Senators Patty Murray and Saxby Chambliss

Two key senators on David Petraeus' resignation and the upcoming "fiscal cliff" negotiations.
3:00 | 11/11/12

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Transcript for Senators Patty Murray and Saxby Chambliss
one official said that's just how it played out. George? All right, pierre. Let's turn to saxby chambliss and patty murray. Thank you for joining us. Senator chambliss, when did you first find out about this investigation of general petraeus and what were you told? Well, I was not told about it until friday. You know, the intelligence community became aware of it on tuesday. Actually, late afternoon on tuesday. And then, by the time it sifted through the appropriate channels, through the white house, we were told on friday. So, you know, one of your colleagues congressman peter king, chair of homeland security in the house said that fbi director had an obligation to go to the white housend inform the relative authorities, earlier, do you agree with that? Well, listen, david petraeus is a great leader, a great patriot. And he's a guy who has probably contributed more to the safety of the united states of america over the last decade than any one, single individual and he's a good leader. And what leaders do, when they're put in a difficult position is, they lead. And he led here by doing what he thought was the right thing. And I think he do the right thing. I don't think there's any question. But it would have been very difficult to continue in his position, if he had subordinates who engaged in similar actions. I knew that was his thought process. I think that's the right process. Two more quick questions then I want to move on to senator murray. Was general petraeus straight with you and the committee during the confirmation process? Generally there's a vetting that asks these kind of questions before someone is confirmed as cia director. I know that he's not going to appear before your committee next week to discuss the situation in benghazi, do you want to hear from him at some point? Well, we have had a conversation, you know, he's trying to put his life back together right now and that's what he needs to focus on. His very capable deputy, mike morrell, is going to be testifying next thursday. That's fine. Because he certainly was there when all of the decisions for made relative to benghazi. At the end of the day, i wouldn't rule out general petraeus being called to testify. And you're confident he told the truth during his confirmation hearings? Oh, absolutely, I am. I don't know the exact date when all of this process began and what took place there, but we're -- we're confident that david petraeus was very straight up with us during the confirmation hearings. Senator murray, you're a member of the democratic leadership, do you have any concerns with how this was handled? Well, first of all, george, great to be you and saxby chambliss. I would remiss if I didn't thank all of the men and women who serve this country on this day. I think senator chambliss has said it very well. And I think general petraeus has served our country incredibly well. Like all men and women who have served our country, we owe him a debt of gratitude. One thing that's all coming on quickly, the negotiations over the fiscal cliff, if congress doesn't do something, we'll have spending cuts on JANUARY 1st, TAX INCREASES. Likely to cost every american family $2,000. Senator murray, let me begin with you, we heard from the speaker and the president. Speaker boehner said tax hikes aren't acceptable. President obama said that he won't sign any extension for tax hikes on the wealthy. senator McConnell the republican leader in senate said that he won't raise taxes to turn off those spending cuts. IF senator McConnell and speaker boehner don't bend, do you still believe the president should go right up to the brink and over the fiscal cliff? Here we are, our country has a tremendous debt and deficit problem. We also have a challenge in making sure that we educate our workforce, we need to make sure we care for our veterans who need that care today. We need to have research and we need to be able to compete in a global marketplace, those investments are important. Everyone who has looked at this, including the supercommittee that I served on, said we need to have revenue as part of the solution to this problem as well as looking at entitlements and spending cuts. What has been the missing ingredient in congress to date is revenue and make sure that it's fairly distributed and the wealthy pay their fair share. That's what we face right now. If our republican counterparts can step forward with that revenue piece we'll be able to find a solution. And if not, go off a cliff? Well, clearly, we have the ability between now and the end of the year to not go off the cliff, but we can't accept an unfair deal that piles on the middle class and tells them they have to support it. We have to make sure that the wealthiest americans pay their fair share. We just had an election where president obama ran on that. We increased our majority in the senate with democratic candidates who said that to solve this problem, wealthy americans have to pay their fair share, too. If the republicans won't agree to that, we'll reach a point in the year, where all of the tax cuts expire, and we'll start over next year. And senator chambliss, you said there could be riots in the streets if this isn't done yet. So what is the right way to do it? You just heard senator murray the defining principal for the democrats is, the wealthy are going to have to pay more. Well, what's going to have to happen, george, is, because there's no silver bullet, as was discussed in the simpson/bowles commission and recommendation of the commission to do this -- we got to look at cutting spending. We still spend way too much money in washington. What's choking our economy and what's choking the economy of greece, and this is why i figured to it the way that i did, even though it was a figure of speech, entitlements are choking us and we've got to make the real reforms to make sure that we do it right. We protect these programs and thirdly, speaker boehner said it very well, I thought he showed great leadership that revenues need to be on the table. Again, though, we need to do it in the right way. Bowles/simpson said reduce the reductions where you can, lower tax rates by doing that. And I think, at the end of the day, what's going to happen, george, we got to get this economy going again. We have had an outside group ernest and young look at raising of taxes on the highest income earners. What a they concluded was, we would immediately lose 700,000 jobs in america. Is that the kind of economy that this president wants to start out with in his second term? I don't think so. President obama said two years ago, now is not the time with a sluggish economy to raise taxes. We need to consider the fact that folks who started raising taxes on the business creators. There's a right way to do this and there's a wrong way to do it. And speaker boehner was absolutely correct that, you do have to have revenues on the table. That does mean raising taxes. Senator murray, let me come back to you. You said that the best way might be is, go off the cliff, have the tax cuts expire and then come back. That could have an impact on economic growth. Equity markets will drop during the month on december. Look, no one wants to go off the fiscal cliff, but, a fair deal is absolutely critical here, I'm delighted to hear speaker boehner and I know senator chambliss has said repeatedly that revenue has to be a part of it. That's a good step forward. But how that revenue is collected a critical. If it's just eliminating tax loopholes that affect middle-class families and they don't have a mortgage deduction or a charitable deduction or we raise their co-pay on medicare. All of that revenue falling on the middle class isn't a fair and balanced way to get to a deal. So, how that is distributed is a critical part of that. We have a way to do this. bill that extends the tax cuts for 98% of americans, and if the house will pass that bill, we're well on our way to working towards a solution before that fiscal cliff. Senator chambliss, the president called for that on friday as well. Do you think that the house should pass that bill that has already passed the senate? No, I don't think so. It was a party-line vote in the senate and that's not the kind of common ground that we need to work towards. We should ultimately get a big vote in the house and the senate to fix this problem, george, and doing it on a party-line vote is obviously not getting a big vote. We need to put politics aside. The election is over. President obama has won. It's now time for him to lead and leading should not be do it my way or we're not going to do this. Leading means, you sit down around a table and make the hard and tough decisions. Patty was on the supercommittee. I have been involved in the gang of six. These are very, very, difficult issues to deal with and ultimately it's going to boil down to reforming entitlements and revenues. If we don't put politics aside then we're not going to solve it. It's imperative that we look at it right way now. Bottom line for each of you. Senator murray and senator chambliss. Senator murray, you go first. Does this get DONE BY DECEMBER 31st? I believe we have opportunity do that. Senator chambliss is right, it needs all of the ingredients. We need to look at every aspect to put it together. But the one key issue that hasn't been resolved is how we put revenue into that. I would be delighted to look at a plan that puts revenue on the table in a way that's fair and balanced and if we can do that, we can get to a deal. Senator chambliss? Well, I think the process can be put in place. Obviously, tax reform is going to be a major part of this. The other issue, that's critical for revenues to come on the table is a big number in entitlement reform and we're not going to reform entitlements over the next 45 days. But, george, we can put a process in place and I certainly hope that happens. And I think it will. I mean, we have to be responsible to the people who sent us to washington and this is one of those difficult times that you actually hope for, because we have the opportunity to change the fiscal course of america. And we need to step up and do the right thing now. But most importantly, do it in the right way. Senator chambliss and senator murray, thank you very much for

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

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