It's exhausting to listen, isn't it? The bobbleheads (especially the Republicans and the media elite) are so endlessly cynical, pushing lies they probably don't even believe, but think it helps them maintain an advantage. (It's like watching professional wrestling.) And just like in wrestling, This Week moderator George Stephanopoulos seems to miss every single foul:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. Just over three weeks away from that fiscal cliff. We've just come off a week of press conferences, speeches, symbolic votes in the Senate, but less than a single hour of serious negotiating.
So what will it take to break the stalemate? We're going to get into that and a whole lot more this morning with two big roundtables of elected officials and experts. Let's begin with the lawmakers, Senators Tom Coburn for the Republicans, Debbie Stabenow for the Democrats. And here in the studio, Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva and Republican Jeb Hensarling.
And, Congressman Hensarling, let me begin with you. The president's been absolutely clear of at least one thing. He says that for there to be a deal, tax rates on the wealthy are going to have to go up. If that's his bottom line, can there be a deal?
HENSARLING: Well, again, as the speaker has said, unfortunately, what we see out of the president is my way or the highway. Before the election, he said he wanted $800 billion worth of revenue, $1 of revenue for every $2.50 of spending reductions. And now, after the election, it's a little bit of bait-and-switch. Now he's asking for $1.6 trillion. And if you look closely, for every $1 of tax increase, there's about 20 cents of spending reductions...
Yes, how dare the president read the election returns and up the ante?
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he said he can negotiate on the number. I'm talking about the rates. If the rates go up, can the Republicans in the House accept a tax rate increase?
HENSARLING: No Republican wants to vote for a rate tax increase. I mean, what that is going to do, according to the National Federation of Independent Business that commissioned a study by Ernst & Young, is cost 700,000 Americans to go from having paychecks to unemployment checks. Because of what that's going to do to the economy, George, hardworking Americans are going to see a 2 percent reduction in their paycheck if they...
Okay, hold up a minute here. The NFIB is not, as they like to bill themselves, "the voice of small business." They're a lobby shop for large corporations, and just about everyone with an ounce of integrity has debunked their bought-and-paid-for "study." So why doesn't George Stephanopoulos know this? Even worse, does he know it and decides to keep it under wraps to lend validity to the argument? Doesn't claiming the title of journalist require a little, you know, actual work?
STEPHANOPOULOS: So then there's no deal?
HENSARLING: Listen, the president, again -- if he would -- if he would do what he said before the election, as opposed to the bait-and-switch, what Republicans feel like is a little bit like Charlie Brown running to kick the football and Lucy pulls it away.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring...
HENSARLING: But ultimately it's a spending problem. That is where the problem is. The American people know it. And this talk of taxes is almost irrelevant to the size of the trillions and trillions of debt.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But not to -- but not to the president's negotiating position. Let me bring it to Senator Coburn, because you've signaled, Senator, that you could sign on to a tax rate increase, provided that the president and the Democrats come forward with significant spending cuts and entitlement reform. So what is it going to take for you to sign on to a tax rate increase?
COBURN: Well, significant entitlement reform. The real problem -- the president's proposing 7 percent of the solution. What we ought to be working on is the other 93 percent, because even if you do what he wants to do on tax rates, you only affect 7 percent of the deficit. What we have done is spend ourselves into a hole, and we're not going to raise taxes and borrow money and get out of it.
And so will I accept a tax increase as a part of a deal to actually solve our problems? Yes. But the president's negotiating with the wrong people. He needs to be negotiating with our bondholders in China, because if we don't put a credible plan on -- on the discussion, ultimately, we all lose.
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