Reps. John Spratt, D-S.C., and Jim Nussle, R-Iowa

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, July 15, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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BRENDA BUTTNER, GUEST HOST: Well, you’ve heard the details. Now let’s hear the debate.

Joining me now from Capitol Hill, House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, the Republican congressman from Iowa, and South Carolina Congressman John Spratt, the ranking Democrat on that committee.

Welcome to you both.


BUTTNER: Representative Nussle, that’s a chunk of change.

REP. JIM NUSSLE, R-IOWA, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It is a chunk of change, and I’ll tell you the one thing John and I will agree on is that it’s too big. Now the question is: How do we deal with these spending-driven deficits? We had three years here with emergencies...

BUTTNER: Well, is it spending-driven, or is it tax-cut driven?

NUSSLE: Well, there’s no question it’s spending-driven. We’ve had three years here with a national emergency, two wars, and a new Homeland Security Department. All of those spending initiatives were voted on in a bipartisan way.

Now we’ve got to get it back under control. We need to control waste, fraud, and abuse. None of these automatic spending measures should continue growing without being checked, and we need to stick within the balanced-budget plan that we passed.

Part of that is a pro-growth package but, also, all of that needs to be controlled through spending as well.

BUTTNER: But you’re supposed to do that. That’s your job.

NUSSLE: And that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing our job. We’re managing it. As the OMB director said, these deficits are manageable. It’s time to manage. And I’ll give you a couple examples, if you want, but it’s time to manage and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

BUTTNER: Let me get over to Representative Spratt.

So it is time to manage. This is a big budget. Who’s to blame?

SPRATT: No way to put a pretty face on it. Let’s look at it this way. This is a nutshell explanation.

The tax cuts that we have adopted three times in the last three years have taken $3.6 trillion out of revenues between 2001 and 2011. During the same time period, deficits will total $3.6 trillion.

There’s an equation there that is inescapable. That’s back-of-the- envelope accounting, but, nevertheless, it’s too close for comfort. Tax cuts are the main cause of it.

BUTTNER: But those were designed to stimulate the economy, sir.

SPRATT: They do stimulate the economy, and I’m not here to say that hasn’t helped. I was glad to vote for the second tax cut, which was an economic-stimulus bill. I thought we needed it.

But we keep having these tax cuts that keep coming, and we do not have a surplus anymore against which to offset those tax cuts. Consequently, every dollar of tax cut today goes straight for the bottom line and increases the deficit, and we’re seeing the accumulation of those policies.

BUTTNER: So what are you saying? Get rid of them?

SPRATT: Well, the tax cuts are studied with expiration dates. To make their revenue impact appear smaller, they have artificial expiration dates. So the projection of revenues is really greater than it politically is likely to be because, once we reach these sunsets, these expiration dates, they’ll be repealed. These are popular tax cuts.

BUTTNER: Well, yes. Sunsets rarely, rarely are repealed.

SPRATT: They will not sunset, the taxes will continue in effect. So the last tax cut we passed had a sticker on it of $350 billion. If you take out the expiration dates and assume that they’ll be permanent, the cost was $1 trillion.

BUTTNER: Sorry, sir. I want to let Representative Nussle get in as well.

Sir, is the defense buildup sustainable given these numbers?

NUSSLE: Well, is not protecting America sustainable? We saw what happened on September 11. We have to protect our shores. We saw what that did to our economy. We got a gut-punch.

Our economy was the mildest recession since World War II as a result of the tax stimulus in 2001. It created 1.8-million jobs and the economy was starting to rebound, and if we don’t protect America with homeland security and defense, which we both voted for, we all vote for because we’ve got to protect our shores. If we don’t protect our shores, there is no economy in order to deal with.

BUTTNER: All right. Tough issues, sir. Thanks so much.

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