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Congressman Explains GOP Schism Over Budget Battle

Friday, March 18, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on The Brian Lehrer Show, Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) talked about his "no" vote on the continuing resolution to fund the federal government for three more weeks.

Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) was one of 54 Republican lawmakers who voted against Speaker John Boehner and the Republican leadership on the continuing resolution to fund the federal government for three more weeks. The bill, which contains $6 billion in immediate cuts, passed both houses and kept the budget debate alive.

Garrett appeared on the Brian Lehrer show to explain why he voted against giving his Congressional collleagues more time to get a budget passed. He says the Senate is to blame for dragging on the process.

I gave the Senate the benefit of the doubt for the first two-week extension—I don't think they needed the extra time, a second time to come to a decision as to what their position would be. They couldn't vote on a Republican position, they couldn't pass a Democrat bill. The ball is really in their court.

Garrett believes he and his fellow lawmakers who voted against the bill actually gave the GOP House leadership a stronger negotiating position than before.

We're not repudiating leadership on the end game, we're just saying, 'We were sent here with a mission, the mission was to reign in spending, and we are going to be more conservative than others are in the Senate on this, so we want to push the bargaining position as far as we can.'

On Thrusday's Brian Lehrer show, Congresswoman Yvette Clark explained her rationale for also voting 'No' on the bill—her continuents would be drastically affected by deep cuts to basic services.

"Voting 'no' for me meant that we need to send a message to our constituents that we are fighting against what is happening to them," she said. "The misery factor in all of our communities is going to go up exponentially as we go through this agonizing process as we cut the nation's budget. We have yet to touch defense spending and in many cases we're funding obsolete weaponry just to keep certain parts of the country employed. There needs to be a shared burden here. Until I see that I'm going to stay in the 'no' camp."

Garrett says he has yet to hear from Clarke, and lawmakers who voted no against the bill on the grounds for its cuts to services such as Head Start, a way to reconcile the spending and growing national defecit.

They've been saying that for the last several decades, and that's what's put us into a situation where we have a $1.6 trillion defecit, where we borrow 40 cents on the dollar. I can accept what she is saying, if she would explain to us then how we get our fiscal house in order. Which programs does she want to cut?

Asked about raising taxes in lieu of or in addition to spending cuts as a budget-balancing measure, Garrett replied, "That still doesn't get you there. Even if you move back to Bush tax cuts, and so on and so forth, it doesn't get you as far as you need to go."

But a consequence of reducing spending on government programs and agencies (including NPR, which the House voted to defund yesterday) is that many government employees face layoffs. Doesn't that raise the jobless rate, put more people on the unemployment rolls, and hinder the fragile economic recovery that Republicans say they're nursing? Garrett conceded that it would hurt in the short term, but the shift in focus from public to private industry would make the country healthier down the line.

Yes, it will reduce job growth, certainly in the public sector, but we're looking to see what we can do for job growth in the private sector. The other aspect [Democrats] are not bringing into it is, what the implications on job growth will be if our debt situation in this country continues at the trend that we are, with a $1.6 trillion deficit. I'm not sure they're taking that into consideration.

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Congressman Scott Garrett

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Comments [32]

Shadow from New Jersey

Congressman... You are no economist and what is worse you are a closed minded idiot.

Mar. 18 2011 10:53 AM
Jacob from Brooklyn

How will the federal debt level hinder job growth?

At what levels will the debt begin to hinder job growth (especially with the unemployment rate at nearly 9%)?

Is it that Republican talking point about crowding out "private spending"?

Brian, don't let these "ditto heads" throw simplistic assertions that are not just not supported by anything concrete.

Leah,
Just remember that in the 1950s under the bootheel of the socialist tyrant of Eisenhower we had top marginal tax rates far beyond anything Obama has ever thought about proposing.

Mar. 18 2011 10:47 AM

my representative, a testy creep.

Mar. 18 2011 10:44 AM
maggieclarke from Inwood

The comment by Garrett that we should NOW make the tables even for nuclear, fossil fuels, and alternatives after nuclear and fossil fuels have EACH benefited from DECADES of huge funding to the tune of billions of dollars a year while solar and the other alternatives have received almost nothing by comparison should have been blown down on the air. This is so clear to those who know, but nobody knows the numbers. Brian, I hope you will have a show which illuminates this clearly.

Mar. 18 2011 10:43 AM
Westchestery from Rivertowns


Rep. Garrett,

Families not only try balance their checkbook--
they get mortgages, car loans, pay hospital bills, college loans, etc. It's true you need to borrow responsibly but it is important to invest in the future.

In your family did you do all of the above on a cash only basis? Congrats! Your family is wealthy.

Mar. 18 2011 10:42 AM
Karen Otten Elias from Westchester

let's look not only at how little the rich and corporations pay on each dollar over the current limit toward the tax pool, you must always point back to the fundamental truth that business has increasingly not paid a living wage for the past 30 years

Mar. 18 2011 10:41 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

Garret kind of fell apart at the end of his interview when Mr. Lehrer grilled him on a few issues that he didn't have a good grasp of.

It's hard work trying to be uber-ideological in the real world since pure ideology never comports with the reality of the world like the basic functioning of society, including govt. functions in the most developed/complex/complicated democratic system in world history.

Mar. 18 2011 10:39 AM
Shadow from New Jersey

Congressman... You are no economist and what is worse you are a closed minded idiot.

Mar. 18 2011 10:38 AM
Edward from NJ

The bill: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.1076:

Mar. 18 2011 10:38 AM
Coach Rich from Murray Hill

Since Republicans see no need in keeping NPR alive, I see no need in having any Republicans on the air...

Mar. 18 2011 10:37 AM
Edward from NJ

Scott Garrett should read the bills he votes for.

From the Bill...
(a) In General- No Federal funds may be made available--

(1) to an organization that is incorporated as of the date of the enactment of this Act for each of the purposes described in subsection (c), or to any successor organization;

(2) for payment of dues to an organization described in paragraph (1); or

(3) for the acquisition of radio programs (including programs to be distributed or disseminated over the Internet) by or for the use of a radio broadcast station that is a public broadcast station (as defined in section 397(6) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 397(6))).

Mar. 18 2011 10:37 AM
CL from New York

For crying out loud. This guy is making all sorts of assumptions that are going unchallenged. The government does not and should not be run as if it were a household. There are fundamental socio-political principles underlying this "discussion." BL should be ashamed of himself for not addressing the "limited government" ploy.

Mar. 18 2011 10:36 AM
gary from queens

Brian, small priovate radio stations are not costly to run. They just don't open for business in desolate areas because NPR stations filled the gap. Why operate against a government financed institution. That's why our economy is slow growth. Too much government money in the economy. it's called a "capital strike" in economics.

Stop funding NPR and private radio stations will fill the gap. Altho with short wave radio and internet from a dish, who is really deprived of news today?

Mar. 18 2011 10:36 AM
burtnor from Manhattan

Here's a cut I advocate -- instead of NPR, Head Start, Planned Parenthood, and union busting, none of which have ANY impact on the deficit -- how about ending 2 senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and save a TRILLION dollars! Or does this Congressman think we can continue to put this war on our Chinese credit card for 10, 15, 20 years?

Or how about collecting taxes from the huge percentage of corporations who pay NOTHING?

Or how about some meaningful fines for the Wall St corporations who caused the recession?!!

How about ending the tax breaks for the ultra wealth and unconscionable bonuses paid with taxpayer bailout money?

Yes, I want to re-prioritize our spending AND increase revenues appropriately, not only from people earning barely enough to survive.

Mar. 18 2011 10:36 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

Wow. I don't know that I've heard someone refer to "the lame" in a while. His vocabulary is from the 1950s, and I'm rather certain his worldviews are, too.

To the question of ideology: having to balance a budget isn't a matter of ideology, but anybody who has ever made a household budget knows that even subsequent choice made about *how* to balance that budget is all about values and preferences. There is, for instance, no talk here of cutting military defense (2 days in military spending is equal to NEA funding for the year), of cutting subsidies to tobacco farmers, etc. The claim that ideology is not coming into decisions about what programs to cut is absurd on its face.

Mar. 18 2011 10:35 AM
Peg from rural NY

Where to cut spending-
1 Military
2 Corporate Welfare
3 Agricultural subsidies
4 Wall on our Southern border with Mexico

Where to add revenue-
1 Higher Tax on wealthy incomes
2 Raise limit on Soc Sec high incomes
3 Carbon tax

Mar. 18 2011 10:35 AM
DemocracyNow from Long Island

Why isn't anyone asking Garrett about cuts in defense spending, ending the Bush tax cut for the wealthy, ending the 15% income tax rate for billionaire hedge fund managers, ending subsidies for wealthy oil companies and agribusiness and ending the defense industry boondoggles such as the sampler in Sunday's New York Times amounting to over a trillion dollars in waste? Why isn't he looking at those and other revenue sources before cutting NPR and services to the middle class and the poor?

Mar. 18 2011 10:34 AM
teresa from long island

The congressman was just caught talking out of both sides of his mouth... wants to continue subsidies for big oil, saying in essence it wouldn't be fair to target them as a group not to get subsidies. Give me a break. He's a false as the rest of those of his ilk. Thanks Brian for your clear questions!

Mar. 18 2011 10:33 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ Longstreet - What party in DC are you talking about? Do you know something that others don't? Oh yes, you're probably one of the few people that figured out how not to be controlled by the federal govt. while you listen to your govt. supported radio.

Sounds like you think that no one will address the ONLY "spending" that matters: restructuring/some cuts in the big three (Medicare/Medicaid, "Defense," far down the list SS).

Any other cuts in state discretionary spending whether cutting NPR (CPB), food stamps, education, low-income heating, etc., will do little to nothing to stop your so-called "party" in DC.

The same goes for state (not federal) govt employee pensions, which you seem to conflate.

Mar. 18 2011 10:33 AM
mick from NYC

Excuse the typo...I have been listening to and supporting NPR and stations that broadcast NPR programs since the 1970s.

Mar. 18 2011 10:32 AM
David from Queens

The congressman gets a fairer chance to speak on an NPR station than anywhere else.

Mar. 18 2011 10:31 AM
rich from district 5 nj

please ask garrett about indian river plant safety-- seems a problematic design now

Mar. 18 2011 10:31 AM
jawbone

Oh, dear me, it appears Rep. Major Garrett has a major mind block: Did he not vote to extend the Bush/Obama tax cuts for the wealthy? Even worse, he voted to actually increase taxes for the very lowest earners in this nation in so doing.

But since the tax cut extension for the Uberwealthy wouldn't take care of the entire deficit/debt, he then feels it had to go through?

Wow. Talk about disconnect from reality, but close ties to dogma and Republican talkingpoints.

I sense a strong whiff of hypocrisy here.

We need politicians and parties which represent the needs of the people, not the FIRE sector and big corporations.

Mar. 18 2011 10:30 AM

will he cut farm aid to red states?

Mar. 18 2011 10:29 AM
Patricia from FH

Congressman Garrett - cut defense, how about that!

Mar. 18 2011 10:29 AM
mick from NYC

I have been listening to NPR programs since they began broadcasting in the mid-70s. Every time since 1981 that Republicans have come to national power, NPR has slanted their news and information broadcasting to the right, primarily by giving more time to right wing spokespeople and economists with little or no rebuttal by centerists let alone by any comparatively as far to the left. During the Wisconsin budget battles, ATC and Weekend Edition ran interviews with right wing economists who spewed out anti-union/anti-teacher/anti-government worker rhetoric and the interviewer's response were a couple of puffball questions that just gave the "expert" a straw man to attack. I can only hope that NPR management realizes sometime that you can't appease these ideologues. Politicians of that ilk do not want people to hear the truth or any opinion other than what supports their own interests. Yes, I think the country would be better off with a truly independent public radio.

Mar. 18 2011 10:29 AM
mick from NYC

I have been listening to NPR programs since the began in the mid-90s. Every time since 1981 that Republicans have come to national power, NPR has slanted their news and information broadcasting to the right, primarily by giving more time to right wing spokespeople and economists with little or no rebuttal by centerists let alone by any comparatively as far to the left. During the Wisconsin budget battles, ATC and Weekend Edition ran interviews with right wing economists who spewed out anti-union/anti-teacher/anti-government worker rhetoric and the interviewer's response were a couple of puffball questions that just gave the "expert" a straw man to attack. I can only hope that NPR management realizes sometime that you can't appease these ideologues. Politicians of that ilk do not want people to hear the truth or any opinion other than what supports their own interests. Yes, I think the country would be better off with a truly independent public radio.

Mar. 18 2011 10:28 AM
Peg from rural NY

As a previous member of a small rural NPR station, I often found that radio transmission in my region was spotty - so one day we found WNYC on line - and never listened back to the small regional station. Why can't the small stations latch on to the big ones with a little local news segment and we'd all get great news for cheaper.

Plus - without any government control - the investigative news would be much better.

Mar. 18 2011 10:26 AM
jawbone

Bravo to caller Mel for identifying the hypocritical elephant in the room: Our government, from neither side of the single coin of our legacy politcal parties' coin, would ever allow any kind of protection such as a no fly zone for the Palestinians repeatedly attacked by Israel.

When I heard that the UN Security Council had passed the no-fly zone resolution, I had a bitter laugh considering how oil influences our decisions. If there were oil in the West Bank would the US then have allowed Israel to overrun it? To treat its inhabitants the way it does?

Well....probably, yes, if Israel promised the oil to us....

Mar. 18 2011 10:22 AM
Edward from NJ

Do stations pay the networks for programs they produce? For instance, does WNYC pay NPR for On The Media?

Mar. 18 2011 10:17 AM

please ask mr. garrett about his vote on 'th bridge to no-where.'

Mar. 18 2011 10:04 AM
Longstreet from NYC area

What's wrong with Rep. Garrett?
Doesn't he know that we must continue borrowing and spending to solve our borrowing and spending problems?
Doesn't he know that the government must take on ever more responsibility, power, control and authority? (That's in some penumbra of the constitution.)
Doesn't he know that the party in DC must go on, non-stop, as usual, with no concern for posterity?

Mar. 18 2011 09:58 AM

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