And let's get a republican point of view from new hampshire senator kelly ayotte. Thanks for joining us this morning. Senator, you heard -- good morning. You heard gene sperling say this is not a win... See More
And let's get a republican point of view from new hampshire senator kelly ayotte. Thanks for joining us this morning. Senator, you heard -- good morning. You heard gene sperling say this is not a win for republicans. Do you agree with him on his assessment on how much damage these cuts are going to do? Well, george, I serve on the armed services committee. I've listened to our military commanders for the last year. I also traveled around the COUNTRY WITH senators McCain and graham, and so I am really concerned about the impact on our national security. We've already heard on cuts on training for our active duty troops, also, flight hours for the combat fighter pilots, so, yes, there's some real concern about undermining our national security, but I want to step back for a minute because i actually think that what the woodward exchange with mr. Sperling demonstrates is that both sides are rewriting history here to some extent. You had the president out blaming republicans when the idea came from the white house and now he's trying to write into tax increases into the plan when it wasn't ever in the plan. Republicans were insisting on having some kind of -- on the republican end -- republicans were insisting -- right, there was -- that's what I say on the republican end, the enforcement mechanicism was one where we left 50% of spending off the table so that defense takes a disproportionate cut which where's the party of ronald reagan on this, so i think it's time mr. Sperling talked about this being a choice of increasing taxes, we just increased taxes, the congress did, in january at the president's request. How about alternative spending cuts? In fact, this week I offered a people to do that so why can't both sides work together to do this in a more sensible way. What other spending cuts do you think would work to achieve these same kinds of savings? I think there are many. First of all, e house obviously had a proposal they did last year, but there are a whole host of reforms. We left 50% of spending on the table, so I had some ideas on you can continue a pay freeze for federal employees. You can reform federal retirement. You could do things to reform some of the problems that we've had with food stamps that, in fact, are similar to what we passed in the senate farm bill so not a new idea. There's a whole host of ideas of how we could cut spending in a more responsible way that doesn't undermine our national security, and that seems to be being left out of the discussion on both sides here. You also heard gene sperling say he believes the pressure will build on a lot of republicans to come to the table on new revenues and one of your colleagues, senator lindsey graham of south carolina said he's open to that. Take a listen. To me this is a bipartisan problem. This is the chance to do the big deal. I'm willing to raise revenue. I'm willing to raise $600 billion in new revenue if my democratic friends would be willing to reform entitlements and we can fix sequestration together. Why not go for the big deal at this point? You mentioned the president's position earlier. His position always was $2 or $3 in spending cuts for every dollar in revenue. Right now you're going at a rate of $4 in spending cuts for every doll in new revenue. Are you prepared to sit down and talk about a much bigger deal? Well, george, what the president is now -- what he pushed recently in the senate this week, the 85 billion small deal with tax increases, that's not going to work. If we're going to increase revenue again, it's got to go to the debt with real entitlement reform and real tax reform when you actually lower rates, and i thinkg that none of that has been in this discussion, so absolutely I think we need to do a big agreement for the country because we haven't dealt with the fundamental drivers of our debt, the entitlement programs and the tax reform has to be done uniformly and lower rates. So -- but are you willing -- let me just be clear here. You're willing if tax reform goes forward and if the president is willing to talk about entitlement reform and medicare and medicaid and other entitlement programs, you're saying you're willing to have an agreement that actually raises revenue, or does it have to be revenue neutral tax reform? I'm willing to say if we take the form of lowering rates so we can focus on economic growth and then take a portion of that and apply it to the debt with real entitlement reform but it has to go to the debt, I'm not going to agree to any more tax increases that are going to go to increase more government. I mean here we are. That's what the latest proposal is from the president. This sequester has to be dealt with within existing spending and alternative cuts and we need real entitlement reform and real tax reform. That's what we need for the country if we're going to drive down our debt and also be focused on economic growth. That might be a little bit of an opening that can be seized on later, although it may not happen any time soon, but, senator ayotte, thank you for your time this morning.
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