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Trying to find compromise before a government shutdown

Copies of the proposed federal budget of FY 2012 are seen at the Government Printing Office in Washington, DC.

Bob Moon: So to recap: The Republican-led House has easily passed a stopgap funding bill, but the White House calls that a "distraction," and is vowing to veto the measure. Uncle Sam's spending account runs dry as of midnight tomorrow. And there's no agreement in sight.

Among those lawmakers digging in is Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, a member of the House Budget Committee. He's on the line with us from the Capitol -- thanks for joining us.

Jason Chaffetz: Hey, thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

Moon: So let's cut to the chase: Is there going to be a government shutdown?

Chaffetz: I hope not. Nobody wants to see the government shut down. We just walked off the floor having passed a continuing resolution for another week, but most importantly, funding the military through the rest of the fiscal year to make sure our troops get paid.

Moon: Now you say you've passed a continuing resolution. What is that going to do?

Chaffetz: It basically cuts $12 billion for the fiscal year, but like I said, most importantly, it funds the military for the next six months.

Moon: Why is it so tough to reach bipartisan agreement on deficit cuts and tax reform?

Chaffetz: I mean, I don't know. Each side will kind of point at each other, but we think we're asking for a very modest cut, given the size and scope, and the fact that we're upside down financially and have a deficit this year of something in the magnitude of $1.5 trillion. And here we are trying to ask for a few tens of billions of dollars. We think it's a reasonable balance, but good people will differ.

Moon: I've heard Democrats -- and not just Democrats -- who are painting the GOP as unwilling to compromise on the $33 billion, and in fact I've read some reports that some Republicans are worried that the party is in a bind here. Why not just compromise on the $33 billion and move on to bigger stuff later? Why do you think it's important to hold out for more?

Chaffetz: Well I think the Republicans having passed the continuing resolution very convincingly, not only we're seeking upwards of $60 billion in cuts, but also defunded Obamacare, which is really a trillion dollar-type of event, in addition to Planned Parenthood. And so, if they want to take those so-called riders off the table and then just think they can cut the $61 billion in half, that certainly doesn't seem like meeting us in middle ground. So as the president rightly said yesterday, no one person gets everything that they want. We understand that. But we're going to have to figure out how to deal with the debt crisis, and not keep punting this down the road.

Moon: You know, we're finally talking seriously about bigger entitlement cuts. Why not tax hikes? Doesn't that also need to be on the table if we're really going to dig ourselves out of this hole?

Chaffetz: Well if Democrats really want to argue for tax hikes, they can. We happen to think that we're taxing, borrowing and spending too much money already. The 25 cents out of every dollar being spent in this economy, 25 percent of GDP is just far too much. You know, I hear a lot about taxing the so-called "rich" -- that would never, ever make the type of debt that's needed in order to actually solve the long-term challenges.

Moon: I've heard people say, including people like Warren Buffett, that they're willing to pay more in taxes.

Chaffetz: They can go ahead and pony up. There's nothing that precludes them from paying more right now. They don't need legislation. If Warren Buffett thinks he owes more money to the federal government, then pay it.

Moon: So let me come at this from another direction: What do you think is absolutely going to have to happen to head off a shutdown?

Chaffetz: Well, I think the most encouraging thing is the fact the president is actually staying in town -- yesterday he left town. That they're actually going to sit down and spend some time talking this out.

Moon: I have to ask you: You famously have chosen to sleep in your office when in town. Now a government shutdown might mean the building shower facilities are going to be shut off. What are you going to do if that happens?

Chaffetz: I better figure out where the local YMCA is. I bet there's one fairly close. I do have a bicycle here, so I might be visiting that YMCA.

Moon: Congressman Jason Chaffetz is a Republican from Utah. Thanks for joining us.

Chaffetz: Thank you.

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I "love" that the resolution passed to keep the military going (as we have more police actions going than we can shake sticks at), but it's all coming down to quibbling over tiny items.

Someday, we'll have the courage to call out that the military is a white elephant.

What a frustrating interview! Not one single question about why the pols are not getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Of course, we know it's because the pols are busy lining their pockets with contributions from big business. I enjoy Marketplace because it helps me learn about key elements of an issue. After this interview, I began to wonder if Marketplace is providing balanced reporting. As an Independent, this interview sounded very partisan.

What a disappointing interview! As I was listening I could easily imagine RNC folks sitting around high-fiving each other as Chaffetz recited each of the GOP talking points without a even a challenge from the interviewer. What about the hole in the budget created by the Bush era tax cuts? Why does the cynical stopgap CR that includes funding for the military go unchallenged? Why is it that Chaffetz gets to call last year's health care reform bill "Obamacare" without a challenge? Really? That's the name? Why is it that in one sentence Chaffetz says $60 billion in cuts is the goals and then can, in the next sentence, claim that defunding "Obamacare" is a trillion dollar fix? Really? If repealing last year's health care reform legislation would save a trillion dollars this year, I'd support that. Start over from there? Absolutely. Too bad it's fiction just like most of the GOP rhetoric. Come on Marketplace, you can do better.

Props to Bob for bringing up the revenue side (by asking about tax hikes) but, unfortunately, not for letting Mr. Chaffetz dodge the question.

And that was a very important question. Mr. Chaffetz and other Republicans are pushing policies that expand the gap between the rich and poor in America to cruel and unsustainable levels. The same kind of extreme imbalance created social unrest in the Middle East, and many of us are concerned that it will have the same effect here.

Both bipartisan commissions (Simpson-Bowles and Rivlin-Domenici) included increased tax revenue (through a set of tax reforms) in their proposals, and cooler heads realize that a sustainable and survivable solution must balance *both* the revenue and spending sides.

Now what? Will you 'balance' this alleged interview with 3 - 1/2 minutes of some Democrat warming up zingers for his/her next campaign? It isn't partisan to challenge an interviewee to present facts to back up his assertions - it's called journalism.

Given the Republican party's mission to cut discretionary spending in any area benefitting the middle and lower economic classes, I find it very ironic that Rep. Chaffetz is planning to use the YMCA facilites. Per the 990 filing, the YMCA received about $3.7 million in government funding in 2009. (This does include all government funding, not just federal monies.)

I agree with Fred. I was extremely disappointed with this interview. Mr. Moon barely challenged the Congressman's claims. I thought this was supposed to be a serious interview, but it felt like a PR event hosted by & for Republicans.

I am so disappointed.

This was a pathetic interview. Bob Moon pretty much let the congressman say whatever he wanted without so much as a hint that it may not be based in fact. Why Moon didn't challenge the relationship of Planned Parenthood to the deficit is beyond me. And the fact that he didn't even mention that the CBO argues that "Obamacare" actually does reduce the deficit, was either laziness or incompetence.

Who cares where this guys sleeps? He can sleep in the street for all I care. Its a cheap gimmick to distract from real issues. Congratulations, Bob, you fell for it.

(Ugh, it makes me hope that they do defund NPR! Lazy good-for-nothings...)

Kai, please, please, follow up, and see if Rep.Chaffetz actually does stay in his local YMCA. This would be a great segment. Isn't this what economics is about, the personalization of it?

Jack

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