August 15th, 2010
11:54 AM ET
8 years ago

Congressmen spar over the economy, Ground Zero mosque

Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Kevin McCarthy debated economic policy Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Kevin McCarthy debated economic policy Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

(CNN) - With midterm elections less than three months away, outspoken members of both political parties tried Sunday to blame the nation's economic woes on the fiscal policies supported by their rivals.

In an interview on CNN's State of the Union, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, accused congressional Republicans of "gambling" with Americans' retirement savings.

"If you privatize Social Security … the end result will be that that money is not there," Van Hollen told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "There is not a stable source of retirement money because we'll be literally gambling it on Wall Street. And that has been a long-held position of our Republican colleagues."

Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California dismissed the accusations as "scare tactics" designed to distract Americans from the 9.5 percent unemployment rate.

"Republicans want to secure it [Social Security] and make it there for the future," McCarthy said. "One of the reasons why it's actually losing money right now is because there are so fewer jobs out there and fewer people are paying in."

Watch the debate, after the jump:

McCarthy also dinged President Obama for repeatedly taking his focus off job creation, most recently by defending the rights of Muslims "to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances" amid a local controversy over the planned project's proximity to New York's ground zero.

"It's going to be about jobs," McCarthy said. "but this is just another example: Why isn't the President spending the time debating about jobs instead of moving into New York? And why is he so un-sensitive about this area as well, to engage in a local issue that's causing a problem throughout the nation when the nation shows…a deep sensitivity to this exact location?"

Van Hollen responded Obama was only "stating the principle that under our great constitution, we do not discriminate against people based on their religion."

"He went on to say … the decision as to where to site the mosque, this Muslim place of worship, was up to the people of New York," Van Hollen added.

But McCarthy immediately pounced, pointing out what many people see as a contradiction.

"If Chris is saying this is a New York issue, then why did the president engage in it?" McCarthy asked. "If you listen to what he first said, he brought up the exact location and said he supported it."

Filed under: 2010 • Chris Van Hollen • economic stimulus • Economy • issues • Kevin McCarthy • Religion
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. a in austin

    Where is the anger over the first responders whose medical needs still are not being met? How quickly people forget these heroes. That in itself should be the focus of everyone's anger.

    August 15, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. vic

    There is no clear plan for economy recovery

    There is no clear plan to win the wars

    We need third party

    August 15, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Laurie

    My solution to keeping SS money is this: taxpayers would have an option of rejecting their SS payments and instead, get a tax deduction.
    That way money would stay in the administration's fund, some people would get a deduction...those who have contributed the most over the years, actually and the rest of us who rely on SS to live on, will be assured of a future. I've got more great ideas, just ask me!

    August 15, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Mark Garcia

    Why is the ground zero mosque more important that the vote to provide health care to the 9/11 heroes? Candy Crowly just dismissed Cris Van Hollen's comment on that vote. Why? As a voter, that is more important to know who voted for and who voted against and why. Quite frankly, voting know is much more offensive than a mosque/cultural center can possibly be.

    August 15, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Laurie

    Muslims did not attack us; Alqueda did! If we now compromise on who can build what, they have controlled us. This is not a monument to Alqueda, but a monument for all Americans. Please don't take this personally; it's not about you. It's about a building that signifies freedom of speech. You have nothing to fear.

    August 15, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. William Jefferson

    This is a no brainer. The Constitution forbids discrimintaion on religious grounds.

    Both of the basic statements these men make are correct. Qaeda claims it acts in the name of Islam. And almost no other Muslims think Qaeda represent Islam than Christians think the Christian Identy terrorists represent Christianity.

    And both of those points are irelevant because unless the city of NY can show some legitimate secular reason for denying the permit to construct a religious center they cannot deny the permit on religious grounds. Period. If they are Muslim, or Wiccan, or Catholic, or Hinus, or Satanists the state cannot deny them equal rights because of their faith.

    The ONLY reason this isue is such a hot one in te news is that conservatives are offering up "outrage" to stir up support among their supporters and get people angry at those who follow the principles of the Untied States enshrined in our Constitution which make us great – people like President Obama.

    August 15, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. NVa Native

    It's time for the Repubs to stop their sleazy tactics of rampant fear mongering and flagrant hypocracy.
    The proposed community center on the property they already own would serve the community that already exists there.

    Either you are for OUR freedom of religion – or you are not.
    Either you are for OUR free speach – or you are not.
    Either you are for OUR capitalism – or you are not.
    These are our AMERICAN VALUES and our HERITAGE, not some one else's values or heritage.

    That is what all this is about. Just remove the FEAR, HATE, and BIGOTRY (which is un-American) and it's real simple – even the mindless fox minions can follow that.

    August 15, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. mernatti

    As far as ground zero go's they ought to build a statue of Bush and O Sama ben laden shacking hands Bush new all about 9/11 and did nothing and as far as religion go's for any Republican thier god is money & greed. This country was built on freedom of religion

    August 15, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. throw then all out

    McCarthy is such a Republican hack. If he really cares about his state then why is he lollygagging on talk shows and spending his energy talking about New York.
    I'm surprised that the GOPers don't criticize the President for taking the time to go to the bathroom instead of focusing on the economy. God, I hate the way our government works. How about trying to fix things instead.

    August 15, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. andrew

    It is within there constitutional right to build no matter of the feelings. Picking and choosing when we are going to abide by the constitutional rights and for which party, ethnicity or feelings trashes the very points of reason in the constitution of any nation. This dangerous disregard set by the past administration to allow the fundamental rights to be over ridden using possibly illegal if not unmoral reasons to equal out the feelings of only some due to a tragic event and not the letter of the laws in place at the time is usually a beginning to a nations melt down to disaster.

    August 15, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. Roscoe Born

    It is disappointing to hear the usually sensible Chris Van Hollen declare that the mosque is a local, New York problem–let them decide. It is a Constitutonal problem, clearly not a question of what the neighbors in New York think. Does Chris believe the immigrant problem in Arizona is a local issue, to be decided by Arizonans?

    August 15, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. katiec

    A republican politician complains about scare tactics?? That is all they have been doing for the last 19 months!!
    Between obstructing everything for the betterment of our country, spewing their propaganda, lies and giving Wall st and the rich undying support, while sacrificing the American people they have put theirselves well on the path to becoming our country's most dangerous domestic terrorists.

    August 15, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |

    Both parties are responsible for the collapse of the economy–although the democratic party owns 65% of the blame–but 100% for Obama's policies because of the super majority.

    That said, we Americans have voted this bozos in (from both parties). In hindsight, who would vote for Barney Frank and Chris Dodd (the two idiots that didn't do their jobs), or allow Congress to pass Clinton's low-income lending laws that forced banks to make bad loans, or even vote in Bush or Obama.

    We are 100% responsible for our situation, but also have 100% responsibility to kick those useless leaders out.

    August 15, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  14. Bill

    The money that should be in the Social Security Fund is not there. It has been used for programs other than Social Security. For Forty + years in the 75 years since the inception of the program the Democrats have been in charge of congress.Don't give me that crap that the Republicans are the cause of the short fall of funds.
    I was forced to pay into that system all my working life, now I want a reasonable return on my investment.

    August 15, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. Chris

    I can't believe that Republicans are once again pushing privatizing Social Security. If Bush had succeeded in his efforts to change Social Security, the whole plan would have been effectively wiped out when the market collapsed.

    Why is that Republicans keep insisting that Obama can't walk and chew gum at the same time. If he does one thing, they say he's not focussing enough on something else. They complain for months that he's not doing enough about the Gulf. He takes his family there on a short trip to show the beaches are still fine to help endorse tourism, and conservatives give him grief about it.

    August 15, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. Peter s

    The Republicans should take the social security to various casinos and gamble on it! or take it to Nudy clubs thats where they spend most. Republicans= no plans and no shame!!! give them power again and you will see Bush policies on steroids!! destroying this great Nation like the past eight years!. This is how phony the republicans are! "NO MOSQUE IN NEW YORK we should be sensitive to the people impacted by 911" Very good rhetoric and it resonates with most voters but what smart voters should ask themselves is a simple question why did the Republican oppose the bill to help those suffering from the efects of 911? and on top of that! they are opposing the Mosque in a media fix news owned by the muslim sheik from Saudi Arabia!. Please Republicans stop the hypocricy and stop destroying my Nation for your selfish egos.
    Here is just a few points exposing the Republicans true colors!!

    Republicans have fought against individual liberty all along, by favoring spying on our own citizens, authorizing wiretaps, and attempting to curtail the First Amendment

    Republicans have never actually worked for a small government; even under popular Ronald Reagan for eight years, government spending grew faster than GDP

    Republicans obviously don't believe in personal responsibility or they would stop supporting giveaways of federal land to timber companies, range land to large ranches, water to large irrigators, mines to large mining corporations, and airwaves to large broadcasters.
    These are our nation's biggest welfare payments. (When you walk around in the U.S. Capitol, you see some lobbyists but guess what? None of the lobbyists are hired by poor urban mothers on welfare; they're hired by rich fatcats on multimillion dollar welfare.)

    August 15, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Buster

    Don't worry, maybe they can have nobummer come in and take off his shirt. That would ensure the liberals have a clear view of his "muscular" build and take their little minds off his failures. What a joke. Muscular build my rear end.

    August 15, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Sam in Austin

    When discussing the 9/11 attack and building of the mosque, I think it is relevent and resposible on the part of the journalist to mention how many of those who were killed were Muslims and other Asians. I believe the number is close to 700 of the 3000 that were killed were either muslims and south asians.
    If we believe we are "BETTER THAN THEM" then I believe we should not do what they would do! If we fall to that level where we are giving up our principles to behave like them, then they would have succeeded in destroying us and our values.
    A Muslim center that promotes pluralism and represents moderate Muslims is the perfect answer to Al Qaeda that they did not succeed in dividing or destroying our values as Americans. We should continue to stand tall!
    Muslim and Proud to be an American!

    August 15, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. Ryan

    The entire basis of America's founding was for people to express their freedom of religion. If this bothers you, than leave because NEWSFLASH – The founding Fathers were NOT Christian , they were Deists.

    As for the Mosque – it is a local problem. You would be crucified if you protested the building of a regular Catholic Church apparently so this is a clear case of discrimination.

    HOWEVER, If the pro-Mosque people are going to claim that they are sensitive to the emotional scares of 9/11 why can't they simply respect the wishes of the surviving victims and build the Mosque elsewhere???

    Reasonable people would contend that it's not that they can't or shouldn't build a Mosque, but that they not do it in that specific spot. Even a difference of a few blocks away would be a fair compromise.

    Islamic Extremists were responsible, not NORMAL muslims.

    How would you feel if you were a normal Christian but everyone perceived you as a member of that psycho-cult The Westboro Baptists Church?? They're very vocal and hateful, but they don't necessarily represent you and the true aspects of your religion.

    This fear of muslims was a very well crafted scapegoat and scare tactic developed by the Bush administration to fund a personal war. That's right out of the WW2 playbook where Hitler rallied his country to fear and hate Jews and look how wrong that turned out to be.

    History repeats itself indeed.

    August 15, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. Both are At Fault

    They're both right. Privatizing SS isn't the answer; it's a far greater risk to our retirement funds than having it guaranteed by the government. It's like playing the stock market as opposed to mutual funds or money market savings accounts. However, the whole dipping-into-SS-to-pay-other-things is not right. If we as citizens have money earmarked for paying bills, we're (theoretically) not going to take that money and suddenly go on vacation with it. It's for paying bills. If we don't have money in our checkbooks to pay for something, then we either must cut back on something else, or simply not buy the thing in question. Most businesses I know won't take an "I'll pay you later" approach–even credit cards must be paid eventually.

    August 15, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. The Truth Please...I Just Want The Truth

    Look...everyone knows that if the TRUE conservatives had their way, Social Security would be done away with completely...along with Medicare, Medicade, unemployment benefits, and just about everything else that helps the working class.

    If you people vote the Republicans back into power, you are going to get exactly what you deserve...

    August 15, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. Proud member of Global Zero

    New York City Community Centre is guaranteed by our Constitution. There is already a Mosque that has been there for 40 years, Masjid Manhattan is located in downtown Manhattan in the WTC/financial district. Why is no one pointing this little fact out?

    As a 51 year old (will be 52 on 9/11) I do not want SS open to Wall Street. My 403B took a huge hit in 2008. My statements from the SS Administration did not show a loss at all.

    Shalom to everyone,

    August 15, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. Marcus

    Al Qaeda does not represent the Islam. Fact.
    In fact, who DOES represent ALL the Muslims? Nobody, there are fractions within the Islamic faith that accepts a representative/leader and there are fractions that does not, pretty much like Christians BTW.
    In many islamic country many people rejoiced when they saw the towers collapse. Fact.
    And many others offered their prayers for the dead (that they did not knew nor have ever heard of). Fact.

    August 15, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. Chipster

    Muslims died in the Towers when 18 Saudis and 1 UAE citizen flew airplane into them. Al Qaeda is our enemy, not Muslims.

    If zoning ordinances and codes allow it for anyone, our Constitutions protects the rights of all religions. These are our founding principles of liberty and justice. If we discard them, the terrorists win.

    My concern is the Republican idea of dismantling Social Security. Pat Toomey supports encouraging savings accounts for medical expenses and for retirement. That's really great if everyone has the resources to do it and IF everyone does it. My question is this: what do we do with those who don't? Toomey won't answer that question. His only response is: they should! But if they don't?...

    Do we give them a blanket and send them to the park to die out of sight?

    August 15, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. JT from MO

    Amendment I
    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

    I think the first amendment speaks pretty clearly for the meaning it's supposed to get across; freedom of religion, speech, and expression is part of the guarenteed constitutional rights that all of us are given. If we choose to deny one the freedom to practice his or her religion, then it's only a matter of time before the favor is returned, with very unpleasant consequences. Back in 1948, Harry Truman intergrated the military, and his response to the critics, which were the big majority back at the time, was quote, "Deal with it." If he would have chosen to put that up for a vote, our military would have been still divided by race. What I'm trying to get across is that someone's civil rights and liberties must not be put up for a vote, and the government should not legislate morality; all of those must be up to the individual. That includes marriage, reproductive choice, and freedom to choose one's own religion, without the fear of discrimination. I have no religion because I have chosen not to have one, but, at the same time, just because I do not agree with religion, itself, does not mean I have the right to prohibit one from choosing to exercise his or her religion. This applies to all of us; have a great day to you all.

    August 15, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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