Published July 06, 2009
The following is a rush transcript of the July 4, 2009, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
WALLACE: Joining us now to talk about the economy, health care and more are the two top men in the House of Representatives. Democrat Steny Hoyer is the majority leader, and Republican John Boehner is the minority leader.
Congressmen, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."
HOYER: Good to be with you, Chris.
BOEHNER: Hello, Chris.
WALLACE: Back when the Obama team was pushing its stimulus plan, it said that it would keep unemployment below eight percent. This week we all learned it's now 9.5 percent, and the Republicans have put out a video about a bloodhound searching for stimulus jobs. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Finally, the dogs tracked down something. In North Carolina, they used stimulus money to hire one new state worker. His job — apply for more stimulus funds from the taxpayers by the way of the federal government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman Hoyer, can you honestly say you're satisfied with the stimulus?
HOYER: I don't think anybody can honestly say that we're satisfied with the results so far of the stimulus. But we believe the stimulus was absolutely essential. Mark Zandi, as you know, who was one of McCain's economic advisers, says it's going to create 2 million jobs by the end of next year, and...
WALLACE: But why hasn't it done more faster?
HOYER: Well, we're disappointed that it hasn't done more faster. John and I were talking earlier about getting money out more quickly. We need to do that. We're disappointed.
But after all, the ad's being run by a crowd that created about 4,000 jobs per month, the worst job creation performance in 75 years, and lost 2 million jobs the three months before the Obama administration came in, so they haven't had such a hot track record. We're disappointed that we inherited such a tanking economy. But we're trying to do everything we can to get it moving again.
WALLACE: I think, Congressman Boehner, he's talking about you as he says that. President Obama defended the stimulus this week. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The recovery act was designed to make sure that local school districts didn't lay off teachers, and firefighters, and police officers, and it's done its job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, the Democrats say that unemployment would be a lot higher without the stimulus package.
BOEHNER: Listen, we argued early in the year when this bill was being debated that the way to help the economy grow is to help small businesses and American families keep more of what they earn, because at the end of the day they're the ones who can get the economy going again.
This was supposed to be about jobs, jobs, and jobs. And the fact is it turned into nothing more than spending, spending, and more spending on a lot of big government bureaucracy.
In Ohio, the infrastructure dollars that were sent there months ago — there hasn't been a contract let, to my knowledge. And the fact is — is I don't believe it will create jobs.
The president said earlier this year we're not going to see unemployment above 8 percent if we pass this bill. And the fact is we have.
And, Steny, the real question is where are the jobs. You can't spend $800 billion of taxpayer money and not create jobs when you say that's what the goal was. We haven't seen the jobs yet.
HOYER: We have obviously invested in health care. We've invested in education. I think the president's absolutely right. We would have lost more jobs but for this investment, and economists agree with us.
As a matter of fact, a lot of economists on John's side of the aisle agreed with the stimulus package. But this...
BOEHNER: No, no, no. They agreed...
HOYER: John, let me just finish.
BOEHNER: They agreed that we needed a stimulus bill.
HOYER: Let me just finish. John's message is the same message we heard in 2001, the same message that supported an economic policy that led us to the worst economic times that we've...
WALLACE: Gentlemen, let's look forward, not backwards. And I guess the question becomes — because you say — you both say you're disappointed with the stimulus, and that it hasn't created jobs, so...
HOYER: Disappointed with the results so far, Chris...
HOYER: ... not with the stimulus.
WALLACE: So is the answer a second stimulus? Is it to revamp the current stimulus? What are you going to do to get money out and create jobs faster?
HOYER: Well, we have to get the money that is already in the stimulus bill out, and we're looking at that. Jim Oberstar is looking at that from the infrastructure standpoint.
We're looking at that in all the areas, through the Cabinet officers, that we need to get this money out more quickly.
John's right. I'm disappointed, he's disappointed, that the money hasn't gotten out more quickly. And we're disappointed...
WALLACE: But would you favor a second stimulus? Because some Democrats are already saying the problem with the stimulus was it wasn't big enough.
HOYER: Well, I don't say that at this point in time. We'll have to see. We certainly want to see how this develops over the next few months.
But we've got to understand we inherited 2 million jobs being lost in the three months before we took office. The policies that were put in place were put in place about 130 days ago — not eight years ago, but 130 days ago.
BOEHNER: Come on, Steny, you sound like the kid who showed up without his homework every day...
HOYER: Come on.
BOEHNER: ... and he wants to blame the dog for eating his homework. The president said unemployment wouldn't get above eight percent. We said early this year that this plan was not going to work.
WALLACE: Well, can they fix the...
BOEHNER: We agreed that we needed a stimulus plan, and our plan...
WALLACE: Looking forward...
BOEHNER: ... cost half as much and, according to the same economists, would have created twice as many jobs.
WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, looking forward, can they fix the current stimulus, the $787 billion stimulus plan that Congress passed?
BOEHNER: All it does is fund more government. If you really want to get the economy going, you have to trust small businesses and the American people to reinvest their own money. So we (inaudible) into this bill and allow them to keep more of what they earn.
HOYER: John's plan was what they proposed in 2001. Chris, I don't want to look back.
BOEHNER: It created five million new jobs.
HOYER: No, no.
BOEHNER: Five million jobs.
HOYER: No way.
BOEHNER: Yes, sir.
HOYER: No way.
BOEHNER: Five million jobs it created.
HOYER: Your figures are dead flat wrong.
HOYER: Less than 2 million. While Clinton — and during the Clinton administration, we created almost 21 million jobs.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, let's — forgive me. Let's move to another subject.
WALLACE: Health care reform — Congressman Hoyer, will the House pass a bill before the August recess? And what are you going to do about the two biggest problems, which are — one, increasing coverage, increasing coverage to all of the uninsured without spending another trillion dollars?
HOYER: Well, first of all, the American people understand that the health care system in this country is in real trouble. They like what they have, about 75 percent of them, but about 87 percent of them think we need significant reform. And the answer to your question is yes, we're going to pass significant reform.
WALLACE: Before the August recess?
HOYER: Before the August recess in the House of Representatives, because we need to bring costs down. We need to bring costs down for government. We need to bring costs down for families. And we need to bring costs down for individuals.
And we need to assure a system that is affordable, accessible by all Americans for quality health care. They need that security, and we're going to do that. And that's what they asked for during the course of the election.
WALLACE: Let me — and I promise you're going to get your chance here, Congressman Boehner.
Let's go through a quick checklist of some of the key issues.
WALLACE: Public health insurance option to compete with private insurers — must have in the plan?
HOYER: We think there's going to be a public option. Yes, we think we need that. We need to make sure that there is an option available for public that can't get through at the private insurance. We think that's essential if you're going to have access.
WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, is that a deal breaker?
BOEHNER: It is for us. I think having the government have a plan to compete with the private sector is unfair, because the government has no cost of capital.
It will drive, according to the Congressional Budget Office, 23 million Americans out of the current health care plan into the government option. It's not the way to go.
WALLACE: Mandate for both...
HOYER: Chris, can I just say something? When they adopted a prescription drug program, they provided for the possibility of a public option in their own plan if it wasn't available.
What we're saying is, "Look, you've got to keep everybody honest and get costs down." And we believe that competition will help.
WALLACE: Mandate on both individuals and employers to participate — must have in the Democratic plan?
HOYER: As you know, the draft plan that's been put on the table provides for everybody to have coverage, just as you have to have automobile insurance coverage. We want everybody in the system. Actuarial — that will bring costs down.
And we believe that if the employers don't participate, then they need to — by having their employees covered by their own insurance, then they need to participate in helping to pay for the system.
Wal-Mart, by the way, as you know, and many other businesses, support that proposition.
WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, is that a deal breaker?
BOEHNER: Absolutely. They're going to shift $400 billion of the cost of this new program onto the backs of employers with this mandate. You know what that means? The cost of employment goes up. When the cost of employment goes up, the number of jobs created goes down. That's not what the American people want.
And secondly, there's an individual mandate that you must buy health insurance, and if you don't, we're going to fine you, and we're going to fine employers if they don't offer health care. What this is going to do is lead to higher costs, rationing, and lower quality health care delivery in our — in our system. The American people want reform.
WALLACE: We're doing a quick checklist here, so let me move to the — to the last area in health care reform.
Congressman Hoyer, how are you going to pay for it specifically? What taxes are you willing to raise? And are you going to tax health care benefits?
HOYER: I'm not going to go into — that's a proposal on the table in the Senate, not in the House, as you know. The pay-fors are going to be tough. Nobody wants to pay for what we're buying. And very frankly, our financial status in America has gone down.
During the last eight years, we inherited a 5.6...
WALLACE: All right. We got the inherited part.
HOYER: I understand that.
BOEHNER: It's kind of like that kid with his lost his homework again.
WALLACE: All right.
HOYER: That's cumulative homework. It's something you want to forget. You don't want the homework. I understand that.
BOEHNER: Well, I did my homework and brought it to school.
HOYER: There you go.
The fact is that we're going to make sure that this program is paid for, unlike the programs we've seen adopted in the past, so we don't make the deficit worse.
BOEHNER: The president says the problem with our health care system is we spend too much as a nation on health care. So how do you spend another trillion to $2 trillion in order to spend less?
And we're going to tax the American people, raise our taxes once again, at a time when the economy's not doing well. If we're trying to create jobs in America, you can't do it by imposing more taxes on a big government-run health care plan.
You can't do it by raising energy taxes on every American with their cap and trade system, and then you go out and spend a trillion dollars, with interest, on a — on a stimulus bill that's not working.
WALLACE: Finally — and we've got about — a little over a minute left, so you're going to both have to be quick about this.
We are coming up on the end of the first six months of this new Congress and this new president.
Start with you, Congressman Hoyer. How's it going?
HOYER: I think this has been the most productive six months that I've served in the Congress of the United States.
I think the president put down the program and the Democrats in the Congress have has supported the program, which is exactly responsive to the last election, what the American people wanted.
They wanted change we could believe in. They wanted us to address the economy. We've done that. They wanted us to address energy. We've done that to make ourselves independent and secure, provide for cheaper energy, and addressing the climate challenge that confronts our country.
We're also going to address the issue, and have addressed the issue, of education. So we are doing what the American people asked us to do.
WALLACE: Congressman Boehner?
BOEHNER: Chris, it's been nothing short of breathtaking. This giant move to build more government here in Washington, to take more money from the American people — and at the end of the day, what we're going to end up with is higher taxes, bigger government and less freedom for the American people.
It's breathtaking, this big move to the left. And at the end of the day, while we're going to continue to offer what we think are better solutions, our members are going to continue to stand up for freedom, because you can't grow the family budget when Washington's budget is growing. You can't grow the business budget when Washington's budget is growing.
And we're going to have a real fight for how much freedom we're going to have left in America.
WALLACE: Well, gentlemen, I'm glad we were able to settle all of that...
HOYER: Right, Chris.
WALLACE: ... in this — in this short time.
Congressman Boehner, Congressman Hoyer...
WALLACE: ... thank you both. Thanks for sharing part of your holiday weekend with us.
BOEHNER: Thank you.
HOYER: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Thanks, gentlemen.
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