Rep. Xavier Becerra on the super committee

Steve Chiotakis Nov 21, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: There’s a lot to accomplish for the super committee charged with getting the U.S. budget deficit under control. The committee has until Wednesday to save $1.2 trillion over a ten year period. But the deadline is essentially tonight at midnight because any agreement would have to be put under the microscope. Democrats continue to call for revenue increases — i.e. taxes; Republicans want more spending cuts on entitlements — i.e. Medicare and Medicaid.

And once again we’re in a familiar Washington place: stuck. Congressman Xavier Becerra
is a member of that super committee and a Democrat from California. He’s joining us now from Washington. Congressman, welcome to Marketplace.

Xavier Becerra: Thanks for having me Steve.

Chiotakis: So, are we going to see any kind of a deal today?

Becerra: Well, if we’re going to see one it’s going to have to be soon, because time is about out.

Chiotakis: Time is about out — but, I mean, you and 11 others know if a deal is coming. Is it coming?

Becerra: The elements of a deal have been on the table for quite some time, it’s just whether or not we’re willing to put the right balance to the plan so that we can all agree to move forward. At this stage, what’s become pretty evident is that some of these special interest pledges are making it very difficult. When you have to have a balanced plan that includes some pretty aggressive spending, savings, and also includes some revenue to make sure that everyone — including the wealthiest Americans — contribute to getting the economy moving again, you have to see all of that. And right now, it seems like we’re only seeing one or two aspects, but not all aspects, of what would be a balanced plan.

Chiotakis: I know the last time we spoke with you, Congressman, you said that not coming up with a some sort of sweeping deal was not an option. And here we are with the possibility that that’s going to happen. What do you say to your constituents, and people around the country who are like, “Hey, we really need something to get done.”?

Becerra: I continue to say, “Hey, we really need to get something done.” It doesn’t change. The August compromise that was reached — that created the super committee — will provide $2.2 trillion worth of savings. But it’s better to do the savings the way we think is best versus having automatic triggers decide where the cuts will be made. And so, this would be forsaking a great opportunity to have a human hand decide how to make some smart cuts and have smart savings and also include a jobs component, which the automatic triggers would not provide for is job creation opportunities to get 14 million back to work. And — by the way — when they’re working, they’re paying taxes.

Chiotakis: Should we ever expect Congress to get a meaningful deficit reduction plan out of Washington?

Becerra: Absolutely. And this is where the American public has a right to be frustrated if we don’t move forward in ways that are balanced because for quite some time the American people have been way ahead of politicians in how to solve these problems. Poll after poll show how Americans would put everything on the table, make everyone sacrifice a little bit and also make sure that we have a way to move forward. Most Americans will tell you that the best way to get this economy moving again is to put people back to work. And so, one way or the other, Washington will get the message from the rest of America that it’s not Wall Street we should just worry about but main street as well.

Chiotakis: But they haven’t gotten it yet.

Becerra: I think — more and more — it’s becoming clear that the public is far more united than are the politicians. We’ll get there. Whether it’s through the super committee or through the regular course through Congress, we should move this economy forward and put Americans back to work.

Chiotakis: Xavier Becerra, congressman from California, thank you for joining us.

Becerra: Thank you Steve.

Hear our full interview with the Congressman in our Mid-day Update podcast.

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