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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript: Surveillance Programs and the Government Shutdown


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SCHIEFFER: We're back now with the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, who, as everyone knows, was Mitt Romney's running mate in the presidential election last time out. He is a key player in the coming battles on the -- over the fiscal crisis that will be coming up this fall. But, Congressman, I want to just start with where we left off there with -- with Senator Schumer. He said the United States ought to -- not only should President Obama not meet with Russian President Putin but should talk to our allies about moving that whole international economic conference to another country, now that Russia has decided to give political asylum to Edward Snowden. What's your -- what's your reaction to that?

RYAN: Well, you know, for once, Bob, I agree with Chuck Schumer on that. I think President Putin is -- thinks he can get away with pushing around this administration because the administration has given, sort of, appeasement feelings that they can do this. The reset policy has been an utter failure. This is a stab in the back. This is a slap in the face. And I actually agree with Senator Schumer, that has to come with consequences. And I think the administration should proceed just like we just now discussed.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Congressman, you said a couple weeks ago that you thought the NSA surveillance program was creepy when the news first broke about the collection of phone numbers that they were putting together. And you said it went way beyond the scope, as you understood the Patriot Act. Now that we have had this new news about this threat and Al Qaida planning some sort of an attack, do you still feel that way?

RYAN: No, I do think we need to reauthorize and reform this program. A lot of us have learned much, much more about it since it was revealed. The Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee are moving forward with reforms of this program. We do have to do more, I believe, to protect our liberties without sacrificing our national security. And I think that can be done. There was a vote to defund the entire program. I didn't support that vote, because I think the smarter way to go about it is rewrite the law that authorizes this, and that's exactly what our intelligence committee is in the middle of doing, is reforming this program to protect our liberties while making sure we have the necessary tools to protect national security without violating our civil liberties. And I think there's a better way to get that balance.

SCHIEFFER: Are you convinced that the NSA is violating our privacy or sort of has the capability to do that?

RYAN: Well, I think they have the capability. I can't speak to whether they are or not doing that, but I think that there are more controls that we can put in place. I think there's a way we can reform the way they do this so that we can guarantee our liberties are not being violated.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this we're going to have this battle come fall about whether to shut down the government if we can't get this fiscal situation worked out, but now some members of your party are talking about threatening to shut downtown government unless the administration agrees not to fund Obamacare, the president's health care plan. Do you think that's a good idea?

RYAN: Well, look, we all, Republicans, want to repeal and replace Obamacare. So it's not a matter of whether or not we want to get rid of Obamacare, we do. We're having a debate about the best course of achieving that goal, the best strategy. And with the government shutdown, so to speak, we're talking about discretionary spending, just government agency budgets, but it doesn't affect entitlements. Obamacare is an entitlement like Medicare and Social Security is, and so the entitlement carries on even under a government shutdown scenario. So it's just not that simple and easy. You know, rather than sort of swinging for the fences and trying to take this entire law out with discretionary spending, I think there are more effective ways of achieving that goal. We think that we can do better by delaying this law. We've already had votes to delay other parts of it. Democrats have supported us in that. And so I think there's going to be a better strategy to actually achieve our goal of ultimately delaying it, ultimately replacing Obamacare.

SCHIEFFER: All right, let me ask you about another very controversial issue within your party and that is immigration reform. Can your party survive as a major political party if you don't come up with some sort of immigration reform? I mean, Lindsey Graham for one says you're in a downward demographic death spiral unless you figure out some way to reform immigration. What do you think the Republicans ought to do on that?

RYAN: Look, I disagree that we should approach this issue based on what's right for us politically. We should approach this issue on what we think is the right thing to do, what's the right policy. And speaking to that, we are not going tyke up the Senate bill in the House because we don't support the Senate bill. We have been listening to the American people. So what we're going to do is take a step-by-step approach to get immigration right, not a big massive bill but separate bills so people know what's in these bills. Number one, Bob -- and just look at this terror threat we have -- we don't have control of our border. We don't know who is coming and going in this country. We need real border enforcement and that means we really don't trust the administration with the administration with discretion in this area. So we need a border enforcement law, first and foremost, that cannot be voided. We need interior enforcement and we need to fix our legal immigration system. Right now people come to this country based on family relations, not based on skills. Most other countries have a legal immigration system that's good for their country, we should do the same. And when it comes to the undocumented, people who came here illegally, we want to give people a chance to get right with the law while respecting the rule of law and that means not doing an amnesty. So, we have got specific ideas that we're looking at on how to get people and get right with the law, that means going on probation. You have it to go on certain terms of probation, and it's one track policy -- you don't meet the conditions of your probation. Pay fines, pay back taxes, get a background check, learn English, learn civics and make sure we have independently identified we have secured the borders. And have our interior enforcement provisions like e-verify and a visa tracking system in place. Then and only then can that person get a legal work permit, no special path way. And if a person in this situation wants to get in the line to get a green card, like any other immigrant, only at the back of the line, because we to be fair to that legal immigrant who did everything right in the first place. We think that's the right way to go. That's the opposite of amnesty. And more importantly, Bob, this step-by-step approach I think will be better guarantees that we are not in the same mess 10 years from now which is exactly what happened last two times we did immigration reform. So we want to get it right. And we want to do what's right for national and for economic security and our motivation is not what's good for us politically, because if we just think like that, we're not going to do this the right way.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well congressman, I want to thank you for being with us this morning. Hope to see you again soon. We'll be back in a minute.


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