Rep. Cooper: Congress Needs to Work Together on Cuts

Blue Dog Democrat pressing House leaders to end recess to solve debt problem



PRESIDENT OBAMA: There’s been a lot of talk in Washington right now that I should call Congress back early. The last thing we need is Congress spending more time arguing in D.C.



NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF, “YOUR WORLD”: All right, well, that was the president’s way of saying, it ain’t happening.

And that’s rattled one of my next guests. Blue Dog Democrats out urging House leadership to do just the opposite, saying we can’t afford to wait until September for Congress to get back to work.

Congressman Jim Cooper from Tennessee joining me right now.

Well, Congressman, the president is saying, no, it would be a waste of time. What do you say?

REP. JIM COOPER, D-TENN.: Well, the president is right if we went back to work and started arguing again.

We need to get along. We need solve problems. But Congress does need to get back to work. Congress often ignores the time value of money. And our problems are accumulating so fast right now, that, by one calculation, you could even say that every day we wait costs us almost $14 billion. That’s like $164,000 a second.

CAVUTO: What’s to say you guys come back, though, and you add to that $164,000 a second? Some of you – I’m not saying you, sir, but a lot your colleagues have a penchant to just keep spending. I’ve heard talk of more job initiatives. I have said before maybe we should have an initiative to stop the initiatives.


CAVUTO: Having said that, maybe the better part of valor is to stay home, if that’s what you’re going to do if you come back.

COOPER: Well, at a bare minimum, the super committee of 12 people, now that they’re selected, should get right to work, because they face a November 23 deadline.

But I really think the entire Congress needs to be involved because by December 23, by Christmastime, we will have to vote on a huge package of cuts. And the cuts really need to be larger than what the super committee is talking about. They’re only tasked with $1.2 trillion. Most economies I have talked to are saying that package should probably be larger, something along the lines of $3 trillion or $4 trillion.


CAVUTO: But it won’t be that, though, right?

As things stand now, if they don’t get -- if they’re split down the middle and also split in Congress, then automatic triggers go into effect totaling the $1.2 trillion, right?

COOPER: Exactly right, the so-called sequestration process.

CAVUTO: Right.

COOPER: And, already, industry is split. Some folks like agriculture folks think they might fare better under sequestration. Others folks like defense say, hey, we need intelligent cuts because we are in the middle of a bunch of wars here. We cannot just cut across the board at a time like this.

So Congress above all needs to learn these programs better to know where the cuts can be made and go ahead and help the committee make those cuts, because we can’t delegate all the responsibility just to 12 people on a super committee. Congress needs to be doing its homework.

And just because we have traditionally had an August break doesn’t mean we should have one now, when the economy is so weak and the jobless picture is so grim and when the stock market is on a roller coaster.

CAVUTO: Have you heard anything back from John Boehner or any of the other leaders?

COOPER: Well, Speaker Boehner made an announcement saying, hey, it’s all the Senate’s fault and that they should act and if anybody came back, it should be the Senate.

And there’s actually truth to that, because the Senate is probably more dysfunctional today than it’s been in a long time.

CAVUTO: What about Nancy Pelosi?

COOPER: The filibuster has taken over.

Well, the Speaker runs the House of Representatives. Speaker Boehner could call us back at any time he wanted to. They’ve actually kept the House in for most of the month in a technical pro forma session, but, primarily, to prevent President Obama from making recess appointments.

I think we should get back do work, because our problems are accumulating so fast, we really can’t afford to come back September 7 and say, oh, I didn’t know that was happening. Yes, Congress is busy back home talking to constituents, but we also need to be doing the work in Washington, because a lot of my colleagues have not learned the programs, have not studied the cuts like they should have.

CAVUTO: All right.

COOPER: And now’s the time to do that.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, good seeing you. Thank you very much.

COOPER: Thank you, Neil.

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