Who can save us from the 'fiscal cliff'?

Published Monday, November 26, 2012 / The Five

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," November 26, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Who in the world can save us from the 'fiscal cliff'?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: First of all, give honor to God. And our lord and savior, Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLLING: No, not even that savior. With 36 days from going over the 'fiscal cliff,' you should know what is at stake if partisans don't figure out a way and a way soon.

Bush tax cuts expire, the payroll tax holiday goes away. Those alone would drive taxes up for every single American. And it doesn't end there.

Unemployment benefits go back to 26 weeks, Medicaid doc fix, and AMT patches will die as well. Now, add the failure of the super committee and the sequestered $1.2 trillion -- spending cuts of $600 billion in defense, another $600 billion in non-defense cuts. Too much for any economy to handle all in an instant.

But why are we here? You really can't blame revenues. Americans forked over $2.3 trillion in taxes and fees last year -- another record. In fact, tax revenue has gone up for decades.

The taxaholics are stone cold drunk on our money. The problem is in the spending. Spending is out of control.

So, Mr. President, we're already -- we're waiting for you to stand up and show some leadership.

Bob, I haven't heard a thing. Crickets coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: Well, no, I think you heard things. There's -- I think there is movement going on here.

First of all, I'm glad to see some Republicans are breaking finally with Norquist, that little fellow that keeps threatening people on K Street, and they're beginning to say that there is a need for some revenue.

I think whether that comes in form of limiting deductions to $50,000 for people making over $250,000 or --

BOLLING: Do me a favor?

BECKEL: Yes?

BOLLING: We'll get to all that. We're going to get to Grover Norquist. We're going to get to all the deals that may go on.

Let's talk about Obama. Where is his deal? Where is his idea? Where is his proposed, I don't know, Medicare, Medicaid, some sort of reform to get those tax cuts?

Where's his deal?

BECKEL: Well, first of all, I think there is going to be some reform of entitlements, and that will come in the form of either increasing the age of retirement age for Social Security, or taxing people, which is now on maximum I think of $106,000, maybe to $130,000, $140,000. There are things in the works here. But they're not going to let all this happen at one time.

The thing that's amazing to me that you are allowing all this to happen, all these horrible things you talk about, simply to protect people making a lot money.

BOLLING: I don't know. By the way, let's talk about that for one second.

Dana, a number came out, if you go ahead and let the Bush tax cuts expire, you raise $83 billion. That's about eight days worth of government -- eight or nine days of government.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: I think that -- let's go back to the failure of the super committee is really the reason that we're all here. They were supposed to get to a deal. They couldn't get to one. Everybody walked out. The Simpson-Bowles fell apart.

And so, President Obama and the Congress -- they kicked it to this year. And so, now, we are leading up to this moment.

Last February, John Boehner, speaker of the House, sent a letter to President Obama saying, tell you what, this 'fiscal cliff' is going to be bad for the economy. Why don't we work together now before the election season gets hot and heavy and try to get this done? President Obama says no than thanks.

This is what kills me, is that nothing changed since December of 2010.

That was the lame duck session. President Obama stood after getting the whopping that he talked about and losing spectacularly in the 2010 midterms and said the worst thing we can do in time of high unemployment and slow economic growth is raise taxes on anybody. Therefore, please join me in supporting the extension of all the Bush tax cuts.

There's actually nothing that has changed fundamentally about the economy now, except the economic growth projections are worse. Except that they won the election. So, political expediency and revenge are not a great way to make good policy. And that's what's happening.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: Those are their campaign slogans, let's be honest. And they don't seem to be making any concessions. I understand that they want the Republicans to give them, but they're going to have to do something serious about cutting back on spending, about cutting back in with the entitlement, because without that, it's not going to make any difference if they raise taxes because we're still spending way more than we can afford. And even raising the taxes and taking out the Bush tax cuts isn't going to make this problem go away.

BOLLING: Brian, bear with me. Food stamp recipients, the latest number, November food stamp recipients: $47 million. More than Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming combined, populations of those combined, there are more Americans on food stamps.

BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST: Well, they're struggling. The economy is still struggling. And building on your point, we had Eric Cantor on the radio today. And he's the majority leader who arguably has more power than Boehner. I just said to him listen, if you're going to go up five points, as Bill Kristol says, let's just put it up five points. Give the president his trophy that he wants. What's going to happen? He said, "Brian, if I thought it would work and it was just something against what I thought was against the Republican doctrine, I would do it."

PERINO: Do it.

KILMEADE: But I believe it will hurt the economy, why can't we close loopholes? Why can't we get over some threshold legislation? And the most important thing is, and we'll know right now how the next four years will go, I believe, by the way this month goes.

If is new Barack Obama, let's go get some -- let's stay in here, roll up our sleeves. Let's get this done. What do you need? What do you need?

What do you need?

PERINO: Yes.

KILMEADE: Then we're going to know the next four years is going to be different.

But if he doesn't, if he backs away and says, Timothy Geithner, call me if you get a deal, we're in trouble.

BOLLING: Let's take a listen. Let's take a listen to Jay Carney who's asked at the press conference today, listen to how he summarizes how this is going to work. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has made clear that he will not sign a bill that extends the Bush era tax cuts or those making more than $250,000. Math tells us that you can't get the kind of balanced approach you need without having rates be part of the equation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLLING: So, Dana, I got to ask you -- go ahead. You want to comment on that.

PERINO: I'm listening and I'm thinking, let's set aside politics for a second. Let's just say that you could get the money you wanted in a different way. Whether it's limiting deductions -- let's just say limiting deductions, as I am going to talk about the spending. Then why wouldn't you take that deal?

If you get the same results, why not do it? Because the temporary measures have not worked -- it seems that they are being, and I understand they are in negotiations. But again, doing something just because it works politically does not make necessarily for good policy. I think unfortunately we have come back to bite them.

But I think there will be a deal, because to knowingly push the country into another recession is unconscionable. And that is not the Republicans' fault. The president won fair and square and he's in charge now.

BOLLING: What if, Bob, what if Eric Cantor, who I heard this morning, talking about he may be interested in possibly talking about deductions.

And some other form that weren't raising rates. If they're willing to move on that, would that mean that the Republicans have saved the country for going over the 'fiscal cliff'?

BECKEL: Well, no, it doesn't because the Republicans right now are forcing this over the 'fiscal cliff' if they continue to exist on protecting the wealthier --

BOLLING: But if they sign on the dotted line --

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: It's how much revenue would the deduction saves.

PERINO: Well, let's say it's equal to amount they were suggesting in raising rates. Well, then, why can't we do that?

BECKEL: I think that is a reasonable position. And there is going to be spending cuts there. They just are. I mean, you can't -- the whole idea of whether it's Simpson-Bowles or whether it was the super committee was always to have $3 or $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue.

KILMEADE: Will there be entitlement stuff? Will there be Medicaid or Medicare --

BECKEL: Yes.

KILMEADE: Dick Durbin indicated yesterday he possibly would be interested in that. And the bigger question I think -- is the president going to keep it to $250,000? Because that's a negotiating point. If Eric Cantor said we're not raising rates regardless, don't talk to me about raising rates, I think that would be wrong.

When we have Warren Buffett says $500,000 should be the threshold, Senator Schumer says a million should be the threshold, why is the president saying it's $250,000 or I'm not signing it?

BOLLING: Kimberly --

GUILFOYLE: Because it's a campaign promise. That's what it is. He doesn't want to lose face and do it again and extend the Bush tax cuts. That's his political ideology. Instead of what's going to be best economically for the country.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: Kimberly, let me put you on the spot --

GUILFOYLE: So what?

The math shows it's not going to make a difference. That's the point.

So, why is he doing it in any way because he said he would? That's not a good enough reason. He has an obligation to this country.

BECKEL: He said he wouldn't allow tax cuts to go for people who make that kind of money. I think that between that and entitlement reform, you're going to get a deal.

BOLLING: Let me ask, Dana, then, the question. I want to ask her. If you've run, you've signed the Grover -- I call Grover Norquist, by the way. I said, what's going on here? He said, you have to read between the lines here. A lot of these people are saying, only when Democrats put up their end of the bargain that they'd be willing to negotiate.

But, again, if they do, they can change the rates or close loopholes and do whatever they have to do, they will be violating the Norquist pledge, or the pledges that they signed. Should they? Should they be willing to violate the pledge that they run on, likely won on, and now may change their tune?

PERINO: OK. So, two points, I have never liked pledges about anything. I think when you get elected --

KILMEADE: Pledge of Allegiance.

PERINO: Yes. Right. Pledge of Allegiance was great. I do that every year, every day at school.

But the pledges, I think the only pledge that you need to take if you are elected to Congress is a pledge to uphold the Constitution, a pledge to make sure that I'm making good decisions. That's what I think this gets to.

Let me ask you a question, Eric, if Republicans get to a deal where rate goes up less than they would have if they let the Bush tax cuts expire, then have you violated the pledge?

And I think this is getting, taking our eyes off the ball.

BOLLING: In reality, you have because -- and I called Grover and I said, "Look, you have two parts of this pledge. Number one, don't agree to any rate change. And number two, don't agree to anything that would cause higher taxes to anyone."

I said, "Grover, how do you get away to ask them to sign that, when you might need it."

BECKEL: Who the hell is Grover Norquist?

BOLLING: Can I just tell you? Here's a guy who's got 275 or 280 people, the 535 legislators signing -- he's not even an elected official.

BECKEL: He's not an elected official and he's a folly.

BOLLING: He said the pressure by the spending interest in D.C. is phenomenal. He is right. You got to stop this.

BECKEL: He's a -- Norquist, what does Norquist have to do with anything? You said wasn't an elected official. He's a blow-hard and he's got enough people scared. But now these people who were scared are now starting to push back on the guy. And it's about time.

This guy has no right to hold up anybody. He's nothing more than guy that has an office on K Street.

BOLLING: No, Bob, what happened was he got 236 representatives in the House and 41 senators to sign on. And when they signed on, a lot of them, a lot of them put that pledge right up on their wall.

PERINO: It was like getting a good housekeeping seal of approval in conservative districts to say that he would promise that you weren't going to do what they had complain that the Republicans done in the past, which was to go back on their word and actually --

BECKEL: But the situation has changed now and as all these people said, it's time now for us to forget about Grover Norquist, forget about these 15 or 20-year-old pledges and get back to the reality that we're dealing with right now, which is --

(CROSSTALK)

GUILFOYLE: How about making a pledge to fiscal responsibility? Hello? That's a simple, honest good thing to do for the country to benefit all Americans. Not just one partisan group.

BECKEL: What are you talking about?

GUILFOYLE: For fiscal responsibility. Do the math.

BECKEL: What fiscal responsibility? Grover Norquist is fiscal responsibility?

(CROSSTALK)

GUILFOYLE: -- that are going to benefit Americans, that are going to create jobs and not stifle people --

BECKEL: I don't think Norquist is an economist, let alone --

GUILFOYLE: You're missing the point. Who cares what he is, OK?

BECKEL: He is nothing is what he is. He's a big nothing.

BOLLING: We got to go.

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