Skip to main content

tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  December 9, 2012 2:00pm-3:00pm EST

2:00 pm
this morning on "meet the press," time is running out to avoid the fiscal cliff. is a deal closer than most think? in public, the lines are drawn. but behind the scenes, the give and take over taxes and entitlement cuts point toward a deal by christmas. what is standing in the way? this morning, the debate is right here. the house speaker's top lieutenant, congressman kevin mccarthy, and top white house ally, the assistant senate majority leader, dick durbin. mccarthy and durbin square off. then, what is the political endgame for both republicans and democrats? who wins and who loses as this fight drags on? plus, the future of the republican party is a hot topic as both sides start plotting the 2016 campaign. our political roundtable features two former capitol hill
2:01 pm
insiders, newt gingrich and lawrence o'donnell. plus, three journalists on the story. the looming fiscal cliff 22 days away. is it stalemate or compromise? we'll go inside the negotiations with two top leaders in just a moment, but i want to start with the ongoing crisis in syria where the assad government is cracking down on its own people. and this week something significant happened. the president signalled a big potential shift in u.s. involvement there. here's what he said. >> i want to make it absolutely clear to assad and those under his command, the world is watching. the use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. and if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons,
2:02 pm
there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable. >> nbc chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in syria to bring us the latest on what is a developing story. richard? >> reporter: david, despite increasing criticism and warnings, the government of bashir al assad is revving up its activities. this area was bombed last night. regarding chemical weapons, commanders we have spoken to are very concerned that the government could use chemical weapons. they are completely not prepared for that eventuality. they don't have gas masks. they don't have medicine. there's no early warning system here. they have appealed for some kind of training, but so far on the ground there is nothing that could protect them from any kind of deadly chemical weapon that could be used. they are also, rebel commanders we have spoken to, not very
2:03 pm
encouraged by what they are hearing from president obama. they don't think that these kind of warnings of unspecified consequences will make any difference on the ground. they say the white house and president obama has warned the government not to attack civilians, yet civilians have been attacked. they have warned the syrian government not to use disproportionate force, yet clearly disproportionate force has been and is being used in this conflict 21 months on, 40,000-plus dead. now, in terms of what will happen next, it's hard to know on the ground here. the rebels are clearly making advances. the north of this country feels like an independent state. aside from attacking from the air, there are not any syrian troops in this area at all, but the rebels still don't have enough power to deliver a knockout blow. most of the fighting is focused on the two big cities, aleppo and damascus. but as of now, they haven't been able to take either one of them. david? >> richard engel, thank you very
2:04 pm
much. for more on this developing story, i want to go to "the atlantic's" jeffrey goldberg, also a columnist for bloomberg view, and white house correspondent for "the new york times," helene cooper. welcome to both of you. jeffrey, you covered this region extensively and have for years. you heard what the president has said and what richard has said. why this red line? something the united states never did in iraq, for instance, when hussein used chemical weapons, but we're doing it here. big shift maybe? >> well, only if you believe that it's really a red line. syrian opposition is probably correct to doubt whether the administration would do something if they use chemical weapons on their people. after all, they have been killing thousands of people every month, the assad government, using regular old conventional weapons. so it's not entirely clear to me that this would trigger an automatic response. there is no real obama doctrine here except for passivity, i'm afraid to say. >> helene, if we do get assad out, the united states, other allies, what then?
2:05 pm
>> well, that's the big -- that's part of the reason why the obama administration has done in the views of many so little toward getting president assad out, and that's because they are just really afraid. syria looks -- syria would be so much worse. you saw the break-up of iraq after the united states invasion in 2003. syria would be that times 10. and there's a lot of worry about what are you going to do with that? you have a worry about the slaughter of the allies in the mountains. you have to worry about just this whole break-up and who would govern this region that is so, so -- this country that is so critical for the whole region. but i do think, though, that chemical weapons would be sort of -- that -- i think for the obama administration, that's a line that they would have trouble defending their passivity so far if assad crossed. that's a hard one. it's hard for me to imagine them not doing anything. >> but given that they haven't really done very much over the past 21 months, and they haven't done very much at all, it's not
2:06 pm
implausible that they would not do the declarative thing of invading or stopping the use of chemical weapons. it's very little solace that now they are being bombed with chemical weapons, president obama will do something on their behalf. and it's also the understanding that president obama won't do anything before the red line. so the syrian government can keep on murdering people using conventional weapons and they'll get away with it. obama just said i'm not going to invade or do anything. >> i do want to touch on egypt as well, which has had significant developments, and also begs the question of what the administration is prepared to do with morsi in egypt. >> tougher one. morsi has seemingly backed down from his absolutist stance, but he is getting what he wants. and, you know, all this begs the question, you know, is morsi really just mubarak with a beard? and is the administration getting into bed with the guy they are going to regret getting into bed with later? that said, you know, the opposition is fractured, and these guys, the muslim
2:07 pm
brotherhood, have played a positive role in the last israeli-hamas war. so the administration is really flummoxed by this a little bit. >> certainly it's an issue that i think the administration has been spending a lot of time on, and will be in the second term. helene, we'll see you in a few minutes with the roundtable. jeffrey, thank you so much. joining me now, assistant majority leader dick durbin of illinois, and california republican congressman kevin mccarthy. welcome to you both. i'll get to some of the foreign policy questions later, but i want to talk about what's been top of mind for both of you, and that is the fiscal cliff deadline that congress faces. the reality is, if you hear it from the outside, these public statements from both sides, it doesn't sound very good. here's speaker boehner and the president talking at the end of the week. >> when it comes to the fiscal cliff, this threatening of our economy and threatening jobs, the white house has wasted another week. the president has adopted a deliberate strategy to slow walk or economy right to the edge of
2:08 pm
the fiscal cliff. >> we're going to have to see the rates on the top 2% go up. and we're not going to be able to get a deal without it. >> so here's my sense, congressman mccarthy. why in the minds of republicans aren't they processing it this way? look, president, we'll give you what you want on rates. let them go up. but we have to get something in return. big cuts in the medicare program, and we're willing to make a deal is. that essentially the thinking of speaker boehner at this point? >> the president wants the rates to go up, that doesn't solve the problem and we don't want to be back here in another year or 10 years answering the same question. but right after the election, we sent a plan to the president where we gave revenues but looking for spending cuts. and he took three weeks to come back to us. he has gone on still on the campaign trail, still working through. but you have to understand, republicans have not waited to solve this problem and sat back. in the summer, we passed a bill that froze the rates, and passed it.
2:09 pm
it sat in the senate. we believe we want to solve this problem. we think this is our moment. this is our time. >> is the moment -- does it come down to this, where you would say, look, we'll give you higher marginal tax rates if we get something significant on spending, medicare, in return? >> it doesn't solve the problem. if the president is asking for higher ratings, he is asking for more revenue. most economists agree the best way to get that is through closing special loopholes. and when you close those, it makes a fair tax process. so people invest on the return, not invest based upon what the irs says. >> senator durbin, the opening position, as i sort of gleaned it from being on capitol hill and reporting this week, is what i just said. do you see it that way? >> i can tell you that congressman mccarthy is going to struggle with the numbers just as mitt romney did in the debates. they don't add up. if you don't increase tax rates on the highest 2% of income earners you cannot generate
2:10 pm
enough revenue to have meaningful deficit reduction. and unfortunately, the changes in the tax code, which the republicans say they want to turn to, will start increasing taxes and cutting tax deductions for the middle class americans. >> senator, can i stop you on that point? i think that's significant. what you just said is what the president has said, is that we can't get enough revenue to solve the problem unless the rates go up. but wait a minute. last summer, in july of 2011, this is what he said about how to get to $1.2 trillion in revenue. listen. >> what we said was, give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues. which could be accomplished without hiking taxes -- tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions, and engaging in a tax reform process that could have lowered rates generally, while broadening the base.
2:11 pm
>> so if that was true then, senator, why can't he just do tax deductions? republicans say they would agree to that, and not focus so much on raising the top rates? >> david, we have set a target of cutting $4 trillion out of the deficit over the next 10 years. $4 trillion. to reach that, the president said he needs $1.6 trillion in revenues, which is the same percentage of revenue as the simpson-bowles commission. in fact, it's a little lower. you can't reach 1.6 unless you put the upper rate for the highest income americans on the table. and include tax reform. the reason why the republicans have stuck with $800 billion is it really is their goal in this. but it doesn't reach the $4 trillion deficit reduction. >> congressman, what do you say about that? >> let me tell you what the republican goal is, is to solve the problem, economic problem. and look, the numbers don't lie. we are two months into this fiscal year. we already have a $292 billion deficit. but in those two months, revenues have increased by 10%.
2:12 pm
$30 billion. you only get $31 billion in the first year when you raise those two rates. but you know what the problem is? we increased spending by 16%, $87 billion. this is more about a spending problem, not a taxing problem. and that's the problem with washington. >> first of all, congressman, you threw out a number there, there are a lot of numbers that can confuse people. you talk about $31 billion. the reality is, over 10 years, based on documents i have seen from republicans, raising the top rates would get you over $400 billion in new revenue. so that is a fact that both sides agree on. >> david, in two months of this new first cal year, you have achieved $30 billion more in revenue, but 16% increase in spending. it is a spending problem. and the president wants to increase taxes to continue the spending. he proposed a plan that put a new spend list in that added more than just the top two rates' worth in the first year. that's the problem with washington. >> and i want to get to the
2:13 pm
spending and the entitlement question in just a moment, but i want to stay on tax rates for one minute. congressman, there are members of your own party who are saying privately, some publicly, just fold on the tax rates so that conservatives can get a better deal. just this week on "morning joe" on msnbc, here is tom coburn, republican conservative from oklahoma, and this is what he had to say. >> personally, i know we have to raise revenue. i don't really care which way we do it. actually, i would rather see the rates go up than do the other way because it gives us greater chance to change the tax code. >> if you close tax loopholes, you have a fairer process. those listening today, they don't have a lobbyist or some attorney or some high-priced accountant or special interest out there. that is a more efficient way and a fairer way. and it also makes you invest your money not based on what the irs says but based upon an economy.
2:14 pm
and it will grow the economy stronger. more taxpayers, more workers produces more revenue. >> i want to talk about spending, senator durbin. a challenge for you, based on a speech that you gave a couple of weeks ago here to progressives, you said the following about entitlement cuts. and i'll put it on the screen. this was in your prepared remarks which you stuck by. progressives should be willing to talk about ways to ensure the long-term viability of medicare and medicaid, but those conversations should not be part of a plan to avert the fiscal cliff. why not, is my question. you said in that speech there is absolutely savings to be derived from the medicare program and trimming it back. why shouldn't it be front and center in a specified way beyond what the president is proposing, which is about $350 billion over 10 years in cuts? >> david, medicare will run out of money in 12 years. we know that we have to do something to make sure that we take an approach that doesn't voucherize it or take the approach of the paul ryan budget, but keep this a sound
2:15 pm
program and a solvent program. i just don't think we can do it in a matter of days here before the end of the year. that was my point. we need to address that in a thoughtful way, through the committee structure, after the first of the year. but the point i want to get to is this. we have already cut more than $1 trillion in spending as part of deficit reduction. we now need to put revenue on the table. the american people spoke on this issue in the election. i'd say to speaker boehner and congressman mccarthy, listen to what the american people said in the election. listen to the fact that two out of three americans believe that the wealthiest should pay a little more, and listen to your own caucus. when you have people like conservative republican senators like tom coburn, kay granger, tom cole, speaking up and saying, this is the right thing to do, for goodness sakes, let's get it done. >> congressman? >> i'd ask the senator, just do the math. if you go to a small family-owned business in bakersfield, california, that hires my friends, hires my
2:16 pm
neighbors, with the new tax rate they pay 37%, 39%. california, add another 13.8%. is it fair that any american pays more than half of their income into taxes? and that's before sales tax. that's more than paying for the cable tax. should we make it a more efficient, accountable government? the spending is the issue, senator. >> may i respond? >> the president proposed a plan that you didn't even vote for. >> may i respond? 97% of american businesses are exempt from any tax increase because of the proposal by the president to protect people making less than $250,000 a year. 98% of all americans are going to be exempt from paying any higher taxes. if and only if speaker boehner will pass the bill that we sent him in july to protect middle income families, you want to protect the people in bakersfield, i want to protect the people in chicago and springfield. >> senator, one point about medicare. you say you want to put off this discussion until later.
2:17 pm
but bottom line, should the medicare eligibility age go up? should there be means testing to get at the benefits side, if you want to shore this program up, because 12 years as you say before it runs out of money? >> i do believe there should be means testing. and those of us with higher income in retirement should pay more. that could be part of the solution. but when you talk about raising the eligibility age, there's one key question. what happens to the early retiree? what about that gap in coverage between workplace and medicare? how will they be covered? i listened to republicans say we can't wait to repeal obama care, and the insurance exchanges. well, where does a person turn if they are 65 years of age and the medicare eligibility age is 67? they have two years there where they may not have the best of health. they need accessible, affordable medical insurance during that period. >> congressman, is there a deal by january 1? and if there are tax increases as part of a deal, on tax rates,
2:18 pm
is there a republican civil war that's going to start? >> the president says he wants tax rate because he wants revenue. republicans already offered him the revenue. the president also says he wants a balanced approach. that means 2 1/2 to 3 times as many spending cuts as there are two revenue. we have spent all of this time talking about revenue. but as we watched, our government continued to spend more. this is really about spending. you listen to the senator right there, he doesn't want to move on spending. and that's the core of the problem. i don't think republicans or americans want to raise any taxes just to continue the spending in washington. they want a more efficient, more effective, and more accountable. what we're saying here is we need to do exactly what ronald reagan did with tip o'neill. show the leadership to get in the room and make the changes. same as bill clinton did with newt gingrich. get in the room and make the changes that are needed to make this. look, we faced bigger problems before, and we have been able to overcome them. i believe we can do this one more time. >> senator, the politics of this are also quite interesting and also part of the calculation.
2:19 pm
the treasury secretary saying, sure, absolutely, the president will go over the cliff if that's what it takes. when push comes to shove, you really think that's the white house position? they want to risk recession as well just to drive home the point about raising taxes? >> the president wants to solve the problem. that's what he said during the campaign. that's what he is saying now. we cannot lurch as we have for the past two years from one crisis to another. think of all the times that sea party republicans and speaker boehner threatened to shut down the economy, shut down the government over the debt ceiling. if we're going to have the certainty for businesses to invest, for workers to know new jobs are being created, we have to get this behind us once and for all. >> even if it means going over the cliff? >> we don't want to do it but we cannot allow a reckless position to drive this economy into another recession, a recession which the republicans will own. >> then senator, ask the president to come off the campaign trail. he's been to pennsylvania. tomorrow he is going to detroit.
2:20 pm
it's time to govern. the election is over. >> he is a phone call away and you know it. >> he is a phone call away? we will come right down to him. we sent a plan to him and gave him three weeks to respond. he has not responded to our current one. you cannot negotiate with yourself. >> this is the part of the stalemate that people are so uncomfortable with, even if there's more action behind the scenes. congressman, you're a californian. the supreme court is going to take up the issue of same-sex marriage with the prop eight ban in your state as well as the defense of marriage act on the federal level. do you think the days of same-sex marriage being not recognized, unrecognized as a civil right, are coming to an end? >> i think the supreme court will make the decision. prior to this election, every vote has only been it's only made it through by a legislator, not the vote of the people. in california, the people voted it down. we'll see from the supreme court.
2:21 pm
>> how do you see it? >> marriage equality is part of america's future. we saw that in state after state in the last election. the supreme court will take up the issue, and i hope that they understand as most of us do that this is part of our future. marriage equality and the equal treatment of people who have made this decision is part of what america is all about. >> final point, senator durbin. susan rice. will she be the president's secretary of state nominee and could she get confirmed in the senate at this point? >> i can't say that because the president has not told me what his decision will be. there have been two excellent names mentioned, ambassador rice and my colleague, senator kerry. either one of them would have a tough job following the great job of hillary clinton, but they could both serve this country in an extraordinary way as secretary of state. >> you're saying that rice could get confirmed? >> i do believe so. i think at the end, some of the criticisms against her have been unwarranted. many have gone just too far. there is really a basic feeling of fairness. she is an extraordinary person. she's certainly well educated and has really served our nation well as ambassador to the united
2:22 pm
nations. >> all right. we'll leave it there. senator durbin, congressman mccarthy, thank you very much. >> thank you for having us. coming up, the showdown over the debt. who wins and who loses? including why one prominent republican observer i talked to this week says that the president actually wants to go over the cliff. who was it? what did he mean? find out after the break. former speaker newt gingrich. julianna goldman. helene cooper of "the new york times" is back. "the washington post's" bob woodward. and msnbc's lawrence o'donnell. all coming up after the break. "meet the press" is brought to you by the boeing company.
2:23 pm
2:24 pm
2:25 pm
coming up here, as hillary clinton prepares to step down as secretary of state, her popularity has soared to an all-time high. according to a new poll out this week, 66% view the country's top diplomat favorably, up from 44% in 2008. what does that mean for her future?
2:26 pm
that's one of washington's favorites, what if. and a video that was played here in d.c. left the political world abuzz, especially after comments like these from benjamin netanyahu and british prime minister tony blair. >> someone who knows a thing or two about political comeback, i can tell you i don't think we've heard the last of hillary clinton. ♪ girl, you're amazing ♪ just the way you are ♪ >> i just have an instinct that the best is yet to come. >> according to that same poll, 57% say they would back a clinton presidential bid. later, we'll talk more about 2016, whether clinton will run and what her departure means for president obama's second term. "meet the press" continues after this brief commercial break. pizza! [ garth ] olaf's small business earns 2% cash back on every purchase, every day! helium delivery.
2:27 pm
put it on my spark card! [ pop! ] [ garth ] why settle for less? great businesses deserve great rewards! awesome!!! [ male announcer ] the spark business card from capital one. choose unlimited rewards with 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day! what's in your wallet? this reduced sodium soup says it may help lower cholesterol, how does it work? you just have to eat it as part of your heart healthy diet. step 1. eat the soup. all those veggies and beans, that's what may help lower your cholesterol and -- well that's easy [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
2:28 pm
it's healthier, and the only one clinically proven. with aloe, vitamins, and no ammonia. my hair looks healthier than before i colored. i switched. you can too, to natural instincts. ♪ bp has paid overthe people of bp twenty-threeitment to the gulf. billion dollars to natural instincts. to help those affected and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger.
2:29 pm
2:30 pm
w we're back now with the roundtable. "the washington post" associated editor bob woodward is here. julianna goldman is here as well. your first time. welcome. i know you sat down with the president this week, his first interview since the election was over. helene cooper is back, rejoining the conversation. former speaker of the house newt gingrich and host of "the laughed word" on msnbc lawrence o'donnell. welcome to all of you. our former hill insiders. let's get right to it. newt gingrich, what about this proposition? i keep driving based on my own reporting this week, republicans are prepared to deal on tax rates if they can get more on the spending side, particularly medicare. is that where you think the action is right now? >> some republicans are prepared to do more. but as senator durbin just indicated, they are not elected to get a very big fig leaf. the president won. and he has a simple position. he wants to prove he can dominate, and he does that with getting the rates up. he has a veto pen. it's hard for me to see how it will even get to a veto. at some point either you're
2:31 pm
going to go over the cliff or find some kind of dramatic concession to the president. >> lawrence, this idea of how much room the president is willing to give is a big question. because he wants, based on what i'm hearing, boehner to say, ok, i give on the rates. and then he'll give more. >> problem for boehner is how do i give on rates. tax increases cost americans jobs. that gives you no room to give on rates. it is, by the way, not an original thought. who said this? the tax increase will kill jobs and lead to a recession, and the recession will force people out of work and onto unemployment, and actually increase the deficit. that's newt gingrich, in 1993, on the clinton tax increase, and those of us who were working on the other side of that tax increase, newt, have been waiting for your apology for 20 years for being completely wrong about that. >> i don't agree with you. >> but the economy soared. no one lost a job because of
2:32 pm
that tax increase. >> baloney. >> there was no recession. >> the fact is, if you look at all the indicators when i was elected speaker, all of the economic growth occurs after republicans take control. all of the increase in the stock market is after the republicans take control. >> you did not reduce the rates, newt. you said the rates would cause a recession. >> when we balanced the budget, it was a tax cut. four consecutive balanced budget with a tax cut, not a tax increase. >> a tiny tax cut compared to the biggest increase in history. >> we don't need to relitigate the 1990s. i mean -- >> but the point here is that this was -- clinton did face the charge that the economy would sour if he increased taxes. but he also cut defense spending over $250 billion over 10 years. and he has said recently, one of the reasons they lost the house in 1994 was that '93 deal.
2:33 pm
but here, where is the action, bob? >> well, having tried to do some reporting on this, first of all, i think the staff, the white house staff and the house staff, have met or talked five times. it really is down to obama and boehner at the table. i think you can only take a snapshot right now and try to look at what the experience the president has had recently. he won re-election. he's had lots of ceos in to meet with him. and this is interesting. they are telling him, mostly republicans, let's give on rates. it's not a big deal. i think the house leadership may have lost the parade that is supposed to be following them on that. i think lots of republicans feel that that can be done. and then the ceos are worried to death about another debt ceiling fight like in 2011. >> julianna, you asked the question with the president,
2:34 pm
when do you and boehner get into a room and? and he basically said, well, that's not important as him giving on tax rates and then we get together. >> when is either side going to blink. the president says they need to acknowledge that rates need to go up, and the republicans are saying the president needs to lay out what specific entitlements and spending cuts he would agree to. and what the president signalled in that interview is he is willing to play hard ball in the short-term with long-term flexibility. so he is saying, ok, by the end of this year, to get a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, let rates go up for top earners. and then i'm willing to be flexible and revisit the changes to medicare and social security. and also i'm willing to bring those rates back down to somewhere in between the 35% where they are now and the 39.6% that that they would go up to. >> is the feeling in the white
2:35 pm
house, sure, we'll do that because republicans will get the blame? the pugh survey came out indicating who would get the blame if you do go over the cliff. squarely against the republicans. they would more likely get the blame. that's what you heard as bob pointed out from senator durbin as well, that they would own the recession that would follow. >> i don't know how that ends up playing out. but i think when you talk about the feeling at the white house, there's a palpable difference now compared to 2011, the summer of 2011. they are so much cockier right now at the white house than they were a year and a half ago when they were doing this. they really believe they have set out, we're not going to negotiate. you come to us. we're not going to negotiate this ourselves. we're not going to like put -- keep putting out more proposals. remember the summer of 2011, when president obama was perceived, and they believed at the white house, that he kept making concession after concession and didn't get anywhere. they are definitely not doing that now. >> well, the election had to
2:36 pm
inform how they came out so strongly basically said, this is the deal. and legislators are saying we're not giving on medicare or the spending cuts either. >> what people are forgetting is there is already a deal. this thing we call the fiscal cliff is a law that republicans voted for and that the president steered them to vote for. and strategically, he was victorious in that. the theory of this thing was, no one wants it to happen. no one wants anything in this bill to happen. the rates to go up or all the spending cuts. but it turns out that the democrats and the president like more of what would happen on january 1 than republicans. >> do you know who agrees with you? rick santorum. i spoke to him on press pass and this is what he said. and newt gingrich, you respond after you hear this. >> the greatest leverage he has is that he put together a deal with the republicans over a year ago that gives him pretty much what he wants. which is a dramatic -- which is taxes back to the pre-bush
2:37 pm
rates. so it gets all the tax increases. and he can blame the ones that are not popular on republicans for not negotiating. he gets something that he'll never get in a negotiation. >> the rest of that conversation online, by the way, with rick santorum. newt gingrich? is that why the president and geithner are saying, sure, go over the cliff? >> well, i think first of all, if you are a liberal democrat, going over the cliff is not nearly as bad as giving up on some other values such as tax cuts. second, the house republicans didn't understand what a fundamental moment they're at. this is the beginning of the next four years. i think the president believes that he can in fact block boehner into collapse, which then leads me to ask the question, so what's the inaugural address going to be like, what's the state of the union going to be like, and what's the budget going to be like? because if they decide that they are going to be able to run over the house republicans for the next two years, you're going to see very dramatic demands that are different than if in fact they are facing a group prepared to fight them.
2:38 pm
>> but this does real damage to the economy and to millions of people if going over the cliff. this is not an abstraction. you could begin a recession. and senator durbin's idea in and the polls support him that the republicans will own this recession will last about one month, because presidents own recessions. presidents own dramatic improvements in things. we live in the obama era. not the john boehner era. >> the other thing, john, is the potential political blood that could be spilled. if the president gets tax hikes, which he can do, a couple of different ways. he could muscle this through by the end of the year. then all of a sudden you face another debt ceiling debate, where the republicans can use that to try to extract concessions. and then we get into another standoff again after the first of the year. >> that's why there's a split in the white house when it comes to the debt ceiling. one camp says the debt ceiling
2:39 pm
has to be part of the deal now because we can't risk it being part of it, shaking confidence. then we'll have the question of credit rating agencies, how they'll respond. and then another camp says, no, let's make it part of the negotiations. let's wait until next year. and we'll get the pressure from the business community is going to be threatening. and so they're not sure which way this is going to shake out. and that's why the president actually hasn't issued the veto threat when it comes to debt ceiling as being part of the deal at the end of the year. >> but going off the cliff is only dangerous if you stay off the cliff. and wall street has already figured this out and already begged into the idea that we'll probably go off the cliff for a few days, because that's the way congress is. on january 2, there will be emergency phone calls. we've got to do something. the first thing that hits is you're withholding on your paycheck. your very first january paycheck, you'd start to see that. however, the treasury secretary has the authority to overrule the irs on withholding tables
2:40 pm
and hold people immune from the immediate impact of this. they will be able to do that for a week or two. i think congress could solve this in a couple of days. those days may be january 3 and 4. >> but the senator bob woodward has spent his career covering, personalities matter. this president has a chance as he did in '09 to say i'm going to work with you. we're going to be bipartisan and put the country first, or he can say i'm going to write a stimulus package and ram it through. he can continue down the road he's on right now. he guarantees a permanent war, because everybody on the right at every level sooner or later is going to get sick of it. >> newt, can i ask you the other piece of this? let's assume there's more give there on the president's side. you've been in the position of speaker of the house. how much juice does boehner have? back in the day, you could really twist arms by saying you want money for your re-election. i can withhold that. you can do all kinds of stuff. but how much juice does he have to go back to the republicans
2:41 pm
and say you need to get onboard with this? >> if boehner works out an agreement with president obama, it has to be an agreement that brings 120 or 140 house democrats. if he does that, he's going to pass it. he can be the speaker of a bloc of republicans working with democrats or he can be the speaker of the hard right fighting the democrats. there's no middle ground here. he will not carry the hard right. >> i really do think at the end of the day, larry, what you describe sounds like sort of the white house negotiating right now. easily saying, yeah, we can go over the fiscal cliff. but at the end of the day, this is a president, he would have to own it. he may not say he has to own the recession. but if we go over that, he has to own that. >> he knows that. >> and that's something he definitely knows. >> i think he agrees with bob that the recession would be his problem. >> it would be a giant disaster. he needs to improve things and show that he's a leader.
2:42 pm
and, you know, here's the big question, whether he's miscalculated by coming out and saying, we have to raise taxes on the upper brackets. that is a red line. >> right. >> and, you know, for -- newt knows this way too well. there are so many republicans in the house that that is against doctrine. that will get the "wall street journal" editorial page spinning, and that means a lot. to a lot of households. >> we need to get to a break. but after the break, 2016 is taking shape. some of the moves made in the republican party, we'll get into that. and of course the election may be sooner than we think, even though the election is over. we'll be right back in just a moment. and some difficult ones. but, through it all, we've persevered, supporting some of the biggest ideas in modern history.
2:43 pm
so why should our anniversary matter to you? because for 200 years, we've been helping ideas move from ambition to achievement. and the next great idea could be yours. ♪ [ man thinking ] oh, this gas. those antacids aren't working. oh no, not that, not here! [ male announcer ] antacids don't relieve gas. gas-x is designed to relieve gas. gas-x. the gas xperts. [ male announcer ] with a select terrain dial that adjusts the jeep grand cherokee's performance for specific weather and road conditions...
2:44 pm
♪ ...even heavy snowstorms... won't keep you from getting to work. our apologies. ♪
2:45 pm
it was a rare event late on a friday afternoon when we learned the u.s. supreme court is going to wade into one of the most talked about and emotional issues of our time. >> the fact that the court has agreed to take both cases could mean that the justices are prepared to get to the heart of the same-sex marriage issue, and that could result in what would eventually be the roe v. wade of gay rights. >> we are back on a big story that will become an even bigger story when we move forward, and that's the question of marriage equality for gays and lesbians in the country. speaker gingrich, you oppose same-sex marriage. do you think the tide is turning? we know it's turning in terms of public opinion. what does it mean they are taking this on?
2:46 pm
>> the justices looked at the question, if you're an american citizen and you are legally married in iowa, what happens if you visit another state and you end up in the hospital? do you have any visitation rights? once this has begun to move, it is going -- it is so complicated that i think the court felt almost compelled as a national institution to look at it. >> and i think, lawrence, as i have talked to lawyers about this, what people need to understand is that there is the question of your ability to have benefits. this is not whether the defense of marriage act is completely thrown out. that is that question. and then prop 8 in california is about whether the courts can intercede and say the will of the people and express in a referendum is something that is not right and uphold marriage equality there. >> there's a very narrow ruling that would basically only apply to california. and so this may be the first of what becomes a generation of cases or 10 years of cases.
2:47 pm
we do know this. if the supreme court rules against marriage equality in any fundamental way, that will not stand. the kids going to law school now who will be supreme court justices will overrule this. the ultimate end here is simply a matter of time. >> interesting. bob woodward, the broader political landscape is what this is part of and became, i think, pretty clear this week in terms of who's doing what. hillary clinton, here's her approval rating now. or rather, would you vote for hillary clinton as president? 57% saying yes. she is leaving. she is pretty hot right now politically. is she not? >> she should take that 57% and bank it and go write a book for 3 1/2 years and say, now i'm running. i mean, she has got the perfect resume. and as i've talked about in one of my books, when she decided that she would become secretary of state for obama, which surprised lots of people, her
2:48 pm
advisers said, look, this is the perfect resume building action. and number two, if you run in 2016, you will be younger than ronald reagan was when he was inaugurated, and as we know, women are so much healthier than men, particularly at that age. >> helene, i talked to a democratic senator this week who said, she's absolutely running. given everything that she's doing, how she's reaching out to supporters and positioning herself, it will put a lot of pressure on other democrats as to whether they want to try to stand in the way. >> i think it is. what i think is so interesting is just how skillfully she has navigated all of the foreign policy crises of the last four years, and managed to come out of the last four years relatively unscathed. she's stayed away from the israel-mideast, the most contentious domestically and politically national security issue. which is the palestinians and israel. she stayed away from that. she hasn't been dragged into any of that.
2:49 pm
she somehow has managed to come out of the benghazi thing unscathed. susan rice is taking most of the political heat for that. so if you look at how secretary clinton has navigated the last four years as secretary of state, it may not have been -- i don't think it's going to go down in history as, you know, one of the most influential secretary of states of ever, because i don't know what i would say right now about what huge things that have been accomplished. but she certainly has managed to come out of it, you know, without a lot of nicks at all. >> and in the poll you just cited, she gets the backing of more than 60% of republican women. if hillary clinton decides she wants to get in, she clears the field. you could be seeing other democratic potential candidates like governor brian schweitzer, governor martin o'malley trying to test the waters if she decides not to run or auditioning to be a vice presidential nominee. >> the reason it's easy for you to get democratic insiders to say she's absolutely running is because she's absolutely not. >> no doubt about it? >> no.
2:50 pm
no doubt about it. >> as you look at that issue, as you look at her prospects, you look at the demographic shift that was evidenced by this last election, she has a perfect opportunity to harness that and become the first female president. >> yeah. look, first of all, she is very formidable as a person. a very confident person. she is married to the most popular democrat in the country. they both think it would be good for her to be president. that makes it virtually impossible to stop her for the nomination, i think. but i thought she frankly was going to be the nominee in '08. all through the spring i thought she would beat obama. >> the negative that was higher than her approval rating is completely reversed. >> she knows how to seize the moment also. in 1991, she was the one who persuaded bill clinton to run. he was telling her, no, i'm not sure this is my moment. and she said, this is your moment. take it. and of course he did. >> let me talk about the republican side. a couple of interesting things happened this week.
2:51 pm
the question of the tea party's influence in the party and certainly in the senate was an issue, as jim demint left. he is going to run heritage. you have paul ryan and marco rubio speaking at a jack kemp dinner. and i want to play a piece of sound from each of them. and it says something about how they see the future of the republican party. >> i've heard it suggested that the problem is that the american people have changed. that too many people want things from government. but i'm still convinced that the overwhelming majority of our people, they just want what my parents had, a chance. >> both parties tend to divide americans into our voters and their voters. let's be really clear. republicans must steer far clear of that trap. we need to speak to the aspirations. we must speak to the aspirations
2:52 pm
and the anxieties of every american. >> newt, that's a long way from the 47% of mitt romney. >> well, first of all, every republican should be focussed on what we just talked about. i mean, if their competitor in '16 is going to be hillary clinton, supported by bill clinton and presumably a still relatively popular president barack obama, trying to win that will be truly the super bowl. and the republican party today is incapable of competing at that level. and it's part of this cultural thing with our consultants. you start out thinking giving away 47% of the country, by the way, which included retirees, veterans. you know, it was an absurdity. and i think this is much more than mitt romney. we didn't blow it because of mitt romney. we blew it because of a party which has refused to engage the reality of american life and refused to take -- to think through what the average american needs for a better future. >> but recall what you said about 1964.
2:53 pm
in december 1964, lyndon johnson was re-elected. goldwater was finished. it was the end of the republican party. and at the end, the republicans nominated a man named richard nixon. and he became president. unthinkable. >> so you can have a campaign between hillary clinton and jeb bush, representing 36 years of bushes on national tickets. and i think 38 years of the clintons at state or federal government. >> back to the future. what about chris christie? he was on jon stewart this week. we have a clip. let's show it. it was a funny moment. >> the week before the storm, you were out there, president obama couldn't lead his way out of a paper bag with a fistful of 20s. and then right after the storm was over, you were like, this man is a leader. doesn't that tell you something about the game? what does that tell you about the game?
2:54 pm
>> what it tells me is people have different skill sets at different times. that's what it does. [ laughter ] >> i see. >> so he wasn't a leader until you needed leadership. >> maybe until he was presented with a stark opportunity to lead. >> chris christie is a very popular politician right now. >> he is on a roll right now. he was on "saturday night live." he was quoting lyrics from springsteen, meet me tonight in atlantic city. he was on "the daily show." this is hilarious. he certainly seems to look the most vibrant of anybody i see on the gop side right now. but it's 2012, david. why are we talking about this so early? >> don't be so cynical. lawrence? >> i don't see how he moves out of new jersey into a national republican campaign. i just don't see it. he has things that he's done on his record there that would just not appeal to the base out there. but i defer to newt on the front-runner. >> newt's point, it's about
2:55 pm
personality. and he's got a very large personality and he goes out there and the perception is, and it may not last, that he tells it like it is. >> julianna, one of the things i tried to get to with congressman mccarthy, what kind of republican civil war is there going to be, especially if there's give on tax rates? there is a signal to that. jim demint leaves the senate because he think he can do more work in terms of tea party activism from the outside in. so all of that pressure doesn't go away. >> that's why it will be interesting to see how paul ryan navigates this budget battle because he is the leader of economic conservatives right now. and what does he do? does he side with john boehner? because they are certainly going to have to make concessions on tax rates. and what does that mean for him? how does that box him in for 2016? >> tea party too? >> there are 30 republican governors. there is a huge base of competency building out there. and if the president's not careful, by 2014, five or six of
2:56 pm
those state capitals are going to look a lot more competent than washington, d.c. and so there's a real -- and these are people who are winning elections, broad-based coalitions. christie is an example. but although he didn't do all that well in this last round, rick perry is another example. rick perry is a smart guy. it's the second biggest state. he is eagerly awaiting californians migrating to texas in large numbers, which they would. >> because of the tax rate? >> the tax rate of california is one of the great opportunities of texas and florida of all time, and they'll both take advantage of it. you're going to see a very different republican party. it's not just going to be the house and senate party. it's going to be a state capital party. >> it's changing and adapting. maybe you can try again. >> i doubt that but one never knows. >> i'm going to leave it there. we have to take a break. we'll be right back in just a moment.
2:57 pm
but when i was in an accident... i was worried the health care system spoke a language all its own with unitedhealthcare, i got help that fit my life. so i never missed a beat. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. i'i invest in what i know.r. i turned 65 last week. i'm getting married. planning a life. there are risks, sure. but, there's no reward without it. i want to be prepared for the long haul. i see a world bursting with opportunities. india, china, brazil, ishares, small-caps, large-caps, ishares. industrials. low cost. every dollar counts. ishares. income. dividends. bonds. i like bonds.
2:58 pm
ishares. commodities. diversification. choices. my own ideas. ishares. i want to use the same stuff the big guys use. ishares. 9 out of 10 large, professional investors choose ishares for their etfs. introducing the ishares core, etfs for the heart of your portfolio. tax efficient and low cost building blocks to help you keep more of what you earn. call your advisor. visit ishares. yeah, ishares. ishares by blackrock. call 1-800-ishares for a prospectus which includes investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. read and consider it carefully before investing. hi, i'm ensure clear... clear, huh? i'm not juice or fancy water. i've got nine grams of protein. that's three times more than me! [ female announcer ] ensure clear. nine grams protein. zero fat. in blueberry/pomegranate and peach.
2:59 pm
thank you all for our discussion this morning. that is all fo thank you all for our discussion this morning. that is all for today. we'll be back next week. in it's sunday, it's "meet the press."