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CNN CROSSFIRE

Congress Publishes Budget

Aired February 5, 2002 - 19:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking at your budget, that if you were in the private sector and proposed a budget like this one you would be headed for a federal facility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have to worry about the future of Social Security and Medicare, but this budget makes it -- their future more bright, not less so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Tonight the Bush budget. Does it do a number on Social Security? And meet the man trying to end Gary Condit's political career.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left Bill Press, on the right, Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE, Democratic Congressman James Moran of Virginia, member of Appropriations Committee; and Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth from Arizona, member of the Ways and Means Committee.

And then, California Democratic candidate Dennis Cardoza.

CARLSON: Good evening welcome to CROSSFIRE. It may be the prettiest federal budget ever proposed: A $2.1 trillion spending plan bound between pictures of the American flag. And critics say that's exactly what it is; an irresponsible spending spree wrapped in a patriotic cover. The budget is out, the battle has begun. Republicans say they are trying to protect the country from terrorism, the Democrats counter, they are trying to protect it from deficits.

And one sign of the escalating partisanship, the economic stimulus package died today, keeled over dead on the Senate floor. Expect more skirmishes on last year's tax cut the president has proposed making them permanent, and on the general state of the economy.

In language "The Washington Post" called bluntly political, the new budget traces the seeds of the current recession to the Clinton Administration. Democrats cry foul, smoke rises from the balance sheets as it does in our debate tonight -- Bill Press.

BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Congressman Hayworth, I will tell you the first problem I have with this budget is not the numbers that are in it, it is in fact the cover shamelessly, it seems to me, the Bush Administration has wrapped this budget in the American flag. The not so subtle message here I guess, Congressman, is you either stand up and absolute this budget or you're unAmerican. Is that what the White House is trying to say?

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R), ARIZONA: No, I don't think so. Bill, what I think is the president's put together is a common-sense budget reflecting what's going in war time. We are a nation at war. We are a nation for the first time in 200 years having foreign troops attack our East Coast. We have to protect our homeland. We have to win this war, and we have to reinvigorate our economy, three great goals. This president has produced a budget that reflects those goals and will get it done.

PRESS: That's about the worst spin I've heard ever on this show.

HAYWORTH: Truth is a horrible thing.

PRESS: That war justifies every dollar in the budget. Now, let's talk specifically then does war justify stealing from senior citizens? Because you know the dirty secret of this budget is that it's back to deficit spending.

HAYWORTH: No, sir.

PRESS: Let me finish -- they project 1.106 billion for this year. Actually it's bigger than that, because what they don't say is they're stealing from Social Security surplus to pay for some other spending. Senator Kent Conrad hit the nail on the head. He tells it like it is. Please listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D-ND), BUDGET CHAIRMAN: The biggest problem with Enron was that they were hiding debt, hiding it from their shareholders, hiding it from their creditors, hiding it from themselves. I think that's exactly the what the federal government is doing. Federal government is now engaged in hiding its debt, and understating its debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS: This is the Enron budget isn't it, Congressman?

HAYWORTH: No, but that is a good try. You know what's really sad? This reflects a desperation. We saw it in a report in Roll Call yesterday, Democrats having desperate internal polling. You have to go out and try to demagogue this through Enron.

The fact is, we are a nation at war. We are increasing our defense spending, we are protecting the homeland, we are going to reinvigorate the economy with tax cuts, and every senior on Social Security will get their benefits.

PRESS: When? CARLSON: Oh, please. Nobody is losing his benefits. That's ridiculous. You know what else is ridiculous, admirable in a weird way, Congressman Moran -- after decades of gleeful deficit spending -- Democrats you included are now budged hawks, congratulations on the mid-life conversion, but using talk of the deficit to beat this budget over the head when everybody who looks at it recognizes the obvious, there's going to be a big deficit next year because of 9/11. I want to read you just one quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, one of the more sensitive Democrats, you would do well to listen to him -- "My own view is that this is a war budget. There's a national emergency and the president is responding." The public will agree with Senator Moynihan won't it?

REP. JAMES MORAN (D-VA), APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: Yes, in many ways they will. I actually like the cover of this.

CARLSON: Really? Good for you.

MORAN: I think it is a very glossy cover. The only problem is what's inside. The cover is terrific though, and I think we should defend that cover just like we want to defend the American flag. But the problem though is the substance of the budget. And you know it reminds me of -- actually it doesn't, because I wasn't in the Congress then -- but 20 years ago, J.D., we had a very popular president and he promised the American people that he could enact deep tax cuts, he could dramatically increase defense spending, and would balance the budget.

And for eight straight years he never submitted a balanced budget and quadrupled the amount of public debt. And then for 10 years a Democratic president actually balanced the budget.

HAYWORTH: Oh, no. A Republican Congress.

MORAN: He did, he balanced the budget. And now we go right back to...

(CROSSTALK)

MORAN: And we have to go back deeply in debt and what bothered me is deja vu all over again, and why can't we learn from our mistakes?

CARLSON: I tell you exactly why, because it is a completely different world, and let me -- if you don't mind -- just throw some numbers into this, $106 billion deficit projected turns out that the vast majority of that number is coming from the Department of Defense budget which is, you know, $45 billion more, more money for fire and police and bioterrorism, first responders, etcetera, etcetera. The reason the deficit is going to be so big is because it costs a huge among of money to fight a war.

MORAN: It's clever and I would do the same thing if I were a Republican to focus on the one year. But $800 billion more of tax cuts added to the $1.7 trillion of tax cuts enacted last year. That $2.5 trillion is almost exactly the same amount of increased debt we will have over the next years and it all of it comes out of Social Security and Medicare.

HAYWORTH: So you want to roll back the tax cut? Is that what you're saying tonight?

MORAN: What I would say is let's be honest about the legislation we passed last year.

HAYWORTH: Yes or no? Do you want to roll back the tax cut?

MORAN: No tax cuts that are paid out of Social Security and Medicare. You can cut all the taxes you want as long as it doesn't come out of Social Security and Medicare because that's our retirement. That's our responsibility to pay for our own retirement.

PRESS: Congressman, let me get to the defense side of the budget. You keep saying we are at war, we are at war, so that sort of means anything we want to spend on defense is just fine. Look, this defense budget right here and the president's budget goes up $45 and a half billion. That means the defense budget will be 15 percent above what it was during the Cold War when today the military is one third the size.

HAYWORTH: And it's a changed military because we are in a new type of war dealing with special forces dealing with air war, dealing with sophisticated weaponry that helped prosecute a war successfully in Afghanistan in the space of less than 90 days.

We have a worldwide conflict and homeland security that is vital, and I defy anyone in the wake of the heinous attacks of September 11 to call this a political gimmick.

PRESS: This is a political gimmick and I'll say it, because you had 19 terrorists hijack these planes, did those horrible things on 9/11 and yet in the budget you use that to justify building 3, 3 new fighter planes. I mean this budget is leave no defense contractor behind. You just put everything in hear you can think of.

HAYWORTH: This is to protect the American people and establish homeland defense and deal with the myriad number of threats we will confront in the 21st century. It is responsible because our first duty is constitutionally to provide for the common defense.

CARLSON: That is exactly right. And you know one of the striking things, and I think you'll agree with this, Congressman Moran, about this administration is that unlike so many other Democratic administrations it went through every part of the Executive Branch and rated it to find out which parts function well which are not. Inefficient got red stars, efficient got green stars. Do you know how many got green stars this time? The National Science Foundation. This budget actually quotes Kermit the frog, "It's not easy being green," it says, and it points out the fact that not every government spending program is worth spending money on. They don't get credit for this?

MORAN: I agree with putting money at the National Science Foundation, but I also think we ought to put money into job training, in the kinds of things that will widen the winner's circle. And right now we've got a lot of unemployment particularly in people with low skills and we ought to give them those skills. And if they're not functioning efficiently then improve the program.

CARLSON: You must mean that...

MORAN: The biggest cuts come in job training in children's health.

CARLSON: I'll tell you what they go to, they go to $340,000 that would go to restore opera houses in Connecticut...

(CROSSTALK)

MORAN: a few thousand collars, you picky your own things.

CARLSON: They are not little. They add up. It's millions and millions of dollars.

MORAN: We are talking about trillions of dollars. I would like to ask J.D., J.D., would you vote for legislation that would we will not pay for any tax cuts out of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds?

HAYWORTH: That's legislation we are voting on.

MORAN: Because you are doing it this year, you are doing it next year and every year for the next 10 years. That's the issue in this budget.

HAYWORTH: Understand this: If you're on Social Security, you'll get your Social Security benefits.

MORAN: Listen to this now, if you're on Social Security today you will get your Social Security. But what about the baby boom generation that retires in 5 years? We double the number of people in retirement and it's our responsibility to pay for our retirement. Instead we are going to stick our kids' generation with the cost of our retirement. And that's what this budget is all about.

HAYWORTH: We are going make sure our kids have that generation.

MORAN: That empty rhetoric.

HAYWORTH: ... rhetoric, pal.

PRESS: I think we have determined one thing: the budget battle has begun right here. Thank you for doing so.

HAYWORTH: Thank you bill.

PRESS: Thank you

MORAN: I was just warming up.

PRESS: I know, I know. HAYWORTH: I was just getting ready to go another round.

CARLSON: Hate to see you when you are hot then.

PRESS: OK, and coming up next, will Condit country become Cardoza country? Yes, Gary Condit's former aide turns and runs against him. When we come back we will ask Dennis Cardoza, aside from Chandra Levy, what's wrong with Gary Condit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PRESS: CROSSFIRE round two. Gary Condit can't win for losing. He thought his biggest nightmare was Chandra Levy. Wrong. It turns out his biggest nightmare is former aide, former friend, and former political ally, California assemblyman. Dennis Cardoza who abruptly changed plans and decided to run against Condit once the Congressman got in trouble over his relationship with that still-missing intern.

Cardoza is in town for a fund raiser tonight, but he stops by to answer for us the big question: Is he running to bring California new ideas, or to kick Gary Condit while he's down. And for the record, we did invited Gary Condit to join us tonight. We will have him on CROSSFIRE any time he wants -- Tucker.

CARLSON: Mr. Cardoza, thanks for joining us.

DENNIS CARDOZA (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure, Tucker.

Did Gary Condit, do you think, kill Chandra Levy? Did he have any role in her disappearance at all?

CARDOZA: I have no idea. I know what...

CARLSON: What do you think?

CARDOZA: That's not what I'm about. I'm about running for effective representation for my district and I'm not going speculate one way or another. That's between Gary and the police.

CARLSON: Well, I ask that because if you don't think that, I'm wondering what specifically you think Gary Condit did wrong. Obviously, you think he did something wrong or you wouldn't be running against him as a former friend and aide. So, what specifically did he do wrong?

CARDOZA: I think there is two things, frankly. I don't think Gary is a viable candidate. I don't think the Democrats could hold that seat with Gary running, first of all. And second of all, I don't think he can be effective for our district anymore. Tucker, our district has 17 percent unemployment. We've got the worst air in the country. We've got real problems with education and lack of opportunity. And we have to have the most effective Congressman possible.

You need somebody who can work with colleagues. The colleagues, you know, aren't going to be wanting to stand with Gary Condit these days. And so, I have to go out there and represent my district the way I know that it needs to be represented, and that's what I'm doing.

PRESS: Well, I hate to beat up on a fellow Californian, but what the heck. Here you are. But, you know, I know that district pretty well, a former Democratic chairman out there. No Tony Cuelo, no Gary Condit, no Mike Lynch, found a lot of people down in that district.

I think Gary did a good job representing that district. You must think so because you worked for him and all these years, you've been his political ally. You guys supported the same people. You're cut from the same cloth. So let's put Chandra Levy aside just for the moment. What one issue did Gary Condit fail to deliver on?

CARDOZA: Well, there's a few things. But, you know what? I'm not running against Gary Condit. I'm running, as I said, Bill, to represent this district the most effective way possible. You know, we have terrible problems in that district. Seventeen-percent unemployment is a real deal. There's real folks hurting and you need a congressman who can go out there and effectively represent the district and that's what I plan to do.

PRESS: But, Congressman -- I mean, Assemblyman. I'm sorry.

CARDOZA: You're close.

PRESS: You'll probably get there, but you are running against Gary Condit. Let's be honest.

CARDOZA: No, no.

PRESS: Wait, wait. There's a primary March the 5th, OK, a month from today. Gary's name is on the ballot. Your name is on the ballot. You're telling people to vote for you and not for him. I don't care what you say, you're running against him.

(CROSSTALK)

Now I want to ask you again, this has been called Condit country. He didn't even have any opposition before, he was doing such a good job. So where did he fail his district other than Chandra Levy? What issue?

CARDOZA: Well, I can tell you a couple things, but that's not what I'm doing. I declared that I was going to run a very positive campaign and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to talk about what Dennis Cardoza wants to do for the future of the central valley. And that's where I'm going to leave it.

I'm committed to doing a good job for my constituents. I'm committed to reestablishing effective representation in that district and I'm going to work hard to make that happen.

CARLSON: It sounds to me like you've just admitted, in a pretty straightforward way, to political opportunism. You said, I'm running against Gary Condit or I'm running for myself or however you phrased it...

CARDOZA: No, no, running for the district.

CARLSON: Right. But in -- exactly. You are running for office because Gary Condit is no longer effective, as if Gary Condit were injured badly in a car accident and were no longer able to fulfill his duties. You're stepping in there. And I have two questions, joint question. One, isn't it true that it's just sheer opportunism? And two, you must feel sorry for Gary Condit that he had this scandal befall him. Do you?

CARDOZA: Well, I feel sorry for Gary's family and I feel sorry for the Chandra Levy family. I think there's a lot of pain that's gone in my district. Frankly, it's time, Tucker, for my district to heal.

And I'll tell you why I ran. When I came back from the legislative session, at the end of session last year, I came home, I go to the grocery store, the hardware store, I take my kids to school. And people would come up to me and say, you know, I can't vote for Gary anymore and I really wish you would run because I want to vote for somebody I can believe in. And that's exactly what I'm trying to do, reestablish a credible alternative.

I feel sorry for the fact that Gary's got himself in this situation, but I've got tell you, that I've got one primary loyalty and that's the voters of my district. I'm going to go out there and work hard for them every single day as a congressman.

CARLSON: But since you did, as Bill pointed out, work for Condit for so many years and know him well and he was a personal friend of yours, you're, I think, well qualified to answer this question and I hope you will. Do you think he is capable as a person of harming another human being, say Chandra Levy? Do you think it's possible he could have done that? Do you know him to be that kind of man?

CARDOZA: I don't think we ever totally know what makes someone do something bad, and so, you know, I'm not going to talk about Chandra Levy. What I told my constituents when I declared that I was going to run on the first day when I declared my candidacy was that I was going to talk about what was important to them, that was healing this district, reestablishing effective representation and caring about the water issues that they care about, the air pollution issues that they care about, the economic development issues that they care about, the health care issues that they care about.

And, you know, we've had HMO's pulling out of our area. We have people who can't get health care. My wife's a doctor. She sees people's pain every day. There was a lady who came to me earlier this year and said that she couldn't afford her prescription drugs, her rent, her heating bill. You know, those are the issues, Social Security, that is what we have to work on.

PRESS: Let me ask you about an issue of honesty, because I think candidates have to be up front and honest with the people if they ask for the vote. I checked your assembly bio today, representing the 26th assembly district assemblyman. And in here, you say about yourself, it says, in 1987, he joined the assembly staff of Gary Condit when Condit was elected to Congress. Dennis served as a special assistant for local government affairs, true, correct?

CARDOZA: Absolutely.

PRESS: Here's your campaign bio. Your campaign bio, I read it five times today. There is zero mention of Gary Condit in your campaign bio. I mean, are you trying to hide the fact that you worked for him? I mean, why wouldn't you put it in here?

CARDOZA: Bill, in my district, everybody knows I worked for Gary Condit. I have 80 percent name ID district-wide. I don't hide it at all. I coming on this show and telling you that I worked for Gary Condit. I talk about Gary and I working on a lot of things together. Frankly, I worked with my other opponent, the Republican opponent, state Senator Dick Monteith. We worked well together. But, let me tell you, I believe I'm the most effective representative.

PRESS: I understand. Wasn't this some sharp campaign manager who said, oh whatever you do, Dennis, don't put in your bio that you worked for Gary Condit. It's a poison pill. And you went along with it.

CARDOZA: You got the other one off the other online services still there.

PRESS: But this is the one that's going on the campaign.

CARDOZA: They're both up there so people can see the history on both of them.

PRESS: Let me ask you a final question. Gary Condit's campaign manager, his son, has complained that you don't show up for campaign forums in the district. Can you really represent that district, do all the things you say, you want to fight for that district, when you won't even go to a debate and debate Gary Condit?

CARDOZA: I've already declared that I'm going to two of them. We have got two scheduled on the docket on the 20th and 21st of this month. I'm happy to debate Gary. You know, I wrote Gary's -- or helped write Gary's briefing papers and helped get him prepped for his first debate when he ran for Congress the first time. I'm not afraid to debate Gary Condit. I'd be happy to do it.

PRESS: On CROSSFIRE?

CARDOZA: No.

(LAUGHTER)

PRESS: Almost got him.

CARLSON: Dennis Cardoza, thanks so much for joining us. A month from today, the primary. We will be watching. If you want to reconsider, we'll hope you come back. CARDOZA: Thanks.

CARLSON: Thanks.

CARDOZA: Thank you.

CARLSON: And next, when public figures intersect with law enforcement, CROSSFIRE is there. It's time for our police blotter. Why was last night's CROSSFIRE part of Jim Traficant's trial today? How does Sheila Jackson Lee get to work in the morning? Where in the world is Ken Lay? Find out next when we start the sirens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PRESS: And now to fulfill our solemn pledge as junior G men, whenever police and politics cross paths we will be there to blow the whistle. Yes it's our CROSSFIRE Police Blotter starting tonight with poor Jim Traficant. He showed up court to defend himself against bribery charges but first he had to defend himself for appearing right here on CROSSFIRE last night.

Prosecutors accused Traficant of using me and Tucker in order to influence the jury pool, but we think maybe they just weren't happy with what he had to say about them. In case you missed it from last night's show, here is Traficant's warning to those Justice Department lawyers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: I'm just a son of a truck driver and I'm going to try to kick their (AUDIO GAP).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS: Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee lives only a block from her office on Capitol Hill but when the Texas Democrat heads to work in the morning, she doesn't walk. According to the "Weekly Standard" she takes a government car driven by a government driver, a practice apparently prohibited by House rules if not by good taste. Once on the road she makes the short trip even shorter. The congresswoman and her driver were recently seen blowing both red lights on the way.

PRESS: And now there are four missing people, count them 4, Dick Cheney, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and add the latest former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay, MIA, could not be found when House investigators tried to serve a subpoena yesterday. But today Kenny boy was spotted in Houston because the Senate has a subpoena for him too. Proves what President Bush says, you can run but you can't hide.

CARLSON: And finally a Massachusetts prison inmate currently serving life for killing his wife is suing the state for a sex change. Robert Cosslic wants to become Michelle and he believes taxpayers should foot the bill. He may get his wish. For those in tonight's blotter who may finish the journey in orange jump suits, take heart. Prison life is getting pushier by the day. Bill, it raises the question, if they pay for a sex change will they pay for a better toupee? The question I know on the mind of at least one member of our power blotter this evening.

PRESS: Yeah, I feel badly that we got Jim Traficant in trouble last tight. We forced him to come on the show and say all those things.

CARLSON: We forced him to insult the prosecutors...

PRESS: ... polluted the jury pool...

CARLSON: But I'm glad we took our chance while we had it. There may not be many in the future.

PRESS: I think he has a better chance than Ken Lay does of getting off. From the left I'm Bill Press good night from CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night, Wednesday night, for another edition of CROSSFIRE. See you then.

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