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Remembering the Human Cost of Exploring Space; Bush's Budget Wipes Out Entire Surplus for Next 10 Years

Aired February 4, 2003 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, remembering the human cost of exploring space.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Their mission was almost complete and we lost them so close to home.

ANNOUNCER: Is human spaceflight worth the price?

Capitol Hill gets on the money. Are deficits back to stay?

MITCH DANIELS, DIR., OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: No one saw the surplus coming. No one saw how fast a weak economy, a popped stock market bubble and then terrorist attack would take it away.

ANNOUNCER: And can Colin Powell convince the world, the Congress and the public that it's finally time to get tough with Saddam Hussein?

Tonight on CROSSFIRE!


ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Robert Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. On a day where from the president on down Americans resolved to carry on with human spaceflight, but is it worth risking human flights? Should we switch to robots? We'll debate that question along with budget deficits and possible war with Iraq, but first, as we do every day, let's start with our "CROSSFIRE Political Alert."

America said good-bye to the seven astronauts of the Columbia in a moving ceremony at the Johnson Space Center presided over by President Bush.

Said the president, "their mission was almost complete and we lost them so close to home." The president delivered a brief description of each astronaut after saying each of these astronauts has "a daring and the discipline required of their calling." He promised the space program would continue.

Nasa Administrator Sean O'Keefe, his voice break, pledged to find the cause of the disaster. Laura Bush wiped her eyes, she was not the only one.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: It was a moving ceremony after a horrible tragedy, Bob. I worked with some of the folks at NASA when I worked at the White House.

The astronauts and the courage that they have is -- they're not cowboys out there recklessly. They understand the risks, they do everything they can to minimize them. But they also know that there is about a two in 100 chance when they go up there they're not going to come back.

NOVAK: And I thought the president did a very good job. Didn't you, Paul?

BEGALA: Yes, I did. I thought it was a wonderful, moving tribute to men and women who richly deserved it.

Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia is the new vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said today that based on the intelligence he received, Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist group is a bigger danger to America than Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, "The Washington Times" reports today that al Qaeda is planning a new large scale attack beginning with the assassination of prominent Americans followed by a mass casualty attack.

The CIA director says that every captured al Qaeda member, every one of them has confirmed that more attacks are planned. But even as our enemies in al Qaeda pro prepare their next attack on us, our president is preoccupied with his attack on Iraq even though Senator Rockefeller says he's seen no evidence of close ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.

NOVAK: Paul, you seem to think that the United States is the greatest super power in the world with all our scale and dedication of our people in uniform that can't chew gum and walk at the same time. And that we can't concentrate on an attack on Iraq at the same time we're looking at al Qaeda. I don't have that lack of faith. I think we can do both.

BEGALA: Because I worked in the White House. You can't do those two things at once. This president couldn't eat a pretzel and watch a football game at the same time, Bob. I would focus al Qaeda and take care of Iraq later.

NOVAK: I have more confidence in our military than you do.

At 2:15 p.m. tomorrow the battle for the federal judiciary begins in the Senate with consideration of President Bush's nomination of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia, the second most important court in the land. Estrada is a Honduran immigrant, a brilliant young lawyer, possible U.S. Supreme Court justice in the future. He's opposed by left-wing pressure groups, not because he's unqualified, but because they say he's too conservative.

A majority of senators favor Estrada's confirmation, but not the 60 senators needed to break a Democratic filibuster. So two questions, will Democrats launch a rare filibuster against a judicial nominee and will Republicans make them talk through the night, not just threaten to talk?

BEGALA: I hope the Democrats fill buster this nominee. Miguel Estrada is as you say a bright young lawyer. He's never spent a day even on a traffic court bench and we're greasing the skids for him to go on the Supreme Court when he won't tell those senators his views on issues. He should come clean about his ideology or go find another job.

NOVAK: You're having a litmus test and unless he goes for the feminists and he's pro-abortion, you say off with his head.

BEGALA: No, I think he should tell the truth. If he's against abortion he should say, Senators, if you put me on that court, I will work to overturn...

NOVAK: That isn't the way the system works and you know it.

BEGALA: It's the way it all works. it's called being honest. He should testify truthfully about his views.

The bottom line of the new Bush budget is clear, the Clinton surplus of $5.6 trillion over ten years is gone. Five point six trillion dollars, a whole lot of money, friends. It is, as the best selling book, "It's Still the Economy, Stupid" document, enough to buy two new Jaguar X-Type luxury sedans for every family in America, plus buy them a hundred bottles of Dom Perignon Champagne, plus buy them 4 pounds of Beluga caviar and still have enough money left over to fund the whole Homeland Security budget for seven years.

But, of course, those trillions of dollars won't go to every American family, mostly they'll go to the top 1 percent. For the rest of us, our hard-earned surplus is simply gone with the wind and frankly, George W. just doesn't give a damn.

NOVAK: Paul, I'm going to try to explain a little economics to you.

BEGALA: Yes, sir.

NOVAK: The $5.6 trillion was never in the can, was never in a lockbox, it was never anywhere. It was an estimate of the future and when the economy went south before any tax cut, it was chewed up. That economy, that recession started under Bill Clinton. Wasn't his fault. We have a business cycle.

BEGALA: As a matter of fact, even Martin Feldstein, President Regan's chief economist says the recession started March of 2001 under President Bush. but more importantly, those the tax cuts do matter. They are going to cause these enormous deficits, they have cost the whole surplus and they ought to repeal it so we have a strong economy.

NOVAK: They never had that 5.6 trillion and you know that. It was never there.

BEGALA: That's right. It was an estimate.

BEGALA: Funny, you just don't look Jewish. That's what Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts might have said to himself when he looked in the mirror and that's what everybody else is saying.

The multimillionaire senator from Massachusetts running for the Democratic presidential nomination has just discovered that his grandfather, Frederick Kerry, was originally Fritz Kohn, an Austrian- Jewish immigrant.

His grandmother was also Jewish making the senator half Jewish though he is a Roman Catholic. "This is incredible stuff," said the senator to "The Boston Globe."

The same comment might come from Kerry's opponent for the Democratic nomination, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Now can Kerry challenge Lieberman for the Jewish vote?

BEGALA: Oy vey. I saw this great comment, Jano Cabrera was Al Gore's spokesman, he's now joined Joe Lieberman's campaign. He said, We'll fight him for the Jewish vote, because Lieberman is the only guy with lox box, which I thought was a...

NOVAK: Not anymore!

BEGALA: Professor John Lott is a conservative scholar. John Lott is the author of a controversial study claiming that more guns equal less crime. John Lott is also the author of a conservative study that seeks to blame media exit polling for George W. Bush's poor performance in Florida in the 2000 election.

John Lott is also a woman, or at least he plays one online. He told "The Washington Post" that he often pretends to be a woman named Mary Rosh when he's defending his ideas in cyber debates. Now, as Mary Rosh, Professor Lott pretends to be a former student of his who thinks Professor Lott is just brilliant. It's a poignant testimony to the poverty of ideas on the right that what passes for a conservative intellectual also tries to pass himself off as a woman and a fan. Pathetic.

NOVAK: I think, Paul, that John Lott's studies are very good, but I don't know much about the cyber stuff. I'm about two generations behind on this sort of thing. But when you go on the -- on the Internet and pretend to be a woman, do you have to dress in drag?

BEGALA: I don't know. That's a good question.

NOVAK: I don't know that.

BEGALA: I have no idea.

Will Washington listen to those who that say we should send a space shuttle to space museums and replace them with something better? In a minute, we will debate the future of human spaceflight.

Later, President Bush takes a shot at baking one of his daddy's most dubious records.

Then "Our Quote of the Day," it's the answer to one of the most asked questions in the whole world right now. The question is, can we believe it? Stay with us.


NOVAK: President Bush led the nation in paying tribute to the crew of the space shuttle Columbia. It's clear, America's exploration of space -- of space will continue, but the tragedy has raised questions about whether it's time to scrap the space shuttle and has reignited the debate over whether manned spaceflight is really worth the risk.

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE, former Congressman Bob Walker, Republican of Pennsylvania. He chaired the House Science Committee and since leaving Congress chaired president Bush's commission on the future of the U.S. Aerospace industry.

And with him, University of Maryland Professor Robert Park. He's director of information for the American Physical Society.

BEGALA: Thank you both, gentlemen. Bob Walker is one of the leading conservatives in America and the leading House Republican when he was in the Congress. The first time he's been on my side of the table, so it sort of feels little odd.

Professor Park, our president today said press on with manned spaceflight. The families still grieving, issued a statement saying press on with manned spaceflight. The American people, 82 percent of them in a poll today said press on with manned spaceflight.

You say give up. Why?

ROBERT PARK, UNIV. OF MARYLAND: Give up is not exactly what I say.


PARK: The point that I make is that there's research that has been done on the shuttle and on the space station has had no impact on any field of science. Just none. Most of it isn't even not -- not published in scientific journals. It's published by NASA because the scientific journals aren't interested in it. This is not cutting line research. This is kind of made up research. It's fluff to make the space program -- the manned space program look good. Now, in fact, the -- the great benefits that have come from NASA research -- and they are huge. I mean, weather satellites, communication satellites, the global positioning system, the huge advances in basic science, we rewrite the textbooks over and over as NASA keeps giving us a a better picture of the universe we live in. But none of that has come out of the manned program. That has all come out of the robotic program.

There are a kind of two NASAs. There's the NASA that turns out great science and there's the NASA that puts astronauts in space. And...

BOB WALKER, FMR. CONGRESSMAN: To give you one example of research that can only be done by humans in space and that is to find out how long duration flight is interactive with the human body.

PARK: The only goal of that -- if the only goal of that is to put more humans in space, that doesn't get us anywhere.

WALKER: The goal is to find out what it is we have to know so that we can continue exploration. The fact is, in order to do longer term duration flights to places like Mars and Europa and those kinds of places, which I think human beings are going to want to go. Whether our generation will step up to the plate to make the investments necessary to get there is the question.

But ultimately, humans are want -- are going to want to go in the universe when they're capable of doing so. And when they do so, the fact is that we ought to know what the medical and scientific evidence is about how the human body survives in space. That can only be done aboard space station. It can only be done aboard shuttle and it's the reason why we need to be out there.

PARK: We agree on that one, except for the question if -- of once again, if all we're doing is finding out how to put more people up there, then it's not getting us anywhere.

But look, we're already on Mars.

NOVAK: Let me put in a green factor, the dollar sign. You were in Congress. You were a deficit hawk. You'll take the apple (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

WALKER: Sure. Sure.

NOVAK: This program, you could really save a lot of expense if you put it on a robotic basis. Isn't that appealing to try to do more things at less cost?

WALKER: Well, the fact is that robots provide us with some things that are reasonably valuable. But let me give you three things that human spaceflight does.

Human spaceflight causes us to do push the technological envelope. The reason why it does is because human life is precious and so therefore we do everything we can to do spaceflight safer and to do those things which are better for us. I think that is an accomplishment for the nation.

Second, when you put human ingenuity and human intelligence into the mix you find out things that you didn't expect to find out. The fact is that humans adapt to the unknown and robots can't. What robots do is look for things that we expected to see and send it back.

Third, I think we have a major challenge coming at us internationally. I think the Chinese are about to launch a human space program. I believe in the decade they will be on the moon and they will announce that they're there to stay. That's a challenge to us strategically. It's a challenge us to in terms of our overall technological confidence.

I think that it makes every sense in the world for us to want to keep that leadership in the years ahead.

BEGALA: Professor Park, there's another thing besides science and that is exploration. It is the sense of the human spirit.

Let me read you a comment from a former NASA engineer who wrote this in "The Wall Street Journal," expressing it well.

"Human spaceflight is the shining symbol of the technological capability, but it also has a more practical side. Unlike robots, humans carry with them a persistent curiosity and return with subjective impressions as well as objective data."

PARK: I think you guys are misunderstanding the robots here.

These aren't the robots you see in science fiction movies that think with their own brain. These are telerobots. They're an extension of our frail human bodies. So when we have the little Sojourner robot wandering around on Mars and sniffing rocks to see what they're made of, that robot wasn't thinking. The thought was coming from the operator back on Earth.

NOVAK: So you're saying that if we have R2-D2 on the first trip to Mars, even if it's being controlled by Robert Park it's the same as if Robert Park was on the spaceship?

PARK: Exactly. They're a natural extension of our frail bodies.

WALKER: Somehow I think that if we'd gone to the moon with robots and the announcement was the robot has landed it would not have the same impact as when humans landed on the moon.

BEGALA: What about a different generational aspect of it.

PARK: I've got to tell you when Sojourner was wandering around on Mars, a number of hits on the NASA Web site exceeded the number of hits on any manned mission we have ever had. The public understood that that -- that they were on Mars. They were seeing Mars through that robot.

BEGALA: One could also argue, for a defender of manned spaceflight for sending a man to Mars maybe to not continue to send them to the space station.

WALKER: My guess is if you had humans on Mars...


WALKER: ..if you had humans on Mars that number of hits on the Web site as they explored Mars would far exceed anything that Sojourner has ever seen.

The fact is that....

BEGALA: But shouldn't we lift our focus higher? Have we spent too much time orbiting and constructing the space station? Should we try a lunar base? Should we go to Mars?

WALKER: I really think that right now that what NASA ought to be investing is in some new generations of technology that give us a lot of options for the future. I think there are plans to do nuclear plasma engines that will get us into the solar system faster is exactly the right direction.


NOVAK: Isn't the space station just a marvelous achievement, though? I mean, to put people up there and permanently in space, isn't that a mechanical and scientific achievement?

PARK: It is certainly a huge technical achievement.

Now, is the question, though, of whether this leads us technologically is not as clear because everything that goes into space, as a result of the United States Congress, has to be space certified. That means it has to have been in space before. It has to have been tested in space.

As a result, early missions of the shuttle had computers that were primitive compared to the computer that I had in my own house. And the computers on the shuttle are still primitive compared to a laptop that you can buy at a local store.

NOVAK: But we -- those aren't space certified.

WALKER: But we certify things in order to assure that the safety issues have all been resolved.

PARK: Exactly. And that's what is sending the program back.

WALKER: It doesn't keep us from going on and doing other kinds of mission. We do robotic missions. Human space flight is not the only thing we do. But the fact is that the human element in all of this does in fact increase the quest for knowledge in ways that robots never can.

NOVAK: Let me ask you this. I had an interview with the NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, a couple of weeks ago before this disaster an he predicted that within the next decade there would be extended space tourism. Ordinary people who are not astronauts would go into space.

Do you think that is realistic and desirable?

WALKER: Well, I think it's desirable and I think the question on that is whether or not there are private companies who are going to be able to come up with small craft that will go to the edge of space.

NOVAK: What do you think, Dr. Park?

WALKER: Think if they took that poll today the numbers would have dropped.

BEGALA: Who here would go into space tomorrow?


BEGALA: Well, wait. Professor parks say that again.

PARK: Have to tell you, I would go, too, but as a matter of fact, for the public to have to pay for me to go there is outrageous. We were all on Mars when that little robot was wandering around. We all saw Mars through the robot's eyes. We can't do that.

WALKER: The taxpayers for that too. The taxpayers paid for that as well.

PARK: You bet they did and we were all carried forward in our knowledge of the...

WALKER: We are carried forward every time the human does the missions that they do, too. I think that the inspiration that those humans bring to school children, and the people that they talk to back on earth about their experiences is extremely important us to as a nation and there is no such inspiration that can come from a robot communicating.

NOVAK: We need to get the other side of this poll. How many of you, if you had a chance tonight to sign up, would not go into space?


NOVAK: There is quite a few.

BEGALA: Quite a few. But what about this point that Bob Walker makes.

That all of us, people of my generation, admiring John Glenn, heroes like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and kids admiring the heroic astronauts we have today. Is it important for human beings to have heroes and to have this inspiration?

PARK: I think that's important us to and I have heroes, too, and I think the people that were on this shuttle crew were heroes. I have no question about that. That's not what we're arguing here. The question is if we're interested in exploration, we're doing it in a funny way because that shuttle doesn't get any further from earth than New York is from Baltimore. And if that's exploration, I'm sorry.

BEGALA: That has to be the last word, Professor Robert Park, thank you for joining us.

Bob Walker, former congressman from Pennsylvania, thank you, as well.

Coming up; President Bush's budget has wiped out the entire surplus for the next 10 years. We'll debate whether Congress should clean up his fiscal mess when CROSSFIRE continue. Stay with us.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

U.S. stealth fighters are on their way to the Middle East. Quite appropriately our military won't say how many or where they're going to be just that they'll be able to materialize from the skies of Iraq if the need arises.

Saddam Hussein's is pretty stealthy himself. It's been a dozen years before he sat down with an interview with someone from the West. On Sunday night he spent 40 minutes answering questions including one the whole world wants to answer to. Does he have ties to al Qaeda. His answer, whether you want to believe him or not, is our "Quote of the Day."

"If we had a relationship with al Qaeda," he said "and if we believed in this relationship, we won't be a shamed to admit it. The answer is no. We do not have any relationship with al Qaeda."

You take that for what it's worth, Bob. But, not much.

NOVAK: There's no proof that he does have one. Absolutely none.

BEGALA: That's true. I don't ever believe him and but also I believe the CIA and the FBI who keep telling the press that there's no direct link.

NOVAK: Him saying it isn't so doesn't make it no so.

BEGALA: It makes sense to me.

NOVAK: Next, we'll ask a couple of Congressmen if it's too late to avert a war in Iraq.

And later, a new species of bird has been spotted on Capitol Hill. Where did all the Democrat deficit hawks come from?


NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you from the George Washington University in Foggy Bottom, D.C.

The United Nations weapons inspectors found another empty chemical warhead in Iraq today. Bush administration officials say this coming weekend's visit to Baghdad by Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix will be critical in determining whether the U.S. will continue to work through the U.N. Security Council on Iraq. Secretary of State Colin powell goes before the Security Council tomorrow.

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, and Congressman Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana.


BEGALA: Good to see you, sir. Thank you both for joining us. I think this is the first time my old pal and former White House colleague has been on with me as a congressman. So congratulations, Congressman.

REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: It's probably the last time I'll get respect out of you.

BEGALA: That's probably about it, Congressman, you big shot. But Congressman Pence, thank you for coming, sir.

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Good to be here.

BEGALA: "The Washington Times" today, a reporter by the name of Bill Gertz (ph), had a front-page story that I found staggering. It said that al Qaeda is reorganizing, that they're planning another mass casualty attack to be preceded by target of assassinations of prominent Americans. And yet our president keeps talking about Iraq.

Why is it -- if we were back in our old war room days with Rahm Emanuel -- it's al Qaeda, stupid? Why aren't we fighting al Qaeda first and let Iraq come when Iraq can come?

PENCE: Well, Paul, I think the answer will be much clearer after tomorrow morning's presentation by the secretary of state, where I believe we're not only going to be presented with extraordinarily compelling evidence, the redevelopment of weapons of mass destruction, but I also anticipate, as many do, that the secretary of state will address the evidence of associations with terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. That's the nexus that we cannot tolerate with Iraq, and it's fomenting this confrontation.

BEGALA: That I agree with completely. But I have to say I am a doubter and I'm not the only one. Let me tell you about "The Washington Post" today, the other hometown paper here in Washington, wrote this: "White House and Pentagon officials are pushing to make the connection between Iraq and al Qaeda stronger than CIA and some FBI official believe is merited by the evidence at hand. A number of administration officials and U.S. allies believe this is the weakest part of the case against Iraq, and that emphasizing it serves to undermine their overall credibility." The link ain't there, according to the CIA, Congressman.

PENCE: Well we'll see when the information comes out. I've had the privilege of being a part of a few briefings in the west wing, and Rahm knows much better than I do how the State Department within an administration will often times send competing messages and try and dilute...

EMANUEL: They will never leak on you, though.

PENCE: They will never leak, I'm sure. I really do believe, Paul, at the end of the day, we're going to get beyond politics in this debate starting tomorrow. And we're going to look at facts. The American people are going to see that Iraq is not a diversion from the war on terrorism, it is the next logical step.

NOVAK: Congressman Emanuel, you have been a congressman for how many days?

EMANUEL: Less than 30.

NOVAK: But you know your way around. You were a top aide to President Clinton. And I am not asking you to tell me where the Democratic Party stands on Iraq. That is too hard for you. Where do you stand on Iraq?

EMANUEL: Well, the good news is, on today's show we learned that Paul knows how to read and read the questions, so I'm really impressed. You have too much time on your hands there, Paul. You read too many papers.

Let me tell you my concern. Although, in the campaign I said up front that had I been a member of the House I would have supported the resolution because I think it forced the president to come back and report to Congress that all diplomatic means have been used. After the first Gulf War, having not toppled this administration -- meaning in Baghdad --we left thousands upon thousands of troops in Saudi Arabia, giving rise to al Qaeda. That was the organizing principle behind al Qaeda to get the U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia.

My concern -- and if we have to go it alone, we'll go it alone -- and I do support dealing with Baghdad. I support dealing with Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. If we go alone, we'll have 150,000 U.S. troops in the cradle of civilization in the Arab world for over two years. And if you think al Qaeda, which everybody agrees was an outgrowth of the first Gulf War, because of our U.S. troops based in Saudi Arabia, 150,000 U.S. troops in Baghdad for over two years will give rise. Now I asked the same question of the secretary of state, who said that is one of the major concerns we have to this war.

NOVAK: Congressman Emanuel, not good enough. You are doing the same thing.

EMANUEL: Well, I don't know, it worked at my kitchen table with the three little kids I have.

NOVAK: Not good enough. Four Democratic presidential candidates voted for the resolution and...

EMANUEL: Well I'm willing to break the news to you, Bob, I'm not running for president. So it's good enough for me. NOVAK: And you said you would have voted for the resolution, but they say we voted for it, but we don't think we should do it. What are you saying, yes or no, go or no go, which is it?

EMANUEL: Well I don't have the moral certitude that you have when you make a decision of war to just say yes or no, because I think it's a big decision. And having advised a president before, you don't take him lightly, Bob.


EMANUEL: Let me finish, if I could. I think if I was giving advice, which I'm not, and nor would they want to listen, I would hope that this president take a page from his father. The steady, hard work of building allies paid off in Gulf I. And I want him to do the same type of steady hard work, and it takes a lot of leadership, it's not rhetoric. If we have allies up front, we will be stronger.

NOVAK: I still didn't hear a yes or no from you.

EMANUEL: War is not just a yes or no.

PENCE: Well I think we're getting the answer from Rahm, candidly, Bob, that we're getting from many Democrat leaders here in Washington, D.C. It is a yes, but. And I really -- it is my hope and really my fervent prayer that beginning tomorrow we will get past the yes, buts. That we will, as a nation, come together, recognize why it is we're doing what we have to do in confronting Saddam Hussein, which Rahm, you do support. And I appreciate -- I am just two years in Congress, you are just a few weeks in Congress -- the information that has been presented to us over the past two years, since 9/11, points in convincing ways to the region, to not only the redevelopment of weapons of mass destruction, but to associations that fundamentally threaten U.S. interest and ultimately the people of the United States of America.

EMANUEL: What I said is -- and I can't speak for the other Democrats, but I can speak for this Democrat here -- is I believe that is a serious problem. And I believe eventually we're going to have to use force. The question only I raise -- and I'm sorry it's not adequate for here -- but I think the real question is also debated in the counsel of the White House, so it's not an illegitimate question, is do we do it alone, or do it with the biggest and broadest group of countries together because the world will be -- I think our position will be stronger. If we have to do it alone, we're ready to do it alone.


BEGALA: Let me ask you about this. I think that you would agree the Soviet Union was much more powerful than Iraq and much more evil, even, than Saddam Hussein. And yet we pursued a policy for generations of containment. And over time and effort it brought the mighty Soviet empire to its knees without us ever having to march on Moscow. What is wrong with containing Saddam Hussein? And then, when we can't contain al Qaeda -- they don't have a state to contain them in -- going after them in a real war?

PENCE: Well because we know that containment is not working, Paul. The reality is that the weapons of mass destruction, I think, as the secretary of state will enumerate tomorrow, are being redeveloped. The associations with terrorist organizations are going forward, and that threatens the United States and threatens U.S. interests in the region and beyond.

Now Rahm, I would take issue, though, with the go-it-alone rhetoric. It is more of a what we hear from Rahm's colleagues on Capitol Hill and pundits around the country on the left, that the United States can't go it alone. And it seems to me -- and I've been to Germany, I've met with members of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I respect that government, I respect France. But why do we choose to ignore the eight to 10 other European countries and Middle Eastern countries that are standing with us? If we went today we would not be going alone.


EMANUEL: Let me say this. My position mimics that far left person called former Secretary of State Jim Baker. So I don't think I'm far left. I think asking questions about the consequences, thinking through before we decide this -- there is only one person that gets a yes, no, and that's the president of the United States, who is commander in chief. All of the rest of us get to think in no and yes and shades of gray, and that's exactly what we're doing here.

And I think there are real consequences. And thinking about -- if you build more allies, we're going to be stronger for it when we win the war.

BEGALA: Hang on just for a minute. We're going to take a quick break. Keep your seats, though.

And we'll give you this quick reminder. CNN will provide live coverage of Secretary of State Colin Powell's historic presentation to the U.N. Security Council tomorrow. It will begin in the morning, 10:00 AM Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

But next, we're going to ask our guests about the federal budget and those five volumes of red ink that President Bush just shipped off to Capitol Hill. Stay with us.



BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. The president's new budget showed up on Capitol Hill this week featuring a record setting $304 billion deficit. The largest deficit in American history. And this from a man who inherited the largest surplus in history from President Clinton. In fact, Mr. Bush's budget promises deficit as far as the eye can see before we even talk into account the cost of a potential war in Iraq.

We are talking budget with Congressman Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, and Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat of Illinois.

NOVAK: Mr. Emanuel, I'm amazed that the Democrats have decided to take on the mantle of Herbert Hoover, talking about budget deficits. It didn't work well for the Republicans. I thought that had already been settled. But let's talk about the deficit as measured -- the only way you can really measure it as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. And let's take a look at what the figures are.

In 1983, when the economy was recovering under Ronald Reagan, it was six percent. In 1986, the economy was really good, five percent. In 1993, the Bush recovery was being enjoyed by Clinton, three percent. And the estimates in 2004 two to three percent. It's smaller than any of those figures. How can you beat your breast about a budget deficit?

EMANUEL: I give up. I don't know. Listen, the fact is -- and I think it was said today at our budget hearings when we were asking Mitch Daniels, the head of OMB -- we haven't just gone to fiscal deficits. We've now gone to structural debts to this country.

NOVAK: He didn't admit that?

EMANUEL: No he did want. Don't worry, your blood pressure need not be taken at this moment. You know, in August of 2001 the president got his major economic plan passed, a $1.35 trillion tax cut. Since his stewardship of the economy, two and a half million Americans have last their jobs, four more million Americans are without health insurance, and nearly a trillion (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of small businesses and large have closed.

A record like that you are starting to give mismanagement a bad name. And what I'm worried about is that, in this budget, Director Daniels talked about balancing our priorities, and I agree with that. The problem is, NIH, the National Institute of Health, which is one of the great scientific research centers in this country for medical research, is only getting a two-percent increase. Pell grants are being held steady two years in a row for four percent for college loans and college costs.

NOVAK: Everything's going up.

EMANUEL: No. Well I just gave you Pell grants aren't going up. And my concern here in this budget is they that we don't really have a balanced deal to offer the American people. It is skewed too heavily towards tax cuts, and the areas that I care about also, which is defense. But at the sacrifice of other investments that all of us, our districts and families across the district. And our budget -- and this budget does not reflect what I think are the desires of the president and the administration for a balanced offering to the American people, and unfortunately it falls short to that goal.

BEGALA: Let me get Congressman Pence into this as well. It seems to me that Democrats are willing to make tough choices. Our president said in his State of the Union address: "We will not pass our problems along to future generations." Then he proposed about a trillion dollars of new tax cuts in that same speech.

Democrats are willing to make a tough choice. We know tax cuts are popular. But the Democrats are willing to say hold the line on tax cuts because we are at war. We do have a deficit. We have to do more to protect the homeland and educate our children.

So they're will willing to say no to these very popular tax cuts. I suspect you support them. Therefore, tell me one federal spending program you would eliminate.

PENCE: Well, Paul, we don't have that much time left in the show for this conservative.

BEGALA: Just one.

PENCE: Let me address the larger question, if I can, and that is, if Al Gore was elected president of the United States of America and there had been no Bush tax cut signed into law on June 7, 2001, we would still be faced with triple-digit deficits because we are in a Clinton-inherited recession and we are in war and we follow (ph) homeland security and 9/11.


BEGALA: Let me try to give you the options in the words of Alan Murray. He's a columnist for "The Wall Street Journal." And here's what he said: "The Bush deficit leaves thee choices. First, sharply reduced spending on Medicare and Social Security. Second, sharply reduce spending on everything else the government does. Or third, let federal spending grow in the next three decades to a size equal to 25 or 30 percent of the American economy up from just 20 percent today."

Which will the Republicans do? Will they cut Social Security, will they cut the rest of the government? Will they allow these deficits to go out of control?

PENCE: Well there is a fourth choice. And I know we don't recognize it here in Washington, D.C. And on the budget committee we are trying to get them to embrace what I like to call real world scoring in scoring the costs of tax cuts.

NOVAK: Dynamic scoring.

PENCE: Thank you. It is called dynamic scoring. But in static analysis you never get there. But in dynamic analysis, what the president is doing, what Mitch Daniels described in front of the budget committee today is, yes, we are going to deal with deficits while we deal with the war on terrorism, while we make the homeland secure.

We are going to cut taxes to get this economy growing again, to put Americans back to work, to put family budgets for Americans ahead of the federal budget, Paul. That's what we are going to do. (APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Congressman Emanuel, I'm going to ask you a question similar to the question that Paul asked Congressman Pence. And that is, tell me a program that you would reduce below the level of spending in the Bush budget, creating what you obviously are concerned about -- what you call a structural deficit. It is not a structural deficit. But which programs would you reduce? Tell me.

EMANUEL: The subsidy to CNN for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: We don't get any subsidies. Seriously, what would you cut?

EMANUEL: Well, there are areas you can cut. I would start with -- take a look at -- because it doesn't (ph) effect my district. You can talk about areas in the Ag (ph) bill. We just passed the 175...

NOVAK: You're from Chicago, aren't you?

EMANUEL: Last time I checked, unless you know something I don't know. No, I think that in that area, my view is we just had -- and, in fact, even the administration thought it was too big of a bank expense. It was $175 billion program for the agriculture -- for areas of agriculture in our country. And I don't think given everything we're trying to do you can afford the type of increases there. I don't have a problem with the defense.

NOVAK: So you're going to just cut a little bit of Ag (ph) and you're going to change the budget deficit? Are you serious?

EMANUEL: No, you changed the question. You asked me to offer one, I gave you one. You may not be happy with the answer.


PENCE: So the reality is the only way you deal with the $300 billion deficit is you get the economy to grow by cutting taxes.

EMANUEL: Mike knows this -- no wait a second.

NOVAK: Let me just play up what Congressman Don Nickles, the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. Senator Don Nickles, the new chairman of the Budget Committee says, "Democrats are never concerned about deficits when it comes to spending. They are only concerned about deficits when it comes to tax cuts" All of the Democrat want more spending, isn't that true?

EMANUEL: No. Listen, what there are a lot of factors that led to the period between '98 and 2000, when we had surpluses running. There was both the strong economy, the innovation of our people out in the business world, people who were working in those companies, as well as the choices we made. They were not just related to our budget, related to our strategy opening markets overseas and investing in education and healthcare. That is what led to an unprecedented time in American history. We are not only concerned about deficits when it comes to tax cuts. We are concerned about it when it comes to spending. That's why we had caps in there for years that contained spending.

The fact of the matter is this is not a budget. You can have targeted tax cuts. You can have increases in the areas of defense and homeland security, and also in investments. And the problem is there isn't a balanced approach in this budget, and it doesn't reflect all the choices we have to make. It doesn't reflect the choices families make.

PENCE: You didn't mention this, Rahm, but one of the few things that your old boss, Bill Clinton, did that I admire and appreciate was he cut the capital gains tax in 1997. That sent into motion a period of economic expansion and growth in the capital markets. You know it as well as I do, that set the stage for the government surpluses that followed. It was tax relief, Rahm.

EMANUEL: Mike, you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one more time, I'm going to put you in a safe house.

NOVAK: Now wait a minute. Just a minute. I have to correct you, Congressman, because he signed a Republican bill cutting the capital gains tax.

PENCE: Absolutely.


BEGALA: Let me ask Congressman Pence about the present (ph). Your home state of Indiana is the home state of our budget director. Mitch Daniels is from Indiana. There's talk that he may run for governor. Do you think it's a good program for him to go back to Indiana and say that he produced a budget that eliminates grants for new sources of energy from farm commodities that eliminate -- or cuts, rather -- a program to develop new markets for farm commodities, that cuts grants for renewable energy from farmers, that cuts Internet loans for farmers, but that raises Mitch Daniels' budget by eight percent.

Six million dollars more for Mitch Daniels and his little (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and cuts for farmers in Indiana. Is that a balanced budget, Congressman?

PENCE: Well, let me tell you, Paul, that was good.

BEGALA: I spent the time on budgets. I used to work on this stuff. It matters.

PENCE: Let me say to you, I think whatever Mitch Daniels' future plans are -- and he is my friend and I am an admirer of his -- what is right for Mitch Daniels to do right now is to create a budget, which I believe he's done, which reflects the priorities of the president and the priorities of the American people today. Those priorities are to provide for the common defense at home and abroad. Homeland security, and to set the stage for a military infrastructure that can confront any challenge ahead. And the second priority has to be, get this economy...

NOVAK: That's a brilliant analysis and it's also the last word. Thank you very much, Congressman Pence. Congressman Emanuel, congratulations.


NOVAK: Can a quick history lesson prove that human space flights should go on? One of our viewers thinks so. We'll let her fire back next.



BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time now for "Fireback." We'll begin with the e-mail. And our first e-mail is about the debate we just finished on the federal budget.

Chuck Garner of Charlotte, North Carolina, writes, "I keep hearing Republicans describing the 2003 Bush budget as bold and radical. To me, radical is if your kid comes home with orange hair. It sure isn't mortgaging our country's future with runaway deficits. That's just stupid."

I'm with you, Chuck. Sorry about the orange hair, but good point.

NOVAK: You know, would you like a balanced budget this year by raising taxes? Would you?

BEGALA: No. By deferring tax cuts, yes.

NOVAK: You (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to balance the budget by having more tax revenue?

BEGALA: Defer tax cuts for rich guys like me and you and we can balance the budget.

NOVAK: And you think that would be good for the economy?

BEGALA: It would be great for the economy.

NOVAK: Oh, you really -- thank you Herbert Hoover. All right. Chris Mason of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: "If President Bush plans to cut the average family's taxes, how on earth will he pay for his programs? Now I am no economics whiz, but I know if I have less coming in I should be spending less."

Chris, you really are correct. You are no economics whiz. Because if you confuse a household budget with the budget of the federal government you've been listening to too much Begala propaganda. BEGALA: Well the problem is Bush has spent his whole life living on daddy's credit card, so he doesn't have any sense that he's got to actually pay the bills. It took Bill Clinton to balance the budget. The next Democratic president will do it again.


Judy Simmons of Tulsa, Oklahoma writes about the NASA debate we had earlier tonight, whether we should have manned space exploration. "Did Columbus give up and turn back? Did the pilgrims throw in the towel and return to England? Did our greatest generation shirk from making the world free of cruel dictators?"

"This is our heritage. This is who we are. Close down NASA? No way. Now, back to the drawing board."

Beautifully put, Judy.

NOVAK: Well we've got a lot of e-mails like that. Let me read you one more from John Hayden of Mantoon, Illinois, about 30 miles from where I went to the University of Illinois. "We must continue to send men and women into space. Let's not trade one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind for robots on Mars."

And if you wondered where I stood on this issue I am for humans, not robots.

BEGALA: I'm with you on that. A rare moment of agreement with Mr. Novak.

NOVAK: Question.

SARAH WHITFIELD: Hi. My name is Sarah Whitfield (ph) and I'm from Jackson, Mississippi. And I was wondering why we should spend billions of dollars on the space program when there are so many domestic programs that need our money.

NOVAK: Because the romance and the adventure of space is a lot more than taking care of some people who don't want to work for a living.

BEGALA: Let me try to put a little more elegant gloss on it. I mean, the truth is, as a budget matter, Jesus was right, the poor will always be with us. But there is something in the human spirit that does want to explore. That same argument can be made at every moment of human history. There will always be poor people, and we should take care of them -- Bob is wrong about that. But we should also continue to explore our world.

NOVAK: Question.

ASHTON: Ashton (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Hayward, California. Is war with Iraq worth alienating our allies in Europe?

NOVAK: Well I don't worry about our allies in Europe. I worry about the members of Islam. That's what I worry about alienating. And I sure hope, and I think President Bush hopes, that at the last minute we can find a different way to get rid of Saddam Hussein than having another war.

BEGALA: I think our president has lost his focus. The same president who rallied us after 9/11 is now going after someone who is a bad guy, but who is not behind those 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile those same guys that committed the 9/11 attacks are regrouping and preparing their next attack. We should go after them instead of being distraction by Iraq.

NOVAK: I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

BEGALA: From the left I'm Paul Begala. Goodnight for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: On the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.


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