The Cycle | December 11, 2012
>>> the house and senate back in session today anxious to hear what president obama and speaker boehner have been discussing on the call cliff, again. both sides are demanding details. we are demanding solutions. congress is ready to break next friday unlike s.e. and they need a deal and pass it and send it to the oval before december 21st and head home for the holidays without the deadline over their heads like unwanted mist ltoe and no one to kiss. aw. both sides are starting to sound like the grinch.
>> the president's spending cuts and the longer the white house slow walk this is process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff. the american people have to be scratching their heads and wondering, when is the president going to get serious?
>> if there's one fact that should not be in dispute it ought to be this. the president unlike any other party to these negotiations has put forward detailed spending cuts as well as detailed revenue proposals. it is a simple fact.
>> i was hoping for actual video of the grinch. to help sort things out today, we have joan walsh , editor at large of salon and did many, many things in her career and besides being steve 's own boss. we are obligated to say that every single time she is on. congratulations for hiring steve . i think we have covered that. good job, joan .
>> my finest moment, clearly.
>> absolutely. look, there's an idea being batted around about raising the medicare age from 65 to 67. you write a lot about in it your piece today on salon.com. a lot of people exasperated at this idea. why are you against it?
>> it's a terrible idea because it saves some money but it basically -- it saves the federal government money. it costs more money in the long run. it puts people at the mercy of the private money . the center of american progress shows that at least 500,000 sign yours uninsured living in states with republican governors or have otherwise said they will not participate in the affordable care act so there's a kind of blithe assumption by liberals that we have obama care and seniors could go in the mix. well, they can't if they live in states where the governor will not add medicaid dollars or not set up an exchange, so it creates more suffering and it's also so class biassed. i think it's the single best example when this is bandied about as we're protected in the little bubble of suffering and michigan discussion got in to this, too. but, you know, yes, life expectancy increased over the last 20 years. but mainly that's for people at the top of the income level. for lower incomes seniors it's barely increased at all so there's all these assumptions of good for people on the open market longer, that's not true. it's a terrible idea. i cannot believe that the president is even considering it. i just can't even take that in to my mind.
>> joan , let's talk about what the president is considering and argue or agree for the sake of agreement that there is a mandate to raise taxes on the wealthy.
>> well polling shows that most of the country wants the government no cut spending.
>> we are cutting spending. we are at the lowest level of discretionary domestic spending since dwight eisenhower . he's put $1.6 trillion of cuts in his last budget. he -- and now he's waiting for republicans to say, what do they want to cut? i want to see john boehner come out and say raise the el jishlt age or whatever else they want. it's a weird game of chicken except for the fact that the president put cuts on the table so get the notion we are not discussing cuts or no cuts.
>> well, i mean, he was talking about a balanced plan and we have been mostly talking about the tax hikes and i think i agree with you that republicans need to come out and be very specific about what exactly they would like cut and they have yet to do that. i agree. but in terms of the demands for wants more specifics from boehner . boehner wants more specifics of obama . who's going to show their hand first in this game of chicken?
>> well, i certainly hope the president doesn't because he's got all the cards. he has aces up the sleeve so, you know, the bush tax cuts simply expire at the end of the year. i know there's a lot of worry and a lot of concern about what happens if we go over the fiscal cliff, curb, slope, whatever. maybe it's not optimal but it's way better than a bad deal and i think i can't see getting a serious deal done before the holidays. if you talk about all of the intricate things that wonks on both sides maybe could agree, i'm not sure i would agree to any of them, they're so complicated. senator durbin made this point. maybe you force changes on medicare or social security , i hope not but if you do, you can't do that in ten days or five business days or whatever it is. these things take a lot of time and so for the president to -- for democrats to agree to sort of kick the can, extend the tax cuts for another period of time is crazy . they hold all of the cards in this particular game and they should demand that republicans show their cards and make some concrete proposals.
>> well, joan , speaking of democrats holding the cards, one of the things that people have been it on pointing out the leverage democrats have is debt ceiling and another hostage situation like we had in 2011 and the more i think about that, the more sort of preposterous is because they seemed that crazy . and they don't seem quite as crazy as they did then.
>> i don't know.
>> thank you.
>> number one. number two, you know, we went through that as a public. i don't think it will have quite the drama that it did then. but also, i think about this. i mean, holding the country hostage on raising the debt ceiling is not popular in and of itself and then you're going to do it to try to take away medicare from people.
>> a politically toxic idea and a recent poll showing 67% opposed to that as well. 30% in favor. so how much leverage do republicans have even with the debt kreeling?
>> well, you know, they always have leverage because they always have some crazy people in their party and dealing with a president who is by his nature supremely reasonable and always wants to be the grown-up and that worries me. you have got lindsey graham saying we're going to hold the debt ceiling hostage again. he used to be somebody perceived as a reasonable, you know, not crazy republican. and he is now proposing something that most of the country agrees is really crazy . really extreme. shouldn't have happened once. should never happen again. but i agree with you. i think it's crazy to do a deal to avert this debt ceiling showdown. i think the president needs to bring the business community to bear and the voters and just got to become unthinkable. can't be something they're so worried about that they agree to a terrible deal before the holidays. i just -- i can't believe they'd be that stupid.
>> and yet, joan , that's what really kind of i guess impresses me about the situation right now. you know, look, we're all reading smoke signals. very few people know what's being negotiated but we had resources to talk about the raising medicare eligibility age and changing cpi for social security and a less generous benefits formula and cutting benefits long term and been floated and what this is is obama and the white house have ruled out invoking the 14th amendment aez a work around of not giving the republicans leverage on the debt ceiling and decided to roll a debt ceiling extension in to the fiscal cliff deal whatever they end up striking here and seems to me acknowledging republicans have leverage with cpi and talking about raising the medicare age. my question to you as a progressive is, republicans want something big. is there any big concessions you can see acceptable?
>> new york city i really can't. and the kind of things we are talking about, even if they're not -- may not be acceptable to me ever but talking about a version of the changed cpi , the president already said social security is off the table because it is not driving the deficit. that's kind of weird. changes to medicare eligibility again or changes to medicare payments or whatever, it's really complicated to negotiate but i have to say i agree with you, steve . i'm -- i wish that the president hadn't taken the 14th amendment off the table because we're all saying, well, nothing should be off the table. why is that off the table and even if it's tough thing to pull off in the long run? i think that this mania for a fiscal cliff deal is disturbing but i think the president could say -- promise virtually anything at this point. i don't think he gets a deal because john boehner has crazy member who is will never let him to agree to the tax rates the president will hold the line on and he's kind of safe in that way because i don't think that there will be a deal.
>> amen, joan . thank you very much. honored to have you on the show.
>> honored to be here.
>>> straight ahead, for all the talk on china, policy expert said their gain could be ours, too. the guest spot is next. but when i