The Daily Rundown | December 06, 2012
>>> take it to the bank. timothy geithner says the white house is ready to go over the cliff . republicans might stucmble, though, into having some leverage if they end up backing the tax rate plan now and kick the rest of the can to february. one top republican governor has some stinging sarcasm for his own party's position. in the middle east the situation in syria turns from serious to scary. concerns over chemical weapons has secretary clinton conferring with her russian counterpart today to try to avoid deadly developments.
>>> an nbc news exclusive, afghanistan's president hamid karzai talks about his country's future and ongoing insecurity and blames the taliban of course. guess who else? nato and the united states . good morning from washington. it's thursday, december 6th , 2012 . this is "the daily rundown." i'm chuck todd . let's get right to my first reads of the morning. today's fiscal cliff photo op of the day is going to be in suburban northern virginia when the president will remind the public yet again that without a budget deal taxes will go up on 100% of americans at the end of the year. he'll visit the home of a middle class family who shared their story through the white house 's hash tag my 2k social media campaign.
>>> with talks and a public stalemate on wednesday the president called speaker boehner their first conversation of the week. the two sides agreed on one thing. they wouldn't characterize the conversation. aides even refused to say how long the two leaders talked. this latest move, though, treasury secretary timothy geithner showed cnbc wednesday the white house is prepared to go over the cliff if democrats and republicans fail to get a deal done.
>> when it comes to raising taxes on the wealthy, those making more than $250,000, if republicans do not agree to that, is the administration prepared to go over the fiscal cliff ?
>> oh, absolutely. again, there is no prospect to an agreement that doesn't involve those rates going up on the top 2% of the wealthiest.
>> and that is the important phrase there, prepared to go off the cliff if there is no agreement on raising those rates. we're going to get to that in a minute. utah republican senator orrin hatch fired back and said, quote this, is one of the most stunning and irresponsible statements i've heard in some time. the american people want us to find a reasonable path forward not to rattle our sabers and play this dangerous game . of course, both sides are playing games. they are rattling their sabers. house members streamed out of the capitol and headed out of town wednesday after canceling today's session. they insist nothing will get done until the president makes a counteroffer to what they say is their full fledged proposal for monday.
>> the revenues we're putting on the table are going to come from, guess who? the rich. there are ways to limit deductions, close loopholes, and have the same people pay more of their money to the federal government without raising tax rates .
>> the white house says they are not counteroffering until the gop publicly, fully budges on tax rates . for the second day in a row speaking to ceos of the business round table the president floated the possibility of a compromise that sets the top rate lower than 39.6%.
>> we've seen some movement over the last several days among some republicans . i think there is a recognition that maybe they can accept some rate increases as long as it's combined with serious entitlement reform and additional spending cuts.
>> "the washington post " reports today that republican centrists and even some conservatives are calling on boehner to concede on rates now while he still has some leverage to demand something in return. the post also has an interesting nugget from a guy at the helm of the tax writing, house ways and means committee . dave camp said this to "the post." quote, he was reluctant to draft such a plan to compromise on a tax rate above 35% but below 39.2% unless the white house agreed to a tax revenue target well below the $1.6 trillion obama has demanded over the next decade. hello. open door anybody? that door on rates is clearly not entirely shut on the republican side nor on the president's side. "the post" lays out a scenario in which the house could adopt two competing bills, one extending the bush rates for everyone including the wealthy. the other extending the bush rates just for those making less than $250,000 a year. it gives republicans the opportunity to vote on both bills. both bills would then go to the senate. which would just pass the middle class tax cut bill or the house would end up passing what the senate already passed and that other bill just goes to die. so with it looking less and less likely washington will go over the cliff , that's gone. here are the real questions now. one, how big a deal will the parties make before the end of the year? two, have republicans stumbled into what could be political leverage at least in the short term? if all republicans do is extend the middle class tax cuts , punting the rest of this fight to february, when the threat of a default looms, thanks to the debt ceiling, do they think they suddenly have the upper hand? maybe. the president warned republicans wednesday though not to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip.
>> if congress in any way suggests that they're going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes, and take us to the brink of default once again, as part of a budget negotiation, which by the way we have never done in our history until we did it last year, i will not play that game.
>> well, but on the debt ceiling point, republicans are united. there is a lack of unit on the tax rate issue, not on this one. politically a limited victory on middle class tax cuts could be the worst kind of victory for the white house because it could tip the leverage and enlarge the debate over spending and entitlements to the republicans . they don't care if the political popularity goes down on this. they think they could still have this leverage. one thing that could ferment all that if enough conservatives buck boehner and refuse to make any deal. despite outside conservative groups and small vocal wing of the house making a stink about boehner 's first offer on taxes, there are actually no signs of any leadership challenge, folks. importantly, every member of the house leadership has been squarely behind boehner , unlike frankly where things were in july of 2011 and that includes majority leader eric canter. budget chairman paul ryan also signed on though he is a little more wobbly in a new interview with "time" magazine. quote, he says this. i believe in this budget fight that you can get to common ground without compromising principles. he says after his speech practice. but moments later according to "time" he declares common ground is possible only so long as the tax rates are not going up. advisers have admitted to "time" something that is hardly a shock. ryan is eying a run for president. and though ryan told the magazine i've decided not to decide when it comes to presidential ambitions. another guy who clearly has 2016 in mind louisiana governor bobby jindal weighs in on the fiscal cliff in politico in an op-ed this morning and check this out. at present any reading of the headlines over the past week indicates that republicans are fighting to protect the rich and cut benefits for seniors. it may be possible to have worse political positions than that, but i'm not sure how. obviously he is another person that says, cave on the rates issue and start negotiating on everything else. finally this week, there is a much more serious potential issue on the table than the fiscal cliff , folks. secretary of state hillary clinton did an unusual thing and warned president assad there will be consequences if he crosses a line and uses chemical weapons . we know why. pentagon sources tell nbc news the syrian government has loaded seran gas a deadly nerve agent, into aerial bombs and is just waiting for a command from president assad to use it. this week u.s. intelligence detected that flurry of activity at chemical weapon sites.
>> our concerns are an increasingly desperate assad regime might turn to chemical weapons or might lose control of them to one of the many groups that are now operating within syria . we have sent an unmistakable message that this would cross a red line and those responsible would are held to account.
>> this morning in dublin a sign that the diplomacy is intensifying secretary clinton met with her counterpart, russian minister lab rov and a u.n. special envoy on the side of an international security conference she is taking part in. russia is one of syria 's main allies but have opposed and opposed any u.n. measures against him up until this point. if clinton can submit russian support the u.n. security council might be able to pass a sanctions resolution against the syrian government particularly because of the chemical weapons issue. on wednesday in brussels clinton also renewed support for the syrian opposition. is there an exit strategy for assad ? though the u.n. secretary of general said yesterday the world should not let him seek asylum senator kerry told andrea mitchell he disagrees.
>> it's in our security interests to be able to get a transition that is controlled and that is negotiated and that is orderly because the alternative to that is you could have 200,000, 500,000 people killed.
>> if syria crosses the red line in chemical weapons what will the u.s. do? middle east expert jeffrey goldberg joins us on the escalating violence across the region in a scoop that some people missed that he had. we'll expose it here. plus an msnbc news exclusive. afghan president hamid karzai blames the u.s. and nato forces for what he says is growing insecurity in his country. what he told our own reporter about the future of the relationship between the two countries and he weighs in on the petraeus scandal. we'll be live in kabul next. but first a look ahead at the president's schedule. we have a photo op today on the fiscal cliff . he heads over to falls church . but the big thing, at night is the national christmas tree lighting. he'll deliver a few remarks there. for years, our own willard scott used to play santa claus and do that lighting. interesting to see what celebrity shows up there. you're watching "the daily rundown" only on msnbc. [ female announcer ]