Washington D.C. – Today House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared on CBS This Morning with Norah O’Donnell to discuss thoughts on the President’s State of the Union address, as well as ways in which the President can work with the new American Congress to tackle the issues most important to the American people.
A full transcript of the conservation is below.
O’DONNELL: Even Republicans say that was a good line. With us here in Washington it’s House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. Congressman, good morning. You thought that was a good line?
KOM: I thought it was well played.
O’DONNELL: I noticed last night when they announced that the President was entering the Chamber, you were right there behind the President of the United States. Did you guys find some areas of cooperation?
KOM: We go and greet prior. But we had a civil rights leader, Amelia Boych, she was up from Selma with Congresswoman Terri Sewell. We had dinner and able to meet her, John Lewis. So I told the President about it. He was able to greet her and say hello to her beforehand. That’s really what we talked about. I went and did the march with John Lewis in Selma a couple years back. That was our conversation mainly.
O’DONNELL: Let’s talk about what the President said last night. He said we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade. Our deficit has been cut. The stock market has doubled. Healthcare inflation is at its lowest rate in 50 years. Does the President deserve any credit for that?
KOM: Look, I think the President has worked hard. There are some challenges that we could be much stronger in. You can always pick different facts, but if you look at the [labor] participation rate, that scares me. It’s 62.7 percent. This is the lowest it’s been since Jimmy Carter in ’78. That means people have given up looking, so it lowers the unemployment. But what’s fearful, if you’ve given up looking, you’ve given up on your hopes and dreams. So there’s so many more areas we can look at. Our debt is at $18 trillion. That’s larger than our whole economy. So we got a lot of work to do, and I’m excited about being able to work together. I can work with anyone that’s willing to work.
O’DONNELL: If you look at the polls, the American people said they liked divided government. This is one of the first times American people said we don’t want divided government anymore. We want compromise. It’s not clear to me on what level Republicans and Congress are going to compromise with the President of the United States.
KOM: I believe in divided government. Historically we’ve done big things. Reagan had Tip O’Neill and reformed the tax code. Clinton had Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole who reformed welfare and balanced the budget. Historically, we’re at the right place to be able to conquer a lot of our big challenges. If someone’s willing to work, we work with them. We’re going to have different philosophical approaches. Our government is divided. No one gets 100 percent of what they want. If the President wants to work with us, we’ve only been here two [weeks]and a he’s put 7 veto threats. I think that’s probably not the best start. Let us work the legislation before you decide something’s going to be vetoed.
CHARLIE ROSE: Congressman, the question is about the vetoes. If in fact the President does veto the Keystone Pipeline, what will the Republicans do?
KOM: I think we’ll try to override or send it back to him. Look, Bill Clinton vetoed welfare reform twice. He signed it the third time. That’s way our government is devised. We studied Keystone for five years. Every challenge the president has had about this, and the Court challenge, Nebraska has taken that away. I think this is an easy place that we could find common ground, put people to work, and make us more energy independent for the entire North America.
ROSE: A lot of people are saying about what the President laid out, is setting the debate, not only for the next two years, but for the central campaign for 2016. If that is the question, what do you think the debate is?
KOM: I think the debate is what the future looks like. We still have great challenges in foreign policy. I mean, our friends don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us. I see economically we’ve talked about the middle class, but their income has dropped since the President has been in office. So it’s really not just the future, not just for you, but for your children. There’s so much fear that people will not give up looking for a job, but have an opportunity for a job. There’s so much fear that people coming out of college can’t get a job and have such large debt. Where is the growth and opportunity we have? I still believe America is the best country in the world and has the best opportunities.
ANCHOR: A lot of people feel that way, Congressman, that America is the best place in the world. When you were listening last night to the proposals, did you hear anything that you said, ‘You know what? That a great idea.’
KOM: I think trade, perfect opportunity. I think when he talks about veterans, we’ve already passed Hire More Vets. Unfortunately last Congress it got stuck in the Senate. That’s already gone through the House. When we look at authorization, we look at cyber there’s a lot of places that we can start with common ground now. And I think if that becomes law, it will show that one, we’re competent. Second, that the country can move forward and we can start tackling.
O’DONNELL: None of those address the income inequality.
KOM: I think tax reform would be the best opportunity. Everybody is for simplifying the tax code. The President wants to raise more taxes. We do not agree with that. But simplification, closing the loopholes. I think that’s a common ground place that we can find and work towards.
O’DONNELL: Leader McCarthy, thank you so much.
KOM: Thanks for having me.