Interview with Representative Tim Scott

Interview with Representative Tim Scott

By John King, USA - July 11, 2011

KING: Just a few days ago, some believed House Speaker John Boehner might negotiate with the Democratic president a sweeping deficit reduction deal in the ballpark of $4 trillion. Now, the target is about half that amount. Why? Because Speaker Boehner knows in the House of Representatives, with the new Tea Party members, there's one thing that cannot be in any deal: new taxes.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I agree with the president, we cannot allow our nation to default on our debt. But to prevent a default, a bill must pass the Congress. And a bill that doesn't meet these tests can't pass the House of Representatives.


KING: So, just how much room does Speaker Boehner have to maneuver?

Let's check in with Congressman Tim Scott. He's one of the freshmen members of the Republican Caucus, also one of the Tea Party members who came to Washington promising to do bold things when it comes to the debt, deficit and government spending.

Congressman, let me start right there because Speaker Boehner was saying today, you know, I want to negotiate with the president, I want to cut a deal, but I have to be able to pass in it the House of Representatives. How short of a leash is the speaker on because of demands of freshmen like yourselves and other members of the Tea Party?

REP. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I wouldn't say the speaker is on a leash at all. Here's what I hear the speaker saying consistently and these are things that we agree with. Number one, the stated ground is simply this, that the $2.4 trillion increase must have a $2.4 trillion offset in spending over the next 10 years. And number two, we simply cannot increase taxes.

KING: Now, when you say no higher taxes -- is that higher rates or does that also mean closing loopholes, taking away, say, tax deductions for the big oil companies, is that OK with you?

SCOTT: I think that we ought to look for parity in our corporate tax environment and one of the ways that you do that is by lowering the top rate and eliminating some of the loopholes. Without question, we'd like to see all things on the table. So, there's nothing that is a sacred cow that is a no. We do look for parity.

So, in other words, if we are going to have a reduction of the rates and we'll close some loopholes, we do not want to increase additional revenues in that scenario.

KING: You heard from the president say, who essentially said, I'm willing to give you cuts in spending, I'm willing to go to my party for cuts in Medicare and Social Security, the Republicans have to give something. He was essentially saying, I hear these guys, and he didn't use your name. And essentially, I hear these guys going around the country saying, send me to Washington, I'll cut spending, I'll work on the deficit. The president is saying here's your moment.

Are you willing to give him something? This has to be a compromise, after all.

SCOTT: I think our message to the president and to everyone else is very clear and very simple. There is not a revenue problem in Washington, D.C. There is a spending problem. There is a problem with priorities. We simply do not have those.

So, if the president is looking for a place for us to compromise, here's our compromise -- let's talk about spending cuts that saves America and our financial future. That's an area that we can compromise on.

And I think that he ought to come to the table with a solution that also talks to the American people about how we are going to right the ship by spending less money in Washington so there's more money to spend at home.

KING: Some conservatives have said, you know, I hope we can work this out, but if we can't, no big deal. Let's go past the August 2nd deadline and the treasury will have just to deal with it. We'll have to figure out how much money it has, what bills to pay, what bills maybe have to be deferred.

The president of the United States has some pretty tough words about that today. Listen here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the professional politicians know better, and for them to say that we shouldn't be raising the debt ceiling is irresponsible. They know better. And, you know, this is not something that, you know, I am making up, this is not something that Tim Geithner's making up.


KING: Do you agree with the president on that point?

SCOTT: There's no question that the necessity of a deal is very important. What it takes to get that deal is more important. So, there's no question that we have to deal with what's in the interests of Americans in the long term.

Having an increase in the debt ceiling has to be tied to absolute spending cuts, should include statutory limitations on what we can do from a discretionary budget amendment. So, we agree that this is not a game, that we are talking about the future of America. And to the extent that our president simply does not sit at the table and talk about the long-term viability of our economy and of our republic, I don't understand.

KING: Now, the president hasn't said he would resort to this, but there are some who say if there is no deal, that the president has constitutional powers and essentially he can just go and continue spending money without authority from the Congress.

I want you to listen to your own words here when this possibility came up back home.


SCOTT: My position is that is an impeachable act.


SCOTT: There's lots of things that people say, would you impeach the president for that? I say no. But this? This is catastrophic. This jeopardizes the credibility of our nation. If one man would usurp the entire system set up by our Founding Fathers over something this significant.


KING: It would be an impeachable offense in your view?

SCOTT: I would say this -- certainly, we stirred up a hornet's nest, no question about that. Ultimately, when you listen to Senator Schumer and Geithner talk about ways for the president to go around Congress, we have to make sure that there's a line in the sand. And the line is simply saying this: it's a warning. We want to make sure that the president stays at the table with Congress and finds a way to do what's in the best interests of the American people. All you have to do is open the Constitution, got to Article I, Section VIII, and it says very clearly -- very clearly -- Congress and only Congress has the authority to borrow money.

KING: You believe that if he went otherwise, it would be an impeachable offense?

SCOTT: I certainly think it would be the war of the ages. It would start the process that we would not want to go down unnecessarily. And so, it's very important for us to send a clear and concise message. Let's stay at the table and let's get this deal done.

KING: Do you believe there will be a deal by the end of the week?

SCOTT: Well, not by the end of this week, no. I think we're going to have to go a little closer to August 2nd and even perhaps a couple days after August 2nd to make this happen.

KING: Congressman Tim Scott, freshman from South Carolina -- sir, appreciate your time tonight.

SCOTT: Thank you, John.


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