Sens. McCaskill, Coburn debate DC budget cut battle
What happens when sequestration kicks in and can a last-minute deal get done?
- Duration 14:12
- Date Feb 24, 2013
What happens when sequestration kicks in and can a last-minute deal get done?
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Yen from Fox News in Washington.
-- all sides agreed to those sequester a year and a half ago those automatic across the board spending -- We're supposed to be so painful it would force the president and congress to make a deal.
But now -- just five days to go there is still no deal and a deadline is here.
Joining us today to the senate leaders on budget issues from Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn and from Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Senators -- the -- -- the big question quick question quick answer.
Will the sequester happened -- those 85 billion dollars in spending cuts kick in on products senator Culver.
Yes well it's not 85 billion because it's a -- pro read a portion of that to -- into this year.
So won't be a full 85 billion dollars but it's gonna can get.
It will kick again but at a -- -- rate the so you're not gonna see 85 billion dollars all the sudden shrink.
From the federal government but we're gonna get to that in a second senator McCaskill you a -- it is gonna happen.
Are willing to compromise.
And and -- a balanced approach.
I think it will -- -- I I'm a little confused about the Republican position at this point it appears that speaker Boehner doesn't have.
Any kind of bill that he can even put on the floor of the house.
That could pass within his caucus and I think there is a little bit of a civil war that's broken out among the Republican -- What wait wait wait a minute senator McCaskill the fact -- a house has passed two measures.
The there's sequestered -- with other spending cuts equal and in size but with other cuts they've actually pass something -- house here it's 7000 -- and -- That's they passed last year Chris that they've not been anything.
There's a new congress now those bills have no affect of law now -- -- -- I don't -- anything with this and five.
Well we will we will vote on something this week and it will be a balanced approach it will do both.
Spending cuts and it will close some loopholes.
Some really important loopholes that need to be closed just from the sense of fairness in our tax in our tax -- Now that we're we're gonna pick up on that -- about I wanna go back to what senator Coburn said because the president's as all kinds of terrible things are gonna happen.
If these triggers if these sequestered cops can't -- take a look.
-- Republicans in congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids' schools.
And mental health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners.
Senator Coburn is the president exaggerating the impact of these cuts.
Absolutely and he is seated typical set up a straw man.
Look the federal government's twice the size it was eleven years ago.
-- spend an almost 4000 dollars per person per year coming out of the federal government.
121000 dollars the average family is on the hook for unfunded liabilities include an excess of three -- Quarters of a million dollars per family.
And what this what sequestration.
Is it's a terrible way to cut spending I don't disagree without.
But had not cut two and a half percent out of the total budget over a year when it's twice the size it was ten years ago.
Give me a break the American people you -- -- you -- wait we see all these claims about what a tragedy is going to be.
The great example is is -- if -- that set the secretary of transportation can assure us that all the planes are going to be safe.
Then the department Homeland Security can assure us that we get through the airports on time they have plenty of flexibility in terms of discretion on how they spend money.
There's easy ways to cut this money that the American people will never feel what you hear is an outrage.
Because nobody wants to cut spending except.
-- -- end it will be somewhat painful but not cutting spending is gonna be disastrous for our country.
Let me let me pick up -- senator McCaskill because -- you just heard Republicans say.
The problem is that the president is -- serious about cutting spending -- -- house but let's watch.
House Republicans have already passed two bills to replace the president's sequester.
So the question is why won't he work -- this and the answer quite simply is because he wants higher taxes.
Now I know you talk about a balanced approach but clearly the Republicans aren't good -- great about not saying who's right -- who's wrong.
But senator -- the Republicans are talking about passing something this week.
That would give agencies give departments more flexibility that's up to set priorities so that they cuts could be made.
According to what makes sense of what doesn't make sense and set up across the board you have supported this idea.
But the White House opposes transfer authority what sense does that -- Well what is really what's going on you have as usual in Washington.
Large could -- -- going on about who can get blamed.
There's no question that these cuts.
Are going to be painful and they are spotless and I know Tom Coburn I agree on that we also agree we need to do more spending cutting.
We've got a cut more spending.
We we agree on that so why is it that we can't come to the table and agree what cuts need to happen.
That's what we should be doing we shouldn't be passing the blame to the executive branch are saying this is Obama's sequester the Republicans supported this.
I supported -- we need to come together and make the right.
Cut and frankly.
Ash Carter at that Department of Defense said even if we did some kind of flexibility move at the eleventh hour.
It's too little too late in terms of what they've got in motion -- -- -- And I if I understand that the women yeah our company and they'll -- but but but senator -- how well I wanna jump in the -- let me -- I did not specify when that senator -- let me just ask senator -- this question -- you're not gonna get an agreement on these -- In the next five days that sequester is gonna go throes of the question is.
Why not give agency had more flexibility.
So they can decide I'm gonna talk more of this and lots about.
Well I think right now.
The the the way this is set up.
There are going to be cuts a lot of places and there will be some flexibility and I think we're gonna look at a number of things this week.
But it doesn't take away the real -- we have and I know Tom Coburn agrees with me on this we got a much bigger problem.
Down the line in terms of reducing our debt than just what we face this week.
So why not take the offer the very specific offer the president has on the table that does cuts -- entitlements that does do more in terms of looking at a long term debt.
And let's get a big deal let's fund the government with quick careening from crisis to crisis.
Hurts confidence of investors across this country and hurts our economy.
-- -- Well I think first of -- -- that the crisis is made up it's been created.
I didn't support the sequester because that's a stupid way to cut spending.
I and I didn't support increasing the debt limit.
Because it would there is no such thing as a debt limit in this country because we always raises.
But the fact is is we have tons hundreds of billions of dollars of fat and waste.
And excess in the federal government and we ought to be about cutting some of it out.
We a couple of years in political game go that there's no reason that we don't go -- and cut spending.
Even across the sequestration.
Some of it's not Smart.
But that it's the only way Washington Republicans and Democrats you're ever gonna get out of both parties.
Some spending cuts and the reason there's no agreement is -- there's no leadership from the president.
On actually recognizing what the problem us and the problem is is an -- and bloated.
Big federal government that's highly inefficient and highly ineffective senator Matt Cassel isn't there a danger here for down.
-- that in the -- this is not a class this is not like the debts and I'm worried we immediately go into default.
As senator Coburn pointed out it's only going to be about 44 billion dollars of -- the in the rest of this fiscal year.
And they are gonna happen rather slowly as -- -- -- -- a danger for Republicans people won't feel the pain and they'll say you know what we can shrink the size of government.
Well I think that there is there's there's several dangers that are looming.
The biggest danger is that we've got -- dysfunctional congress they can't compromise.
I'm proud to be part of the moderate middle I'm happy to work with Tom Coburn.
And we have worked on ways to make our government more responsible to taxpayers.
But that's really get the heart of this Chris you've got some loopholes right now I've gotten taken three million at one end of the hall managing hedge fund pays 20%.
And the -- the other end -- the hall -- three million managing insurance company.
-- north of 35%.
We need to fix these things we need to come together and moderate middle have a balanced approach.
That fixes some of these loopholes gain some revenue but continue to focus on getting at that waste that Tom Coburn and I agree about.
We're beginning to run -- -- -- I wanna talk about a couple of other risks is the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary comes -- This week sentiment casting your member of armed services you voted.
Four -- goal in committee out I want to play that one of a number of rocky moments he had.
During his -- I support the president's.
Strong position on containment I've just been handed a note.
Misspoken -- I supported the president's position on containment.
Hey if I said it meant to say that.
Obviously his position of opinion containment we don't have a position on content just to make sure your correction is clear.
We do have a position on containment which is that we do not favor contain.
During that hearing.
Senator hagel also said that Iran has a quote elected legitimate government.
Just on the question.
Of competence just on the question of knowledge that you really have no second thoughts about Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.
The president was just reelected by the American people and he is elected a man who is very qualified.
To be secretary of defense his resume from his time as an enlisted soldier.
Fighting in a war with great bravery and decoration to running the US -- to serving on a variety of different important.
Bodies that deal with national defense policy the president wants him.
In the room as he's making important decisions.
He has no there's no question about his integrity -- his character I think the president deserves to have the cabinet he wants as long as the person is qualified.
And there are -- note there's no question of how strong his character and integrity are.
I think it's unfortunate some of the things that I did he have the best day that day of course not it wasn't a great performance in front of the committee.
But having said that he's qualified.
He is is it I think it's despicable the way his character's been impugned by some people -- innuendo and in difference without.
I'm glad that in his character -- -- impugning his competence.
No bit is that that senator Graham questioning -- -- -- to put up properly.
I -- I know when I got the administration's policy is on prevention you know what he did.
What I thinking he -- spoke at the way he said it.
And it did you know what was that should he be disqualified.
After a lifetime of service.
And -- resonate that clearly supports this position should -- be disqualified.
Because he wasn't as articulate in the committee as he should have been.
I don't think he should be and I think it's time for us to come together and unite behind him so he can do the best job possible keeping our country say.
Senator Coburn were running out of time I got to ask you two quick questions for -- all you're one of fifteen.
Republican senators is sent a letter to the president this week asking him to pull the nomination.
Having said that we have senator Shelby Senator McCain saying there are no longer -- -- block.
His nomination do you agree that hagel will be confirmed this way.
Yeah he might be but -- the danger for our country and the lack of leadership by the president.
Is recognizing that he doesn't have the confidence of the vast.
You know vast majority of the senate which weakens him in that position I like Chuck Hagel as an individual.
But the fact is as it's been in modern times we haven't had one Defense Secretary that's had -- three votes against them.
And you're gonna have forty votes against -- -- 35 votes and that sends a signal to our allies as well as our foes.
And that he does not have broad support in the US congress which limits his ability to carry out his job and finally senator Coburn a bipartisan group of senators is reportedly close to -- deal.
To greatly expand background checks of almost all -- the sales but the hold up is the question of where -- -- not the government should keep records of doll's sales.
Question you're a member of this growth how close you do a deal -- what's the problem with keeping records.
Well I don't think we're that close to a deal on their absolutely will not be record keeping on that legitimate law abiding gun owners in this country.
And if they want to eliminate the benefits of actually trying to prevent the sales to people who are mentally ill and -- criminals all I have to do is create.
A record keeping and that will kill this bill so if you really want to improve it.
You have to it'll eliminate the record keeping.
And give people the right and the responsibility to do the right thing and they and that's check on the it -- list to make sure you're not selling again.
Because somebody -- in one of those two categories.
Senator McCaskill senator cover we want to thank you both so much thanks for joining us today and we will be counting down to the Friday deadline for those big spending cuts thank you about.