Mitchell Reports | June 29, 2011
>> let's get the view from the hill, joe lieberman and members of the armed services committee joins us now. senator good to see you.
>> thank you, savannah, good to be with you.
>> i wonder what you think about the president's tone? he kind of let congress have it on a multitude of areas, not only libya but also on the debt negotiations, basically saying -- why do you take so many recesses? get back to work. and suggesting that his daughters sacha and malia are better solving problems in a timely way than congress is? what do you make of it?
>> what i make of it is when people aren't going well people here in washington tend to blame each other. the fact is, there's plenty of blame to go around. i believe the president is right about this strange business of the house and senate being off at different times. and we ought to go back on a schedule that's the same. we ought to be here at the same time. but the other reality is this -- most members of the senate and house are not involved in these budget negotiations. and that's creating a lot of frustration among the rank and file of both parties. in other words, first it was the vice president and six. now it seems to be the president, speaker boehner, and senator reed. and they ought to figure out how to be in town at one time. the fact is, we all have to get together and solve an enormous national problem and shame on us if we can't do it.
>> indeed. i know you and senator coburn have a proposal to raise the eligibility age for medicare . you said at your press conference yesterday, the sooner you take the strong medicine , the sooner you'll get healthy again. but you just mentioned that. what evidence is there that any politician in washington, republican, democrat or independent, dare i say, is willing to take any strong medicine ?
>> well, this is the problem. the longer we wait, the stronger the medicine is going to be. i mean, of course, it's easy to say to people, i want to spend more on every program you want. incidentally, i want to cut your taxes. what happens then is, you end up where we are today. with a $14 trillion national debt , growing by more than a trillion additional dollars every year. and then in the case of medicare , it's not like if we don't do anything it's just going to keep on going beautifully. the experts tell us that the medicare hospital insurance fund could go bankrupt in five years. so the american people , we need to have the guts to tell the truth to the american people . i think part of the reason why congress is unpopular is that we keep going back and telling people what they want to hear. the fact is, we've got to show some discipline, some guts, some bipartisanship, or else medicare is going to collapse and our whole country is going to go over a fiscal cliff from which it will take a long time to recover.
>> the latest thing we're hearing, one of your cool liegs, senator chris coop, suggested that maybe the idea of having a debt sealing at all is unconstitutional. it violates the 14th amendment . any thoughts on that?
>> chris cookuntz is a smart lawyer. i haven't thought about that. i'll tell you, the debt ceiling, the need to extend the debt ceiling, how much debt america can take on, is a form of discipline. we haven't used it because we're so deep in debt now. but i think it's having an effect now which is to force us by this deadline, to face the consequences if we don't get together and cut spending. and i'm one of those who have said for the first time in my career here, i think that the danger of doing nothing and having america go deeper in debt, is greater than not extending the debt sealing for a couple of days or longer, that's why i think it's so important to cut spending in some significant way before we, again, authorize america to take on more debt. it's irresponsible.
>> senator very quickly on libya . we only have a few seconds left.
>> what evidence is there that gadhafi is being squeezed or pinned down, as the president put it, today, by nato's action? in some sense, gadhafi is hanging on three or four months later into this.
>> he's hanging on but the momentum is clearly against him. i think he knows that. there have been defections around him. the opposition took gadhafi , freedom fighters are making progress not only in the east where they had a base of strength, but now in the west. i think nato, including the u.s., have to pick up the pace and i believe that before too long we'll see gadhafi out of power in libya and that's going to be a step forward, not only for the libyan people but for the middle east and all of mankind. this guy is an extreme dictator.
>> all right, senator joe lieberman , got to live it there. good to see you.
>> you too, savannah.