Does Washington have a debt problem or a spending problem?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 25, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, four days are all that remain before the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts kick into effect. Now, did President Obama spent his weekend trying to figure out how to avoid the sequester? No, of course not.

Instead of leading, the Obama administration decided its time, would best be spent by highlighting how the sequester would impact each of the 50 states. But what the White House failed to mention and the media won't cover yet again is that President Obama and his left-wing cohorts, they are the reason that this country is in this mess to begin with.

And now, the White House is trying to vilify Republicans -- they're heartless, they're budget cutters, they favor firing teachers and first responders and oh, kids don't get immunizations, and Republicans are going to shut down schools and let criminals go.

Now, earlier today, the House GOP leadership responded, they tried to put some sanity in these numbers into perspective.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, R-CALIF., HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: The president's only idea to solve a problem is to take more from the hard working taxpayers. Let's put the sequester into perspective. It's $85 billion. We have a spending problem in Washington, we borrow more than a trillion.

We roughly borrow $85 billion every 28 days. So what we're looking to do is cut less than what we borrow in one month. Not what we spend, but what we borrow. This is not time for a road show president. This is a time to look for someone who will lead and work with us because we're willing to work with them to solve America's problem.


HANNITY: All right. Now, Congressman McCarthy is absolutely correct. There will be a slight economic impact, but it will not put this country in dire straits.

Now, let me explain. The total government spending for the 2013 fiscal year is projected to be $3.6 trillion, which means the sequester cuts would only be a reduction of 2.4 percent. Now, let's compare this to the national debt which now sits at an alarming, a staggering $16.6 trillion. And the sequester cuts are only one-half of one percent of that number.

Now, the administration, they refuse to look at the big picture or try to confront the real economic problems that are facing the country. Our kids, our grandkids, they're going to be paying the price for this for years to come.

And as of today, if Americans were asked to reach deeper into their pockets and help pay off the national debt, well, each of you watching this program and every American would owe almost $53,000.

Now, it's pretty despicable and frankly immoral to be is stealing from future generations, and what Americans need to realize as they listen to the president -- and he'll be whining all week about this as he tries to pin this mess on the Republicans -- it was under his watch that the annual federal budget has jumped 19 percent since he stepped foot inside the Oval Office.

And joining me now to talk about what lies ahead before the sequester deadline strikes midnight on Friday, Democratic New York Congressman Gregory Meeks. And also, Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling, he is with Texas.

Congressman Meeks, do you care about children?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS, D-N.Y.: Oh, I love children.

HANNITY: You love children, I love children, I have two kids. I might even be a grandpa one day at the rate I'm going, many years down the line of course. We borrow as a country, Congressman, 46 cents of every dollar you guys are spending in Washington. Forty six cents of every dollar we spend we borrow, 16-and-a-half trillion dollars in debt. And don't you think that there's something immoral about stealing from those kids? Because they're going to be the ones paying that back, is that wrong? No, no, is that wrong?

MEEKS: Listen, listen, number one, when the Republicans were in control, that's when we had all of this debt we're getting --

HANNITY: No, no, no is that wrong today -- I'm looking at today, is that wrong to steal from our kids' piggy banks? I'm asking.

MEEKS: We're not stealing from our kids' piggy bank.

HANNITY: We're not?

MEEKS: What we're saying is -- what we're saying, we got into a couple of wars that we shouldn't have been in and we have to pay for those wars --


HANNITY: Oh good grief. No, no, no.

MEEKS: And now -- and now we've got to pay for these wars.

HANNITY: Obama gives us six trillion in debt. You're not getting away with this Congressman.

MEEKS: And so, what we need to do -- Sean, what we need to do is to make sure that everybody in America pays -- has their fair share.

HANNITY: Yes. I can finish your sentence for you. That's right.

MEEKS: So, we need to -- I'm with the Democrat, do we need to cut some spending? Absolutely.


MEEKS: But do we need to raise some revenue? Absolutely. That's fair. In -- there's a new poll, 76 percent of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, agree with that.

HANNITY: Yes. OK. Now, let me ask you, Congressman Hensarling, because this is important because Congressman Meeks wouldn't answer, is it immoral and wrong to steal this money from future generations? Your take? We have over a trillion dollars in debt every year.

REP. JEB HENSARLING, R-TEXAS: Listen, absolutely. I've got a nine- year-old son, my daughter is turning 11 on Thursday. And you've nailed it. This is not just an economic question, it's a moral question, it's a question of generational theft.

You know, Sean, at what point do you quit spending money you don't have. If we continue on this trajectory, the one that the president and Democrats have put us on, you know, our children are going to be competing for fewer jobs, with shrinking paychecks, you know, living in smaller, older homes and they're going to be confined to small timid dreams, we are on the verge of being the first generation in America's history to leave the next generation with less freedom, fewer opportunities and a lower standard of living, and that's frankly immoral.

HANNITY: Well, George Bush did give us $4 trillion in debt in eight years, Obama's six trillion in four years.

Now, the following Democrats, Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi, Tom Harkin and even the president today, they say we don't have a spending problem, you guys in Washington. Let's go to the videotape and see if Congressman Meeks agrees with this.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Folks, who think spending really is our biggest problem should be more concerned than anybody about improving our infrastructure right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I want to disagree with those who say we have a spending problem.

If we're so rich, why are we so broke? Is it a spending problem? No.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The country has a spending problem?

REP. STENY HOYER, D-MD.: Does the country has a spending problem?


HOYER: The country has a paying for it problem. We haven't paid for what we bought. We haven't paid for our tax cuts. We haven't paid for --

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: And so, it is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem. We have a budget deficit problem that we have to address.


HANNITY: We're spending, Congressman, a trillion more dollars a year than we take in. Is there a spending problem? What's your answer to that?

MEEKS: We're still paying off the debt that George Bush created.


HANNITY: I'm asking you about today.

MEEKS: We've got to pay George Bush -- today -- the credit card.

HANNITY: Today, do we have a spending problem?

MEEKS: Today, we have to -- we have to pay back the debt of yesterday. And that's what we have to do --

HANNITY: We've got Barack Obama's debt. Stop, stop.

MEEKS: You've got a credit card, you've got a credit card. You get a bill. You have to pay the bill.

HANNITY: I've got a question for you. Do we have a spending problem today? Yes or no? It's not a hard question.

MEEKS: We have a debt problem.

HANNITY: We have a debt problem. We don't have a spending problem today?

MEEKS: We have a debt problem. We have a debt problem and we have to pay our bills.

HANNITY: All right. But we're borrowing 46 cents of every dollar, Congressman Hensarling.

HENSARLING: The deficit is the symptom, it is spending that is the disease. I mean, over the last 10 years, federal spending has almost doubled and the economy and only increased about 15 to 16 percent and working families, they haven't seen their income increased at all. It is a spending problem. And right now, the president's taking spending from 20 percent of the economy to about 25 and it's on its way to 40. I mean, at this spending trajectory, working families are going to have tax rates that will make France's new socialist president blush, you can't do it.

MEEKS: You know, one of the things I just heard the chairman say that I agree maybe by working families. So, Mr. Chairman, we're going to agree that we need to raise the minimum wage for working families so that they can have and earn more money here. And that's something that I think that we can agree upon, what I would like to see us do is raise the minimum wage --

HENSARLING: What I would like to see, Greg, is what we actually need is maximum opportunity and we're not going to get maximum opportunity when your party and this president taxes small businesses, when we put crushing regulatory burdens like ObamaCare and Dodd Frank upon them, we're not going to get --

MEEKS: But can we agree to raise the minimum wage? Can we agree to raise minimum wage to those working families --


HANNITY: All right. I have a last question.


HENSARLING: The answer is no. We want opportunity, you're trying to take the bottom --

MEEKS: So, you don't care that --

HENSARLING: You're giving the opportunity away --

MEEKS: It's not about the average worker getting an increased wages because you just said it. It's flat. Let's raise their salaries --

HANNITY: Congressman Meeks, I've got a question, I've got a question for you. Hang on a second.

HENSARLING: Let's not bankrupt our children, Greg.

HANNITY: I've got a question for you. Congressman Meeks, Barack Obama has given us $6 trillion in new debt. He said that George Bush's four trillion was irresponsible and unpatriotic. By definition, is he irresponsible and unpatriotic?

MEEKS: Well, has to pay George Bush's debt. Talk to me about the debt cuts that was taken care of, when the Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the presidency.


HANNITY: Time to get your pants on, and sit at the table and take responsibility, George Bush is out of office five years. You've got to grow up, and --


He's given us trillion dollar deficits, not George Bush. George Bush never gave us a trillion dollar deficit.

HENSARLING: And President Obama, President Obama -- amassed more debt in four years than the previous 200. You can't escape that. That's a fact.

MEEKS: Under President Obama, we have created jobs every month, under George Bush --

HENSARLING: Fewer Americans working.

MEEKS: -- we were losing $800,000 jobs. So, we were gaining with this economy is recovering under President Obama.

HANNITY: All right. We've got to go. Thank you both.

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