Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, chief recruiter of candidates in the campaign to retake the U.S. House, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend that his party will win the chamber next week and could gain as many as 59 seats.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We begin the show with the architect of the Republican 2010 campaign to take control of the House, Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California, who’s at the GOP headquarters in San Luis Obispo.
Thank you for coming on the show, congressman. We will -
REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MCCARTHY: Thanks for having me.
HUNT: Mike Allen, the insider’s insider, says that next Tuesday Republicans will pick up 59 House seats. Will you do that well or better?
MCCARTHY: Well, I think we will do quite well. I’m not sure that we’ll go that high. A lot of things are trending well for us, but I do believe we’ll capture the majority.
HUNT: You’ll capture the majority and you could approach 59?
MCCARTHY: We could post as high as 59.
HUNT: OK. Let me ask you this. Many of the members that you’re electing are running on a program that we’re going to adhere to principle. As your colleague, Mike Pence, says, “No compromise.” Let me show you a Bloomberg poll this week that finds voters by 80 to 16, 5 to 1 margin, and they - they said they’re going to vote Republican, but they say if you win control of Congress that they rather you work together, even if it means compromising principles, than sticking to those principles and having gridlock.
What’s it going to be, seeking common ground or refusing to budge on principles?
MCCARTHY: Well, I think what you’re going to find is that we need to have solutions. And the first thing out there, the American public wants to see spending taken care of. And Republicans have laid out a pledge to America where we will allow it to get a balanced budget back into place on a direction and get this country back under control. That is a principle that I think America wants to see happen, and that’s something that we will fight for.
HUNT: OK, that first - that first commitment, $100 billion of cuts, you have pledged that, the pledge to America, which you helped draft, 21 percent cut in discretionary domestic programs, exempting some. If you do that, let me ask you specifically: Are you willing to cut Pell Grants for middle-class college students by $4 million or $5 million or cut the NIH budget for research for cancer and Alzheimer’s by $6 billion?
MCCARTHY: Well, see, people go out and pick the special little places. Discretionary spending has gone up 88 percent. We have a $1.4 trillion deficit. We can’t cut $100 billion, how are we ever going to get to a balanced budget?
HUNT: Well, let me ask you this -
MCCARTHY: You crawl before you walk.
HUNT: - are Pell Grants and NIH funding on the table then, for those cuts?
MCCARTHY: I think we would look at all discretionary spending outside of security. And what it would be - you could find so many other places to cut before you even touch those, when you deal with $100 billion. So one thing that we have found is, with discretionary spending in the last three years going up 88 percent, there are so many other places to cut before putting the fear into the American public and how we would spend the money.
HUNT: Well, that fear is being put into the public, I suppose, by Democrats who say what you’re going to do, you’re going to cut things, and you have to go to programs like education - that’s a big chunk of that $477 billion - and health care, and you’re going to do that in order to finance tax cuts for the rich. As you know, that’s the charge.
MCCARTHY: Well, that’s the charge of what the Democrats see, but the one thing we have found - in four short years, we’ve gone from $161 billion deficit to 1.4. We have found unemployment for the last 14 consecutive months above 9.5 percent. You have to go back to the 1930s to find that.
You have found that for the first time since the Budget Act of 1974 was passed the government has no budget, and we have a $1.4 trillion deficit. We can find ways to curb our spending. We found a stimulus plan that the president promised us unemployment would never go above 8 percent, and it has. We have the American public saying more people believe Elvis is alive than the stimulus created jobs. We need to get America working again, curb our spending, and actually make the private sector grow.
We can go line by line. We can go from department by department. The best way to do it is go to each department, 8 cents out of every dollar. Who can’t find that? Every household in America has had to be able to do this. But, no, in government, your spending has actually increased by 88 percent just in the last -
HUNT: Well, I’m going to stay on that just for a second. If you do that 8 cents - you can go to the NIH with $32 billion - or are you going to cut $3 billion from the NIH budget then?
MCCARTHY: Well, the one thing I would find is we could find savings in other places to actually fund in. Now, is all the funding in the NIH going to actually research? Are there places (inaudible) because we have found other places where they have provided grants to a professor at UCLA for - I think it’s $65,000 to study the health care vote to see if congressional members voted upon lines of breaks (ph). Now, is that the best use of money?
Government could find better uses and make sure the money is spent more efficiently. And that means going line by line. That’s something the promise - the president promised, and we’re more than willing to sit down and make that happen.
HUNT: Congressman, I think most people agree you’re going to engineer a huge victory on Tuesday and then about 10 days later or 2 weeks later, Congress is coming back for a lame-duck session. With Republicans having scored a big victory on November 2, will anything be done in a lame-duck session or should it be canceled?
MCCARTHY: Well, no, I think you have to have a lame-duck session. Here we are - have a Congress that left town with a tax system just leaving in limbo, where American public doesn’t know where to go. We have to deal with the tax structure.
I would say you don’t raise taxes in a recession. You extend where you’re going. We have where we have not had a budget. They’ll do a continuing resolution, I envision. But we have to end the uncertainty so that trillion dollars that is sitting on the sideline can invest back into America.
We have to hit the ground running. And that’s why the pledge to America would actually lay out the first bills that we would fight for to get passed in America.
HUNT: As you know, they have - you’ve - they’ve drawn the lines, you and the Democrats, on this tax cut issue. If it is taken up in a lame-duck session - because if it’s not, taxes go up for everybody next year - is there a middle ground? Would you be willing, for instance, to consider cutting the taxes on the upper tier for, say, only one year? Or would you be willing to raise that $250,000 to $500,000? What kind of compromise is possible?
MCCARTHY: Well, what I see is the best compromise is not to raise taxes in a recession. And if you think about it, what is the bipartisan position? There are 37 sitting Democrats today who signed a letter who say extend it exactly as it is. You only need 39 to pass it, so how many others who didn’t sign the letter would be willing to vote for it?
HUNT: So no compromise on the - on the upper income?
MCCARTHY: When you look at raising that - well, we have unemployment at 9.5 percent for a consecutive 14 months. You have to go back to the ‘30s to find the same time. If you raise that limit, you’re raising it on small business. Most small businesses run as an S corporation. If that was to take place, small business, which accounts for 70 percent of all new job growth, would have a higher tax increase and a higher tax burden than corporations, and corporations pay the second highest in the nation. That would hold America back, would hold back the job growth.
I think the best perspective here is end the uncertainty, give an extension, and start focusing on small-business growth and end the uncertainty when it comes to regulation in government and start this country moving again.
HUNT: You have been the architect of this expected great success next Tuesday. Will you be the majority whip when Republicans take control of the House?
MCCARTHY: Look, the worst thing that happens in politics (ph) if people measure the drapes ahead of time. We’re going to take this day by day. We’re going to go out, win the majority -
HUNT: So you’re not necessarily running for whip or you are?
MCCARTHY: I think the one thing we’ll see, that’s a decision that gets made after the election. That job won’t even be there if you don’t get a majority. So if you don’t look at winning the election first, there’s no use of wondering about something else happening.
HUNT: Let me take one more advantage of that great McCarthy antenna. Give me one surprise we’re going to have next - early next Wednesday morning, one race that no one has seen that they’ll say, oh, my gosh, McCarthy really pulled it off, that was a huge upset?
MCCARTHY: I think you’re going to look from, one, Virginia and Ohio, but let’s go right to California where they think every race in California is safely drawn. In the Central Valley, Jim Costa of the 20th District is going to lose, and no one’s been watching it, and it hasn’t been on anybody’s radar screen as of late.
HUNT: Well, Kevin McCarthy, thank you. You have been a seer on this issue, and we’ll see now what happens next Tuesday, and we hope to have you on after the election.
And when we return, we’ll talk to Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
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