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Joining us is someone who I hope will have some ideas, Democratic
Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and member of the Senate Finance and
Senator Stabenow, thank you for being with us tonight.
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Absolutely, Ezra. And I wanted
to thank you for what is a very good summary of where we are. And it is
the most frustrating thing I`ve ever gone through in my entire life, I
KLEIN: I appreciate that. And covering it, what has been striking to
me is the level of not just substantive disagreement on things like tax and
spending, but the procedural breakdown. Every procedural effort that gets
begun to solve this, either negotiations or the House Plan B or maybe Reid
and McConnell negotiations, it is dissolving very, very quickly.
So what comes now? What is actually the process by which we can move
STABENOW: Well, Ezra, first of all, we have to be able to govern. We
have to have an adult conversation, getting people in the room who actually
want to solve this problem.
And I think it`s very important to step back and see the fact that we
have already -- there are three parts of this deficit reduction stool.
We`ve already in the last two years passed $1.6 trillion in spending cuts.
We have passed over $700 billion in savings in Medicare through reforms
like cutting back on overpayments to insurance companies.
The one piece of this puzzle that we`ve not been able to get any
support for is making sure that the wealthiest among us help solve this
problem by being willing to pay a little bit more to be part of the
solution. And so, we have sent a bill to the House back in July,
bipartisan bill that says what -- I mean, everybody says they don`t want
middle-class families to have their taxes go up, well, fine. Why don`t we
start with something we can agree on, which is that? And just pass that.
Why doesn`t the House just pass that?
But as we know, the speaker couldn`t even pass his own plan to say
that up to a million dollars was exempt from tax cuts. So what they`re
doing is holding middle-class families hostage right now, trying to find
some maneuver where the wealthiest people continue to get extra tax cuts
that we just can`t afford.
So I`m not sure what`s next. I can tell you the Senate`s here. We`re
in session. We had votes tonight. The president`s here.
I`m the eternal optimist. There are certainly things we can do
including pass the farm bill that we passed last June that has $24 billion
in savings by cutting subsidies for wealthy farmers.
So there`s a lot of things that we can do, but it`s going to take the
speaker deciding he wants to work across the aisle to get it done.
KLEIN: But can the speaker work across the aisle? One thing that has
been very -- I think an important theme of the last couple years but
particularly the last month or two is whether or not Boehner has the
influence in his own conference to pass these bills, whether or not he is
actually a negotiating partner who can be negotiated with.
And certainly before January 3rd, when he comes up for re-election as
speaker, do you think that anything can actually happen before then, or do
you think some of this is about Boehner trying to wait until after that
election is done and at least he is entrenched for another two years?
STABENOW: Well, the prevailing thought now is that the speaker won`t
do something until after his election vote on January 3rd. Could he? Yes.
In fact, he could take at least half of his caucus or more, combine
them with at least half the Democrats or more, and actually govern.
And frankly, as -- people in Michigan are telling me, my family and
friends, over Christmas, is that they really want us just to sit down and
work together and get something done. And when we`re talking about an
average of $2,200 in increased taxes potentially on a middle-class family,
you know, I have one woman say that`s four months` groceries for her kids.
So, you know, people here may think this is some kind of chess game.
This is serious business. It`s serious for the economy. It`s serious for
And you know, it`s pretty hard to see this thing go round and round
and round like it is.
KLEIN: Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, thank you very much for
your time tonight.
STABENOW: You`re welcome.
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