STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable time now. George Will is off today. Glad to have Cokie Roberts here. Also Dan Senor, senior adviser to the Romney campaign. Steve Rattner, who ran the auto bailout for President Obama at the Treasury Department, and two congressmen, Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma, also a member of the Republican leadership, and Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House.
Let's talk about what we just heard from Tim Geithner, Cokie. He says they are making progress. I think it's fair to say he's about the only one in Washington who thinks so this week.
COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS: Congressman Cole does, too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to hear that, then.
ROBERTS: But it hasn't been a very encouraging week for people who think that the fiscal cliff is not something we want to go over, and I think that the president's proposal that was put on the table was something that Republicans were not going to accept, even close to accept, so it had the air of bazaar, you know, bargaining in a bazaar, put a really high price out there so that when you start the negotiating, you feel like --
STEPHANOPOULOS: When will the real negotiating begin?
ROBERTS: Well, that's the question.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Cole? You actually think there was progress, I think you thought--
REP. TOM COLE, R-OKLA.: No. I want to thank the president and Tim Geithner for re-uniting and re-energizing the Republican caucus, because that offer -- they must think John Boehner is Santa Claus, because that is a Christmas wish list, not a real proposal.
And in that sense, I think we took a little step back at the end of the week. Now, at the end of the day, do I think we'll arrive at a deal? Yes, I actually do, but I think there's a lot of tough negotiation ahead of us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you heard Secretary Geithner right there, and I want to get Congressman Ellison in on this as well. He says it is now up to the Republicans to come forward with the new proposal. They're not going to get -- they are not going to come forward with anything new right now.
COLE: I don't know -- there's a little bit of chicken going on here in terms of gamesmanship. The reality is, all these tax rates end at the end of the year. And so we're going to have a lot of discussion. I don't think we need to put a formal proposal out on the table. The speaker has already said revenue is on the table. He has got an idea about how to get there in terms of not raises rates, but finding it in other ways through tax code reform. I think that makes a lot of sense, and that's a doable thing, but beyond that, you know, we'll wait and see how the negotiations go.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What we heard from Secretary Geithner, Congressman Ellison, is that Social Security for now is off the table in these negotiations, but talking about significant cuts in Medicare. Can your caucus accept those?
REP. KEITH ELLISON, D-MINN.: Well, it depends on whether they're going to cut benefits to people. I was meeting with seniors in my district just yesterday, and they're very worried. I mean, we have seniors who area already paying more than they can afford for medications, already worried about that. I'm not going to go to those people and tell them that they're going to do less while we're not going to raise taxes on the top 2 percent. That's just ridiculous.