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FOX "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" - Transcript - Fiscal Cliff

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Bob Corker joins us. Senator, good evening. You've said that it's a total dereliction of duty at every level. What do you mean by that?

SEN. BOB CORKER, R-TENN.: Greta, we still haven't even begun to deal with the issues that are causing the fiscal insolvency that we're facing, and that's the entitlements. Nothing has been discussed in that area. And that's what's causing our country distress at this moment.

So it's not on the table. We're not going to deal with it this year. It'll be the issue we deal with running into the debt ceiling around mid- March, and so our economy is going to continue to be -- having a pail over it because we have not dealt with the issue that our nation needs to face up to right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, shouldn't the American people be absolutely furious with Washington? Let me quote from what the president said today. He says, "For the past couple of months, I've been working with leaders of both parties to try and forge an agreement."

Since when is just -- I mean, we want a product! I mean, shouldn't the American people demand a product? It's not just everybody sitting together, everyone having these meetings, the president saying he's modestly optimistic. I mean, we have no product, and we are -- we are about 74 hours away from this deadline that everyone's has known about for 18 months!

CORKER: Well, we've known about it for two years, actually, and we've been building towards this point. Greta, we've litigated, we've costed out every solution that's there. We know the impacts of all of those, and we just lack the political courage to go ahead and implement.

So the president's never laid out a plan. I do think that something will happen over the next few days relative to the revenue piece, and hopefully, we can rescue most Americans from a tax increase.

But what we haven't dealt with again is the spending component. And so again, we'll go through this for another two-and-a-half months. Our economy will not be what it should be. Americans' quality of life will be lesser than it should be. These programs will, you know, continue to weigh us down.

And what we need is action. We've known this is happening, and yes, the American people should be disgusted with Washington because it's our own making. We conjured up, Greta -- we conjured up this fiscal cliff to make us deal with our nation's problems. We're still not going to do it. We're going to go into next year. And yes, the American people should be very disgusted.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well -- I hold everybody in Washington accountable for shoving us off that cliff! I mean, it's not -- we're not falling off it, you all are shoving us off it for not doing the job. And if there's some deal forged about 250 -- people who make $250,000 a year or less, it's because no one in this country wants to raise taxes on those people, but there's been some what of a dereliction of duty because you still have the -- you will delay these spending cuts...

CORKER: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... which everyone agrees -- the Republicans agree are important. You delay them because you haven't done your work and there's going to be no hammer to your heads to actually sit down and do it. It's sort of like the immigration thing that you're all so hupped up to handle a year ago, you haven't done anything about. Now -- I mean, what in the world would be the -- you know, the -- you know, what would possibly be the threat to you to get these spending cuts handled?

CORKER: Well, first of all, I don't think that delaying spending reductions are going to be part of what's negotiated over this weekend. I think that the sequester will stay in place. And I think you know that I offered today again -- I offered two weeks ago a debt ceiling bill that has $1 trillion in entitlement reforms and reductions in spending over this next decade for $1 trillion in increasing the debt ceiling.

And so that is our next leverage point. It's a shame that in this nation, where every developed country in the world knows that our greatest threat is our fiscal solvency, that you have to have these leverage points. You would think that people would just sit down, solve the problem because we know it is our greatest threat. But that's not the case here.
We have a president who has not laid out a plan. He's obviously a spend-a-holic. He doesn't really worry about the growth of government, and so we have to use these leverage points to try to do those things that naturally leaders should do themselves.

But that's where we are as a nation and that's what we have to do over the next several months to ensure that we don't continue down this path of insolvency that we're on right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned other countries in the world. Do you not wonder what they think about us? We can't even manage our own economy. We can't manage our own finances. Meanwhile, we're trying to have sort of diplomatic authority around the world, when we can't even take care of our own problems like this. Do you sort of wonder, you know, the -- even the impact that has that -- that we look so poor in how we're handling this?

CORKER: Well, Greta, there's no question that our moral authority around the world has been greatly weakened for numbers of reasons, but certainly this issue. I mean, people are watching. I was talking to somebody today in Europe. They were saying the only thing that's on the news there is whether the American politicians, if you will, are going to deal with this issue that's before us. So no doubt we are being made into lesser country by virtue of our inability to deal with this.

And Greta, I think you know also that a month ago, I offered a $4.5 trillion package to deal with this just to show that these decisions are really easy to make. They're tough medicine, but they're easy to make. We know how they score. We should just get this behind us.

And what I think most of us wanted to see on our side of the aisle is putting this in the rear view mirror as we moved into January so we could then begin this year again with an economy and an investing public and a world that knew that we faced up to the responsibilities that we have in this great nation.

But again, we stepped away from that. It's going to continue on. But again, I think our nation's greatness continues to dissipate as we dither with this issue of a government that's growing in an out-of-control fashion.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

CORKER: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: And right now, we are coming up about 73.5 hours from going over that fiscal cliff, the one they're pushing us off. And of course, everyone's scrambling to scrape together a solution. They're doing that in the Senate right now. But is the House doing anything at all?

Congressman Aaron Schock joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. AARON SCHOCK, R-ILL.: Good evening. Good to be with you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you. And of course, everybody's blaming everybody else. Republicans blame Democrats. Democrats blame Republicans. And I've always sort of thought that leadership is (ph) it goes a little bit more beyond that, that you all sort of -- you know, you -- you have political opponents but that you rise above it and have solutions for the American people. Where is that leadership?

SCHOCK: Well, it's been lacking, without doubt. And look, kudos to you for holding elected officials' feet to the fire, my party and my colleagues and ourselves included. I will tell you it's frustrating as a House member. I can't be a House member, a senator and the president all at once.

The House has led. We have tried to be the party of ideas, the body of ideas. As you know, this summer, we passed a bill to keep tax rates low for everyone. It's been dead in the Senate. Harry Reid won't take it up. After the election, we said to the president -- John Boehner, as you know, got criticism even from my party saying, Look, Mr. President, we'll meet you halfway. We'll give you the $800 billion in revenue. President comes back and says, No, I want $1.6 trillion in revenue, doubles the number.

So then last week, he said, All right, let's try and get as many of the hostages out alive. Let's try and keep as many people's taxes from going up, try and create the certainty. And we couldn't get a single Democrat to join with us on a similar bill to what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer introduced this summer, which was saving all taxpayers a million dollars and below from their tax rates going on. Not a single Democrat last week would join with us.

So what I'm beginning to believe, Greta, is this isn't a problem of two well-intentioned negotiators not being able to come up with a deal.

This is really the House having to negotiate with itself, and the president, who I believe is beginning to show his cards, which is someone who doesn't really want to deal, who for whatever reason believes that it's to his political benefit or a potential gain for us to go over this cliff, to try and make us look obstinate in the House and somehow, it's our fault.
What we have been trying to negotiate. We've been trying to put ideas out there in good faith.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, earlier today -- and I'm -- obviously, I have the president's statements, so I'm going to pick on him. He says, "I just had a, quote, good and constructive discussion here at the White House about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class."

And I thought to myself, What does "good and constructive" mean? What was it? How about some specifics? And you know, all we hear is this sort of blather about how, you know, I met -- you know, I hear it from both sides. It's, like, you know, what exactly is it that's this good and constructive discussion because we have a deadline very close!

SCHOCK: Amen. And you know what? Enough of the rhetoric! Let's get down to substance. And stop changing the rules in the middle of the game. You said during the campaign -- the president was very clear -- I want $800 billion in taxes, and if I get $800 billion in tax revenue, I'm going to cut $3 for every $1 of revenue. So that's $2.4 trillion in cuts.

The election's over. He won. I didn't vote for him, but you know what? He won. He got more votes. So John Boehner said, OK, we'll give you the $800 billion in revenue, but let's talk about the $2.4 trillion in cuts. And he won't do it! He won't give us any cuts!

And so why we do we need to sit down and talk and talk and talk? Either make good on your campaign pledge and deliver the $2.4 trillion in cuts -- the House has already said we'll give you the revenue that you campaigned on, recognizing you won reelection, but we're not going to go along with higher taxes and more revenue and more spending if we're not going to deal with the fundamental drivers of our debt.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, you said that $3 of cuts for every dollar raised in income. And I -- revenue -- and I hear the Republicans say it all the time, so I decided to fact check you all. And actually, I did find -- actually, someone found it for me -- on April 13th, 2011, the White House released the president's framework for shared prosperity and shared fiscal responsibility.

And it includes this paragraph. "The president's framework would seek a balanced approach to bringing down our deficit with $3 of spending cuts and interest savings for every $1 from tax reform that contributes to deficit reduction. And they says that this is consistent with the bipartisan fiscal commission's approach.

So yes, he did say that, and yes, we don't have that, and yes, we're approaching this deadline.

SCHOCK: So how do you negotiate with that? I mean, how do you negotiate with someone who said during the campaign over and over $3 in cuts for $1 in revenue. And now neither side is going to get everything that they want. But the House Republicans have said, OK, we'll find $800 billion in revenue, but give us the $2.4 trillion in cuts, and he's not been willing to do that.

And so the last ditch effort, the Hail Mary pass last week, was the House of Representatives saying, Fine, let's take Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer's bill that they proposed this summer, which was to extend the tax rates on every household and every small business a million dollars and below, allow them to go up on the million dollars and above, which is the current law on January 1 -- let's do that, that that ought to be something we can agree on.

Mind you -- let me just add this. When we voted on our bill in the House this summer, that was a clean extension, which was an extension for everyone in America, not only did every Republican vote for that, but 19 Democrats did, as well. So this is why it's so frustrating for those of us in the House is that...

VAN SUSTEREN: And -- and you...

SCHOCK: ... now we're close to this cliff...

VAN SUSTEREN: And it's frustrating...

SCHOCK: And we can't even get a single Democrat to join with us!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if you think you're frustrated, try the American people as they watch what's going on! But Congressman, thank you, sir. Good luck, sir.

SCHOCK: Thanks, Greta. Call the Senate and get them to act. We can't negotiate with nothing!

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think they'd listen to me. But anyway, thank you, Congressman.


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