The Ed Show | December 12, 2012
>>> there are problems here. there are problems in this chamber. as proud as i am of this institution, and i will forever be, i have detected over the 26 years i've been here a change. we spend now too much of our time seeking partisan advantage. and it happens on both sides. and it's all understandable. i understand it. i'm not being critical of individuals. we spend too little time trying to solve problems.
>> welcome back to "the ed show." that was north dakota senator kent conrad on the floor of the senate earlier today, reflecting on his 26 years in washington. conrad will leave the senate in january as chairman of the senate budget committee . conrad understands the numbers better than anyone else. and the senator predicted the mess we would find ourselves in with the bush tax cuts a decade ago. take a look.
>> the administration told us that we could have a massive tax cut and they would still be able to have maximum paydown of the debt and protect social security . now what we're seeing is they got the massive tax cut , but now instead of maximum paydown of the debt, they're asking for the second biggest increase in the debt in our nation's history. and in protecting social security instead of protecting it. under the president's plan over the next decade, they will be taking almost $2 trillion out of social security to pay for other things, to pay for his tax cuts , to pay for other spending.
>> joining me now is senator kent conrad of north dakota . senator, good to have you with us. you certainly had your crystal ball out over a decade ago on where the economy was headed. you nailed it. there is no doubt. what about these fiscal cliff negotiations? are we close to a deal?
>> i think we probably are. i'm not in the room, so i can't say with specificity, but i do believe they're edging closer from what i've heard, and hopefully they can announce something next week.
>> senator, how can a deal be possible if the republicans are so bent on protecting the wealthiest americans ? it doesn't seem like any of them in full force want to move in that direction, or are you hearing differently?
>> well, first of all, they're in a very bad negotiating position, because as you know, the law is very clear. and the law ends all of the bush tax cuts at the end of this year. democrats have passed in the senate with some republican help an extension of all the middle class tax cuts . and so republicans are really in an awkward position. they're holding 98% of the american people hostage to save the 2% who are at the top, those earning more than $250,000. the problem is the law is going to make those continuing tax cuts for the wealthiest among us end at the end of this month. so they're running out of room for this negotiation.
>> senator, you've seen the president's proposal, as we all have. do the numbers add up? as you called it ten years ago, do these numbers add up today and head us in the right direction?
>> yes, they do. and i think the president in many ways has been unfairly treated, sometimes in the media, because people really haven't delved into what he is saying. he's got an overall package here, as i said on the senate floor earlier today, we could take the best of the republican ideas, the best of the president's ideas, we could have an overall package of $4 trillion, which is what we need. and this country could be on its way. and the cuts would be relatively modest. the revenue increase relatively modest. you know, sometimes we forget to put these things in context. the revenue increase the president is calling for is only 4% of the revenue that we forecast over the next ten years.
>> so you say his numbers are workable?
>> absolutely. workable and doable.
>> all right. now you've been in washington for 26 years. is the art of a deal lost?
>> you know, sometimes i wonder, ed. my goodness. when we see the bombs across the barricades in this town, you really wonder if people forgot to listen to each other and to negotiate to conclusion, you know. at the end of the day here, we need to -- we need to have an agreement that is principled and puts the country on a sounder course.
>> well, i asked that art of a deal, it lost, because mitch mcconnell 's stated deal was to make barack obama a one-term president. the gop has rallied around this notion of obstruction. how do you break that kind of logjam? and can it be done?
>> you know, i think it can be done. look, at the end of the day here, this is a negotiation between the speaker of the house of representatives , mr. boehner, and the president. and i believe that they will have a framework agreement . i believe they'll have it early next week. and i believe it will secure the votes in both the senate and the house. we may miss some on the wings, but i think the center will hold, and i think it can pass.
>> senator kent conrad , it's been a pleasure working with you all these years. the senate is going to miss you. you're one of the well reasoned ones on the hill and in that chamber. i appreciate your time and thanks for joining us tonight. all the best to you.
>> thank you, ed. love your show.
>> thank you.