100 Days of 112th Congress: Has Culture of Washington Changed?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: It has been almost 100 days since the 112th Congress reconvened with a new GOP-controlled House. And here to help us examine what has been accomplished, what still needs to get done, are the lawmakers themselves.

And joining us live tonight from Washington, D.C. with the focus group of freshmen Republican congressmen and women is the author of the best seller "Win," the president of the Word Doctors, the one and only Dr. Luntz. How are you sir?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Sean, actually, I'm not the worst dressed person here for the first time of my life.

HANNITY: Wow, ouch!

LUNTZ: These 19 people here have been here for 98 days to be exact. And we had most of you here 98 days ago to ask you, could you really change the culture of Washington? So, here's the question, by a show of hands, how many believe that you have already changed the culture of Washington? Changed it.


LUNTZ: Changing. Tell me how?

REP. CORY GARDNER, R-COLO.: We moved it from a conversation about to whether or not to cut spending to how much we can and how much we should cut. We are going to cut more.

REP. SANDY ADAMS, R-FLA.: I think we've made it more transparent. We are giving people an opportunity to really know the truth.

LUNTZ: And you are their freshmen class president?


LUNTZ: How would you characterize what your class has done to change the culture of Washington?

SCOTT: I'd say, it's 87 independent leaders with the focus on the next generation not the next election.

LUNTZ: You are one of the people who voted against the CR?

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: Yes, sir.

LUNTZ: Has the culture of Washington changed, in your mind?

GOWDY: I think it has. And I did vote against the CR because I'm blessed to represent a people who are prepared to reshape and resize government at a little quicker pace. But I can tell you this. I have respect for my colleagues in the freshmen class who cast a different vote. And I don't question their commitment to cutting one iota.

LUNTZ: You also voted against the CR?

REP. SCOTT RIGELL , R-VA.: Yes. I didn't quite buy into the logic of taking it down to $61 billion from 100. So, as I saw it, we were at 39 percent of really where we need to be. And I know as an entrepreneur that reducing deficit, reducing the deficit is in itself, and act of job creation. And the sense of urgency, this Congress this year addressing the deficit.

LUNTZ: So, I want to ask you, how specifically has the culture changed? Because there are millions of people quite literally watching tonight that aren't quite sure. How have you actually changed it?

REP. MICHAEL GRIMM, R-N.Y.: Well, the fact that we are no longer speaking about how much we are spending and what we are cutting. What I think you are hearing, several on the same page. But we have different tactics. And I respect my colleagues that have different tactics. But at the end of the day, our goals are exactly the same. And that's to dramatically reduce spending and get our fiscal house in order.

REP. MIKE POMPEO, R-KAN.: Yes. I think another big change has been that we don't spend much time talking about how we got here, whether it was Democrats or Republicans that dug this hole. We spent a lot of time thinking about, what are the facts? How do we get out of this what is the path forward? I think that's a big shift.

LUNTZ: Sean, you wouldn't have seen it, but we filmed just before we were here, a segment that is going to air this weekend. We had 14, 15 average Americans going back and forth with these 19 freshmen. And it would have made you feel really good, the interaction that they had, the comments that they were making. This is real frustration with Washington among the American people but it feels like they get it.

HANNITY: Let me give credit where credit is due. I believe they have changed the debate. I am encouraged by that. I do sense from everybody that is speaking there that there is a sense of urgency. I just want to ask this, because I think I speak for a lot of people. When we have a $3.6 trillion budget this year, $1.65 trillion deficit and we can't get $61 billion cut, the prorated rate from $100 billion and it comes out to $28 billion, I know I speak for a lot of people in saying, we are disappointed. And I want to get their reaction.

LUNTZ: Go ahead.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, R-ILL.: You know, what? That's a great question. Ask Harry Reid. We would have cut even more than $61 billion if we could. But we've got to deal with a Democratic controlled Senate, we'll dealing with democrat president. Ask Harry Reid why it is extreme to cut just a small percentage of the government.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And it comes down to tactics, I mean, there are some in this freshmen class, that have said, you know, we are not going to cut this until it gets to the $100 billion mark. And there are others like myself, say, I will cut as much as I can every chance we get until we get to the debt ceiling. Because it's all about the debt ceiling.

REP. ANNA MARIE BUERKLE, R-N.Y.: And, you know, the truth of the matter is, we are disappointed too. We started out, we wanted $100 billion, that was the goal. But we've got to be realistic. And we are only one half of one-third of this government.

GARDNER: But this week we start moving from billions of dollars to trillions of dollars. That's where we start this week, real cuts of trillions and dollars.

LUNTZ: So, I've got to ask you with a show of hands. Sean, raising legitimate points, have you been successful in cutting wasteful Washington spending, yes or no?


REP. JAMIE HERRERA BEUTLER, R-WAS.: Here's the thing, we've cut more than any Congress, four times more than any Congress since World War II and we've been here for four months. It is a step. If we were saying we are stopping here by all means, be disappointed. But this is one step, and we are going to keep walking. Baby, I voted for that cut, I'm proud of it. It was the right step. And we're going to keep putting one foot in front of the other until we get this fiscal house in order.

LUNTZ: Sean, they talked about the $38-and-a-half billion dollar cut. And it was the most. And in the conversations that we were having before we went on the air, to them, it is a step-by-step approach.

HANNITY: Well, can I just respond? I didn't know who that was the last speaker. But what she said is encouraging to me. What others have been saying there is encouraging to me. Because I just feel like if we are really spitting in the ocean with $61 billion. I think $6.2 trillion which Paul Ryan proposes is great. For example, how do we get the next level of cuts in? Are they willing to vote against raising the debt ceiling for example?

LUNTZ: OK. Let's do it.

BEUTLER: I think, I am no closer today -- and I'm Jamie Herrera Beutler, Washington State. I'm no closer today to voting to increase the debt ceiling than I was what, 90, 100 days ago. Because I haven't seen anything that would cause me to do that. We are here to make a change, and that's what we're going to do.

ADAMS: Neither am I. No closer today than I was when we first got here. We haven't seen the reforms that we need to even begin the discussion on raising the debt ceiling.

LUNTZ: Last one.

GOWDY: Frank, I'd also would say this, the debt limit has been raised 74 times in this country. So, it is not a debt limit, it is a debt suggestion. What this Congress can do what it does nothing else, is quit politicizing it and start telling the truth to the American people. We are on the precipice of a catastrophe. This is not politics, this is real fiscal slew of (INAUDIBLE).

LUNTZ: And you're going to get a chance to do that when we come back to another segment. I'll tell you Sean, the debt ceiling vote is going to be very powerful. Everybody is watching and I want to know a little bit of that, more of what they have to say when we come back.

HANNITY: I got to tell you, Frank, very encouraging a lot of what I'm hearing. And we'll going to come back.

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