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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

John Boehner Talks Debt, Spending, Obamacare; Obama Speaks Following Export Council Meeting.

Aired September 19, 2013 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Looking now at some live pictures on Capitol Hill. Through that door, the House speaker, John Boehner, is expected to emerge at any moment to give his weekly address. Might take a question or two. He's usually quick about it.

Ah, there, almost right on cue. As he comes to the podium, likely to address that paralysis that's looming on capitol hill, not only the debt ceiling but the spending bill. Let's listen.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our best plan is to protect the American people from the president's health car law while keeping the rest of government up and running. When it companies to the health care law, the debate in the House has been settled. I think our position is very clear. The law's a train wreck. It's going to raise costs. It's destroying American jobs. And it must go.

We'll deliver a big victory in the House tomorrow and then this fight will move over to the Senate where it belongs. I expect my Senate colleagues to up for the battle.

And while that fight plays out, we engage in another set of challenges, the debt limit. More importantly, the debt itself. And let me be very clear. Republicans have no interest in defaulting on our debt. None. We just want to find a way to pay it off. That's why the House will act on a plan that will reduce the deficit that includes reforms, including a delay of the president's health care law.

There's a common-sense principle here. If you're going to raise the debt ceiling, you should work to reduce the deficit and grow the economy at the same time. The president's remarks notwithstanding.

The White House may not get it but, frankly, the American people get it. Every major deficit reduction plan over the last 30 years has been tied to the debt limit. In 1985, President Reagan signed the Graham/Rudman/Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, which included an increase in the debt limit. When President Bush reached a budget deal with Democrats here in the Congress in 1990, it included an increase in the debt limit. President Clinton reached two similar agreements. Both tied to the debt limit. And I would remind President Obama himself that in the summer of 2011, there was a major deficit reduction bill enacted with an increase in the debt limit. This time should be no different. In fact, I think it's more important than ever.

A report this week from the Congressional Budget Office makes it clear that our debt is set to grow rapidly in the coming years if we take no action. Now, that's why it's so troubling that the president's decided to just sit out this debate. He says he won't engage. You know, most Americans refer to their bipartisan efforts to reduce the deficit as achievements. The president sees this, quote/unquote, "as extortion." So while the president is happy to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, he won't engage with the Congress on a plan that deals with the deficits and the economy. Let's me be clear. A deal without any reforms to lower our deficit just isn't going to cut it. Not when, under this president, the United States has racked up $6 trillion worth of additional debt.

You can see it right here. This is when the president took office. Look what's happened over these years. Look what happened out into the future if we don't do something about our spending problem.

So a bill that does nothing to deal with the deficit is really telling the world that we're not willing to deal with our spending problem. The president needs to recognize that we've got a shared responsibility to govern. He can try to stay on the sidelines, but here in the House, we're going to lead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Congress -- (INAUDIBLE)

BOEHNER: I'm not going to speculate on what the Senate's going to do or not do. But the fight here has been won. The fight over there is just beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) speculation, they've already said the fight's over -- so what's your reaction?

BOEHNER: I expect my Senate colleagues to do everything they can to defund this law just like the House is going to do.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, if they don't do that, if they send it back to you?

BOEHNER: I'm not going to get into the ifs, ands and buts and all that nonsense.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) allow you to go through or do you need the cooperation of Leader Pelosi (INAUDIBLE)

BOEHNER: I'm not going to speculate on what the Senate will or will not do.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, (INAUDIBLE)

BOEHNER: We're going to have a conversation with our colleagues tomorrow morning about how we would proceed on the debt limit. And after that conversation, we'll probably have more to say.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senate Republicans are saying almost universally don't do this, this losing strategy won't work for Republicans (INAUDIBLE)

BOEHNER: To do what? To do what? To do what?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).

BOEHNER: listen, Obamacare's driving up the cost of health care. It is a train wreck. It has to go. We've done everything humanly possible over the last two and a half years to make our point and we're going to continue to make our point.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) they just don't think this is the (INAUDIBLE).

BOEHNER: Guess what, we're having the fight over here. We're going to win the fight over here. It's time for them to pick up the mantle and get the job done.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Speaker Boehner, in an interview, the president of Iran said they would not use the nuclear program for weapons ever, a more moderate tone (INAUDIBLE) comments about the recent words of the president of Iran?

BOEHNER: Actions speak louder than words. And I think it's time for the Iranians to take actions to show the world that they're not interested in producing nuclear weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you expect these negotiations that you're calling for proceed (INAUDIBLE)?

BOEHNER: I'm not doing that. The House is going to pass a bill. It will be up to the Senate to pass a bill. And I would guess the president would engage with the majority leader over there. If he so desires.

Jonathan?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).

BOEHNER: Listen, we've got diverse dockets. Frankly, so do the Democrats have a very diverse caucus. Republicans, by their very nature, are a bit more independent than our colleagues across the aisle. So whenever we're trying to put together a plan, you know, there's -- we've got 233 members, all of whom have their own plan. It's tough to get them on the same track. We got there.

David, welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).

BOEHNER: As soon as we can.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

BOEHNER: Love those editorial comments that kind of come along with the questions.

After we pass the nutrition bill today, we'll send it over to the Senate. As I understand it, the Senate probably will have to reappoint conferees. When they ask for a conference, we'll appoint our conferees as well. The sooner, the better.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).

BOEHNER: We'll see.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).

BOEHNER: We expect to have the votes tomorrow to pass the C.R. and we'll take it from there.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).

BOEHNER: I'm not going to speculate on what the Senate's going to do, not do, and where the votes are. It's way too early for that. We'll have plenty of time next weekend to discuss that.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: And that's all, folks. He seems very nonplussed with that pesky press, doesn't he? It's so frustrating, I am so sorry, when you can't hear the questions. You can certainly hear the tone in the answer, which may speak bigger volumes than the questions.

But it's great to talk about that with Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger, who are now live with me in Washington.

All right, you two, we couldn't hear the questions, but I'm pretty darn sure that somewhere in there, someone said, and Wolf, you can start, can you control your caucus? I heard him talk about diversity. Take it from there, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM & AUTHOR: You certainly can't completely control his caucus because there's a real split among a lot of the Republicans. You have a Republican like Peter King saying this is disastrous for the Republicans to try to link continuation of government funding to the defunding of Obamacare. Karl Rove wrote that article we talked about earlier in the "Wall Street Journal," once again, saying this would be disastrous for the Republicans.

On the other hand, you have a whole bunch of Republicans in the House saying Obamacare is a disaster and you've got to kill it and this is a good way to kill it, threaten to shut down the government unless the entire Obamacare is defunded.

It was interesting, that last line that the speaker gave was very telling. He didn't want to speculate about what's going to happen but he said not this weekend but the following weekend will be critical. Because that will be the last weekend this month before the government could shut down. And by then, presumably, maybe they'll be an opportunity to come up with some sort of a solution to avoid a government shutdown, which would really hurt millions and millions of Americans who wouldn't get paychecks, who wouldn't get compensation from various federal agencies. All sorts of federal services would be derailed. There's an enormous amount at stake right now in this battle.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: You know, Gloria, that exactly. I'd love you to dovetail on it because John Boehner said the words, "Republicans have no interest in defaulting on our debt." These are platitudes that both parties they throw around very judiciously --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

BANFIELD: And they're not so judiciously at this time of the year.

BORGER: And no one wants to shut down the government either. There are two separate fights. Both of -- if the government is shut down or if we default on our debt, both would be disastrous.

I think what was so interesting to me about Boehner is you couldn't tell who he was angrier at. Is he angrier at the president he says who was more willing to negotiate with Vladimir Putin than he is with Republicans? Or is he angrier at Senate Republicans? Because now his guys are out on the line. By the way, Boehner was dragged into this kicking and screaming by these Republicans in his caucus. I don't think this would have been his plan of action, if it were up to him. But now that he's there and his people are out there on the line, walking to the edge of the cliff, right, and suddenly, Senate Republicans are saying, well, you know what, it's really good House Republicans are doing it because, by the way, we can't win in the Senate. He feels like his caucus is out there on a limb. And Senate Republicans who pushed them out there have now deserted them. So he was mad at them and he's mad at the president. By the way, he's probably just a little bit peeved at his own caucus but he can't say it.

BANFIELD: Yeah, probably one Ted Cruz is playing into this as well.

BORGER: Exactly.

BANFIELD: Wolf and Gloria, thank you. It's a very exciting day, it's fun to watch as these people do these things and we all hang in the balance.

Appreciate it, you two.

By the way, if you want to know what the president has to say about all of this playing out right now, nothing, it turns out. Our reporter tried very much at one event today to get the president to remark on these comments and about the looming government shutdown. Mmm-mm, that wasn't what he was on to today. Instead, today, it was all about the export council and the message this week, which is the economy and how it's doing. And after the break, you're going to hear exactly what he thinks about it in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: So at least twice each year the president gets together with some real power brokers in this country, the executives, the captains of industry, shall I say, massive mega CEO. It's an export council. Today, the president met with his export council, including some other sectors of the economy in on it, and had some words afterwards about the state of the economy, as well as Obamacare, which is factoring very heavily at the same time over on Capitol Hill, being tied to actually a spending bill to keep the government open. But all of this coming out at a time when, oh, wow, did the stock market have a good day yesterday.

Here's what the president had to say just after this meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- outstanding leadership in this entire process.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and an incredible financial crisis that devastated not just the financial sector but the entire economy. And people lost jobs and homes and savings. And for the last five years, we have worked our way back, because of the incredible grit and resilience of the American people, because the outstanding dynamism of our business sectors, because of, I think, some timely work on the part of this administration and other agencies to make sure that we were responsive to the immediate needs of the American people but also looking at how we can start initiating structural changes that are going to make a difference over the long term and rebuild our economy. We're not where we need to be yet, but with 7.5 million new jobs created in the private sector, with the housing market beginning to recover, with, you know, our energy transformation continuing in a way that I think many people would not have anticipated 20 years ago, where we're now at a point where domestic production is actually starting to exceed imports. Across all of these fronts there are some very positive pieces of news.

But I tell you, one of the biggest bright spots in our economy has been exports. The fact that "Made in America" means something and has provided a boost to our domestic economy and has reminded the world just how competitive we are. This has been a top priority from the start. Part of the reason we set up this export council was to make sure that we're in a position to meet our goal of doubling exports during the course of a fairly short period of time. And we now sell more goods overseas than ever before.

Jason, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think our current account deficit and trade deficits have narrowed as significantly as we have seen in a very long time.

Part of that is because we're importing less foreign oil and increasing domestic production, but a lot of it is because we're selling a lot of great products all around the world. And this council has done a great job in helping to guide our policies. We've got large businesses. We've got small businesses. We've got medium- sized businesses. We've got services as well as manufacturers. And your input has been enormously important in this entire process.

Part of what we've seen is a continued transformation in American business to become more competitive and more productive. And I would be remiss to say, since it's in the news quite a bit, to note that one of the reasons our businesses are more competitive is because health care costs have stabilized relative to what we had been seeing in previous years. Just an interesting statistic here for folks who may be interested --

(LAUGHTER)

-- thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare --

(LAUGHTER)

-- the cost of health care is growing at slowest rate in 50 years. Employer-based health care costs are growing at about one-third of the rate of a decade ago. And just yesterday, CMS estimated that health care spending grew at its second-slowest rate ever in 2012. Will grow at its third slowest rate ever in 2013. Grew it at its slowest rate --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: You can see what a different picture it is when the president speaks and when the speaker of the House speaks because it was just a few seconds ago the speaker of the House said Obamacare is a law that's a train wreck. Politics, folks, there you have it. Simultaneously, these leaders all saying what they feel about a lot of it is right now being tied to keeping the government going. Stay tuned to this.

Coming up, it's been three years since the former speaker of the House and a very important person told by a judge, "You're going to the pokey for three years." Tom DeLay did not go to prison. And now he will possibly never go to prison. Update you on breaking news in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Breaking news. This just in, a court in Texas has overturned the former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's money laundering charges and conviction. That once-powerful Republican was convicted three years ago, and the reason was he allegedly tried to influence Texas elections. But the court ruled that the evidence against DeLay was, quote, "legally insufficient." He had been sentenced to three years in prison but the sentence was on hold while his case was appealed, so he was out on bail. This is probably excellent news for him. Who knows, though, what happens next? But one thing's for sure, he's not booking into a jail anytime soon.

Thank you so much, everyone, for watching. It's been good to have you on the "Legal View." A busy version of the show. Appreciate you staying with us.

AROUND THE WORLD starts after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Known for going against the norm, now Pope Francis speaking out about gays and lesbians. He says the church should not interfere spiritually in their lives. The interview coming up.

Also coming up, this --

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UNIDENTIFIED STRANDED TOURIST IN MEXICO: -- tried to leave on Monday until we all got together in a car to go and the road was blocked. We didn't get further than a mile from here. It's --