Morning Joe | February 27, 2013
>>> 46 past the hour. welcome back to " morning joe ." here with us now from capitol hill , republican senator from pennsylvania, senator pat toomey . senator, good to have you on the show this morning.
>> good morning, mika. good morning, guys.
>> pat toomey , how are you doing?
>> great. how are you, joe?
>> are you behaving?
>> are you sure?
>> yeah, i think i'm doing fine.
>> are you really?
>> are you sure?
>> yeah. happy to be here.
>> is there anything you want to tell us, pat?
>> yeah. i want to talk about this sequester.
>> joe, say what you just said off the air.
>> no, i'm just joking. pat, enough for the weirdness. i like pat a lot.
>> i do, too.
>> big club for growth guy.
>> yes, congratulations on your award.
>> thank you.
>> so you think the president should come up with the ideas of what to cut?
>> yeah. here's the thing. we actually need to cut spending. and if we get -- begin to get spending under control in washington, it's actually going to be very constructive for the economy. this sequester cuts a little over 1% of government spending . and this is a government that's grown by 100% since 2000 . and in fact, if the sequester happens, in 2013 the federal government will still spend more money than it did in 2012 . so here's the thing. the problem is they're not designed very well.
>> and it's true that they're across the board in ways that could be disruptive. so senator jim inhofe and i have a bill that simply say we're going to do the cuts, but we'll let the president find the least disruptive ways, the most sensible ways to make these cuts so we can go after the waste and duplication rather than laying off air traffic controllers .
>> so i think there's a more sensible way, and that's what we're going to offer.
>> tom brokaw , jump in because my understanding is the president does have some cuts on the table. so maybe this could work. if the republicans would actually be okay with that.
>> senator, let me take it to the next level. what would happen if the president said to you and other key members of the senate as well as the speaker in the house and other members of his leadership team, i'd like you all to come to camp david this weekend, and let's just stay there until we can get this worked out. let's put it on hold. let's show the american people that we can get together. i mean, camp david has been used to make peace between egypt and israel, for example. it's been used to get rabin to shake hands with yasir arafat . why could it not be used with america looking to washington with the sense that anything can get done?
>> i'd go to camp david or anywhere else the president wants to meet. i'd be happy to. i spent a lot of time trying to get a solution when i was on the super committee, and i'm trying to make progress now. what i wouldn't agree to is kicking this can down the road yet aagain with the promise that we'll get some agreement. so instead, i think these really very modest cuts in terms of the scale of this government, the size of these cuts are very small. let them begin. let's give the president the discretion to do it in a way that minimizes disruption. and by the way, we haven't begun to solve the problems here. we'll still need to go to camp david or somewhere to work our entitlement programs and other challenges that we have.
>> you've mentioned disruptions twice. what are the disruptions you're worried about for your constituents if the cuts take effect as currently constituted?
>> i'm not sure. it's hard to say. but we have the transportation secretary, for instance, ray lahood , a good guy, a republican. i know him well. he's concerned that we'll have delays at airports and we'll have air traffic controllers on furlough and those sorts of things. those are disruptive to travel, disruptive to the economy. we don't have to do that. we can give the president the discretion to go after maybe a little consolidation in the 80 different economic development programs, the 47 different job training programs the federal government runs, the 94 different green building programs, again, across who knows how many agencies. a little common sense and consolidation there would allow us to avoid more difficult and painful cuts. so i think we just do this in a more sensible fashion.
>> senator, the white house would tell you that they do have a plan on the table. it involves closing loopholes and i think about $900 billion in cuts, chained cpi as well as medicare. why not take that plan since there is one? do you guys have one?
>> let him answer the first question you asked.
>> first of all, house republicans have passed a number of plans. i am offering a plan right now. i'm not interested in raising taxes yet again. you know, obamacare is loaded with all kinds of tax increases. at the end of the year, just eight weeks ago, the president got a huge tax increase. and now the president wants to raise taxes again to pay for more spending. i think we need a little less spending. and so we've got this law in place. it's about to go into effect. we can do it in a more sensible fashion, and i'm in favor of that, and i'm willing to give the president the discretion in exactly how that gets
>> where's the least important spending? where's the duplication? let's cut back a little bit there. this is very manageable if the president wants to have this flexibility.
>> so, i'm curious, aside from this debate, the sequester debate and the deadline on friday, are you in favor of closing loopholes, just in terms of a concept?
>> i'm very much in favor of closing loopholes, and i want to take the revenue that we generate that way and use it to lower marginal tax rates so we'll have a stronger economy. we don't need to be raising taxes , we do need to reform the code. we ought to do that in a revenue-neutral fashion. and let the tremendous economic growth that that would unleash, let that happen. that will generate a lot of revenue, by the way, for the federal government .
>> all right. senator pat toomey , thank you so much! thanks for going to camp david .
>> happy to go.
>> he's happy to go, tom brokaw . that's one. 99 more and we'll be in good shape. tomorrow, we'll have " mad money 's" jim cramer , he's never invited anywhere, and also melanie barnes, and john thune . so powerful, mika, he can brace a chair with a single hand. he's watching " morning joe ," brewed by starbucks. i've always