CNN: COOPER ON DEBT, SUPER COMMITTEE & CONGRESS GETTING BACK TO WORK
August 12, 2011
CNN's Christine Romans interviewed Congressman Cooper today on American Morning about the debt, super committee and Congress returning early from recess.
Click here to watch the video, and see below for a full transcript.
REP. JIM COOPER, D-TENN., IS INTERVIEWED ON CNN'S "AMERICAN MORNING"
AUGUST 12, 2011
SPEAKERS: CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR
REP. JIM COOPER, D-TENN.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR
ROMANS: All right. But my next guest is one of four Democratic lawmakers urging House leaders to end their recess and call Congress back to work. Congressman Jim Cooper joining me now live from
Nice to see you again, Congressman.
COOPER: Good to see you again, Christine.
ROMANS: You want them to come home. Tell me why you think that this is something is an urgent moment for
COOPER: Well, I like vacation and time off as much as anybody else but we need to get back to work. Our nation has serious problems. We've already had a couple of weeks off. Why don't we get back to the job, because every day that we wait to solve our deficit problems is probably costing us another $14 billion or so dollars a day. So I think it's time to get back to work.
ROMANS: You sent a letter to the leadership, saying, "Our fiscal and job situation is dire. Both deserve the full and immediate attention of congress. We ask that you reconvene the House immediately, show the American people and financial markets that Congress can solve these big problems in a bipartisan fashion."
Have you heard anything back?
COOPER: I haven't heard anything back, and predictably it's not going to be popular to call people back in with the congressmen. But I think it would be popular with the American people.
The president is right. We shouldn't come back to town to argue and bicker. We should come back to do real work. And it's really the job of the speaker to call the House back into session. It's not the job of the president. We're a co-equal branch of government.
ROMANS: You mentioned the financial markets. The financial markets putting pressure on Washington, on Congress, putting them on notice that whether or not you want to agree with the downgrade of S&P, the market is telling us that the U.S. has to get the house in order. How much pressure are the markets putting on that group of 12 lawmakers who have to agree on $1.5 trillion in revenue or spending cuts?
COOPER: You've already pointed out there's never been a roller coaster stock market like we've seen this week. We need to do our job in
ROMANS: Who's most likely? Of the six Republicans and the six Democrats, you need one -- you need one from each side to cross over so that you can -- that there can be a package to move forward. When you look at these 12, who do you think is the most likely to be the compromiser or the person who can leave re-election hopes, fund- raising and ideology behind to get something done?
COOPER: I'll have to tell you, Christine, I don't see a single one, because they're all pre-selected to be hardcore Democrats or Republicans. And that doesn't mean they're bad people. They're all fine people. But they're unlikely to be able to compromise. And that means a six-six deadlock.
And that means automatic across the board spending cuts, it could be devastating, for example, to areas like Defense where most people think they shouldn't be treated like every other area of government.
ROMANS: Well, I mean, what you're telling me is really troubling, because what we're really hoping is this is not going to be a shrunken down version of a dysfunctional Congress. You see the same -- the same levers and ideologies that play in this group of 12 that we have to cause the U.S. to be downgraded and all these -- all the problems we're having in the markets.
COOPER: You're right. It's like a mini me, a tiny, little version of the dysfunctional Congress unless there's a sudden -- a miracle and each one of them has a change of heart or something. But, remember how they're selected? They're pre-selected by their party leaders...
COOPER: ... to be absolutely true Democrats or Republicans.
ROMANS: Now, you are what they call, you know, a blue dog Democrat. You have long been, quote-unquote, "fiscally conservative." You've been talking about debt -- debt and deficits to deaf ears, I will say, in
Could you tell me from your perspective -- from your perspective why is it that this was ignored, the problem was ignored forever and then now all of a sudden it has incited all of this ultimatums and grandstanding in Washington from -- when it was -- when nobody ever paid attention to it before?
COOPER: Well, nobody likes to listen to bad news. You know, Standard& Poor's started warning us about this six years ago. I got a book out on it six years ago, but nobody paid any attention. You know, it's really been since Ross Perot ran for president in the 1990s since
Remember, under Bill Clinton, we have three years of balanced budget, the first since the 1920s. Then we fell under the ditch again. So this is not easy for Americans to handle. There's a lot of denial here, a lot of programs that folks don't even think are part of government like Medicare that are part of government. We need to reform them.
ROMANS: In your perfect world, you have reforms to the entitlements, you have tax increases for -- for people, for companies, for companies who are people if you're Mitt Romney from this weekend.
I mean do you have everything on the table. You have tax reform. Just quickly, I mean, in your perfect world what should this people do?
COOPER: Not only should everything be on the table. I think the Bowles-Simpson Commission did...
COOPER: ... by far the best job of putting together (ph) a package. It's bipartisan that's fair, and it had attracted support from Dick Durbin to Tom Coburn.
ROMANS: All right.
Jim Cooper, Congressman Jim Cooper from
COOPER: Thanks, Christine.
ROMANS: and I’ll tell you, Carol and Ali, he has been talking about this for so long. He did put out a book many years ago called, “The Financial Report of the United States Government,” and it was just basically the U.S. Government’s financials that he said, “this is what it looks like – it ain’t good. It can’t go on like this. That was years ago.
VELSHI: Well, instead of writing the book he should’ve gone to these meetings and got in some Congressman’s face. That would’ve pushed the issue to the front burner.
ROMANS: Some of his critics have said he’s like, what do they call it? A one-note Johnny: “all he talks about is debt and deficits. All he talks about is debt and deficits.” But it works in his district, because people in
VELSHI: Well, let’s hope he’s super on that Supercommittee.