msnbc | February 16, 2013
>>> now to washington. in his weekly address today, president obama doubled down on his opposition to cutting entitlements as the deadline for sequestration draws here.
>> i disagree with republicans who think we should do that by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training. or medicare and social security benefits. that would force our senior citizens and working families to bear the burden of deficit reduction while the wealthiest are asked to do nothing more. that won't work. we can't just cut our way to prosperity.
>> joining me now, democratic congressman adam schiff , member of the house appropriations committee . nice to see you again.
>> good to see you, thank you.
>> we have less than two weeks until the sequester goes into effect. do you think a deal, reached?
>> unfortunately i don't think so. i think in the house of representatives in particular, the gop leadership has reached the conclusion that they want the sequester to go into effect, at least temporarily. it's a way of managing their own members. they have a deep, internal divide between the tea party republicans and the more mainstream republicans. and i think they feel they need to do this, much as they felt they had to go over the fiscal cliff, at least for a day or so, to say that they weren't raising taxes. so i think we're seeing the same thing played out here. but frankly it's going to be a disaster for the country. if the sequester stays in effect for any lengthy period of time, it could mean the loss of 750,000 jobs. and it is a purely manmade economic disaster . so i would love to say we can avoid it and in fact we can. but i think the gop is determined to at least let it go into effect for some period of time.
>> you know, the democrats' proposal that was announced this week, it calls for $110 billion package, half of which is tax increases. mitch mcconnell called it a total waste of time. was this a serious offer?
>> it is a serious offer. and it's a shame that the senate leader would say or the senate republican leader would say it's a waste of time to propose something that's half and half , which i think the american people think thees pretty fair. when you're in a debate and have a difference, you try to split the divide down the middle. that's what the president has offered and senate democrats have offered, house democrats have done much of the same thing. and unfortunately we're seeing an opposition that says, our way or the highway. in this case, the sequester is that highway.
>> but this proposal puts off the budget cuts just until next january. won't that put us right back where we are right now? why can't we get an actual solution instead of that dreaded -- and the phrase i'm tired of hearing of -- kicking the can down the road?
>> we should be able to get a long-term deal. it's not rocket science . we have about the right argument target in terms of our deficit reduction. we're about halfway there. we've done about $1.7 trillion in cuts, about $600 billion or $700 billion in revenue increases. the second half is proving very difficult. i think part of the problem is this internal divide in the house, we don't really have a negotiating partner because they're not of one mind. but the president is doing what he does best, which is go out above the heads of the congress, out to the american people , calling for some reasonable resolution that represents fairness and shared sacrifice. it's what the american people voted for. and unfortunately i think we're going to have to have this sequester go into effect so the republicans can manage their own members and expectations before we get to yes. and like you said, the yes at that is likely to be a short-term yes. but we should bring about a long-term deal. i hope we can. there's no reason why we shouldn't. and i think our economy is poised to really recover if we just get out of the way. part of getting out of the way is this long-term deal you mentioned.
>> so that means, then, that you think it's probably going to happen, we're going to go to the sequester? that means that you and likeminded democrats of which you seem to be much more coalesced around one concept and your party's platform on this as opposed to to the splintered-up gop . are you willing to go into sequester to stay to your party's ideals?
>> we don't have much of a choice. i think the gop in the house is not willing to share any sacrifice or make a balanced deal. so we don't have a whole lot of choice. i think we're subject to this internal divide among the gop . but what i do think is going to happen is a sequester will go into effect. and then three weeks later when we've got to resolve the potential shutdown of the government, i think it will be wrapped in with a resolution of the sequester but it will probably be only a resolution of both issues until the end of the year. so it will set up another fiscal cliff at the end of the year. again, not the way to do business, not the way that you can keep the trains running on time. but it may be the best that we can hope for with the crowd that's currently running the house.
>> one more detail here. part of this new proposal by the democrats includes closing some tax loopholes, which is what republicans had once supported. why have they changed now?
>> well, a lot of what used to be the gop orthodoxy is now anathema to that party and represents the rightward drift of the party. remember, one of the central issues in the presidential debate some time ago was the idea of a mandate to buy private health insurance . that was a gop idea. and there are many others in a long series -- the president alluded to one of them in the state of union in terms of climate change, pointing to a john mccain idea. but what had been fairly mainstream in the gop now with the tea party is considered heresy. unfortunately it's holding the country hostage and holding our economy hostage. until the voters speak a little more clearly, which they'll have an opportunity to do again in another two years, we may be stuck with this kind of tea party quagmire we're in.
>> adam schiff , good to see