WASHINGTON, DC - This is the transcription of the live interview with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd District) from 13News Daybreak as sequestration nears midnight deadline. He will visit the Hampton Avenue Center Head Start program in Newport News and read to students as a part of Read Across America Day. Rep. Scott will also meet with administrators to discuss the impact sequestration will have on Head Start programs in Virginia and across the nation.
Q: What does your gut tell you about the chances for a deal before the deadline?
A: You can't cut $1.2 trillion out of the budget without any revenues to help offset the damage. The number's too big, across-the-board cuts are mindless and will be painful, but you can't come up with an alternative and that's why you haven't seen any alternatives. Nobody's come up with another way to cut $1.2 trillion in non-defense discretionary, we're already at the lowest point we've been, percentage of GPD, since before Medicare. So you just can't cut that kind of money out of the budget any intelligent kinda way.
Q: So you're saying is there's no intelligent way for them to reach an agreement.
A:The intelligent way to do it would be to come to $1.2 trillion with a significant amount of revenues. To put this in perspective, we cut taxes $3.9 trillion just a couple weeks ago. We need $1.2 trillion to totally offset the sequester. So what we're doing is trying to pay off the tax cuts we passed just a few weeks ago. Now people have gotten the idea that tax cuts don't have anything to do with the budget. I think we're finally realizing that if you cut taxes, you have to pay for it some kind of way.
Q:The Republicans argue that money needs to be cut from social programs?
A:That's the alternative. Cuts right now don't got into Medicare benefits or Social Security at all. You could reduce the cuts in defense and non-defense discretionary spending by cutting Medicare and Social Security. All of this discussion, remember, is to pay for the tax cuts.
Q: Paraphrasing some comments on our Facebook page, why don't members of Congress get off their backsides, come together and do something?
A: One of the things that people have been encouraging us to do is compromise. That's what got us in trouble in the first place- one side wanted about $3.5 trillion in tax cuts that were not going to be paid for then but would be paid for later. The other side wanted $4.5 trillion in tax cuts and we compromised at $3.9 trillion when we couldn't afford the $3.5 trillion. What we need to do is force people to make the choices and articulate the choices. I don't know how many people would have supported tax cuts if they knew this is where we were going to be just a couple of weeks later.
There's nothing going on today that wasn't absolutely predictable on Jan. 1 when we voted for $3.9 trillion in tax cuts. The alarm should have gone off on New Year's Eve before we voted for those tax cuts.