WASHINGTON WATCH: Rep. Maxine Waters On The Ryan Plan, Tax Cuts For The Rich And The War On Women (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WASHINGTON WATCH: Rep. Maxine Waters On The Ryan Plan, Tax Cuts For The Rich And The War On Women (VIDEO)

The Democratic Party is pushing hard on the idea that the GOP doesn’t care about the poor, the elderly, working people or women. Democrats talk about Republicans’ love affair with tax cuts for the rich, the Ryan plan that balances the budget on the backs of those who need help the most, and the proposals from statehouses all over the country that threaten the reproductive rights of women. But also, let’s deal with voter suppression.

Republican leaders say tax cuts for the rich create jobs and deny there is a war on women, but our first guest today is not buying that denial. California Congresswoman Maxine Waters joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to talk about a variety of issues.

MR. MARTIN:  The Democratic Party is pushing hard on the idea that the GOP doesn’t care about the poor, the elderly, working people or women.  Democrats talk about Republicans’ love affair with tax cuts for the rich, the Ryan plan that balances the budget on the backs of those who need help the most, and the proposals from statehouses all over the country that threaten the re- — the reproductive rights of women.  But also, let’s deal with voter suppression.

Republican leaders say tax cuts for the rich create jobs and deny there is a war on women, but our first guest today is not buying that denial.  California Congresswoman Maxine Waters is here to talk about a variety of issues.

Congresswoman, welcome to “Washington Watch.”’

REP. MAXINE WATERS:  Thank you.  Delighted to be here.

MR. MARTIN:  When we talk about this “war on women,” Republicans say, “Aw, this is just nonsense.  It makes no sense whatsoever,” but what it has done, though, when you look at the polling numbers in these battleground states for the President –

REP. WATERS:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — you look at [it] overall, it has certainly struck a chord and a nerve among women –

REP. WATERS:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — who are saying, “Where in the world is all this stuff coming from all of a sudden?”

REP. WATERS:  Well, the Republicans are scrambling now, because women are speaking out, and they’re saying, “Oh, my God!  We thought some of these battles had been won a long time ago, and here, now they’re talking about interfering with our right to have contraceptives,” when 99 percent of all the women in America have used contraceptives [at] some time in their lives.  I mean this is not even an abortion issue.  And when you couple that with all of the other things that they’re doing not only in the Congress of the United States and with this Ryan budget that certainly is a budget that’s against women and children, when you talk about you’re going to cut $1 million out of Head Start, which will impact 220, [2]30,000 children who really need it – these are children whose parents can’t afford to purchase early childhood education, but this is a program that will help kids get out of poverty and get them into education.  You look at job training.  You look at healthcare.  This Ryan budget decimates all of the opportunities that would be there for women and children.

MR. MARTIN:  It’s very interesting, because Catholic bishops –

REP. WATERS:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — were very critical of the White House when it came to the contraception rules – contraception rules in the Health and Human Services.

REP. WATERS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  But now, all of a sudden, Republicans are now catching fire from [the] same Catholic bishops when it comes to the Ryan budget, and even he is pushing back.  Speaker Boehner is pushing back.  So, it’s interesting how they were saying, “Hey, we’re riding with the bishops.”  Now, even Catholics are saying, “How do you have a plan that attacks the poor the way this plan does?”

REP. WATERS:  Absolutely.  And to tell you the truth, whether it’s Catholics, or Baptists, or Methodists – what have you – the central core of religion is about taking care of “the least of these”:  feeding the poor; making sure that the poor have housing; you know, taking care of poor kids.  So, the Catholic bishops are absolutely right on that issue, and based on what they’re doing on contraceptives, they really have to show what they care about.

So, while they’re speaking out against healthcare reform and the way it is framed – that it would cause, you know, them to have to pay for contraceptives in the workplace – and as the President said, he modified it and said, “Okay.  If you can’t pay for it in the workplace, the insurance companies have to pay for it.  Well, they know that they’ve hit a nerve, and so speaking out for poor children and for poor people is what the Catholic bishops should be doing, and I think they hope they will offset this fight that appears to be against women.

MR. MARTIN:  Speaking of a fight, I remember getting a phone call in, I believe it was September or October 2009, from the White House –

REP. WATERS:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — very upset with you and –

REP. WATERS:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — other members of the Black Caucus, who were pushing hard for more inclusion of programs for minorities in the Financial Services Reform Bill.

REP. WATERS:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  And I – it was a – remember it was a late-night phone call, and they were not particularly happy; but in the face of their criticism and their pushback, you kept pushing through, and some $4 billion was a part of that bill that benefited minority communities.

REP. WATERS:  Well, at that time, we were dealing with a number of issues that were in the Financial Services Committee.  And, yes, one of the things that I crafted was to create an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion; because in the financial services community, you have very few African-Americans –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

REP. WATERS:  — who are at the table, whether it is the SEC, the FDIC, the Treasury – what have you.  And so I felt that this was a wonderful opportunity to say, “Let’s get some people of color into these financial services agencies, et cetera.”

And so we had to fight very hard for that, but don’t forget.  At the same time, I had put in a bill for $7 billion for what is known as the NSP program – Neighborhood Stabilization Program – because all of these communities that had been targeted by the financial services –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

REP. WATERS:  — communities – committees of – agencies of this country had caused the subprime meltdown, and we had all these boarded-up properties that were foreclosed on.  And so I wanted to put money into the cities to rehab these properties and put them back on the market.  So, we got $7 billion there.  We got the Office of Women Mo- — Minority and Women Inclusion, and I got $1 billion for unemployed people who were at risk of losing their home[s].  But we had to fight for it!

MR. MARTIN:  Now, here –

REP. WATERS:  We had to go to war for it, and we did.

But, of course, you know, Roland, this is what I do.  And this is what I’ve done all my life, and I find ways by which to create good public policy that opens up opportunity.  We cannot afford to have a functioning democracy and society that excludes, whether it’s intended or not.  And so this is the kind of work that I do.

MR. MARTIN:  But how do you deal, though, with – ’cause I – again, I remember the –

REP. WATERS:  Yeah, sure.

MR. MARTIN:  — conversation.  I remember my Facebook page and Twitter page.  Black people were saying, “How dare they criticize the President?”  “How dare they fight against him?”  “They should fall in line.”

And – and my response was, “You’re mad about $4 billion?”

And so how do you deal with – how do you deal with being a member of Congress, African-American, fighting for constituents – and African-Americans saying, “You shouldn’t criticize the President,” “You shouldn’t fight,” “You shouldn’t oppose,” when the – when your response has been, “This is what I’ve always done”?

REP. WATERS:  Well, our work is not a criticism.  Our work is the kind of public-policy work that people should expect us to do.  I didn’t come here for perks.  I didn’t come here to be able to go on a CODEL, or to have a nice office, or go to a big dinner.  I came here to open up opportunities for people who’ve been excluded.  Sometimes, that’s not understood.  Sometimes, people think I’m more – too aggressive in doing that; but, again, that’s who I am.  That’s what I do.  That’s what I’ve done my entire career, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.

And it’s not directed at any one person.  It’s directed at institutions that have excluded, that may not have done it intentionally; but the fact of the matter is when you look at the numbers, when you look at where African-Americans are, it is easy to see why we have to continue to fight to open up these opportunities.  So, this is what I’ll continue to do.

MR. MARTIN:  Okay.  Well –

REP. WATERS:  Okay.

MR. MARTIN:  — we certainly appreciate it.  Thanks a bunch.

REP. WATERS:  You’re welcome.  Delighted to be here.