August 15th, 2010
11:54 AM ET
4 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. Discernment

    SSA IS HANDS-OFF TO THE GOP

    Republicans were against Social Security Administration ever since it was created by FDR in 1935. Now after 75 years of successful operations, the GOP is still trying to get their grubby little hands on that lock box, , , , with the intention of gambling away middle-class grandma's nest-eggs.

    August 15, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Chipster

    @Bill – that myth that a Democrat (or Republican) used the Social Security Trust is false. Look it up, it's political garbage. The Trust is there. It was not moved to the General Fund or used for any other purpose. It's all a matter of accounting and the Trust has not changed.

    Recent Trustee reports indicate that health care reform has improved the fiscal outlook for Social Security and Medicare.

    August 15, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Fed Up

    The only reason an economic forecaster has a job, it to make weather forecasters look brilliant! Don't believe anything you read. These jokers can make numbers say anything they want to make you believe everything is ok. Hold onto your money for the blow that is coming.

    August 15, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. Chipster

    "...lthough the democratic party owns 65% of the blame–but 100% for Obama's policies because of the super majority."

    Thank you! As a Democrat, I will take the blame for improving the job market from Oct-Dec 2008 losses of 700,000 to recent 70,000 job gains. The percentage of unemployed is up slightly but, by all accounts, some of that is because some people who quit seeking jobs have begun searching again. We still need a lot of improvement but from a loss of 700,000 jobs per month in 2008, it's at least the right direction.

    Did anyone think we would get out of this hole overnight? We might make better progress if Democrats will vote in November so the President will have a little help.

    August 15, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Discernment

    SSA IS HANDS-OFF FOR REPUBLICAN-GOP

    Republicans were against Social Security Administration ever since its creation by FDR in 1935. Now after 75 years of successful operations the GOP is still trying to get their dirty little grubby hands on that "lock box", , , , , with the intention of gambling away middle-class grandma's SSA nest egg.

    August 15, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Chipster

    @a in austin
    Although the Bill was a bi-partisan effort, the majority of Republicans voted against the medical care bill for first responders on 9/11, calling it "just another entitlement program." Three of the Republican co-sponsors in the House voted against their own Bill.

    August 15, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Christian persecution

    There is nothing to spar over concerning the mosque near Ground Zero. Unemployment is still rising, the deficit has quadrupled, there is too much government intervention and handouts, we are at war, and the country has morally and fiscally been brought to its knees. These are the issues that need to be addressed as well as the citizens of this country need to start acting like we're at war and showing more respect and support for our servicemen and women.
    But back to the mosque: this country has degraded over the last three decades pushing God and Christians out of the way to make way for false religions in the name of "tolerance". If Christians wanted to build a church near Mecca, all hell would break loose. Sodom and Gomorrah received no tolerance when they turned their hearts away from God just as this country is continuing to do! Why do you all support a religion that does not profess Jesus Christ as the living Son of God, supports the killing of women in the name of "honor", and sends kids to the front lines with bombs strapped to their chest! Our administration and this country spends too much time trying to understand radical Muslims and worrying about "rights" of terrorists. Meanwhile, Christian medical volunteers trying to provide aid to Afghans were murdered last week by the Taliban; and this country does nothing!
    Only a conservative victory and pointing this country back towards Jesus Christ will save it. The current course that liberal Democratic voters has put this country on, such as pushing Christians and God aside, supporting false religions, not supporting our military servicemembers, putting this country more in debt, and using race to divide the country as well as further a political agenda is something is something to be truly ashamed of as they've contributed to the moral and fiscal degradation to this country that was once viewed as mighty and just. That is definitely not the case now. You liberals have a chance to correct yourselves and this country this November.

    August 15, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. why World

    Would the investors and current owner of this site consider building a center for world peace – were people from all walks of live – all region come and pray.
    When god is omnipresent – there is no one who can restrict anyone from making a corner in Manahattan into his/her prayer spot. So how does this building named as a muslim prayer center , restrict a christan from going in and offer prayers to his/her god Jesus Christ or Mother Mary, when my Muslim is offering prayers to his/her Allah.

    Thus this center will be a prayer hall for all relegion.

    August 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. hypocricnnation

    Congressman Kevin McCarthy R-California Shows Just How Disingenuous Republicans Truly Are. He Doesn't Talk About Job Creation As If He Was Concerned, He Uses It (And The Media Does As Well) As A Punch Line. If Congressman McCarthy Was Really Concerned, He'd Rise Above His Talking Points And Political Cheap Shots (And The Media Too!) And Actually Do What It Takes To Get Jobs Created In This Country.

    August 15, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Chris

    Hollowed ground? The mosque is being built at the site of an old Burglington Coat Factory.

    August 15, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. Debbie from Arizona

    I think the Republicans have finally reached the point of no return. Bush tried privatizing Social Security, and the American people were smart enough to let him and his party know this was a stupid idea. To think that now, after Wall Street fell apart, we would want to do it, is even stupider. As far as building the mosque/community center goes, I feel, that either you support one of the first foundations of our country, Freedom of Religion, or you don't. I happen to support this very important right, wether I believe the the religion's philosophy or not.

    August 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Stephen in Bedford, TX

    President Obama is making it harder and harder to support his administration. He's demonstrated and arrogance on the level of Bush and Cheney. He just sank the Democratic Party's chances of maintain control of both houses of congress in 2010 and the presidency in 2012.

    I expected better and I'm angry with this administration.

    August 15, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    We all can stomp scream and shout all we want but the truth is the American voice only has standing in a ballot box during an election other wise were all spitting against the wind .

    August 15, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Vote Republican, they have all the solutions for moving our country backwards to the horse and pony days, out houses instead of inside plumbing, yeah that's what they call taking our country back.

    August 15, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. The Hard Truth.......

    When you realize the Baby Boomer generation born from 1945-1960 is now beginning to approach retirment because those born in 1945 are now turning age 65 in 2010. Thereby, bringing about a vast increase in Social Security recipients. And, when you notice Tax cuts for the rich never spurred any economy by noting;
    Reagan after 8 years in office: $550 billion deficit
    Bush1 after 4 years in office: $385 billion deficit
    Clinton after 8 years in office: $33 billion deficit
    Bush2 after 8 years in office: $5 trillion deficit.......
    One begins to realize Republicanism and tax cuts for the rich destroys Capitalism as we know it........

    August 15, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. vic

    Republicans always say they protect the constitution
    Now repel the 14th amendment, religious freedom will apply for cretin group

    Something wrong something smell very bad
    Republicans it will back fire

    August 15, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    Republicans continue to show their vapidity and stupidity. IT'S THE ECONOMY DUMMIES!! No, instead, the listless right wastes more time spewing BS over a mosque. Listen up, dummies...the Constitution is grounded in and this nation was founded on FREEDOM OF RELIGION and FREE SPEECH. Because some extremists of Muslim faith committed vile terrorist acts (and killed about 700 Muslims in doing so) is no reason to forbid an expression of religious faith on our soil. The President is displaying the highest degree of common sense here, a truly American position. Gee, I wonder how many Christian churches are standing near places where Native Americans were slaughtered by Christians– all in the name of Manifest Destiny (a.k.a GOD's plan), of course.

    August 15, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. LMC

    If Baptists, Catholics, or other Christians attacked in the name of Christ, would people not want a Christian church near Ground Zero? A lot of horrible things have been done in the name of one religion or another, including Christianity. It is wrong to label a religion because of what one group of people did. Did the rape and sexual abuse carried out by some Catholic priests make all Catholics rapists? Muslim terrorists can claim they are committing an act of terror in the name of Allah all they want, it doesn't make all Muslims terrorists.

    August 15, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Albo58

    Every election year, the Democrats begin their scare tactics involving social security, those mean old rich people, and the forced reduction of the welfare rolls! These loons have been screaming wolf every time the sheep show up! Facts are, they have had the White House for 18 months and the Congress for 4 years and they have done a terrible job of actually leading, their ideas run contrary to most Americans, and in regards to the economy, they have been an unmitigated disaster!

    August 15, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. kari

    What if the 9/11 attack had been in the name of Jesus? Would Christian churches be forbidden? And if it's not OK to build a mosque that close to ground zero, how far away is far enough? People die every day and we don't memorialize each and every spot where a person died. I don't get why ground has to be sacred because many people died there.

    August 15, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  21. REG in AZ

    The issues and details constantly being argued are just a distraction and are simply being used to excite and control people, with that being crystal clear in the contradictions of the politicians’ actions. It is disappointing but true that today’s Republican Party is totally owned and controlled by Special Interests and by the extremely wealthy, both being their strong overt and covert supporters who they diligently serve while they insultingly take everyone else for granted and just arrogantly try to deceptively con and manipulate public opinion.

    The Democrats and Obama are of course not perfect but yet they are nowhere near the self-serving irresponsibility and arrogant dishonesty that was demonstrated by Bush-Cheney, totally supported by the Republican Party and is now being sought to return to. The total inequity in that has been very evident as when the Republicans are in power the entire middle class continually looses ground and only the wealthy constantly gain; that being a real shame for everyone because as the middle class goes, so goes the economy. Even now they are ‘cocky’ in offering nothing real, only aggressively criticizing everything and deceptively trying to justify a return to ‘more of the same’ that contributed to all of the problems.

    The voters need to see through the subterfuge and in being objective and rational reject the irresponsibility and demand the Republican Party return to honestly representing the people. The only way they will ever get that message is when they are firmly rejected in the voting booths. The Tea Party movement has the right idea for action but when they seek to replace one set with another having the same loyalty, it becomes just a sham.

    As far as I am concerned it is about honesty and the Republican Party doesn’t even come close. The reality is that they haven’t for ten years and that has been very costly. We really can’t endure returning to ‘more of the same’.

    August 15, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    @vic – and we have the shrub and his cronies to thank for all this mess.
    Where's the outrage against them?
    The President is trying to clean up the mess. Why are people so quick to blame him for all the ills instead of helping and seeing that he wants the best of our country as opposed to the previous administration?

    August 15, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. w l jones

    A certian religion gave a country the right to enslave every black person in the Americas they found in the name of the church although they had been living on this land for over one hundred thousand years. Are we to comdem the whole intitution for a few.

    August 15, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. T'SAH from Virginia

    Actually, there are 3.9 million jobs available out there – Why aren't the people unemployed working?????? Find something else to blame on the 'unemployment' in America.

    "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."

    Why does ANYONE – including the Tea Party – always engage in other state's business???

    When did MUSLIMS bomb the WTC??? White America is so quick to put the blame on any color that is not theirs and conclude the 'other' color is the problem!!! Muslims DID NOT bomb the WTC – please get it straight!! Also, the far-right maniacs are trying to SWITCH UP what President Obama stated – Jeez. NOW, because of what he said, he's a Muslim!!!

    This country is is TROUBLE as long as the fear-mongerers continue to show how ignorant they are and the people of America believe it!!

    August 15, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. SFRich

    The Republicans want to turn Social Security over to that sector of "industry" that manipulates money. I say industry to illustrate that the US really has little traditional industry (steel, precision tools, manufacturing, etc.) remaining other than the financial industry. If you want to build a bridge in America, you get the steel from China. The majority of cars in the world are built outside the US. These are some of the reasons our balance of trade is so out of whack.

    Since the '80s, America's biggest business growth has been in finances. Those in the financial sector have been very creative in conjuring up ways of making more money off of money in very irresponsible ways. Derivatives trading and the reselling of mortgages were very damaging to the economy, but very good for those brokering their trade.

    The REPUBLICANS want to give these guys access to the social security funds, all in the name of "securing" them for the future. This would be nothing more than a gamble with the future of workers who have paid into social security over the course of their lifetime of labor. And just like Las Vegas, the odds in winning this game are tilted in favor of those "managing" the money. In the stock market, the only SURE winners are those brokering the deals.

    Haven't we seen enough of the damage these "traders in greed" have caused?

    August 15, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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