Sean Duffy Explains His Vote Against Budget Deal

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Sean Duffy Explains His Vote Against Budget Deal

Premiere Date: 
October 18, 2013

The U.S. Rep. from Ashland discusses the deal this week that ended the budget showdown.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

But first, a last-minute vote Wednesday night averted a US financial default, extended federal borrowing power and reopened government after a 16-day shutdown. Throughout the past two weeks house Republicans used the shutdown looming debt deadline as leverage to attempt to stop implementation of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obama Care. The vote to reopen government and extend borrowing came with just minor concessions in the healthcare law, means verification for subsidies. Senator Ron Johnson voted against the bill. Senator Tammy Baldwin voted yes, as did all the Democrats in the lower house together with one Republican, Green Bay representative Reid Ribble. The rest of Wisconsin's house Republicans voted against a bill including a stanch opponent of the ACA, Congressman Sean Duffy, who joins us now by phone back home in central Wisconsin's 7th district. Congressman, thanks very much for doing so.

Sean Duffy:

Hi, Frederica. Thanks for having me on.

Frederica Freyberg:

We want to ask, of course, first why did you vote against raising the debt limit and reopening government?

Sean Duffy:

First of all, I voted a number of times to actually fund the government and prevent the government from shutting down. Just to be clear, as part of your intro, we voted to defund Obama Care and then we had moved to delay Obama Care, and the president said no to both of those. But before the government shutdown we had only asked the president and his family be part of Obama Care just like members of congress and the rest of the American people. We think everyone should be treated equally under the law. That was one of our asks. And the other one was that our American families be treated just like the big businesses. Big businesses got a one-year delay in the tax treatment and penalty treatment in Obama Care. We thought it only fair that Wisconsin's families and American families have that same tax treatment. Many people know you can't even sign up on the Affordable Care Act website to get care, to find an insurance plan, and if you don't sign up you're goiing to be taxed. We thought it was fundamentally unfair. So I voted multiple times to fund the government, but in the end, Frederica, we didn't reform the way we spend or borrow, we didn’t reform our entitlement system. We did nothing in regard to Obama Care, really, and we actually had spending bills inside of this last-minute deal. It wasn't a clean CR, a clean funding bill. There was a lot of pork in there and I just– I didn't come to congress to raise the debt limit without reforming the way we're doing business.

Frederica Freyberg:

Well, so all of that said, though, in the end when it became abundantly clear that President Obama was not going to give on the things that you say you were voting on all along, were you able to take the stand so right up to the wire on raising the debt limit because you knew it would pass? Or would you truly have allowed the US to default and incur the consequences?

Sean Duffy:

Listen, I knew that the position I was talking about was very reasonable. I mean, again, equal treatment under the law. As congressmen and women and the president pass a legislation they should be subject to it. And so I thought that was a pretty principled approach, and that the president wasn't willing to do that, I found that hard to believe. But again, I could have let that go as long as we were talking about certain reforms. And it's hard-- I mean listen, things I ran on. And to raise the debt limit with no reform and a last-minute deal that actually porks up the spending, I just– I can’t sign onto that. And so I voted no.

Frederica Freyberg:

Congressman, your position, this position, has been roundly criticized, as you know, even within your own party. A party that seems to have been split kind of between the Ted Cruz Tea Party part of it and the more establishment Republicans. Which camp are you in?

Sean Duffy:

Before the shutdown I had been pretty vocal on saying, listen, the Ted Cruz strategy isn't going to work. Frederica, it’s kind of like Democrats take control of the assembly and the senate in Wisconsin and ask Scott Walker to repeal Act 10, his signature legislation. That’s what they called all the protests a couple years ago. I don’t think Scott Walker would never repeal Act 10. I don't think Obama would defund Obama Care, but I do think he would have delayed it. So I think what Ted Cruz had proposed wasn't going to work. I think what we should have done, and I was very vocal about this, was, listen, can fund the government, we can let Obama Care and the website roll out on October 1st. I think the news reported how bad the website is and how people can't sign up. And then as we went into the debt limit conversation, we could have got a one-year delay because everyone would have recognized that Obama Care and the website to sign up wasn't ready for prime time. It was only fair that we actually extend it for a year.

Frederica Freyberg:

Watching this, you know, not inside the beltway but from here, it didn't seem at all clear that you could have gotten a one-year delay. And now what did happen is being regarded as an epic fail. So in your mind kind of what was gained?

Sean Duffy:

Well, listen, I have to tell you what, if you look at the whole dysfunction around what happened, this has been mind-numbingly stupid. I think especially in Wisconsin they want to see people work together to find solutions that work for the country. And that that couldn't happen in congress, I feel that same frustration. I don't know that anything was gained except we made America mad in the process and we made Wisconsin mad. But I want to be clear, you know, people do have to come together. You do have to negotiate. You do have to move, and I want to be clear, I voted multiple times to actually fund the government and kept moving with the position to get closer to where the president was. Because I didn't want to see the government shut down. I think we want to see the government actually work.

Frederica Freyberg:

In the end, though, you voted against reopening the government and against raising the debt limit. So how do you justify that position in the end that will reportedly cost the US economy $24 billion and slow growth going forward?

Sean Duffy:

So I have to say, listen, the shutdown, I feel that it’s the president who wouldn't agree to come into the healthcare exchanges like the rest of America and congress. My last vote, Frederica, although I voted multiple times to fund the government, I couldn't vote if we’re not going to reform the way we spend, or we're going to reform our entitlements, or we’re going to have any reform to the way Obama Care is working. And they're spend more money when we borrow a trillion dollars a year and have a $17 trillion debt. So none of the criteria that I set up to vote to raise the debt limit were met. You know I have in the past voted to raise the debt limit when we've talked about reforming the way we spend to put us on the trajectory to balance. If we don't do anything, I couldn't vote for that.

Frederica Freyberg:

We only have about 30 seconds left. Now we're moving toward kind of coming together and hatch a deal on taxing and spending, people hope a mid-December date to work that out, you know, will work. Don't you think we'll be right back in this kind of crisis mode again then?

Sean Duffy:

I hope not. You know I think there is a willingness of people on both sides of the aisle to work together. I've been listening to Paul Ryan who is going to be -- Republicans. I think he’s-- I think he feels hopeful that there can be some common -- both chambers and both houses. I'm hopeful, I’m an optimist that we can avoid these shutdowns and start getting government to work.

Frederica Freyberg:

Congressman Sean Duffy. I’m sorry, we had a little breakup in your phone there up in Wausau. But thanks very much for checking in with us and describing your position.

Sean Duffy:

Thanks, Frederica. 


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