Ah, Republicans in disarray. It's a sight to see, and Senator Isakson says what we all know: If John Boehner had been able to keep his caucus united around a "deal", a deal would have been done. And because he wasn't, not only won't a deal be done, but the best anyone can do at this point is to pass the Senate bill extending tax cuts for the middle class.
Isakson admits what the House seems to be in a constant state of denial over: The only legislation that will pass now or after January 1st are the middle class tax cut extensions. As a practical matter, there's no reason not to extend those before the end of the year. Well, there's one reason: John Boehner won't accept reality and put the Senate bill up for a vote because it would pass because a majority of Democrats support it and God forbid they should do anything with the other side.
As for "miracles on Pennsylvania Avenue," let's just say I expect to see a snowball in hell before any miracles in Washington, DC.
Full transcript below the fold.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Isakson, he says that every Republican, every Democrat in Washington says everyone earning under $250,000 should not get a tax hike. So he wants to put that on the floor along with an extension of unemployment benefits and some relief from this sequester that's supposed to hit January 1. Any chance you could support that, Senator Isakson?
ISAKSON: Well, I felt like the House should have gone ahead and passed Speaker Boehner's bill because it addressed the subject and we'd still be in negotiation. And the president's statement is right, no one wants taxes to go up on the middle class. I don't want them to go up on anybody, but I'm not in the majority in the United States Senate and he's the president of the United States.
If we get down to the end of this year and the only choice we have is to save taxes going up on the middle class, then I would support that, but I wish we would have a comprehensive bill that dealt with spending, dealt with entitlements and dealt with taxes altogether. That's really what we ought to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But is that still realistic with time so short right now?
ISAKSON: It's not realistic, but it was realistic December 1 when we had a lot of time. Unfortunately we killed a lot of time politically while the clock was ticking. It's time for us to get down to work and do the people's business.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator Klobuchar, you just heard Senator Isakson say he would support a bill like that if it came to the floor even though it's not his first preference. Is that what you expect your leader, Senator Reid, to bring to the floor?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, we have already passed that in the senate, as you know, George, for keeping the tax cuts in place for the middle class, people making under $250,000 a year. And as you know, if we go back to the Clinton levels for people making over $250,000 we literally save a trillion dollars in ten years.
But I will say, Johnny Isakson is a guy I like a lot. And you can see his willingness to talk about things in the middle is what we need in Washington. And the main thing that needs to happen here is that Speaker Boehner and the House of Representatives have to come back to Washington. The Senate is coming back on December 27th. I think, you know, most members are used to spending that Christmas to New Year's at home in their home states. It is time to get back to the table. And I hope if anyone sees these representatives from the House in line shopping or getting their Christmas turkey they wish them a Merry Christmas, they're civil, and then say go back to the table, not your own table, the table in Washington, because middle class people shouldn't have their taxes go up an average of $2000 a year and we also should start making some meaningful reform on the debt.
And I would love to see a bigger deal. I'd like nothing more and there's always miracles. It's Christmas, "Miracle on 34th Street."
STEPHANOPOULOS: It might take a miracle to get that...
KLOBUCHAR: ...miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That might take a miracle.
But Senator Isakson, you've been pretty confident all year long this fiscal cliff would not -- we wouldn't go off the cliff, that taxes would not go up on everyone, the sequester would not kick in.
Do you still have that confidence? Do you think it's a greater possibility right now?
ISAKSON: I sold houses for 33 years, George, I'm an eternal optimist. But time is running out. And the truth of the matter is if we do fall off the cliff after the president is inaugurated he'll come back propose just what he proposed yesterday in leaving Washington and we'll end up adopting it, but why should we put the markets in such turmoil and the people in such misunderstanding or lack of confidence. Why not go ahead and act now?
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, that sounds like both senators want some action there.