"Face the Nation" transcripts January 6, 2013: Pelosi, McConnell, New Congressmen
SCHIEFFER: All right. I'm going to say with respect, I don't believe you really answered my question, but we'll go on to something else. The Washington Post reports this morning that the administration is talking about a very extensive program to control weapons, going beyond just re-instituting the ban on assault weapons. They're talking about databases. They're talking about setting up data on you can tell when you have a background check on people, stronger -- more information on people of the mentally impaired people getting guns. Are you ready to seriously consider those things? Are Republicans ready to do something on this issue?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think, first, we want to wait and see what Vice President Biden recommends with his task force. Clearly, we will not be addressing that issue early because spending and debt are going to dominate the first three months. And when the vice president comes up with some recommendations, I'm sure the House and Senate will take a look at them.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Senator, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
MCCONNELL: Thank you.
SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back in a moment with some personal thoughts.
SCHIEFFER: Watching the blundering ineptitude and the vulgar partisanship of last week made me think of other days our modern politicians may have forgotten, an era when Washington actually worked.
SCHIEFFER (voice-over): When Lyndon Johnson was thrust into the presidency after the assassination of John Kennedy, one of the first people he called for help was former Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. Johnson thought Eisenhower was the best politician he ever knew. And within days, Eisenhower was there to offer guidance. As president, Johnson passed historic civil rights legislation, but he always said he couldn't have done it without the assistance of Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen. Hardly a day passed when they didn't talk. More recently, who could have been more different than George Bush and Ted Kennedy? Yet, they maintained a personal friendship that led to important education reforms.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was so proud of our work, I even had nice things to say about my friend Ted Kennedy.
SCHIEFFER: Ideologically, they were no further apart than Republican Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill. But Reagan and O'Neill shared a love of politics and respect for each other that enabled them to craft legislation that staved off the collapse of Social Security. Liberal Senator Russ Feingold and conservative John McCain forged important campaign reforms. And the arms control legislation fashioned by Democrat Sam Nunn and Republican Richard Lugar left today's world a far safer place.
SCHIEFFER: The rearview mirror has a way of making things look better, but those things really happened, and we used to say Washington was a place of giants. You don't hear that much anymore. Back in a minute.
SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now. For most of you, you will be back with our panel of new members of Congress and our political "Roundtable." So stay with us.
SCHIEFFER: And welcome back now to "Page Two" of FACE THE NATION. And joining us first, two new senators, both of whom have served in the House, congressman from Arizona, Jeff Flake, now Senator Flake. He's in Phoenix this morning. And Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, who was also in the House before coming to the Senate. He is in Hartford this morning. Senator Flake, let me start with you. You heard Nancy Pelosi. You heard Mitch McConnell, it sounds to me like we're in for more of the same. I don't think anything has changed here. Tell me I'm wrong.
FLAKE: Well I'm not sure you are. It does look like we're going to have another high-wire act or two here coming up. But I would have to agree with Mitch McConnell. You know, I just can't see how the president goes back to the well on more tax increases now. We've got to cut spending. We put off the sequester -- the sequester is really only $1.2 trillion over 10 years. That's really just a start. We've got to do actually more than that, and we put that off. So we've got to cut spending now.
SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator Murphy, let me go to you. From the Democratic side of the aisle, what do you see happening here? Do you think that the senate and the House are going to find a way to raise the debt ceiling? That's going to be first hard vote. You've also got what Senator Flake refers to as the sequester, that is these draconian cuts that go in across the board unless the congress finds some way to resolve some of this stuff. What's going to happen here?
MURPHY: Listen, we've got to have a conversation about reducing spending. Jeff's right. There's absolutely no way to take a sizable chunk out of the debt and deficit without reducing spending, but we also have to talk about tax reform as well. And I think that's what the speaker was talking about, about trying to remove some of these deductions and credits which really don't fulfill good public policy goals and end up costing the country money. But we should have this discussion aside from the debt ceiling. I mean, legislative hostage taking just doesn't work. It doesn't work for the American people, it doesn't work for the world economy. And what I hope doesn't happen is that Republicans do what they did a year and a half ago which is essentially hold the entire country's economy hostage to their demands. We need to have a reasonable conversation here separate and aside from this issue of the debt ceiling.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let's just round this out. We want to bring in some new House members who are actually, a couple of them, are some old House members who are back, just kind of kick this around and see where it goes. Arizona Republican Matt Salmon was elected in 1994 as part of the Republican revolution. He left to fulfill a pledge to serve only three terms. He's with us this morning. Also sworn in for a second tour this time around, Minnesota Democrat Rick Nolan. He was elected in 1974. He left congress in 1980 and opened his own business. He's decided to come back. And also with us, Pennsylvania Republican Mike Kelly. He's now in his second term. He joined us on Face the Nation two years ago when he was first elected. And congressman, let me just start with you, last time you were here you said you had come to Washington and you were not at all impressed with the way things were done around here. And some of the other people on the panel said, wait a minute. You're part of the team. You're part of the group now. You've got to take -- you have been here now two years, so you think you got anything done this time around?
KELLY: You know, I think we got a lot accomplished. This is the first time in the history of the country that we actually started about spending cuts, we started about reigning in the size of government. So that was a huge win. Now also, this last debate we just had, getting permanent tax relief to 99.3 percent of the American people was huge. And I go back to Chairman Camp, let's talk about tax reform and we're talking about tax code that's 10 times bigger than the Bible with none of the good stuff. We have to get serious about this spending cut. And getting this trajectory of spending down. And if we don't, we are walking away from a pledge to the American people. Listen, I'm a Republican. Matt and Rick are with me today. But more than anything else, we're Americans. And if we want America's future to be bright, if we want America's future to be the future that we had growing up -- listen my dad was a World War II guy. He didn't want to go fight but it he had to. We're at a point right now where we have to address this spending in a really adult manner. And I keep hearing about we need to get more adults at the table. Well, you can get as many adults at the table as you want but the conversation has to be an adult conversation.
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