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GOP Demands Obama Lead on Budget Cuts

Greta Van Susteren, Rick Santorum



Date: February 15, 2011>

Time: 22:00:00>

Tran: 021501cb.260>

Type: Show>

Head: GOP Demands Obama Lead on Budget Cuts>

Sect: News; Domestic>

Byline: Greta Van Susteren, Rick Santorum>

Guest: Sen. John Kyl>

Spec: Politics; Budget>

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Right now, President Obama is getting barbecued! He's raked over the coals for his new budget! Now, the president woke this morning to absolutely blistering headlines! Each one was worse than the next! The Washington Post says the president punted and that he kicks the hard choices further down the road. Ouch! The Wall Street Journal cuts even deeper, calling his budget the Cee-Lo Green budget, the cynical and unrealistic White House budget, The Journal referring, of course, to rapper Cee-Lo's hit song, Forget You.(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



VAN SUSTEREN: Now, many you know -- many of you know that was the G- rated version of that song. But you get the point. Now, even the usually adoring Huffington Post is attacking President Obama. But President Obama is not hiding. He's facing the media, defending his budget. And he had this to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we've done is we've been very specific in terms of how to stabilize the discretionary budget, how to make sure that we're not adding additional debt by 2015. And then let's together, Democrats and Republicans, tackle these long-term problems in a way that I think will ensure our fiscal health and at the same time, ensure that we're making investments in the future.


VAN SUSTEREN: So here are the raw numbers. To put it in perspective, just take a look at our budget last year. The bulk of our money is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense. Now, you can see that on the chart. And President Obama's budget does not cut a dime from Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Instead, President Obama's budget seeks to cut from the discretionary spending, the smallest part of our budget, and of course, he only wants to cut a small portion of that.

So what do you think? Is the president's proposed budget cut going to make a dent in our nation's economic mess?

Arizona senator Jon Kyl, as you may have guessed, agrees with some of those harsh headlines we read to you. He says the president is simply kicking the can down the road. Earlier today, Senator Kyl went On the Record.


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JOHN KYL (R), ARIZONA: Thanks, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask, any sort of second thoughts about running for reelection?

KYL: No. I'm very much at peace with my decision to finish this term and then leave the Senate in January 2013, although I will certainly miss a lot of the things that I do now.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. So no second thoughts. All right, now, today, the big news is the president's budget that he sent up here yesterday. And he got skewered by the headlines. The Washington Post editorial said today President Obama's budget kicks the hard choices down the road. Now, I suspect, since you're an opponent in the Republican Party that you agree with that headline.

KYL: Well, I do. His State of the Union speech pretty well presaged what was going to happen in this budget because if you analyze that speech carefully, it was all about things that we need to invest in, with very little about the fact that we have to deal with wasteful Washington spending. And he did not tackle the entitlements or suggest any of the other hard decisions that a leader should be willing to tackle. Now in the budget, the same thing. And many of the newspapers around the country have panned it. And that pretty well captures the sentiment of most. He's kicking the can down the road, failing to exercise leadership to deal with our spending problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, the biggest problem that everyone's talking about that no wants to even deal with, the hard choices are the entitlements, as you notice (ph), Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The debt commission came out with a report in early December. That was the commission the president created, bipartisan, and it had -- it had some suggestions. Nobody liked it. It failed. Would you be willing to adopt the ideas of the debt commission? Nobody's 100 percent happy with it, but is that a good start?

KYL: There are good solutions to Social Security, and most folks know what they are. Medicare is tougher. I don't buy the debt commission approach to it as much as...

VAN SUSTEREN: Could you live with it?

KYL: No. I would use a different approach that's already been articulated. Paul Ryan in the House of Representatives, the Budget chairman, has laid out a plan with some prominent Democrats which I think is a better approach to Medicare -- to fixing Medicare financially. And I am disappointed that as sort of the leader of the country, the CEO of the country, the president has not led on those issues because, frankly, the time is now. We can't keep kicking the can down the road.

VAN SUSTEREN: But isn't it fair to say that other presidents before him -- and I'm including one your party -- kicked the can down the road because -- because it really is it almost an election killer? I mean, you...

KYL: No. Remember when George Bush was reelected, what was the first thing he proposed? Social Security reform. Where did it go? Nowhere.

VAN SUSTEREN: And do you blame the Democrats for that?

KYL: Mostly, but Republicans were not anxious to pick it up, either, because the congressional people in both parties were going to shoot at each other, whoever picked it up. And that, I think, is why the president needs to lead. If he will lead, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has pointed out, Republicans will work with him. But as soon as either a Democrat or a Republican in Congress starts to take the lead, the other side will take potshots. Remember what Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said? Problem with Social Security? There's no problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, when you talk about the president's budget and the discretionary budget cuts, that's really chump change to the problem, isn't it? I mean, it's, like, you know, there's a lot of attention on it, but does it -- does it really make any dent in our real problem? We really do have to focus on the entitlements.

KYL: It -- I mean, it's a lot more than chump change. Spending has increased 24 percent in the last two years. Now, have you increased your budget 24 percent? Have most Americans? No. What Obama wants to do is close the barn door after the horse is gone. He wants to freeze spending at the level that we've been spending now for the last two years. That last two years' spending is extraordinary. It's not affordable. We need to get back to what we were spending three or four years ago. We were all doing just fine then. And if you just add whatever money we need for more people in the country to that, that was a pretty good level of spending.

VAN SUSTEREN: When members of Congress vote, for instance, on the budget and they see what's going to, like, the Education Department, any clue what that money really goes to?

KYL: A lot of times, no. And there's so many duplicate programs. We all come up with great ideas about job training. Well, who's against job training? So instead of one or two programs, we've got 40 job training programs. And we never audit them to see how they're doing or whether they're duplicative and wasting money. I say we don't -- GAO sometimes does, the General Accounting Office. And usually, what they report to us is, You're wasting a lot of money. But there isn't the political courage to eliminate it. And when you add it all up, it's not chump change.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's what I don't understand because everybody seems to say that. No one likes waste. No one likes fraud. But no one takes that one step further to look where we're actually spending our money, whether it's the Education Department or some other department, is that we just fight -- with the big number of the budget and what gets cut. But nobody actually sort of digs down in to see what we're really doing with our money.

KYL: Well, I don't think it's accurate to say nobody does. And...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the people who are voting on it don't.

KYL: For the most part, we're not all that familiar with it. I think people on the appropriations committees are pretty familiar with it. But what I'm hoping is that in the House of Representatives now, with Republicans in charge, they will conduct the kind of oversight that Congress is supposed to conduct over the spending of that money. And usually, you don't have that same kind of oversight when it's a Democrat Congress and a Democrat president. But now that Republicans can be holding the hearings, I suspect we'll find out more about what you're talking about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, the president's budget had to do with 2012. We still have the problem with the 2011. The continuing resolution expires March 4th, and there's some back-and-forth there. In the event there's no agreement and nothing gets signed, sealed and delivered and the government shuts down, how do we feel? I mean, what does that mean?

KYL: Well, the government isn't going to shut down. Nobody is talking about shutting the government down.

VAN SUSTEREN: But if it did, hypothetically?

KYL: Well, but it's not. So let's just explain to folks what we're talking about here. Last year, the Democrats never passed a budget and they never passed an appropriations bill to fund the government. So we've had to do it on basically a monthly basis, a continuing resolution, as you say. Now, we've got half of the fiscal year left. It ends at the end of September. And so republicans are now in charge of the House. And so what they're proposing to do is to fund the government for the last six months of the fiscal year and cutting $100 billion out of that period of time from the president's budget. That's a good start on getting a handle on this wasteful Washington spending.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it's got to -- it's got to pass here in the United States Senate, that is not a Republican Senate, it's a Democrat Senate.

KYL: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let's say the Democrats don't like that $100 billion that they're cutting out in the House.

KYL: Then they're the new party of no.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then does the government shut down?

KYL: No, there will be a compromise of some kind.

VAN SUSTEREN: You -- then only because there always is, right, not because it necessarily has to be.

KYL: Yes, but I think there's enough pressure from the folks in America today to get members of Congress to get fairly serious about cutting spending. Now, maybe it won't be to the same degree our House colleagues want. But I'll bet you that Senate Democrats are willing to take a whack at this. And if they're not, as I say, there's going to be a lot of pressure on them.


VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up: You just heard from Senate Kyl. Next you hear from the other side of the aisle. Congressman Chris Van Hollen says Democrats are embracing the tough love budget of the president. Tough love? He'll tell you why next.

Also, things are getting really rough in one state. The state governor has just put his state's National Guard is on alert. Which state? Is it your state? And why is the state's National Guard on alert tonight? The governor is here to answer those questions. Stay tuned.



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