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February 27th, 2013
10:54 AM ET

Rep. Israel: No one wins in blame game on spending cuts

With just two days until the deadline for forced massive spending cuts take effect. Will Congress be able to get a plan together before then?

This morning on "Starting Point," Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) weighs in on the issue and details efforts to avoid massive forced spending cuts for public services from happening.

Rush transcript available after the jump.


O'BRIEN: So, do you think it's realistic to get it done in two days?

ISRAEL: No, I don't think so. Unfortunately, the Republicans never should have sent us home last week on vacation. Look –

O'BRIEN: Only took three seconds to get to blaming the Republicans. Fine how it's going.


ISRAEL: Well, the fact that of the matter is that if you want – you asked, can we get to a solution? You can't get a solution when you don't show up for work. And so there's got to be some accountability. Nobody wins the blame game on how we got into this mess. I and House Democrats are interested in who gets the credit for solving the problem. We have offered a variety of bipartisan ideas. We've already agreed to cut spending and have cut spending $2 trillion. We know we have to continue to cut spending. But there has to be some common-sense balance. There's got to be some compromise. We need revenues. The House Republicans are willing to hand pink slips to 750,000 people who will lose their jobs if this happens. Why are we handing pink slips to –


O'BRIEN: Well, you're both handing pink – hold on, hold on. Hold on.

ISRAEL: – and continues to give subsidies to big oil companies.

O'BRIEN: Hold on. Okay, so the pink slips to the 750,000 people, that would be the calculation over 213 that's from the congressional budget office and that comes from. as you pointed out, both sides bringing themselves to this edge, this line. You both get equal blame. Do you worry that voters are kind of sick of both sides of the aisle in this? How many times have we had the conversation about the deadline, falling off the cliff, and 24 hours? I mean, come on.

ISRAEL: On one side, House Democrats, have already compromised. We've already passed $2 trillion in spending cuts. We have said openly we know that we have a huge debt problem, we want to reduce our debt. We'll support additional spending cuts and only one side, John Boehner, has said no, we will not compromise, we will not negotiate, you can go home, we are willing to allow this thing called sequestration to happen, even at the cost of 750,000 jobs. I will say it again, and I will say it publicly.


O'BRIEN: And that 750,000 jobs over the year, right? Let's not act as if it's going to happen -


ISRAEL: But if you are one of those jobs, you don't care whether it's tomorrow or imminent. It doesn't have to be this way. Rather than -


O'BRIEN: We do care if it's tomorrow. Because it's over the year. I get what you are saying, it's not going to happen the day we go into sequestration.


ISRAEL: But it doesn't have to happen at all. All we need to do is compromise. We've got specific ideas on how we can avoid this cliff and all the other cliffs that they bring us to.

O'BRIEN: Why are we always getting up to the cliff? Really? Why is the entire structure of - in this particular case, we've the fiscal cliff, we've had various reiterations. I think we've done the cliff, what would you say John, like three or four times over the last year on this show alone, which has only around for a year and a month. So there's a lot of cliffs we're coming to, and it seems like this is now the strategy in politics, right? You bring everybody up to the cliff and do some last-minute - I know I do countdowns of them all the time. Why is that the way we negotiate today? ISRAEL: You just said it. This has happened over the past year and a half since your show has been on the air. What else happened? It's when the Tea Party Congress took over the House. There was a time when Republicans would negotiate, we'd work out differences and come to compromise. There was a time when John Boehner actually said it would be irresponsible for us to go over a debt cliff. He said that. What happened in the interim? You've got a group of extremists who believe compromise is a dirty word. You have a group of – the radicalization of a Republican Congress that is willing to cut the defense budget by $500 billion in order to cut spending with - and protect tax - to protect millionaires from getting tax increases.

O'BRIEN: Okay, so first I thought you were saying my show was to blame for going to the cliff. I followed you, I got you. A little early on, I thought that's where you were heading. Listen, Republicans will say they're working on this deal would allow the White House to pick the cuts, right? Instead of across the board cuts, the White House could pick which cuts. Why is that a bad idea?

ISRAEL: Come on, it's passing the blame and passing the buck.

O'BRIEN: Passing the burden of leadership. Some could put it that way.

ISRAEL: Why are these guys getting paid? You know, I know very few jobs that allow you to collect a taxpayer salary, blame everybody else for the decisions you make and refuse to make the hard decisions. That's a pretty good gig John Boehner has. We're going to come in, we're going to vote, we're going to go on recess, go on vacation, and when tough decisions have to be made, we'll blame the Senate for not acting and then blame the president for acting. That's a nice gig.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Steve Israel joining us this morning. He's the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Nice to have you with us. Thank you.

ISRAEL: Thanks, Soledad.

Filed under: Sequestration • Spending cuts
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