Transcript: Bob Schieffer's interview with Sen. Chuck Schumer

BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now for some reaction to the Republican side of things, or at least the Tea Party side of things, New York Democrat, Chuck Schumer.  I'll just give you the chance to respond.  What did you think of what Senator Cruz had to say?

 

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: Well, a lot of it's sort of Alice in Wonderland.  He says the President's policies haven't worked, but he hasn't let them go into effect.  He's blocked just about every one.  And I would say this, I have good news on the debt ceiling.  I do not believe that Republican leaders will follow Ted Cruz over the cliff once again.

I believe we will pass a clean debt ceiling that makes sense.  We don't want to risk the full faith and credit.  We can debate all these other issues at a different time and place.  But I think they learned their lesson with the government shutdown.  Not only did Tea Party ratings plummet, but so did Republican party ratings.  And I think there's a new way of thinking in the Senate and the House among Republicans, so that we can get more done in 2014 than we did in 2013.

They are not just going to mindlessly follow Ted Cruz and the Republicans over the cliff into this hard line position, "Unless we get our way, we're going to hurt innocent people," whether it be by shutting down the government, or by not renewing the full faith and credit of the United States.

 

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about the Hill newspaper which circulates on Capitol Hill, ran a headline this week and said that Chuck Schumer had a plan, a plan to poison the Tea Party.  I think we've got a picture of that.  Maybe we'll show that before the broadcast is over here.  Do you?

 

(OVERTALK)

 

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: Well it is not to poison them but look, the question millions of Americans are asking, not just Democrats but independents and Republicans, how can a small extreme minority paralyze the government?  And I think I have a plan on how to deal with that, dealing with the fundamental contradiction in the Tea Party.

The Tea Party elites believe government is evil.  Everything about government is bad, and they blame all problems, even non-economic problems, problems that were caused by the private sector, on government.  But the Tea Party rank and file is different.  They've been fed this line that government is to blame.  But when you ask them about specific programs, they are for them.

They're for Medicare.  They want to keep it.  They're for the government building highways, which it's traditionally done.  They're for the government helping middle class families get their kids to college.  So I think the Democrats gave them a pass in 2009 when we let them just foist this anti-government theory on everybody.

And the world is changing.  The tectonic plates are changing.  The average middle class person with his or her income declining wants help and they want a government to be not blocked and obstructed as Ted Cruz does all the time, but actually to do things to help them.  So we're going to focus on some specific things that we think have support, even among Tea Party rank and file, like raising the minimum wage, like making college more affordable for middle class families, like creating jobs by infrastructure growth.

 

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this.  Do you think there's any chance of getting anything done on immigration reform this year?

 

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: I do.  I do, Bob, and let me tell you why.  There's a lot of Republicans who feel that they should do something.  This is not a monolith, even among the hard right.  Economic conservatives like immigration reform, and in fact many of them supported the bill that John McCain and I put together in the Senate.

You have major Republican groups, evangelical Christians, the business community, the high tech community lobbying for this.  Speaker Boehner is now entertaining it.  Obviously he's not going to do it exactly the way we do it, but I would predict that we will get immigration reform done this year.  It'll be another example of the mainstream Republicans, not just listening to the Tea Party, but doing what's right for their country and for their party.

 

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.  Well, Senator, thank you, so much for being with us this morning.  And we'll be right back with our panel of analysts.

 

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *

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