Hardball | November 29, 2012
>>> back to "hardball." let's take making a deal here for all that at home who want to see republicans and democrats work together to avoid the fiscal cliff, we can bring you two lawmakers who are open to cutting a deal before the end of the year. with me are members from both sides of the aisle u.s. congressman lee tori, a republican from nebraska, and u.s. congressman jerry conley a democrat from nearby southern virginia . but first, i want to start with you. you told the omaha world herald this about republicans, we're screwed either way we have no leverage in these discussions. congressman, what did you mean by that?
>> what i mean by that is that the president wants us to take a tax vote before he's willing to talk about anything else cutting or reforming, and republicans just aren't going to do that. so what he's doing is setting us up to be the fall people for going over the fiscal cliff. frankly, going over the fiscal cliff is a win for the president. so either way we're going to get it.
>> but i don't see why that's true because -- first of all, the president has talked around what kind of cuts he wants to do in nondefense discretionary and about a third of a tral dollars in ten years of entitlements. he's talked along those lines. if he doesn't give you a definition and details by the time you go to vote, obviously you won't vote for it. what's your risk? he's got to get in the pot, too, with his part of the deal. well before the end of the year.
>> yeah, i think he wins by playing the political games because --
>> what game?
>> you've met -- well, the setting up -- saying that we have to take a tax vote before he's even willing to discuss anything else.
>> you said he wants to vote on that without the package being prepared.
>> well, that's right. he wants us -- he said that the other day, that he wants us to take that tax vote to prove our sincerity. well, i'll tell you what. if he comes with a big package that does raise revenues, a lot of us are going to vote for that if it's good enough.
>> i disagree with the president. i'm with you on that then. look, if he wants a separate vote, i agree with him -- i agree with you guys because i think -- let me ask you from your point of view, would you agree for high income people above a quarter million a year, would you vote for a 38% marginal rate ? would you accept something like that as a compromise with something perhaps a higher cap on medicare payments? would you accept something like that?
>> i think those are all part of the discussion here, and we'll be open to a lot of different things as long as we get the big deal on this, that we make those type of reforms. i'd rather see tax reform than just saying we're going to increase the rate on the top level from --
>> i know you would.
>> -- 35 to 38.
>> that won't work. the liberals will never deal with you unless you raise the rates. they want to see the bite marks on your neck. they want to know you guys defending the rich will pay a price before they will pay. the pelosi core of the democratic party will not deal if the president doesn't get a rise in the rates for rich 350e78.
>> we feel the same way about them. we don't trust they will have ernest discussions about tax cuts -- i'm sorry -- about real spending cuts, and so setting --
>> let me bring in mr. --
>> just isn't going to work.
>> i don't know about this game of who is first. somebody is going to have to go first. let me ask you plshtion conley, how do you react to what he's saying there, first of all? that make it is simple?
>> well, i certainly can understand congressman terry's concern, but i think the election is over. the president won the election, and there weren't a lot of explicits in this campaign, but one that there was was the president explicitly saying, i was at three rallies with him in virginia, i think the better off the higher income tax brackets ought to pay a little bit to help us with this fiscal cliff. he campaigned and won on that premise. public opinion polling shows the public is with him on that. let's get beyond the campaigning, let's get beyond the name calling and try to settle that so that the 98% whose taxes will stay low can stay low.
>> let me ask you both if you agree on this. the importance of getting this done before christmas and not letting this go slinking off beyond january 1st . you first, mr. terry.
>> yeah, i want to get this done, and i think the people want us to get this done. so i don't want to punt it. i don't want to push it into next year. let's get the discussions rolling, let's get the big deal done. that's what the people want us to do.
>> well, i hope you can get your business community behind you because they're the unlikely allies of the president here. it's tom donohue and the --
>> they want it done.
>> i know. they have to get republicans to vote for a deal early. will the liberals vote for anything unless they get a rise in the tax for the top people?
>> well, really, i can only speak for myself, chris, but my sense of the caucus is there are strong feelings about protecting entitlements from depredations on the other side and they want to be very clear about the details, but i think there's also a willingness to work with the president and support the president in his leadership in averting the fiscal cliff and i agree with mr. terry, we want to get this done before the end of the year so that we're not roiling markets, not disrupting people's planning for the next calendar year, and we're not having anybody's taxes go up in the middle class .
>> let me get the timing right plshtion terry. you're in the majority. are you being advised by your whips there are going ton tough votes right near christmas eve or some coming back after christmas before the 31st in some crazy christmas week chaos? in other words are you being advised the big votes will come before christmas ?
>> our leadership and our conference has said there hasn't been any substantive discussions and so we don't know when this is going to be over.
>> well, that's not very heartening.
>> no, it isn't.
>> i'm watching the stock market -- you know what i'm told by my financial adviser and i trust him completely, dan saunders up there in new york, he probably loves me mentioning his name. he says that the market right now which is back to the 13,000, the dow today, good news, is based on the confidence that you professionals can put a deal together before new year's. in other words, it's all based on that. it's ice we're on right now, thin ice . do i understand you have to get this done in time and if you don't the markets will be completely screwed up by this worldwide? your thoughts? who wants to talk about that one. mr. connolly.
>> i'll be glad to comment on that. i'm a little more opt stick than my colleague. i think a deal is sort of cooking. i think the parameters of that deal are not mysterious. i don't think this involves rocket science in putting it together. it requires political consensus. i think there are a lot of trial balloons going on on the republican side of the aisle to try to build that consensus and i think once that happens we're going to get it done. if we have to be here christmas week in order to protect the american public from the fiscal cliff, i'm happy to be here and so are my colleagues.
>> i hope everybody speaks greek because that would be the appropriate language to use the week after christmas . thank you. get it done before christmas . thank you u.s. congressman litery, thank you so much for coming. thank you congressman connolly. up next, president obama had mitt romney over for lunch at the white house . do you believe it? i'd love to know what happened in that room. it's the latest edition in the often frosty relationship between the presidential rival. it was pretty worm for about an hour on election night . this is "hardball," the place for politics. two years