Van Hollen on MSNBC: President’s proposal is ‘shared responsibility’ and ‘common sense’

Sep 19, 2011

Washington, DC – Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, today appeared on MSNBC to discuss President Obama’s proposal for economic growth and deficit reduction. Video of the interview is available here and the transcript is below.

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC: Congressman Chris Van Hollen is a Democrat from Maryland and member of that so-called deficit supercommittee. Congressman, let’s start with your reaction to the President’s Rose Garden speech this morning.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: I think the President has laid out the challenge very well. First of all, we’ve got to put Americans back to work. That is the fastest and most effective way to reduce the deficit and make sure that families are able to provide for their loved ones. We should also have a predictable steady, credible long-term deficit plan that should be balanced. The President said we’ll have to make tough cuts but he also says we need to do it with some revenue and we need to ask for shared responsibility and ask the folks at the very top, folks making over $1 million every year, simply to pay the same effective tax rate as the people who are working for them. I think most Americans would agree that’s common sense.

MELVIN: The President has tried this sales pitch before. In fact, he’s tried it a number of times and it hasn’t worked. What makes you guys think that it’s going to work this time or do you even think it’s going to work this time?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think the President is sharpening the message here. I think that Warren Buffett helped highlight the unfairness of the current system. And at a time when we all agree that over the next 10, 15 years, we’ve got to reduce our deficit even as we lift the economy, people have to ask themselves how we’re going to do that. The President is saying we have to make cuts and that’s going to hurt but there’s no reason that the folks at the very top, and we’re talking about the very, very top, should pay less as an effective rate than the people that work for them. I’m not sure the President has framed the issue just that way in the past but I think the American people will recognize that we’re all in this together and therefore we should ask everybody to pitch in.

MELVIN: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a short time ago put out a statement saying the President’s speech this morning did not do anything to help the work of the supercommittee. You are on that committee. What impact do you think the President’s proposal, and the subsequent bickering that will ensue, what will the impact be on the task before the supercommittee?

VAN HOLLEN: Well I think the supercommittee should look at all of the ideas out there and the President put forward a very credible, sound proposal for consideration of the committee. Republicans can also put forward proposals and we need to discuss all of them. Just last week Speaker Boehner, the Speaker of the House, said we shouldn’t have bright lines, and no one should draw lines in the sand, and then proceed to say the supercommittee had to address the deficit his way. What the President is asking for is a balanced approach. Every bipartisan group – Simpson-Bowles and Rivlin-Domenici, the Gang of Six – every one of them that has looked at this has said we all need to be in this together, it’s going to require some cuts over the next ten years but all those bipartisan groups have also said we need some revenue through tax reform closing some of these loopholes that folks at the top exploit more than anybody.

MELVIN: Congressman Chris Van Hollen from Maryland. Thank you.