Woodall Discusses Debt Ceiling

There's a strong contingent of Republicans who are opposed to the deal struck by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. That's because it doesn't contain guarantees of a "yes" vote on a balanced budget amendment — among other provisions. Melissa Block talks with Republican Rep. Rob Woodall from Georgia about Monday's vote on the debt ceiling.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, host: Earlier today, I spoke with two House members about how they planned to vote on the debt ceiling compromise. First, a freshman Republican, Congressman Rob Woodall of Georgia. He voted yes last Friday on Speaker Boehner's debt bill, when 22 of your fellow Republicans defected. He told he would also vote yes today.

Representative ROB WOODALL: For me, it's a matter of whether we're moving the needle in the right direction or the wrong direction. Both last week and today, whether you think it's a lot or a little, we are moving the needle in the right direction.

BLOCK: And would you say you're a happy yes vote or are you sort of a hold-your-nose-and-vote-yes person?

WOODALL: Well, I knew when I got here, while you might try to throw the long bomb all the time in football, it's really the three yards and a cloud of a dust where the progress happens. And that's what we've done here today. It's three yards and a cloud of dust, and we'll all suit up again tomorrow and start working anew.

BLOCK: Congressman Woodall, you're also in a tiny minority. You're one of just six House Republicans, six out of 240, who did not sign the pledge vowing not to vote for any net tax increases, the Grover Norquist pledge. Do you accept that some tax increases will be necessary in the next phase of this to balance out these spending cuts?

WOODALL: I don't. We didn't sign that pledge in our part of world because everybody knew we weren't a tax raiser. There's a difference between raising revenue and raising taxes. I voted for the Paul Ryan budget, and the Paul Ryan budget anticipates raising revenue from 14 and a half percent of GDP all the way up to 18 percent of GDP. But we don't raise taxes to make that happen. We just generate more taxes by getting the economy back on track.

BLOCK: What about things like closing corporate loopholes, ending some corporate tax breaks, tax breaks for jet owners, the things the president has been talking about? Could you be behind that?

WOODALL: Absolutely. I'm a huge fan of eliminating those. I have offered a bill in Congress that eliminates absolutely every bit of corporate welfare. But at the same time, I'd like to then lower rates, broaden that base, and that's what economists tell us is going to get the economy moving again.

BLOCK: There are those on the Republican side though who would say that even that is too much, that none of those what you might call revenues or tax increases, whatever you call them, should be on the table at all. What do say to those folks in your party who would take that position?

WOODALL: You know, I actually would say that for the most part folks are mischaracterizing their position. The hardest core of the hardest core conservatives - and I'd like to count myself among them - believe that most of these what I'd call bad tax breaks they don't get us anything on the economic increase side of the ledger, which is why we'd like to take them away from there and put them back into reducing those rates and broadening that base.

BLOCK: Congressman Woodall, we're hearing from a number of conservatives who are angered by the defense cuts in this debt limit plan. Conservative William Kristol writing in The Weekly Standard, says this: that the deal embodies a vision of America in decline. What do you think about that?

WOODALL: Well, everything has to be on the table. We need to go and look at all of the line items in the defense budget. But I can tell you, and I have that commitment from the folks on the defense committee and from the speaker, that when we make those choices it's not going to be at the expense of our military men and women and their families.

BLOCK: I'm curious how you would assess the role of Tea Party Republicans in Congress who essentially forced the hand of Speaker Boehner on these deby votes. Do you think they have done damage to the party or have they strengthened it?

WOODALL: Oh, I'm a huge supporter. The Tea Party has given us the strength to do things in this country that we have not been able to do for so long. Again, we can argue about whether or not we've moved the needle enough, but we're going to reduce discretionary spending, not the rate of increase, but actual spending two years in a row. That has not happened in your or my lifetime, and I absolutely give our Tea Party patriots across the country with getting this Congress the courage to make that happen.

BLOCK: Congressman Woodall, good to talk to you. Thanks so much.

WOODALL: See you. Happy to be here.

BLOCK: That's Congressman Rob Woodall, Republican of Georgia. He was a yes vote today.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.