Congressman Jim Langevin Debates Debt Ceiling

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Langevin: America Must Pay Its Bills Through Shared Sacrifice

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) was interviewed on FOX Business, after President Obama’s remarks on the debt ceiling negotiations. Langevin addressed the elements of a responsible debt solution.

Congressman Langevin has served on the House Committee on the Budget. He rejects the Republican view that the national debt can be reduced without spending cuts and revenue increases.

Langevin says Obama should stick to a balanced approach.

“We shouldn’t just ask our seniors and the middle class to bear the burden of getting our fiscal house in order. It has to be shared sacrifice. And I absolutely believe that corporations and high net worth individuals can pay their fair share, as well as asking all of us to make sure that we are tightening our belts and that we’re going along with deep budget cuts at the same time.”

Langevin: Middle Class and Seniors Can’t Do It All

“We can’t just ask one side or the other to do all the cutting or all the paying of taxes, but I think we all need to come to the table right now…”

“So I think we’re going to try to get the maximum amount of both spending cuts and revenue amounts raised, so that long term we’re not having to coming back to the table and raising the debt ceiling again… The President said, some would say that we want to talk about just smaller amounts than the large amounts that we need to get done right now and I think that the President is saying the right thing. He’s doing the right thing, looking at this as a unique opportunity to get our fiscal house in order.”

Congressman Langevin sent this interview to NewsBlaze for publication.

The Complete Interview

Full Transcript:

Anchor: Congressman Jim Langevin, he is a Democrat from Rhode Island. So, Congressman, make your case we need more tax hikes to fix the deficit?

Langevin: I’m saying what we need is shared sacrifice. It’s not just about tax hikes and it’s not just about budget cuts. It’s a combination of the two. We need to have adults in the room here that are willing to recognize that our country is in a very serious situation where we have to get our spending under control and there has to be shared sacrifice. The President himself said we all need to get outside our comfort zone and do the right thing for the country.

Anchor: Right, but let me just check in here for a second, because, look it, the CBO is saying that the reason why we’re so badly in red ink is because of spending not because of tax, the Bush tax cuts. It’s government spending that is out of control. So why hit people with more taxes when clearly the government has not done its job to rein in the debt?

Langevin: Well, let’s first of all be clear, that if you look at the Clinton years, that the marginal tax rates were far higher both on individuals and corporations and yet we still had robust growth. We had balanced budgets, and budget surpluses as far as the eye could see.

Langevin: President Bush wound up passing tax cuts. President Bush passed tax cuts, but he didn’t offer any plan, the Republicans didn’t pass any plan to pay for it. They heaped it on the national debt. They took out national credit card and they said charge it. That is how the tax cuts went through. I’d have a lot more respect for people if budget cuts were part of that.

Anchor: We get that. We understand that. We hear what you’re saying.

Langevin: So what we need to do now is to have shared sacrifice. We need shared sacrifice right now. There has to be deep budget cuts, but there also has to be an increase in revenue and by the way -.

Anchor: Let me jump in here, because the revenues, hang on. The revenues from the Bush tax cuts came in very nicely over the four years after they were passed in 2003 and the revenues from the cuts in capital gains and the estate tax far surpassed the hikes on the upper brackets during the Clinton years. So again, the question needs to be put, why hit up the American people once again for more taxes when clearly the government has fallen down on the job and has not done enough to stop spending which is blowing out the deficit?

Langevin: Sure, and I will counter that by saying we shouldn’t just ask our seniors and the middle class to bear the burden of getting our fiscal house in order. It has to be shared sacrifice. And I absolutely believe that corporations and high net worth individuals can pay their fair share, as well as asking all of us to make sure that we are tightening our belts and we’re going along with deep budget cuts at the same time. So, again, both side have to do their part right now and I believe that we can achieve it if we have adults in the room that are willing to make the shared sacrifice necessary to protect the country right now. We can’t just ask one side or the other to do all the cutting or all the paying of taxes, but I think we all need to come to the table right now and we can.

Langevin: I just want to say I give President Obama great credit. I’ve been at the White House with him when he’s met with the Democratic Caucus and he is trying to do what is right for the American people right now. I don’t think there is any President in recent memory that has had this much thrown at him all at one time, including a very difficult economy that he inherited, but I’m proud to work with him. I’m proud to work with the Democrats and Republicans to solve this problem.

Anchor: What does the President do if the GOP doesn’t blink? Does he let the debt ceiling talks hit the wall and then say – by the way, if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that just means that you got to cut. That means maybe the Federal Reserve has to sell the bonds on their balance sheet. That means you’ve got to look elsewhere to rein in spending, right?

Langevin: Well, obviously America pays its bills. We have to make sure that the credit markets know that America is not going to default on its debt.

Anchor: But America can continue to pay its bills if the debt ceiling is not lifted.

Langevin: We can pay it. We can pay our bills as long we have adults in the room that are willing to look at everything being on the table. By the way, let me ask you this, why should major corporations both oil companies and a company like GE pay zero taxes when we have middle income people paying their fair share?

Anchor: Hang on. We’ve been battling the same fights for like years now and it’s getting old.

Langevin: Don’t want to talk about that, huh?

Anchor: No. Here’s the point. Here’s the most important point. What happens if the debt ceiling is not lifted? Will the president blink and say yes we need to cut?

Langevin: Shame on everybody if we can’t come to the table and negotiate in good faith. America has always been tested and challenged in very difficult times and we’ve had leaders who are willing to make the tough choices.

Anchor: Alright. That’s fine. What happens? Does the president blink? Does he back down?

Langevin: I don’t think the President should back down and there is a reasonable solution to this very difficult problem.

Anchor: So all the doom and gloom that the President predicted, will he let that happen?

Langevin: I don’t want to see it happen. I don’t know what the President is ultimately going to do. I’m not going to speak for the President. But I will say, I know I’ve been at the White House. I’ve been with the President while he is trying to bring everyone to the table and he’s trying to get us all to make the tough decisions and Congress needs to step up, both aisles, Democrats, Republicans and we need to make those tough choices.

Anchor: But why did, Congressman, why is the White House ignoring the Bipartisan Debt Commission that said yes, 4 trillion? Congressman Ryan also said yes, 4 trillion. Now we’re talking hundreds of billions. We’re talking amounts far less than that when we had a 2010 November election that said look it, you guys got to get your act together. You got to do more cutting. Why is it all of sudden those amounts are far smaller than what Vice President Biden was talking about back in April when the bipartisan blue ribbon panel said yes, 4 trillion. Where did all that go? Was that just a waste of time?

Langevin: Well, I just heard the President a few minutes ago on national TV say that we cannot squander this opportunity to get our long-term fiscal house in order. So I think we’re going to try to get the maximum amount of both spending cuts and revenue amounts raised, so that long term we’re not having to coming back to the table and raising the debt ceiling again.

Anchor: Alright.

Langevin: The President said, some would say that we want to talk about just smaller amounts than the large amounts that we need to get done right now and I think that the President is saying the right thing. He’s doing the right thing, looking at this as a unique opportunity to get our fiscal house in order.