Weekends with Alex Witt | March 02, 2013
>>> joining me now democratic congressman of california adam schiff . he serves on the house appropriations committee . thanks for joining us.
>> good to see you, alex.
>> so congressman, do you understand why folks at home meeting scratching their head not understanding why the congress and the president are not working today to solve this issue?
>> absolutely. they have a right to wonder what's going on in washington. it is so dysfunctional in the capitol. but they just voted for what the president had proposed which was a balanced way to deal with our deficit and debt that included additional spending cuts but also new revenues. that's not what they're getting. instead they're getting across the board cuts that are being done in an indiscriminate way that are going to cost us 750,000 jobs. one thing i think the americans made clear in the elections, that is that jobs was the top priority . jobs first, cuts second. both important but not to sacrifice economic growth by going to an austerity budget. unfortunately that's where we are.
>> we have these furloughs, we have the job cuts. and you know that you're going to hear from your constituents as will every other member of congress. how confident are you that american people and their outcry against this will foster change?
>> it's the only thing that can foster change. i really think that the members need to hear from their constituents that this sequester is just unacceptable. that the sacrificing of 750,000 jobs, which is what is estimated will be lost through the sequester is completely unacceptable. and that the parties need to come to the table. right now only the democrats are sitting at the table. the gop in the house i think decided a month and a half ago they were going to allow the sequester to go into effect, that cuts was their top priority , and that they were okay with the consequences. the speaker pretty much said as much. he was okay with job losses. well, that's not okay. and i think the president is right. it's going to take those republicans hearing from their constituents saying this is not okay. go back to the table. agree to something balanced. and let's get our economy moving again.
>> presuming that both parties, everybody, comes back to the table, where does a deal lie? because the only way to do politics, it seems, most of the time is to compromise. so where does that compromise lie?
>> well, there is a compromise that we're going to have to undertake. and it will entail more cuts. the defense department is going to have to be leaner and more efficient. there are going to be additional cuts to defense nondiscretionary spending. we're already at a 50-year low. but they're also going to have to be new revenues. we're going to have to get rid of some of these special interest tax loopholes for the very wealthy, hedge fund billionaires, for the oil industry which is making the highest profits in its history. we can't afford those kind of giveaways in a time of deficit and debt. we're going to have to make changes in the entitlements. the president has already proposed reducing costs in medicare. so all these things are going to have to be done. and frankly, reasonable minds getting in a room together can agree. but right now we don't have a new york partner in the house. and in fact the gop is at war with itself between the tea party caucus and the rest of the gop . and until we know who we're negotiating with, it's very difficult.
>> but let's say a month from now, if a government shutdown is averted and all of that, are we just going to be saying that sequester thing, what an annoying bit of history?
>> no. because a month from now and the good news is i think there's a lot of discussion and movement on making sure the government doesn't shut down. but it's more likely that the sequester will continue. and if it does continue, then the pain is going to become more and more severe as every month goes by. because we're making a year's worth of cuts in seven months. and all those cuts are visited on the smaller parts of the budget. so we're going to go from a situation we are even before the sequester where we're investing less in education, in science and research, than we have in the last 50 years to a point where we may be making a smaller investment than we have in some of those areas in 100 years. that represents the country destroying its own future. and that's somewhere we just can't go.
>> may i ask you quickly? you know i'm a california girl.
>> i've got children that are students in my concern students your state, the students who need the help are going to be the ones that get hit the hardest, that need the most help. can you address that?
>> unfortunately that's absolutely true. but with some of those programs that help those most in need, childhood vaccines or head start or college students trying to get by or kids in k-12 that want to go to a reasonable class size or those in special ed . they are going to get hit the hardest. that's why this across the board cut that goes after the good programs as well as the inefficient ones that need to be cut is really a disaster. it's got to be averted. and i hope there'll be a new dedication after people hear from their constituents to come back to the table and fix this.
>> all right. well, democratic congressman adam schiff , thanks.