The Ed Show | February 20, 2013
>>> thanks for staying with us tonight. if republicans refuse to take action within the next nine days, americans are going to start to feel the pain of sequestration. in a very local way. today the president played that angle. he gave eight separate local interviews to television stations about the looming budget cuts.
>> instead of us cutting education, instead of us cutting mental health programs, instead of us affecting military readiness and a whole range of other things that are really important to our security and our prosperity, we should be focused on programs that we know don't work, waste in government, and some of these tax loopholes that we could close that frankly only benefit the well off and the well connected.
>> when those $85 billion in spending cuts take effect march 1st , everything from food safety to airline safety is going to be squeezed. for instance, every city with an airport is going to feel the pain . the faa and the tsa plan to furlough 4700 workers, which will add at least an hour to the security line. i bet you're looking forward to that. for the northeast, serious problems. some families would face a much colder winter. in vermont , the heating assistance program could lose $177 million, risking 46,000 families living in poverty. in new york, communities are just getting back on their feet in the wake of super storm sandy. but sequestration could carve 5% out of that relief fund. that's a loss of $800 million meant for 10,000 homes and businesses throughout the area. in states like louisiana , the republican defense cuts could hurt the most. the army is bracing for $58 million in cuts to louisiana military bases , which add up to taking $113 million out of the local economy and costing almost 4,000 jobs. our congressional panel tonight, let's turn to it. we're bringing people in who are going to feel the pain of sequestration on a local level. i'm joined tonight by congressman peter welch of vermont . and also with us is jerry nadler of new york. gentlemen, good to have you with here.
>> good to be here.
>> good to be here.
>> congressman welch, in your area, this is going an immediate affect to families on your assistance program. what about that?
>> it's tough. you know, the price of fuel is going up and the temperature is going down. and it's really tough on a lot of families. and we depend on getting some help for low income heating assistance. and in fact, that budget was cut even before the sequester in the state legislature with very little money. and the governor is trying to fill the hole. this is going to be very, very wafl for a lot of low income families. it's going to be painful for folks at the airport when the lines are longer. it's going to be painful for some folks who were in defense-related industries in small peaceful vermont . so this is a big deal for us.
>> congressman nadler, what will you lose if republicans fail to act by march 1st ?
>> we'll lose about $878 million in sandy aid, you know, to get some of our people back on their feet, to get the city back on its feet. we'll lose about $10 million in homeland services and $10 million in home heating assistance each. we'll lose about $75 million i gather from support for the new york city housing authority to keep -- to maintain those buildings.
>> are you districts ready for these cuts? what about that, jerry.
>> no, not at all. the city and the state are both scrambling and struggling to keep up the city and state share. we depend on the federal money. and a sudden cut -- these have been cut back before. the budget has been cut substantially in the last couple of years. a huge budget cut on top of this in home heating assistance and certainly in sandy aid would be disastrous.
>> sure. congressman welch, what do you think is going to happen? what is the solution here?
>> well, the solution is that we don't act so stupid. i mean, this is really a dumb move. it's not as though we can't handle getting the deficit under control by doing some of the things the president mentioned.
>> the republicans have drawn the line in the sand . no more revenue. so where does that leave the democrats?
>> get rid of the loopholes. you know, in the fiscal cliff legislation, we put in a paragraph at the 11th hour that gave amgen about $500 million in increased reimbursements for medicaid -- a medicare drug. i mean, there are loopholes in there that just have no basis whatsoever in the budget. and it costs an immense amount of money. instead what we're doing is shifting the pain down to the states. jerry's state with sandy and our state with home heating assistance in a tight budget, it's really going to be rough. but the point is it's unnecessary. and at the macro level , at the big level, it's just a very weak way for the united states to present itself in the world. we can deal with our problems if we use our head in not doing that.
>> there is going to be local problems and everyone is going to feel it. these republicans are going to feel it in their backyard when it comes to defense contracts. and speak of local problems, senator john mccain did not support the president's fix it first plan during the state of the union address . but this might change mccain's mind about funding for the nation's infrastructure. a 200-foot-long section of u.s. 89 near phoenix literally dropped four feet this morning. the department of transportation says the sudden buckling of the road is not weather-related, and they expect the road is going to be shut down for an extended period of time. we have got bridges, gentlemen, in this country, in your backyard, jerry nadler , that no doubt have got to have some attention.
>> we have 78,000 structurally deficient bridges in this country. i think what we ought to do is put a sign at the beginning of every bridge that says this bridge is structurally deficient. proceed at your risk, and see what political pressure developed to start fixing our bridges. the american society of civil engineers says we have a $2.2 trillion, $2.2 trillion backlog of just getting our roads and highways and bridges and water systems up to a safe, reasonable level. and this kind of cutback that we're doing now, this sequester, besides being stupid because it's across the board and nondiscrimina nondiscriminating, and besides being unnecessary is absolutely harmful for all the reasons we're speak about. but also it will take so much demand out of the economy that the estimates are it will cost at least a million jobs, at least a point in economic growth, and probably about a point in the unemployment -- increased unemployment. and we should simply scrap it. you know, we've reduced the deficit from 10.1 of gdp to 7%. and it's going down to 5%. that's enough at the moment. concentrate on unemployment. concentrate on getting the economy back in shape. worry about the long-term deficit problem after we've got the economy in shape.
>> well, if you believe that power point presentation that boehner put together in the summer of 2011 , this has all been part of the plan. let's bring in the conversation congressman cedric richmond of louisiana . congressman, good to have you with us. what is this going to do to your area, cedric ? congressman, what is it going to do to your area?
>> well, it kills our area, to tell you the truth. in fact, part of the area where it hurts louisiana the most in terms of the army corps of engineers which of course is doing our coastal restoration and protecting the infrastructure that protects our families and citizens. but if we can't dredge the mississippi river , then the rest of the country can't get their goods to market. the cost of our goods are going to go up. so our farmers and everyone else who produces goods from manufacturers or farmer, they'll be at a competitive disadvantage in getting their goods to market. you're talking about almost a $250 million cut to the army corps of engineers . and it's those things that are just mind-boggling. and to me lack common sense . because what we should be looking at is what kind of return we get on every dollar we spend. so if you're talking about early childhood education , are you talking about the army corps of engineers and dredging, those are both things that give you a phenomenal return on your investment, but we just have this approach that our republican colleagues are trying to initiate.
>> it just lacks common sense . and that's the frustrating part.
>> congressman richmond , what about the military cuts in your backyard? these are going to be pretty devastating there is a big military presence in louisiana .
>> we do. we have an extreme amount of shipbuilders and other people who work on government contracts and work for our military. so it's just what you try to do is use common sense and cut where you can cut, raise money where you can raise money . and our colleagues have just refused to sit down like adults and plan out how we're going to run the country. so we just have cliff after cliff created by our republican colleagues that raise the anxiety of american citizens at a time that we shouldn't be doing this. we have people out of work and we have infrastructure collapsing. we could put people to work fixing what is already broke.
>> congressman peter welch , jerry nadler and cedric richmond , great to have you gentlemen with us tonight on the congressional panel. thanks a lot.
>>> a john mccain town hall gets uli. we'll show you the dang tape, next. pop