Morning Joe | February 21, 2013
>>> with us now, the house minority whip and democratic representative from maryland, congressman steny hoyer .
>> steny, how's it going on the hill, buddy? you having fun yet?
>> you're looking sharp.
>> you asked me that question. i said, have you been watching? it's not going so well.
>> terrible, isn't it?
>> frankly, joe , you and i served together. this is the last two congresses, the last congress and this one, the least productive, least engaged, least inclined to compromise and come to agreement.
>> and why?
>> that i've served in.
>> well, i think because in 2010 , people elected some very angry people to congress who said, look, things are really mucked up. don't cooperate. we just need a change. we need to cut spending. we need to back up, retreat. and that's what they're getting. democracy works. i think it's representative of the people's -- a large number of the public's sense that they don't want to see cooperation consensus.
>> don't we need to cut spending in some areas?
>> yes, absolutely.
>> we need to cut spending, raise revenues and have a balanced program, just as bowles simpson, rivlin, ng ga of sigang of six. i don't know of a group that hasn't said we need to get our fiscal house in order. i agree with you. the most important challenge is getting our country on a fiscally sustainable path.
>> where do we begin?
>> i would guess you agree with me as well, we need to take care of the long-term debt by planning now.
>> and that gives us the freedom to invest in education in the short run, transportation, r&d.
>> and that's why i think we need a big, bold, balanced plan. that's the rhetoric. we're going to have to cut back on frankly defense and nondefense. we're going to have to deal with entitlements. a lot of my party would like to pretend that we don't need to deal with entitlement. we do need to deal with entitlement. and very frankly, your party believes we can do it without revenues. they're dead, flat, 100% wrong.
>> so we raised taxes before. what new revenues? are you talking about closing loopholes right now?
>> closing loopholes is like getting rid of fraud, waste and abuse. it sounds good until you have to deal with it politically.
>> one loophole is going to close.
>> that's what the president's talking about.
>> what would be wrong with that?
>> i think we ought to close loopholes. i'm for that.
>> which ones would you close?
>> well, i think you could close loopholes with reference to -- i'm for the 28%, for one thing. president's proposal of capping deductions at 28%.
>> i like that idea.
>> i think that makes sense.
>> can we get enough democrats to go along with that?
>> i would hope we can. i don't think we can do it all with democrats.
>> should we raise cared interest?
>> i think we ought to eliminate the carried interest . it's earned income . it's not capital gain . capital gain is when you take money out of your pocket, you put it at risk. and you get a premium for putting your money at risk.
>> i know, i know.
>> if i get money from calpers, big pension program, and i invest it, what i'm doing is providing a service. frankly, i'm a lawyer. if i provide a service, i earn income, even if it's a contingen contingency, what do i pay? so i think there's a lot of things we can do. but we ought not to pretend you can do it for free. i was for the clinton rates. i'm for the clinton rates today. now, i wouldn't phase in the clinton rates immediately because the economy's still trying to get back.
>> so i would perhaps go at least another year until you get the full clinton rates.
>> give us two cuts. two cuts you'd make.
>> spending cuts?
>> two spending cuts.
>> i think on entitlements, i think we need to look at cost of living adjustments. i think we need to look at -- very frankly, let me give you a specific cut that i think we ought to go back to, in effect. people are talking about, well, people can't work past a certain age. let's assume that. but previous to the '90s, when you continue to work and you were over 65 and you earned income , you had an offset. now, if we reinstated that offset, i'm 73 years of age. i'm still working. i'm getting social security . if there was an offset, it wouldn't affect me. i'm working. i'm making an income. that can get you anywhere between $80 billion and $100 billion.
>> over a year.
>> no, over ten years to reinstate that offset.
>> that's great.
>> and then you're not arguing about can people work? are they too, you know --
>> why is this so hard?
>> we need a leader like steny.
>> it shouldn't be this hard.
>> what's the mantra of the republican party been for the 30 years i've been in congress?
>> can i answer that?
>> we love america ?
>> that is a --
>> go ahead, steny. you give me your mantra. we love jesus in america . go ahead. go ahead. so what do you say the republican mantra is?
>> joe , me, too. me, too. i love jesus, and i love america . having said that --
>> okay, i'm glad we got that out.
>> lower taxes and smaller government. that's the holy grail . that's the republican policy in a nutshell. we don't have a simple nutshell. the one i'm trying to do is make it in america , create jobs, expand manufacturing, create more jobs in america . so that's my mantra, my four words. but having said that, you've got to pay for what you buy. the tease that came on i said there wasn't a spending problem. there is a spending problem. what i meant by that was that you don't have a problem if you pay for what you buy. in the '90s, we paid for what we buy. how did that happen? you had a bipartisan agreement between george bush and dick gephardt . you had another bipartisan agreement between bill clinton and newt gingrich . and we paid for things. and very frankly, we paid for tax cuts because they're not for free. if you cut revenues -- right now in america , we are having a product that we deliver to the american people that cost 23 bucks. 23% of gdp.
>> and we are collecting for that product 15 bucks.
>> even mike and i can figure that out.
>> losing money.
>> any business that does that's going to go belly up pretty soon.
>> that's right.
>> can i tell my joke again? it just never gets old. i mean, i'm not good at math. i went to the university of alabama , but every year --
>> that's a given.
>> we count to number one. but i can even figure out the math. this is what we've been saying for some time. americans have decided they like republican tax rates , and they love democratic spending plans.
>> and the two sides don't match up.
>> whoa joe . whoa, joe . in the 2000s , it was republican spending programs that they liked.
>> i agree. i've written a book about it.
>> $1.5 trillion in the war, prescription drug bill, over $2 trillion long term that we haven't paid for. we didn't pay for it. what happens when you don't pay?
>> you mow, a lot of democrats went along with a lot of those things as well.
>> i voted for afghanistan. i voted for iraq. but the fact is, we know how to pay for that. i have three children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. we ought not ask them to pay for it.
>> when george bush was president, we have a $5.6 trillion national debt . when he left, it was $11.5 trillion. now it's $16.5 trillion. four years from now it will be over $20 trillion. i'm sorry, these numbers are not sustainable.
>> no they're not sustainable. what president bush did, he put the iraq war on an american express card .
>> and then he put other spending on his mastercard.
>> medicare part b.
>> capital one card.
>> then he handed them all to barack obama and spent twice as much.
>> joe , let me give you some figures.
>> mike has a question for you.
>> let me give you some figures, though. you're going to find interesting, i know.
>> i know, i'll be fascinated.
>> under ronald reagan -- now, the president's the only one that can stop spending, they can veto. never been underwritten. under george bush the first, 55%.
>> you're not going to do this, are you?
>> i'm doing it.
>> come on.
>> under this president, 41%.
>> you can cite these numbers if you want. the spending, it's just like people saying hey, we're cutting spending now. yeah, you're cutting spending after four years of massive trillion-dollar deficits. every single year.
>> but you don't want to listen to --
>> no, i do want to listen to it, but yeah, everybody talks about ronald reagan 's -- you guys talk about ronald reagan -- hold on.
>> we responded to by spending money.
>> -- ronald reagan 's deficits for 30 years now. barack obama rolled up more deficits in one year than i think ronald reagan rolled up in four.
>> joe , give me a break. minimum wage now is $7.25, okay? if the minimum wage had been $5 25 years ago, you think the $7.25 would be more than that? of course you don't think so. the fact of the matter is that barack obama confronted the deepest recession since the last republican president took us into recession, herbert hoover and coolidge, 41% appreciation of the national debt . in other words, increase the national debt . based upon gdp. you know, dollar to dollar, a dollar in 1900 , well, now we have $1.50, so we have 50 cents more today. well, you know that's not true. the fact of the matter is ronald reagan presided over a budget increase four times that of barack obama . and furthermore, what happened was, we had this deep, deep recession. and we had to respond to it. who said we had to respond to it? george bush , hank paulson , ben bernanke , appointed by george bush . and you know who said the country's in trouble?
>> it's not 2009 . trillion-dollar deficit from 2009 . trillion-dollar deficit in 2010 , trillion-dollar deficit in 2011 , trillion-dollar deficit in 2012 .
>> joe , you've got to learn from the past.
>> the numbers are remarkable.
>> what happened when we had that crisis that george bush said we had, that hank paulson said we had, and if we hadn't acted, we would have gone off the cliff. you mow what happened? two-thirds of your party walked away from their president. who made sure that we didn't go off the cliff? democrats, for and with a republican president. so there was a bipartisan response. there ought to be a bipartisan response today.
>> trillion-dollar deficits four years later, we cannot continue to run trillion-dollar deficits.
>> you're absolutely right. absolutely right. so we've got to deal with spending and revenues.
>> from 1984 to 2007 in terms of corporate, personal and government debt , the united states ran $40 trillion in debt. that's everybody. two, i'm moved by what you've said early this morning. you've identified, unlike other members of our party whom i respect, you've actually identified specifics. 20% cap, charitable, mortgage would be good. carried interest . we could begin to process $100 billion over ten years. why can't we get that talk out of washington more? there was a great piece in "the journal" on friday, coming together, outlining some of this. i wish more of what you're talking about, more of the specificity would come not only from my party but from washington . it would not only increase respect --
>> it might move the needle and make something happen.
>> i hear the back-and-forth. they want to hear the answers, which i give you great credit for for a long time. you're laying them out.
>> harold, as you well know, we have an ideological problem in washington . we're dealing with a common-sense, pragmatic problem, but we're dealing with it in an ideological sense. we frankly have, i think, two large a number of people bound ideologically. i've talked to a lot of republicans, a lot. i've been working now three years with some of my republican colleagues. who believe that you need to have a balanced program. but when john boehner says not a single new cent of revenue, you can't get there from here without that.
>> is it personal? what is it?
>> i don't know that it's personal. i think john boehner has clearly demonstrated he doesn't have the votes on his side. you know, he tried to compromise of his own. he couldn't get the votes. and i don't think he could get any additional votes right now. i think that's the problem.
>> can you think of any other industry or business that could survive -- never mind prosper -- that could survive with the years and years of inaction and inability to get anything done as the united states congress ?
>> no. the only reason we can do that is because we have such deep pockets and we can continue to do this. no business would survive. and very frankly, managing from crisis to crisis every 30, 60, 90 days is an absurd way -- there's no -- i tell the press, there are 13% of americans apparently think congress is okay. i tell the press i want to find those 13% because they don't know what's happening. i'm with the 87%. congress is not working. and congress is not working because we've got this ideological confrontation when we need pragmatic -- how does the math work? clinton said it best. you've got to do the arithmetic. and if you do the arithmetic, we can get there. paul ryan says we're going to get a balanced budget in ten years without revenues.
>> so steny, i've done the arithmetic for you.
>> he's been working the math here. pen and paper .
>> you've helped me do the math here.
>> good. i came on to help you, joe .
>> you did. and you always help me. and i love you, steny. i always have. i'm looking at ronald reagan 's deficits.
>> started at $895 million.
>> 221, 149, 155. over eight years, ronald reagan didn't run up deficits that barack obama ran up this past year. but even in inflation-adjusted dollars, barack obama ran up higher deficits last year than ronald reagan did over eight years.
>> no, you're correct.
>> thank you. that's all i wanted.
>> you're correct.
>> you said give me a break.
>> and why?
>> we've got to fix it.
>> because barack obama , first of all, was confronted with the deepest tanking economy in your lifetime and in my lifetime, and i'm almost twice as old as you are.
>> really. well, maybe twice.
>> you're looking good.
>> thank you so much. i feel great.
>> very handsome. sharp.
>> steny keeps looking younger. seriously.
>> it doesn't make any sense.
>> you look younger now than when i served with you.
>> no, he's not. he's lying. he's lying.
>> ford's got a big mouth .
>> you said it.
>> oh, my lord.
>> we've got to go, but steny, we'd love for you to come back. i want to get into sometime about, you know, when you had us go in and talk before your group.
>> we've got to do that again.
>> i was struck by the common ground that i've heard between democrats and even a lot of republicans i talk to, want to do the same thing for republicans. there are deals to be made here where we can come together.
>> i'm not going to mention names because i've been working with them, and i don't want to out them, but there's some conservative republicans in conservative areas of the country who sit down with me and say yep, we need a balanced program. you know, tom coburn 's been on here.
>> he says that. frankly, tom coburn and i have talked. we can get there if we put aside the ideological constraints that we have and say, how do you make the math work for america , for business, if we got a deal -- if we got a deal, in my opinion, it would be the singest biggest stimulus package we could pass. the restoration of confidence would be magnified. i've met with ken frazier of merck, ceo of merck. he agreed. every ceo i've talked to --
>> they need the deal done.
>> it's a time of incredible opportunity.
>> steny, thank you so much. congressman steny hoyer . we'll be right back with more " morning joe " in just a minute revealing the cover of next