VIDEO: Robert Gibbs Chats 'Fiscal Cliff' on CBS THIS MORNING
Robert Gibbs, President Obama's former White House press secretary and senior adviser for his re-election campaign, discussed the fiscal cliff agreement in an interview with co-host Norah O'Donnell and CBS THIS MORNING: SATURDAY co-host Anthony Mason that was broadcast live today, Jan. 3, 2013, on CBS THIS MORNING on the CBS Television Network (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM). Watch the interview in full below!
Below are excerpts from the interview:
O'DONNELL: Robert, there's an old phrase that someone wise always says, "Don't confuse effort with accomplishment."
GIBBS: That's probably-that should be the motto of Washington. But look-in this piece, we have averted tax rates going up on the middle class right now, which is a huge victory, I think, for the country. The question is, again, we have this mini-government by mini-crisis, and the question is, how are we going to meet that moment in the next two months? How are we going to make sure that the people who were hurt and the businesses that were destroyed and the houses damaged in Hurricane Sandy get the relief they need? It's really time, as you said in that piece, it's time to put a lot of the politics of this away, come together and start to make some real progress on behalf of the American people.
MASON: Right, we've been saying that for a long time though, and it doesn't seem like this Congress is able to do it. As you point out, there are at least three more big budget battles ahead in the next two months. And a lot of Democrats in Congress are complaining that the President effectively used up all his leverage in getting this passed. So where does he go from here?
GIBBS: First and foremost, I think nobody in America is going to miss the previous Congress. I think that's fairly well established. When your approval rating is compared to Fidel Castro, I think that sort of ends the conversation. I don't agree that the President has used up all of his leverage. But I think what is fair is we're going to judge the totality of this fiscal cliff deal based on what happens at the end of February. Are we making progress and making our tax code more balanced? Are we doing something that helps to continue to strengthen the economy as well as get our fiscal house in order? I think both sides have things that we need to do, the President would like to see more balance in our tax code. We would all like to all see a reduction in some of the spending that we see coming out of government. We know what we need to do. The question, again, can our politics have people sit down at that table and make some genuine compromises to get things done? I am heartened by the fact that as we got up to this deadline, we saw Republicans in both the House and the Senate that were willing to put aside the chicanery for a little bit and finally get something done on behalf of the American people.
O'DONNELL: But the President has said and declared he won't discuss with Congress about raising the debt ceiling. So again, what leverage does the President have to get some sort of grand bargain?
GIBBS: I think what the President is talking about there is we shouldn't get into a debate about whether or not we're going to pay the bills we've already racked up, as he said. We know we have to pay for those bills. That's money that's already been spent. Let's go ahead and assume, yes, we're going to not default on the nation's bills because we understand that would be a calamity for our economy. But I think both sides didn't get things in this fiscal cliff deal that set the stage for the next one. There are things that we can do again to continue to make our tax code fair. Republicans would like to see some changes in the way we do some entitlements, hopefully in a measured way, so we don't end up doing more harm than good. But, look, I think we all understand the elements that have to be involved to continue again to grow our economy, to get some balance in our tax code, to get our fiscal house in order. Again, if we could just put aside some of the screaming and yelling.