Meet the Press | March 17, 2013
>>> we're back, switching gears to talk about the budget problem in washington. democratic congressman from maryland chris van hollen and majority whip , republican congressman from california, kevin mccarthy . welcome to both of you. big week in this debt duel, competing budgets in the senate, in the house. how these get reconciled i don't know. but i want to start with a different part of the debate. the president i thought was pretty provocative this week in talking about the need to take on the debt all together. it was just days before the election last fall, and he spoke to mika beer sin ski and joe scarborough of " morning joe ," and this is what he said back then.
>> how would you define your mandate for the next four years? and what is i would like to know the sacrifice that will be asked not just of the 1% but of the 99% as well. well, there's no doubt our first order of business will be to get our deficits and debt under control.
>> then just this week, a different tone. he said we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. in fact, the next ten years it's going to be a sustainable place." congressman van hollen, why the change?
>> it's not a change. they're totally consistent. right now our big problem is to sustain the economic recovery. we've seen momentum in the job market . and the last thing we want to do right now is to put the brakes on that. in fact, one-half of this year's deficit is due to unemployment, the fact that more people aren't at work. so what the president saying our focus right now should be to get people back to work, sustain the recovery, and then reduce the deficit in a measured, balanced way. there's no doubt that we have to do it and the budgets the president will present and the ones we will present will do that. it will put us on a sustained downward trajectory on deficits. but our priority is job growth .
>> this is the point, right? his argument is don't get us in the middle of austerity in the next ten years. you're going to hurt economic recovery rather than solve the problem you want to solve.
>> no. the president said deficits don't matter. all these deficits add up. we're at $16.6 trillion. more than 100% of our gdp. the problem is i disagree with what the democrats are doing. it's the old washington fiscal game of jenga. you try to build as much debt as you can take, as much taxes you can take until you topple the entire economy. this is the challenge that this week will have. this week republicans will have a budget that balances in ten years. the democrats' budget never balances. no household can run that way.
>> let me challenge you on this point because here is paul ryan this week, and he laid out very clearly what he thought the job was. let me play that.
>> we think we owe the country a balanced budget . we think we owe the country solutions to big problems that are plaguing our nation -- a debt crisis on the horizon, a slow-growing economy, people trapped in poverty. we're showing our answers.
>> right, but the answers rely on $700 billion in savings from interest. most of the deficit reduction comes from repealing the president's health care reform , which nobody thinks is going to happen. so how seriously should this be viewed as a roadmap for a balanced budget ?
>> it should be very serious, because budgets --
>> you're not going to repeal obama care.
>> budgets are blue prints and priorities. we lay out. we think obama care should be repealed. the majority of americans agree with us. but we also think tax reforms should happen so you can grow the economy. if you allow these debts to continue to grow, they crowd out the private sector, crowd out the opportunity for small businesses to grow. that's why the economy continues to linger. if we are able to balance the budget , which ours does in ten years, you will unshack this will growth in america.
>> david, it's worse than that. their budget is built on a hoax. on the one hand, they say it balances in ten years. on the other hand, they say they'd repeal obama care. the fact is they repeal all the benefits of obama care, the things that help provide affordable health care to millions more americans. but you know what, they keep the savings in obama care, and if you were to repeal obama care today, their budget would not be in balance. now, kevin has said that our budget will never balance. we believe that our projections show that the balance we will submit will actually balance. it will balance at the same time the republicans' budget balanced last year, which is out in the future, around 2040 , because we put ourselves on a path downward. but our priority, our priority is to have job growth . and their budget will slow job growth at exactly the wrong time.