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House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy on the Pledge, and current state of cutting spending

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
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HH: I’m joined now by Kevin McCarthy, congressman from California’s 22nd district, the Whip, the House Republican Whip. Congressman McCarthy, always a pleasure, welcome back, good to talk to you.

KM: Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

HH: Now I gave your colleague, Paul Ryan, a hard time last hour, Kevin McCarthy, because I believe you guys are on the brink of breaching the Pledge to cut back to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout spending.

KM: I know that, because I wrote the Pledge. And in the Pledge, we said for exemptions, for common sense exemptions for seniors, veterans and troops, we’ll roll back to pre-stimulus and pre-bailout, saving $100 [b]illion in the first year.

HH: At least. You left out at least $100 billion.

KM: Yeah, at least, well, I’m going off the top of my head.

HH: All right, that’s not bad, though. I’m impressed.

KM: (laughing)

HH: Now…

KM: I know what this thing says.

HH: So in terms of that, you need to get to $387 billion in non-security spending, and you’re not there yet.

KM: $378 [billion] is the ’08, non-security. $378 billion.

HH: Okay, so you’re not there yet, are you?

KM: But remember what the Pledge said. The Pledge said we’d do something totally different, that we’d have an open floor. So something that’s never even heard about, every member, when it comes to spending, gets to offer an amendment, whatever they want. Okay, for the last two years, what they call here an open rule, there hasn’t even been one open rule under the Democrats’ rule. So you’ve got the first basis. Now when we wrote the Pledge, the Democrat, the President had his budget out. Because they did not enact their budget, that’s what you saw something based on at the very beginning. So you could make your argument saying that we’re not all the way there. Someone can make the argument, you’re proposing a hundred to start out with. The bill is not passed yet. People are able to offer amendments. It’s a whole new day. It’s kind of like the way I first learned politics back in Saturday morning, Schoolhouse Rock, I’m just a bill on Capitol Hill? Well, it’s a new day, because that’s actually how this process is going to go. Every member gets elected individually, so every member, it’s not leadership that determines it. You’re going to be on the floor to be able to have the idea win at the end of the day.

HH: Now does that equal, Congressman McCarthy, your guarantee that when this C.R. is done, you will have cut at least $100 billion, and will be back to 2008, that you guys will not accept anything other than that?

KM: Based upon where we are for that Thursday, in the Pledge, it says in the first year. We’ve already cut more than $100 billion. But if you want to talk real money, we’re going to cut trillions in the budget. We’ve already come out saying we’re going to tackle entitlements where the President does not.

HH: Congressman, I’ve had Dave Dreier on, I had Paul Ryan on, I monitor the Twitter feed, as you do. People are really ticked off with that. They want to hear you guys say yes, we will keep the Pledge, we will absolutely…

KM: Well, I will say yes, but we’ll cut more. You want to hold me to the Pledge? You want to hold to the Pledge within the first year? There will be trillions.

HH: No, no, that’s the budget. That’s the FY’12. We’re talking about expenditures in ’11.

KM: Hey, you want to get to real money? You’ve got to go beyond discretionary.

HH: No, I just want to get to credibility so we get support for you guys in 2012 when the entitlements get on the floor.

KM: All right, well let’s walk back the credibility and support what we said we would do in the Pledge. First of all, we said we’d cut our own budgets. We’ve done that. Second off, we said we’d open up the floor. We have, and this is a spending bill. We’ve opened up the floor. Third thing that we said we would do, because they went into a C.R., which means a continuing resolution, where you’ve already taken five months away, only seven months, if you wanted to be technical about it and say $58 billion would equal the $100 billion, we said no to that. And we even went further. So you will find on the floor that we will even go further. We already voted off the floor repealing Obamacare. In the first four weeks in the 111th Congress, when the Democrats controlled Congress, they increased spending by $686 billion. In the first four weeks that Republicans have controlled Congress in the 112th, we have cut $650 billion before this week has even started.

HH: Kevin McCarthy, though, that is great. Wonderful. That’s not what people want to hear. They want to hear that you guys will go to the wall on the continuing resolution, shut the government down if necessary, to make sure that we’re back to pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels, which means 2008 real dollars. Will you guys do that?

KM: You will find we will be back to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout, and we will go further. We will put this country on the right path that we can pay down this debt. Look, what the President proposed today, you’d be better off doing nothing.

HH: Agreed.

KM: It’s going to increase taxes, one, the top rate, also capital gains rate up to 44%, because you’ve got the health care tax in there as well. He proposes that in there, and says he’s only cutting so much. He wants to freeze discretionary spending. It is a new day in Washington when we’re having a debate on how far we can cut.

HH: Well, I’ve heard that…

KM: That is healthy, and that is good.

HH: And if necessary, in 30 seconds, you’ll shut the government down if necessary to get there, Kevin McCarthy?

KM: Look, I think the best thing to do is not to shut the government down, but actually create jobs. And you do that by cutting spending and growing this economy.

HH: We’ll talk again soon, I hope, Kevin McCarthy, the Whip of the Republicans. Not sure if people are going to buy it, but thanks for coming on.

End of interview.

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