Battle heats up as Democrats, GOP spar over tax hikes

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 21, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Santa doesn't have anything against the rich. They should just pay their fair share of taxes.



NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You are not Santa. You are not Santa.

All right, now, I know it is getting ridiculous, Santa back on Capitol Hill today, this time delivering a wheelbarrow full of coal to Republicans who refused to hike taxes. And then there's doozy from Nancy Pelosi today that was aimed at Republicans.


HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: Giving like reverse Robin Hood. We're taking food out the mouths of babies and seniors to give a tax cut to the wealthiest and tax bills to the middle class.


CAVUTO: You cannot get a deal done, my friends, when you are calling each other names.

To California Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass. She is a member of the Budget Committee.

Congresswoman, you are not that way. You're not demeaning. You do not take cheap shots at the other guys.


CAVUTO: People might disagree with you. But I just think that is out of order and I think this Santa thing is -- is just pushing it. What say you?

BASS: Well, I think that we really are in a bad situation.

And I was listening to your earlier guests. And, you know, I certainly want to go home for Christmas, but I was more than willing to stay. The only problem is, is that we recessed last night. And so we were really kind of left all puzzled, going, well, OK, we did not have the votes for that. Couldn't we stay around and continue to work?

But if the leadership does gavel down and send us on recess, we are really kind of stuck.


CAVUTO: Well, the leadership -- you might be right. I am amazed that this is even happening.

But, Congresswoman, maybe the...

BASS: Me, too.

CAVUTO: From what I know covering the vote last night on this plan B thing and how it fell apart, apparently the view was we are going nowhere fast, we have just got to chill.

But to your point, there is not a lot of time to chill.

BASS: Absolutely.

But you know what, though? The thing that was surprising to me is that when Speaker Boehner had his press conference and said he was going to put plan B forward, I would have thought that he would have counted the votes before he said that.

And then Majority Leader Cantor said early yesterday afternoon that we definitely have the votes to move forward. So, frankly, I have a lot of empathy for Speaker Boehner. I think the way his caucus treated him last night was absolutely appalling, to do that at the last minute like that.

CAVUTO: Well, it is done, as you say here.

BASS: It is.

CAVUTO: And now it raises a question, though. If it is this difficult to get a tax hike through on millionaires, how the heck are they going to get one through presumably on $400,000-aires?

And more to the point...

BASS: Right.

CAVUTO: ... those who bolted, and bolted because it wasn't so much the tax thing. It was that they were not seeing any spending cuts offered on your side. It has poisoned the well, hasn't it?

BASS: Oh, but let me tell you how it gets done.

Speaker Boehner has got to break with the rule that he has to have the majority of Republicans on the deal. How many Republicans can he bring to the table? That's what has to happen. His caucus shouldn't hold him hostage like that.

He needs to make a major address to the American people and say, you know what? It is so important that I get this deal done, I can only bring 80 Republicans to the table...


CAVUTO: All right, but that behooves your side then to come up with cuts, right, to make that job easier?

BASS: No, absolutely.

CAVUTO: And you haven't. You haven't.

BASS: Absolutely.

Well, you know what? If he were to get past that rule, I guarantee you there would be enough Democrats that are willing to make cuts, because Democrats have been willing to make cuts.

CAVUTO: Oh, I don't know, Congresswoman.

I had a couple of your colleagues here in the last couple weeks, and I would beg them to come up with a spending cut. And I had a group of the Congressional Black Caucus that says, no, leave entitlements alone, another large group saying leave Social Security alone.

I can probably understand that. It is not part of this.


CAVUTO: Well, wait a minute. Hear me out.

BASS: Go ahead.

CAVUTO: So, when I asked them the name one thing they would cut, they could not come up with it.

So, I am not here to take sides. I am saying you can't blame Republicans who would entertain a hike in taxes, which goes against their DNA, when they are not getting anything in return for it.

BASS: Well, now, you ask me what I would cut, and I will tell you.


BASS: I think that there is plenty to cut in defense. But I also think that there's ways that we can have savings and make cuts in Medicare as well that don't change the guarantee, because I think that is kind of the bottom line. We can find billions of dollars.

CAVUTO: So, you would put Medicare on the table, you would dissect it, you would look at it. And to your other colleagues who do not want to even address it, you say what?

BASS: Well, I actually believe that my colleagues are willing to address it. I think what they don't want to do...

CAVUTO: No, they are not. No, no.

BASS: No, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.

They do not support Paul Ryan's plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system.

CAVUTO: Fine, fine. That, I understand.

BASS: But you can find savings in Medicare.

CAVUTO: But they have not offered cuts, they have not offered savings.

BASS: No, I think that plenty of my colleagues have.

Now, I am not sure which ones who you have interviewed, but in terms of those that I know the are willing to come to the table and make serious cuts, and in the two years that I have been here, Democrats have voted..


CAVUTO: Do you think there are enough of them, Congresswoman? Do you think there are enough of them?

BASS: I do. I do.

CAVUTO: Really? Really?

BASS: I do. I do think there are enough of them, if you put together Republican votes and Democratic votes.

But as long as Speaker Boehner is held hostage to the notion that he won't put forward a bill until 218 Republicans...


CAVUTO: Wait a minute. If he is held hostage to the far right in his party -- you might be right about that -- your party is equally calling the shots on the extreme left side leaving out most spending and leaving out entitlements, so both -- both -- both sides are to blame.


BASS: Let me just tell you, well, I don't think so.

I will tell you one thing. I don't believe that the Democrats would have ever done to Leader Pelosi what they did to Speaker Boehner last night.

That was atrocious, the way they treated him. I do think that if he would break with that one rule and say, I have to have the majority...

CAVUTO: Wait a minute. You don't remember Blue Dog Democrats who coughed up that health care plan, who didn't want any part of it?

BASS: Well, I do have to tell you it was before my time.


BASS: But what I do know...


CAVUTO: All right.

BASS: But what I do know is, is that they never did Pelosi the way they did Speaker Boehner last night. I do think that that was just really...


CAVUTO: Well, we can quibble with that, but there is no quibbling that you are trying to move the ball forward and you are trying to come up with ideas. I appreciate that, just as an American.

BASS: Democrats are willing to vote for cuts.

CAVUTO: Well, I think you should talk to your friends because you seem like a very nice lady, but I have not heard it. But maybe hope springs eternal. And after the season, it will be like a miracle on, I don't know, K Street.

But, Congresswoman...

BASS: I think we will be back on the 27th.

CAVUTO: All right. Thank you very much.

BASS: You're welcome.

CAVUTO: Have a merry Christmas.

BASS: You're welcome. You, too.

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