Alex Witt | April 07, 2013
>>> dead on arrival , that is the early verdict from house republicans about president obama 's budget proposal due out wednesday, but it's not getting cheers from the other side of the aisle either. let's bring in a democrat congressman from arizona . welcome, sir, nice to see you again.
>> good to see you, thank you.
>> i want to look back to friday when you put out this statement, quote, cutting benefits now when people are already struggling to make ends meet will mean unnecessary hardship for millions of people. it is unpopular, unwise and unworkable. can you explain all that?
>> throughout this whole process, i think it's common knowledge and fact that the house republicans are not going to accept this proposal by the president. they want this to be part of the cut package, but they will never agree to revenue generation as well. so they went through this exercise and in the process, they cut social security , additional cuts to medicare and medicaid on the table and in doing so, resurrect an issue that all of us campaign in that direction about preserving and strengtheni ining social security and medicare . it's frustrating to the base. all along we have said, we need to deal with social security , this social insurance in a separate setting, how do we strengthen it, how do we assure it's benefit delivery for generations to come. but to make it part of a budget deal with full security to decorate the deficit, i think that's what unworkable, and politically, not a wise move.
>> categorize the kind of fight you expect from the -- rather between the president and house democrats and for those who do support the president, should they be challenged from the left? or does that just splinter the party and weaken everything?
>> i think it splinters the party, but there's a valid debate that occurs in our own caucus, that if this is a value we have stood for, then we affirm that and if we don't reaffirm that, you know, i understand the strategy might be to reaffirm that the republicans are the party of no, which we know that are, but i don't think it's time for the democrats to become the party of maybe, maybe we'll support it this time, maybe we won't support it next time. we need to be solid, we need to indicate to the president, this is a nonstarter in the house . and as democrats, for protecting a value that occurs in our party, i think it's the appropriate thing to do, it's not about challenging, it is about protecting a program that has been here two presidencies and not just this one.
>> do you believe it's the president's intention to offer compromise, just in order to reduce the deficit? i mean it is the timing of this strategy you're opposed to, given where we are economically in this country or is there more to it?
>> i think it's not only the timing, it's the fact that the point of compromise and bipartisanship is a valid point. but all through this process, every indication from republican leadership and that includes, i believe the majority of the senate is no, we are not going to deal with increased revenue. unless that is a part of a committed equation to the discussion, what's the point? the point is that we have a sequestration going into effect, that nobody wanted, it was a dumb idea and now here we are, comparing the sequestration to having to cut social security and medicare as a better alternative. i don't believe that that's the choice the american people want and i these we should let the american people use their will to influence this congress to do the right thing on these programs. at this point, putting it on the table almost makes it a commitment that that will always be on the table and i think that's a mistake.
>> congresswoman, if the budget is ultimately rejected, where does that leave the president with house democrats?
>> i think it leaves the president with house democrats where unfortunately where those of us in the minority and certainly the president have known for a long time, there's an agenda here and that agenda has not wavered, it is about going after basic institutions, social security and medicare in this instance and limiting and constricting the world of government in american people 's lives, at least these have been targets, these have been something that you want to put at the end of the spear to show the heads of these two programs politically speak and showing that agenda. i don't think it changes anything, until there is a majority or a different attitude in this house , this leadership is going to continue on that same path.
>> we had a movement on immigration in your backyard, members of the team of 8 toured the border with mexico in your state of arizona last week. how encouraged are you and might it impact the immigration package they're working on?
>> i'm somewhere between optimistic and hopeful. i saw the visit between the four senators and the involvement of senator mccain in that discussion and putting that package together is a good sign. and i look forward to that discussion and that debate. i just hope that senators like sessions don't decide that this becomes their -- to hang up any further movement in the senate and that boehner allows up and down motions in the house so that we can move forward on what i think is one of the most pressing economic security and social issues that we have facing this country, the sooner the better.
>> i know wednesday you have a big event planned there on the hill, tell me what that's about.
>> immigration advocates from across the country coming to one more time urge congress to move and to do it now. to not allow stalling, not make the process of immigration reform so punitive, so lengthy, so cost prohibitive that people do not come forward. we have an opportunity, we have a window, that window could close and i think that rally is to say that america wants you to move, congress, and it's going to be huge and more importantly, to tell -- give congress a very direct message that it's time to move on this issue now.
>> arizona congressman, thank you for your time. good luck on wednesday, thanks.
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