December 2nd, 2012
03:02 PM ET
9 years ago

Looking at a potential fiscal cliff deal and an early glance at 2016

(CNN) - With higher taxes and large spending cuts potentially just weeks away, a panel with CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday looked at whether Congress and the White House could come together to forge a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill newspaper, said that discussions were moving backward rather than making any progress. She said Republicans feel that President Obama is "inflaming" the negotiations by taking his case directly to voters, as he did this week in Pennsylvania.

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Joining Stoddard on the panel on "State of the Union" were Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, a Democrat; Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO and vice chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for 2011-2012; and Susan Page, USA Today's Washington bureau chief.

Schweitzer blamed Congress for the current situation, saying the lawmakers created the fiscal cliff in the first place. "It was Congress that lit a fire to the barn, with the expectation that they would get credit for putting the fire out later," said Schweitzer. He also slammed Republicans for being offended by Obama's campaigning, saying they should put on their "big boy pants."

Fiorina contrasted the current situation to the new movie "Lincoln," saying that Abraham Lincoln used a lot of political capital on a big issue, passing the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. Obama, she said, was instead pushing a "small idea" by calling for higher tax rates on the wealthy, and not spending any political capital to do so. Fiorina added that in order for Republicans to reach a deal with the president, both sides have to feel that they are getting something, and a deal will not be reached if it feels like a "win-lose."

Page said it was too soon for a deal to be reached, as there is not yet an incentive to reach a deal with the deadline still a few weeks away. She said it was more likely that a deal, if reached, would happen in late December. "If you are planning to make New Years' Eve plans, I would suggest you cancel them," she said. Page added that the Obama administration, while wanting higher taxes, was not demanding that tax rates go up to Clinton-era levels. That, she said, could be the opening for a compromise with Republicans, although many liberal House Democrats and conservative House Republicans might not support any deal.

Stoddard agreed with Page's assessment on taxes, saying that she had been told by Republicans that they were willing to accept higher rates "They are not in the interest, after this election, in defending millionaires," she said, and would probably settle for an increase to about 37% from the current 35% top rate. However, added Stoddard, Republicans want Obama to give up some ground on spending in return, and if he does not, then they will not also agree to increase the debt ceiling, which must be raised by early next year to avoid default.

Schweitzer said right now both the White House and Republicans are trying to have "a give and a take," which he considered a part of any deal. He predicted that a deal would be reached, but that it would be a "mini-grand deal," not including major reforms.

Fiorina agreed, but said she would be disappointed if Congress "punted" again on the nation's fiscal problems.

The panel also briefly looked at the potential candidates for the 2016 presidential race. Stoddard said the top Republican candidates at the moment are probably this year's vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, whom she called the "de facto leader of the party among conservatives," and Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who she believed could help push the GOP to support some type of immigration reform.

Fiorina said the focus on the next election, rather than focusing on the now, was a contributor to dysfunction in Washington. Schweitzer agreed, saying only Washington was focusing on 2016 at this point.

Page asked Schweitzer, who is term-limited and leaving the governorship in January, if he would be interested in running for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Schweitzer declined to answer, although he did say in a somewhat joking manner that he "had a warm regard for the people of Iowa and New Hampshire."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. ddblah

    It's pretty funny. Obama at least as a proposal. GOP has all the talk, no specific proposal. Get real, GOP. If you want to cut medicare and offend old voters (and potentially loss Florida), you expect Obama will do it for you? How childish are you?

    December 2, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Watch out 2014 GOP idiots–not 2016, HILLARY IS READY THEN.

    December 2, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    President Obama needs to go one step further, START CALLING OUT NAMES SO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL KNOW WHO THE OBSTRUCTIONIST ARE SO THEY DON'T RETURN TO CONGRESS, I'd even say take it a step further, Americans should demand a special election to get rid of them and send them packing.

    December 2, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Um, Well,
    A lot of pople need to put on their Big Boy Pants but too many of them still want a Baby Sitter. When those adult Osprey's raise their chicks up tp maturity they fly away. The now grown chicks have to fly or die. It is time for a lot of you to get out of the Nest!

    December 2, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. tess

    of course he's taking it to the people – the idiots that re-elected the fool. he can't stay in washington and deal with anybody that opposes him – his fragile ego can't take anybody saying no to him . what a waste of a human being! i've resigned myself to 4 years of pure hell, then when he's finally GONE we will have to re-build what is left of america. i have never hated a president before, bill clinton was just an over-sexed creep – this one is evil!

    December 2, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Not going to happen.

    December 2, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Just a Citizen

    If we can brainstorm (and write them down) fiscal-cliff-related ideas why can't our Congressional leaders? Examples are shown below. Some are serious but a few are just products of frustration...

    1. Approve the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250k – do this one today.
    2. Charge higher rates for those above $250k – but not all they way up to previous levels (compromise here!).
    3. Leave deduction for home mortgage interest alone but only for the interest for a maximum of 80% of the home's cost.
    4. Heavily tax tobacco, alcohol, marijuana (legalize), cosmetics, fuel inefficient vehicles, fast food, and prepared foods.
    5. Remove the cap (about $110k/year) on Social Security Contributions – phase it in over 5 years.
    6. Tax capital gain, deferred income, and unearned income as "income".
    7. Allow deductions for 100% of medical, long-term care, and dental insurance.
    8. Allow tax exemptions for two adults and three others per family – all other dependents get no exemptions.
    9. Consolidate the Army and Marine Corps capabilities under "Ground Forces & Tactical Air Power" (no duplication).
    10. Consolidate the Navy and strategic Air Force assets into "Sea, Strategic Air and Space Forces" (no duplication).
    11. Give healthcare providers terrific tax break for income from Medicare and Tricare services.
    12. Cancel Congressional pay and benefits on October 1 for every day America operates without an approved budget.
    13. Reduce college loan rates for students performing community service and those with high academic achievements.
    14. Reduce foreign aid 10% per year until it is no longer a part of the budget – leave some level of disaster relief funding.
    15. End all trade and travel barriers to Cuba.
    16. Make it a felony crime for politicians to accept ANY contributions from lobbyists.
    17. Do not provide additional welfare for children born after the first welfare check is accepted.
    18. Allow the E.R. at hospitals to turn away adults without Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, or cash.
    19. Support increasing medical insurance rates for those who smoke, drink alcohol in excess, or become obese.
    20. Make all voters pass the same civics test required of immigrants seeking citizenship.

    December 2, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. joepa14221

    if you credit Obama for retreading his budget, then you have to give the Republicans credit for the Paul Ryan budget. But i guess you are a cool aid drinker too.

    December 2, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. Gary Dee, Portland, Oregon

    It will all be negotiated out. The final deal will probably look like a) tax hikes for those making over $1 Million (not $250K), b) elimination of some tax deductions, and c) a cap on total deductions. The final point could involve a 10-15 year phasing out of the mortgage interest deduction.

    December 2, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  10. honest marie

    America should hold Lindsey and Boehner if this nation goes over a physical cliff. They want to raise taxes on Americans while savings the pockets of those who bankroll their elections and that of the limited egoistic ultra conservative GOP they lead. Graham and Boehner stop posting a stumbling block in the progress of America.

    December 2, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. Larry L

    End foreign aid – Israel, Egypt – all of it.

    Remove the $110,000 cap on income for Social Security taxes and bump the retirement age up about a year. Eliminate the Social Security Survivor's benefits for children over 18 years of age.

    Freeze the levels of defense spending (adjusted for inflation) to those prior to the War-on-Terror. Transition to a single-theater capability for our military forces – beefed up for special operations and cyber-war scenarios. Get rid of military hardware needed for "the last war" and focus on "the next war".

    Refuse payment for federally-funded medical expenses most directly attributable to personal behavior – smoking, alcoholism, obesity, and failure to practice minimal levels of personal responsibility for preventive medicine. Protect the healthcare industry (and the taxpayers) from having the costs of medical care for people who choose an unhealthy lifestyle – allow these folks to die without destroying medical care for the rest of America. Provide tort reform to reduce medical liability costs.

    These actions would go a long ways towards fixing the spending and entitlement roadblock.

    December 2, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  12. Larry in Houston

    2014 mid-terms cannot come soon enough – once we get Nancy back – this country can do it's business. and you won't have all that connstant back biting , and fighting, like Boehner wants to constantly do.

    December 2, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  13. AzPatriot

    I have an idea.: ok Obozo gave free citizenship to illegal criminals, and more money to lazy people who won't look for work. How about we cut food stamps, free house's, cars, medical, I-phones to lazy people at TAX payer expens. You know the 53% Romney was concerned with. Also those who do have jobs and receive food stamps or other TAX payer funded services have the amount they received plus 15% deducted from the tax refunds they get every year. That would cut a major portion out of the budget. People wouldn't be so willing to get these benefits if they had to repay them in this manner, also by garneshing thier tax returns it would be repayed. Then we look to international aid. Cut it 100% we don't need to send 20billion a year to Pakistan or Isreail. Not to Mexico for the cartels when well the cartels are now U.S.Citizens, thanks Obozo, and we are so far in debt. Bring our troops home to secure our borders and shoot ALL who violate them, and let the rest if the world do what it has been doing for a thousand years kill themselves.

    December 3, 2012 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    Republicans offended!!!???!!! by the dems first offer then. McConnel laughing, Boehner flabbergasted and no counter proposal of any meaningful type.
    Now its my turn I am not only fed up of laughing at any proposal. The fiscal cliff is a serious matter not a Joke. Flabbergasted, at which comment I am just the same flabbergasted but very disgusted as well.
    For gods sake Republicans put your counter offer on the table then meaningful negotiations and known parameters exist and compromise might just be reached.
    Give us some leadership Mr Mcconnel and Mr Boehner not just meaningless rhetoric!! That achieves nothing other than no hope and yoru espoused stalemate defined = a no win no loss environment. In this case do nothing and everyone loses.... ( not stalemate).Ddo something propose something and stop asking dems who you laugh at anyway disrespectfully to lead the way... they did you laugh and cry stalemate like the spolit brats you are.
    The fiscal cliff awaits on your heads be it!!
    Candy this segment was pathetic ( not up to your normal levels) your contributors were even more pathetic. They just avoided the issue and how offended they were at each sides behaviour/speech I could not give two hoots about whose offended by free speech.

    December 3, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |