In the second part of a two-part interview with Managing Editor Mike Schneider, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. says that the public is right to hold Congress in low esteem.
According to Pascrell, the climate in Washington, D.C. is such that it’s hard to get anything done. He says that President Obama had reached out to Republicans to create bipartisan efforts but was rebuffed by members like the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“He made it quite obvious that his main purpose in life was to get rid of President Obama … He demonized the President of the United State. There’s one president and we respect that president whether it’s Democrat or Republican.”
The current rancor between the parties is so bad that he even gives Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich of bipartisanship efforts during his time as Speaker of the House. “He learned his lesson after he shut the government down in 95-96. But the point of the matter is — this is not how you run things. People want to see progress. They’re tired of people whining. They want to see somebody who takes on the opposition.”
Pascrell say that while he agrees with President’s Obama agenda, he would have taken a different path to the same objectives such as healthcare reform by holding Republicans accountable for their positions.
“I want to see the other side how they vote when we put up — ‘do you support stopping people from getting insurance because [they have] a preexisting condition or taking insurance away from them?’ Let them vote on those things. That’s what I would have done.”
He also rejects the perception that Democrats are the spending party, pointing to the two administrations of President George W. Bush. “It doesn’t hold water after you’ve seen what the Republicans … when the President of the United States from 2001 to 2008.. the two tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 increased the problem of our deficit in 2020.”
He agrees that both parties need to cut back on spending but warns against undermining the growth of the recovery or risk another recession. “I think we’re digging out of [it] thanks to this President’s fortitude, strength to go ahead and move ahead and try to get things done even thought there is gridlock.”
When asked what he would cut back on, he said he would look to the military for any wasteful spending. “I’ve voted for every military budget since I’ve been there — 1997 was my first year. But I believe we got to have some reason here. You can’t have two military systems .. two ammunition systems if they’re not needed. Why do we need it? Why because one senator has a relationship with this company that’s near his state or that company in the other state. What we need we get, what we don’t need we don’t get.”
Related: Pascrell: ‘I’m a Fighter … I Come From Paterson’