Larson on MSNBC: Jobs Creation Equals Deficit Reduction
WASHINGTON – On MSNBC’s POLITICS NATION program with Reverend Al Sharpton this evening, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (CT) called for “an up-or-down vote on the economy and putting 14 million Americans back to work, lowering our deficit and creating fairness.” Below is the transcript and video:
Rev. Al Sharpton: Joining me now: Connecticut Congressman John Larson, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, a passionate voice focusing on jobs – not cuts. Thank you for joining me, Congressman.
Rep. John Larson: Happy to be with you, Reverend Al.
Rev. Sharpton: The President spoke today. It seemed like the fighting president that a lot of people have been saying they wanted to see. He clearly took the position today that he wanted to protect people that needed the protection, he wanted real shared sacrifice, and I think he said that he will even veto any move by the super committee that would, in fact, cut spending and not balance it out with trying to deal with the new revenues in terms of those new tax laws and the new tax code that he had proposed. What is your response to this?
Rep. Larson: Well, I think the President got it right today. Clearly the whole concept amongst the American people is one of shared sacrifice and fairness. You know, we're a nation at war. And when you see, as Warren Buffett pointed out, 0.3 percent of the nation accumulating that kind of wealth – when the President says taxing people earning over $1 million, that's $1 million in a year. That's not $1 million in accumulated savings. The people where I come from, Reverend Al, at Augie & Ray's in East Hartford think that it's a matter of fairness and a matter, quite frankly, of putting the 14 million people who are unemployed back to work. We know, and as you point out, that job creation equals deficit reduction. And put them back by investing in our own infrastructure, rebuilding this country.
Rev. Sharpton: People seem to understand that, Congressman. If you look at this graph that I want to share with you – this is what the American people are saying. It seems strange to me that – we are looking at this graph that says when you ask the American people: raise taxes on the wealthy, $250,000 a year or more – 56 percent say yes, according to The New York Times. And then, it's not just you and I who are considered maybe centrist or left. We look at the fact that U.S. corporations are sitting on $2 trillion-plus in cash. I mean this is, in my opinion, an easy one if you look at it and you're concerned about the American people.
Rep. Larson: Oh, absolutely. And it's also patriotic. When ever in the history of this country have we been at war and not paid for that war? When in the history of this country have we doled out tax cuts at the expense of the poorest amongst us as we see more Americans slip into poverty and we see the middle class continue to be squeezed? All they want is the simple dignity that comes from a job and the ability to look across the table at their spouse and their children and let them know that they are providers for them. Again, this select committee, as you've heard me say over and over again, ought to take up the President's plan for job creation as well as his proposal here for fairness.
Rev. Sharpton: When you say fairness – let me tell you, Congressman, as you tell me why –I want the American people to understand how obscene this is. Look at the income gains, 1979 to 2007. The top one percent that you just talked about gained 281 percent in their income. Income gained 281 percent from '79 to 2007. The bottom 20 percent only went up 16 percent. What are we talking about? This is supposed to be America. This is supposed to be a land where we all have a fair chance. How do you have that kind of imbalance in income growth?
Rep. Larson: Well you know, I think Roosevelt said it best of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle – and there are reasonable colleagues over there. As you pointed out in polling data: they understand – not only all Americans, but Republicans understand the fairness behind this. But we have a few, as Roosevelt said, that are "frozen in the ice of their own indifference" towards working America. As you rightfully point out, that's the war that's taking place on labor, that's the war that's squeezing Americans. And all for what? Over a political fight for power. Listen, put America back to work. Give this President what every president should be entitled to: an up-or-down vote on his agenda, on his plan. Put it before the select committee so it can't be subject to the cloture vote in the Senate, which could hold it up for eternity, or to poison pill amendments in the House. An up-or-down vote on the economy and putting 14 million Americans back to work, lowering our deficit and creating fairness. That's what the country is trying for, Reverend Al.
Rev. Sharpton: Well, I agree with you. And I agree with the cries around the country. Congressman John Larson, thank you so much for your time.
Rep. Larson: Thank you for being here.