HH: Joined now by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives from the great city of Bakersfield, where my KYNO 940 signal reaches across the valley. Congressman McCarthy, welcome back, good to have you.
KM: Hey, thanks for having me. They love you in Bakersfield.
HH: Congratulations on cut, cap and balance. That’s a big deal. But what’s going on at the White House that the New York Times says is a deal between the Speaker and the President?
KM: You know, I don’t know what is going on there, because I’ve been with the Speaker three times today. And he even called into Rush’s radio show. There is no deal. I don’t know if that’s Schumer trying to spin to do something. I mean, we just passed cut, cap and balance, which if you think about it for one moment, no one really gets it. That is a bipartisan bill. Five Democrats voted for that bill, okay? And then you read Harry Reid. Harry Reid said he’s waiting on the House. Well you know what? The House has acted. The House has given him something where we will not allow it to default, we cut current spending, where you see discretionary has gone up 84% in the last three years. We cap, and that’s very important on the cap, because you can’t let this government get out of control the way it has. And then you get a balanced budget amendment, where you haven’t had, and we’ve been fighting this since Thomas Jefferson brought it up, but 16 years ago, we came one vote shy. Think about had we done it 16 years ago, imagine what our debate would be right now.
HH: Now Congressman McCarthy, I had on Tom Coburn, Senator Coburn of Oklahoma…
HH: …just two segments ago, and I blasted the Gang of Six proposal, because I hate it. And it’s just tax hikes upon tax hikes. But he sort of agrees that there’s no way cut, cap and balance gets through the Senate. A) is he right about that, that’s what I think. And B) what do you think of the Gang of Six?
KM: You know, with the Gang of Six, five pages of an executive summary is not a bill. I’m not interested in voting on a bill and finding out what’s in it later. I’ve watched that transition with Nancy Pelosi, okay? And that is not the way this country plans on going. That’s why when we took over, we changed the functions where you’ve got three days so that the public can see it as well. From what I read about it in the summary, it looks like a lot of tax increases, it looks like not too many cuts. And now, there are some things that are there. It lowers the rates. I’m for that. I’m for job growth in there, but it doesn’t do what needs to be done, and it takes much more of a Democrat approach.
HH: Congressman, it would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction or personal cutting…
KM: That is not going to get through Congress. Let’s be realistic.
HH: Well, it would destroy, I mean Bakersfield’s got a housing recession. You know what would happen if you took away the interest deduction.
KM: The economy has collapsed starting with housing. We’re still weak within it, and we’re going to go in and do more damage to it? And you’re going to tell the American public that went in and bought a house and have this deduction, and budgeted themselves, that now we’re wiping it away?
HH: Agreed. So that is not on the table in any conversation that you’ve heard of?
HH: In terms of this story from the New York Times, are you certain that Congressman, that Speaker Boehner is not up to something that is going to spring out on us over the weekend?
KM: I do not see something springing this weekend. That Senate needs to take up cut, cap and balance. That is what this House produced in a bipartisan manner, and have the vote, and have the debate. And you know what? If the Senate doesn’t like it, then give us some idea. Amend it to where they don’t like it and send it back to us. That’s what the founding fathers created in a Constitution. But this Senate controlled by Harry Reid has not even produced a budget in the last 813 days. They can’t produce anything.
HH: And what is the minimum level of cuts in 2012, Kevin McCarthy, that you would need to support a debt ceiling hike?
KM :I would like to see cuts in 2012, and I don’t set a set number, because what I think is one of the most important are the caps, because you can put a cut right here, but if you don’t get the caps, they grow back over. And if you don’t set the long term for the correction of going through, you’re never going to get anything.
HH: But there’s a reality to…
KM: I’m going to look at cuts and caps.
HH: There is a reality, though, where we have to get started to show political will.
KM: Oh, we have to.
HH: Do you have a number in mind that’s a minimum, an absolute floor for real cuts in FY 2012?
KM: I again look at the combination of it. We’ve laid something out there that’s more than $111 billion. I think that is a great start. Tell me if you’re on the other side of the aisle, that you don’t like it, then put something up and don’t sit back and say you have no other ideas, because if you don’t, this is the idea that passed the House bipartisan, and this is the one that can solve the problem.
HH: As Whip, I’m not sure, Congressman McCarthy, if you’ve been in these meetings with President Obama.
KM: I have not. It’s just been Eric Cantor and the Speaker.
HH: Are the reports that you have read consistent with what you’ve heard that he filibusters quite a lot, and he talks endlessly, and there’s not much give and take?
KM: I think, well, Cantor has had to Biden as well. They deserve a medal at the end of the day, because if you’ve ever spent any time, and I’ve been in with the President many times. And I laid out to him, from a…just anytime you start an agreement, why don’t you first agree to principle? So if you’re talking about things that don’t matter, bring it back. And I laid out to him if he wants to talk about the debt limit, the first principle that should have to be is everybody should have a plan. And if the CBO cannot score it, it is not a plan. A speech is not a plan. Secondly, there has to be cuts in the current year. The next thing is there has to be caps so you can’t get out of control. Then you have to really talk about entitlements, because they’re going bankrupt and you’ve got to do something about it. And then you’ve got to talk about a balanced budget. Now if he was willing to agree to those principles, we’re willing to sit down and talk to him. I had this conversation in front of our whole conference, with the President, with Geithner and everybody else in there, and the President wouldn’t even agree to have those principles to start the conversation. I didn’t lay out minimums for him, just those are the basics you have to deal with.
HH: That sounds like an enormous gulf, and so this is really the $64,000 dollar question. If somehow that gulf is bridged, and the Speaker and the President come to an agreement, will you commit that the American people will get to see it for a few days and comment on it before it goes to the caucus for a vote?
KM: Yeah. Remember in the House when we took over, we put in the three day rule. So no matter what vote’s on the floor, it will be posted, viewed, and I will tell you from a position, one, as a member of Congress, I’m going to want to read all the way through it. I’m going to want to debate all the way through it. And if you think this conference is going to go vote on something willy-nilly, they will not.
HH: So there will be no rush, there will be no one week, here it is, it’s going to be in law a week later?
KM: What you’re going to find is you’ve got an August 2nd deadline, and every day goes back. But you’re going to have, it’s not like where the Democrats go in and they run it right to the floor, and they had in Rules the night before, and here’s a 2,000 page bill. You’re going to have the three days here out of the House, and then it’s going to have to be in the Senate. You know the Senate has the 60-60 rule, so you’re going to have at least three or five days there as well.
HH: 30 seconds, will there be any tax hikes in whatever you pass, Kevin McCarthy?
KM: Not with Kevin McCarthy’s vote there won’t be.
HH: Kevin McCarthy from Bakersfield, thank you, it’s the Whip of the House GOP, and there is no deal, there are no meetings, and things sound much better if you listen to the source as opposed to the New York Times.
End of interview.