Nancy Pelosi on 'This Week'

The House Democratic Leader on the status of fiscal cliff negotiations.
3:00 | 11/18/12

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Transcript for Nancy Pelosi on 'This Week'
some fun with it, that looming fiscal cliff is serious business. With taxes set to rise on all AMERICANS STARTING JANUARY 1st, Along with massive budget cuts, all of which could push the economy back into a recession. On friday, president obama and congressional leaders sat down to start negotiations about how to avoid that cliff and came out sounding optimistic. And I believe that we can do this and avert the fiscal cliff that is right in front of us today. We've already been through it before. So on friday I went to the capitol to ask house leader nancy pelosi how realistic it is that we'll get a deal done. Leader pelosi, you all came out of the meeting with the president sounding pretty optimistic, pretty confident. But you've been there before. You said in july of 2011, called your talks with the gop about a grand bargain constructive saying you were optimistic that we can find a place where we can come together. Obviously those talks failed, so what's changed, and why do you believe this optimism after this meeting? That was then. This is now. The urgency is so much greater, so I'm optimistic because i think it's very clear the american people expect and deserve and want to see us get this job done. Did anything that speaker boehner said make you optimistic? Was it just that urgency that you're talking about? Well, it's the urgency, but i think the spirit at the table was one of everybody wants to make the best effort to get this done. Hopefully that is possible. Hopefully it is possible by the middle of december so the confidence of the markets and, most importantly, the confidence of the consumers returns to infuse our economy with demand, which creates jobs. You said afterwards there would be these milestones of success. How will that work? What are the goals? Are there interim goals? Well, my suggestion was that we at some point, not necessarily today, decide on what our goal is in terms of the amount of deficit reduction that we can achieve, some date by which we'd like to do it, the middle of december so this doesn't take us up to christmas, some milestones along the way so progress can be demonstrated we're moving in a forward direction. I spoke to senator michael bennet of colorado earlier this week. He said this really comes down to speaker boehner and president obama. So what do you see, your role? Well, we have to have the votes in order for something to pass. I think speaker boehner d mitch McConnell and senator reid and I would all agree that we have to have something that will pass both houses that the president will sign, and so, you know, really what is imptant is getting the job done. Well, let's talk about the details. The focus does seem to be on the revenue side of this. Your side is insisting on tax rate increases. But have you seen any indication that the republicans are opening to raising rates? Well, they have said that they know that revenue has to be on the table, and that is why i have said, when we talk about revenue, what are we talking about? Are we talking about closing loopholes, are we talking about raising rates or are we talking about both, and they're talking about entitlements ructuring. What does that mean? If that means harming beneficiaries, I don't think that that's such a good idea. Could you accept a deal that does not include tax rate increases for the wealthy? We've seen talk about a possible compromise that would leave rates the same but cap deductions for high-income earners. Is that something acceptable? No. Not at all. The president has made it very clear in his campaign that there are not enough resources -- that what you just described is a formula and a blueprint for hampering our future. You cannot go forward -- you have to cut some investments. If you cut too many you're hampering growth. You're hampering education, our investment for the future. So just to close loopholes is far too little money if it's -- and it could be -- they have said they want it to be revenue neutral. If it's going to bring in revenue, the president has been very clear that the higher income people have to pay their fair share. I know you're optimistic about this and confident this will happen, but last week on the show with george stephanopoulos, senator patty murray said she thought if you don't have a deal by december 31st, WE SHOULD JUST FALL INTO The fiscal cliff, fall off the fiscal cliff. We have to make sure that the wealthiest americans pay their fair share. If the republicans will not agree with that, we will reach a point at the end of this year where all the tax cuts expire and we'll start over next year. Do you agree with that? Well, I think she was stating a fact. If we don't have a deal by DECEMBER 31st, WE WILL GO OVER The fiscal cliff. If you don't get a deal, are you willing to just walk away? Well, the -- I want a deal. I want -- I know you want a deal, but would you be willing to just say if we don't get what we want -- I don't think that's -- in my view, as one seat at the table, I don't think it's my role to go to the table with a threat. I think it's my role to go to the table with some ideas to be receptive to what we can come to agreement on. I'm not criticizing statements others make, but what I am saying is that there's too much at risk, and even if you went over the cliff for one month and then corrected it, you would still have a loss of gdp. I think you said in september you said categorically the country can't go over the cliff. Absolutely. I completely -- look -- you agree with yourself. Yeah, I agree with myself, i do, and I quote myself from time to time, as well, and here's the thing, we're all grown-ups, i mean we talk about maturity and age, we're all grown-ups. We have a responsibility to the american people. The elements for an agreement are there. Time is of the essence. The quicker we do it, the more confidence we instill, the better it is for the economy and for the american people. Just finally, you seemed genuinely taken aback and almost upset the other day -- no. -- In your press conference when you were asked if it was time for younger leadership. Let's for a moment honor it as a legitimate question, although it's quite offensive but you don't realize that, i guess. I said I quote myself and i do. But I did not agree with the characterization you just gave. I was amused. I was surprised at the response of my colleagues, because they just were very offended -- not you at all. Well, for me I laughed because I thought, oh, they don't know what questions I have to be subjected to here all the time. For me this is a matter of course, but my colleagues, the women, we had 60 women gathered up there, and if you ever wanted to ask that question, you should save it for another day. Our thanks to nancy pelosi.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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