Weekends with Alex Witt | March 02, 2013
>> a new perspective on the sequester from a lawmaker who hasn't been in congress too long or at least long enough to get too jaded. congressman hakim jeffreys a democrat from new york is joining me here in the studio. welcome.
>> thanks for having me.
>> as a freshman newly sworn in congressman, were you surprised by the level of animosity or inabout of both sides to work together?
>> i'm certainly disappointed nothing came out of the discussion at the white house yesterday as it relates to dealing with the immediate impact of this $85 billion shock to the system that we've been asked to absorb. i'm not surprised in fact i think the washington wizards probably have a better chance of winning a kna an nba championship at this point rather than dealing with a balanced approach to deficit reduction. on the other side i believe particularly with the tea party dominated house republican conference there's a willingness to try and balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our society. pregnant women , children, seniors, superstorm sandy victims, public housing residents. these are going to be the individuals who will be impacted by these dramatic cuts.
>> you know, you're here in the studio with me because you're not in washington work. do you wish that you could be there working today trying to figure this out?
>> we should be in washington, d.c. trying to work this out so that we can blunt the impact of what will be initially a slow burn . but over time these cuts are going to sear. they're going to be very hot in their impact on a lot of individuals. i did get the chance earlier today to spend some time with public housing residents throughout my district. they're very concerned. sequestration will cost the new york city housing authority which manages the public housing stock here in new york city $190 million. these are housing residents who are already living with mold infestation, broken elevators, long-delayed repair, often violent conditions. we need to invest more to make sure that these residents can live with the grace and dignity they deserve. they're forced to absorb cuts that's going to make their quality of life worse than it is right now.
>> there are those, though, who say this is just a small minority of people who will be directly affected. how do you respond to that?
>> well, that's not accurate. $2.5 billion in superstorm sandy aid will be cut. the district that i represent which includes neighborhoods like coney island and sea gate and brighton beach were devastated. homes were destroyed. people are out, forced to live in temporary shelters, incur tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage. uncertainty about their future. we already had to confront the possibility that they wouldn't get the aid that they were owed as it relates to what's necessary to rebuild. we thought we got over that hurdle. but now we confront sequestration. $2.5 billion will be impacted.
>> and in your area if i'm not mistaken laguardia and jfk as well. you heard lahood transportation secretary saying this will cause huge problems, delays and other issues. what are people saying about that?
>> the district i represent is immediately adjacent to jfk. air travel is important to our commerce, to our ability to move forward related to the economy as well as keep social family ties together, education of our children across the country. so the sequestration will impact every aspect of american life . it will begin slowly as the president has indicated. but sooner rather than later people will begin to feel the pain. we shouldn't wait until the pain has set in before the congress can come together and find a balanced approach to move things forward.
>> all right. well, new york new representative hakeem jeffries . thanks you so much. we'll hope you'll be able to get back there and do some good for the country.
>> thank you for having me.
>>> one department that will not