msnbc | March 10, 2013
>>> president obama is expected to meet with more republicans in the house and senate in the hopes of reaching a deal on the budget. senator tom coburn and nancy pelosi gave their views of the new day in washington.
>> it shouldn't be news that the president is reaching out in a bipartisan fashion to solve problems for the country. it shows you, he is moving in the right direction. i'm proud of him for doing it. i think it's a great thing. it shouldn't be news.
>> one success can breed another's success putting something together that is a compromise, a collaboration. it's what we come here to do.
>> i could hear a lot of republicans saying the same thing.
>> i haven't heard them say that. maybe they say it to you.
>> joining me now is democratic congressman, eliza cummings, ranking member and member of the joint economic committee . welcome to you.
>> good to be with you.
>> we heard from a couple of your colleagues there. what do you think? do the meetings really make a difference?
>> i hope they do make a difference but i can tell you, when ever i hear my republican colleagues come out of a meeting with the president more less happy, i worry. it's going to be interesting to see when the president, who is my friend and who i support tremendously comes to the congress this week i want to make sure that any kind of bargain, grand bargain, budget negotiations keep into consideration the things the president talked about in his state of the union address . that is, we cannot balance budgets on the backs of our children or our seniors. i'm concerned about that. the president said he is willing to address the cpi question that is reducing benefits for our seniors. at the same time, he's also talked about other ways that things that he's willing to do. with regard to the so-called entitlements. i'm concerned about that. you are going to find a lot of democrats concerned about that. again, these seniors, many of them have nothing but medicare, nothing but social security and so the question is, what are we giving up. then, of course, you know that coming up this week, ryan is going to present his budget. so, in the past, that budget has not been kind to seniors. so, i'm concerned about that, very much so.
>> what about the economy oversaove overall, if you look at the numbers. it's down to 7.7% with 236,000 jobs added.
>> your read of this report is what?
>> i think it bodes well. i think we are doing good. i must tell you, though, that the sequester situation we find ourselves in now, i think may very well cause us to have problems in the future. it's what i worry about. again, everyone in my office, we are now calculating how we are going to have to have people on furlough days. i'm hearing from constituents, social security administration is in my district. so, they are letting go 1500 people. we found 10,000 government workers losing their jobs in that very report. the african-american unemployment rate , double as usual, of the general unemployment rate . there's still a lot to be done. we have to find ways to get back on the message of jobs. we kind of got away from that. we have been spending so much time talking about how do we cut spending but like the president said, we cannot cut our way out of this problem. when we have so many people unemployed.
>> i'm going to ask jason, our director to throw up a screen with the unemployment rate of african-americans being twice that of whites and asians. what are the specifics that can be done to close that gap?
>> congressman jim clyburn who has a brilliant idea he's said over and over again, what we need to do is direct resources and assistance as far as job stimulation dollars to areas that suffer the most unemployment. i think that's a good idea. you will find that if you do that, not only will you help people who may be african-american, who are unemployed, but you help a lot of other people who are unemployed, also. i think we can't -- this whole thing of austerity is not the way to do it. keep in mind, in europe, the unemployment rate is 11.9%. they have gone on that austerity type thing. we have to find ways to stimulate the economy. the van hollen proposal is one where he addresses this issue by having targeted cut so you don't do so much damage to the economy bringing back up the boca rule and having tax reforms that address loopholes for these gas companies, oil companies . we have to do things like that. again, i want -- everybody is excited and i watch the talk shows today, oh the president is meeting with the republicans and he's meeting with -- we may have a grand bargain. we have to remember, we have to ask ourselves the question, when that grand bargain is done, what will be the vision for our america? will it be seniors who won't be able to get medical care ? children like the ones i just saw at howard university who had to leave school with 3.5 averages because they don't have money to go to school? is it closing head start centers? what price do we pay? i hope the president keeps in mind something he said over and over again. he said this country lacks an empathy deficit. i'm here to tell you, i, along with many other democrats am going to remind the president and the republicans we cannot have a strong country unless we give strong support to seniors and children and our future and not lead them down a road to poverty.
>> i agree with everything you are saying. that hurts hearing of a student with a 3.5 gpa that has to leave school because they cannot afford it.
>> we are better than that. a lot better.
>> yeah. can i ask you about a disconnection between wall street and main street , if you will? wall street ending with a record high for the dow. in terms of what you are seeing in baltimore on main street , are you feeling it?
>> no, we don't feel it too much here. keep in mind, we are now about to be some of the most harsh and most -- we are going to be victimized by the sequester tremendously. keep in mind, in our area, we have a situation where we have a lot of federal employees. those folks are being furloughed. a lady came to me just last sunday around this time and said to me congressman, i just got a notice. i just got a notice that i'm going to be furloughed two days every two weeks. what that means is that's $800 out of my paycheck. that's the money i would normally use to send my child to college. she's in college. what am i going to do? she was at an i hop and started crying. we are seeing that. in my own payroll, i have to reduce and go to furlough days. these are not people making a lot of money. you are talking $40,000, $50,000 folks. the thing that upsets me most and makes me emotional is when i see folks trying to cut the federal employees. when it comes to the rich, we don't want to charge them a dime. not a dime. freeze the federal employee's paychecks but not charge the rich a dime more. something is wrong with that picture. equal sacrifice, shared sacrifice. we have to do that.
>> is there the possibility of having true economic recovery without tackling the deficit?
>> oh, i never said we should not -- no, i think we must tackle the deficit. i think you tackle the deficit in a way, as i say, you cut your spending like a heart surgeon doing the most complicated heart surgery and not like somebody going out in the forest and cutting down trees. there are ways to do it. we are seeing it now. even with the sequester, you know. my colleague from maryland who now has the appropriations committee on the senate is looking at ways to make the sequester, everyone the sequester less painful. it's not going to reduce or put more money into the budget. what it will do is try to give a certain department easl's leeway to shift so it's not as painful.
>> that's good to hear. a belated congratulations for the baltimore ravens . we last spoke on super bowl weekend. you were betting on them and you were right. good for you.
>> so often, folks are considered underdogs --
>> -- i root for the underdogs. it happened it was my team.