Rep. Altmire: Positive Direction on Debt Crisis

Pennsylvania Democrat on debt plans, 'Gang of Six'


STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Blue Dog Democrat Congressman Jason Altmire voting against Cut, Cap and Balance in the House, but will he support the gang of six plan?

Congressman Altmire just meeting with Democrat Senator Mark Warner, who is a member of the gang of six.

Congressman, welcome to the program.

REP. JASON ALTMIRE, D-PA.: Glad to be here, Stuart. Thank you.

VARNEY: OK. Sir would you -- let’s see now. The G-6 plan, the ‘Gang of Six’ plan, would you vote for it? Would you go for it? Now you know a little bit more about it. As you know of it, yes or no?

ALTMIRE: As I know of it, I’m happy that the plan exists. I think they’re moving in the right direction. We need to see the finished product.

There’s a lot of things in there that are parameters, not specifics, but I do think they’re heading in the right direction.

VARNEY: You don’t think that ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ was heading in the right direction or was the right answer, because you voted against it. So, evidently, you don’t think that’s the thing to go for?

ALTMIRE: No. I thought that the cuts to border security, to food inspection, to infrastructure, to scientific and medical research, I thought that those are investments we need to continue to make in our future.

It’s a difference of opinion. They had a right to bring that bill up. It passed. I just had a difference of opinion.

VARNEY: I believe you are what’s called a Blue Dog Democrat. Well, five other Blue Dog Democrats voted for ‘Cut, Cap and Balance.’ They voted for it.

Don’t you think that maybe your objections to those limited areas were a little picky given the great scheme of things?

ALTMIRE: Well, in normal times, had this bill brought up, maybe the circumstances would have been different, but right now, we’re facing a deadline, as you’ve been talking about the entire show.

And this bill, as you have outlined, had no chance to pass in the Senate. The House leadership had a right to bring it up. I cast my vote. But I think the more important work is to work on the gang of six and to work on the August 2 deadline. That’s what’s important right now.

VARNEY: Just want you to listen for a second to presidential spokesman Jay Carney saying the president is leading by not having a plan. Listen to this, sir.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up-or-down and likely voted down.


VARNEY: Well, sir, you are a Democrat and so is the president and I always understood that leadership was out front. You get out there, you lead, other people follow your plan. But there is no plan. How can the president be leading with no plan?

ALTMIRE: Well, the plan has to originate in the Congress. And according to the Constitution, specifically, it has to originate in the House of Representatives.

And until the ‘Gang of Six’ is able to convince the House leadership that that’s the type of program that needs to move forward -- and I do think we’re heading in that direction – that’s where the plan has to start. That’s what’s in the Constitution.

VARNEY: At this moment of crisis, where we’re so close to that deadline, you don’t think the president has a responsibility to get out front, prod, push and propose?

ALTMIRE: I think it would be an unfair criticism to say the president hasn’t been out front. How many press conferences has he had over the past two weeks? How many times did he have the leadership at the White House?

VARNEY: I haven’t seen a plan, sir. I don’t know what the plan is. I do not know what the president’s plan is, period. I don’t know.


ALTMIRE: Neither you nor I was in the meeting in the White House that had the congressional leadership. My understanding is they did discuss a plan in those meetings.

VARNEY: So you’re for the ‘Gang of Six’ plan, as you know it right now?

ALTMIRE: I like the direction that it’s heading. We have to fill in the blanks. There are some specifics that need to be worked out. But if you’re going to raise the debt ceiling, having $3.7 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years is a pretty good offset to that.

VARNEY: You’ve met with your other colleagues, I’m sure. Do you get the impression that there is now some more momentum behind ‘Gang of Six’ plan?

ALTMIRE: I think there’s incredible momentum. I think if the time frame was a little bit bigger, we could definitely pull it off.

But the issue is we’ve got less than two weeks now before we would actually default. So, whether or not we could finish the plan in time, whether or not this is going to need a short-term extension, I don’t know. But we’re heading at least in a very positive direction, which I wouldn’t have said a week ago.


Congressman Jason Altmire thanks for joining us, sir. Thank you.

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