'This Week' Transcript: Two Powerhouse Roundtables

Roundtables of elected officials and political experts debate on "This Week."

ByABC News
December 8, 2012, 4:33 PM

NEW YORK, DEC. 9, 2012— -- STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

With 23 days to go, stalemate.

OBAMA: I want to send a very clear message. I will not play that game.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president digs in. The speaker battles back.

BOEHNER: The president insists on my way or the highway. That's not the way to get to an agreement.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is a deal still possible on the fiscal cliff? Does either side have a viable fallback? And what will this brinksmanship mean for the economy and you? We'll get the latest from the decision-makers, our Capitol Hill roundtable. For the Democrats, Senator Debbie Stabenow and House progressive leader Raul Grijalva. For the Republicans, Senator Tom Coburn and House conservative star Jeb Hensarling.

Then, our powerhouse roundtable weighs in on that and all the week's politics. As stars align for 2016, a Tea Party stalwart abandons the Senate.

DEMINT: Conservatives on the Hill are counting on us. Conservatives all over the country are counting on us.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the Supreme Court takes on gay marriage. We'll break it all down with George Will, that political odd couple James Carville and Mary Matalin, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman of the New York Times, and ABC's own Matthew Dowd.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. Reporting from ABC News headquarters, George Stephanopoulos.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. Just over three weeks away from that fiscal cliff. We've just come off a week of press conferences, speeches, symbolic votes in the Senate, but less than a single hour of serious negotiating.

So what will it take to break the stalemate? We're going to get into that and a whole lot more this morning with two big roundtables of elected officials and experts. Let's begin with the lawmakers, Senators Tom Coburn for the Republicans, Debbie Stabenow for the Democrats. And here in the studio, Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva and Republican Jeb Hensarling.

And, Congressman Hensarling, let me begin with you. The president's been absolutely clear of at least one thing. He says that for there to be a deal, tax rates on the wealthy are going to have to go up. If that's his bottom line, can there be a deal?

HENSARLING: Well, again, as the speaker has said, unfortunately, what we see out of the president is my way or the highway. Before the election, he said he wanted $800 billion worth of revenue, $1 of revenue for every $2.50 of spending reductions. And now, after the election, it's a little bit of bait-and-switch. Now he's asking for $1.6 trillion. And if you look closely, for every $1 of tax increase, there's about 20 cents of spending reductions...


STEPHANOPOULOS: But he said he can negotiate on the number. I'm talking about the rates. If the rates go up, can the Republicans in the House accept a tax rate increase?

HENSARLING: No Republican wants to vote for a rate tax increase. I mean, what that is going to do, according to the National Federation of Independent Business that commissioned a study by Ernst & Young, is cost 700,000 Americans to go from having paychecks to unemployment checks. Because of what that's going to do to the economy, George, hardworking Americans are going to see a 2 percent reduction in their paycheck if they...


STEPHANOPOULOS: So then there's no deal?