December 28, 2012

Obama's lack of leadership to blame for 'fiscal cliff'?

Guests: Bill Richardson

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 28, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: As President Obama continues to place the blame on Republican congressional leaders for the looming fiscal cliff disaster. Now we always remember that the president seems to be OK with this happening. Why?

Because if Obama actually stood up and showed real leadership there be consequences for him. This could drastically impact the radical agenda that he is hoping to push through during his second term, but that's not the only thing that should be worrying the White House tonight.

Because as President Obama's nominee for secretary of state, Senator John Kerry awaits his confirmation hearings to begin and Republicans are saying not so fast. They are demanding current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testify on Benghazi before any confirmation hearings begin.

Joining me now with reaction to all this and much more is former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Governor, always good to see you. Thanks for being with us. Happy New Year.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: You know, Governor, we have actually been friendly over the years. You and I have gotten along. I remember I have been out to your estate and you have is been gracious enough to be nice to me over the years. I've always look at you even though we had political disagreements with somebody that really cared about your state and country and worked very hard.

If we are now on the brink as a country and Americans and businesses have no idea what their taxes going to be. The United States Senate has not passed a spending bill in over 1,300 days, over three years and the president, Harry Reid, they are all blaming Republicans.

Where is the blame in the intellectual honesty in your party to say this is reckless, irresponsible, on the Democrats part? Do you acknowledge that?

RICHARDSON: Sean, I think for the first time tonight they are moving in the right direction. They are talking. There is progress. Here is my take. I think that Speaker Boehner wants a deal. I think Mitch McConnell wants a deal. So does Harry Reid and so does the president.

I think the problem lies with the Tea Party Republicans in the House. That is the problem. I think it makes no sense to assign blame right now. I think the next 24 hours are critical. I worry about the automatic defense cuts, Medicare, people vulnerable problems.

But I think there is a genuine effort by these leaders right now especially McConnell and Harry Reid to get a bill to the Senate floor that you mentioned that moves us in the right direction, maybe short-term and then in a few days later after the New Year's a longer term grand bargain.

HANNITY: You know, Governor, with all -- we are good friends, you totally avoided my question. For 1,300 days over three years, the Senate has a constant -- I know you are laughing. The Senate has a constitutional authority to pass spending bills, but they he haven't done it.

And now here we are three days before the country is going over a fiscal cliff and now maybe might get a mini deal and now they are engaged. Don't you think that is irresponsible from the Democratic standpoint because I think Republicans have made mistakes, they spend too much money, too.

RICHARDSON: Sean, it has been irresponsible on the part of the whole Congress. This is why they are held in such low esteem. You know, as a governor in a state, you have to balance a budget, it is state law you in most states. Look, this is why I called for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget when I was running for president four years ago.

I didn't get very far. It was not popular. My point though is that look I served in the Congress. These negotiations happen on budgets, on taxes, on even foreign policy issues, the last days when the pressure is really on, when the gun is pointing to the head of a lot of members of Congress, bipartisan, Republican and Democrats.

It is moving in the right direction. We have three, four days to go. I wouldn't be surprised if something doesn't happen until the very last day, but I think it will. I sense that.

HANNITY: Let me, Governor, just very gently disagree with you. I know you probably think that this is maybe a good deal whatever they are talking about and they are talking. I spoke to somebody who was in the meeting today and the president is exactly where he was on day one and that is businesses, small business, over $250,000 they pay more.

That would fund government for eight and a half days. That is all that is going to be. So to me when a president borrows 46 cents of every dollar and we are $16 trillion in debt tell me where we are wrong. I don't think we are dealing with the real problem.

I don't think this solves anything. I think this has been a false argument from the beginning. We have to deal with spending and they are spending way too much money in Washington.

RICHARDSON: Well, I think the reality, Sean, if you look at latest agreements or deals, I won't call them agreements, we are not that far apart on discretionary spending. We are not that far apart on some of the other programs that -- entitlement programs.

We really are basically big differences in the tax arena, the $250,000 threshold and I think the president has moved. He has moved on all fronts and I do think as I said Speaker Boehner and I think now Senator McConnell, they are all moving in the right direction towards an agreement. And I do believe in the end, Sean --

HANNITY: But the agreement -- but an agreement. Let me give you an example. I will use your words. You balanced the budget as governor. You ran on a platform and I agree with you, I think we ought to balance our budget. Every American has to balance their budget.

None of what we are discussing today or nothing in this deal will stop this country from borrowing 46 cents of every dollar or take away the $16 trillion in it debt that keeps rising. I don't think we are getting closer to anything that is really going to solve America's problem, are we?

RICHARDSON: No, there is where I agree with you. I think beyond in fiscal cliff deal there has to be a long-range plan. The Simpson-Bowles plan I think is the one that makes most sense entitlement reform, spending cuts.

And many other measures that need to happen. Look, we have to have jobs and economic growth in this country. That should be paramount in trying to resolve these economic problems. I think the Congress and the president as soon as this deal is over and I think there will be one in the next week or so, short-term first.

Then a longer term one has to get down to job creation, economic growth, technology growth, international issues affecting our international security, this really needs to happen and it has to be bipartisan and I think we are moving in that direction right now.

HANNITY: I'm going to make a final bet and prediction with you only because we are old friends. I will bet you a gentleman's president bet that the president wants the fiscal cliff and he will come back and give back the new tax increases and then there will be a huge fight over the debt ceiling and I don't see a path to any real compromise in the end. I think we are at a pretty large standstill in the country, Governor.

RICHARDSON: Well, let's say we'll have a friendly bet, Sean, and as good friends let's keep it that way. I'm not going propose 10,000 bucks like Mitt Romney did, just a friendly bet.

HANNITY: You got to let it go at some point. He lost the election. Governor, good to see you. Thank you for being with us and happy new year to you.

RICHARDSON: Same to you, Sean.

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