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, US Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY 9th) talks about Paul Ryan's budget proposal and the prospects of a government shutdown in the next two days.
Weiner said the fault of the looming shutdown lies in the "relatively big noise being made by a relatively small number of Tea Party activists, which frankly I don't really believe want a deal."
I don't think the two sides are far apart on the numbers so there has to be something broad and ideological that's keep this from happening, and my view from the inside is its this battle for the soul of the Republican party and the tea party activists are winning it.
Weiner philosophized that some Republicans in the house have a "nihilist streak" leading them to crave seeing the government shut down. He said they are purposely making the debate about contentious issues rather than big chunks of the budget like defense spending.
If you look at the things the Republicans want they're not budget things, they're things like shutting down NPR, de-funding Planned Parenthood which doesn't get any funds for abortions anyway, stopping the EPA from regulating the environment. I mean these are ideological fights that they're wrapping up in a short term debate. I think if you really want a deal you don't try to mix those things in because they are kind of are black and white issues for a lot of people.
As for the House Republican chairman Paul Ryan's 10 year budget plan released on Wednesday, Weiner says it does not deserve accolades. Weiner said the plan is not "serious" about reducing debt and criticized the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
The Medicaid piece is the one most troubling to those of us in New York, because really all he's doing, he's cutting about 750 billion dollars from Medicaid, it's not as if the bill fairy is going to pay for those health care costs. They're going to be shifted somewhere and in this case it's going to be shifted to cities like New York, States like New York, and individual taxpayers. Because we still have the same obligation to provide health care to people, we're not going to let people pile up on the streets.
He saw the plan as the same old Republican political message.
I dispute that it's a very courageous document. In fact it's basically the same kind of political things we've heard from this party for a long time, they're not particularly fond of Medicare, they have real contempt for Medicaid, yet they don't have any ideas of how to reduce costs on their own, all it's doing is cost shifting.
At the same time, Weiner lavishes the battle with the GOP and said the Democratic leadership should be pushing back strongly.
We should embrace this fight, let's have a full throated discussion about why Medicare exists, let's have a discussion about whether or not we should be cutting an additional nearly trillion dollars for millionaires and billionaires who have gone through this period of remarkable success.
Meanwhile, a day a half to go before shutdown.