Senators differ on fiscal cliff but hold out hope for a deal
December 2nd, 2012
10:36 AM ET
8 years ago

Senators differ on fiscal cliff but hold out hope for a deal

(CNN) - Two high-profile senators disagreed Sunday on the president's deficit-reduction proposal but expressed optimism that a deal can be reached before Congress hits an end-of-the year deadline to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire discounted the plan presented by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Thursday, saying on CNN's "State of the Union" that the proposal was a "rerun" that resembled previous policies President Barack Obama has put forward, yet failed to see through in the Senate.

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"It has to happen," she said, referring to the likelihood of Congress reaching a deal. "And I truly hope that it does happen. But I'm really disappointed by the president's initial proposal."

The president's plan calls for $1.6 trillion in increased revenue, some of it the result of higher tax rates for families making more than $250,000 a year. Obama also wants to close loopholes, limit deductions, raise the estate tax rate to 2009 levels and increase taxes on capital gains and dividend taxes.

In return, multiple sources told CNN, Obama is offering $400 billion in new cuts to Medicare and other entitlement programs. Specifics on cuts would be decided next year, the sources said.

But Ayotte and other Republicans say the entitlement cuts don't go far enough to make a meaningful dent in closing the nation's sizable deficit. They stress a need for more spending cuts but argue revenue should be increased strictly through tax code reform, including the closing of loopholes and limiting of deductions.

By placing more emphasis on the revenue side, the president is playing politics, Ayotte said.
"The tax rate issue is more of a political trophy than an economic solution," she told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia argued the president's plan was just the first round of negotiations, describing last week's proposal as a "term sheet."

"In any negotiation I've been involved in, you put down the term sheet; the other side comes back and says 'No, I like this part. I don't like this part,'" he said.

Warner, who recently declined a bid to run for another term as governor of Virginia, said he feels confident a deal will take place and agreed any plan must include entitlement cuts. He also praised the president for meeting with business leaders and labor groups in recent weeks, saying Obama is including the American public in the conversation.

But Warner expressed a sense of urgency and said he hoped Congress and the White House "would actually get to those negotiations" soon. While Obama held in-person meetings with congressional leaders on November 16, a second meeting has yet to take place.

"Every day that clicks off, we are hurting the economy as we go into the Christmas retail season," the first-term senator said. "People are probably not buying because they may not know all the details of the cliff, but know bad stuff's going to happen if we don't get our act together and get it done."

- CNN's Jessica Yellin and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

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

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Yonni

    Does this lady know that Judging by his performance president Obama is reelected?

    December 2, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    “Only 28% say that Washington officials will act like responsible adults in this matter, with 67% saying they believe they will behave like spoiled children” CNN poll

    Tim Geithner gave the proposal, Now time for GOP to put their proposal and start the negotiation

    Simple Sen. Kelly Ayotte is spoiled child

    December 2, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. John in Brooklyn

    What Senator Ayotte fails to recognize is that her party lost seats in the House AND the Senate AND lost a presidential race that was the Republicans' to lose. Therefore, the mandate to compromise is on HER shoulders, not the Democrats'.

    December 2, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. USMCJock

    Why is Obama going after entitlements when he can go after wasteful spending and fraud in the military, which amounts to over $180 billion dollars of waste and spending? Over 10 years, that would well over $1.8 trillion dollars!! I'm angry that we are falling into this GOP trap that entitlements have to be cut, when that's simply not the case. They just don't want to be held accountable to the voters for it, yet the want a Democratic POTUS, to go after entitlements that affect his base. This is what makes me angry about the republican party, which I am a member of. The GOP wants to be seen as fiscal hawks. They want to be seen as being serious on cutting spending, but they won't go after the military where there is more waste and fraud than anywhere else in the budget.

    December 2, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. Gurgyl

    Raise tax on wealthy is the only way out. Put little bit of Protectionism in it. Do not touch SS and Medicare which are the dire needs to this nation. If you want watch SS for fraud.

    December 2, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. Michael Q

    Senator Ayotte needs to stop talking, listen to the pulse of the nation, get off her Republican 'high horse' and compromise! Yes, compromise based on the merits of the situation, not the Party line.

    December 2, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. TNPatriot

    "The tax rate issue is more of a political trophy than an economic solution,"

    Kinda of like the past two years of NO TAX INCREASES for top 2% and draconian cuts for programs to help those most in need, by Republicans. Face it Senator, your folks LOST the big game and the voters have sent you the message to Shut up, stop crying and start doing your know represent the PEOPLE!

    December 2, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. poopmeister

    One thing is certain, President Obama was very clear on raising taxes on the wealthy and won the election by an overwhelming majority. The GOP needs to come to those terms and make the deal. The rich have been keeping all of the classes waaaay below them for far too long, time for wages to start to increase and the only way to do that is if we unite as the United States, to not bow down to the "dark side" of capitalism.

    December 2, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. notleftbehind

    The class warfare is great. Everybody who makes $250K I guess didn't work as hard as the bums in labor groups and average achievers in the 50K group. Grow up. Start paying more taxes and cutting spending in your own budget if u want to be propped up by govt programs.

    Inflation basically makes 250k for a fam with 2 kids who pay for their own stuff, doesn't rely on govt checks, pay loans, and more no much better off with post tax dollars. It's hilarious that everybody talks about simple arithmetic but sucks at math. Even more insane that over time dems are goin to themselves destroy benefits of upperward mobility.

    December 2, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Kim

    The Republicans need to submit their proposal the the President ASAP now so they can meet in the middle. What they really want is to cut all SS, Medicare etc but they want the President to take the heat on cutting these programs that help retirees, etc. Why should the Democrats list the things the Republicans want cut, that is their job to put those ideas out there. Man up and tell the American people what programs you want to go after.

    December 2, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. ST

    Ayotte and her fellow republicans are pretending not to understand what it means when a person wins. He doesn't let the loser take over and act as the winner. It doesn't go that way!!!!

    December 2, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. 40acres

    Kelly thinks these proposals are "reruns"? Well no kidding Kelly, that's what he campaigned on and that's what he won on. Does she also think the offers from Boehner are reruns? They are.

    December 2, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Ray E. (Georgia)

    FOR YOU THAT DON'T KNOW THE REPUBLICIAL PLAN HERE IT IS. WRITE IT DOWN AND MEMORIZE IT1 The Republicians is for you to take care of yourself. You have been given all the tools. The Opertunity to get an education and find a job. Buy your own soap and wash your own ass. Don't ask someone else to do it. Now, if you are too stupid to understand this post you are just like the Libs say. You are too stupid to take care of yourself and need a Nanny. The President made enourmous statements that there will be Shovel Ready jobs. There aren't any! You spent the money! The Till is empty! The horse is dead and about to go off the cliff. Figured it out yet?

    December 2, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. DSCA

    ok, someone please, without partisan spin, tell me if/how/why there is a siginificant diff between raising the highest rate from 35 to 39.6, vs limiting deductions to 50,000$. The numbers I've seen say the the deduction limit will raise MORE money than rate hikes, the R's proposed it, Obama rejected it. I voted for O both times, support him, but it seems that would be an offer the Dems should take – rejecting it seems to be in bad faith to me, a Democrat. What am I missing?

    December 2, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. Mary Ann Savage

    if I had put all that money I put into Social Security into the stock market would I be Better off? Not by a long shot.
    And I keep thinking about Andy Rooney telling us that Medicare does a good job considering how big it is. And Ben B ernanke telling us how it Will take a long time for a real fiscal fix.
    And here I am on an austerity income, doing without meds because my health care prescription plan reached max. Wondering how to keep up an illusion of-if not prosperity at least sustainability-for another year.
    And NO ONE seems to care about my interests much less represent me. I am not opressed: just ignored

    December 2, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  16. BKW

    Games congress plays. It is time to consider consequences of your manipulative behavior, Congress, on the country rather than just yourself and your partisian politics.

    December 2, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. JohnReedjr

    Ayotte should spend some more time in her home state rather than angling for national exposure. She would see her buddies Bass and Guinta...gone. She would see Democrats in charge of the NH House. She would see Hassan in the Governor's office. She would see her buddy O'Brien slithering away after trying to turn the state hard right. She would see her future. She was a mediocre Attorney General allowed to stay in office by a Democratic Governor, and rode the Tea Party coattails into the Senate. She has no Bona Fides to speak on national issues, and is a puppet for the hard right.

    December 2, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire , , One angry Woman .

    First to support Romney , First to criticize Susan Rice .
    Last to admit she was wrong on both counts .

    December 2, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Alex

    Why to negotiate? Why do we have elections? Is Republican congressmen/women, senators bigger than the citizens of the country? If majority of citizens told that we want to increase taxes on rich 2% and no tax increase for middle class. – Was it not clear to Republicans!!!

    I as a citizen want all the discussion open in public – All the proposal submitted in public and also which congressmen/women are in support or not! Also each item separately voted. So politician don't have excuse to say they were in favor of this but because of that they voted in opposite.

    December 2, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |