I expect the talking heads over at Fox to be attacking President Obama during these negotiations on the upcoming "fiscal cliff" or as some have called it, the "fiscal curb," but how bad are things for John Boehner and the House Republicans when even Bill Kristol and Laura Ingraham can't manage to come to your defense? We had an agreement among the panel on Fox News Sunday this week, and they all believe that Republicans refusing to negotiate with President Obama is just going to lead to them getting a worse deal later.
Which is good news as far as a lot progressives are concerned, since Republicans think a good deal is destroying our social safety nets and sadly there are too many Democrats happy to help them chip away at them with this talk of a "grand bargain." It seems a lot of us should be grateful that John Boehner is really bad at his job.
And of course there was no mention of just who is responsible for that debt that has been run up since President Obama has been in office. As we've noted here before on too many occasions to count, most of that deficit was due to Bush's policies.
You're not going to hear anyone say that over at Fox though. Quite the opposite as we saw with how Wallace opened the segment.
WALLACE: The president and Speaker Boehner are still looking for some way to cushion the blow of going over the fiscal cliff. And, it is time now for our Sunday grill, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard. Kirsten Powers from the Daily Beast website, radio talk show host, Laura Ingraham and Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams.
Well, this week, someone gave me a new way to think of the way we are accumulating the huge national debt, in this country. Bear with me for a moment. It's a little complicated, but it is interesting. Under President Obama the debt has increased $5.7 trillion. The estimated cost of recovery from Hurricane Sandy, is $50 billion. So the rate at which our debt is increasing, is as if a new Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S. Treasury every two weeks. Given that, Bill, what do you think of the president's new stripped-down plan which would reduce the debt by less than two Sandies in the first year?
BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: No, the president is not serious about reducing the debt, and I think that has become evident over the last four years, as we (inaudible) deficits and will unfortunately be evident over the next four years. On the other hand, we do have this practical problem, ten days from now, of the fiscal cliff, and on that, I do think -- as I said many times on the show -- Republicans will be well advised to accept the fact that President Obama won the election and minimize the damage that will be done by the tax increase that is coming.
WALLACE: So, you would go for the stripped-down Obama plan?
KRISTOL: I would go for what the speaker tried to do late last week and I would try to get the number up to 250,000. But, yes, there's going to be a tax increase on the wealthy. I would try to protect investments as much as possible, keep dividends at a reasonable rate, for the sake of economic growth, do the AMT patch, have a reasonable deal on estate taxes, but I'm a squish on this, yeah, and totally, you've got to make -- you've got to make the best of a bad situation. I think what will happen, incidentally, is Republicans will be faced on Monday, on January -- on December 31st with having to vote on a much worse proposal than the one they didn't give Speaker Boehner the majority for.
WALLACE: The Plan B.
KRISTOL: Yeah, they are going to end up with -- Harry Reid will pass through the Senate on Thursday or Friday a 250,000 -- tax hike on everybody over $250,000, and Republicans will have the choice on Monday in the House of, A, letting it come to a vote -- I think the speaker probably has to -- and B, then, will they lose 20 or 30 Republicans to join the Democrats, to pass this or not? I think it is the worst outcome, but that is what happens when Republicans decided they would just be obstinate and not go along with the speaker, I think.
WALLACE: Let me bring in Kirsten and let's look again at what the Obama plan -- this new stripped-down plan would do. We talked about this with the senators. Extend the Bush tax cuts, but only for people making less than $250,000 a year. Extend unemployment benefits and delay, kick down the can, kick the can down the road, the sequester of $110 billion in spending cuts. Kirsten, with Republicans in the House already rejecting, as we just pointed out, the Boehner plan, which would have only raised taxes on people making more than $1 million, what are the chances that they're going to go for the Obama plan?
KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's -- I mean -- it's very low that you -- well, zero that you would get the entire Republican caucus and maybe something can happen where you can get some Republicans and some Democrats. But even that seems difficult. And I think that it shows how unreasonable the Republicans have become. You cannot even agree to this Boehner plan, which is only -- you know, letting taxes go up on people who make over $1 million a year, which is -- I mean, it isn't even one percent of the country.
POWERS: You know, you -- there's -- you just you can't -- how is Obama supposed to negotiate with them? I mean, I think it is just such an extreme plan. They've gone from being the party of fiscal responsibility, it used to be their brand, to we will never raise taxes on anybody, no matter what. And I think that Obama has actually, look, you know, he gave in on this issue one time, and now, they are coming back, and they will not give even on the small little number of people, and I just -- I think it is going to politically backfire on them, eventually.
WALLACE: Laura, one of -- it isn't just Democrats who feel this way. One of Speaker Boehner's allies in the House, Congressman Steven LaTourrette, also of Ohio, blasted his Tea Party colleagues for blocking the Boehner plan this week. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVEN LATOURETTE, R-OHIO, APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: That's the same 40, 50 chuckleheads that all year, starting with HR 1, the entire Congress has screwed this place up. And -- and so, you know -- and he has done everything in his power to make nice to them, to bring them along, to make them feel included. But it hasn't mattered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Question: Are the people who oppose Boehner's plan B chuckleheads?
LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, "THE LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW": Well, when ...
WALLACE: Personally, I've got to say, I love the word. So, I've been --
INGRAHAM: I love chocolate (ph).
WALLACE: Anybody can get on TV on "Fox News Sunday," just say "chucklehead."
INGRAHAM: I love chocolate, the candy. But when Democrats are praising Speaker Boehner, just sort of conservatives, I think, say wait a second, what is Boehner actually doing? A couple of things. Number one, Republicans lost this election. They lost it very -- fairly significantly. They lost House seats, they lost Senate seats, and Mitt Romney rarely discussed the fiscal cliff. And we look back on this conversation and we think, gosh, it would have been nice if we had a plan that had been laid out, other than what Mitt Romney was saying, is we're going to deal with this in a piecemeal fashion.
So we come to the table with that as a reality. Nevertheless, why is anyone leaving town? Why did the president leave town for his vacation? Why did Republicans start to leave town? Why did Democrats? If this is as serious as people say -- and I think it is serious -- then it would seem to me that, even if the Tea Party is intransigent, even if that is what you want to say, they are intransigent, they are terrible people, they don't want to agree with anything, they are there, and you have to deal with them. So everyone should stay in town, they can have their little Christmas Eve dinner, they can do that, but stay in town and figure this out. And the Tea Party, they believe in certain principles, and they are fighting for those principles. They think it's a spending problem, not a taxing problem. I tend to agree with them.
However, I think Bill's position is also valid. That Republicans are probably going to get a worse deal on the table as a result of what happened. Nevertheless, the president has to deal with the cards that are on the table, and it includes Tea Party folks. So you can demonize them, you can vilify them, maybe you'll feel better, but in the end you have to deal with these folks, and I think Bill is also right, that the president doesn't really care all that much about reducing the debt. It's all about expanding the role of government. And if you can -- if you can look on paper like you are reducing the debt, fine, but if that was really a priority, I think we would have had different things happening.
WALLACE: One, you know, there is a very interesting political question. If the Senate passes the Obama plan, just basically to kick the can down the road and also to protect 98 percent of Americans from having their taxes raised, Boehner is going to be faced with a question, does he bring this up to a vote in the House? And again, they've rejected the million dollars, now it is a $250,000 threshold, does it bring it up to the House where Democrats would have to provide the votes to put him over the top, and do this the same week that he's -- he's going to have to face election as speaker?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the first thing to say is that the big plan that the president and Speaker Boehner were very close on, would pass the House. But Speaker Boehner won't bring it up. And, of course, if he put this plan, the Senate plan, the temporary patch as I call it--
WALLACE: I'm not sure it would have passed the House.
WILLIAMS: I think it would have passed the House. I think the votes are there. You've got a significant number of Republicans.
WALLACE: But it has more in revenue increases than it did in spending cuts.
WILLIAMS: By a little bit. They were very close, and I think there was a little more negotiating to be done. But they were very close.
WALLACE: Then why did Boehner drop out?
WILLIAMS: I think Boehner dropped out because he felt that he wanted to have added leverage. He understood that he -- picking up on something Laura is saying, he understood the election, he understood the polls, the president is acting as if he's in a superior position, and he is. And Boehner wanted added leverage, so he said, you know what, if I can get this Plan B through, I can go back and say, this is something that the House has done. We have passed it, we got it. So, negotiate with me fairly, my troops are behind me. Turns out his troops are not behind him. He looks weaker than ever right now. So, your question becomes the critical question, is he willing to play ball with the president and Democrats in order to get something done at the risk of losing his speakership, with Eric Cantor, the number- two long standing behind him sort of lurking, looking for an opportunity to move.
WALLACE: And what is your answer?
WILLIAMS: I think that he has to do it.
WALLACE: And we've got about 30 second left. Bill? What do you think? Does he -- if -- and, then there is a real question whether it passes the Senate. Barrasso, I asked him, you know, can you guarantee this won't be filibustered? And he said, no, in fact, he didn't think that a lot of Democrats would go along with it. But assume it does, and Boehner is faced with that choice, I have to do this, this will protect 98 percent of taxpayers, but I'm going to do it with Democrats . Does he do it and will that sink him as speaker?
KRISTOL: I think he lets the House vote. I mean, I think let the House vote its will -- I don't know how he would, presumably vote against it. We'd see if all the Democrats want to vote for it, we'd see if there'd be enough Republicans, but let there be a free vote. I do not think it sinks him as speaker. I think there's a fair amount of personal loyalty to John Boehner among House Republicans, and he may have made some tactical mistakes, but I do not think he will be deposed as speaker.
WALLACE: And so, do we end up going over the cliff or not?
KRISTOL: I think not. On December 31st, in a bizarre open vote where this -- both party leaders release their members to vote their conscience, they save -- they save 98 percent of taxpayers from an income tax hike, though incidentally taxes are going up on everyone because of the payroll tax cut...
INGRAHAM: Obamacare. Obamacare.
KRISTOL: Well, Obamacare and the payroll tax cut. And that's not so good for the Democrats when it turns out, six months from now...
INGRAHAM: And the cost of living is going up.
KRISTOL: ... that the Democrats -- the Democrats did not protect 98 percent of Americans, it will turn out.
WALLACE: OK. We have to take a break here. And we'll have -- we'll still be able to discuss this next week.