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March 11th, 2013
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Rep. Chaffetz on negotiations for budget and spending cuts: We can't spend our way to infinity

All eyes are on Washington, D.C., where politicians on both sides of the aisle are desperately trying to make a deal on the budget. Since it's Washington, D.C., it's not likely to happen very fast.

President Obama heads to Capitol Hill this week to meet with Republicans as Congressman Paul Ryan introduces a budget that would require Obamacare to be fully repealed. Washington insiders, like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) say Washington's dysfunction is deep.

This morning on "Starting Point," Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) talks with Soledad and the "Starting Point" team about the ongoing dysfunction in Washington D.C., and what Republicans hope to do to encourage reigning in of spending.

Transcript available after the jump.


O'BRIEN: I'm going to assume that you agree with Tom Coburn?

REPRESENTATIVE JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Yes, and one of the fundamental things we're supposed to do is a budget. Now, in the last two years, when we've had Speaker Boehner we've actually done a budget. What is frustrating the United States Senate, it's been more than 1,400 days since the Senate has actually passed a budget.

And the challenge for the president is, in the four years that he was president, he introduced a budget, there's not a single person in the House or Senate, Republican or Democrat, who has ever voted in favor of the president's budget. He was supposed to introduce a budget on February 4th. He didn't. He said he'd do it in March. Now he says he's supposed to do it in April.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Ryan has a budget, and it's a budget that would, I guess, close the gap within 10n years. The first original one was 30 years. Now we're looking at ten years. Part of that deal, though, would be repealing Obamacare.

CHAFFETZ: Well, that's what we believe should be - is the way to get to the path that you need to. Now one of the fundamental questions, I think the first question we have to ask is, should we actually achieve a balanced budget because in order to pay down the debt you actually have to balance the budget first? So can we agree? Do you or do you not want to balance the budget? The president has never introduced the budget that ever balances.

O'BRIEN: But isn't a better question is, no one is going to agree to repeal Obama care? Here's an interview that Congressman Ryan did with Chris Wallace on Fox. Let's play that.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX: Are you saying that as part of your budget you would repeal, you assume, the repeal of Obama care?


WALLACE: Well, that's not going to happen.

RYAN: Well, we believe it should. That's the point. This is what budgeting is all about, Chris. It's about making tough choices to fix our country's problems.


O'BRIEN: So he says, I believe it should, Chris Wallace said that's not going to happen, and I think 90 out of 100 people in the know would answer that question the same way. It's not going to happen. So to some degree isn't it a waste of time to be negotiating something in a budget that is not going to happen? You're not going to be able to repeal Obamacare unless a bunch of Democrats agree with you, which they're not?

CHAFFETZ: Well, this is why it's important that the House pass a budget. The Senate's supposed to pass a budget. The president's supposed to way in and get to reconciliation to work out these problems. Question one for me is are we or are we not going to balance our budget?

Paul Ryan is suggesting, the budget committee's suggesting what's going to come before the house before the end of the month is yes, if you want to balance the budget within ten years you've got to take care of the health care expense. And the problem with Obamacare is it's making its more expensive -

O'BRIEN: But there's no way to get rid of Obamacare. You heard in the interview with Chris Wallace. It's not going to happen. So isn't it taking a conversation that's here and further derailing it? Which I think is a big source of frustration for Americans in general, right? It's a sense of like you're negotiating something that is unrealistic?

CHAFFETZ: If the Democrats disagree then they have a duty to put forward a budget and show us, show the rest of the country, how they expect to do it. So remember when we were - I was on the budget committee last year.

We had a budget that balanced but it took like 28 years to get to that point. If we're going to do it in spend years because the spending is so out of control this is one of the tools and mechanisms you would put in place to achieve that balance.

O'BRIEN: I feel like you're going in circles on this.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's fine as a statement of priorities for Republicans to say we disagree with Obamacare and our budget repeals it. I think that's reasonable. Did you vote against the fiscal cliff deal?

CHAFFETZ: Yes, I did.

LIZZA: Is this budget going to assume the $600 billion in new revenues in that fiscal cliff deal?

CHAFFETZ: Well, we haven't gotten to the final product. Paul has not yet released it. The Budget Committee - well, it potentially will.

LIZZA: It potentially would?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I want to look at it, in totality. When you do a budget, I'm not trying to punt, I'm trying to say you have to look at all of the things - I was a kicker in college. But look, at the end of the day you've got to put numbers on a piece of paper and achieve balance. So I think there's a mix there -

LIZZA: Speaking to America's frustration, Republicans voted overwhelmingly against a deal that raised $600 billion in revenue, and now it sounds like they're going to put out a budget that pockets that $600 billion and put that up for a vote. So I think that paradox is - is a little difficult to understand.

CHAFFETZ: We have won some things and we've lost a lot of things, OK.

LIZZA: You are conceding that fight it sounds like. You guys are conceding the fight on those higher taxes and saying, we lost that battle, and we're going -

CHAFFETZ: What we've always said is we want to broaden the base, lower the rate. I do believe that there is common ground -

LIZZA: But this will still increase the rates.

CHAFFETZ: I do believe that there is common ground in getting rid of a lot of these loopholes, I really do. But we want to broaden the base and lower the rate. We fundamentally don't believe we're just one good tax increase away from prosperity in this country and we've already had -

LIZZA: - Obama won that fight on the higher taxes?

CHAFFETZ: We've lost a number of fights.

O'BRIEN: A little bit of punting there, too.

CHAFFETZ: We have, but I want to get to the point, and I think the fundamental question for the Democrats was, I have for Chuck Schumer and the president and others is, should we at some point actually balance our budget? And if you're going to do so, how are you going to do that because at least we're putting something on paper and introducing it. Democrats haven't done that in the Senate for now close to four years.

O'BRIEN: What is going to be the big ticket? It's not going to be Obamacare, which means the message in that is there's got to be some big ticket item that is going to be in place that will balance the budget. Obamacare is not going to be it because you don't have the votes for that.


BONNIE FULLER, FOUNDER, HOLLYWOODLIFE.COM: Who says that we have to balance the budget? Lots of economists say that we don't, but this is a complete and utter waste of time. That it's much better to get the economy moving so more people are employed. You bring in more revenues instead of trying to cut, cut, cut.

And besides, even talking about households, how many households today have balanced budgets? Most of us carry debt. We've got to send our children to college. We, as families, have to make investments in our future. Why would you be spending all this time obsessing about trying to balance the budget? And by the way, the law - you guys lost. We want Obamacare. We voted for it.

CHAFFETZ: I actually won, that's why I'm sitting here.

O'BRIEN: Let the congressman answer.

CHAFFETZ: You're making the case that scares the living daylights out of me. Because to continue to spend in perpetuity without any regard for our future, and our finances, and putting us on the back of the kids, at some point, somebody's going to have to pay this $16 trillion. You just can't spend into infinity without eventually sometime balancing your books. That's when states do it. My state of Utah we balance our budget.

FULLER: The federal government has never balanced a budget.

O'BRIEN: And the two of you can stay around afterwards and have a balanced budget discussion. We're out of time. I've got to get to the next commercial. Congressman, always nice to have you with us. We appreciate it.

Filed under: Budget • Politics • Spending
soundoff (One Response)
  1. ThomasW

    OOPS! Busted.... Obama is a great leader and Repub have done everything in the book to hurt him. What
    a country I live in. Really America makes the rules. If we want we cold push a reset button and start all over again.
    But until they see everyone walking in the streets poor will they realize what they have done. Repub dont care about our kids. They dont care about the future. If we took away their nice health benefits maybe they would understand. They are not even role models.

    March 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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