NPR's Block Hounds 'Intransigent' Freshman GOP Congressman

On Tuesday's All Things Considered, NPR's Melissa Block grilled Congressman Joe Walsh, a newly-elected member of the House Tea Party Caucus, on the impasse over the federal budget. Block questioned Rep. Walsh if there was any "middle ground" on the issue, and pressed him with the Democratic caucus's label that the Republicans' budget proposals are "out of whack and unreasonable."

The host led her interview of the Illinois Republican by noting how there was "still no deal. House Republicans holding out for $61 billion in cuts," and then asked, "Is there any middle ground for you?" After Rep. Walsh gave his initial answer, she followed up with the Democrats' talking point: "Democrats, though, say that it's the Republicans who've been intransigent, that the numbers are just out of whack and unreasonable, that you are the side that's not compromising here."

Block forwarded this label of the congressman and his GOP colleagues in her third question, using one of his own quotes to accent her point: "You said in an interview with Time magazine, I came here- meaning to Washington- ready to go to war. The people didn't send me here to compromise. It sounds like you are just as intransigent as you're accusing the Democrats of being."

Speaking of being "intransigent," on Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Chip Reid highlighted one Democratic congressman's invective against the other side " (Rep. John Larson blasting, "They talk about compromise, but their goal is to shrink government up so small, they can drown it in a bath tub."), but lead into the sound bite by softly stating, "for their part, Democrats insist they're willing to bend, not break."

The full transcript of Melissa Block's interview of Congressman Joe Walsh on Tuesday's All Things Considered:

MELISSA BLOCK: For more on-the-budget impasse, I'm joined by Congressman Joe Walsh. He's a freshman Republican from Illinois and a member of the House Tea Party Caucus. Congressman Walsh, welcome to the program.

REPRESENTATIVE JOE WALSH: Thank you- great to be here.

BLOCK: There is still no deal. House Republicans holding out for $61 billion in cuts. Is there any middle ground for you?

WALSH: Well, I hope so. I know that the Republicans again put another deal in front of the president and the Democrats this morning. I believe a one-week continuing resolution cutting $12 billion and agreeing to fund the military for the rest of the fiscal year. And, again, unfortunately it appears that the other side turned that down. So, look, this is getting tiresome in that for 40-some days now, you know, Republicans have had deals and have had options that we put in front of the Senate. We just haven't gotten anything back in return.

BLOCK: Democrats, though, say that it's the Republicans who've been intransigent, that the numbers are just out of whack and unreasonable, that you are the side that's not compromising here.

WALSH: Well, again, that would be- I would second that if they put anything back in front of us. I mean, remember, 44 days ago, we passed a continuing resolution that cut spending and funded government for the rest of the year, and all the Senate did was vote that down and did not come back at us with any alternative. We literally, last Friday, put that in front of the Senate again, and basically, our mantra- my mantra has been for the last 40-some days, give us a response.

I think the President should be ashamed of himself. I think he's been AWOL in this entire debate. He's finally somewhat engaged now. But, look, the Democrats are in denial. I think they want to shut this government down because their only hope is to paint the Republicans as the bad guys.

BLOCK: I'm curious about that, Congressman. You said in an interview with Time magazine, I came here- meaning to Washington- ready to go to war. The people didn't send me here to compromise. It sounds like you are just as intransigent as you're accusing the Democrats of being.

WALSH: But, again, it's cooperate but not compromise. I would love- we would love to sit down with them, and, look, when we put forth $61 billion in cuts, at about the same time that we set a world record in February with $225 billion that we added to the deficit, the biggest one-month total, we're going to run up about a $1.6 trillion deficit this year, for the Senate to not agree to $61 billion in cuts is mystifying to me. We keep putting things in front of them. Clearly- I won't take it back- the American people sent us here to be bold. I would just love to know what the other side has to say because they've been silent.

BLOCK: I'm curious how that amounts to compromise in your view. You're saying cooperate but don't compromise. You don't seem to be backing off the number that you put out at the outset, which is $61 billion in cuts.

WALSH: I'd love to see a number, though, that they would put in front of us. Can I accept $61 billion or less than $61 billion in cuts? I sure hope not, because, again, I feel like I was sent here to be pretty bold. But it's awful hard for me to even answer that kind of a question when the other side has basically, I'd say, not been serious or just not even responded. And, again, just the latest, the latest John Boehner making, I think, a pretty good effort to say, let's keep this thing going for another week. Let's at least agree that we're going to fund the military, but come on, talk to us, and it just doesn't seem like we're getting anything.

BLOCK: Well, the deal that he is proposing, though, would also involve $12 billion in cuts just for this week, correct?

WALSH: Absolutely, and, again, if the president of the United States and the Democrats in the U.S. Senate want to shut this government down because they can't find $12 billion in cuts in a year when we're going to run up a $1.6 trillion deficit, boy, I'd hate to turn to the American people and say that's why we shut down the government.

BLOCK: But, Congressman Walsh, both sides have been negotiating. The Republican and Democratic leadership have been sitting down and talking and they were at the White House today. Why do you say the President doesn't take this seriously?


WALSH: I think the President has sat on his hands for 40-some days. It appears that he's finally somewhat engaged this week. But to call his effort a serious effort in the last 40-some days is laughable. They have not been serious and now the clock has ticked down. They've lost the substance of this argument. I think their only play is to somehow, you know, go down the road where they make the Republicans the bad guys. Does that mean there's a shutdown, does that mean they want a shutdown? That may well be, because again, they'll do their best then to make us seem like the big bad guys.

BLOCK: Congressman Walsh, thank you very much.

WALSH: Thank you so much.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center