Geithner Gives His State of the Cliff

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on all five of the Sunday talk shows to give his thoughts on the current state of the fiscal cliff negotiations. 

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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on all five of the Sunday talk shows to give his thoughts on the current state of the fiscal cliff negotiations. Consider this the highlight package.

On Fox News Sunday, he said blame would fall on Republicans if a deal isn't reached. Chris Matthews asked if he could promise a deal would get done:

"No, I can’t promise that. That’s a decision that lies in the hands of the Republicans that are now opposing increases in tax rates. If they recognize the reality that we can’t afford to extend those tax rates, then we have the basis of an agreement that will be very good for the American people."

On CNN's State of the Union, he said the Republicans are going to have to let the Bush tax cuts expire or there won't be a deal at all:

"If Republicans are not willing to let rates go back up -- and we think they should go back to the Clinton levels, a time when the American economy was doing exceptionally well -- then there will not be an agreement."

"The ball really is with them now. They're in a hard place. And they're having a tough time trying to figure out what they can do, what they can get support from their members for.  That's understandable. This is very difficult for them. And we might need to give them a little more time to figure out where they go next."

On ABC's This Week, he promised Social Security would not be a part of any fiscal cliff deal, so as to assure seniors and those approaching retirement their futures won't used as a bargaining chip:

"What the president is willing to do is to work with Democrats and Republicans to strengthen Social Security for future generations so Americans can approach retirement with dignity and with the confidence they can retire with a modest guaranteed benefit. But we think you have to do that in a separate process so that our seniors aren't, don't face the concern that we're somehow going to find savings in Social Security benefits to help reduce the other deficits."

On NBC's Meet the Press, he told David Gregory the Republicans are just bluffing about not letting the Bush tax cuts expire. They'll eventually accept that as part of a deal, he says:

"I do, I do, because the only thing standing in the way of that would be a refusal by Republicans to accept that rates are going to, have to go up on the wealthiest Americans. And I don't really see them doing that."

"I can't tell you what they're likely to do. All I can tell you is what we think make, makes the most sense for the American country, American people. And you know, we spent a lot of time talking to the business community, small business, large business the last few weeks or so, the president has done that. And I think there's a very broad base of support for the type of framework we've laid out."

On CBS' Face the Nation, he stressed there was no path to a deal without taxes going up for the wealthiest portion of Americans:

"There's no path to an agreement that does not involve Republicans acknowledging that rates have to go up for the wealthiest Americans." 

"I do think we’re going to get there because, you know, the only thing that stands in the way of an agreement that's good for the American economy is if a group of Republicans decide they're going to block any increase in tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. I think it’s very unlikely they choose to do that, of course, because there's so much at stake."

Elsewhere, Speaker of the House John Boehner gave his thoughts on the state of the cliff negotiations on Fox News Sunday. He wasn't very impressed with Geithner's first fiscal cliff proposal, that's for sure. "I was just flabbergasted," Boehner said. "I looked at him and I said, you can't be serious? Uh, it - I - I've just never seen anything like it. You know, we've got several weeks between Election Day and the end of the year. And, uh -- and three of those weeks have been wasted, with the -- with this nonsense." He also commented on the Democrats' proposal that Congress hand over the power to raise the debt ceiling over to the President as part of a deal. "Congress is never going to give up this power," he said. "I've made it clear to the president that every time we get to the debt limit, we need cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit. It's the only way to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would have left alone."

Boehner also claimed to have already made concessions in the negotiations, though he wouldn't disclose what exactly he put on the table. "Listen, nobody wants to go over the cliff," he said. "That's why the day after the election, I tried to speed this process up by making a concession to put revenues on the table." But he claimed the Democrats are maintaining a too hardline of a stance in the negotiations to get anything done. "They won the election," Boehner said. "They must have forgotten that Republicans continue to hold a majority in the House... The president's idea of a negotiation is roll over and do what I ask."

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole thinks the Republicans need to rethink their negotiating strategy if they hope to come out on top of the fiscal cliff deal. They need to switch to negotiating each issue individually instead of going for a big package deal, he said on This Week. "I actually do believe that we should take things where we agree with the president, and we do agree on this, and take them off the table one at a time," Cole said. "And this would actually, I think, strengthen our position in the course of negotiations."

Sen. Mark Warner went on State of the Union to say he's optimistic a deal will get done, but that negotiators need to start speaking in the plainest terms and explain how they're going to get a deal done. "We've got to get past the kind of Washington decoder speak and say specifically, 'How do we get there?'" Warner said. "We need to go ahead and lay down what we're going to get done before the end of the year, and then how we get to that." He said he's optimistic a deal will come because people are aware of what's stake because of the process it took to get here. "One of the reasons why I think this time it's going to be different from the failures of the past, the debt ceiling debacle, the failure of the super-committee, is I think the American people, and particularly the American business community, realize what's at stake," Warner said. "And I think there's an awful lot of us, frankly, in both parties, who are willing to get there."

Sen. Lindsey Graham was on Face the Nation and said he thinks the country is going to plunge over the fiscal cliff. "I think we're going over the cliff," Graham said. He was asked for his opinion of the President's first offer. Graham gladly offered his criticisms of the President's plan. "This offer doesn't remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy," he said. "It raises $1.6 trillion on job creators that will destroy the economy, and there were no spending controls." He also repeated the popular Republican talking point that they're trying to raise revenue instead of taxes, but he conceded they're going to have to do it in ways that will draw criticism from within the party. "My side knows we lost the election, and we're willing to put revenue on the table that would get some political heat for people like me," he said. "That is movement in a positive way. Republicans should do revenue. We're willing to do it in a smart way." He said he believes Boehner will be able to deliver a deal that will be a win for Republicans in the end. "John Boehner is serious about revenue," Graham said. "He'll get a lot of pushback but a lot of Republicans will rally around John Boehner about limiting deductions to raise somewhere between 700 and 800 billion dollars in revenue. And I bet you this: If you took the president's plan and put it on the floor of the House and the Senate, he would get very few votes for his plan."

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said there was "gross negligence" in the handling of the Bengahzi attacks on Face the Nation. "Well, it's very clear to me...that the intelligence was right about the threats in Benghazi," Rogers said. "Now, they didn't know the specific day and the specific event, but all of the threat [streams] were right. What went wrong was that the policy and decision makers at the Department of State did not make the right security call, and I argue it's gross negligence." Rogers charged there wasn't enough security at the consulate, and that eventually, "somebody should be held accountable."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.