This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 16, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, a market down, a debt deal deadlocked, and a jobs deal just, well, potentially unlocked.
Welcome, everybody. I am Neil Cavuto. And we are watching the clock, the debt clock, which just ticked over $15 trillion for the first time ever. That is how much we as a nation collectively owe. And as the debt surges, the Super Committee still nowhere near a debt deal to un-surge it. But we may be seeing a breakthrough on the jobs front. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons just unveiling a plan they say will get companies hiring and soon. It’s called the AGREE Act, picking out parts of the president’s job plan they feel that both parties can agree on.
And they say it’s our best chance to get this economy going again.
The senators join me now.
Gentlemen, welcome both of you. Very good to have you.
SEN. CHRIS COONS, D-DEL.: Thank you, Neil.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Thank you.
CAVUTO: Senator Rubio, to you first. Of course, you have not talked much to the media since you were elected. In fact, you’ve chosen your chats very, very carefully, but you’ve made a full-court press for this and what you’re doing with Senator Coons.
RUBIO: Because it’s important.
I get letters and e-mails every day from people in Florida that are hurting. I read one on the floor of the Senate today from a young lady in Vero Beach that’s worked her entire life. She’s a hardworking lady. She’s been out of work for a year. She’s trying -- every day, she goes out and tries to find a job. And there’s nothing there.
Real people are hurting. This economic downturn has taken a dramatic turn for the worse in the lives of real people in my state and across the country and we have to do something. We have big disagreements on the big issues between the parties. And we’re going to have an election next year and help decide the way forward on a couple of those.
But we can’t just sit around here for 12 months and do nothing. On the things we agree on, we have to act. We have to help people.
CAVUTO: Senator Coons, there’s a lot in common and some common ground for both parties. And I think both of you are right. You can find much to agree on. That is tax credits, incentives to get businesses hiring and the like.
But maybe because it bespeaks of the environment, nothing big, and I’m wondering, is that by design? Or do you think that collectively all of these incentives and credits and the things that businesses like added up will get them hiring?
COONS: Well, Neil, it’s our hope this fairly broad package that includes provisions from access to capital, R&D tax credit, innovation, invention, immigration, intellectual property protection, some regulatory relief, that it includes a whole range of things, that although not a huge bill, not guaranteed to pull us further into recovery, will show that we have confidence in the American people and the American entrepreneur and the American small-business person and that it can help instill some confidence in Congress, that if a conservative Republican from Florida and a Democrat from Delaware can find the time, the energy and the willingness to get across this partisan divide and hammer out a bipartisan bill, perhaps that can encourage the Super Committee.
Perhaps that can instill some confidence that all of us in Congress here can find common ground in the next year and make progress in doing the things that we can do to help strengthen the private sector in creating jobs.
CAVUTO: Invariably, Senator Rubio, people will look at this and many of your Republican colleagues will say this is just tinkering. We need to be bold. We need to think big. Readjusting some credits and allowances and the like ain’t going to cut it.
What do you say?
RUBIO: I signed on to big, bold plans and I voted for them.
And I’m prepared to do those that tomorrow if we could get the votes to do them. But we don’t have them and we will not have them one way or other until the next election because of the way -- we have divided government now. So what do we do for the next 12 months? Do we just put up bills that will fail and do nothing?
What do I say to the people back in Florida that are hurting that can’t find a job? So, yes, these things may look small from a Wall Street perspective or from a macro perspective, but what about the small business in Miami, or Tampa or in Orlando that next year wants to expand, they want -- a dry cleaner that wants to buy a new machine and hire two people to operate it?
They will be able to expense 100 percent of the cost of doing that. If they can’t do that, if they only get 50 percent deduction, they may not be able to do that. That means the people who built the machine get hurt, the people who install the machine and fix the machine get hurt, and the two people they were going to hire to operate it get hurt.
For those people, it’s not a small thing. And those are the guys and gals we’re thinking about.
(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: Go ahead.
COONS: There’s an initial study, Neil, that show -- to Senator Rubio’s point, there’s one study that suggests that if the expensing and depreciating provisions in this bill were enacted, it might make as much as $85 billion in capital available to small business.
And right now access to capital is one of the critical barriers to growth for small business. If the veteran’s portion of this bill, something we borrowed from Senator Casey, were actually put into law, we might see hundreds of veterans become small business entrepreneurs, franchise owners.
While those might not change America’s whole economic outlook, we think it would make a significant difference for the communities, for the business owners and for the veterans and I think frankly think it would help restore some confidence in the American markets.
CAVUTO: There is a fear, though, gentleman, that while your intentions certainly are good, and the goals meritorious, the reality is that this might have to wait out and sit out until the election. Many CEOs have expressed frustration with that.
Senator Rubio, to a point that was echoed by the Scott’s Lawn CEO, who had been saying, look, if you telling me that we will not be able to have closure on this or progress for another year or year-and-a-half, that is bull "bleep."
Is that what he has to look forward to?
RUBIO: Well, I hope not. And that’s what we are working on, to see the things that we agree on, that we act on those now. People back home ask me -- they get the big picture stuff. We disagree on the role of government and we disagree on what our tax code should look like.
And we will debate that and that will be a big part of the elections in 2012. They ask me all the time, why do you guys fight over the things you agree on? Isn’t there anything you guys have in common? And when you see issues and you see ideas that are in the president’s jobs plan, the Republicans’ job plan, the House has passed and sent over here there’s no excuse for not acting on those things.
And there are people that are going to be helped by those things. So let’s do them. Let’s show people that here in Congress there are -- we are able to do, at least act on the things we agree on.
CAVUTO: Senator Coons, do you think the president has been helping you in that regard? That the rap against him, sir, is that every follow-up proposal and every follow-up budget and every follow-up jobs initiative or stimulus moves more and more left and more and more infrastructure, increasingly unlikely to get passage in the House, even dicey in the Senate, where people are just tiring of the same old thing. Is the president not getting it?
COONS: Well, in my one year as a senator, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with the frequency with which proposals that we put up on the floor aren’t able to pass.
And I think both Senator Rubio and I are frustrated by the fact that each of our respective parties are not able to get through our proposals. The president’s job bill, for example, was declared dead on arrival by some leaders in the other party here in Congress. And several efforts to get it passed were unsuccessful. I get that.
Rather than simply giving up in frustration, in my view, the best next step forward was to show some leadership by working with Senator Rubio and hopefully many others, both Democrat and Republican, who will join as co-sponsors and find portions of the bill we can agree on and we can pass.