This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And this is a Fox News alert. You are looking live at the White House where the president's meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner is now underway. Now, if they fail to reach an agreement tonight, the prospect of a government shutdown tomorrow night, well, that becomes all to more likely. And that prospect was hotly debated on the House floor earlier today. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-VA.: We don't accept the status quo.
REP. STENY HOYER, D-MD.: We never shut down the government when we had the majority. And President Bush was in power. And the reason -- and I tell my friend, the reason we did not shut it down is because.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: House comes to order, gentlemen...
CANTOR: I would say, let us look at why we are where we are to begin with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: But the question remains when exactly do the Democrats plan to give up their talking points and actually get down to governing? Here to help answer that question, Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont. Congressman, how are you?
REP. PETER WELCH, D-VT.: Good.
HANNITY: All right. Your party had control -- this budget should have been passed October 1 of last year. The Democrats had control, significant majorities in the House, the Senate. You had the White House. For the first time since 1974, party in control fails to pass a budget. Explain to the American people why your party was derelict in their duty and didn't pass the budget?
WELCH: Well, as you know, we made progress in the House. And then you have the filibuster rules in the Senate, and that was a huge impediment. The minority has a lot of power.
HANNITY: There was no filibuster.
WELCH: Well, they had to get the votes to do it.
HANNITY: You have the majority, pass it and then blame it on the Republicans. You guys didn't pass it.
WELCH: Well, you know, we didn't. And we can't stop and criticize on that and we didn't pass it because there was an incredible intensity about the cap-and-trade legislation as it was called, the energy legislation and about the health care bill.
HANNITY: This is your first responsibility. This is Congress' job. You guys had power. You didn't pass a budget. And now your colleagues, and I don't know that you are, are demagoguing this. And don't you think Democrats ought to own up and stop blaming Republicans for the job they failed to do when they were supposed to do it?
WELCH: Well, I do agree with that. I think we ought to be solving the problem. This is a practical problem to be solved, not an ideological battle to be won. I listened to Mike Pence, I with him about the urgency of trying to get our fiscal house in order. But there are two areas where I disagree with him and with Mr. Ryan. Who incidentally I give a lot of credit for putting a serious plan on the table. It is what they don't put on the table that is going to handcuff us. Pentagon is exempt and revenues are exempt. And if you look at how we got here, the history of this, Bill Clinton January 20th, turn the keys to the White House over to George Bush, $5.7 trillion anticipated surplus. Then a decision by Mr. Bush, a war of choice in Iraq, a trillion dollars, 2001, a tax cut at the high end, a trillion dollars, '03, $1.3 trillion in the tax cuts, and then the Afghanistan war.
HANNITY: I got, you know, listen, President Obama, this is his debt, his deficit. You guys fail to pass a budget. All right. Here we are, it's a $3.6 trillion budget.
WELCH: No, I'm not going to agree with that.
HANNITY: It's a $3.6 trillion budget. Republicans are saying, cut $61 billion of $3.6 trillion and we've got Debbie Wasserman Schultz saying, this is a death trap for seniors. You got Harry Reid saying that Republicans don't want women to get cancer screening. And Nancy Pelosi saying, Republicans are denying six million seniors dinner. Is that unfair? Are those accusations false?
WELCH: Well, you know, it is not particularly helpful for us to be using any of that language back in forth to solve the problems. We could get to the $61 billion, it'd be simple, all right. John Sullivan of Oklahoma had an amendment in the budget to get rid of the ethanol subsidy, that's like in the range of $15 billion dollars. You add that to what is already there and we are at that number.
We could get the number. But if what we're doing, is every time we come up with something that is getting rid of waste in the tax system or were saying, hey let's take a look at the Pentagon, the two areas that have been major contributors to this deficit, that's out of bounds, we're handcuffing ourselves and being able to reach agreement.
HANNITY: But let me argue this. Because we are dealing with your budget that you guys didn't pass. Now, they are scaring seniors. Class warfare. This is spitting in an ocean. And Democrats are holding firm. And then they are demagoguing it.
Now, when we go to the 2012 budget, Paul Ryan is dealing with Defense. Paul Ryan is doing what Barack Obama didn't do. He's dealing with entitlements, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid.
So, I ask you, do you think President Obama punted and was unwilling to take a courageous, leading position on the budget when he's had nearly five trillion in Obama debt since he's been president?
WELCH: No, I'm not going to go down that road with you. I mean, I want to give Mr. Ryan some credit.
HANNITY: Right or wrong though?
WELCH: You are wrong. I mean, because you are erasing history. What did he inherit? When he came into office, Mr. Bush has transferred $5.7 trillion surplus into a $10 trillion deficit. He faced the aftermath of the collapse of the banking system. Where George Bush and John McCain were asking for $750 billion from the taxpayers to bailout the banks. We had unemployment of nearly 10 percent. Then, we had a stimulus.
And now, we are in the midst of a fragile recovery, and I'll tell you something, this is where I do disagree with Mike. This shutdown is going to be inconvenient and painful for employees and for folks who need governmental services. But what we're playing with is the credibility of the United States and its ability the political system to solve problems.
HANNITY: Congressman, your party failed in its key responsibility. Now you're scaring old people.
WELCH: I'm not saying anything about -- I'm not doing that.
HANNITY: You're right, you're not and I'm not inferring you are. But your party is. Nancy Pelosi is, Harry Reid is, Debbie Wasserman Schultz is. They're saying that old people were basically dying, forced to eat cat food.
If we are going to compare budgets with the Bush administration, George Bush's budget deficit in 2007 was $161 billion. Barack Obama's budget deficit for February, one month was more than that, $223. He has accumulated more debt than every president from Washington to Reagan combined.
WELCH: Right. And that's pretty unfair.
HANNITY: Two-and-a-half years, this is not Bush's fault.
WELCH: That is pretty unfair, when what you do is disregard what he inherited from the Bush years.
But the bottom-line here, and this what I think is fundamentally important, this $61 billion number, we could get there today. Why is it that we won't go after the tax code? I'm talking about a provision that John Sullivan from Oklahoma, a Republican introduced and passed to get rid of ethanol subsidies, that is just money out of the pocket.
HANNITY: I don't care how you -- listen, I will say this, the fact that the Democrats didn't do their job and now want to blame Republicans and scare old people, that is offensive to me.
WELCH: I want to solve the problem.
HANNITY: I want to solve the problem too.
WELCH: I'm not here to blame Republicans. If we're going to solve the problem --
HANNITY: I want to solve the problem, too. Then your leaders need to stop scaring old people. And I'll tell you another thing, George Bush has not been president for nearly two-and-a- half-years, Congressman. It's time for Democrats to man up and stop placing the blame because Barack Obama has created this deficit problem not George Bush.
WELCH: No, but it's the history here -- Sean, it is not about the blame because it doesn't get us anywhere, it's about the policies.
HANNITY: You're blaming Bush.
WELCH: If you want to solve the problem -- no, I mean, if you want to solve the problem, I'm saying that if we are going to repeat the decision of the Bush years where we exempt the Pentagon, and where we double down on tax cuts at the high end and shrink revenues that way, we are going to repeat history and make this worse. And in fact, in the Ryan budget, we go from about $15 trillion in debt in 10 years to $23 trillion in debt. That's the wrong way to go.
HANNITY: What a minute, Paul Ryan is cutting $6.2 trillion. I have seen no Democratic plan, none, because the president doesn't cut anything. He increases spending yet again another $1.65 trillion in debt this year, thanks to Obama's budget and reckless spending.
WELCH: You always get the last word in. The bottom-line here, is that if we want to solve this problem and we have, and we have to do it together.
WELCH: We have to put everything on the table, that's the Pentagon and that's revenues.
HANNITY: All right. Congressman, I do disagree. But at least you are not using that type of hyperbole and I credit you for that. Thanks for being with us.
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