COOPER TALKS ABOUT NO BUDGET, NO PAY ON FOX BUSINESS
3-14-12 - Fox Business
Congressman Jim Cooper
Payne: Congressman Jim Cooper is fed up with the ways of Washington, saying today, quote, "neither party is willing to compromise for the good of the nation. Both political parties pander to the base and blame each other for policy failures. Meanwhile the nation suffers." Joining me now with his plan to actually fix the problem is Congressman Jim Cooper himself. Congressman, or as some call you, Mr. fiscal responsibility, welcome to the show.
Cooper: Thank you, Charles. Good to be with you.
Payne: You're known as a fiscal hawk. Someone who believes in a balanced budget and you're trying to get the other folks down in Washington to sort of get on this same band wagon. How is it going?
Cooper: We still have a lot more folks to persuade. I hope Fox viewers will help us do that. We have several dozen cosponsors in the house - bipartisan - but we need a lot more to get this thing moving. In normal political year a bill like this wouldn't have a chance but I think we could pass it this year.
Payne: Today you spoke to the Senate but the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Is it just that you will go to any committee out there to spread the word? Are you like Johnny Appleseed, you don't care where it is?
Cooper: I will go almost anywhere, but that committee in the Senate actually has jurisdiction over this. They're in charge of government reform, and in most years Congress is not interested in reform. But this year folks who are up on the ballot will be looking at either reform or defeat.
Payne: Let's talk a little bit about your proposal. From what I understand it is pretty simple. If Congress doesn't pass a budget you guys don't get paid. By the way if you ever do pass a budget, the pay you miss is not retroactive, you lose it forever?
Cooper: Exactly right. We're trying to align interests of every Congressman and Senator to get their work done on time. Nothing is more fundamental than passing budget and the appropriations bills. Congress has been so slack and lazy in getting this done over many past years it has really been embarrassing. Now it is critical, because after we lost the credit rating last year after S&P downgraded us, it really is a matter of national security. We have to make sure Congress works together, and the best way to do that is to align interests.
Payne: There is difference, obviously, between budget and spending. How does Washington, D.C. continue to spend so much money, trillions of dollars, money they don't even have, without a budget for three years?
Cooper: I'm afraid that has been true over decades, it's just that the public hasn't noticed. Most election years we've had trouble passing a budget regardless who has been running Congress or the White House. This is the kind of dirty little secret has come out in the open. It is time to fix it, because we don't have the cushion or the margin of air we have had in the past. Our bonds have already been downgraded. We need to make sure they don't go down again.
Payne: You are a Democrat but a lot of people refer to you as a Blue Dog Democrat. Where does the President stand on this? What is his responsibility for making this happen?
Cooper: This is really a job for Congress to clean up its own act. Neither the President nor the Supreme Court can fix what is wrong in Congress. We have to do it ourselves or I think the voters will do it for us. I'm hoping Congress will take action and do the appropriate thing and resolve to do better in the future. If we don't, then the voters should take action.
Payne: You're part of a group now, you guys actually put together a group, s bipartisan group called the No Label group, Republicans, independents and Democrats. How much sway does this group have and do you see there is more interest in participating or are politicians going to put a finger in the air and if the wind is not blowing hard enough they will blink and skip this one?
Cooper: I think No Labels is very interesting group. I hope people look them up on the web, nolabels.com. It is a nonpartisan group. It just wants good government. They've proposed a list of 12 reforms of Congress. These are things that would really help Congress clean up its act. They are long overdue. No Labels is a way of approaching these issues that's nonpartisan. It's not going to get us involved in gridlock. Democrats are not fighting Republicans and vice versa. I think it is a very interesting way to reform Congress when it is in critical need of reform.
Payne: Well, sir, I agree with you. I hope viewers are adamant, and go and talk, this an affront this is an atrocity. And you're right: no one should get paid if they're not doing their job. This is certainly one of the first, most important jobs of Congress. Congressman Jim Cooper. Thanks a lot, and we appreciate the work you're doing.
Cooper: Thanks, Charles.