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Interview with Rep. Chris Van Hollen

Interview with Rep. Chris Van Hollen

By The Situation Room - August 10, 2010

BLITZER: And joining us now, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Good to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: You have passed this $26 billion bill in emergency session right now. The Republicans make the point, this is what the Democrats do all the time. They tax and spend.

Why aren't they right this time; this is just simply more spending and more taxing?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Wolf, let's look at what we are doing.

We have got millions of American kids who are headed back to school in the next six weeks, and we want to make sure that there is a teacher in the classroom, rather than empty classrooms. We also want to make sure we keep down class sizes.

And this bill is paid for. And here is how it is paid for. And this is important. It is paid for by shutting down these very perverse loopholes in the tax law that actually reward American companies that ship American jobs overseas.

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: Just want to be precise on that, but that would be raising taxes on these American corporations?

VAN HOLLEN: What it would mean is that American taxpayers are no longer footing the bill that American corporations are paying to foreign governments.

Right now, you have got some very creative tax lawyers who have devised a scheme that requires essentially American taxpayers to foot the bill for the taxes they are paying overseas, whether it is in Asia or Europe.

And we say, there's no reason American taxpayers should have to foot the bill, number one. And, number two, it creates this very perverse incentive where companies are being subsidized for shipping jobs overseas. We don't pay their tax bill here at home, and so why should we be paying their tax bill to foreign governments?

BLITZER: And there may be legitimate, excellent reasons for doing it, but I just want to be precise. In the end, this does represent a tax increase for these corporations?

VAN HOLLEN: Yes. What this means, Wolf, is that the American taxpayer will no longer be paying for the taxes they pay to foreign governments. And that eliminates this perverse incentive for them to ship American jobs overseas.

BLITZER: And the other accusation the Republicans make is, this is just simply a big payoff to a major pillar of the Democratic Party, the teachers union out there, who wanted this spending to go forward to help these teachers.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I heard the Republican leader John Boehner refer to the teachers and the firefighters and the police as the special interest, as if they were some kind of a terrible group of people. I happen to think that we all have an interest in making sure that our kids have a teacher in the classroom, we all have an interest in making sure that the cop is on the beat, and we all have an interest the make sure that there is a firefighter in the neighborhood if something catches on fire. So, we believe that Americans are much better served having the teachers in the classroom rather than teachers standing in the unemployment line somewhere. So the choices are very clear. I mean, that I have p-- they have presented the choices clearly, teachers in the classroom at home or reward corporations that are shipping the American jobs overseas?

BLITZER: There's one other option that you could have done as well which is to cut spending elsewhere in the federal budget to pay for the $26 billion, because you know there is a lot of fat out there that you could probably find a way to cut.

VAN HOLLEN: Actually, Wolf, there are some cuts. In other words this is $26 million, a significant portion of it is paid for by shutting down the perversion loopholes, but there are other provisions that do eliminate spending. There's a rollback on some of the provisions on the recovery bill that people project will not be spent and not yet been committed and also rollbacks in spending in other areas.

BLITZER: Of the $26 billion, how much is in spending cuts?

VAN HOLLEN: Actually about $14 billion.

BLITZER: That is a significant sum.

VAN HOLLEN: Yes.

BLITZER: But listen to John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, because he got emotional on this issue.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: We are broke. We do not have the money to bail out the states. It is time for them to get their arms around their own problems. And not look to Washington to bail them out.

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead and respond to Boehner.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it is misleading, because we are not passing on this is as a debt. You heard Mr. Boehner recently talk about how he supported giving the top 2 percent of Americans a big tax break, extending the Bush tax cuts for very wealthy and how he did not want to pay for it, and that is $700 billion over ten years, but this is fully paid for. The $26 billion is paid for partly by cuts and some by shutting down the loophole, and what we are making sure is that when the kids goat the classes in -- when the kids get to the classes in the next six weeks, there is going to be a teacher, and also, when you call for the police, they are going to be able to respond. We don't believe that we should be essentially addressing or the deficit on the back of kids and teachers and neighborhood safety. We believe it is better to find these offsets and shut down these tax loopholes that reward American corporations for shipping jobs overseas. It does not make sense.

BLITZER: How worried are you that if the unemployment rate remains at around 9.5 percent going towards November, your Democrats, and your colleagues in the House of Representatives are going to suffer a huge loss?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, what I think that we are all worried about, Wolf, is getting the economy moving again, and this is an important part of that, because obviously, if you fire a teacher rather than having a teacher in the classroom, not only do your kids suffer, but the fact of the matter is that is one more person on the unemployment line. So we need to continue to make progress. We have seen that over the last 18 months, we have gone from an economy where we were losing 700,000 jobs a month to one where we have seen positive private sector job growth, but we know that we are not there. That is why we are trying to pass this bill in the Senate to free up more credit for small businesses; again, our Republican colleagues have blocked it. We understand that people are hurting out there, and the question is, what are you going to do about it? We are continuing and trying to get out of the ditch we have found ourselves in, and fortunately today, the Republican colleagues are not -- they don't want to be part of the solution. BLITZER: All right. Chris Van Hollen, thank you very much.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.

 

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