Face the Nation transcripts July 21, 2013: Boehner and Snyder

BOEHNER: Bob, I came here 23 years ago as a small businessman committed to finding a way for - to achieve a smaller, less-costly, and more accountable federal government. I think the American people are seeing now the IRS scandal, and what the Justice Department did to the press, what happened in Benghazi, and what's going on with Obamacare, the American people are looking up at a government that's out of control. It's too big to govern. And so the mission I came here with as a small businessman 23 years ago is still my mission -- to fight for a smaller, less-costly, a more accountable federal government, to empower the private sector to be all that it can be, to create jobs for our kids and grand kids. That's what drives me every day. And I know people from the outside look in and go, "how can he put up with all this nonsense?" But I don't look at it that way. I stay focused on the mission I came here with, and it's still the mission I have.

SCHIEFFER: Any way you cut it, and whoever's fault it is, you have presided over what it perhaps the least-productive and certainly one of the least popular congresses in history. How do you feel about that?

BOEHNER: Well, Bob, we should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal. We've got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don't do commemorative bills on the floor. We don't do all that nonsense. We deal with what the American people want us to deal with. Unpopular? Yes. Why? We're in a divided government. We're fighting for what we believe in. Sometimes, you know, the American people don't like this mess.

SCHIEFFER: But it's not the case, Mr. Speaker, of just passing or not passing new laws. You've got the government in gridlock. You're laying off people in the Defense Department. They're working four days a week. You've got the sequester that is the creation of congress. This is not something that...

BOEHNER: Now, Bob, that's wrong. That is wrong.

SCHIEFFER: Hoisted upon Washington by...

BOEHNER: Who?

SCHIEFFER: Somebody from Mars.

BOEHNER: Who insisted on the sequester, the president of the United States.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I'm talking about Washington in general.

BOEHNER: He insisted on it. Understand something, Bob, the government has spent more than it brought in for 55 of the last 60 years. I made it clear two and a half years when I was about to become speaker that we were not going to kick this can down the road again. So the president insisted on the sequester. I said the sequester would be in effect until the president would agree to cut some reforms that will put us on a path to balance the budget over the next 10 years.

SCHIEFFER: What do you want your legacy to be?

BOEHNER: He was fair to all and protected the institution. When you look at my job, there's one person responsible for the institution of the House, and that falls into my lap. It's my number one responsibility. But in addition to that, I actually do believe that opening up the process, allowing committees to do their work, bringing bills through committee in a more fair and open process on the floor, will begin to heal this institution. There's partisan scar tissue all over place, but if -- the more I can open it up and allow members to work together, over time that partisan scar tissue will begin to melt and go away. It's a long-term proposition, but I'm committed to it.

SCHIEFFER: What is the most important thing you think could happen this year if you could just wave a magic wand? What would be your number one priority right now?

BOEHNER: Well, that we would do something to fix our fiscal situation. It's the biggest threat to the future of our country. And we can't cut our way to prosperity, nor can we just grow our way out of the problem. We need to do both. So, we need tax reform where we bring down the rates, we get rid of the garbage in the tax code, make it fairer for more Americans and it will help us with real economic growth. But in addition to that, we've got to fix our entitlement problem. These programs are important to tens of millions of Americans, but they're not going to be there if we don't get serious about fixing these programs so that our kids and grand kids aren't given 60 percent or 70 percent of their check to the federal government to pay for our benefits.

SCHIEFFER: Last question, but do you have any hope that any of those things could be accomplished by the end of this year?

BOEHNER: Hope, hope spring eternal. I'm an optimist. I wouldn't be sitting here if I wasn't.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Speaker, thank you..

BOEHNER: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back in a minute to talk with Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder.

SCHIEFFER: It had been expected, but it still came as a shock this week when the city of Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in history, a record $19 billion. Once the city of 2 million people, Detroit's population has plummeted to 700,000. It takes an hour for police to respond to calls. Almost half of the city's schools have closed in the last three years. Some consider Detroit an urban disaster area. Joining us this morning in the studio here to talk about the problems, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Governor, thank you so much for coming. Let me just start with the obvious. What does this mean for the people of Detroit? Are the police and firemen still going to get paid? Will some of them be laid off? What happens now?

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