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Congressman John Campbell on possible progress to cut more spending

Thursday, February 10, 2011
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HH: That music means a special appearance mid-week by Congressman John Campbell, member of the Budget Committee. And Congressman Campbell, we’ve been beating the daylights out of the Republicans for their collapse here. Is there any recognition of the size of the mistake? And is leadership doing anything about it?

JC: I don’t know much recognition there is on the size of the mistake, but we are making progress, and things are starting to happen. There is, I mean, I don’t think I need to repeat for your audience, because you all know about the proposals have been to cut $38 billion, or $58 billion, or whatever, depending upon how you look at it. And there are a group of us, a number of us that have been there for a little while, like myself, I’m in my fourth term, and a number of the freshmen who still have the true blue fire in their bellies that basically have been saying now for a couple of weeks, we told people $100 billion, and we ought to deliver $100 billion, not just because we told people that, but because the depth of this problem, as Tom Coburn said a couple of segments ago, is so bad that…this isn’t about cutting a little, and then we’ll get to it next year. We need to go as far as we can go in each place. And in fact, in the House, as the House Republicans, whatever we pass, as Tom Coburn said on your show a couple of segments ago, is only going to get worse in the Senate, and worse again when it gets to the President. So we need to set the bar high. So a number of us have been saying we are not voting for a continuing resolution unless it has $100 billion in cuts or more. And obviously, the Democrats are not going to vote for any funding bill, any budget bill here for this year that has any cuts in it, basically. So they can’t lose more than whatever it is, 42 or whatever our majority is now, 42 Republicans, something like that, without making the bill not able to pass. Now I don’t know if we have reached that threshold, but this morning, in the Republican Conference, which is where the leadership is all there, a lot of people expressed their great displeasure as to the amount of cuts. And so the good news I have for you now is that the Appropriations Committee is meeting, I believe, as we speak, and that they have been called back to put together a deeper set of cuts.

HH: You know, Congressman, I read in Politico today, I’ve linked it at Hughhewitt.com, Chairman Hal Rogers warned his colleagues that to cut more now risks forcing layoffs of federal employees at a time when both parties say their priority is to reduce unemployment. For example, Rogers says the necessary cut in the DEA’s budget could put the agency at pre-1992 levels in some cases, and cuts to FAA operations risk 41 day furloughs for the air traffic controller workforce. Not only did the November elections manifest a complete contempt for the idea that the federal workforce is too small, or can avoid being cut, but these are the tactics we associate with Democrats, not Republicans.

JC: You know, Hugh, I hadn’t heard that. I hadn’t read that this morning. I’ve had such a busy day, I didn’t get a chance to read any of those things. But I have to tell you, that leaves me absolutely seething, absolutely seething. That is a completely absurd statement on a number of levels. First of all, what’s been happening in the private sector?

HH: Right.

JC: People have been laid off like crazy, and in a lot of cases, to pay for taxes and other things, and regulation and so forth that the government is imposing on those, that the government cannot be immune from the effects of the economy, number one. But number two, this is not, this is not like the old days. This is not about budget problems five years ago, or ten years ago, or two years ago, or forty years ago. We have reached a level of debt, and a level of deficit that is not only unprecedented in this country, but except for Greece, Ireland and Spain, is unprecedented pretty much around the world, except for countries that have then had to basically make their currency worthless. We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to go down this road. This isn’t the kind of time where we can be talking about oh, you know, I really don’t, we can’t do this, because they can’t do 10% less, and we might have to change this, we might have to change that. We are going to have to change a whole, whole lot of things in this country. And it’s not just going to be federal workers, if we don’t stop this fiscal train before it goes over the cliff. And we don’t have too much time.

HH: Well, are the leadership hearing…you say you’re seething. You know, compared to what I’m hearing and getting in the emails, do they know, does good Paul Ryan, a great Congressman, understand how angry people are, the double cross that is being felt?

JC: I don’t think so at this point yet. I believe that that message is going to start to get through. We made progress today. We are still not where we need to be, but we made progress today in moving these cuts deeper, closer to the number that we promised, and that we need to get to.

HH: We’ll keep pushing the pressure. Call 202-224-3121, talk to the Speaker’s office, talk to Eric Cantor, ask for Kevin McCarthy’s office. Tell them $100 billion minimum. I’ll be right back, thank you, John Campbell.

End of interview.

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