Interviews

Sen. Sessions spars with WH budget director over plan

AL lawmaker sounds off on Obama's budget

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 12, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The White House budget director dodging it on the deficit? You decide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R - AL: Well, your budget increases the deficit by $8.2 trillion over 10 years, yes or no?

JEFFREY ZIENTS, ACTING DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: The deficit -- the deficit...

SESSIONS: In your own number.

ZIENTS: The deficit as a percent of the economy...

SESSIONS: No, I asked you the dollar.

(CROSSTALK)

ZIENTS: ... percent...

(CROSSTALK)

SESSIONS: Did it increase the deficit by $8.2 trillion?

ZIENTS: I don't -- I need to check...

SESSIONS: You don't know what is in your number, how much you increased the deficit?

ZIENTS: There are lot of numbers there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: All right, to the Alabama Republican doing the grilling, Senator Jeff Sessions.

Senator, I saw what he was trying -- this is something I see very -- used a lot by those on the left to claim that, as a percentage of GDP, deficits are coming down. The debt, as a percentage of GDP, is coming down. But you were quite right to try to get -- look at the numbers there. The dollar figure is growing immensely.

What did you make of that?

SESSIONS: It was a very evasive performance and I was very disappointed in it, primarily because they just continue to misrepresent what this budget does.

For example, they claim $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction? It has a trillion dollars -- $1.1 trillion in new taxes, additional taxes, and it increases spending $965 billion, almost the same amount, reducing actually we think less than $100 billion the current course -- deficit course we're on, which everyone has told us is an unsustainable debt course.

So, I think it...

CAVUTO: So, you don't buy it when the president says or his budget guys say the trend is our friend and that the deficits are coming in a little smaller and will be for the next few years, and while they -- regardless of how big they are, they pile up the debt, you're quite right, the math equation near term is looking better?

You don't buy that?

SESSIONS: Actually, no.

Over the next four years, this deficit gets worse. Over the next -- the full time the president in office, he increases spending over the current baseline that we're on, the current trajectory of spending that we're on.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, when they're bragging about deficits, Senator, that are going to be well under a trillion dollars now -- it seems like a kooky bragging right to me, whether a Republican were saying it or a Democrat -- but that -- what do you make of just that argument?

SESSIONS: They do -- the deficits have always been projected to fall because the economy is projected to grow.

CAVUTO: Right.

SESSIONS: And, of course, we had another $600 billion tax increase in January.

So you would expect some decline in it. But by their own numbers they submitted just a couple of days ago, interest on our debt in the 10th year would be $760 billion. Think about that. The highway bill is $40 billion. We spend about $100 billion on education. Interest would go from a couple hundred billion a year now to $760 billion a year.

CAVUTO: But no one is doing anything, Senator. I mean, everyone gives -- takes bows for finally in the president's case maybe looking at maybe a different formula for Social Security or reining in the growth of Medicare a tad, but none of this is really decisively moving the debt needle.

If anything, 10 years from now, I think, as you were pointing out, it's going to be a lot higher than it is now.

SESSIONS: We will go from $17 trillion in gross debt to $25 trillion in gross debt.

(CROSSTALK)

SESSIONS: And it does nothing, Neil, in the out years, where the entitlement programs begin to really bite and put us in an absolutely untenable position.

CAVUTO: Amazing. Amazing.

SESSIONS: It will do really nothing, except chained CPI would help a little bit, but only a hundred billion in the first 10 years.

CAVUTO: All right. Yes, not -- not much you can spit at there, Senator.

Thank you. Good seeing you.

SESSIONS: Thank you.

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