Guests: Feinstein, Graham, Rogers and Geithner

By Face the Nation, Face the Nation - December 2, 2012

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on December 2, 2012, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. Then, a roundtable discussion with the Campaign to Fix the Debt's Maya MacGuineas, Moody's Mark Zandi, Rana Foroohar of TIME magazine, and CBS News political director John Dickerson.

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner laid out the administration's opening offer on how to solve the nation's debt crisis, then did a round of interviews with the networks. And it wasn't at all what the Republicans wanted to hear. Basically Geithner said no way to cut a deal without raising taxes on upper income Americans. Even so, he said he's optimistic some kind of deal can be reached by the end of the year. And he said 98 percent of Americans will not see a tax rate increase.

Here's what he told us when we sat down with him.


GEITHNER: I do think we're going to get there, because the only thing that stands in the way of an agreement that's good for the American economy is if a group of Republicans decide they're going to block any increase in tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. I think it's unlikely they choose to do, that of course, because there's so much at stake.

SCHIEFFER: But I mean, in all seriousness, I'm told that Mitch McConnell laughed when you handed him this proposal. Is that in fact true?

GEITHNER: People say it's really - he smiles, but again - and you know they're in a hard position, Bob, you know they really are in a difficult position. And they're going to have to figure out their politics of what they do next. And they're trying to figure that out right now. But you know we're going to work very hard at this. And we're going to keep talking to each other. And, again, I think we have a very good chance for coming together on an agreement that not just protects 98 percent of Americans from a tax increase and protects the economy from deeply damaging upfront spending cuts and protects the economy from leaving us vulnerable to, you know, periodic threats of defaults by politicians, I think we can do better than that and do something good for the long-term future of the American economy.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think Democrats will support these tax increases?

GEITHNER: The tax increases in the president's plan? Oh, yeah, absolutely.


GEITHNER: Again, if you listen carefully to the political debate, there's very broad-based support now and recognition of the need to let rates go up. We think they should go back to the Clinton levels and combine that with some tax reforms that limit deductions for the wealthiest Americans. But that's an essential part of any balanced agreement to bring down (inaudible). Now that's not enough. We think we can go beyond that and lock in some carefully designed savings that helps us go back to living within our means. And the president has laid out a very detailed, comprehensive plan for how best to do that. He has put on the table it $600 billion in savings on top of the $1 trillion that we enacted last year. And they're very detailed. And they're very well designed.

SCHIEFFER: But what gives you reason for optimism? I mean, Speaker Boehner says this is basically a stalemate.

GEITHNER: It's true that we're still a bit apart. And they're going to have to move further. And they're trying to figure out, again, what they do next in this context. Again, we've given them a very detailed, comprehensive set of proposals. We're open to suggestions on how to do it differently. If they want to come back and say we'd like you to do this differently, do more of this, then they should lay this out for us.

SCHIEFFER: What is it what cannot change in your plan?

GEITHNER: Oh, in our plan?

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