Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin on 'This Week'

Two key senators on the Middle East cease-fire, and the fiscal cliff negotiations.
15:05 | 11/25/12

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Transcript for Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin on 'This Week'
Good morning and welcome to "this week." Cease-fire. The middle east pulls back from the brink. But will the truce brokered by hillary hold? Was this latest skirmish a warm-up israel's showdown with iran? And here at home, it's back to work on that fiscal cliff. We'll cover all that and more with our headliners, senators dick durbin and lindsey graham. Plus our powerhouse roundtable. Matthew dowd, joe klein, ruth marcus, david sanger and peggy noonan. Then, ben affleck. Youaw your parents killed? With war breaking out this week in congo, he's here live to tell us what can be done. And -- I'm jonathan karl, I'm going to show you how this clipper will bring bipartisanship to washington. Hello, again. You just saw one small step for bipartisanship, is there more to come in washington? Congress is back to work this week. Top priority, a deal to block those automatic spending cuts and tax increases. NOW SET FOR JANUARY 1st. And some smart money is starting to bet that the president and congress will find a way to avoid that fiscal cliff. Stocks up this week, in anticipation of a deal, with the dow clocking five straight of gains. And black friday consumer spending was strong as well. Let's bring in number one senator dick durbin and top republican lindsey graham. Senators, welcome. Senator durbin, let me begin you, you see those markets going up in anticipation of a deal, are they right to be optimistic? Well, they should be optimistic because we can solve this problem. Unfortunately, for the last ten days, with the house and congress gone for the thanksgiving recess, there hasn't been much progress made. Tomorrow, there's no excuse, we're back in town, george, it gets back to the basics. The house of representatives have a bipartisan bill passed by senate that will spare 98% of taxpayers across america from any income tax raises. It's a bipartisanship bill that the house should pass to make sure we go forward with these negotiations without this specter of tax increases. That might have a bipartisan farm bill sent by senate that they haven't been able to pass. closing days of this session to at least take up those measures. Senator graham, you signaled that you're willing to raise revenues as part of an overall deal. That also includes spending cuts. That's drawn fire from grover norquist. He said that -- the world won't come to an end if this isn't resolved before january, take the sequester the only thing worse is to not cut spending at all. He's saying don't raise taxes accept those spending cuts. Well, what I would say to grover, the sequester destroyed the united states military. According to our own secretary of defense, it would be shooting ourselves in the head. Smallest navy since 1915. The smallest air force in the history of the country. So, sequestration must be replaced. I'm willing to generate revenue. It's fair to ask my party to put revenue on the table. I won't raise tax rates to do it. If you capnd $40,000 you can raise trillion dollars in revenue. The people who lose their deductions are the upper income americans. I want entitlement reforms. Republicans always put revenue on the table. Democrats always promise to cut spending. I'm looking for entitlement reform. I want to ask durbin about that. In the end, norquist said that you're not going to go through with this promise to raise reven revenues, because, quote, you like being a senator, your response? I love being a senator and i want to be a senator that matters for the state of south carolina and the country. When you're $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming greece, and republicans should put revenue on the table. We're this far in debt. We don't generate enough revenue. Capping deductions will help generate revenues. Raising tax rates will hurt job creation. I think grover is wrong when it comes to we can't cap deductions. I will violate the pledge, long story short for the good of the country, only if democrats will do entitlement reforms. Let's talk about that entitlement reform, senator durbin. Your allies in the democratic party are already start to mobilize with labor unions. The aarp ad airing across the country right now. How do we move our country forward and reduce the deficit? By creating jobs and growing our economy. Not by cutting programs that families rely on the most. For working families it's all about putting americans back to work, not cutting the things that we rely on the most. If they can't accept the entitlement reforms in medicare and social security that senator graham are saying that's a p prerequisite to a deal. It doesn't add a penny to our debt. It's a separate-funded operation and we can do things that i believe we should now, played over the long term. That gives it solvency. Medicare is another story, only 12 years of solvency lie ahead if we do nothing. We want medicare to be there for today's seniors and tomorrow's as well. We don't want to go the paul ryan's route of voucherizing it. Priva privateizing it. But we can make meaningful reforms in medicare without compromising the program and making sure that beneficiaries aren't paying the price for it. Except for the high-income beneficiaries. That's a reasonable approach. Let me salute lindsey graham, what he just said about revenue and taxes on his side of the aisle, we need to be honest on our side of the aisle. Under bowles/simpson, we put everything on the table. Here's my concern, george, what happens to the early retiree? Who needs health insurance before that person is eligible for medicare. I had it happen in my family. I'll bet a lot of your viewers did as well. We've got to make sure that there's seamless coverage of affordable health insurance for every american. My concern about raising that medicare retirement age is, there will be gaps in coverage that's way to expensive for seniors to purchase. Is that a fair point, senator graham? Not really. I don't think you can look at entitlement agehout adjusting the age. It goes to 67 shortly for social security. Let it float up another year or so over 30 years. Adjust medicare from 65 to 67 over the next 30 years. Benefits for people in our income level, I don't expect the democrats to go for premium support or a voucher plan. But I do expect them to adjust these entitlement programs before they bankrupt the country. And run out of money themselves. Age adjustment and mean testing for social security and medicare is reasonable. I want to move on to another subject. Quickly, senator durbin, you praised senator graham right there because he was opened to more revenues. Do you believe capping deductions is the answer or do you believe there will have to be increases in tax rates? That's where I may disagree with my friend, lindsey graham, during the course of the presidential debate, how many times the president turned to mitt romney and said, do the arithmetic, how are you going to generate enough revenue for meaning deductions? He could never answer the question. Let the rates go up to 39. Let's also take a look at the deductions. Let's make sure that revenue is an integral part of deficit reduction. And yes, from side of my table, bring entitlement reform into the conversation. Social security set aside, doesn't add to the deficit. But when it comes to medicare and medicaid, protect the integrity of the program but give it solvency for many years. The fallout on the attack in benghazi, you have been highly critical of ambassador rice, for the first time this week she responded. When discussing the attacks against our facilities in benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers. Senator graham, we learned also this week from the director of central intelligence agency, that references of al qaeda and terrorisms in talking points, were taken out for security reasont by political officials for political reasons. Do you accept the explanation by ambassador rice? I don't believe that the best intelligence assessment on the 16th of september that there was a spontaneous event in benghazi that led to a mob that became a riot. The cia station chief on the day of attack, reported in realtime, we're under attack by al qaeda affiliates. On 16th of september, al qaeda was involved. We got drones. Release the video. We know what a mob looks like in the middle east. I'm increasingly convinced that the best, current intelligence assessment on 16 september went against a video, the video was a political smokescreen. The actual facts were, this was a coordinated preplanned terrorist attack, when the president said on letterman, we think the video caused this, that they're not relying on the best intelligence. Senator, all of the evidence -- they're pushing a political story. All of the evidence is that ambassador rice was using the information given to her by the intelligence community. I don't believe that. This is what I want to know. How the intelligence community, the people on the ground, put in one pile all the evidence of a preplanned al qaeda attack in one pot and put in the other pot the evidence that this was a spontaneous mob created by a hateful video, I have seen no evidence. There were mobs -- there were riots in the middle east, but none of them had mortars and why for seven hours could we not help these poor people? Where was the department of defense? And when you look at the history OF BENGHAZI, AUGUST 16th, THERE Was a report coming out of benghazi, saying that there are ten al qaeda militias roaming around benghazi. We can't withstand a coordinated attack. The british closed their consulate in benghazi. The red cross left. We kept our consulate open unreinforced. There was an al qaeda storm brewing for months. I blame the president above all others. Do you still oppose ambassador rice's elevation to secretary of state? If that's what president obama chooses to do. When she comes over, if she does, there will be a lot of questions asked of her about this event and others, but I do not believe that the video is the cause, when 14 of september, when secretary clinton told the families we're going to put in the jail the man who made this video, she should have said, I'm sorry we left the consulate open and it became a death trap. I'm sorry we couldn't help your family for over seven hours. I don't believe the video was the reason for this. That was a political story, not an intel story, and we're going to hold people accountable for a major national security breakdowns three weeks before the election. That is our job and we will do our job. If this was an nfl football game, the critics of ambassador rice would be penalized for piling on. She got the report from the intelligence community, she dutifully reported it to the public, exactly what we expected her to do. They decided not to include the al qaeda reference so we wouldn't compromise our sources in benghazi and in libya. We have the intelligence committee, homeland committee, all taking an honest look at this. The way it should be done. George, I have enough time here in washington to remember when president ronald reagan in lebanon saw our embassy attacked and then barracks bombed where 230 u.S. Marines were killed. That sort of thing should at least call the attention of the united states to look to ways to avoid these tragedies in the future. Let's get down to the basic issues as the state department is doing. Find out how to keep our people safe representing us around the world. Stop making this a personal attack on ambassador rice. On that, you can both there will be questions -- senator graham, you get the last word quickly. Very quickly, this is about four dead americans, this is about a national security failure, we need a focused look at what happened here. Last week al qaeda was taken out because we didn't want to tip them off. This week, apparently, al qaeda was taken out because it was a tenuous reference. There was a mountain of intel to dispute the video characterization. This was a spontaneous event. The story line created by ambassador rice and the president himself for seven days was far out of sync with the intel. It was a political smokescreen, not an accurate reporting, of what happened to those four dead americans in benghazi. We'll get to it like we got to the bottom of iran contra. Okay, gentlemen, thank you both very much.

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

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