Meet the Press   |  February 09, 2014

Battle Lines Drawn on Debt Ceiling

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Rob Portman represent opposing parties in a debate over the recently released CBO report on Obamacare and the future of the American economy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you've been listening to this debate with the roundtable over obamacare. senator schumer, here is an ad by the group americans for prosperity in this midterm election year that they're going to be running hard. watch.

>> who told us.

>> -- a system that eases up the pressure on businesses and unleashes the promise of our economy creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

>> but now we find out obamacare will reduce full-time employment by 2.3 million jobs.

>> hurting the economy. and middle class families.

>> so for democrats who thought senator schumer, that obamacare was going to be a plus in this election year, are you on the defensive again?

>> i don't think so. bottom line is very simple. what cbo said is that many american workers would have freedom. now, that's a good work, freedom to do things they couldn't do. the single mom who is raising three kids has to keep a job because of health care can now spend some time raising those kids. that's a family value. the student, 27 years old, wants to finish school quickly so he can get a great job. can't because he needs health care , is now free. you know, david , when we pass the 40-hour workweek 100 years ago, it reduced hours but it certainly was regarded as a step forward , and i'd say two other things here. number one, cbo used 2017 full employment as the baseline. many people when the folks like the single mom and the student and the small businessman who wants to now start a small business and can, when those people leave their jobs in 2015 , '16, '14, '15, '16 others are going to take those jobs. finally in 2017 if there's full employment and no one it to take those jobs, it will raise wages. this is a net plus. i'd say one final thing.

>> let me get a sons from senator portman man. i'm sure you're happy to have democrats on the offensive. why shouldn't this be seen as freedom for folks who didn't have it before?

>> it's not that i'm happy to see democrats on the defensive. i'm worried about the american worker. we've got in our country right now a 35 year low in terms of labor participation. we don't have as many people in the workforce as during the middle of the recession. and yet, you have democrats almost giddy about the fact that oh, boy, now we're going to have fewer people in the workforce. that doesn't help workers. it doesn't help in terms of fighting poverty. look, cbo was very clear. they said this is going to result in fewer people wanting to work. what they didn't say, david , which is going to make this even worse is for many employers are not hiring people because of obamacare. 70% in some of the surveys of small businesses are saying it is already harming their ability to hire people. why? for a few reasons. one is you have these employer mandates in place saying if you have over 50 employees you're part of this. you have companies saying i'm not going to get over 50 meez, some.cans letting people going certainly not growing employment. second you have people saying i'm not going to let people work more than 30 hours. there's a new 40-hour workweek, senator schumer. it's a 30 hour workweek. higher health care costs is driving the cost of doing business up and therefore, fewer people are getting hired. i hear it in ohio all the time. i'm going to do more with part time and overtime. i'm not going to hire people. finally 19 new taxes in this thing. a trillion dollars in new taxes. that wasn't even analyze inside the cbo report. there were a bunch of promises made and none are being kept. you could keep your health care .

>> let's stick to this issue and to the question at hand. you brought up the american worker senator portman but you voted this week against extending unemployment benefits for those out of work. it's striking. i wonder what you say to those as been reported in your own state, more than 50,000 ohio residents who had unemployment benefits end in december. those folks really hurting. why did you vote against that?

>> well, david , first of all i'm one of six republicans that voted to allow the debate to go forward. unfortunately the democrats wouldn't negotiate with us how to pay for it. but again, let's get back to the problem at hand. i said we've got a 35-year low in terps of the numbers working and the participation rate . we are record numbers of people long-term unemployed. the democrats answer to that is let's add more to the 26 weeks of unemployment insurance but do nothing to reform the program and give people the skills this he need to can assess the jobs out there. again, record numbers of people long-term unemployed. all the republicans were saying including me was look, yes, let's extend unemployment insurance . one, let's pay for it. last thing we want to do is add to the debt and deficit and make the economy worse. let's reform this program. i have a specific proposal to do that as do a group of republicans enough to get it across the floor. we need to work with the democrats to get that done.

>> a response from senator shumer.

>> bottom line is, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are telling people what's good for them but the people don't want it. the person looking for a job for six months, eight months doesn't want to be told, doesn't want to be told they shouldn't get unemployment benefits to keep their house, to keep their car, to pay for gas, to look for a job. the single mom who would like to go home and raise her three kids doesn't want to be told you have to keep that job because we're not going to give you health care . that's the about line.

>> senator schumer, immigration, a big focus for you and here you have the house speaker after saying this was the year to do it saying he doesn't see it happening. is this had gamesmanship on his part or is this really over?

>> well, you no he, it's been a tough week for immigration. but all three, many of the republicans have said the following speaker boehner, mitch mcconnell , paul ryan , even jim demint have said they want to do immigration reform . but they don't trust the president to enforce the law, particularly the enforcement parts. so there's a simple solution. let's enact the law this year. but simply not let it actually start till 2017 after president obama 's term is over. now, i think the rap against him that he won't enforce the law false. he's deported more people than any other president. but you col actually have the law start in 2017 without doing much violence to it. you'd simply move the day back from december 31st to 2011 to december 31st , 2013 as to when people, the deadline for people who could get either legalization or citizenship so we could go after the new people who come in later. and it would solve the problem. make no mistake about it, david . this view that we can get this done in 2015 , '16 is false. you'll have the republican presidential primaries, to pull people over to the right. tea party maximizes. so simple. let's say to our republican colleagues you don't trust obama? enact the law now but put it into effect in 2017 and we can get something real done for in irk.

>> i an response for senator. is boehner at risk of losing his job if he pursues this?

>> no, i think john boehner is fine in terms of his job. i do think our immigration system is broken. what chuck talks about delaying it, i think some republicans would be interested in that if we put in place the enforcement measures so it would work. in other words, make sure the border is secure, make sure you have a workforce enforcement program that works. the concern is to get back to the 1986 law. last time we did this, where we did provide legalization but didn't do enforcement, another 6 million came illegally. that's what republicans are looking for enforcement first.

>> senators schumer and portman , thanks