On Meet the Press Barney Frank calls out the Republican's hyprocrisy on never having any problems with spending for the military but complaining about social spending and on their sudden love of bipartisanship. And of course true to form David Gregory manages to change the subject just as Frank really starts to lay into them.
MR. GREGORY: Senator, will, will Republicans in the Senate try to delay passage?
SEN. ENSIGN: Sure. First of all, we only got the bill at 11:00 last night, OK? The--it was so complex. This is--this is almost $1 trillion. You don't get do-overs with $1 trillion. If you get this thing wrong, $1 trillion isn't like, "Well, we did it wrong, we'll try it again." A trillion dollars...
MR. GREGORY: Will it pass--do you think it'll pass this week?
SEN. ENSIGN: It'll pass this week. But we want some time to go through it. We want some time for the American people to be able to look at it. Getting it at 11:00 on a Saturday night and, and just having, you know, a day and a half to look at $1 trillion in spending I don't think is adequate.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman:
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA): Well, two things. First, watch this face, David, because some of the arguments you've been hearing now about how government spending never helps the economy, you're going to hear the absolute reverse when military spending comes up. We have an airplane, the F-22, that is designed to defeat the Soviet Union in a war, and I think we can save billions. The defense budget has gone way up under George Bush. But somehow to my Republican friends enormous amounts for the war in Iraq--which I thought was a mistake--hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars for weapons to fight the Cold War, they don't count those. But you're going to hear an argument about how important military spending is for the economy. So...(unintelligible).
Secondly, they talk about this wasteful spending. Let me talk about it. I'll be flying out of here this afternoon to go over to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where they're about to lay off cops and firefighters. That's the wasteful spending that my colleagues are talking about, money to go to the states to stop from laying off cops and firefighters. Money to help keep teachers going. Those are jobs. There seems to be this notion that if you hire someone to do something useful, that somehow becomes social spending and it doesn't count. In fact, these have dual purposes. If you keep cops and firefighters and teachers from being laid off, you're improving the quality of life, I think, or preventing a deterioration.
Secondly, as to the bipartisanship--again, I want to congratulate my Republican colleagues that they're not too old to learn. Because I was in Congress in 2001, two, three, four, five, six, when the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, the White House and they pushed things through. There was none of this concern that one-party rule was a bad thing. Now that they're not the party, they've decided that that's a bad idea, and it's always nice when people know new things. But we had an election last year which had pretty decisive results in the White House, the Senate and the House, and it did say that public spending for improved infrastructure to keep bridges from crumbling, to keep cops and firefighters working, that that's a good thing.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman:
REP. PENCE: Well, less than 5 percent of this bill is for roads and bridges and infrastructure. And let me, let me be clear with Barney. I, I don't, I don't have any problem with some spending on infrastructure and making sure that people's unemployment benefits aren't lapsed. The point is, is what, what should most of this bill be about?
MR. GREGORY: Right.
REP. PENCE: No one is saying that spending by the federal government isn't going to have some benign positive effect on the economy.
REP. FRANK: David, we--excuse me, but...
MR. GREGORY: Well, let, let's just...
REP. PENCE: It's what, what will be the most effective to turn this recession around?
REP. FRANK: Mike, you just ignored what I said. You just ignored what I said. As I understand, one of the big cuts that had to be done--and I think Senator McCaskill and others were trying. But to get any Republicans at all, you had to adopt a cut that's going to mean policemen and firemen are going to be laid off.
SEN. ENSIGN: That's not true, Barney.
REP. PENCE: That's not true.
REP. FRANK: It's not just infrastructure.
SEN. ENSIGN: That's not true.
REP. FRANK: You're cutting off aid to the states. Aid to the states is to prevent...
SEN. ENSIGN: Hold on. All right, David...
REP. FRANK: ...this budget crunch from laying off public employees.
SEN. ENSIGN: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: Let, let's get--I want to get to the--we're going to get to some of the cuts and whether they're wise in just a moment.