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December 10th, 2012
10:33 AM ET

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) on the fiscal cliff: ‘We need discussion right now’

For the first time in over three weeks, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner looked each other in the eye and actually had a conversation! This meeting comes at a very important time because in just 22 days Americans face severe tax hikes and spending cuts unless these two leaders can find a way to compromise. Neither side would discuss specifics but after yesterday's white house meeting a spokesman for the president said – quote – "the lines of communication remain open." This morning, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) joins “Starting Point” to weigh in on the fiscal cliff and the recent meeting between the president and Speaker Boehner.

Chu says she, “was encouraged to see the meeting between Speaker Boehner and President Obama” and she “really feels a deal has to be made.” She adds “a deal is to be made that would benefit the people if it were done earlier.”

Chu says, “we need discussion right now…and we need to have a discussion where we could have sensible solutions with regard to the safety net programs as well as the tax cuts.”

On the topic of what democrats will bring to the table Chu says, “Something that should have been done a while ago” is a “ change to Medicare in which we can actually negotiate for drug prices. After all we do it for Medicaid. Why can’t we do it for Medicare? That would be a big savings to the Medicare program.”

Filed under: Entitlement • Entitlement reform • Fiscal cliff • Tax cuts • Tax reform • Taxes
December 7th, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Fmr. Sr. White House Advisor says ‘there has to be frank discussions confidentially’ on the fiscal cliff

With 25 days left until the country hurtles off the fiscal cliff and both sides agreeing the wealthy will be expected to pay more, Republicans are looking to see how much they can wring out of the White House in return for giving in on taxes. For President Obama, it's all about first locking in additional revenue from raising taxes on high-income owners, an outcome GOP leaders have long rejected. For Republicans negotiations have been focused on securing commitments on entitlement reforms and spending cuts opposed by Democrats. Sources have confirmed to CNN that staff members on both sides resumed talking on Thursday, after Obama and Boehner spoke by phone the day before. This morning Fmr. Sr. White House Advisor Kenneth Baer joins “Starting Point” to weigh in on fiscal cliff negotiations.

Baer who currently serves as Managing Director for The Harbour Group says part moving forward on the fiscal cliff boils down to Speaker John Boehner’s position and whether or not he will “be able to bring along enough members of his caucus in order that you could pass a big deal.” Baer goes on to add that the possibility of a private meeting between Obama and Boehner is not necessarily a bad thing and that “there has to be frank discussions confidentially.” He adds, “Whatever deal there is would have to come before a vote in the congress and that’s when you have a debate over what the contours of any plan would be.”

Baer concludes that if we do end up going over the fiscal cliff, “there is a way to mitigate [the sequester] for the first few weeks.”

Filed under: Fiscal cliff
December 6th, 2012
10:20 AM ET

Rep. LaTourette (R-OH) says a fiscal cliff deal is ultimately going to be a negotiation between Obama and Boehner

For the first time in a week, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner spoke about the fiscal cliff over the phone, but there’s no word of progress made or future talks planned with only twenty-six days to go before the fiscal cliff.

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), who is a member of the Appropriations Committee, believes that there’s a growing sense in the Republican party that “the President has won this round relative to the rates” but they still need to sit down and work out the spending part of the deal, which he feels can be reached if the President moves forward with entitlement reform.

LaTourette comments that the Republicans’ walk out yesterday, heading home because there are no votes between now and the weekend, is not as significant as it appears. “We’re not doing anything to get this done because there’s nothing we can do,” he says. “This is going to be a negotiation between the President of the United States and House Speaker John Boehner.”

Filed under: Congress • Debt • Entitlement • Entitlement reform • Fiscal cliff • John Boehner • President Barack Obama • Revenue • Spending • Tax cuts • Taxes
December 6th, 2012
09:35 AM ET

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) says Republicans are playing “game of chicken” with the fiscal cliff

House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama finally breaking silence by speaking on the phone yesterday, but with twenty-six days left before we tumble over the fiscal cliff, there’s still no sign of progress, and we could be facing massive tax hikes and spending cuts at the start of the new year.

This morning on “Starting Point”, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), member of the Budget Committee, supports the president’s plan, saying that it is consistent with his campaign promises to extend tax cuts for the middle class, but not for the wealthiest Americans. He adds that the Republicans’ “unspecified proposal” is an “unacceptable” response to the president’s plan.

Merkley believes Republicans are playing a “game of chicken” with the fiscal cliff: “It’s not acceptable that this game of chicken continue… There need to be very specific negotiations. If they need to keep them private and contained for awhile to get into the details, so be it, but action is required.”

Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff • Politics • President Barack Obama • Revenue • Spending • Tax cuts • Taxes
December 5th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling weighs in on fiscal cliff talks: ‘You can’t solve this problem through revenue’

The U.S. is just 27 days away from falling over the fiscal cliff, but there is still no deal in sight. Texas Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling offers his take on the stalemate this morning on “Starting Point”. Hensarling is the newly-named Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and he Co-Chaired the Super Committee on Deficit Reduction.

Hensarling refuses to budge on raising revenue, though he thinks the president will achieve it regardless. “There’s nothing we can do to stop that,” he says, “but the bottom line is you can’t solve this problem through revenue.”

Hensarling refuses to raise tax rates because he says “the fiscal cliff, relative to our nation’s spending driven debt crisis, is a pothole...What’s changed is on the spending side, and yet all this discussion is on the tax revenues.”

Filed under: Congress • Crisis • Debt • Fiscal cliff • Jeb Hensarling • Politics • President Barack Obama • Revenue • Tax cuts • Taxes
December 5th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Cutter says: 'There's plenty of time for compromise' on the fiscal cliff

With 27 days left before the fiscal cliff, talks of a deal in Washington are still at an impasse. President Obama told Republicans that he will not accept a proposal on the fiscal cliff if it does not include raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, rejecting House Speaker Boehner's deficit reduction plan on that basis.

This morning on "Starting Point", Stephanie Cutter, former Deputy Campaign Manager for the Obama 2012 campaign, stresses it is clear that compromise is possible, but Republicans need to come together. Cutter says, "We still have time to put a deal together. The President has a detailed proposal on the table. Republicans need to decide where they want to move. John Boehner needs to decide how he's going to get his own caucus together. They're becoming increasing isolated in their position."

Cutter adds that "there's...plenty of time for compromise. The President's position is clear. We're not going to do anything that hurts the middle class."

Filed under: Barack Obama • Congress • Debt • Fiscal cliff • John Boehner • Politics • President Barack Obama • Tax cuts • Taxes
December 4th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Rep. Becerra: GOP's fiscal cliff counter-offer fails ‘fairness’ test

Tuesday, President Obama is set to meet with governors from both parties to discuss their recommendations to the fiscal cliff crisis. On Monday, the president rejected a GOP proposal laid out in a letter by House leaders that aimed to keep the Bush-era tax cuts intact for everyone including Americans making over $250,000. The GOP proposal would also generate $800 billion in tax revenue by closing loopholes and deductions, and includes $600 billion in savings from government healthcare programs like Medicare.

This plan is a stark contrast to the one presented by the White House last week that calls for raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, seeks $400 billion in savings from government health programs and keeps changes to social security off the table. 

With just 28 days until the country falls off the cliff, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) shares his thoughts on whether both sides can reach a middle ground in time.

Filed under: Fiscal cliff
December 4th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Sen. Ron Johnson shares his take on the GOP Fiscal Cliff counter proposal

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin joins Soledad O’Brien live from the Russell Rotunda this morning with the latest details on the fiscal cliff. The nation is just 28 days from falling over the proverbial fiscal cliff, when automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in. A member of the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Johnson shares whether fiscal cliff talks have hit an impasse or come closer to a deal.

December 3rd, 2012
11:03 AM ET

Fmr. Commerce Secy. Carlos Gutierrez: Obama must address Medicare, entitlements in fiscal cliff talks

Carlos Gutierrez, the former Commerce Secretary under President George W. Bush, joins “Starting Point” on Monday to discuss the impending fiscal cliff, arguing that the stakes of the cliff are more significant than increasing revenue in the short-term.

“The big picture is more than just the fiscal cliff,” Gutierrez says. “This is about the debt. It's about the fiscal deficit. It's about our economy. It's about our future.”

Gutierrez criticizes President Obama, who he says is “playing a very risky game,” for making the fiscal cliff talks tax-focused. “This is the biggest deal in this presidency,” the former secretary of commerce argues. “Why doesn't he explain to people why we have to do something about expenses, about Medicare, about entitlement, that they're going to go broke in ten years?”

"I think we've got to stop playing poker, work together, and understand that we're working to save the country," he adds.

Filed under: Economy • Fiscal cliff
December 3rd, 2012
10:48 AM ET

Rep. Connie Mack: 'Neither side has put up a credible plan' for addressing the fiscal cliff

With the president and Congressional Democrats insisting on raising taxes on America's top earners, and Republicans continuing to resist, House Speaker John Boehner gave a blunt update on the progress of fiscal cliff negotiations yesterday, saying that both sides have gotten "nowhere."

Republicans insist that the $1.6 trillion in new revenue called for in the president's plan is unacceptable, but until they present a plan of their own, the White House is standing by its proposal.

Republican Representatives Connie and Mary Bono Mack sit down with the Starting Point team this morning to weigh in on the apparent stalemate.

"No one should be surprised we are in the position we are in right now," Rep. Connie Mack says. "It is the same people negotiating the same deal all over again. And so when you get into that - what is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? When we did the super committee last time, that was a complete failure. So no one should be surprised at where we are. And I would say that neither side has put up a credible plan."

Rep. Mary Mack builds on her husband's comments, saying that the American people should be angry about the ongoing impasse.

"The truth of the matter is there's such a breakdown within the Congress of trust and respect between both sides that we cannot trust one another to truly negotiate in fairness," the Congresswoman says. "It's very sad."

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