tv Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 15, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EST
common ground with that analysis. and i think that marco rubio has done a very good job of articulating some of the things that have emerged from this white house. and i do not know that you i don't know if you can make a case that republicans have been hostile on this dialogue, so much has it has been the president's leadership that has divided people and he's profited from it. i recall a statement made by senator rubio, and it would be more eloquent than i can recharacterize it here, but that the president has divided people down the lines of race, ethnicity, on gender, on class, and each time, for his own political gain, at the expense of the very direction of the civilization of the culture of the united states of america. and we're going to have to produce, out of our republican team here, and that means the whole american team, a voice that can heal that back together. i think that's one of the essential components that we have to put down on a way
forward, how we heal this country back together as americans and stop the class warfare, which is part of this fiscal cliff, class warfare, stop ethnic warfare, stop the gender warfare, stop the sexual orientation warfare. it's all divided, driven by the president to pit people against each other, because he calinglates that he gets a political gain -- because he calculates he gets a political gain. history will hold him accountable for that. >> we have time for one more. this gentleman has been waiting patiently here. >> over the long haul, in the spending debate, is paul ryan's budget plan still kind of the starting point for you guys, or will this discussion right now change that? >> i mean, remember, even that questions whether this will solve this problem. we at least got to get to paul's plan. many of us supported the
republican study budget, which would even -- we felt it made even more sense, because it got to balance in a much shorter amount of time, so i think that's at a minimum where we need to go, because think about it, the white house, their budget didn't get one single vote in the senate or the house. you know, 535-0, whatever, depending on who was present that time. a single yes vote, the senate doesn't come up with one, so certainly that's got to be where we hope to at least get to that level. if we're going to have any chance of solving this problem. >> one other item, things have actually worsened considerably in the outlook that we base that budget on. i believe that's the starting point, but again, sequester is the word around,s and president himself announced in an international debate, we're not doing the sequester. i don't know how he does that by executive order. that's pretty interesting. but if you don't do that, you have the debt ceiling issue and
the potential downgrade of your credit, so i think the situation is actually worsened, but that is the only -- that is the only reasonable, sensible solution that's actually been on the table for our two years up here for the freshman, so that's certainly the starting point. it is the only serious discussion point. alice rivlin says that again and again, and other folks are saying that as well. we're looking for a serious proposal. as i understand it, the president, again, has offered the same thing that got no votes this morning, and again, it's as if it's 2009 all over again. we're a lot further in the hole than when you started. >> i'll just quick am say that we need a budget that balances more quickly than the ryan budget balances. we cannot survive economically even going down that path. i'm going to look more for an a budget that makes us go off the fiscal water faul i described earlier.
>> are you guys under the understanding that's actual real new revenue or talking about dynamic scoring? >> and i don't know if you can go down the line here, so let's go there first. >> what i hear is he's talking about reforming the tax code and that we will get revenue through growth. that's what i hear. i don't know if that's what everybody is hearing as well. so, at this point, i think that should be our line, that we'll be ok with new revenue that comes through, through growth in our g.d.p. >> i'll add one other thing. the speaker did send letters to the conference that i think was pretty clear. no increase in tax rates. pretty clear, and when you talk about revenue, it's the idea of actually growing our economy, which we all claim to agree on, but there's certainly different proposals to do that.
with that, i want to thank everybody for joining us here today, including our new congressman-elect, first one, you're going to mark that as one of your high points of your congressional career, being the first one here as well. but thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> on "washington journal" this morning, we'll be joined by republican representative ron paul of texas, it a member of the foreign affairs committeeful he'll take your questions about today's hearing on the attack on the u.s. consulate in libya. you'll hear about the fiscal cliff from independent senator
bernie sanders of vermont, a member of the budget committee. also, the kaiser family foundation will look at friday's deadline for states to establish health insurance exchanges under the affordable care act. "washington journal" is live on c-span every day at 7:00 a.m. eastern. the senate armed services committee holds a hearing this morning on the nomination of marine corps general joseph dunford to command forces in afghanistan, replacing general john allen. that's live at 9:30 eastern. general dunford led a regiment in the 2003 invasion of iraq. president obama spoke with reporters for a little less than an hour yesterday. it was his first news conference since early this year. >> good afternoon, everybody. please have a seat. i hear you have some questions
for me. but let me just make a few remarks at the top and then i'll open it up. first of all, i want to reiterate what i said on friday. right now, our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis. so our top priority has to be jobs and growth. we've got to build on the progress that we've made. because this nation succeeds when we've got a growing, thriving middle class. and that's the idea at the core of the plan that i talked about on the campaign trail over the last year, rewarding manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs here, not overseas, providing more americans the chance to earn skills that businesses are looking for right now. keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology, and clean energy, putting people back to work rebuilding roads, bridges and schools and reducing our deficit in a balanced and responsible way. on this last item, we face a very clear deadline. that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs, taxes,
and deficits by the end of the year. both parties voted to set this deadline. and i believe that both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way. yesterday, i had a chance to meet with labor and civic leaders for their input. today i meet with c.e.o.'s of some of america's largest companies. and i'll meet with leaders of both party of congress before the week is out because there's only one way to solve the channels and that is to do it together. as i've said before, i'm open to compromise and i'm hope to new ideas. and i've been encouraged over the last week to hear republican after republican agree on the need for more revenue from the wealthiest americans as part of our
arithmetic if we're serious about reducing the deficit. because when it comes to taxes, there are two pathways available. option one, if congress fails to act by the end of this year, everybody's taxes will automatically go up, including the 98% of americans who make less than $250,000 a year and the 97% of small businesses who earn less than $250,000 a year. that doesn't make sense. our economy can't afford that right now. certainly no middle class family can afford that right now. and nobody in either party says they want it to happen. the other option is to pass a law right now that would prevent any tax hike whatsoever on the first $250,000 of everybody's income. and by the way that means every american including the wealthiest americans get a tax cut. it means that 9 -- 9 % of all americans and 97% of all small businesses won't see their taxes go up a single dime.
the senate has already passed a law like this. democrats in the house are ready to pass a law like this. i hope republicans in the house come on board too. we should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. we should at least do what we agree on and that's to keep middle class taxes lower. and i'll bring everyone in to sign it right away so we can give folks some certainty before the holiday season. i won't pretend that figuring out everything else will be easy but i'm confident we can do it. i know we have. to i know that that's what the american people want us to do. that was the very clear message from the election last week. that was message of a letter i received over the weekend. it came from a man in tennessee who began by writing that he didn't vote for me. which is ok. but what he said was, even though he didn't give me his vote, he's giving me his support to move this country forward.
and he said the same to his republican representatives in washington. he said that he'll back each of us regardless of party as long as we work together to make life better for all of us. he made it clear that if we don't make enough progress he'll be back in touch. so my hope, he wrote, is that we can make progress in light of personal and party principles, special interest groups and years of business as usual. we've got to work together and put our differences aside. i couldn't say it better myself. that's precisely what i intend to do. with that, let me open it up for your questions. i'm going to start off with ben of a.p. >> thank you, mr. president. can you assure the american people that there have been no breaches of national security
in the scandal involving generals petraeus and allen and do you think you and as commander in chief and the american people should have been told of the investigation before the election? >> i have no evidence from what i've seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security. obviously, there's an ongoing investigation. i don't want to comment on the specifics of the investigation. the f.b.i. has its own protocols in terms of how they proceed. i'm going to let director mueller and others examine those protocols and make some statements to the public generally. i do want to emphasize what i've said before. yen petraeus had an
extraordinary career. he served this country with great distinction in iraq, in afghanistan, and as head of the c.i.a. by his own assessment, he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as the director of the c.i.a. with respect to this personal matter he's now dealing with with his family and with his wife. it's on that basis that he tendered his resignation and it's on that basis that i accepted it. but i want to emphasize that from my perspective at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. we are safer because of the work that dave petraeus has done and my main hope right now is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been
an extraordinary career. >> what about voters? do they deserve to know? >> again, i think you'll have to talk to the f.b.i. in terms of what their protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation. one of the challenges here is, is that we're not supposed to meddle in criminal investigations. that's been our practice. and i think that there are certain procedures that the f.b.i. follow or d.o.j. follow when they're involved in these investigations. that's traditionally been how we do thins in part because people are innocent until proven guilty and we want to make sure we don't prejudge these kinds of situations and so my expectation is that they follow protocols they already established. jessica? >> mr. president, on the fiscal cliff two years ago, sir you
said you wouldn't extend the bush era tax cuts put at the end of the day you did. so respectfully, sir, why should the american people and the republicans believe that you won't cave again this time? >> well, two years ago, the economy was in a different situation. we were still very much in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crisis since the great depression. and ultimately we came together not only to extend the bush tax cuts but also a wide range of policies that were going to be good for the economy at that point. unemployment insurance extensions, payroll tax extensions, all of which made a difference and is part of the reason why what we've seen now
as 32 consecutive months of job growth and 5.5 million job crease ated and the unemployment rate coming down. but what i said at the time is what i meant. which is this was a one-time proposition. and what i have told leaders privately as well as publicly is that we cannot afford to extend the bush tax cuts for the wealthy. what we can do is make sure that middle class taxes don't go up. and so, the most important step we can take right now, and i think the foundation for a deal that helps the economy, creates jobs, gives consumers certainty which means gives businesses confidence that they're going to have consumers during the holiday season, is if we right away say 9 % of americans are not going to see their taxes go up. 97% of small businesses are not going to see their taxes go up. if we get that in place, we are
actually removing half of the fiscal cliff. half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step. and what we can then do is shape a process whereby we look at tax reform, which i'm very eager to do, i think we can simplify our tax system. i think we can make it more efficient. we can eliminate loopholes and deductions that have a distorting effect on our economy. i believe that we have to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our
entitlements because health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits. so there is a package to be shaped and i'm confident that parties, folks of good will in both parties can make that happen, but what i'm not going to do is to extend bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% that we can't afford and according to economists will have the least positive impact on our economy. >> you've said that the wealthiest must pay more. would closing loopholes instead of raising rates for them satisfy you? >> i think that there are loopholes that can be closed and we should look at how we can make the process of deductions, filing process, easier, simpler. but when it comes to the top 2%, what i'm not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don't need it, which would cost close to $1 trillion. and it's very difficult to see how you make up that $1 trillion if we're serious about deaf silt reduction just by closing loopholes and deductions. the math tends not to work. and i think it's important to
establish a basic principle that was debated extensively in the course of this campaign. this shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. this was, if there was one thing that everybody understood, was a big difference between myself and mr. romney, it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, i argued for a balanced, responsible approach and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest americans pay a little bit more. i think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate and the majority of voters agreed with me. more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me. so we've got a clear majority of the american people who recognize if we're going to be serious about deficit reduction, we've got to do it in a balanced way. the only question now is, are
we going to hold the middle class hostage in order to go ahead and let that happen? or can we all step back and say, here's something we agree on. we don't want middle class taxes to go up. let's go ahead and lock that in. that will be good for the economy. it will be good for consumers. it will be good for businesses. it takes the edge off the fiscal cliff. and let's also then commit ourselves to the broader package of deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes and includes potentially tax reform as well as, i'm willing to look at additional work we can do on the discretionary spending side. i want a big deal, i want a comprehensive deal, i want to see if we can, you know, at least for the foreseeable future provide certainty to business and the american people so we can focus on job growth so that we're also investing in the things that we need. but right now, what i want to make sure of is that taxes on middle class families don't go up and there's an easy way to do that.
we could get that done by next week. >> thank you, mr. president. on immigration reform, the criticism in the past has been that you did not put forth legislation with specific ideas and send it up to the hill. this time around you have said again that this will be one of the top priorities for a second term. will you then send legislation to the hill? and exactly what do you envision as broad immigration reform? does it include a legalization program? and also what lessons, if any, did democrats learn from this last election and the latino vote? >> well, i think what was incredibly encouraging was to see a significant increase in latino turnout. it is the fastest growing group in the country. and historically, what you've seen is latino vote at lower rates than the broader
population. and that's beginning to change. you're starting to see a sense of empowerment and civic participation that i think is going to be powerful and good for the country. and it is why i'm very confident that we can get immigration reform done. before the election i had given -- given a couple of interviews where i predicted the latino vote would be strong and that would cause some reflection on the part of republicans about their position on immigration reform. i think we're starting to see that already. i think that's a positive sign. this is not historically been a partisan issue. we've had president bush and john mccain and others who have supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past. we need to seize the moment. my expectation is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the possess in congress very soon after my inauguration. some conversations i think are already beginning to take place among senators and congressmen and my staff about what would this look like? and when i say comprehensive immigration reform is very similar to the outlined of
previous efforts of immigration reform. i think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures we've take . we have to secure our borders. i think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. and i do think that there should be a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work, it's important for them to pay back taxes, it's important for them to learn english, it's porn for them to potentially pay a fine but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country i think is very important.
obviously making sure that we put in the law what the first step we've taken administratively dealing with the dream act kids is very important as well. one thing i'm very clear about is that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own, who have gone to school here, pledge aid lieges to our flag, want to serve in our military, want to go to school and contribute to our society, that they shouldn't be under the cloud of deportation. this we should give them every opportunity to earn their citizenship. and so there are other components to it obviously. the business community continues to be concerned about getting enough high skilled workers and i am a believer that if you've got a ph.d. in physics or computer science who wants to stay here and start a business here, we shouldn't make it harder for him to stay here, we should try to encourage him contribute to this society. i think that the agricultural sector has very specific
concerns about making sure they've got a work force that helps deliver food to our tables. there are going to be a bunch of components to it but i think whatever process we have needs to make sure border security is strong, needs to deal with employers effectively, needs to provide a pathway for the undocumented here, needs to deal with the dream act kids, and i think that's something we can get done. chuck todd. where's chuck? >> mr. president, i want to follow up on a couple of -- both ben's question and jessica's question. strog do with ben's question -- >> how about the other question?
>> i feel like you answered that one completely. are you withholding judgment on whether you should have known sooner that there was an investigation into whether your c.i.a. director, potentially there was a national security breach with your c.i.a. director. do you believe you should have known sooner or are you withholding judgment on that front. and the followup to jessica's question, tax rates. is there no deal at the end of the year if the tax raters in 2% are not clinton level tax rate, is that -- is there no negotiation there. >> i am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding general petraeus came up. we don't have all the information yet. but i want to say that i have a lot of confidence, generally, in the f.b.i.
and they've got a difficult job. and so i'm going to wait and see to see if trst any other -- >> do you think you should have known? >> chuck, what i'll say is that if -- it is also possible that had we been told, then you'd be sitting here asking a question about why were you interfering in a criminal investigation. so i think it's best right new for us to just see how this whole process unfolds. with respect to the tax rates, i just want to emphasize, i am open to new ideas. if the republican counterparts or some democrats have a great requested fours raise revenue, maintain progress, make sure the middle class isn't getting hit, reduces our deficit, encourages growth i'm not going to just slam the door in their face. i want to hear ideas from everybody.
look, i believe this is solveable. i think that fair minded people can come to an agreement that does not cause the economy to go back into recession that protects middle class families, that focuses on jobs and growth and reduces our deficit. i'm confident it can be done. my budget, frankly, doesn't. i understand that -- i don't expect the republicans semply to adopt my budget, that's not realist in. i recognize we're going to have to compromise. as i said on election night, compromise is hard. and not everybody gets 100% of
everybody they want. not everybody will be perfectly happy. but what i will not do is to have a process that is vague, that says, we're going to sort of kind of raise revenue through dynamic scoring or closing loopholes that have not been identified and the reason i won't do that is because i don't want to find ourselves in a position six months from now or a year from now where lo and behold the only way to close the deficit is to sock it to middle class families. or to burden families that have disabled kids or have a parent in a nursing home. or suddenly we've got to cut more out of our basic research budget that is the key to growing the economy in the long term. so that's my concern. i'm less concerned about red lines per se. what i'm concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren't paying more or aren't paying as much as they should, middle class families one way or another are making up the difference.
that's the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long and that's exactly what i argued against during this campaign and if there's one thing that i'm confident about is the american people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. they want compromise. they want action. but they also want to make sure that middle class folks aren't bury -- bearing the entire burden and, sacrifice when it comes to big challenges. they expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well. that's going to be my biding principle during these negotiations, but more importantly during the next four years of my administration. >> mr. president, on election night you said you were looking forward to speaking with governor romney, sitting down in the coming weeks to discuss ways you could work together on this nation's problems have you
extended that invitation? has he accepted? and what ways do you think you can work together? >> we haven't scheduled something yet. i think everybody forgets the election was only a week ago. i know i've forgotten, i forgot on wednesday. i think everybody needs to catch their breath. i'm sure that governor romney is spending time with his family. and my hope is before the end of the year, though, we have a chance to sit down and talk. there are certain aspects of governor romney's record and his ideas that i think could be very helpful. to give you one example, i think he did a terrific job running the olympics. and that skill set of trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government. there are a lot of ideas that i
don't think are partisan ideas but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer friendly, how can we make sure that we're consolidating programs that are duplicative. how can we eliminate additional waste? he presented ideas in the course of the campaign that i agree with and so it would be interesting to talk to him about smog -- something like that. there may be ideas he has with respect to jobs and growth that can help middle class families that i want to hear. so i'm not either prejudges what he's interested in doing, nor am i suggesting i've got some specific assignment, but what i want to do is get ideas from him and see if there's some ways we can potentially work together. >> when it comes to your
relationship with congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we've heard from members on both sides is you haven't done enough to reach out and build relationships. are there concrete ways you plan to approach your relationships with congress in the second term? >> look, i think there's no doubt that i can always do better. so i will examine ways that i can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody, so long as it's advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class and improving our economy. i've gotten a lot of good relationships with folks both in the house and senate. i have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. it hasn't always manifested itself in the kind of agreements i'd like to see between democrats and republicans. so i think all of us have responsibilities to see if there are things we can improve on. i don't exempt myself from needing to do some self-reflection and see if i
can improve our working relationship. there are probably going to be still some sharp differences. and as i said during the campaign, there are going to be times where there are fights and i think those are fights that need to be had. but what i think the american people don't want to see is a focus on the next election instead of a focus on them. and i don't have another election. and michelle and i were talking last night about what an incredible honor and privilege it is to be put in this position. and there are people all across this country, millions of folks who have work sod hard to help us get elected but there are also millions of people who may not have voted for us but are also counting on us. we take that responsibility very seriously.
i take that responsibility very seriously. and i hope and intend to be an even better president in the second term than i was in the first. jonathan carl. >> thank you, mr. president. senator john mccain and senator lindsey graham said they want watergate-style hearings on benghazi and if you nominate susan rice to be secretary, they will do everything they can to stop that after her remarks on benghazi. >> i'm not going to comment on various nominations i'll put forward to fill out my cabinet for the second term. those are things that are still being discussed. but let me say specifically about susan rice. she has done exemplary work. she has represented the united
states and our interests in the united nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. as i've said before, she made an appearance at the request of the white house in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence she had received, to besmirch her
reputation is outrageous. we're after an election now. i think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in benghazi and i'm happy to cooperate in any ways congress wants. we have provided every bit of information we have. and we will continue to provide information. and we've got a full blown investigation and all that information will be disgorged to congress. and i don't think there's any debate in this country that when you have four americans killed, that's a problem. and we've got to get to the bottom of it and there needs to be accountability. we've got to bring those who carried it out to justice. they won't get any debate from me on that. but when they go after the u.n. ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy
target, then they've got a problem with me. and should i choose, if i think that she would be the best person to serve america in the capacity of the state department then i will nominate her. that's not a determination i have made yet. ed henry. >> i want to take chuck's lead and ask a very small follow-up, whether you feel you have a mandate not just on taxes but a range of issues because of your decisive victory. i want to stay in benghazi because of what john asked you say, if they want to come after somebody, come after me. sean smith's father ray says he believes his son basically called 911 for help and didn't get it. i know you said you grieve for these four americans, that it's
being investigated but the families have been waited for more than two months. i would like to -- for you to address the families if you can. on 9/11 as commander in chief did you issue any orders to protect their lives? >> ed, i'll address the families not through the press, i'll address the families directly as i already have. and we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. that's what the investigation is for. but as i said repeatedly, if people don't think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who i sent there and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the united states, then you don't know how our defense department thinks or our state department thinks or our c.i.a. thinks. their number one priority is obviously to protect american lives. that's what our job is.
ed, we're -- i'll put forward every bit of information we have. i can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my national security team were, do whatever we need to do to make sure they're safe. and that's the same order that i would give any time that i see americans are in danger. whether they're civilian or military. because that's our number one priority. with respect to the issue of mandate, i've got one mandate. i've got a mandate to help middle class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class. that's my mandate. that's what the american people said.
they said work really hard to help us. don't worry about the politics of it. don't worry about the party interests. don't worry about the special interests. just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead. because we're working really hard out here and we're still struggling a lot of us. that's my mandate. i don't presume that because i won an election that everybody suddenly agrees with me on everything. i'm more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms. we are very cautious about that. on the other hand, i didn't get re-elected just to bask in re-election. i got elected to do work on behalf of american families and small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession but are hopeful about the future. and i am too. the one thing that i said during the campaign, that maybe sounds like a bunch of campaign red rhetoric but now that the
campaign is over, i'll repeat it and hope you believe me. when you travel around the country you are inspired by the grit and resilience and hard work an decency of the american people. it just makes you want to work harder. you meet families who are -- who have overcome really tough spots and are making it, sending their kids to college. and you meet young people who are doing incredible work in disadvantaged communities because they believe in, you know, the american ideal and it should be available for everybody and you meet farmers who are helping each other during types of drought and you meet businesses that kept their doors open during the recession even though the owner didn't have to take a salary, when you talk to these folks you say to
yourself, man, they deserve a better government than they've been getting. they deserve all of us here in washington to be thinking everybody single day how can i make things better for them? which isn't to say that everything we do is going to be perfect or that there aren't just going to be some big, tough challenges we have to grapple with. but i do know the federal government can make a difference. we're seeing it right now on the jersey coast and in new york.
people are still going through a tough time. the response hasn't been perfect. but it's been aggressive and strong and fast and robust and a lot of people have been helped because of it. and that's a pretty good metaphor for how i want the federal government to operate generally and i'm going to do everything i can to make sure it does. christy parson. >> thank you, mr. president. congratulations, by the way. >> when i was running for state senate, you were there. >> i was. >> christy and i go back a ways. >> i've never seen you lose. i wasn't looking that one time. >> there you go. >> one quick followup and then i want to ask you about iran. i just want to make sure you understood what you said. can you envision any scenario in which we do go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year and on iran are you preparing a final diplomatic push here to resolve the nuclear program issue and are we headed toward one-on-one talks? >> obviously we can all imagine a scenario where we go off the fiscal cliff. if despite the election, if the spite -- if despite the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff and what that means for our economy, that there's too much stubbornness in congress that we can't even agree on giving
middle class families a tax cut, then middle class families will all end up having a big tax hike. that will be a rude shock for them and i suspect will have a big impact on the holiday shopping season, which in turn will have an impact on business planning and hiring and we can go back into a recession. it would be a bad thing. it is not necessary. so i want to repeat. step number one that we can take in the next couple of weeks, provide certainty to middle class families, 98% of families who make less than $250,000 a year, 97% of small businesses that their taxes won't go up a single dime next year. give them that certainty right now. we can get that done. we can then set up a structure
whereby we are dealing with tax reform, closing deductions, closing loopholes, simplifying, dealing with entitlements and i'm ready and willing to make big commitments to make sure we're locking in the kind of deficit reductions that stabilize our deficit, start bringing it down, start bringing down our debt. i'm confident we can do it. it's -- and look, i've been living with this for a couple of years now. i know the math pretty well. and it's -- it really is arithmetic. it's not calculus. there are some tough things that have to be done but there's a way of doing it that doesn't hurt middle class family that does not hurt our seniors, doesn't hurt families with disabled kids, allows taos continue to invest in those -- allows us to continue to invest in those things that make us grow, research, education, helping young people go to college. as we have heard from some
republican commentators a modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their backs. they'll still be wealthy. and it will not impinge on business investment. so we know how to do this. this is just a matter of whether or not we come together and go ahead and say, democrats and republicans, we're both going to hold hands and do what's right for the american people. and i hope that's what happens. with respect to iran, i very much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the problem. i was very clear before the campaign, i was clear during
the campaign and i'm now clear after the campaign. we're not going to let iran get a nuclear weapon. but i think there's still a window of time for taos resolve this diplomatically. we've imposed the toughest sanctions in history. it is having an impact on iran's economy. there should be a way in which they can enjoy peaceful nuclear power while still meeting their international obligations and providing clear assurances to the international community that they're not pursuing a nuclear weapon. so yes, i will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between iran and not just us but the international community to see if we can get this thing resolved. i can't promise that iran will walk through the door they need to walk through but that would be very much the preferable option. >> [inaudible] >> i won't talk about the details on negotiations. i think it's fair to say that we want to get this resolved and we're not going to be constrained by diplomatic niceties or protocols. if iran is serious about wanting to resolve this, they'll be in a position to resolve it. >> at one point just prior to the election there was talk
that talks might be imminent -- >> that was not true. and it's not true as of today. ok. just going to knock through a couple others. mark landers. where's mark? there he is right in front of me. >> thank you, mr. president. in his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, mayor bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. tomorrow you're going up to new york city where you're going to, i assume, see people still suffering the effects of hurricane sandy which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. what specifically do you plan to do in a sec term to tackle the issue of climate change? and do you think the political will exists in washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of attacks on carbon?
>> you know, as you know, mark, we can't attribute any particular weather event to climate change. what we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing. faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. we do know that the arctic icecap is melting, faster than was predicted even five years ago. we do know there have been extraordinarily -- there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in north america but also around the globe. and i am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacting by human behavior and by carbon emissions and i think we have an obligation to future yen rations to do something about it. in hi first term, we doubled
fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. that will have an impact. that will take a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. we doubled the production of clean energy. which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. and we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere. but we haven't done as much as we need to. so what i'm going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbon and
then working through an education process that i think is necessary, a discussion, a conversation across the country about what realistically can we do long-term to make sure that this is not something we're passing on to future generations that's going to be very expensive and very pain to feel deal with? i don't know what either democrats or republicans are prepared to do at this point. because this is one of those issues that is not just a partisan issue. i also think there's regional
differences. there's no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way, would involve making some tough political choices. and understandably, inthe american people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that if the message is somehow, we're going to ignore jobs and growth, simply to address climate change, i don't think anybody is going to go for that. i won't go for that if on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, i think that's something the american people would support. so you know, you can expect you'll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support an helps move this agenda forward. >> you sound like you're saying -- [inaudible] >> that i'm pretty certain of. look, we're still trying to debate whether we can just make
sure middle class families don't get a tax hike. let's see if we can resolve that. that should be easy. this one is hard. but it's important. because one of the things we don't always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. we just put them off as something that's unconnected to our behavior right now and i think what -- based on the evidence we're seeing is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if we don't do something about it. all right. last question. mark. >> thank you, mr. president. the assaad regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. france has recognized the opposition coalition. what would it fake for the
united states to do the same and is there any point at which the united states would consider arming the rebels? >> i was one of the first leaders around the world to say assaad had to go. in response to the incredible brutality that his government displayed in the face of what were initially peaceful protests. obviously the situation in syria has deteriorated since then. we have been engaged to help the opposition. we have committed to hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to help folks both inside of syria and outside of syria. we are constantly consulting with the opposition on how they can get organized so that they're not splinters and divided in the face of the onslaught from the assaad regime. we are in very close contact with countries like turkey and
jordan that immediately border syria and have an impact and obviously israel which is having already grave concerns as we do about, for example, movements of chemical weapons that might occur in such a chaotic atmosphere. and they could have an impact not just within syria but on the reas a whole. i'm encouraged to see that the syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they had in the past. we're going to be talking to them, my envoys are going to be traveling to various meetings taking place with the international community and the opposition.
we consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the syrian people. we're not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile. but we do think it is it's a broad-based representative group. one of the questions we're going to continue to express is making sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic syria, an inclusive syria, a moderate syria. we have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition. and one of the things that we have to be on gourd about, particularly when with start talking about arming opposition, -- opposition figures is that we're not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do americans harm or do israelis harm or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security. so we're constantly probing and working on that issue, the more engaged we are in the more we'll be in a position to make sure that we are encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that
are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights and working cooperatively with us over the long-term. all right? thank you very much. >> [inaudible] >> that was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out. so thank you very much guys. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the senate armed services committee holds a hearing this morning on the nomination of marine corps general joseph dunford to command forces in afghanistan, replacing general
john allen. that's live on c-span3 at 9:30 eastern. general dunford is assistant cam an do not of the marine corps and led the 2003 invasion of iraq. in a few moments, today's headlines and your calls live on "washington journal." and the house of representatives general session for speeches at 10:00 a.m. with legislative business at noon. today's agenda includes debate on the rule for a russia trade bill. and in 45 minutes, we'll be joined by republican representative ron paul of texas, a member of the foreign affairs committee. he'll take your questions about today's hearing on the attack on the u.s. consulate in libya. at 8:40 eastern, you'll hear about the fiscal cliff from independent senator bernie sanders of vermont, a member of the budget committee. also, jennifer tolbert of the