Face the Nation transcripts February 17, 2013: McDonough, Barbour, Booker, Wuerl

DENIS MCDONOUGH: No question about it. No question about it. And what we just sent up the letter-- we sent up in response the questions on Benghazi, as I said, was a latest interaction and ten thousand pages of documents that we've provided to the Congress on this matter. The President's focus is, okay, let's account for what happened. Let's reform and make sure it never happens again. Let's get our guys in the position so they can help us make sure it never happens--

BOB SCHIEFFER: And you said you'd let them see these emails. The seventy emails recorded as talking points.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: Look, there's an ongoing effort. I'm not going to negotiate that here with you, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: But there's an ongoing effort, and I think we're making very good progress on that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Chief of Staff, thank you so much. I hope you will come back.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: Thanks for having me, Bob. I'll be happy to come back anytime.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we want to go outside Washington now to talk about what Denis McDonough just talked about. Haley Barbour is a former Republican Party chairman, former governor of Mississippi. He is in Jackson this morning, and Cory Booker, of course, is the mayor of Newark, and he is in our New York studio. Governor Barbour, let me just start with you, and I want to go back to the top. He says that he hopes the sequester, these draconian cuts, don't go into effect. But from where I see it it looks to me like this is all going to happen because Congress and the White House just can't figure out how not to let it happen. What's your take?

HALEY BARBOUR (Former Mississippi Governor): Well, first of all, it was the President's idea when this sequester was-- was proposed to be put into law a couple of years ago and there are plenty of reasons to not wanted to go into effect, particularly, in defense spending. But the Democrats want is another excuse to raise taxes. Their answer to every question is raise taxes. They apparently think what's wrong with the country and President Obama, Mrs. Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Tom Harkin, all prominent Democrats have all said, "We don't have a spending problem in this country." They think what's wrong with our country is we tax too little. Well, most Americans who are watching today, Bob, don't think we have a trillion-dollar deficit for four consecutive years because we tax too little. They know it's because we spend too much.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But isn't what you're saying, Governor, just what people say is wrong with Washington. Here we go again. Governor Barbour says it's all the fault of the Democrats, the White House says, it's all the fault of the Republicans and there we are. I want to know where there is some ground here where the two sides could actually get together and get something done. Is there such a place?

HALEY BARBOUR: Well, you're going to see on the sequester-- I believe you're correct that the sequester will go into effect.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You do think it's going to happen.

HALEY BARBOUR: There are a lot of Republicans that don't-- I do, and there are a lot of Republicans that don't like parts of it, but they understand we've come to a point where we've got to take action about spending. And that the Democrats say, well, the real answer is to have fifty percent more tax increases. The answer to every question for the Democrats is let's raise somebody's taxes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. Well, we've got a Democrat with us this morning, the Mayor of Newark. Mayor Booker, what do you-- do you see this thing happening and what do you think the consequences will be if it does happen?

CORY BOOKER (Newark Mayor): Well, I pray it doesn't. The consequences are real and I see them on the ground. If this sequester goes into play, it's going to hurt small businesses in my community in getting them access to capital. It's going to hurt kids. It's going to knock so many kids off of things like head-starts. And, for me, on a daily fight against crime it's going to hurt law enforcements. It's going to hurt the FBI and others. This is a threat to the nation that every independent economist says would hurt the United States of America, would hurt our economy, would hurt real people on the field. And there's no excuse for it. You know there's a level of brinksmanship that's being played in Congress. I've seen it over the debt ceiling. I've seen it over the fiscal cliff that is just unnecessary. There needs to be a level of pragmatism back to our politics. And, frankly, I give a lot of credit to the President because he's not saying let's just raise taxes. He said the obvious that we, in America, cannot continue to spend more than we take in. It's something that I don't have the luxury of as mayor of doing. And so what I see the President doing is putting tremendous cuts on the table, trillions of dollars of cuts. You just heard the chief of staff say they're willing to put over four trillion dollars worth of cuts but it has to be in a balanced way. And the-- and the challenge that I see right now is if this-- if this happens, if the sequester happens, the cuts will be blunt, brutal, and blind as opposed to being intelligent and insightful. And it will not invest. It will stop us from investing in those critical areas in America we must invest on if we want long-term economic growth.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Mayor, let me ask you one thing, Frank Lautenberg, the longtime Senator from New Jersey, says he is not going to seek reelection. You have said you're thinking about it. I think you put together some sort of a pact. Are you, in fact, going to seek the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat in New Jersey?

CORY BOOKER: Clearly, it's a job that I'm interested in. We did what we had to do by law and file the federal account. I'll spend the coming months working on and exploring that, but right now we have one election in New Jersey, which is our statewide gubernatorial and legislative elections. As a Democratic in New Jersey, that's where my focus is. Next year's election for Senate will take care of itself. And again I hope to be one of those people that the residents of New Jersey will consider giving that honor, fighting for them on the federal level.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But you're not in any way, shape, or form think about running for governor as a Democrat, are you? No. Okay.

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