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December 28th, 2012
10:32 AM ET

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) says averting fiscal cliff will require leadership

With the fiscal cliff only four days away, President Obama will meet with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle Friday to discuss a potential last-minute solution to the impending cliff. Sen. Olympia Snow (R-ME) joins "Starting Point" to discuss what it will take for Washington to pass a bill and avoid the cliff.

Snowe says that closer to the deadline officials may be willing to come to an agreement, "but then again it will require the leaders to talk to their caucuses and talk to the individual members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and understanding and underscoring the peril that we're placing the country this moment in time and that we have to resolve these issues."

The moderate Republican senator from Maine adds that she hopes that Obama and congressional leaders will be able to agree on a framework that Senate can address.

December 28th, 2012
08:47 AM ET

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) talks fiscal cliff standoff: 'problem...can't be shifted onto the middle class'

The countdown continues with just four days to go. Not just to New Years Day, but to the day the country falls over the fiscal cliff—unless leaders in Washington can reach a deal to avoid it. Key lawmakers will attempt to do that in a high-stakes meeting later today at the White House. President Obama is meeting with the four congressional leaders—Boehner, Pelosi, Reid and McConnell—at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. But the rhetoric is only getting more angry and disconnected in these final moments. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat from Michigan, joins “Starting Point” with more live from D.C.

Sen. Stabenow believes that there is more bipartisan talk in the Senate than in the House. “We're having a lot of very important, very good, positive conversations between Democrats and Republicans, I believe the president does. The tough part is in the House, where they have taken this very extreme position about protecting the wealthiest Americans at all costs, even holding middle class families hostage to do it. And that really isn't rhetoric,” Sen. Stabenow says. “That’s what we're seeing over and over again. We have one bottom line, and that is when we get all done, we gotta solve the problem and can't be shifted onto the middle class one more time. Other than that, we want to sit down and continue to solve it.”

December 27th, 2012
09:22 AM ET

Senator Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT) talks possibility of a fiscal cliff solution just five days away from deadline: 'I'm really hopeful'

President Obama and the Senate are returning to Washington today after taking a Christmas Break. They now have only five days to act to avoid the fiscal cliff as they wait to see if the House will come into session. The GOP is meanwhile putting pressure on Senate Democrats to make the next move in the fiscal cliff standoff. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is a Democrat from Connecticut. He joins “Starting Point” live from D.C.

"I'm really hopeful," Sen. Blumenthal says. "I think there is still sufficient time to reach a deal if we use the common ground that we have. And that common ground is that nobody wants to go over the fiscal cliff."

December 27th, 2012
08:43 AM ET

Five days out from fiscal cliff, Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH): 'everything needs to be on the table'

President Barack Obama and the Senate are returning to Washington today after taking a Christmas Break. They now have only five days to act to avoid the fiscal cliff as they wait to see if the House will come into session. The House left town after Republicans failed to bring a vote on their own Plan B last week. Ohio Republican Congressman Steve Latourette seemed exasperated about that. Rep. LaTourette is a member of the Appropriations Committee. He joins “Starting Point” live from D.C.

Rep. LaTourette says "everything needs to be on the table" to reach a deal averting the fisacl cliff or "this is gonna be a huge problem."

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Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff • GOP
December 26th, 2012
08:57 AM ET

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) weighs the possibility of a fiscal cliff compromise: 'we can find that middle ground'

Just six days away from falling over the fiscal cliff, and still no deal. Congress returns to D.C. this Thursday after taking a Christmas vacation. Let's hope lawmakers bring with them little bit of left-over Christmas spirit. The president will leave Hawaii very late tonight to come back to Washington. With the latest on the fiscal cliff is Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida. She is the most senior Republican woman in the entire House.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen believes lawmakers do not want to go over the fiscal cliff and a compromise is inevitable. “I’m very optimistic that if all of us pull our weight and do some serious conversations, we will have a bi-partisan solution,” Rep. Ros-Lehtinen says. “Let’s give up a little bit. Each side can concede a little and I think we can find that middle ground.”

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also talks about her big role in getting an ex-marine out of a nightmarish prison in Mexico and back to his family for the holidays. Fmr. Marine Jon Hammar was released from the prison thanks to help from the Congresswoman. She has been in constant touch with his family.

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Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff
December 24th, 2012
09:41 AM ET

Norquist: Obama 'wants to take us over the fiscal cliff'

With just eight days left until the country goes off the fiscal cliff, all is quiet in Washington because Congress and the president are on vacation.

219 Congressmen and 39 Senators in the new Congress have signed Grover Norquist's vow to not raise taxes, and the Americans for Tax Reform president joins Starting Point today to weigh in on the ongoing negotiations.

Saying that the president wants to take the country over the cliff because he "needs an excuse for the next four years of failure," Norquist asserts that "the regulations and spending that he’s put on the economy for the next four years are going to put us in a recession regardless of the fiscal cliff."

Norquist also discusses House Speaker Boehner's "Plan B" proposal, calling the plan a "step in the right direction."


December 21st, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY): 'Raising taxes in a bad economy is a bad idea'

With only 11 days until the end of the year, Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY) weighs in on the impending fiscal cliff and the failure of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to secure the votes for "Plan B."

"I have every bit of faith in the speaker and I've watched this entire process. He's really trying to do the best he can under the circumstances for the American people, for everyone, 100 percent of the people we're serving," Hayworth says, adding that Boehner is faced with an "exceedingly difficult challenge."

Hayworth explains that while she wants to do all she can to avoid the fiscal cliff, raising taxes is not an option. "Raising taxes in a bad economy is a bad idea. So we're trying to work as hard as we can to relieve as much of that burden as possible," she says.

"We don't want to go over the cliff. What we want to do is provide every measure of relief that we can," she says of the House Republicans.


Filed under: Fiscal cliff
December 19th, 2012
11:13 AM ET

Rep. Cole (R-OK) says Benghazi report is 'damning indictment on State Department performance'

On Tuesday a 39-page review of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was released. The blistering report blames "systemic failures" at the State Department for the terrorist attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. An independent review board concluded that the security at the facility was "grossly inadequate" and officials in Washington, D.C. ignored "repeated requests" to beef up personnel there. The report also said there was a "lack of transparency, responsiveness and leadership at the senior levels," in Washington, Tripoli and Benghazi. This morning Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) joins “Starting Point” to weigh in on the report as well as the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington.

Cole says the independent report is a very “damning indictment on State Department performance.” Some parts of the report however point fingers toward Congress and the spending cuts they approved but Cole says, “There’s usually a lot of latitude within the State Department budget about where they put resources. So giving the State Department less money doesn’t mean there’s less money for security. It means maybe they should reprioritize where they’re putting some of their dollars.” He adds, “There’s clearly a lot of blame to go around” but that “the administration is responsible here. That’s what the executive branch does is run these departments and in this case frankly they failed and it had tragic consequences.”

The report also states that the board found no U.S. government employee engaged in misconduct and as a result did not recommend any individual be disciplined. In response to this Cole says, “When you don’t say somebody was responsible – there were all these failures, it was a terrible situation but nobody was responsible – that just doesn’t square with the facts… and somebody didn’t get the job done.”

On the topic of the fiscal cliff Cole says, “I think the two sides are still a ways apart…but I think at the end of the day if you look at where both sides were Friday and where they were yesterday morning the differences are narrower in the last 72 hours.” He adds that’s the latest negotiations “doesn’t mean we have a solution but we’re moving toward one another.”

December 19th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Rep. Van Hollen: People 'way out of the mainstream' are dictating terms in the House

Although the nation's attention has been focused elsewhere over the past few days, the country has continued to skid toward the fiscal cliff.

Speaker John Boehner is offering a "Plan B" that would raise taxes on people making more than a million dollars if a deal isn't reached and President Obama has raised his tax hike threshold from incomes of $250,000 to $400,000.

Maryland Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen joins Starting Point this morning to discuss the various proposals, calling the GOP's "Plan B," "another effort by Speaker Boehner to minimize the impact on high-income earners."

Van Hollen calls Obama's willingness to put changes to Social Security on the negotiating table "an indication of how far [he's] been willing to go to try and meet Republicans halfway," remarking that after Obama made this concession, "Republicans  [ran] away from the negotiating table to try this other thing."

"Speaker Boehner is not able to get the very extreme Tea Party members of his caucus to go along," Rep. Van Hollen says. "People who are way out of mainstream are running the show and dictating terms in the House of Representatives."

December 14th, 2012
11:12 AM ET

Fmr. Rep. Glickman: Somebody has to articulate significance of fiscal cliff to the American people

With just 18 days to go until massive tax hikes and spending cuts are triggered, America is inching closer and closer to the edge of the fiscal cliff.

In an article for The Huffington Post, former Democratic Congressman Dan Glickman argues that President Obama should schedule an address before a joint session of Congress to explain the various dynamics of the fiscal cliff negotiations and provide the country with "a teachable moment."

Glickman elaborates on this suggestion on Starting Point this morning, saying, "Somebody has to articulate the significance of what have we're talking about to the American people so they understand it, and it has to be done in a nonpolitical, nonpartisan way... I don't think the American people really understand what's going on there, other than Washington seems to be at its games again like it played before the election. Only the president has the bully pulpit."

Echoing a John Kennedy speech, Glickman says, "Somebody has to ask the American people, the wealthy and others as well, the whole society, whether they're willing to sacrifice for the good of the country and to maintain America's strength in its economy around the world," Glickman says. "So far, this has been an inside Washington debate."


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