U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers tells Newsmax TV that she was “extremely” disappointed that President Barack Obama avoided the “big issue that is right in front of us” in his State of the Union address — the looming $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to kick in on March 1.
McMorris Rodgers, who is chairman of the House Republican Conference and the highest-ranking woman in the GOP House, said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that the president could have used such a visible platform to bring Democrats and Republicans together.
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“Boy, I didn’t hear a plan and that was quite disappointing to me,” acknowledged McMorris Rodgers of Washington State. “It was extremely disappointing to me that the president as the leader didn’t look for that opportunity to bring us together — Republicans and Democrats — to deal with this big issue that is right in front of us.”
She described the across-the-board cuts as “devastating” and said that the nation’s defense and military would be disproportionately affected. “Yet our president didn’t present a plan,” she explained. “We haven’t heard a plan from the Democrats and we’re two weeks away.”
McMorris Rodgers blames the president. “The sequester was the president’s idea because he wasn’t willing to make the difficult spending reductions when we were negotiating this a year-and-a-half ago. It suggests once again that the president does not acknowledge that we have a spending problem,” she explained.
“And the reality is until the Democrats acknowledge we have a spending problem our economy is not going to get better,” she said. “We want to work with the president but he needs to recognize that we have a spending problem.”
She said that even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has attempted to spin the issue as a deficit problem.
“Well, you get deficits by spending too much,” asserted McMorris Rodgers, who had hoped that Democrats and Republicans could have reached agreement to avert the sequester.
“When we agreed to the Budget Control Act — it was the agreement to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for identifying some spending reduction, these spending cuts,” she recalled. “And then the super committee was to identify where these cuts were going to take place. At that point, no one thought the sequester would happen.
“And then (the) super committee failed and that’s why we have the sequester today,” she said. “But it was the president’s idea to put the sequester on the table — the across-the-board cuts — in this manner.”
She added that Republicans remain committed to reigning in government spending.
“We want to get to a place where we can actually balance the budget. We’re going to be presenting a budget that balances within 10 years and we’re putting our proposals forward,” she said. “We don’t want to get to a place where we’re facing a government shutdown, but we are committed to taking the steps to getting the spending under control because that’s so important to us.
“It’s important to our economy. It’s important to our national security. It’s important to the future of this country that we do so.”
She was also critical of the president’s decision to leave Washington at such a critical juncture.
“As we heard at the State of the Union, the president is very good at the rhetoric, but we’ve not seen the results and the first step to solving the problem is admitting that you have one,” she said. “And this president isn’t admitting that we have a spending problem.”
McMorris Rodgers acknowledged that she was also disappointed to hear the president ask Congress to “finally” pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in his State of the Union, a measure that is intended to ensure equal pay for women in the workplace.
“The law is already very clear. The law has been in place for a long time that we have equal pay for equal work,” countered McMorris Rodgers. “This is about opening up the treasure chest of lawsuits for trial lawyers. It’s not going to help. It doesn’t help solve the problem and that’s why, again, it was rhetoric that the president was putting forward. It isn’t going to help get results.”
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