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Fireworks: Sen. Bernie Sanders vs. Grover Norquist On Obama's Budget

CNN's Wolf Blitzer talks to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Grover Norquist, who both oppose Obama's Social Security changes. GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Well, everything. The reason why we have very low government revenues is so many people are unemployed and income is growing so poorly for the people who do have jobs. What we did have when the Republicans had the House and Senate for the last six years, the 1990s, was strong economic growth. They cut the capital gains tax and that gave you the strong revenue coming in. And the Republicans didn't let Clinton spend as much money as he wanted. His budgets had $200 billion deficits as far as the eye could see. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I think Mr. Norquist is rewriting history somewhat. He's right in saying -- he is right in saying that revenue declines when you're in the midst of a terrible recession. NORQUIST: Yes. SANDERS: And unemployment is high. No question about that. We are in the midst of this recession because we deregulated Wall Street, and as a result of the recklessness and illegal behavior, they plunged us into recession. We have to bail them out to the tune of some $700 billion. But he is wrong in suggesting that when you give huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country and when one out of four corporations pay nothing in taxes, that that does not have an impact on the deficit. Of course, it does. NORQUIST: OK. I'm talking to the senator who opposed the efforts to reign in Fannie and Freddie which gave us the recession that we had. We're now three or four years into the recovery. It's such a lousy recovery because of tax increases and spending too much money and too much regulations and the president's war on producing energy across the country. All of these things give you very bad economic growth. But nobody should allow the Congress, this Congress, to get off the hook for allowing Fannie and Freddie to bankrupt so many Americans and to damage so many homes. That was government policy. It was big government policy. It sure wasn't deregulation. SANDERS: Oh, it really wasn't. Our good friends on Wall Street just are so honest, so conservative in their fiscal investments, they had nothing to do with the deficit, and it's that big, bad government that forced them into the derivatives, that forced them to merge, that forced them to become too big to fail. It's always the government. Look -- NORQUIST: Are you unable to say Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Is that you incapable of saying those two words? SANDERS: They're running (ph) profits for now. But you could -- the truth of the matter -- are you unable to talk about the illegal behavior on Wall Street? NORQUIST: I'm certainly opposed to illegal behavior. Fannie and Freddie -- (CROSSTALK) NORQUIST: Fannie and Freddie used the law to end up making mal- investments (ph) and the rest of us ended up paying for them. That gave you the recession. SANDERS: No. NORQUIST: Now, we've had a recovery for three years and it's a lousy recovery because of the policies that you've endorsed. And -- SANDERS: Well, actually, let me tell you something. This senator, when he was in the House, helped lead unsuccessfully, I might say, the effort against deregulation, because I believed then and I believe now that when you have a handful of giant financial institutions, and right now, Wolf, we're looking at six financial institutions in this country that have assets equivalent to two-thirds of the GDP of The United states of America. And if anyone believes that these financial institutions once again are not too big to fail, they are solely mistaken. The bottom line is, when Mr. Norquist and I disagree, I think you tell the people, Mr. Norquist, do you believe that we should abolish Social Security, Medicare? We should make substantial cuts to those programs in order to protect and prevent taxes going up for the wealthiest people in this country? NORQUIST: My position and the position of the American people is that taxes shouldn't be raised. We should reform government spending and reign it in. The programs you've mentioned, Social Security and Medicare, are right now heading for bankruptcy because they're not sustainable because of the policies that have been put in place and the lousy Obama recovery in the last four years. We need reforms like the Ryan plan which actually reform entitlements so they're still there. Under your plans, they're gone in a couple decades. SANDERS: Well, actually, I tell you what the American people want. Poll after poll with the American people saying is that we should not cut Social Security but what we should do is lift the cap on taxable incomes. BLITZER: We're going to wrap it up right now, but I'll give you the last word, Grover Norquist, since I gave the first senator first word. NORQUIST: Sure. Look, the President Obama's budget is not serious. It's like the one a year ago which every single Democrat in the House and Senate voted against. It's a political document, but the Democrats didn't even vote for it last year. If the president actually wanted to pass anything in his budget, he would have lined up the Democrat votes in the Senate first. It's just for show. He didn't actually write a budget he plans to work with. Send to a Friend |

Gun Advocate Larry Pratt Wants Toomey Ousted For Background Checks

Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer he wants Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) out of office for his gun bill. LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: It's so easy to say that you support the Second Amendment. I've heard Senator Schumer say that and he wants more gun control perhaps than anyone on Capitol Hill. BLITZER: But you know, if you support the First Amendment to the Constitution, free speech, but you can't cry fire in a crowded theater. There are restrictions on amendments – PRATT: Because that's committing an actual crime. That's not a prior restraint on the use – BLITZER: Killing someone with a gun is not a crime? PRATT: That's a crime. But you're talking about prior restraint. You and I didn't have to go through a sensor before we went on this show. But what you're proposing is precisely that and then keep a registry of it. BLITZER: You tweeted today, and I’ll put it up on the screen, “May Senator Toomey experience in 2016 the same as he did to Senator Specter” – the late Senator Specter of Pennsylvania – “in 2010.” What kind of a threat is that? PRATT: Well, it means that he ought to be held politically accountable and the way to do it is in the primaries – BLITZER: Because he supports expanding background checks, you think his voters should kick him out of office. PRATT: We're going to be making that argument. BLITZER: You're going to be going after him aggressively politically. PRATT: We're going to look for a viable candidate. And if we find one, then we will. Send to a Friend |

GOP Congressman: Obama's Budget A "Shocking Attack On Seniors"

REP. GREG WALDEN (R-OR): Well, I thought it very intriguing in that the budget really lays out kind of a shocking attack on seniors, if you will. And we haven't seen all the detail yet, and we'll look at it, but I'll tell you, when you're going after seniors the way he's already done on Obamacare, taking $700 billion out of Medicare to put into Obamacare, and now coming back at seniors again, I think you're crossing that line very quickly here in terms of denying access to seniors for health care in districts like mine, certainly, and around the country. I think he's going to have a lot of pushback from some of the major senior organizations on this and Republicans, as well. And this is a budget that doesn't balance. At the end of the day, you can have all the flowery rhetoric, but I'm a numbers guy and this doesn't add up. It does not balance. We've passed the Ryan budget. It does balance in ten years; it will put us on a path to grow the economy and jobs. And, again, gets us to where we have a balanced budget. This is 65 days late and it doesn't add up. Send to a Friend |

Fort Hood Victims Denied Purple Hearts Over "Work Place Violence" Label

CNN reports on the the military’s and Obama administration’s decisions not to award the Purple Heart to victims of the Fort Hood shooting and not to call the incident a terrorist attack. WOLF BLITZER: The victims of the mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas were honored as if they fell on combat. Rifle sticking up out of empty boots with helmets placed on top, but the U.S. army has decided not to award Purple Hearts to the dead and wounded in that incident, and that has families and some lawmakers outrage. CNN Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, is looking into this story for us. Chris, what's going on? CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, some people feel that, you know, calling this attack workplace violence is a real insult to the victims here. They want these victims to be treated with the same sort of combat status as those men and women who were here in the Pentagon, who were hurt and wounded when the terrorists attacked on September 11. Send to a Friend |

Avlon: Sarah PAC "Somewhere Between A Business And A Racket"

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN: John, you discovered it's not so simple when it comes to Palin, money, consultants. What did you dig up? JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's not at all. There's a big irony alert that should be posted over her speech now because in addition to it being a very well-written speech by a speechwriter, what the FEC filings, the Federal Election Commission filings for her PAC, the SarahPAC show is that the vast amount of the money raised and spent in the last election cycle was on consultants. It did not go to candidates. In fact less than $300,000 went to candidates. She spent more on her top consultant than she did in all the candidates she doled out money to. And really when you look at the fold, there are consultants for every issue imaginable under SarahPAC. When people give money to these political action committees, they think they're getting political action. What they're really doing is feeding a whole subcategory of consulting industry out there, a partisan economy. BLITZER: What were the consultants doing over there? What were they working for? AVLON: It is stunning to go through line by line. And you know, if you want to find out the truth in politics, follow the money. It's an old rule and it's a good rule. There are consultants for -- called issue consultants, there are management consultants, there are logistical consultants. Then in addition to speech writing consultants and grassroots outreach consultants. Which sounds like an oxymoron. I thought the whole point of grassroots outreach is that you didn't need a consultant to tell you how to do it, especially from Sarah Palin's perspective. And then of course the private jets and the typical travel and printing costs that come out of a PAC. Almost $1 million in postage. But the big picture, very little (INAUDIBLE) of the money -- millions that Sarah Palin raised through her SarahPAC ended up going to candidates. The vast majority of it went to consultants. BLITZER: In her last ad from her PAC, she is portrayed as a GOP kingmaker, if you will. I'll play a little clip. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah Palin jumped in early and supported Rand Paul. She supported Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, Pat Toomey, Nikki Haley, Deb Fisher, Jeff Blake and myself. PALIN: The next election is 20 months away. The last thing we need is Washington, D.C., vetting our candidates. (END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: How much influence does she really have these days within the GOP? AVLON: It's diminished. You can see that just from the money SarahPAC raised, Wolf. But when she decided not to run for president at the end of 2011, a lot of that spigot of money really dried up. But there's no question, Sarah Palin is an influencer, especially in the conservative populous movement. She's very popular among the base. And now she's trying to present herself as this kingmaker, as you said. The key is, she's simultaneously asking for money for SarahPAC. And that's because they just got $1 million left in this political action committee. So it's a reminder of a great quote by Eric Hoffer, which is all great movements begin as a cause, it become a business, and they end up as a racket, well, we're somewhere between business and racket right now. BLITZER: John Avlon, doing some reporting for us. John, thanks very much. Send to a Friend |

Dr. Ben Carson Apologizes: "I Love Gay People"

(CNN) - Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who rose to GOP fame in recent months, apologized Friday for appearing to equate homosexuality with the criminal acts of pedophilia and bestiality. "I love gay people. I love straight people. So this was really, I think, on my behalf, somewhat insensitive and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone, because I was not in any way comparing gays with people who engage in bestiality or sexual child abuse," Carson said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." Send to a Friend |

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