those...
NOVAK: Well, that's...
FATTAH: On the heads of people that will have to carry forward, because, rather than be adults and pay as we go, this administration has decided to spend and borrow.
NOVAK: You don't want to address the things I asked you. I said that he says the voice of fiscal restraint is back. This is a fiscally restrained budget. Can you concede that?
FATTAH: I think what he said is, obviously, there had not been a voice of restraint in the last four years.
And just because the president says today-every expert outlined-and, for instance, "The Washington Post" today said these cuts are not going to materialize. There will be less than a dozen programs cut out of the 150.
NOVAK: Oh, because you won't cut them.
FATTAH: No. We're not in the majority. The Republican Party is in charge. They've been charge of the Congress and spending for 10 years.
So, if they have been funding wasteful programs, I don't think my colleagues would agree that they have been. They have been funding needed programs that our country needs in education and farm support.
NOVAK: Will you vote to cut these programs?
FATTAH: Look, I'm going to allow the majority to-as it is set up in our democracy, to work its will.
CARVILLE: Congressman, one of things that the president's budget calls for is to let poor kids get a little skin in this game and cut Medicaid funding, which goes to their health insurance. Can you think of any sacrifice the president is asking Bob Novak and I to make, two high-income post-60 guys? Is there anything-is there anything that the president is asking me to do for my country in this budget?
LAHOOD: James, you know as well as I do, there's a lot of waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program.
CARVILLE: Right. Right.
LAHOOD: There really is.
LAHOOD: And that's what the president is going after.
LAHOOD: He's not trying to hurt poor people.
CARVILLE: ... one thing in there about this. He is asking poor children, children with juvenile diabetes, children with cleft palates, children with holes in their heart, to get a little skin in this game to sacrifice something for their country. What is he asking me, a 60-year-old rich guy, to do?
LAHOOD: Well, what he's saying is that there's a lot of waste in government, including in the Medicaid program.
CARVILLE: But he ain't asking me to do anything, is he? If you're a rich guy over 60...
NOVAK: Let him answer the question. Let him answer the question.
CARVILLE: I'm saying...
NOVAK: No. You're interrupting him. You're not letting him answer.
CARVILLE: ... waste, fraud and abuse. I'm just saying...
NOVAK: Let him answer the question.
CARVILLE: What is he asking me to do?
OK answer it. What is he asking me to do?
LAHOOD: Well, he's asking you to pay your fair of the taxes that are required because of the fact that you're one of these talk show hosts that makes a lot of money.
CARVILLE: Right. And I'm getting hundreds of thousands of dollars.
NOVAK: The president is taking a strong stand, calling for an end to ineffective government programs. The question now, how many in Congress will go along, especially if it means getting rid of popular and wasteful programs?
Still with us, two members of the House Appropriations Committee, Chaka Fattah, Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, and Ray LaHood, Republican congressman from Illinois and maybe the next governor of Illinois.
LAHOOD: We'll see.
NOVAK: We'll see.
CARVILLE: Congressman LaHood, the president said that he would cut the budget deficit in half in 10 years. Does this-how much does this budget cut the deficit? Is this really an axe-cutting budget here?
LAHOOD: Well, this is the first year of the 10 years.
CARVILLE: And how much is this-what are they projecting we're going to cut off the deficit here?
LAHOOD: Well, the president's making a good-faith effort to abide by what he said during the campaign, that he believes deficit reduction is very important. And this is the first start. CARVILLE: But what's the start? How much? What's the figure here? We got a figure? I understand, but there's a figure.
LAHOOD: We also are trying to win the war on terror and also win the hearts and mind of the people in Iraq.
CARVILLE: I understand.
LAHOOD: And we're setting up a democracy there.
LAHOOD: And millions of people went to vote.
LAHOOD: And we're going to have an $80 billion supplemental appropriation.
LAHOOD: This war on terror is costing us a lot of money.
CARVILLE: Right. Right. So we ain't cutting the deficit any is what it is. OK. That's all.
NOVAK: Mr. Fattah, I want to show you a poll just taken by Gallup for CNN and "USA Today," policies-whether policies would move the country in the right direction. President Bush's policies, 55 percent, yes. Republicans in Congress, 50 percent yes. Democrats in Congress, 41 percent yes, 14 points behind President Bush.
In other words, your big spending, partisanship, tax the rich, that doesn't go over, does it?
FATTAH: This is the big secret that we have got to let people in on. There's not an appropriations bill in the last 10 years that the-that Democrats passed in the Congress. We haven't spent any money of your taxes in the last decade.
Republicans are in the majority, Bob. Everybody's got to get used to that.
NOVAK: I know. You've made that point. I let you make that point.
FATTAH: Now, so, if you want to blame someone for wasteful spending, the Republicans are in the majority.
NOVAK: Why do the American...
FATTAH: That's what you have got to focus on.
NOVAK: Why do the... FATTAH: If you want to talk about, if you want to talk about young people who are risking their lives in Iraq without enough bullets or bulletproof vests or armored Humvees...
NOVAK: Well, let me ask you my question.
CARVILLE: Let him answer it.
FATTAH: Bush is the commander in chief.
CARVILLE: Let him answer.
FATTAH: We are in the age of accountability.
NOVAK: All right. I want you to be...
FATTAH: What the public needs to start to do is not deal with the Democratic boogeyman from the past, but focus on who's running the country now.
FATTAH: They've been running it. They are now responsible.
NOVAK: I want to-wait a minute. Let me ask the question.
Let me ask you why you think the American people think that the president's policies are moving the country in the right direction and your policies are moving them in the wrong direction? Why is that?
FATTAH: The Americans are optimistic by their nature. And they are hopeful. But the truth is, we went from balance budgets under Clinton, the largest surpluses in the nation's history.
NOVAK: You don't have an answer for that.
CARVILLE: Sure, he does.
FATTAH: To the largest deficits in the nation's history.
We have major fiscal problems on our hand. And they're hopeful, optimistic beyond the facts that Bush might turn around his reckless fiscal behavior for the first four years and actually start to act like a Republican and...
CARVILLE: Congressman LaHood, you get the last word.
FATTAH: ... balance the budget.
CARVILLE: You get the last word. Go ahead. (CROSSTALK)
LAHOOD: Listen, the president-the president-this last election was a referendum on President Bush. It was a referendum on the war on terror.
LAHOOD: It was a referendum on his policies.
LAHOOD: And he won the referendum.
CARVILLE: Right. Right.
LAHOOD: And we also won the referendum in the Congress.
CARVILLE: Are you going to be with the president to privatize Social Security? He can count on your vote for his Social Security plan?
LAHOOD: I'm going to do what the president asks us to do.
CARVILLE: So if he asks you to vote that way...
LAHOOD: Let's wait for the details, James. Let's see what the details...
CARVILLE: So if the president asks you to do something, you're going to do it? You're going to stand with the president 100 percent?
FATTAH: You won't find a Republican who will vote for this budget, all right?