Congressman John Campbell On The President’s Reprehensible Negotiation With Iran, But Not With The House Speaker
HH: Joined now by Congressman John Campbell, able guest host and member of Congress. Congressman, thanks for spelling me on Wednesday when I was back in Baltimore. A lot of people, this is a sincere thing, this is true, asked me to ask you if you wouldn’t reconsider and stay in Congress.
JC: (laughing) Thank you. I appreciate that. I’ve heard that a lot, which makes me, I’m flattered by it. I’ve heard it from a number of my colleagues. I’ve actually heard it from a number of my Democratic colleagues. But it is time for me to move on.
HH: All right. You could change your mind. We don’t care how many, there are, what, 25 people have declared for your seat? They can all find something else to do.
JC: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, no, time for me to move on. But I’m still there for another 15 months. And the next 30 days are going to be pretty critical.
HH: Right. Bring us up to speed.
JC: And so kind of in the words of the Monty Python, I’m not dead, yet.
HH: All right, you’re not dead, yet, but you are listening. What is going on at this hour? The Senate has rejected the continuing resolution that stripped out Obamacare. They have sent you back the same CR, I believe, with the same damage to the caps that you guys did. But where are we?
JC: Okay, let me clarify what they took out and what they didn’t. We sent them a CR that funded until December 15th, funded the government at the sequester levels, and we included defunding Obamacare, and we also included the Tom McClintock Full Faith And Credit bill, which enables us to pay debt and the military and so forth, and things like that.
HH: John, just for a second, I thought you plussed up military spending a little bit.
JC: Not…we might have.
HH: Okay, I think you did.
JC: We might have a tiny…yeah, but overall spending was at the sequester level.
HH: Right, okay.
JC: Right, okay. They stripped out the Full Faith and Credit issue. They stripped out the Obamacare defunding. They moved it from December 15th to November 15th, and they may have taken the military plus up out, I’m not sure. But the overall spending amount is the same at the sequester level. So that’s what they sent us back. So what happens now is tomorrow, Saturday, at Noon Eastern, we will have a conference. And the Republicans, we will get together, and we will discuss what our next step is. And there’s a lot of idea floating around out there, and a lot of thoughts, but one thing I’m very confident of, we are not going to vote to approve what the Senate sent over.
HH: So they’re going to get back, Ping Pong is going to go on. You’re going to send something back.
JC: We are going to send something back, yes.
HH: And what do you want that something to be?
JC: I want that something to be a one year delay of Obamacare. I don’t think we should get off this particular horse. I think we should stay on Obamacare. We started with it, we defunded it, and now we should go for the delay. And I think we should keep going on that particular front. And you know, Hugh, I know you talked about it with Duncan Hunter before me, I know you’ve talked about…the President’s news conference today was astounding. For him basically to come out and say I am negotiating with the president of Iran, I’m negotiating with a country that has called for the extermination of all Jews worldwide, I’m negotiating with a government that has killed millions over the last 30 years, I’m negotiating with state sponsors of terrorists, actual terrorism, all this kind of stuff, but a week ago Friday, he called John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, and said according to John Boehner, he said, “John, I will not negotiate on the debt limit.” So he will negotiate with Iran, but he will not negotiate with the democratically-elected opposition in American politics.
HH: Not only not negotiate with you, brand you as suicide bombers.
JC: And brand us as suicide bombers, which he does not brand Iran as. He says that he wants to work with them. So I mean, this is frankly, and I’m going to make a very strong, this is the most reprehensible comment I have heard from any politician in my 13 years of elected office. Forget a president, I think what he has said, what he is doing, is reprehensible. And I think we have to be strong, I think we have to be firm, and we have to go back…we can’t go back with the same thing we offered, because we’re actually dealing with the Senate now. But I think we have to, frankly, we have to act like the President is not there, like he does not exist, and work with the Senate. There are reasonable Democrats over there, work with those people, and see what we can figure out.
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HH: Congressman, before we went to break, you were just saying there are reasonable people in the Senate with whom the House might be able to negotiate, even though the President’s conduct is reprehensible. Here’s one of those reasonable people earlier today.
BB: President Obama inherited a $1.2 trillion dollar deficit. It is now down, it’s been cut in half. It’s been cut in half. But you listen to them, you think that oh, my God, everything is off. I just took a look at the charts. I took a look at deficits under Republican and Democratic presidents. Oh, my God, I’m so proud to be a Democrat.
HH: So John Campbell, Barbara Boxer, she’s reasonable, right?
JC: (laughing) No! You picked, you did not pick one of the reasonable ones. You picked one of the ones whose voice is worse to me than fingernails on a blackboard. But what’s interesting is actually, I’m on the Budget Committee, as I think you know, and I actually talked about this on Wednesday, that on Wednesday, actually, on Thursday morning, we had a hearing, I did talk about it on Wednesday, with Doug Elmendorf, who is the head of the CBO. And he came in to testify, and what he was saying is that the fiscal, even though deficits right now are down, the fiscal picture going out five and ten years, and obviously 15 and 20 and 30, is actually much worse than it was before, and it’s being driven entirely by, I mean, it’s been driven by all the things we’ve known in the past – baby boomers getting older, et cetera. But the reason it’s gotten so much worse is because of the increasing costs of the government-funded health care programs – Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid. And he came to say that basically the fiscal situation of the country going out five years and beyond is worse than it’s been before, and you guys need to get on it.
HH: Well, someone’s got to tell Barbara Boxer.
HH: But I’ve got to ask you this.
JC: He’s not partisan.
HH: You will meet in conference tomorrow morning.
HH: You will agree on what to do or not agree, whatever. You will pass something. On what day will the House send back a new CR, modified however you modify it, to the Senate? And does that leave them time to avert a government shutdown if they accept it?
JC: First of all, whenever we send it to them, if they accept it, it leaves them enough time. I don’t pretend to understand the arcane rules of the Senate, but in my five terms here, I’ve learned this. They can move very, very slowly if they want to, or if enough members want to. But if, by unanimous consent, they can move way faster than we can, way faster. They can make something happen in an hour if they want to. I’ve seen them do it, particularly on a Friday when they get jet fumes in their nose and there’s a plane ready for them to get on to go home. So they can move extremely fast. I don’t know whether we’ll send them something Saturday, or whether we’ll send them something Sunday. It depends on how quickly we arrive at something. I mentioned one idea before the break. I mean, another idea that’s floating out there is send them a package of things that they can’t, that they have basically said they are for…
HH: Like the repeal of the medical device tax…
JC: Correct, medical device tax, maybe a one year delay of the individual mandate, you know, that’s a very difficult thing for them to vote against, given the President’s one year delay of the business mandate. So that’s another option, is sending some of those things. I don’t know what we’ll send. We’ll be deciding that tomorrow afternoon. It could get to them Saturday night, could get to them Sunday morning. But it doesn’t matter. They will have time if they’re prepared to act.
HH: Will you take some advice?
JC: Of course, I will.
HH: For the caucus?
JC: But not from the President.
HH: No, for the caucus.
JC: It’s not from the President, is it?
HH: Whatever you guys send back has got to be possible for people like me to describe in three sentences. It cannot be, like the Washington Post front page, a long laundry list of 25 different things. It’s got to be okay, they said now, we’re sending back, like you said, a repeal of the medical device tax, a one year delay in the individual mandate, and whatever.
JC: Right. No, you’re right, no kitchen sink thing. That kitchen sink thing that you’re talking about, which was relative to the debt limit.
HH: Debt ceiling…
JC: I spoke to the Speaker, his chief of staff, and various people, and I said this is a terrible idea. The debt limit, what we’re supposed to get with a debt limit is something that reduces the growth in debt beyond this. And putting a whole bunch of bills that we’re all for…
HH: Terrible idea. And it can’t be communicated.
JC: Terrible idea. Absolutely terrible idea.
HH: You know, maybe because you’ve done a talk show, you now understand better than they do how you have to communicate with people. I’ve got to be able to put it into a package and explain to people, the Republicans are fighting for common sense sane stuff.
JC: Well, and it’s not just a communications issue. It’s a terrible idea. To put 20 different…it’s, it almost sounds like earmarks. It’s not.
HH: It did.
JC: Because these aren’t earmarks. They’re good bills. I’d vote for them all if they came out. But that’s not what…the point of the debt limit is that we want to use that extension to get an agreement that reduces the accumulation of deficits and debt in the future so this country does not die under the weight of its own debt.
HH: Amen, but three or four things on the next Ping, maybe the XL Pipeline, I mean, you guys, just don’t kill the messaging. Kill the messengers on talk radio if you must. Now I’ve got to ask you in the last minute and a half. I wrote a column today for Townhall.com praising Ted Cruz to high Heaven. He’s the Sid Luckman of the Senate. He’s changed the entire playbook. I know many of your colleagues are mad at him because he is pushing a hard line. But he’s revolutionized communicating with the base and with the middle. He’s winning, John Campbell. Do even his opponents in the House understand that he has figured this out?
JC: I think it has turned. And Hugh, you and talked not on the air, but off air. When he was telling us what to do in the House, I was mad at him. Most members of the House were mad at him. Everybody, it’s like hey, you take care of the Senate, we’ll take care of the House, leave us alone sort of thing. But the 21 hour, 22 hours and 19 minutes on the floor of the Senate, he did a great job. He brought the issue of Obamacare alive all across America. And I will freely admit I don’t like what he did the week before that, but I thought that was brilliant, and I thought it was very well-executed, and we should applaud him for it. And I said that when I guest hosted for you on Wednesday.
HH: And my last bit of advice, the Speaker or the Leader ought to go out and smash Dan Pfeiffer rhetorically in the mouth for comparing American representatives representing their constituents to suicide bombers. That is unacceptable.
JC: I agree, but I think the worse, I think the worst thing, and I think the thing we should be talking about for the next few years, next few days at least, weeks, whatever, is that the President will negotiate with Iran, but he will not negotiate with the Speaker of the House. Any reasonable individual, Democrat, independent, Republican, understands that that doesn’t make any kind of sense.
HH: Amen to that. Congressman John Campbell, we’ll talk to you on Monday for the latest update.
End of interview.