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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
No Vote Tonight on Debt Plan
Aired July 28, 2011 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening, everyone. If you're just joining us, breaking news tonight: the headline, "no vote, not yet, not tonight, delayed again". House Speaker John Boehner working hard tonight, twisting arms but could not get enough of his own fellow Republicans to vote for a debt reduction bill -- his own debt reduction bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The bill is not perfect. I've never said it was perfect. Nobody in my caucus believes it's perfect. But what this bill reflects is a sincere, honest effort to end this crisis in a bipartisan way, to send it to the Senate where it can receive action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The vote was scheduled for yesterday, rescheduled for early this evening, put on hold again so the leadership could wrangle votes then put on hold yet again at about half past 10:00 Eastern Time.
Yesterday Speaker Boehner told the troops to quote, "get their asses in line". Not enough Republicans have and now his credibility is certainly on the line. Most of the opposition coming from Tea Party supporters -- raw, open and direct rebellion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: We want to make sure we never get here again. We -- I want to support something that makes sure we never get here again.
REP. CONNIE MACK (R), FLORIDA: The deal is on the -- that is on the table makes the hole deeper. And so don't -- you shouldn't expect people, who believe that we should balance the budget, to vote for a deal that makes the hole deeper.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I can't support this plan. I would love to be able to support Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor. I have to have something that transcends election cycles. I can't support it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, over on the Democratic-controlled Senate side they're waiting to go get a House bill simply so they can vote no on it. Then experts say the real bargaining could begin on some kind of compromise that both the House and the Senate might agree on. But now that is on hold at least until tomorrow.
And the stakes keep rising. Dow Industrials lost another 62 point today. Five straight down days for the market, just four days until the debt clock runs out.
A lot of ground to cover tonight with congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan; chief national correspondent, John King, host of "John King USA"; also political analyst, Gloria Borger; and our own Jeffrey Toobin who is with me in New York.
Kate, let me start with you. What's happening right now on Capitol Hill? Have they all gone home now?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: People think that they're maybe heading home but meetings are still happening. We know that the leadership they're still meeting, they're still talking because they still -- it doesn't seem like they still know the path forward. They're still working on either trying to build support around this bill or figuring out some way possibly to maybe even to change it in order to win over support.
The fact of the matter is they've been at this for hours and they have still not been able to twist enough arms to be confident that they have the votes to support it. I just spoke to Indiana Congressman Mike Pence who is walking out -- who had been in the Speaker's office for quite some time.
He said that the concerns differ member to member. But they are going to stand by their principles that they want to make sure that the cuts are greater than the amount the debt ceiling is increased and that they're going to go at it again tomorrow --
BOLDUAN: -- with a special conference meeting being called at 10:00 a.m. But for now, for all intents and purposes, talks may be happening but there is no vote tonight.
John King, what does this mean exactly, I mean for the Republican Party and for the chance of actually getting some sort of a deal?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It means we not only have divided government in Washington that complicates things, we have a divided Republican Party in Washington which complicates things even more. Anderson, I just got an e-mail from a top House Republican aide who says we'll get guidance later tonight still on the schedule for tomorrow. They say, "When they took the majority we promised to end the practice of forcing substantial bills through the House in the dark of night. And we take that pledge seriously". That is spin. Spin and more spin.
They don't have the votes -- and I don't mean that disrespectfully -- they don't have the votes so they're going back to the drawing board. I'm told they are discussing revisions to the plan the Speaker hoped to vote on today. How significant are those revisions? We don't know.
And another lead told me we'll meet with our members tomorrow and we'll go from there, meaning get a good night's sleep. Let's come back and wrestle tomorrow.
And as they wait in the Senate, I talked to a top Republican aide there who said it's hard to tell. We'll start over in the morning. The "hard to tell" was an answer to the question does the Boehner plan still live past tomorrow or do you need to now, Anderson, say forget about it and hit the reset button and try some different, more dramatic plan.
COOPER: Gloria, what -- what do you make of this?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes I'm hearing the same things that John is hearing. And there are -- there are some freshmen who really are saying, look, we want more reassurance that we can get the votes we want to get on the balanced budget amendment; this is key to them. It's very important principle to them. And, you know, some freshmen are saying maybe we ought to tie it to the second vote on the debt limit.
And so I think what you're seeing is lots of people throwing lots of things out to the Speaker. And the reason you have a rules committee hearing is so that you can change the bill and you can alter it.
And I think the Speaker clearly understands that if he's going to pass this, and of course we all know it's going to go nowhere in the Senate, but if he's going to pass this he's going to -- he's going to have to do some tinkering with the bill to make it stronger to get that freshmen support.
COOPER: Jeff, is it possible for the President to just raise the debt ceiling under the 14th Amendment?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this -- this has become a very big subject in the law professor world. The 14th Amendment is one of the most familiar parts of the Constitution, guarantees due process of law, equal protection of the law.
But there is frankly a provision in Section 4 that I have never paid any attention to before. And it goes like this. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment says, "The validity of the public debt of the United States shall not be questioned".
Now, I don't know exactly what that means. I don't think anybody knows precisely what that means. But it has been suggested that under that provision, President Obama could simply order that the debt be paid and that this crisis be forestalled.
He has mostly rejected that option, but as far as I've read their statements, they have not completely rejected that option. Obama has always said, look, I think this should be dealt with by Congress, not by unilaterally under the 14th Amendment.
But under their -- my reading of their statements, they haven't completely ruled out in a total crisis situation invoking the section of the amendment and ordering the debt paid, at least in the short term.
COOPER: It would obviously raise a lot of concerns and I think I saw Michele Bachmann saying that he would be -- the President would be a dictator if he did that. It could be legally challenged.
TOOBIN: Well, it -- well, it certainly could be grounds for impeachment. And I don't say that facetiously. I mean, there are certainly members of Congress who would regard this as an impeachable offense.
It is not clear that anyone would have the standing, the legal right, to go to a court and say that a court would stop the President from doing this. Certainly impeachment would be a remedy and there would be people talking about it. I'm not sure any court would actually use this, entertain a challenge on the standing.
COOPER: John how much about what -- what's going on over the last -- tonight and the last couple nights on Capitol Hill has been about wanting to kind of avoid getting the blame for or getting the credit for some sort of a deal? I mean from the Republican perspective, from the Democratic perspective?
KING: Well, there's no question -- well, you've seen the President giving speeches to the nation coming into the White House briefing room quite frequently in recent days, something he doesn't do all that often. He has been trying very carefully to portray the public image of the man in the middle, the grownup who is willing to say, hey, Democrats you're going to have to cut some Medicare, cut some Social Security. Hey, Republicans I want you to raise a little tax revenue.
He has done and most people give him credit, public opinion polling reflects, the President has positioned himself smartly here in the middle. But he needs a deal. He's a President who is going to be campaigning for re-election with unemployment somewhere in the ballpark of 9 percent. Any further jitters to the economy further undermine the President's re-election prospects.
In terms of the House and the Senate that's all we've had in recent days. The Republicans want to pass their plan in the House and say that Democrats won't do enough cutting, they won't do enough or they want to raise taxes. The Republicans want to say that John Boehner is hostage to the Tea Party.
So what you have right now is finger-pointing and a clock ticking toward a deadline that is significant. How significant? God forbid we might have to find out.
BORGER: And Anderson, there's absolutely no trust right now between the parties and between Republicans and the President of the United States. And I think what you see is a lot of Republicans who say, look, we gave up so much when we did all those compromises in the lame-duck session. And we don't think we're going to get the cuts that we were promised then.
And so they really don't trust the President and so they want everything in writing. And they don't trust the Democrats in the Senate. And so you have this huge ideological chasm to the point where they're even interpreting public opinion differently.
I mean Republicans believe they'll come out on top in all of this. The public will blame Barack Obama. And the White House believes that the public will blame the Republican Party.
COOPER: And Kate, we don't know how many votes they still need, correct?
BOLDUAN: We don't know. And I asked -- I actually asked Congressman Pence that point-blank. And he said stay tuned. I mean, they think that they will actually -- they hope however they're going to rework this or twist more arms if that's even possible that they're going to get these votes.
But the fact of the matter is and probably what's so frustrating for people that have been watching this, is that if this bill passes as we now know it, it's still going nowhere in the Senate. So while this process has been unraveling, we've been watching it, and it's been quite a wild night, still the clock is ticking.
And at some point the leaders of both the House and the Senate are going to have to realize this. And if they are going to beat this deadline they are going to have to come together and make some decision, despite the fact that we're still talking about John Boehner's bill and we haven't even gotten over to the Senate to start talking about Senator Harry Reid's bill if he's even going to be taking this up at this point.
TOOBIN: Yes, I'm just -- and speaking of going nowhere, we've been hearing still from House Republicans that we need a vote on the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The odds of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution passing are exactly zero.
I mean it has no chance of getting through the Senate. And it has no chance of getting three-quarters of the states to ratify it which is what it takes for a constitutional amendment. So the idea that a vote on the balanced budget amendment should have anything to do with the resolution of what is a real crisis is frankly unbelievable because it is just fantasy land. It has nothing to do with what might actually be passed into law.
COOPER: So what actually may happen, John? And what are the -- what are the options? There's the Boehner bill. They change it. They amend it. They get enough votes tomorrow. They pass it. It goes to the Senate where -- where it's tabled. What happens then?
KING: Then Reid can pass his plan or he can defeat the Republican plan, then he can bring his plan up. Probably doesn't have 60 votes to pass it in the Senate at that point in the ritual of Washington that's when normally real negotiations begin. That's why the White House even though it doesn't like the Boehner plan wanted it dispensed of tonight. They didn't want to go through another day in the House with the Republican wrangling.
And so we're watching this go forward, Anderson, the bigger picture is at a time when the country desperately needs leadership, all the key leaders are weakened. The Pew Center today have a poll out showing, you know President Obama now dropping in the generic 2012 ballot question. We know his disapproval rating is up. We know his handling of the economy disapproval is up. So you have a weakened President.
And now you see tonight in full public display the weakening of the Republican Speaker of the House, the man who just took the Speaker's gavel with such great ceremony back in January, the leader of the new Republican majority.
So you have two weakened leaders who are the two most important people in the conversation right now. And from that, from that we go forward with a great deal of uncertainty and a deadline right around the corner.
BORGER: And you know what, Anderson, trust in government? The numbers on trust in government are at an all-time low.
COOPER: Well, that's saying a lot.
BORGER: And I think we can see why. Right, that's saying a lot. And I -- I -- we see why; just by watching this kind of circus play out. And it's got to play out because there are -- each side -- each side believes what it believes. But in the end, the public is watching this and saying, you know, this isn't what we voted for, either.
COOPER: Gloria why couldn't the Democrats in the Senate come up, you know, go forward on their plan now ignoring what's happening in the House?
BORGER: Well, they could. But they know it's not going to go anywhere -- they can't get 60 votes. It would get filibustered. And of course when I talked to a leadership aide in the Senate today he said, ok. Let's let the Republicans filibuster our bill and we could say they're filibustering the debt limit. And I said, ok. That's a great bumper sticker. But where does that get you in terms of extending the debt limit? And that's the point we really can't get to yet.
I think these things, it's like kabuki. It's got to play itself out to a certain degree. Let the House do its thing. Let the Senate do its thing. And then the real deal gets cut. Except -- except we don't have any time left, right?
TOOBIN: Except it's four days to go.
TOOBIN: You know, that great Washington phrase, let it play itself out or let's see how it plays out. I mean, that was something for a month ago.
TOOBIN: I mean we're out of time.
BORGER: Right. Exactly. Yes, exactly we are.
COOPER: It certainly seems that way.
KING: But this has been built from the beginning to be a last- minute thing because both sides are going to have to vote for things they don't want to. So this is unfortunately, sadly, is built from the beginning to be a deadline thing.
BOLDUAN: And we're also hearing -- and I've heard from some of the leaders of the Senate that they think that in the end these things don't work themselves out on the House or the Senate floor. In the end, these big votes, these work themselves out by the leaders coming together and sitting in a room and finally making a deal; but when that's going to happen we all wonder.
Kate, Gloria, John, Jeffrey, thanks very much. You're going to hear from Congressman Ron Paul momentarily as we've been talking about tonight. He and other opponents of the bill believe the measure simply does not go far enough. Some don't think we should raise the debt limit at all. Some, Congressman Paul included, downplay some of the consequences of blowing through the current ceiling. All say they are doing what the voters told them to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not be casting my vote for that bill. I cannot. I am committed to not raising the debt ceiling. I don't believe for a moment that we will lose the full faith and credit of the United States. WALSH: We know in August our government's going to have plenty of revenues to service our debt, take care of our military and take care of our senior citizens.
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: Well, I love my Speaker and I have deep respect for our leadership. But I just feel so strongly about this and I think I'm trying to do what's right for the American people.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: Politically we're told, gee, this is the political thing to do. You've got to do the political thing. You -- if you don't vote for the Boehner bill you're voting for Obama. That's not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas who went into a meeting today with Speaker Boehner saying he'd been called to the principal's office, he came out saying his vote was still no. Quote, "A bloody, beaten down no".
Congressman Ron Paul was also no on the bill; we spoke earlier shortly before tonight's vote was postponed.
COOPER: So Congressman, you're not willing to support the Boehner bill at this point. Why?
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, it raises the debt limit. And I've made too many promises I wouldn't raise the debt limit. I've never voted for the Appropriation Bill and I've been worried about our spending for many, many years if not decades.
So I think that would only encourage people to spend more money. If debt is the problem, raising the debt limit by $2.4 billion -- I don't see how it can be a solution.
COOPER: You -- you talk about obviously the principles behind you're not supporting it. Is part of your thinking, though, also politics of what happens to the bill in the Senate and what happens after that?
PAUL: No. I think that's sort of not much of my concern. That's what most of what's going on here is all the politics. I've heard that they already know what they'll finally come out of this but they have to go up to the last minute to see who gets blamed for whatever and see who can get the best edge. But I think the leaders have more or less agreed on something to raise the debt limit.
COOPER: You think regardless of what you vote, regardless of whether or not the Boehner bill moved forward tonight, that the debt limit will still be raised?
PAUL: Yes. One way or the other, yes; they're going to raise it. They will -- they will not default by not paying their bills. Governments our size and in this much debt always default in a different manner. The default has to come, but they'll default by paying the bills off with bad money so we're constantly defaulting and we've done this over many, many years.
COOPER: You talked about the politics that are happening among other people on Capitol Hill right now. For folks who are watching at home, they see this -- a lot of the people see this as just pure politics going back and forth. Can you explain?
COOPER: I mean what is happening there right now? What are the politics behind all this?
PAUL: Well, I'm not an insider. I don't know the exact details.
COOPER: You're a congressman, though. You're pretty much an insider, aren't you?
PAUL: Yes. But I -- I don't -- I'm not in John Boehner's office. He doesn't ask me my opinion. But what my opinion is: is that they are trying to find out who's going to get blamed and who's going to get credit because they know they have to achieve something.
COOPER: What do you make of what's going on with the GOP, though? I mean what does it say about John Boehner as Speaker of the House or about who's -- I mean, who's in charge of the Republican Party if John Boehner the Speaker of the House can't -- can't wrangle his own members?
PAUL: Well, I think he has a tough job. He has a lot of new members. So even though I disagree with his answers and his programs, I sort of have a bit of sympathy for him trying to put them all together and get something passed.
But just think -- just think of what happened to Paul Ryan. He made a proposal and he got bashed pretty badly. So Boehner still has to put up with the Senate and the President and goes back and forth. It's a -- in many ways it's just a power struggle. Who's going to end up with the power in government and who's going to get blamed?
So that's -- that's what I see going on. But I think, you know, Speaker Boehner under the circumstances, he's -- he's probably earnestly trying to solve this problem. But it's an insolvable problem because we're bankrupt. Nobody wants to admit the real problem. We're bankrupt. And we can't continue spending. And even these temporary proposals won't address the subject that we will default, we won't default by not paying the bills, we will default by more inflation. And that is a serious problem.
COOPER: I want to play something that I know you heard, I'm sure you heard, John -- John McCain speaking on the floor yesterday. Let's just play that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all the blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced budget amendment and reform entitlements. And the Tea Party hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He was reading obviously from a "Wall Street Journal" editorial, but pretty harsh words about the influence of the Tea Party, the effect of the Tea Party right now on this debate. What do you make of what he said?
PAUL: He sounds angry. I'm pretty upset. And I haven't had the philosophy of sound money and personal liberty that I desire. But I hope I don't sound that angry. Because I think that we have to change people's ideas and change people's attitude about government and find out what the role of government ought to be.
See, nobody talks about, you know, in the midst of all this we should be talking about why we can't be the policemen of the world and why the entitlement system has to be totally revamped.
COOPER: Do you think the impact of these new members, these Tea Party members and sort of ideologically you were out in front of a lot of these folks, do you think it's been a good influence right now? Do you think it's a good positive effect what's happening right now, this dissension within the Republican Party? Do you think it's ultimately a good thing?
PAUL: I think so. It calls attention to our problems. I just hope we can follow through with the right answers. If it's all anger and screaming and blaming, it won't work; but if it comes to the conclusion that I've come to a long time ago that we have to change our attitude about what the role of government is and maybe we ought to just follow the constitution because that gives us a pretty good guide line. But we don't do that.
But I think the subject that the younger members bring up and the pressures, you know, put on dealing with the subject I think is very good because it brings us closer to that day when we decide the real issues.
COOPER: Congressman Ron Paul, appreciate your time. Thank you.
PAUL: Ok, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think. We're on Facebook you can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.
Just ahead, Congressman Joe Walsh, one of the Tea Party's freshmen who's voting "no".
And up next we'll talk to the Democrat who's promising that none of his members will support the Boehner bill if it comes up for a vote tomorrow. Steny Hoyer is next.
COOPER: Again, the breaking news tonight, House Republicans have put the vote on Speaker Boehner's debt reduction bill on hold again. Originally it was set for yesterday then this evening then late tonight. They might try again tomorrow. We'll see.
In any case, Democrats have made this bill the GOP's sole responsibility, saying not a single member will support it. Before tonight's vote was canceled, I talked about that prediction with House minority whip, Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
COOPER: And you said there will be no Democrat voting for the Boehner bill. Is that still the case tonight?
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: I believe it is, yes, Anderson. I think that the Democrats have clearly made a determination that this is a bad bill, a bad bill for the country. It doesn't represent any kind of a compromise. It doesn't represent any result of discussions that have occurred over the last months.
This is simply a Republican bill to seek the additional cuts which we need to make but we need to make those in a fashion that will not hurt people, will not undermine the operations of government while at the same time bringing down the debt and deficit.
But what we really see here, Anderson, in my opinion is the "party of no" not being able to agree even with itself much less with those it shares responsibility with in the Congress of the United States and with the President of the United States. And it does so at a time of great risk to America and to America's families. And that's deeply unfortunate.
COOPER: What do you make of what is going on in the Republican Party right now in terms of what you yourself are seeing on Capitol Hill? You've been on Capitol Hill, you know how it works. Have you ever seen anything like this?
HOYER: I don't think I've seen anything just like this with the stakes so very high and every leader in the Republican Party believing that we ought not to put the credit of the United States at risk and possibly default for the first time in the history of our country. I don't think I've seen leaders unable to lead their members in such a critical confrontation with measure's credit at risk.
Now, I will tell you this. The party of no has walked away repeatedly now when we've try to come to an agreement. And very frankly, TARP, the Temporary Asset Relief Program, which was very controversial but was requested by President George Bush, a Republican. And very frankly at that point in time when Ben Bernanke said if we didn't act we would go into a depression, not a recession but a depression. Very frankly two-thirds of the Republicans walked away from their own president at a time of crisis.
So there is some precedent for them not being able to get majorities at a time of crisis when their country is in trouble.
COOPER: How much though just on the Democratic side, though, is this about politics, about wanting the Boehner bill to go to the Senate where it's basically going to get tabled and then Senator Harry Reid moves forward on his version?
HOYER: Look, Anderson, the Democratic Party, its leadership and its members, believe that we have to get a handle on the deficit. We have to bring down our national debt. It's not sustainable. We understand that.
But we don't want to put the credit of the United States at risk in that process. In fact, it will lead us in the exact opposite direction. It will bring the economy further down. It will slow growth, slow revenues, and it will have the opposite effect of what the Republicans say they want to accomplish. And we know we want to accomplish.
And when you say it's politics, very frankly it's a tough vote. Because the public tends to think it means you're going to borrow more. In fact, lifting the debt as you know is simply about paying the bills we have already incurred. And Democrats voted overwhelmingly and very frankly I think there're well over 170 votes for a clean debt limit extension so that we make sure that America does not default on its obligations.
We believe that's the moral and fiscally responsible path to take. But at the same time, we are prepared to work with our Republican friends and address responsibly bringing down the deficit.
HOYER: The Gang of Six is a perfect example of that; the Bowles- Simpson Commission perfect examples of that where Democrats and Republicans joined together to make very substantive recommendations to bring the debt down.
COOPER: But a lot of Republicans are saying, look, a lot of these cuts that the Democrats are talking about are kind of phantom cuts, phantom savings based on savings on troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.
HOYER: Well, interestingly enough while they're calling the overseas contingency operation dollars phantom funds, Anderson, you may know they used those funds and put them in their own budget that they've already voted for and relied on.
COOPER: So where do you see this going? What do you think happens tonight? What do you think happens tomorrow? HOYER: Well, of course, I don't know what's going to happen tonight. Obviously the Republicans are meeting with themselves to see whether or not they have the votes to pass what John Boehner has offered as a purely partisan alternative. We were not involved in those discussions. We were not involved in the decisions.
And it's interesting that even in their own party it is deeply factionalized, deeply divided party; divided against their leadership, angry at their leadership. And a party that is divided itself has difficulty working with the President or working with us. And that's unfortunate. And the country is the poorer for it. And the image of America is poorer for it.
And I would hope that if they cannot get the votes or even if they can get the votes and the bill fails in the Senate that our Republican colleagues will sit down at the table with us and reach agreement, not walk away but reach agreement.
COOPER: Can John Boehner survive if -- as speaker if he's not able to get this passed; if he's not able to get his member on board?
HOYER: I don't know the answer to that, Anderson. But the question is not whether John Boehner can survive or whether Steny Hoyer can survive. The issue is: will the best interest of America survive? Will we have the courage to act responsibly so that America is and is perceived by the rest of the world as the leader they thought it was and want it to be?
COOPER: Congressman Hoyer, appreciate your time on a busy night. Thank you.
HOYER: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, how the White House is reacting to what's going on just up the avenue and Congressman Joe Walsh, one of the "no" votes tonight on Speaker Boehner's bill.
COOPER: Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois, a House freshman, a Tea Party favorite has been a loud voice in the rebellion that Speaker Boehner has been trying to tame. He joins me now.
What do you make of it? No vote tonight? Is that good news for you?
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: Hey, Anderson, I take a contrarian view. I think this entire debate is good. The Speaker is doing a great job trying to advocate for a plan. And the lobbying that they've been doing with each one of us has been very respectful.
My colleague Steny Hoyer who was on before, Anderson, I think he kept referring to us Republicans as the "party of no". I don't get that. The Republicans a week ago passed the only plan right now that's been passed out of a body of Congress up here. Look, I've been pretty clear on how I feel about this president. I think one of the major reasons why we're here in the 11th hour is because this guy has not led at all. The Senate Democrats haven't done anything.
You may not like what the Republicans have done, but they're the only folks in town who have been trying to deal with this debt ceiling issue.
COOPER: What would it take for you to support a Boehner plan? How would his plan have to change?
WALSH: I think for a lot of us, Anderson -- and again, it's a great first step -- but for a lot of us it's going to take systemic reform that makes sure we never get here again.
One of your prior guests said this isn't the old days anymore. This isn't the old days. I mean, step back for one minute and imagine how life would be different if these Republicans hadn't come to Congress this year. We would have raised the debt ceiling three, four, five, six, who knows how many trillion? We'd still be spending money like there's no tomorrow.
Thank God the Republicans came here and have changed the conversation.
COOPER: You're saying systemic reform. What exactly does that mean? I mean --
WALSH: That means -- Anderson, that means the only way we are going to get this town to change the way they spend money is bypassing a balanced budget amendment, by forcing both Houses every year to balance their books. It's part of "cut, cap and balance" again that the house passed with 234 votes last week.
COOPER: And is a potential default next week acceptable to you?
WALSH: I don't buy this notion of default. To me that's a false choice. Default means you can't service your debt. You can't pay off your debt, Anderson. And there's plenty of government revenues to do that.
One of the things that's been harmful in this debate is there's been this obsession with August 2nd. August 2nd. We need to get this right. We need a balanced budget amendment. If it takes us a few days more to make sure we get it right, let's do it.
COOPER: And if Moody's, if others downgrade U.S. credit rating?
WALSH: Well, a downgrade's serious, Anderson. And what the folks at Moody's and Standard & Poor's told us last week is, you may get downgraded even if you raise the debt ceiling. If you raise this debt ceiling and don't get serious about spending, in all likelihood you will get downgraded. "Cut, cap and balance" met the credit agency's criteria to avoid a downgrade.
COOPER: Congressman Joe Walsh, I appreciate you sticking around for us tonight. Thank you so much.
WALSH: Thank you Anderson.
COOPER: Appreciate it.
A lot to talk about still; we're going to be live in the 11:00 hour to continue with this breaking news. No vote tonight, a very tense night on Capitol Hill and at the White House. More details ahead.
COOPER: More now on breaking news. No vote tonight in House Speaker John Boehner's debt plan. He doesn't have enough GOP support. The vote put on hold yet again.
We're joined by chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, and senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Jessica I want to ask you, our previous guest Carly Fiorina was talking about a meeting at the White House I think on Sunday that she said was Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who came up with a plan and the President passed on it. Is that true?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the President was willing to make some -- the President was willing to move forward on certain plans. But there was a lot of -- they needed agreement with the Republicans in order to go forward. And the fundamental breakdown was that they didn't have that agreement.
There's a lot of backward looking we could do at this point, Anderson. But the bottom line is, right now at the White House there's enormous frustration. Because what they're looking at is the clock ticking and the fact that Speaker Boehner has a bill that in their view couldn't get any Democratic votes, couldn't get through the senate. And he couldn't get Republicans at this point to even sign onto the bill. So why are they in their view wasting all this time still on a bill that was just going to get Republican support?
The question now is what does the President do? What's the President's next move? Will he call a meeting of leaders? How involved does he get?
My information from sources at this point is he has not planned to call leaders; he has not called leaders to the White House yet for any meetings in the coming days. That could change. When he was in the middle of things it didn't get a deal done so he took a different tact, let the House and the Senate try to do it on their own. Maybe he'll get more involved tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see. He's been monitoring events from the residence.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin joins us as well. Jeff what do you make of all this.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean just one of the things that's so interesting about what's happening now is how much our whole political dialogue has moved to the right since the 2010 elections. I mean, when President Obama gave his speech, he said I want a balanced approach. I want some revenues and some budget cuts.
Well, the revenues are gone. There are no more tax increases in the Boehner plan. There are no more tax increases until the Reid plan. Even that is not conservative enough for the House Republicans.
So what makes this so perilous is that the Republicans can't even coalesce on a plan that clearly has no chance of passing the Senate or getting approved by President Obama. So you think, how does this get solved when even Boehner's plan failed, when clearly Reid's plan or anything that comes out of the Senate is going to be to the left of what Boehner's plan failed at today.
COOPER: There are a number of Republicans who have been concerned that they're being set up to take the blame for whatever eventually happens.
TOOBIN: Well, you know, maybe that's because they deserve the blame. I mean, you've got to pass something. And John Boehner with great fanfare said, we're going to pass something today. Well, they couldn't get anything done.
I mean, whatever you think about President Obama is that he can't sign something that hasn't been passed by Congress. And neither the House nor the Senate at this point has any plan that is it seems three days away remotely likely to get to his desk.
And as Jessica said, he's frustrated but, you know, ultimately this is Congress's job to try to get something passed.
COOPER: And Jessica, tomorrow morning what happens? Do we know -- at the White House?
YELLIN: Well, tomorrow morning first of all they're watching the markets. I mean who knows how the markets are going to react to this? Part of what the downgrade potential is about is the inability for Washington to function. So the markets could go haywire simply over this. So there's some anxiety about that.
I wouldn't be surprised if we do see the President come out and make some kind of statement. They're not advising that but, you know, I wouldn't be surprised. And we could see the President call people back to the White House for another meeting and try to knock heads or try to forge a compromise. Who knows what the path forward will be?
The big question is, will the U.S. Senate try to break off and just go on its own? Until now Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, has waited for Speaker Boehner to sort of get his vote over with and then he can proceed on his own. But maybe at this point, who knows, maybe Senator Reid will say, you know what -- enough. I'm going to go on my own and stop waiting.
COOPER: Jessica Yellin at the White House, Jeff Toobin as well. Thanks.
We're going to continue to follow the breaking news; we're going to be live into our 11:00 hour.
Also ahead, other stories making news: a bizarre day in the child sexual assault trial of Warren Jeffs, the leader of that polygamous sect.
And an Army private who was AWOL was arrested in Texas not for skipping base. Police say he was found with a stash of weapons and was planning to use them against U.S. Troops.
COOPER: Let's check in some other stories we're following. Tom Foreman has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson.
Texas police say a Muslim American army private planned to attack fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. 21-year-old Nasser Abdo was arrested after a gun shop tipped off police that he looked suspicious and purchased a lot of ammunition. Abdo was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Police believe he was acting alone.
Tomorrow in Norway police will interview Anders Breivik for the second time. He's suspected of killing at least 76 people in two attacks last Friday.
Inside a Texas courtroom today, Warren Jeffs fired his defense team and opted to represent himself in his child sexual assault trial. But when it was time for him to present his opening statement he refused. Jeffs is the leader of a fundamentalist Mormon sect.
The trustee trying to recover money from Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme reached a settlement with one of the funds that fed investor money to Madoff. Tremont Group Holdings has agreed to pay $1 billion to the victim's compensation fund.
And speaking of money, someone offer a bid for nearly $1 million to buy this rubber rendering of Casey Anthony's face. The mask was auctioned on eBay. Now we'll see if they actually come through with the money.
COOPER: I don't understand that at all. Why would someone do that?
FOREMAN: I don't know. It doesn't make any sense.
COOPER: Yes. Up next, Perry's Principles: college rankings, do they do more harm than good? Both sides of that debate, when we continue.
COOPER: Well, where to attend college is one of the most important decisions in a student's life. A lot of families turn to "U.S. News and World Report's" annual rankings of the best college but what makes them the best? In this week's "Perry's Principles" education contributor and school principal, Steve Perry tells us how the rankings are created and he talks to someone who thinks they're hurting higher education.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rankings doesn't really matter as much to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I find them generally to be pretty accurate.
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR (on camera): What is your issue with the rankings?
LLOYD THACKER, DIRECTOR, THE EDUCATION CONSERVANCY: They are put together to sell magazines, not to improve education.
PERRY: How could you say that? They're based upon what?
THACKER: The process of college admissions has been commercialized to the nth degree and that's been led by "U.S. News and the World Report".
PERRY (voice-over): Lloyd Thacker leads The Education Conservancy. They say the rankings have become a beauty pageant where some students feel pressured to choose their college based off numbers instead of their own values.
(on camera): There's a group called Education Conservancy?
ROBERT MORSE, DIRECTOR, DATA RESEARCH, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: They don't like the rankings.
PERRY: They think it's a crock.
MORSE: It's true that the rankings have become a big brand for U.S. News. But they've become a brand because there is a void of information. We sort of made many, many schools -- people more aware that there's a lot of schools out there in all shapes and sizes.
PERRY (voice-over): According to Robert Morse, the rankings are fair because they're based on a combination of reputation, graduation rates, faculty resources and endowments among other things. And he says they should be just one of the many factors students consider before deciding on a school.
When we hit the streets to find out what students thought, the results were mixed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's always that, I don't know, strive to get into the school that's ranked one higher than the next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think in my opinion it's kind of stupid, yes. It is. You know, it shouldn't be that way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The college ranking might easily sway a college student to choose one school over another.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bias. Yes, a little bit bias tainted, kind of stereotypical but important.
MORSE: We believe that we're producing something for consumers and that's our main mission. I don't think it's this pivotal force in admissions even though it's a factor.
THACKER: What it does is it turns students into customers, education into products, and gaining admission to the most selective college a prize that must be won.
COOPER: Steve, obviously parents and student have a lot to consider before picking the right college. What's the best way to go about it?
PERRY: This is a tough time, Anderson. Because economically parents want to know what's the best place to spend their money. And they don't know which school is best because they believe reputation goes a long way. So I do believe that "U.S. News and World Report" can provide a guide but shouldn't be seen as the only method of making a decision, especially if you've never been to college.
It's a good thing to just take a look at it and get a sense for what values you feel you're going to get. But ultimately you got to go visit the school. You got to make the decision based upon what feels right for your child on campus.
COOPER: Yes. Even if a school isn't on some top of some list somewhere, if you make the most of it, if you excel at that school, that's better than doing terribly at some school that does have, you know, a higher ranking. I mean college is kind of what you make of it.
PERRY: It's more than kind of what you make of it. It's exactly what you make of it. There are great students at every school from community colleges to online colleges to Ivy League schools. And we find that when children decide to go to a school where there's a good fit, they feel like they belong there, they tend to get involved in extracurricular activities and make friends on campus and get involved with the professors who can provide a great reference later on in life. So you're right. It does depend on where you go to school. But it's more important what you do with where you go to school.
COOPER: Yes. Principal Perry, thanks.
PERRY: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, that does it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow night.