GOP Senator Rips Into MSNBC Host For ‘Absurd,’ ‘Dishonest,’ Statements

On the soon-to-be canceled ‘It’s the Economy’ program on MSNBC on Thursday, co-host Contessa Brewer grilled Republican New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg on his calls to reduce out-of-control government spending: “Which programs are you willing to cut? Are you willing to tell schools, no money for you?” Gregg shot back: “What an absurd statement to make. And what a dishonest statement to make.”

Gregg called out Brewer for her unfair framing of the issue: “...nobody’s saying no money for schools....On its face you’re being fundamentally dishonest when you make that type of statement.” He went to explain the kinds of budget cuts he would make: “I would freeze discretionary spending, a real freeze, not a – not a freeze plus inflation. I would eliminate the T.A.R.P. money....I would end the stimulus spending effective in June of this year, if not sooner....reform our entitlement programs....I’ve made very specific proposals and I’m willing to stand by them.”

Gregg was far from finished, he described the big government mentality shared by the Obama administration and the liberal media: “The problem is that this administration’s view of governance is that economic prosperity is created by growing the government dramatically. And then it gets misrepresented by people like yourself who say they’re going to – that if you do any of this stuff you’re going to end up not funding education.”

Brewer attempted to deny suggesting that Gregg wanted to cut funding for schools: “That’s not what I said.” Gregg continued undeterred: “I mean that statement alone is the most irresponsible statement I’ve heard from a reporter, probably in a month....And there are a lot of irresponsible statements made by reporters and that was the most irresponsible I’ve heard.”

Fellow co-host Melissa Francis ran to Brewer’s defense: “Senator, with respect, that’s not what she said, she was asking you what you would like to cut specifically.” Gregg replied: “That’s exactly what she said, go back and read your transcript.”

Brewer then attempted to end the interview: “We appreciate your time today-” Gregg kept going: “You can’t be duplicitous about this. You can’t make a representation and then claim you didn’t make it. You know, it just shouldn’t work that way. You’ve got to have some integrity on your side of this camera, too.”

Gregg reiterated: “...you’re suggesting we should have a zero – zero in education. Well, of course, nobody’s suggesting that. Nobody’s even implying that. But in your introduction to me, you said that, that education funding would be cut.” Brewer again denied making that exact  implication: “No, I didn’t.” She then concluded the interview: “Senator, I’m sorry for any mis-communication that we’ve had. And as always, we appreciate your time, we appreciate you sharing your particular perspective on what should be done to take America into a prosperous future. Thank you.”

Here is a full transcript of the segment:
2:33PM

CONTESSA BREWER: Let’s bring in now Republican Judd Gregg, the Senator of New Hampshire, the top Republican now on the Budget Committee and a member of the Senate Banking Committee. What do you think about the money the President is proposing to spend on jobs and what [National Urban League President] Mark [Morial] was just saying that it has to go hand in hand with other programs that integrate job training, vocational skills, and certainly educating very young people.

JUDD GREGG: Well, we’re running a 3 point – a $1.3 trillion deficit this year. The government’s going to spend over $3 trillion. All of that deficit goes into the debt, which has to be paid by our children and our children’s children. I think somebody’s got to ask a more fundamental question, how are you going to get the economy going if you run up the debt to a point where we can’t afford our government? That, I think, is a much more fundamental question.

If you want to do something to energize this economy, I think you put in place some plans which control the rate of government, so the people can have confidence that we as a nation are not going to go into some form of fiscal bankruptcy in five to seven years. And that will cause people to be willing to invest, to be willing to take risks, and to be willing to create jobs. Jobs are not created by the government. You know, long-term good jobs are created by a vibrant economy. And you don’t get a vibrant economy when the government and the size of the government and the debt of the government is overwhelming the capacity of the economy to function well.

MELISSA FRANCIS: That’s good in theory, Senator. How would you practically-

GREGG: It’s not theory. It’s not theory.

FRANCIS: How would you – well, tell me-

GREGG: Don’t tell me that it’s good in theory.

FRANCIS: Well, tell me how to put it to work. Tell me – tell me very practically-

GREGG: No, you don’t tell me it’s good in theory. What are you – how do you get off saying something like that? Good in theory?

FRANCIS: Because it is good in theory. It is, it’s fantastic.

GREGG: Oh, of course.

FRANCIS: So tell me how to practically – here’s your opportunity, Senator, let me finish, to tell us how to practically put it to work. I’m all for small government.

GREGG: Well, you stop – you stop the spending spree. You stop growing government so fast that you can’t afford to pay for it. You don’t increase the size of the government from 20% of GDP to 25% of GDP in two years. You don’t add a trillion dollars of new debt to the – to our kid’s back every year for the next ten years. You don’t pass a budget – the President doesn’t send up a budget which increases – doubles the debt in five years, triples it in ten years. You don’t say that you’re for fiscal responsibility and then propose a whole panoply of new programs which you can’t pay for. That’s not theory, that’s reality. That’s what we’re facing as a nation.

BREWER: So when – when-

GREGG: The reality of a fiscal meltdown of our country which is going to have a massive impact on people’s lives and especially cost a lot of jobs in this country.

BREWER: So my partner, Melissa, Senator Gregg, is really asking for specifics. If you don’t believe that we should have a $1.3 trillion budget, which programs are you willing to cut? Are you willing to tell schools, no money for you? Do you – and do you side then, with those who say – I mean, you look back at the Great Depression, economists say we landed back into real problems in 1937 when people got onto cutting a deficit and a lot of government spending was pulled back before it should have been.

GREGG: Well, first off nobody’s saying no money for schools. What an absurd statement to make.

BREWER: Well, I’m asking-

GREGG: And what a dishonest statement to make.

BREWER: What we both are-

GREGG: On its face you’re being fundamentally dishonest when you make that type of statement.

BREWER: Senator Gregg, what we’re both asking, is which programs you expect to cut?

FRANCIS: Tell us what to cut.

GREGG: I mean do you know how much money we’re spending at the federal government on education this year?

BREWER: Which – Senator, you’re going to be asked to cut certain programs if you’re on the Senate Banking Committee, which programs would you cut?

FRANCIS: Just tell us, what do you want to cut?

GREGG: Oh I have no problem telling you, I would freeze discretionary spending, a real freeze, not a – not a freeze plus inflation. I would eliminate the T.A.R.P. money, which would get us close to $400 billion. I would end the stimulus spending effective in June of this year, if not sooner, so that we can recover all the money that’s going to be spent outside the window of this recession. And we shouldn’t be spending it and adding it to the debt. I would take a major effort to reform our entitlement programs, in fact yesterday, or the day before yesterday, we had a vote to try to do that under a bill which I proposed with Senator Conrad. I’ve made very specific proposals and I’m willing to stand by them. The problem is that this administration’s view of governance is that economic prosperity is created by growing the government dramatically. And then it gets misrepresented by people like yourself who say they’re going to – that if you do any of this stuff you’re going to end up not funding education.

BREWER: That’s not what I said

GREGG: I mean that statement alone is the most irresponsible statement I’ve heard from a reporter, probably in a month.

BREWER: It wasn’t a statement, it was a question.

GREGG: And there are a lot of irresponsible statements made by reporters and that was the most irresponsible I’ve heard.

FRANCIS: Senator, with respect, that’s not what she said, she was asking you what you would like to cut specifically.

GREGG: No, that’s what she said.

FRANCIS: And I think you answered the question.

BREWER: We appreciate your time-

GREGG: That’s exactly what she said, go back and read your transcript.

BREWER: We appreciate your time today-

GREGG: You can’t be duplicitous about this. You can’t make a representation and then claim you didn’t make it. You know, it just shouldn’t work that way. You’ve got to have some integrity on your side of this camera, too.

FRANCIS: She asked you what you would like to cut. She asked you if you’d like to cut schools. You said no. It was a question and answer.

GREGG: No, you’re suggesting we should have a zero – zero in education. Well, of course, nobody’s suggesting that. Nobody’s even implying that. But in your introduction to me, you said that, that education funding would be cut.

BREWER: No, I didn’t.

GREGG: Well, education funding isn’t going to be cut. Yes you did.

BREWER: Senator, I’m sorry for any mis-communication that we’ve had. And as always, we appreciate your time, we appreciate you sharing your particular perspective on what should be done to take America into a prosperous future. Thank you.

GREGG: Thank you.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC