Van Hollen on CBS: ‘You’re hearing grossly inflated numbers coming from the Republican side’

Jul 11, 2011 Issues:

 Washington, DC – Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, today appeared on CBSs The Early Show to discuss the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations. You can watch the interview here. The transcript is below.

ERICA HILL, HOST: Joining us is Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who is the Ranking Member on the House Budget Committee. He has been representing House Democrats in these debt ceiling talks. Good to have you with us this morning. 

REP. VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you. 

HILL: Thanks. Give us an idea where do we stand now at five minutes after 7 a.m. on Monday morning. 

REP. VAN HOLLEN: Erica, the United States Congress needs to do what the women’s soccer team just did, which is seal the deal in the final minutes here. Unfortunately, the sides are at loggerheads because the president has said, and I think rightly so, that it’s important to do something that meets two objectives. One, helps get the sluggish economy going and number two, does something big about deficit reduction over the next ten years in the range of four trillion dollars. And unfortunately, as you hear, Republicans have balked because while they’ll accept the cuts and we will, too, they refuse to eliminate many of these tax breaks for corporate special interests, you’ve heard them -- corporate jets, oil and gas companies and folks at the very high end of the income scale and that apparently, protecting those things is more of interest and concern to them than getting this deficit deal. 

HILL: So the president is coming out essentially and saying “Let’s go big or go home”; that’s not sitting well with most folks. So now there’s this talk that the president is going to say today “Look, bring something that will pass in both houses.” Is there something that you know of in these talks that would in fact pass in both houses? 

REP. VAN HOLLEN: Well that’s the trouble, Erica. I was part of the Biden discussions and we did make some progress but at the end of the day as you know, the Republicans walked out of the talks. Why did they walk out of the talks? Same issue you’re seeing with the bigger deal. Democrats agreed to some cuts, but at some point we said you need to have balance here. You cannot be whacking all these programs and of course the Republican budget calls for the end of the Medicare guarantee, they called for deep cuts in Medicaid and education. We’ve said we’re not going to be doing those things when you’ve got people with these big tax loopholes, oil and gas companies. That’s why the president is saying in some ways, doing the medium sized deal is just as hard as doing the big deal so why don’t we just do a big deal and get something done for the country.  

HILL: We should point out though, Leader Pelosi, the Democrats in the House have also drawn the line in the sand when it comes to changes in Social Security and entitlement programs. There has to be some give and take on both sides. You mentioned that potential $2 trillion agreement. Is that, I mean is that hanging by a thread? Is that still there, you think, at this point? 

REP. VAN HOLLEN: Well, it was never there. That’s the problem. I mean, what we talked about was about $1.1 trillion in cuts and savings. You’re hearing grossly inflated numbers coming from the Republican side. In the Biden group we did not get close to $2 trillion in cuts and again the gap there was closing these corporate tax loopholes. Now Democrats have said yes, you’re right, there would be some tough decisions that have to be made but Democrats said we’re willing to do it and the president’s continuing to press for that.  

HILL: We’ll look at what happens. A little politicking on both sides. A lot of folks want to get this done. So hopefully we’ll see some resolution. Congressman Van Hollen, appreciate your time this morning, sir.