Interviews

Rep. Fattah: 'This Is About Getting Americans Back to Work'

Pennsylvania congressman on need for more stimulus spending

 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: You want jobs to get going? Well, get calling for more spending. Just don’t call it spending.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We can’t let our infrastructure just crumble and fall apart. We’re America. We’ve got to make that investment.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: All right, Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah agrees with that, says the president’s got it dead-right.

Congressman, you and I have chatted about this before. And I think you are a great guest, but you’ve got to be kidding. I mean, put the shovel down, right? You’ve got to put the shovel down.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH, D-PA.: Well, look, Neil, all I can tell you is that if you take the millions of jobs lost in the last two years of Bush, and the two million jobs gained over the two years of Obama, I know a lot of the Obama critics, they are celebrating...

CAVUTO: Well, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. We have a -- we still have a net loss under President Obama of 2.5 million jobs. You’re aware of that?

FATTAH: Neil, take a look at the jobs lost under the last two years of Bush, and the almost two million net jobs increased under Bush -- under Obama.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Congressman, I don’t want to get sidetracked here, and I respect the heck out of you, but that’s simply not so. You’re right. There has been a surge in new jobs in the last year.

FATTAH: Two million.

CAVUTO: But the bottom line -- I got to tell you, net-net, from when the president took office to today, we are net down 2.5 million jobs. That’s from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I’m not making that up.

So, we will just...

FATTAH: Well, you’re absolutely right. That is that in the day he -- the month he was sworn in -- he was sworn in on the 20th of January, in January, the nation lost 800,000 jobs.

Now, if you want to credit that to President Obama, go right ahead. I’m not sure that, intellectually, we should.

CAVUTO: I ‘m not here to play this game.

All I’m just saying, Congressman, is if we are down 2.5 million net jobs since that period, and we’ve done a lot of spending, we have done a lot of surplus, and I guess you can argue, as you have in the past, that we would be a hell of a lot worse if we didn’t, but we’re not exactly firing on all cylinders. And now it sounds like you are saying spend more.

FATTAH: Well, here you go. We have 132 million Americans who are working today. And we have millions who are not working. And we need to work harder to get them back to work.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: Doing what? What would you do? What would you do?

FATTAH: Well, I think we should work to increase manufacturing; we should work to improve our infrastructure. We should do the work that the country needs done.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So that’s more spending by the government to build roads, bridges, stuff like that, right?

FATTAH: Well, the point here is that I believe we should have the best airports in the world, the best infrastructure in the world. And I think that what we have as a country in the past, generations before us, they’ve invested in those -- in bridges and roads and highways.

CAVUTO: But we don’t have any money to invest. We’re broke.

FATTAH: Well, the point here is that the cost of doing nothing is to allow our economic competitors to get ahead of us. We’re in the number-one economy in the world.

CAVUTO: But I have seen what the costs of doing something is, Congressman. I’ve seen $938 billion devoted to health care law; $821 billion to the stimulus plan a couple of years ago.

I look at the Homeownership and Business Assistance Act, $6.6 billion. That’s been working like a charm. The hiring incentives to restore the Employment Act, $17.6 billion, higher unemployment rate than when it started, extra funding for states and teachers, for Medicaid, all of that, $26 billion, worse than it was prior to the commitment of the money.

I could go on and on. Eventually, you get to a point where you’re digging a hole, and maybe you just say, you know what? I am just going to put the shovel down.

FATTAH: Well, look, you left out $1 trillion-plus on a couple of wars, but selective amnesia...

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: No doubt. No, no, no, no doubt you’re right.

FATTAH: I’m not in the do-nothing crowd, Neil.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I’m just saying, but I’m telling you, you’ve done something. You’ve done something.

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH: I don’t believe you want to be in the do-nothing crowd, Neil.

CAVUTO: Here is the solution. No, no, no. You know what? I don’t want you people to do anything. I want you to stop. And I would like you to take the same amount of money you are spending, with the best of interest and the decent of heart, to give it, the same money, back to taxpayers, and let them have at it.

FATTAH: Well, taxpayers have gotten tax breaks under President Obama, the largest in our country’s history.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Yes, well, it seems to be working like a charm, so give them more.

(CROSSTALK) FATTAH: It would be fine if I could just get a sentence out. I know you’ve got a lot of time to beat up on the president, but I want to talk about putting Americans back to work.

CAVUTO: How? How? How?

FATTAH: We have 132 million working today, and we can do it just like the country’s done it before.

Let’s lead in science, technology, innovation. Let’s lead in terms of rebuilding our infrastructure and creating manufacturing jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: With what, Congressman? We don’t have the money. You say I’m beating up on the president. I beat up on the last president on those bailouts and financial rescues that I thought were a horrible idea.

FATTAH: I can’t tell you in half-a-sentence, Neil.

CAVUTO: I got a lot of people calling from the White House back then who said Cavuto is off his rocker going after us.

I don’t, think with all those good intentions and all your decent goals, it amounts to a can of spit. So, all I’m saying is, why don’t you try something new? This playbook has failed. It’s clearly indicating an economy going back into something bad. Why don’t you try something substantial, like giving people money back, substantial amounts of money back, so they can dictate their own future, and not be at your whim?

FATTAH: Well, let me just say this to you.

Under President Clinton, we raised taxes on the wealthy, we invested in education and in infrastructure and in our environment, and 25 million new jobs were created and we balanced the budget.

Now, you can talk about this notion that by doing nothing we somehow move forward. We tried that under Bush. We cut taxes and the economy went into depression. So now we’re building...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Now, congressman, now you’re making stuff up.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: We had a recession in the end -- we had a recession in the end of the Clinton years. And we also had this little thing called 9/11.

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH: Every month, we’re adding new jobs.

CAVUTO: All right, you say you’re adding new jobs, and you say you’re doing this, and touché to that.

I’m just telling you, if I brought home a report card like this to my parents when I was a kid, trying to explain, well, it’s the teacher, or the prior year I didn’t learn enough, that’s why I’m such a dunce this year, they would -- well, actually, my dad would have launched me into orbit.

So, you can’t do this. It’s a bad report card. We can’t keep doing this.

FATTAH: Look, this is about getting Americans back to work. And we’re working hard on doing that. And we have been more successful than the guy who was in there before President Obama. He lost millions of jobs, right?

CAVUTO: Actually, you are going backwards here.

FATTAH: No, I’m going forward. I’m going forward.

CAVUTO: So, I want you to succeed, Congressman, but you’re not succeeding doing what you are doing. You are talking about spending money we don’t have. We’re broke. We’re broke. We’re broke. We’re broke. We’re broke.

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH: Neil, our nation is not shadow boxing. We’re in an international competition in terms of an economy with larger countries like China. We have to compete. We have to compete.

CAVUTO: Other countries, they have money. They have money. I want to compete with, I don’t know, Rupert Murdoch on what he’s doing with money. He has money, OK, so you can’t. You can’t do that.

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH: Here’s the deal.

Millions of new jobs under President Obama, two million private sector jobs, right? That’s the facts, and millions lost under President Bush over the same amount of time.

CAVUTO: Did you just see what happened in the last month? Did you just see what happened in manufacturing? Did you just see what happened in retail sales? Did you just see what happened in factory production? Did you just see what happened in the service sector?

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH: Here, let me just bother you with a small fact.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: Does Custer ring a bell, Congressman? Does Custer ring a bell? Look around. The arrows are everywhere.

FATTAH: We had a 21 straight month’s increase in manufacturing jobs, 21 straight months, 21 -- 21 straight months of increases in manufacturing.

We have had a bad month this month, all right?

CAVUTO: You didn’t have a bad month. We just had the Titanic

FATTAH: All right? But I didn’t hear -- I didn’t hear any of the excitement over the 21 months in which manufacturing jobs were increasing.

CAVUTO: All right. All right. OK.

FATTAH: So, it is hard to imagine that we are looking at a fair, balanced view of things.

CAVUTO: All right. Well...

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH: And I know you are fair and balanced -- 21 months of increases in manufacturing.

CAVUTO: OK. And ...

(CROSSTALK) FATTAH: We had one month. We had a bump.

CAVUTO: All right.

FATTAH: But Americans know how to get back up.

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