On CBS’ Face The Nation today Democratic Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Anthony Weiner squared off with Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann and Mike Kelly and gave us a preview of the fireworks that we can expect during debate in the new Congress. While Bachmann and Kelly kept repeating campaign talking points, the message from the Democrats was simple. You won, and now your asses are on the line.
Here is the video from CBS News:
Rep. Bachmann was first up on the show, and she made the claim that the message from the 2010 was that the American people want less government spending specifically on things like unemployment benefits. While talking about the tax cut compromise Bachmann said, “It also blows a $111 billion hole in the Social Security trust fund. There is no money in that trust fund, so they have to go to the general treasury, where there’s also no money. That means an additional borrowing for that $111 billion in addition to the $57 billion for unemployment. So we’re continuing to go down the road that we’ve gone down before, which is spending money that we don’t have. That’s really I think one of the strongest messages we took away from the election in November.”
Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner joined the discussion and immediately started holding Republican feet to the fire, “I mean, many of them campaigned on the idea of privatizing Social Security. They campaigned on the idea of making Medicare a voucher program so seniors don’t have guaranteed health care. I want to see what it is they’re in favor of. We heard about what they’re against in this campaign. I don’t know what they’re in favor of. We Democrats are prepared to work with them where we can, but we’re going to challenge them and fight against them where we must. It is not a subject of compromise for many democrats, privatizing social security. We don’t believe that’s a good idea. Eliminating Medicare as a guaranteed benefit for seniors– we don’t agree with. Those fights are going to happen.”
Freshman Rep. Mike Kelly was there to play the role of Republican self-made man and Washington outsider. Kelly’s orders apparently were to portray the GOP bringing the “real world” to Washington, “I don’t think for an average guy the common guy who comes from a private sector, running something $14 trillion in the red is not impressive…I’m looking to really go to work and work very hard. I’ve worked hard all my life. I’ve done it with my own money. I’ve had my own skin in the game. I’m kind of interested to seeing when you get in a situation where it’s not your money. You can spend anything you want. Keep raising the debt ceiling as much as you want, because you don’t have to worry about paying it back. It’s hard for me to think that that’s all right to do with the American people.”
Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz then basically told Kelly that it is time to dump the campaign rhetoric, “What remains to be seen is whether members like Mike Kelly are going to be able to turn their essentially campaign rhetoric into some kind of reality, because with all due respect to his response, there isn’t any there there. We haven’t heard any concrete proposals…We’ve only heard attacks on what they don’t like.”
When asked about raising the debt ceiling Mike Kelly went back to his talking point about being a real world adult who pays his own way. He also claimed that revenue doesn’t come from raising taxes, “You know, speaking as an adult who has always paid his own way, I do understand what happens and raising the debt ceiling to me is absolutely irresponsible. We’ve been spending money for so long that we don’t have. It’s okay. We’ll just raise taxes and find “tax revenue comes from people who are working, people who are profitable. It does not come from raising tax rates.”
Michele Bachmann’s answer to the debt ceiling question was to plug her website and complain that it isn’t fair that Democrats are holding Republicans accountable, “Now, they’re standing back folding their arms saying, ‘oh, taunting us how are you going to go ahead and solve this big’ it’s fine when they have the credit card and they’re spending money.” Mike Kelly chimed in with more adult real world nonsense and was slapped down by Anthony Weiner, “Congressman Kelly, now you are one of those folks. It is your job in the majority party to govern. The first thing the republicans did when they took back the House the last time is they drove the government to a shutdown. I guess, from what I’ve heard Michelle say and you say, that’s what’s going to happen again. All the “you” stuff has to end today.” Bachmann responded by claiming that the Republicans don’t want to shut the government down.
On the topic of the deficit, Debbie Wasserman Schultz reminded everybody the Republicans who now claim to deficit cutters are the ones who ran up the debt in the first place, “Let’s remember the deficit was exploded by Republicans. President Bush inherited a record surplus and turned it interest a record deficit. Two wars unpaid for. A prescription drug plan unpaid for.” After Anthony Weiner pointed out that Republicans don’t believe in guaranteed Social Security and Medicare benefits, Michele Bachmann’s response was to whine to guest host Harry Smith, “Harry, Anthony continues to make these statements.”
When asked about healthcare, Rep. Kelly’s response was to talked about, you guessed it, how he is a self-made man from the real world, and finally Weiner had enough and said, “This real world stuff is going to get old really fast. This is now your job… This is a serious business here trying to figure out how to solve big problems. Social security does have to be paid for. Medicare does have to be paid for. But this idea like ‘the real ‘…”
Kelly tried to tell Weiner that he knew nothing about the real world, “In your life, you have never done everything on your own with your own skin in the game. I respect the fact that you’re an elected congressman, I do not …” Weiner replied by reminding Kelly that he too is an elected congressman, “What do you mean I am. We are. You’re part of this now.”
The roles have now officially been reversed. For two years, as the House minority Republicans were able to sit on the sidelines and criticize everything that the Democrats did without having to offer alternatives. Bachmann and Kelly didn’t like it when they were reminded that they are now the Washington insiders and the majority, and they are now expected to solve the nation’s problems too. Notice that neither Republican proposed a single idea in the whole 15 minute segment. Mike Kelly seems to be under the delusion that he is on the campaign trail, and Michele Bachmann was trying to generate traffic to her website.
Both Bachmann and Kelly seemed to be under the delusion that they can continue on with what they did during the campaign, or in Bachmann’s case, the previous two years. They don’t seem to understand that they are actually expected to govern now. No matter how many times they talked about deficit reduction or the real world, they appeared to be completely out of touch with reality. In the real world people want Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits. Only in ideological Republican Land are these things evil.
It will be interesting to see how the self-styled real world man Mike Kelly runs for reelection in two years when he is the incumbent Washington insider. The American people should not be surprised that they placed control of the House of Representatives in the hands of an intellectually bankrupt party that has no solutions to offer on any issue. Republicans have been coasting on the fumes of Reaganism for over a decade now. People like Bachmann and Kelly are who voters decided to put in charge. All I can say to that is, good luck, America. You’re going to need it.