Martin Bashir | December 10, 2012
>>> it's a brand new week, and with the fiscal cliff just 22 days away , the president is on the move heading to michigan to rally autoworkers' support for higher taxes on the wealthy and greater investment in u.s. manufacturing. the president traveled to a suburb of detroit touring an engine plant that's announcing a $100 million expansion in production and jobs. and even as the president touted that economic bright spot, he renewed his case to extend tax cuts for 98% of americans that are due to expire at the end of the year.
>> how many of you can afford to pay another $2,200 in taxes? not you?
>> that's a hit you can't afford to take. and by the way, that's not a good hit for businesses either.
>> the president's urgent push come as the white house and congress enter the deadline phase in their negotiations to get a deal passed by next friday, the last day congress is in session. president obama and house speaker john boehner know they have to reach agreement this week if there's to be a deal, which is why they met behind closed doors on sunday. spokesmen for both men say that lines of communication remain open with the president reiterating today that he's up for a big deal .
>> i have said i will work with republicans on a plan for economic growth , job creation , and reducing our deficits. i'm willing to compromise a little bit. but if we're serious about reducing our deficit, we've also got to be serious about investing in the thiges that help us grow and make the middle class strong.
>> as for speaker boehner , he continued his political posturing today with a statement. quote, the republican offer made last week remains the republican offer, and we continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make as part of the balanced approach he promised the american people . that said, an increasingly limber group of republicans are showing flekx 5eb89 on higher rates for top earners arguing raising rates on the rich will give them greater leverage on spending cuts.
>> a lot of people are putting forth a theory and i actually think it has merit where you go ahead and give the president the 2% increase that he's talking about, the rate increase on the top 2%. and all of a sudden the shift goes back to entitlements.
>> will i accept a tax increase as a part of a deal to actually solve our problems? yes.
>> i don't know. perhaps democrats have been giving republicans yoga gift cards for secret santa this year. gop congressman tom cole now says he thinks a bill to extend just middle class tax rates would pass the house.
>> i think if it got to the floor it would carry. look, that's my judgment but i spent a lot of time counting votes and looking around.
>> making a list, checking it twice. i'm delighted now to be joined by democrat ink congressman james clyburn with us from columbia, south carolina . good afternoon.
>> good afternoon. thanks for having me.
>> thank you for being there. with just three weeks left until agreement must be reached before the nation's economy starts to fall off the cliff, do you think republicans are finally coming to terms with the fact that they did, indeed, lose the election, and they've lost the argument over protecting tax cuts for just the top 2%?
>> i think so. i think that all of us know that in this business of politics, you tend to try to find some way to save face on some issues. what i like to call a graceful exit, and i think that's what they're looking for now, and i would hope that the president will accommodate them because all of this is about trying to find common ground, trying to reach a compromise on these issues. after all, that's what politics is all about.
>> but congressman, when you say that you're hoping the president will accommodate them, what do you have in mind?
>> what i have in mind is that the president will allow some face-saving devices to be put in place. that doesn't mean that he is to capitulate to what the republicans would like to see. nobody wants anybody to be insulted. look, this is the christmas season , and let us all be joyful and let's exchange gifts and let's go away from all of this back to our respective homes and enjoy the holidays, and i think we can do that in a way that everybody will feel that that he got something out of the deal. the president just said on the clip that you've got that he is looking to compromise a little bit, and i think that he's made that clear throughout the entire time that he's been in office.
>> certainly he has made it clear. the sound coming from republicans though has not been so clear and the head of the imf, christine lagarde , has issued dire warnings of what will happen to the global economy if agreement is not reached before the end of the year. sir, do you think lawmakers are taking those warnings seriously? does speaker boehner hear what the head of the im f is saying?
>> yes, i think the speaker is taking it seriously, and i think a lot of republicans are taking it seriously, but i do think that there are some republicans that are very loud and seem to have oversized weight within the republican party . they don't understand any of this. they didn't come to washington to do anything for the american people . they came on an ideological binge and they are staying on that. they are not going to come off of it. so i think that speaker boehner is going to have to cobble up 130 republican votes knowing full well about 45 or 50 of them he's never going to get, and we on the other side of the aisle are perfectly willing to come up with 125 or 130 votes on this issue and let's just meet halfway and get this done. that would give you 260 votes. you don't need but 218 for it to pass. but if you think you're going to do something and get your 218 just from the republicans , then that's not the way to do it. and i think that that's what the problem is here. speaker boehner is being threatened with that 218 votes from the republicans or he is subject to lose 125, 130 of them when he's trying to get re-elected to his speakership.
>> do you think he can fight that rebellion off, sir? because there are a number of people who are saying that they would rather replace him as speaker amongst republicans if he's prepared to compromise with the president.
>> well, remember, we're talking about the 112th congress, not the 113th congress. now, the fact of the matter is after january 3rd , a new congress will be sworn in. 201 of them will be democrats, 234 will be republicans , and so if you look at the 234 -- my math is not that good -- but 117 of them would be 50% of the republicans . so i think if speaker boehner can keep 125, 130, or 130 is the number i have been using, 130, 40, or 50 of them on board, he'll be fine. but i think that he can do that. i really don't believe he has to have the entire 218 votes coming from republicans to do this. in fact, it's much better for the country and it's much better for wall street if this is a significant bipartisan vote getting equal numbers from both sides of the aisle.
>> congressman james clyburn , whose mathematics is excellent. thank you, sir, for joining us.