Representative Kevin McCarthy, the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House, said in an interview with Bloomberg’s Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that lawmakers should subpoena the Obama administration if it fails to provide the rules and justifications for its secretive drone program.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We begin the show with House Majority Whip, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California. Thank you for being with us, Mr. Whip.
KEVIN MCCARTHY: Thanks for having me back.
HUNT: You were pleased that the president came up and had a candid conversation with House Republicans. You see the Ryan budget, the Senate budget, they couldn’t be further apart. What are the odds today that you’ll be able to find any kind of an accord?
MCCARTHY: Well, I think there’s good odds of doing something, because think of that. The budgets never go to the president. But the difference is, the Senate’s finally doing a budget. So that’s different -
HUNT: You think you can reconcile those two budgets?
MCCARTHY: Well, the thing that people underestimate in the House on both sides of aisle, we’re elected to do a job. And when the Democrats were in power, it was - all the power rested at just in the speaker, so there’s a lot of pent-up frustration that, regardless, you want to have a regular order, you want to do your work, and this is the opportunity to have it, so on both sides of the aisle, people are starting to work.
But the Senate doing a budget for the first time is a good sign. Now, it’s drastically different. It raises more than, what, $1.8 trillion in taxes? It won’t balance. It never balances. And the Republicans’ balances in 10 years. So they’re different, but at least you both have one to start from.
HUNT: Let’s get to what kind of a deal is possible, because -
HUNT: If you look at Simpson-Bowles, the Bipartisan Policy Center, they all say that to get a deal you have to have cuts in entitlements, which is - the onus is on the Democrats, and you have to have more revenues beyond what you got in the fiscal cliff. If Barack Obama or the Democrats in the Senate come in with $500 billion, $600 billion of entitlement cuts, genuine, COLAs, means-testing for affluent seniors for Medicare, would Republicans discuss taxes?
MCCARTHY: Look, we ended - ended the year where the president, all he said was a balanced approach, and he got it one-sided. He raised the revenue. If you look at revenues versus GDP, for the last 40 years, the average amount that came in was 17.9 percent of GDP. If you read the CBO study, in another year, this new revenue that’s going to come in is more than 19 percent.
HUNT: Is that a no? You wouldn’t even discuss it?
MCCARTHY: I think you’ve got to find ways that we’re going to cut spending. We balance the budget in 10 years by doing this, with no taxes being raised -
HUNT: We’re going to get to that.
MCCARTHY: - just not spending - not spending - not spending 5 percent -
HUNT: We’re going to get to that in a minute.
MCCARTHY: - spending 3.4 percent.
HUNT: What you’re saying, Congressman McCarthy, is no matter what, revenues are off the table? You won’t even talk about it?
MCCARTHY: He already got his revenues.
HUNT: Simpson-Bowles is 2.5 to 1 spending to revenues. Would you do that?
MCCARTHY: And all they did was get the revenues. They did nothing about the cuts. Don’t you think, if you wanted to take about trust, the president got his -
HUNT: I’m not going to get you to say anything on revenues, am I?
MCCARTHY: Because you’re too - see, you’re sounding a lot like a Democrat.
HUNT: So let me ask you this, the Ryan budget. You say you balance it in 10 years.
HUNT: OK, fine. This is the third Ryan budget, third year in a row, and you cut taxes by, you know, 5, 5.7, a trillion dollars over 10 years. And you do it and you balance it by closing loopholes. For the third year in a row, you won’t tell us any loopholes you close. You won’t tell the voters what loopholes. Are you willing to curb or eliminate the home mortgage deduction, charitables, health-care exclusion?
MCCARTHY: You want us to sit and say we’re doing this, that and that. What we say is, we will close loopholes. That’s one of the things the president asked us to do, right? But -
HUNT: Which ones?
MCCARTHY: The president wants you to close loopholes just to increase spending. We want to close loopholes to lower the rate. Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution says all revenue starts in the House.
MCCARTHY: The Ways and Means is starting this process, and do you know what they’re doing, with Dave Camp, the chair, chairman’s doing? He’s got a bipartisan, 11 groups of every single member there working. That’s the way you should do it.
HUNT: Let me just try this.
MCCARTHY: Let them work through the loopholes.
HUNT: Third year in a row for the Ryan budget.
HUNT: Just tell me. Just tell me. If you won’t give me the - just give me a couple loopholes that you would - you would curtail -
MCCARTHY: See, that’s - that is what’s wrong with Washington. You just want - we say, here’s a structure. We say, close the loopholes. But what we’re saying is, let’s do it in a bipartisan and let’s close them to lower the rate -
HUNT: But you can’t say there’s a balanced budget without telling us how you get there.
MCCARTHY: Yeah, we can. Because this is how we do it. We write out how to get to the balanced budget. We say, instead of growing government at 5 percent, you grow it at 3.4 percent. Instead of spending $46 trillion, you spend $41 trillion. You don’t spend more that you bring in.
So what we’re going to do is, we’re going to base it on the percentage of revenue to GDP, 19.1. We say close those loopholes, make a debate about it inside Congress, and don’t make one side decide it. Let everybody have input.
HUNT: When do you think you’ll tell the public what those loopholes are, after three years of not telling us? Do you have any idea when?
MCCARTHY: - we lay it out, we have the hearings going set up, we have the groups together already -
HUNT: By June?
MCCARTHY: Look, it’s easy to go walk through.
MCCARTHY: Don’t you think people should have a say in it? Don’t you think people should actually have a say in it?
HUNT: Yeah, but I don’t think you can say you have a balanced budget when you won’t tell us.
MCCARTHY: We put every loophole on the table.
HUNT: Will home mortgage go?
MCCARTHY: I think home mortgage is a very difficult one to deal with, because the number-one thing people believe in is the investment in the house.
HUNT: How about this -
MCCARTHY: I don’t think they believe that you should have a write-off for two, three homes.
HUNT: OK, let me ask you one more. Charitables, will that go?
MCCARTHY: People like to give money to charity, and I think you can look at the places of where you go about, do you limit it? And you could look at both. Do you limit it -
HUNT: So home mortgage and charitable, pretty tough?
MCCARTHY: They’re tough, but I think you can look at the process. And shouldn’t you have a debate about it?
HUNT: They both might be curbed?
MCCARTHY: I - it’s up to Congress to decide.
HUNT: Let’s switch subjects. Immigration, let’s take an easy one, OK?
HUNT: You have got a large Hispanic population in your district where you are very popular.
MCCARTHY: Thirty-six percent of mine.
HUNT: The Bakersfield Californian - I’m citing your home paper now -
MCCARTHY: You read that paper?
HUNT: - says - yes - you were AWOL on the issue, except to say you’re for the rule of law. Let me give you a chance to refute that and get the record straight. If you think the border is secure, will you support a pathway to citizenship over a period of time for the 11 million undocumenteds here now?
MCCARTHY: Once this border is secure, which has to be done first, I would support a legal status for those who are not - who have come here illegally, but give them a legal status to create a system. But I’m not going to reward them by putting them in front of the line, no.
HUNT: So you - would you give them ultimate citizenship?
MCCARTHY: I’d let them get back, just like everybody else, but not give them any way upfront in line. But the thing you’re missing here is where Republicans are on this. We have been - have a bipartisan group that’s working that is very close. We’ve been doing immigration listening sessions inside my office. I think what people want is to have a legal status, but that doesn’t mean giving them the rights and others when they break the rule of law to get here.
HUNT: You praised Rand Paul’s filibuster in the Senate over the administration’s drone policies, refusal to provide Congress all the information. John Podesta, top Democrat, wrote a column in the Friday Washington Post saying the - saying basically Obama, if he wants to obey the Constitution and the law, should provide Congress with all the justification for these drone attacks on American citizens. The House has a role here, as well as the Senate. Do you think the House should demand those documents? And if not, if they won’t give them, subpoena them?
MCCARTHY: Yes, I do.
HUNT: So you would subpoena them if they don’t give them?
MCCARTHY: I don’t have the subpoena power. The committee has subpoena power. But I think this is an argument that, regardless of how you feel, it was the right use of the filibuster, that he had an opportunity to ask a question -that’s what a filibuster is used for - and a question should be answered.
Regardless of which side you stand on the use of drones, I think there has to be greater transparency.
HUNT: Yeah, I’m not asking if you’re for them or against them. I’m saying, if they won’t provide them, do you think the House should subpoena them?
MCCARTHY: This is a transparency issue, yes, because the House has a responsibility, as well. You have one from an Intel Committee and others some jurisdiction considerations, and how is somebody being able to make those decisions without a check and balance?
HUNT: - you’re a terrific guest. Thank you very much for being with us.
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