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Is a Deal Possible?

Aired October 9, 2013 - 18:28   ET



ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE, running out of time. Running out of money, running out of patience. Does anyone have a solution?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Back in the '90s, the Republican Party and Mr. Gingrich realized this isn't a sensible way to do business.

ANNOUNCER: How about now?

On the left, Van Jones. On the right, Newt Gingrich. In the CROSSFIRE, Democrat Representative Rosa DeLauro, who's just been to a White House briefing, and Republican Representative Raul Labrador, who wants the president to negotiate. Is a deal in the works? Is one even possible? Tonight on CROSSFIRE.


VAN JONES, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm Van Jones on the left.

NEWT GINGRICH, CO-HOST: I'm Newt Gingrich on the right. The president is getting his history exactly wrong. We negotiated all the way through in 1995 and 1996. That's how we got a deal. This president says he wants a deal first, then he'll negotiate? Here's how he fantasized about history yesterday.


OBAMA: The Republican Party and Mr. Gingrich realized this isn't a sensible way to do business. We shouldn't engage in brinksmanship like this, and then they started having a serious conversation with President Clinton about a whole range of issues, and they got some things that they wanted. They had to give the Democrats some things that the Democrats wanted.


GINGRICH: You know, what I find fascinating about this, is I went back and actually read some of the stuff from '95 and '96. Bill Clinton, like President Obama had a veto. That was his great strength. The House had the ability to pass legislation involving money. That was our great strength. So we sort of checkmated each other.

We had a brief temporary shutdown for five days, came back, thought we had a deal. About a month later, the deal fell through; we went out for 16 days. Came back, and by then we had a real deal, but we talked all the way through it.

JONES: Well, you know, I can't debate with you about the past, because you were here and I wasn't here. But I do think this president is smarter than people are giving him credit for.

I think this president looked at that Republican Party, saw a lot of dysfunction and said, "I'm not going to negotiate with that Republican Party" and held them at bay, and now you're seeing better voices in the Republican Party come out. You saw Paul Ryan with a very constructive proposal today. Coburn's coming out.

I think this president is actually playing it pretty smart. Luckily we've got some guests here who may have some insight into this. Today in the CROSSFIRE to help us talk this through, we have Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. She's just come back from the White House, where she met with our president. We also have rising star, Republican Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho. He will not be going to the White House tomorrow, although all the House leadership will be going.

Let's start with you. First of all, welcome to CROSSFIRE. It's so good to have you both here. Are you disappointed? I mean, the president asked you to come to the White House. He asked every single Republican to come, and you're turning him down? I don't understand why you're not going.

LABRADOR: I don't think I'm turning him down. I think the speaker of the House decided that he would go with leadership. I don't have an opposition to that. I'm willing to go to the White House if the president wants me there. In fact, if he wants dinner tomorrow night, I'm ready to go.

JONES: Very good. Because he said he's disappointed that all the Republicans he asked to come over are not coming. Are you disappointed not to be going?

LABRADOR: No, you know, like I said, if he wants me to go, I'll go tomorrow night. I have time. I'll clear my schedule for him. I'll make sure that we can have a nice, intimate dinner.

JONES: Invited. I'm telling you, you are invited. Are you going to go? Are you going to go tomorrow? You're invited.

LABRADOR: You know, I've been really pleased with what Speaker Boehner has been doing for the last couple of weeks, and I'm not going to do anything to step on his message. He's actually unified the party like we haven't been before in a very long time.

JONES: Isn't the Tea Party being sidelined here? I mean, honestly, for real, you are a rising star. You're a big voice in this party. It's important to this party. The Tea Party is being sidelined. Boehner is going to meet with the president without you. How do you feel about it? LABRADOR: I'm totally fine with it. If you look at what's going to be proposed, all the different things that we have talked about, it's the things that we have been asking for for the last two and a half years.

In fact, some of us having disappointed that our speaker hasn't been strong enough in his negotiations with the president. And I'm fully supportive of what he's doing right now, because he's actually told the speaker that he's not going to cave, but he's going to continue to fight until the president is willing to come to the negotiating table. And now all of a sudden, actually --

JONES: Good soldier. Good soldier.

LABRADOR: He's actually negotiating now.

GINGRICH: Let me ask you, Congresswoman DeLauro, because you just came from the White House, where your caucus met with the president. My understanding is that Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton made a very impassioned plea down there for the president to consider seriously the problems of Washington, D.C. As you know, the House has passed the bill that would fund D.C. and a free clear, no conditions attached to it. Mayor Gray has begged the Senate to pass it. Eleanor Holmes Norton has begged them.

I mean, what's your position about helping some unique hardship cases that could easily be taken care of while this negotiating is going on?

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, first of all, let me just say I'm sorry you're not going, and I wish that, in fact the entire -- your entire caucus was going and we were chatting before. There really is an extraordinary impact in being at the White House.

And the camaraderie amongst your colleagues and with regard to a back and forth, the opportunity for a back-and-forth with the president. And sometimes it's great not just to have leadership have the opportunity to interact with the president, but quite frankly, rank- and-file. Newly-elected members who can get up in that situation and go toe to toe with the president of the United States. It's a wonderful forum. And that's true, quite frankly, with whomever would be in the White House.

To your question, let me just say this, you know, this is a -- I understand my colleague Eleanor Holmes Norton, and she's passionate. And that's her job, is to be a fierce advocate for the district, but the issue is that one cannot deal piecemeal with the government.

You know, I'm an ovarian cancer survivor. I 23 years have fought for increased funding for cancer. But to say that we're going to do this piece over another piece over another piece, you leave people out, you leave agencies out. You've got folks who are not getting the benefits of the services of the federal government. That is what it means to open government.

LABRADOR: Isn't that what the appropriations process is? I'm having a really hard time with this argument that you guys have been using for the last three weeks.

We have 12 appropriation bills that we pass every single year. We pass four in the House. The Senate has refused to pass any appropriations bills in the last three years or four years. That's what appropriations are. It's a piecemeal process where you look at government individually.

So I'm really not sure where this argument's coming from.

DELAURO: You do have 12 agencies, and that is the entire federal government. But the fact is that none of the 12 in this instant went when you did have a shutdown, and Mr. Speaker, I was there in 95. There had, in fact, a number of the appropriations bills had been passed.

LABRADOR: And we've passed four. And we've passed four, but the Senate has refused to take any of them.

DELAURO: Well, you have -- you have nothing that has finished the process. I'll give you one, for instance: Labor, Health and Education and which I'm the ranking member on that committee. That bill never even went to the subcommittee.

GINGRICH: So let me ask you a second. Because you were right: in 1995, we actually had passed and signed into law six appropriations, half of the total, before we got into this fight.

But for example, I just went back and checked, Congressman Phil Upton (ph) who brought to my attention the Veterans Administration appropriations bill passed the House with 400 votes on June 4. It's now 127 days that Harry Reid and the Senate have blocked it. Now, the House has since passed a continuing resolution, they passed a clean appropriations -- or continuing resolution for veterans. They passed a clean continuing resolution for veterans.

DELAURO: But the House --

GINGRICH: Which is also being blocked. So he won't pass the appropriations bill, and he won't pass the continuing.

DELAURO: But I have -- and probably not the case with veterans. But I have spent enough time in this institution and on the committees to see whether it was the FDA, the Food & Drug Administration and whether it was the Women Infants and Children program. I sat in the committee. Head Start, quite frankly, where the Ryan budget was a billion dollars in the cut for Head Start.

Now all of a sudden, as I said on the floor, people have gotten religion. It sounds like it's politics write large, that just a few months ago we can't -- we can't fund Head Start. We can't fund a WIC program. We can't --

LABRADOR: I don't think any Republican has said that we can't fund Head Start.

DELAURO: Oh, yes, they did. It's the Ryan budget. It's a billion dollars in cuts.

LABRADOR: That's not not funding Head Start. And it amazes me that we're meeting you halfway. We're telling you that we're willing to fund the programs that you want to fund. In fact, every single bill that we have done has been because the president said, "These are the programs that need to be funded right now."

JONES: Let me ask you a question.

DELAURO: You are cherry picking for politics.

JONES: Isn't this, like, a bit of a trick, though, on your part? Sometimes it feels to me a little bit cynical. I wanted to ask you about this.

LABRADOR: There's tricks in politics?

JONES: I know. But it does seem like, to me, that you kind of take these things that we complain about and you say, "Well, we'll pass that. We'll pass that."

What would stop it from just being you just basically open up everything but Obama care? Isn't this just a way to refund the entire government except for Obama care and defund Obama care through a back door? I think that's a concern that people have.

LABRADOR: That's what we're saying.

JONES: That's what you're trying to do? You admit it?

LABRADOR: No, no. We don't want to defund Obama care for one year. We want it to continue to fund the entire government.

JONES: This makes me feel very sad, because it still feels like then you're just -- you're taking these kind of heartbreak cases, and you're using them cynically to make Democrats look bad and try to refund the government while defunding Obama care. Why not just have a clean resolution? It should be a continuing resolution for the government, not a discontinuing revolution for Obama care. Right?

LABRADOR: It seems to me that Republicans were elected for a reason. We were elected to kind of stop the Obama agenda. We have been very successful the last three years to stop that agenda. We have a divided government. I understand that there's the frustration in divided government, but it amazes me that people continue to argue that only what the Democrats want to do is what should be done in Washington, D.C., when the American people elected us in the House to also have our say.

DELAURO: I mean, I find that just incredible. You want to pick and choose whatever it is that you want to get done.

LABRADOR: Isn't that what the appropriations process?

DELAURO: No, we have an appropriations process, and we come to a conclusion as to what we're doing. Quite frankly, and the president, talk about a compromise. The president accepted the Republican budget numbers. As a matter of fact, it's much lower than his.

LABRADOR: That's a great talking point, but that's not true.

DELAURO: No, no, it is true. It is absolutely true.

LABRADOR: The appropriations number was actually lower in 2014. It's much lower than what the president --

DELAURO: Your number is $967 billion.

LABRADOR: And that's --

DELAURO: I know the number. But it is -- this is lower. What the president has accepted is lower than what the Ryan -- the original Ryan budget.

Now, the president did that. A bipartisan debate in the Senate, a bipartisan debate in the Senate, they came to the conclusion that, OK, based on an agreement with the speaker and with Harry Reid that said clean, continuing resolution, the $986 billion level, remove the defunding of Obama care, bipartisan. Democratic president has agreed to that.

GINGRICH: But the Republicans didn't agree to that.

DELAURO: Well, they did in the Senate. And now --

LABRADOR: But we have a bicameral Congress.

DELAURO: Why don't we --

LABRADOR: That's why your Founding Fathers wanted two different houses.

DELAURO: Let me ask you a question. What would be the problem in bringing that up for a vote on the House floor? What are you afraid of?

GINGRICH: I'll ask differently -- the Republicans have sent over a clean C.R. For -- nutrition, for health and -- for the -- national institutes of health, for the National Parks Service, for memorials. I mean, there are a whole range of things going over.

DELAURO: In all of the program, it's about 7 percent of the budget. You can't do it and open it up. Open the entire government, because you've got agencies -- You're picking and choosing agencies. And you're picking between people.

GINGRICH: I'm with John Boehner. This is, "Why don't you just surrender to us and we'll be happy? If I were a Democrat, I would love that solution. I'm sorry. Your turn.

JONES: This whole situation, I think, is so frustrating. And I think there's just this sense of -- all this bickering is resulting in nothing except pain and suffering, and a lack of certainty for markets and people being laid off. And so, look, I'm tired of the bickering. When we come back, we have two members of Congress here. We have a former speaker of the House. I am going to ask all three of you how we get out of this mess and get to a real deal.


JONES: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

We are here with two members of Congress. We have the legendary Rosa DeLauro who's here, and we also have the rising star, Republican Raul Labrador. And we have my co-host, who used to be the speaker of the House.

Now, listen, I am tired of all this crap. We have this bickering and bickering all day long on cable TV for weeks and weeks and weeks. I want for people at home to feel like there is some way out of this mess.

Now you, you were the speaker of the House. If you got a phone call from Boehner and Obama, they're both on the line. They're three- waying you in. Give us some hope. What is the framework to get out of this?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I'd say, can I have Van join us?

Look, I think there -- You asked me this earlier when we were talking about the show tonight and having two talented people like this. And anywhere the country is, which I have experience when I go out around the country, people, they just look at this city like we've lost their minds.


GINGRICH: In both parties. This is a general sense of all of us.

I have three principles that may surprise you.

The first is you've got to talk. I mean, the president wants to call it negotiate. Whatever. Just as you're saying about going down there today. Just the act of talking starts some processes differently.

Second I had a sign which John Boehner cited recently that said, "Listen, Learn, Help and Lead." And he was citing about his own conference. That's how Clinton and I operated internally. We had to listen to each other. We had to learn from each other in order to figure out what the boundaries are.

And lastly, what I post for our two friends here tonight is start with the easiest part of the negotiation. Don't start with the hard. I mean, Obama care is the hardest. You're going to get to it last, and the president doesn't want to give up anything, and the Republicans want everything. And out of the 2,700 pages, there ought to be something. But don't even get started there. Let -- put it to one side and say, OK, what could we agree on?

JONES: So that strikes me as somewhat near good. DELAURO: But you do not need -- you do not need to have the government shut down while you speak, while you talk. Open the government, reopen it -- no, hang on -- reopen the government and have a conversation. It is not a threat to have a conversation.

The president has said -- the president said on TV yesterday, first paragraph of his speech, which I, you know, heard him and then I read it, "I am happy to talk about anything that my Republican colleagues want to talk about. I just -- let's open the government and talk." That is -- that is --

LABRADOR: He's had five years to talk, and he doesn't talk to the Republicans. He doesn't even talk --

DELAURO: Oh, that's not true, Raul.

LABRADOR: He doesn't even talk to his own caucus.

DELAURO: That's not true. That is not true.

LABRADOR: There's something that we could do. There's something that we offered as House conservatives. We had a bill that was introduced a few weeks ago that would have done a one-year continuum resolution in exchange for a one-year delay of Obama care, because I think in any -- in any negotiation, both sides need to get something.

JONES: You know that's a nonstarter. We've been talking about that for weeks.

DELAURO: That is a non-starter.

JONES: What else -- what else could you do?

LABRADOR: The other thing --

JONES: You've got to answer to. Fair is fair now. Somebody has got to give up something that's real.

LABRADOR: I'm concerned about having negotiations on Obama care on the debt ceiling. And in fact, all the House conservatives told the leadership that we didn't want to have negotiations on the debt ceiling about Obama care. We wanted to have negotiations about debt about future deficits, about all those things.

So I would actually open up the government, and this would be a concession on my part. I would not open up the government. I would do a debt ceiling increase for six weeks, so the president can actually negotiate with John Boehner. And I would keep fighting on the continuing resolution and Obama care. But separate those two issues.

JONES: That's interesting.

LABRADOR: I don't want to -- I don't want to worry about the credit -- I don't want to worry about the creditworthiness of the United States.

JONES: Hold on. That's actually interesting. You're saying you would accept a six-week clean debt ceiling vote.


JONES: Well? Is that good?

DELAURO: Well, the issue is, does that means the government is still shut down while that is occurring?

LABRADOR: It will be, but at least we don't have to worry about the creditworthiness of the United States. Because I am concerned about that. You know, people might want to call me radical, all these different things. But I don't think any Republican in the House wants to actually bridge the debt ceiling. We are actually very concerned about that.

So I think that way we can continue to negotiate on the other issue, but we don't actually have to worry about the nation going into chaos if anything happens.

DELAURO: I think that there is a problem with leaving the government shut down because of the impact on what is happening to people. The reality of that impact.

LABRADOR: But you want us to surrender on everything.

DELAURO: No, no, no, I'm just saying to you is that why -- you know, this is not something new that you all have engaged in. I recall when we got to the brink on the last debt ceiling. And so what do we do six weeks from now if you don't get everything you want? Do we then just keep moving along with the debt? You bring us to the brink of the cliff every time we get there, and that doesn't matter --

LABRADOR: But the president said that he wants -- he wants to be able to negotiate. We're giving him the opportunity. If we did that, we would give him the opportunity.

DELAURO: But then -- but then what -- is there -- if we -- with the negotiations, if you don't get everybody that you want, what do you want?

LABRADOR: I just cave in, and they're not willing to accept that.

GINGRICH: This is why a lesson learned is important.


GINGRICH: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Clinton and I met vastly more often than we wanted to. But let me ask you this, if I could, Congressman DeLauro. If the Republicans brought up a clean six-week debt ceiling just by itself, without getting involved in the fight over the shutdown, do you think that the caucus would be willing to vote to give us six more weeks to talk? DELAURO: Well, the caucus has been willing to give a six-week reprieve for talking with regard to the shutdown of the government. Why are we separating the two out? Let's reopen the government. We can have the conversation about the debt ceiling. I won't put a time frame on it. But if there is an opportunity to talk, I believe in having that opportunity to talk about these things, to negotiate.

I'm not -- but under the -- the threat that the government is shut or we go over a cliff, that -- you know, in the shutdowns --

GINGRICH: But the Senate is trying to take one of the two away.

DELAURO: But in the shutdowns that occurred, and many Republicans have talked about 17 of them, the shutdown was over a spending issue, not a law.

LABRADOR: That's not true.

DELAURO: No -- yes. Eleven times, it was about a spending issue. Four times it was Contra aid. Four times it was abortion. Two times it was Contra aid, which was -- this was spending areas. Not the --

GINGRICH: Well, Obama care's a pretty big spending area.

DELAURO: But it's a law. It's the law of the land, my friend.

LABRADOR: So is the sequester. Remember that. The sequester is the law of the land, as we know.

GINGRICH: Because I want to go back -- do you think the president, because here's where I'm confused by. And this is the difference. You can grind along with a certain amount of pain and friction with a government shutdown.

You're, according to the secretary of the treasury, next week you're going to hit a cliff that's a disaster. So my question would be for Harry Reid and for the president. If Speaker Boehner passed a six- week clean debt ceiling, to give them time to talk, to take the gun away from the president's head on that set of issues, would the Senate pass it and would the president sign it?

DELAURO: They may, I think. That is up for conversation. And it ought to be up for conversation. But what we shouldn't do is to hold the nation hostage --

LABRADOR: Fair enough.

DELAURO: -- because a small group of people --

JONES: I've got one more question.

DELAURO: I just want to make one point. I think it's very, very important to note. In the shutdown in '95, because this is underlying. Let's be clear of the issue. Shutdown in '95 was $270 billion and a cut to Medicare, $270 billion and a tax cut for the wealthy. Fast forward, 2013, the -- it is about the Affordable Care Act, and shutting the government down. What this is all about, underlying everything, and this is -- this is really fundamental in terms of the Republican Party. It is rollback social insurance that benefits working and middle-class families. That's what this is about.

GINGRICH: That was your -- that was your interpretation.

DELAURO: That's what it's about.

GINGRICH: What we said at the time was is it was about welfare reform. It was about reforming the entitlements, and it was about getting to a balanced budget. And the only four consecutive balanced budgets in your lifetime came out of that. So if you think balancing the budget matters --

DELAURO: But you had block grants for welfare, for Medicaid, for Food Stamps, for social services, for education.

GINGRICH: We were modernizing the government.

JONES: In the time we've got left, I've got a couple more questions for you.

Two things happened today that I was curious about. One, you had Paul Ryan come out with, I thought, a very constructive -- again, we're trying to get -- we're trying to get to a deal here. Paul Ryan came out with a very constructive proposal today. I thought it was interesting to look at. I never thought I would be praising Paul Ryan on national television, but here we are. But he left out Obama care.

Is Paul Ryan right to move forward without Obama care? Will you get on team Paul Ryan to get us out of this mess?

LABRADOR: Ryan's actually doing the same thing that I'm suggesting. He was separating the debt ceiling from the C.R. Everything in that article was actually about the debt ceiling. It was about how do we get a handle on our debt and our deficits? And I actually agree with everything Paul Ryan said.

JONES: Why did all your friends jump on him so bad? Ericson attacked him. All your people jumped all over him.

LABRADOR: I think people were misunderstanding what he was saying. And I talked to Paul today about it. And he made it pretty clear that what he was doing was separating both issues.

DELAURO: My feeling of that as well is he did not -- he didn't include revenue in that. Is revenue off the table?

GINGRICH: I hate to --

DELAURO: Is revenue off the table?

LABRADOR: It should be.

GINGRICH: Probably.

DELAURO: -- you can't get there?

GINGRICH: I hate to do this, but because of the time of the program, I have to thank Representative DeLauro.

DELAURO: Thank you.

GINGRICH: We're delighted to have you back. And again, Raul Labrador. You two are a terrific pair to have with us.

Next we "Ceasefire" and we look for common ground. We also want to you weigh in on today's "Fireback" question. Would reaching the debt limit be catastrophic for the U.S. economy? Tweet yes or no using hash tag crossfire. We'll have the results after the break.


GINGRICH: Tonight on CROSSFIRE, we've been debating what could make Washington get serious about negotiating. Now let's call a "Ceasefire." Is there anything we can agree on?

JONES: Well, there is one thing which we didn't talk about a lot on this show but I know is in everybody's hearts. The death benefits for those fallen soldiers needs to be handled. That needs to be the No. 1 job for the president and the Congress to get that. I don't like the cherry picking, but that's one cherry everybody has got to pick.

GINGRICH: I couldn't agree with you more as an Army brat, and I appreciate your bringing it up.

JONES: Very good.

Well, listen, you can go to Facebook or Twitter to weigh in on our "Fireback" question: "Would breaching the debt limit be catastrophic for the U.S. economy?" Right now, 71 percent of you say yes; 29 percent say no.

Now the debate continues online at as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

From the left I'm Van Jones.

GINGRICH: From the right I'm Newt Gingrich. Join us again tomorrow. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Ted Cruz will be in the CROSSFIRE.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.