WASHINGTON WATCH: Rep. James Clyburn On The Possibility Of Reaching A Deal On The Fiscal Cliff (VIDEO)
Rep. James Clyburn joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to discuss what the fiscal cliff means for average Americans and if a deal can be reached before the January 1st deadline.
MR. MARTIN: We turn now to Congressman James Clyburn, of South Carolina, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, to talk about the view from the all-important House of Representatives.
Congressman, welcome back to the show, and also congratulations on being elected again –
REP. JAMES CLYBURN: Thank you.
MR. MARTIN: — Assistant Leader.
REP. CLYBURN: Thank you very much, and thanks for having me back.
MR. MARTIN: All right. Let’s get right into it.
So, this whole fiscal cliff deal – frankly, I think a whole bunch of people at home are just going, “This makes no sense to me. I mean, really. How hard is it for folks to be able to sit down and come to terms on the deal?”
Is the – in your view, is the President going to hold the line and make clear to the Republicans, “Look, I won. Okay? You guys are going to have to get off this notion that you’re afraid to raise taxes on the top 2 percent”?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I think the President will. I certainly hope he does. The fact of the matter [is] the President got 3 million more votes than his opponent did in this election. At a time when everybody thought it was going to be a very close election, the American people demonstrated that his vision is the one they want to identify with. We have 201 Democrats in the House. There’re 234 Republicans, but Democrats got a million more votes than the Republicans did.
So, I think that those of us who ran out here – ran for reelection, along with the President, laying out a vision for how we ought to do this – I think that the President’s $4.1 trillion program has been accepted. This thing of getting rid of the upper-income tax cuts has been accepted. We’ve got to get our inf- — infrastructure back up, and that’s what the President’s trying to do with this program. You just cannot say we’re going to have austerity and not have any growth.
MR. MARTIN: Is – is this the – really a situation where Speaker Boehner recognizes that he still has a very vocal Tea Party constituen[cy] there – and, frankly, he has to deal with them – who may say, “We’ll replace you as Speaker”?
REP. CLYBURN: That’s exactly right. you know, we hear all this talk about, “Well, he’s going to get primaried.” Well, that may be true, but there’s also a primary for Speaker Boehner as well. And so the American people need to look in on this discussion and really frame it correctly. The American people have spoken as to who they want to be their leader, and they have given us a Congress [in] which growth among the senators – Democrats increased their numbers in the Senate. So, the vision that’s been laid out has been very well accepted.
Now, we know why they maintained control of the House. Redistricting is something –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
REP. CLYBURN: — that every ten years we have to suffer through. But unusual this time: a million more votes with 201 than they got with 234. So, that tells you that we are connected to the American people on this issue, and I hope the President will hold.
But let me say this about the – remember when we did the Budget Control Act? $1.5 trillion in cuts – no revenue; 1.5 trillion in cuts. So, the President is now saying it’s time for us to ante up with revenue. He’s asking for 1.6 trillion in revenue to equal the 1.5 trillion in cuts that we’ve already made. Then we’re going to get another $700 billion from war savings. [The] CBO has already told us that. And to use 50 million [sic] of this money that you won’t be spending on the war to spend on our infrastructure — it seems to me this ought to be a thing that –
MR. MARTIN: 50 billion.
REP. CLYBURN: — 50 billion.
MR. MARTIN: Right.
REP. CLYBURN: I’m sorry.
MR. MARTIN: I’ve got to ask you this question before you go. Do you believe the President, based upon these attacks on his UN ambassador, that he should nominate Susan Rice to be his Secretary of State?
REP. CLYBURN:Absolutely. I hope he does, because I really believe she’s highly – highly qualified, well prepared; and I really believe that he will be doing the country a great deal of credit if he were to nominate her. And I do believe she will be approved by the Senate.
MR. MARTIN: Last question. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. –
REP. CLYBURN: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: — resigned from Congress. You were one of the folks that he addressed his resignation letter to.
REP. CLYBURN: Right.
MR. MARTIN: Have you had a[n] opportunity to talk with him? How is he doing? And your thoughts on him leaving the Congress, citing, of course, his illness; but also the ongoing investigations he’s also –
REP. CLYBURN: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: — dealing with.
REP. CLYBURN: Well, let’s just make it very clear. Jesse Jackson, Jr., is sick. He has a very serious problem. We all know that the operation that he had – everybody knows that he had that operation.
MR. MARTIN: In terms – in terms of the gastric bypass –
REP. CLYBURN: That’s exactly right.
MR. MARTIN: — the weight-loss surgery.
REP. CLYBURN: Right. And when I saw, as my wife showed me, what the side effects could be from that, it’s classic with him.
Now, the other stuff that I’ve been reading about – I hope that all of that is just a bit of stuff that you go through in this business. I hope that things come out okay with that.
MR. MARTIN: All right. Well, Congressman Clyburn, we’re out of time. We certainly appreciate it.
And also, let me know when you’re going to be on the golf course. You keep running from a brutha –
REP. CLYBURN: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — so – hey, y’all Omegas run from Alphas. I understand. I’m used to it.
REP. CLYBURN: You’re right about that, because you know –
MR. MARTIN: [Laughs.]
REP. CLYBURN: — what happens in the Omega Chapter.
MR. MARTIN: [Laughs.] Oh, look atcha!
REP. CLYBURN: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: All right. We appreciate it. Thanks a bunch.
REP. CLYBURN: Thank you.
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