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REP. ALLYSON SCHWARTZ (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Good to be with you.
BALDWIN: What do you make of Congressman Tom Cole apparently coming to your side, saying to his Republican colleagues, go ahead and let the taxes go up on the wealthy come the 1st of the year, but keep everyone else's the same? Is this politically significant?
SCHWARTZ: Well, I think every time a Republican stands up and says we ought to be serious about, one, making sure that middle-class taxes don't go up, that we actually keep the breaks for middle-class Americans, that's a top priority for the president and for Democrats, so whenever we have a Republican agree on that, it helps move things forward.
And he is a respected member of the conference. And so I think it does help to have that kind of conversation. There is no question that...
BALDWIN: Let me just say -- go ahead, Congresswoman.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, the other thing he said that was also -- is that the election mattered. What the American voters did on Election Day is to reelect the president and to elect more Democrats to the Senate and more Democrats to the House.
And they said, protect Medicare. They said protect our middle-class tax cuts, and make sure that we do some deficit reduction and work it out. That's what they told us to do. So...
BALDWIN: Let me jump in.
At the same time, though, you have House Speaker John Boehner, you have the Senate Republican leader here, Mitch McConnell, they're accusing the president of holding up the talks or talking about the president's strategy. McConnell specifically criticizing President Obama for taking his case straight to the public.
Let's listen, first Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The election is over. He won. Congratulations. We have got a hard deadline here, however, and it is still -- he's still out on the campaign trail, kind of celebrating.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Going over the fiscal cliff will hurt our economy and hurt job creation in our country. This is not good for our country. It's as simple as that and the president understands it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, they're saying president needs to get in there, needs to directly negotiate, whip Democrats into line if necessary. Is that not happening? Are you hearing, Congresswoman Schwartz, from the president at all?
SCHWARTZ: Well, first, let me say that the administration is keenly interested in working with the Senate and the House to get this done.
The fact that the president is out and actually in my district on Friday morning talking to people what about is at stake in this country, at stake for their families and for our nation is something very important for him to be doing. Always engaging our voters, our public is an important thing to do.
And of course at the same time we should be and are having these broad discussions about how we move forward. What we really need is we need Republican leadership, you just quoted them, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, to actually be sitting down and saying, look, there are places where we do agree. Let's start where we agree. Let's begin to have that discussion.
It would make a world of difference for either of them to actually say we're going to move ahead on both some revenues. We're going to protect the middle class, we're going to protect Medicare. We might need to make changes, but that's where we go. (CROSSTALK)
BALDWIN: What about this? Because this is possibly, you know, the most dire prediction I have heard today, and this comes from Erskine Bowles. In fact, we have some video of him walking into the White House just yesterday.
He co-chaired the president's debt commission. He is talking to both sides, talking to the president yesterday, talking today to House Speaker John Boehner, and I want you to listen to what Erskine Bowles says will happen if, if the government drives over the so-called fiscal cliff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERSKINE BOWLES, FORMER CO-CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL COMMISSION ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND REFORM: If we go over the cliff, you're going to have, you know, a slowdown in economic growth of at least 4 percent. That puts us back into recession. That means two million people lose their jobs. That means unemployment goes to 9 percent.
You're going to see these businesses are all talking. Look, they're not waiting to see this happen. They are already slowing their -- their hiring. I think if you go over the cliff and we don't have a deal, you would see the markets really contract. You contract severely. I think you see Moody's and Fitch raise our debt rating -- excuse me -- lower our debt rating. And over a long period of time, that is going to lead to higher interest costs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Congresswoman Schwartz, 20 seconds. Do you agree that that is what could happen?
SCHWARTZ: Well, what I agree with is that the American people, American businesses, families, our economy, the deficit we're experiencing all require us to take action now before the end of the year to protect the middle class and to protect Medicare and to strengthen this economy.
We should take action before the end of the year and we should make some decisions and we should set ourselves on a path to serious deficit reduction. And we can do that. We need to just be able to work together to make that happen.
BALDWIN: Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, thank you very much.
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