Panel on the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

By Special Report w/Bret Baier, Special Report w/Bret Baier - December 12, 2012


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 12, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R "“ OH, HOUSE SPEAKER: The president's called for $1.4 trillion worth of revenue. That cannot pass the House or the Senate.


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: President Obama and House Speaker Boehner continuing to play and replay their roles in the ground hog day drama of the fiscal cliff.  And we're back now with our panel. So Nina, and I'm going to keep asking or Bret will keep asking this until we don't have to ask anymore. Any progress today?

NINA EASTON, COLUMNIST, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: There wasn't much. It sounds like there wasn't much at all. I think one possible way out for Republicans on this is to agree to something like the Buffett rule, which would set a minimum tax, 30, percent on millionaires and above. And that way you're not raising rates on everybody, but that doesn't raise enough revenue so then you get back to spending cuts.

And what I found fascinating today was that you look outside what is happening in the internal negotiations and you see the kind of pressure on this White House. Nancy Pelosi goes on an assault in an op-ed today about raising the age on Medicare. We are not doing that. Absolutely off the table. You see Senator Jay Rockefeller, Henry Waxman in the House saying do not touch Medicaid, which by the way is bankrupting the states and squeezing educational money and school money. So they have taken those off the table, which leads maybe some cost of living adjustment on Medicare, Social Security and not much else. So, I think that is where we are now.

WALLACE: Jeff, from your reporting, where do you get a sense of where we're headed in all this?

JEFF ZELENY, NEW YORK TIMES: There was a troubling sign that was the message of a closed door meeting today, where Speaker Boehner said that the members should leave their Christmas decorations up and that they should plan to stay in.

I think that one challenge for Speaker Boehner here, he is beginning to face some rumblings of trouble on the right. So far I think they have been able to do a good job sort of holding everyone together on this. But some of the members of the House Republican caucus that were very outspoken after this closed door meeting, telling reporters that Speaker Boehner, you know, is responsible for this, is not negotiating hard enough. So he has problems sort of on both flanks.

But I think that -- I think there is still time. It's December 12, I guess. So I think that by the end of the week, you know, if there isn't sort of some more agreement it's a problem. But I still think both sides have the impetus to do something, to get some type of agreement to keep the cliff from happening.

WALLACE: Let me, before I bring --


ZELENY: nbsp; -- the speaker and the president still have some room for agreement.

WALLACE: Before I bring Charles in, let me just ask you about this. Boehner raised that question. Some of these things the president's asking for I couldn't get through the House anyway. If he can make a deal with the president, and it's going to still be painful, even if it is a $1.4 trillion in new revenue, can he get it through the House? And how much danger is he in of losing the speakership if he doesn't stand firm enough to the president?

ZELENY: I think he could be in fair bit of danger here. And the question is, if he is willing to get something through the House without having a majority of his caucus for this. It's the Hastert rule if you will. Speaker Hastert would never bring something through unless there was a majority of Republicans there to support it so --

WALLACE: A majority of the majority.

ZELENY: A majority of the majority. So I think of course his speakership could be threatened here. One of the kind of side stories of this at least here in Washington is the majority leader, Eric Cantor, has been not as front and center in these negotiations at all. Is he waiting in the wings to help things out? Is he waiting in the wings to sort of be there if Speaker Boehner falls? It's one of the intrigues here. But Speaker Boehner is committed, I think, to doing this. And if it costs him the speakership at some point my guess is so be it.

WALLACE: Really? That is interesting.

ZELENY: It's not his preferred course here but he has been in Washington a long time. And I think he sees how real a problem this is.

WALLACE: Fox News has a new poll out tonight and there are some interesting results. Let's put them up on the screen. When people are asked what is the best way to deal with the deficit, 69 percent say, not surprisingly, raise taxes on the wealthy. That doesn't affect them. 65 percent say cut government workers. 56 percent call for changes to Social Security, 51 percent raise the eligibility age for Medicare. So there is a lot of support for all the tough measures here.

And when it comes to entitlement reforms 46 percent favor major cuts even if it's going to hurt and be tough on people, including 59 percent of Republicans, while 40 percent say keep the funding and just pass the debt on to our children including 52 percent of Democrats. Charles, what does that tell you?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Let me just start by saying asking us every day for a daily update on the cliff is like covering every day a tortoise 10k.


KRAUTHAMMER: You know, tortoise A has advanced a neck length while the other has gone a full shell. Obama is running out the clock. In your polls, it is clear that you can look and find support for any position you want. Yes, the strongest support is for raising taxes on the rich. So that's going to happen. But remember, the Republicans caved on that on the day after Election Day and offering almost $1 trillion in revenues. And you do get people saying that is not enough by 10 to one in the poll. They say but you have to also have to have spending cuts.

And that is where Obama is running out the clock. You get, as Nina indicated, some prominent Democrats saying we're not going move on the major issues on any kind of entitlement reform. And you get the president offering about half a trillion in cuts over 10 years. Now this is a government that is going to spend over the decade about $45 trillion and is going to have about "“ already has about $16 trillion in debt an offering half a trillion in cuts. That's not serious. And unless Obama moves on that nothing is going to happen. We are going to go over Niagara Falls.

WALLACE: I'm not going to be here tomorrow. Bret, thankfully, will be back, but my guess is he's going to ask about the tortoise race and who's ahead by a neck.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's neck and neck right now.

Read Full Article »

Latest On Twitter

Follow Real Clear Politics

Real Clear Politics Video

More RCP Video Highlights »