U.S. Senators play hardball over D.C.’s school voucher program. Maryland’s gay marriage debate advances to the late innings. And two prominent Virginia Democrats contemplate getting “back in the game” to run for the seat occupied by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.


  • Paul West Political Correspondent, The Tribune Company, Washington Bureau
  • Steny Hoyer Member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-Md); Minority Whip

Politics Hour Extra

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md) answers a caller’s question about possible cuts to federal funding for public broadcasting that are currently under consideration in the House. Hoyer says he has long supported such funding:

Baltimore Sun reporter Paul West asks House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md) about whether federal funding for local projects and organizations like WMATA and the Blue Plains water treatment plant will survive the budget-cutting process in Congress. Hoyer said it’s important to remember that Republicans control only the House of Representatives:


  • 12:08:42

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Today, the starring Tom Sherwood part not so much. He's vacationing in sunny Florida, but the joke's on him. It's sunny and warm in Washington D.C. today, plus we've got Paul West, who used to star as the Baltimore Sun's Capitol Hill reporter. He's now the political correspondent for The Tribune Company's Washington's bureau. He guest-stars on "The Politics Hour" today. Paul, good to see you again. Thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:09:22

    MR. PAUL WESTThank you, Kojo. Think of me as a poor-man's Tom Sherwood.

  • 12:09:26

    NNAMDINo, no, no. You are just as good as Tom Sherwood is, and, Tom, I hope you hear me saying that. And Paul joining us today is particularly appropriate since our guest in this hour will be Cong. Steny Hoyer, Democrat from Maryland and House majority whip. He joins us now by telephone. Cong. Hoyer, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:09:47

    REP. STENY HOYERThank you very much. I'm sorry I can't be there with you in the studio, but, as you know, we're still -- have legislation on the floor.

  • 12:09:54

    NNAMDII'll tell you a funny story about that later. We thought we were running full tilt this week, but you and your colleagues in the House debated last night into the wee hours. It was the third night in a row that you worked past midnight trying to work out your differences over a bill to fund the federal government. What can you tell us about how this debate got to this point and the issues you're going to need to resolve in order to move forward?

  • 12:10:19

    HOYERWell, very frankly, we are been in a process where there have been over almost 600 amendments, most of which ironically are Republican amendments to a Republican bill. So it's clear that there's not agreement within the Republican Party about the provisions in the bill, but it is a bill which cuts, we believe, spending which, we think, needs to be done. But it does so with a machete, rather than a scalpel.

  • 12:10:51

    HOYERWe believe that it's going to undermine job creation. We believe it's gonna undermine basic research. We believe it's going to cut back very substantially on the ability of young people to get a college education, which we're gonna need to compete globally, and it cuts areas of public health as well, CDC, the Center of Disease Control, cut very substantially so. The items that we're trying to debate are those items which we feel are unnecessarily and inappropriately reduced in this budget.

  • 12:11:29

    HOYERAnd in fact, of course, what happened was the Republican leadership originally provided a budget cut which were about a third as great, but the new members came in who, frankly, haven't had an opportunity to review budgets, have not had an opportunity to review the consequences because there were no hearings on these proposed cuts and no markup of what we call in-committee consideration amending and resolving in committee what the recommendations of the committee ought to be. That process was forgone, so that these came directly to the floor. So that's what we're dealing with.

  • 12:12:13

    HOYERWe've been at it, as you point out now, we're in our fourth day of debate on this, considered well over a hundred -- a couple of hundred amendments, one way or the other. That is -- they were in order, or they weren't in order under a relatively constricted process, but we have been raising the issues in terms of health care for all Americans, making sure that that's available, that we can implement the Affordable Care Act so that Americans can be assured that taxes...

  • 12:12:44

    NNAMDIWell, Cong. Hoyer, the...

  • 12:12:45

    HOYER...to insurance...

  • 12:12:46

    NNAMDI...the speaker says he won't move a bill that includes current spending levels. He said read my lips, we're going to cut spending. Where is there room left to cut?

  • 12:12:57

    HOYERWell, we believe that there is room to cut spending, and the President of the United States has offered a budget and proposals which, in fact, do that. He has restrained spending $400 billion over the next 10 years and provided for a trillion dollars in cuts and savings over the next 10 years, as opposed to the Republicans' budget that notwithstanding their cuts have also provided for almost $4.7 trillion in tax cuts which will result in an additional $4 trillion in deficits. So that we think that on the one hand, the Republicans talk about cuts in spending, but on the other hand, they talk about cuts in revenue which will result in making the deficit much worse, which is of course what happened in -- during the Bush administration.

  • 12:13:56

    NNAMDIMr. Congressman, here now is Paul...

  • 12:13:56

    HOYERThat's what our debate is about.

  • 12:13:58

    NNAMDIHere now is Paul West. And if you're interested in joining the conversation, you can call us at 800-433-8850 or go to website, kojoshow.org. If there are particular issues involved in this House debate that you'd like Cong. Steny Hoyer to address, 800-433-8850. Here's Paul West.

  • 12:14:16

    WESTMr. Hoyer, let's really get down in the weeds.

  • 12:14:18

    HOYERHi, Paul.

  • 12:14:18

    WESTHi. Let's get down in the weeds of House process and congressional process and talk about the CR, the continuing resolution that will presumably fund the government for some period of time after the current one expires on March 4th.

  • 12:14:37


  • 12:14:38

    WESTCan you tell us -- the wise guys in Washington all say that there's not going to be a government shutdown. Yesterday, as you know, Speaker Boehner said that he wouldn't agree to even a short-term extension, kicking the can down the road for just a couple of weeks to give Congress another chance to get its act together. He wouldn't agree to a short-term continuation unless there was some spending cut. How likely is that, and what's your scenario for how this is going to play out?

  • 12:15:12

    HOYERWell, Paul, as I say, the President has, in fact, in his 2012 budget -- we're dealing with 2011 budget -- suggested cuts and restraints and a freeze in domestic spending, non-defense, non-security spending. The CR, first of all for our listeners, simply means that you appropriate monies and authorize monies for a certain period of time. It can be for a short time. Sometimes, we had it as short as a week or even days, sometimes. This one was adopted and ends on March 4th, so that it's necessary for us to adopt new authorization for government to have the legal authority to spend money to stay in operation, to extend services for a period of time. This CR proposes a level of spending from now, that is March 4th, until Sept. 30th, which is the end of the fiscal year.

  • 12:16:10

    HOYERWhat is happening, however, is the Republicans clearly know that what they are doing and what they're gonna pass from the House of Representatives, 'cause they've got the votes, which slashes spending, which reduces investment in education, reduces investment in research, cuts 20,000 basic researchers, cuts NIH by over a billion and a half dollars and reduces investment in infrastructure, which the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, says is gonna cost us substantial jobs and not provide for our competitiveness in years to come. They know that a budget that has that kind of opposition is not going to pass the United States Senate. So it's unfortunate we haven't tried to reach compromise on what could pass.

  • 12:17:00

    WESTRight. So -- but just to cut to the...

  • 12:17:00

    HOYERAnd we have an example of that, Paul.

  • 12:17:02

    WESTExcuse me, excuse me. Just to cut to the chase.

  • 12:17:03


  • 12:17:03

    WESTIs there gonna be -- you say the Congress has to do this to continue the funding but, of course, it doesn't have to do it. It didn't do it on several occasions in 1995...

  • 12:17:14

    HOYERThat's correct.

  • 12:17:14

    WEST...when the Republicans were in charge...

  • 12:17:15


  • 12:17:15

    WEST...and there was a partial shutdown. So what is your forecast for the odds of that happening, and do you think that that has now increased as some people think as a result of what the speaker said yesterday?

  • 12:17:30

    HOYERWell, it may well have increased as a result of what the speaker said, and he's put himself in a corner, unfortunately. And frankly, I don't think it learned the lesson of 1995. The Republicans in 1995 thought they were gonna play chicken with the operations of the federal government with the President of the United States. And Bill Clinton said, I'm not playing. I will compromise with you. I'll come to the middle with you, but you're not gonna tell me it's your way or the highway, and I think President Obama is gonna be in the same position.

  • 12:18:01

    HOYERHowever, even before that, I think the United States Senate is gonna be in that position. I expect the United States Senate, when they get this resolution I think, next week, on Tuesday, when they come back, I think, they're probably gonna pass a short-term continuing resolution again, which funds government at present levels, makes no changes and send it back to us. Mr. Boehner says that they won't accept that, even for a short term. My expectation is it will be for maybe 30 days.

  • 12:18:39

    HOYERIf that's the case, then their refusal to act will have the effect of shutting down the government. I think that's something that we don't want. We think it's -- the America people don't want that, and we found in 1995, when the Republicans did that before as a strategy, that the American people responded very negatively to the Republicans and said that this is not what we think you ought to be doing. I frankly think if they do that again, they're gonna get the same reaction.

  • 12:19:09

    NNAMDIHere is Aaron in Washington D.C. Aaron, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:19:15

    AARONOh, yeah. My question is -- I've been listening to the debates on C-SPAN, and my question is all these jobs that -- they're kind of, I mean, 30 percent is from EPA and all these budgets. When do they actually go into effect, like, if the budget is passed and, you know, not vetoed, would there be 800,000 jobs lost next month? Or when would all these jobs be lost?

  • 12:19:40

    HOYERWell, this CR is for the present fiscal year in which we are operating now. Fiscal year runs from October 1 of last year until September 30th of this coming year, and that's the 2011 budget. But this budget cycle is now on the 2012 budget cycle. So that if they make these cuts, they're gonna have to be implemented by agencies because their salaries and expenses and other resources available are gonna have to be cut now. So while it may not happen next week, it certainly will happen in the short term.

  • 12:20:17

    NNAMDIAaron, thank you very much for your call. We're talking with Congressman Steny Hoyer. He is a Democrat from Maryland. He serves as the House Minority Whip. Taking your calls at 800-433-8850. You can send e-mail to kojo@wamu.org, a tweet, @kojoshow, or go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there. Here's Paul West again.

  • 12:20:38

    WESTMr. Hoyer, let's talk a little bit about local projects and local spending that appear to be in very serious jeopardy. You have been very involved over the last many years, with your colleagues in both parties, in providing money, for example, $150 million a year, for the Metro system in Washington, money that anybody who rides the system knows is desperately needed, funding for the Blue Plains water treatment plant, which, as you also know, is the largest single source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and then the Chesapeake Bay cleanup program in general. All of these things appear to be either at serious risk or, basically, dead now that Republicans are in charge. I wonder what you think the odds are that any of that money is gonna survive.

  • 12:21:31

    HOYERWell, again, Paul, when you say the Republicans are in charge, the Republicans are in charge in the House of Representatives. The Senate is still in the hands of Democratic leadership, as is the presidency of the United States. So while the House is under the control of Republican leadership and they probably can maintain their positions through a vote of the House -- what we saw last December, after the election, was the ability of Republicans and Democrats to come together to pass positive legislation, adopting some things that the Republicans like, some things that the Democrats like but making compromise. And that's really what the legislative process is about.

  • 12:22:11

    HOYERNow, the $150 million with respect to Metro, that was passed in a bipartisan fashion, Frank Wolf and I and other members of the Washington Metropolitan Area delegation have worked very hard for that. The reason that Congress has always participated in funding the construction of Metro and the operations of Metro is because one of the overwhelming users of that are, of course, federal employees. Those federal employees go to work for federal agencies who do not pay taxes, of course. But the federal government does participate to various services that impact -- that are impacted by the federal employment center. So we think that's justified the -- or frankly, during the Reagan administration, they tried to eliminate all help for local mass transit.

  • 12:23:08

    HOYERFrank Wolf and I have fought frankly together for 30 years to make sure that, in fact, the federal government did make its proper contribution, and it has. And this is an instance where the Republicans have come in after we've had an agreement and -- bipartisan agreement to slash this funding for much of much of the Chesapeake Bay as well.

  • 12:23:30

    WESTRight. But excuse me. Just to stay on Metro for a second. Realistically, it simply isn't possible that that 150 million a year is going to continue at that level, is it?

  • 12:23:40

    HOYERWell, I'm not sure that's the case. Again, we have -- in the Senate, we're gonna have, I know, our four senators from the Washington Metropolitan Area and the states of Maryland and Virginia, fighting very hard to have that money stay in the budget. I know Sen. Mikulski, who I've talked to, and Sen. Cardin, who I've talked to on this, intend to be very vigorously engaged. And, again, we have the majority in the Senate, and I think that will be supported in the Senate. I frankly think we'll get some Republican support for that as well. So I don't think it's a foregone conclusion, Paul, that that's gone unless, of course, the Republicans in the House take the position, either you do it our way or we won't play.

  • 12:24:30

    HOYERWe will make no compromises. We will not come to a consensus. I think if they do that, the American people are gonna see that as not constructive for getting things done.

  • 12:24:43

    NNAMDIHere is Sarah in Washington, D.C. Sarah, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:24:48

    SARAHYeah. Hi, Kojo. I am very excited that you have Congressman Hoyer on your show today because I actually called his office yesterday. I am a constituent of Congressman Hoyer and have been pretty much all my life. I was actually born in St. Mary's County, and I live in a little town called Berwyn Heights in Prince George's County now.

  • 12:25:10

    HOYERWonderful little town.

  • 12:25:10

    SARAHAnd I wanted -- I know I love it there. I really do. And I was hoping to find out more about Congressman Hoyer's stance on public broadcasting funding. I actually -- when I spoke with someone yesterday at the office, he told me that, you know, H.R. 1 is still on the floor being debated, and that in the past, Congressman, you have supported public broadcasting funding. But he couldn't speak -- he said he couldn't speak for you now, and I thought that was kind of strange because my impression was that you were very supportive of it.

  • 12:25:42

    HOYERI continue to be supportive of it. I think that was probably one of our younger people who didn't wanna speak for me. I understand that. We get a lot of calls as I'm sure you can imagine we -- I can't take them all. Sometimes my policy people can't take them all. But having said that, I served on the committee which helped fund -- make a contribution to public broadcasting. I think public broadcasting performs a very significant, important function in our country, and it has historically been supported in a bipartisan way. It continues to have bipartisan support.

  • 12:26:26

    HOYERBut there are, obviously, in the -- again, in the House of Representatives a significant number of people who believe that we ought not to contribute to support the public broadcasting system, which is largely supported by other resources beyond the federal government, but we make a contribution. They may prevail in the House on that issue. However, again, I think as we go through this process, I think there's gonna be, hopefully, some give and take on that. And I think that public broadcasting in the longer term and perhaps in this coming CR, we'll still be in there at some level.

  • 12:27:08

    NNAMDISarah, thank you very much for your call.

  • 12:27:10

    SARAHThank you.

  • 12:27:12

    NNAMDICongressman Hoyer, we also have to ask about federal funding for D.C. which is also on the chopping block. In some ways, we're used to members of Congress using the district as a bargaining chip or as a laboratory for their own pet projects. Some senators this week threaten to cut off funding for the district if the city school voucher program is not revived. What are your thoughts about what's happening on that fund?

  • 12:27:33

    HOYERWell, as you well know, too often the District of Columbia has been used as a punching bag by some and it -- entirely inappropriately. What we have done in the last Congress was we tried to provide for greater autonomy for the District of Columbia in spending its own funds. It still has its budget come to the subcommittee, the appropriations committee, for approval both the federal funds and, too often, we've seen restrictions on it spending its own funds, which we, of course, don't do for any other city in America other than Washington, D.C.

  • 12:28:13

    HOYERBut there is no doubt that there have been many members -- new Republicans have said they don't believe that the federal government ought to be giving to the District of Columbia any financial support and further that we ought to be restricting the District of Columbia policy makers on policies that they can adopt for Washington, D.C., therefore, ignoring the concept and commitment to home rule, which I've been a strong supporter of. But I think, Kojo, you're gonna see in the coming months, unfortunately, more and more efforts to restrict the District of Columbia and its elected government, and its elected member of Congress, who unfortunately doesn't have the vote.

  • 12:29:02

    HOYERI fought very, very hard to make sure that Eleanor Holmes Norton had a vote in the House of Representatives. I think it's a travesty, an undermining of our commitment to Democracy that the American citizens of the District of Columbia who if they lived a mile or two one way or the other in Montgomery County, Prince George's County or Northern Virginia would have a full vote in the Congress. There's no reason they should be just franchised as they are but...

  • 12:29:30

    NNAMDISpeaking of which, have there been an...

  • 12:29:31

    HOYER...but I think that there's a, unfortunately, a majority right now that in the Congress led by Republicans in the House that are looking at cutting very severely its funding and its autonomy.

  • 12:29:45

    NNAMDIHave there been any conversations about voting rights so far in this session of Congress given that the Republicans now control the House? Is there any opening to move a bill on D.C. voting rights in Congress?

  • 12:29:56

    HOYERKojo, it looks very, very difficult at this point in time. As you probably know, when the Democrats were given control by House of Representatives in 2006, I offered an amendment to the rules of the House of Representatives, which allowed the representative of the District of Columbia and five other non-states, including Puerto Rico, the ability of their representatives to vote in what we call the committee of the whole -- in effect, the committee -- all the members of the House but acting as a committee rather than acting as the full House of Representatives.

  • 12:30:36

    HOYERThe ability to vote in the committee -- that gave them a certain degree of dignity. It gave them a certain degree of being able to tell their constituents, this is how I feel about the issue that's pending on the floor and we think that that was consistent with our commitment to Democracy. Unfortunately, when they adopted the rules package on the first day of this session, the Republicans amended the rules to take that vote away. And that was simply a vote in the committee. It's clear that the Republicans do not believe that the vote ought to be extended to the representative of the District of Columbia and that's...

  • 12:31:19

    NNAMDIOur guest...

  • 12:31:19

    HOYERSo we haven't had any discussion on it. I think it'll be very difficult to do when the Republican majority was very difficult to do with the Democratic majority. We tried it, as you know, and, unfortunately, when the bill came from the Senate, it had a gun right around there overriding the District of Columbia's policies with reference to guns. And as a result, we were unable to give it to the House.

  • 12:31:47

    NNAMDIOur guest is House Minority Rep. Steny Hoyer. He's a Democrat for Maryland. Our guest analyst is Paul West. He is the political correspondent for the Tribune Company's Washington Bureau. Here's Paul.

  • 12:31:58

    WESTMr. Hoyer, when you were the majority leader, you spoke a lot about trying to reach out to the other side, to the Republicans and often frustrated in your ability not to find more people in the Republican Party who were willing to talk with you or deal with you. I wonder, in the new set up, who's been reaching out to you from the Republican side.

  • 12:32:20

    NNAMDIAnd before you respond to that, Congressman Hoyer, allow me to add Kim in Baltimore's question because I think it's along the same lines. Kim, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:32:29

    KIMThank you very much. Also within that framework is -- I think everybody in the United States is getting a little tired of everybody not actually buckling down and doing the work that needs to be done. So what is it actually gonna take for Congress and the Senate to actually do the work together? You know, sit down in business, health care, everywhere else in the United States, you got to sit across the table from people and you got to work things out and get things moving forward. It seems like it's just impossible for that to happen. Do you have any way of getting that grid lock broken?

  • 12:33:12

    NNAMDIAs Paul said, Mr. Congressman, exactly who can you reach across the aisle to?

  • 12:33:17

    HOYERWell, let me say that I agree with Kim from Baltimore, and I agree that that's the sentiment of the American people that we need to sit down and work together. America is facing some very significant challenges that need to be solved. And the only way we're gonna address them effectively is if we work together in a bipartisan fashion. Toward that end over the last few weeks, I've sat down with Eric Cantor who is the Republican majority leader from Virginia, spent time with him, talked about how we can work together. And, in fact, we have worked together on issues. I've talked with the newly elected Majority Whip, Mr. McCarthy from California, had lunch with him. I had lunch with Ms. Cantor.

  • 12:34:02

    HOYERI've had discussions with David Camp regarding tax reform. We need to simplify our tax system. We need to make it simpler. We need to bring down our rates, particularly as we try to grow jobs and pursue an agenda, which I call make it in America, which is simply make it, number one, succeeding, but number two, making it, manufacturing and growing it in America and selling it here and around the world. We need to create more manufacturing jobs, grow that sector of our economy, which has always provided good-paying jobs. And what I've told my Republican colleagues is that that's not an ideological agenda. It's not a Republican or Democratic agenda. Almost every American that has asked believes we need to make more things in America, be more competitive internationally, and not just simply be buying goods that are made overseas.

  • 12:34:57

    HOYERSo I have reached out in the Senate. I think there's a group that's working together that I have talked to, trying to come to grips with this budget deficit, which is a crisis in our country. I was a very strong supporter of the creation of bipartisan commission on the budget deficit, headed up by former Chief of Staff of the White House Erskine Bowles and Sen. Alan Simpson. I've talked to Sen. Pete Domenici who headed up another commission, former Republican senator from New Mexico. So I have reached out and are gonna continue to reach out and work with my Republican colleagues to solve very significant problems, to grow this economy, reform our tax system, make it simpler for all Americans and bring our rates down. And in addition, address this deficit crisis that confronts us.

  • 12:35:59

    NNAMDICongressman Hoyer, I know you have to go. I just wanted to mention quickly that you're having Black History Breakfast tomorrow, is that correct?

  • 12:36:07

    HOYERYeah -- excuse me -- yes, I'm having my -- our 30th Annual Black History Breakfast sponsored by some business enterprises in our community. And I'm pleased to participate. Over the years, we've had some extraordinarily significant speakers including President Obama, John Lewis who was just honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, (unintelligible), Dr. Vincent Reed of the District of Columbia, who is superintendent in schools, Carmen Turner -- we probably talked about Metro. You remember Carmen Turner was...

  • 12:36:41


  • 12:36:41

    HOYER...former leaders of Metro.

  • 12:36:44

    NNAMDIThe good days of Metro.

  • 12:36:45

    HOYERGood days of Metro. Absolutely. Valerie Jarrett who is now councilor to the president, former Gov. Doug Wilder. This year, Amb. Ron Kirk, who is the former mayor of Dallas and now the trade representative for the President, is going to be our speaker. And this is a wonderful, wonderful event. We expect about 500 people to be in attendance, mostly, the African-American leadership of the 5th Congressional District. They're make an extraordinary contribution, and we always have a wonderful time reflecting, not only on the contribution that African-Americans have made since of the foundation of our country, but also the contribution of African-Americans are making today.

  • 12:37:33

    NNAMDICongressman Hoyer, thank you for joining us. You can expect an irate phone call from an obscure radio talk show host. I deliberately misled Mark Plotkin by telling him you were in studio with us today. He mumbled jealousy, well, he's never been in studio with me. We'll keep that our little secret. Congressman Hoyer... (laugh)

  • 12:37:52

    HOYERActually, Kojo, to set the record straight, I have been in the studio with Mark Plotkin.

  • 12:37:56

    NNAMDIThen he's old. His memory is gone.

  • 12:37:57

    HOYERIt was some years ago.

  • 12:37:59

    NNAMDIHe's old. His memory's gone. Thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:38:02

    HOYERThank you very much. I enjoyed it.

  • 12:38:04

    NNAMDIAnd before we take the break for the continuation of our winter membership campaign, got an announcement. There have been intermittent 911 outages in both Fairfax and Arlington Counties in Virginia. Callers to 911 may not be able to get through and officials have given out alternative numbers to call. In Fairfax County, you were advised to call 703-691-2233. In Arlington County, officials say please call 703-741-3035. That's Fairfax County, 703-691-2233 instead of 911, and in Arlington County, 703-741-3035 instead of 911. County officials say they're working on the problems and hope to have normal 911 service restored very soon.

  • 12:38:57

    NNAMDIWe're gonna take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue our winter membership campaign and then our ongoing Politic Hour conversation with guest analyst Paul West. If you've called already, stay on the line. We might be able to address your concerns. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:47:02

    NNAMDIWelcome back to "The Politics Hours," where our guest analyst today is Paul West. He is the political correspondent for the Tribune Company's Washington Bureau. Tom Sherwood is on vacation. He will be back next week. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Or you can go to our website, kojoshow.org, join the conversation there. Paul, the decision by Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, not to run for re-election in 2012 has set off a scramble on the Democratic side. A scramble had already been in place on the Republican side. But I'm really interested in hearing you talk about what's happening on the Democratic side. Is former governor, now head of the Democratic National Committee Tim Kaine going to run?

  • 12:47:46

    WESTOf course, I have no inside information on this, but if I were to bet a nickel, I would say yes.

  • 12:47:52

    NNAMDIYeah. How about Representative Tom Perriello?

  • 12:47:55

    WESTWell, Tom Perriello has...

  • 12:47:57


  • 12:47:58

    WESTHe made it clear that if Tim Kaine didn't run that he would seriously look at the race. But from a practical standpoint, Kaine is probably the best hope that the Democrats have of keeping that seat.

  • 12:48:10

    NNAMDITim Kaine said he will be making a decision by next month. Paul West is saying that if he had a nickel to bet, his decision would be that he will run. If he runs, he's looking at, on the other side, a number of Republicans, best-known among them probably being former Senator George Allen.

  • 12:48:29

    WESTFormer Senator George Allen, former Governor George Allen, the best-known Republican in the race is by no means a prohibitive favorite in that contest. What we are likely to see in Virginia is the same dynamic that has played out in other states around the country in the last year and a half, and that is a very, very serious challenge in the Republican primary from a Tea Party candidate. There may be other candidates in the race, but a woman by the name of Jamie Radtke, who is the president of the Richmond Tea Party, a home-schooling parent of three, is gearing up to run. She will run, and I think there's a good chance that she could give George Allen a very, very tough race.

  • 12:49:13

    NNAMDIPrince William County Chairman Corey Stewart has been critical of Allen. What is it that Tea Partiers in Virginia do not like about George Allen?

  • 12:49:21

    WESTWell, George Allen has the unfortunate fact of having been an establishment politician, and the Tea Party is basically out to change American politics. You know, you saw it in Utah last year where Mike Lee, now the senator from Utah, ousted Bob Bennett, who was the Republican -- a very conservative Republican senator, for just being too establishment. And that was in a convention. There's going to be a primary in Virginia. But George Allen has to -- has a lot of work to do, really, to present himself to this new electorate, including coming up with a rationale for his candidacy that is more than just, I'm George Allen and I miss the Senate and I wanna go back.

  • 12:50:10

    NNAMDIWe're gonna be talking about Martin O'Malley with Paul West in a little while. But I wanted to go to the phones first and see what some of our callers have to say there, who were still waiting after Steny -- after Congressman Steny Hoyer left. Let's start with Chris in Falls Church, Va. Hi, Chris. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:50:26

    CHRISThank you. And I will say that I made my pledge on Sunday night.

  • 12:50:30

    NNAMDIAppreciate it.

  • 12:50:30

    CHRISAnd I'm sorry to hear that Steny had to go because I'm not sure that Mr. West will be able to give the kind of answer I was hoping for. But I'm just old enough to have had -- John Kenneth Galbraith is my economics professor in college. And, of course, he's written famously about the Great Depression. Back in the depression, the government under Roosevelt provided something like 10 million jobs with the CCC, the Conservation Corps, the NRA, Recovery Act, and so on. And that got us a lot of the way out of the worst of it. And I'm just worried that we're gonna have -- with all these state and local layoffs coming, we're gonna go into a brutal second dip of double-dip recession. And I just wonder if Mr. Obama wants to go down as the Herbert Hoover of our era or if he wants to be the Franklin Roosevelt. And I think he's gone a long way down the Herbert Hoover track by submitting the budget that he did.

  • 12:51:31

    NNAMDIWell, Chris, I'm old enough to have interviewed John Kenneth Galbraith back in the 1980s. But I suspect that what Paul West and I both see is that Democrats share a lot of your concerns about where the economy is headed. And Mr. Obama, I guess, is in the spirit of compromise, going to have to try to get things passed, Paul.

  • 12:51:50

    WESTHe got about all he's going to get in the deal that he cut -- Steny Hoyer referred to it -- in the lame duck back in December...

  • 12:51:57


  • 12:51:58

    WEST...where, in addition to agreeing to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, he also got a 2 percent payroll tax cut that is providing stimulus this year and, presumably, is about all that he was going to be able to get. He will not get any more stimulus with this Republican Congress. I think you can bet on that.

  • 12:52:17

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. And let's try Bob in Fredericksburg, Va. Bob, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:52:24

    BOBWell, good afternoon, Kojo. I pledged yesterday...

  • 12:52:29

    NNAMDIThank you.

  • 12:52:30

    BOB...during your hour. I'm a former federal controller, financial manager. I retired after 33 years. This is pie in the sky, but I'm really looking forward to a government shutdown.

  • 12:52:45


  • 12:52:46

    BOBAnd the reason is it will teach the Tea Party people and a number of our people here in the country exactly what the government does do for them. You shut down the government, there'll be no Medicare payments. There'll be no pension payments. There'll be no payments to private contractors. The Treasury will shut down.

  • 12:53:14

    NNAMDIWell, Bob, we're running out of time very quickly. So allow me to have Paul West use some institutional memory here because Steny Hoyer referred to 1995, when the Republican Congress did -- Republican let Congress did similar things. And the notion among veterans is that nobody wants the government to shut down. But there are some people, especially some who might be freshmen in the Congress of the United States, who feel that that's not that big a deal.

  • 12:53:37

    WESTWell, things did shut down. National parks closed, facilities, and a lot of things happened back in the two shutdowns, partial shutdowns in 1995. I don't believe that you'll see a failure to send out Social Security checks, which don't really get sent out anymore anyway. It's a electronic transaction. I don't think that those benefits will stop to flow. But it will be interesting to see not only, you know, a possible shutdown, but also just when these new Republican members go home. Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, was here last week, speaking to the conservative political action conference. And in his speech, which has gotten a lot of favorable attention, he said, referring to what he's done in his home state, you'll be surprised how little you miss it when you cut government. But some of the things that are being proposed now -- program cuts -- when the Republican -- new Republican members go home, it'll be interesting to see what sort of a reaction they'd get in their districts.

  • 12:54:34

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Almost out of time. A brief comment on Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who's getting ready to deliver his first major address as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. According to Politico today, he'll use it to unveil his vision for Democratic leadership in the states and, presumably, for the future of Martin O'Malley.

  • 12:54:52

    WESTThe future of Martin O'Malley, which is a 2016 storyline that we'll all be hearing a lot about. This is his debut as the head of the Democratic Governors Association and as a national figure. The Republicans are certainly taking him seriously. They put out a reaction piece this morning, the Republican Governors Association, attacking Gov. O'Malley as a taxer. I think that the message that you'll hear from O'Malley tomorrow night in Richmond at the JJ dinner, the Jefferson-Jackson dinner down there, will be almost exactly the message that we're hearing from Obama and the White House at the moment.

  • 12:55:30

    NNAMDIPaul West, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:55:32

    WESTThanks, Kojo. My pleasure.

  • 12:55:33

    NNAMDIPaul West was our guest analyst today. He is the political correspondent for The Tribune Company's Washington bureau. I'd like to thank not only Paul for joining us, but to thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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