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Inside the Boiler Room: Fiscal Cliff

NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss what a possible Fiscal Cliff deal might look like and what all of the players have at stake.


Thanks to Frank "Grimey" Grimes for the question!

Video edited by NBC's Jordan Frasier.



DOMENICO MONTANARO: I'm Domenico Montanaro, with another edition of Inside the Boiler Room here with Mark Murray inside our 'boiler room' I guess. It used to look a lot more like a boiler room when we did these more low budget but anyway we have two questions, we are going to combine them from DaNoid and Frank "Grimey" Grimes. DaNoid asks: "If there is a deal to be made to avoid the "Fiscal Cliff", what should we ultimately expect to see from that deal, who has to give more towards making the deal, Democrats or Republicans, and when should we expect to see a deal?" Frank "grimey" Grimes, always a prolific question asker says, "Who stands to gain or lose the most (from a political perspective," and we always like the political perspective, "in the upcoming negotiations on the "fiscal cliff"?

MARK MURRAY: Wow those are some really great questions. I do think we see the broad outlines of what the deal might end up looking like to answer DaNoid's question. It is going to involve either higher tax rates or more revenue or actually a combination of the two which you probably are going to get to see at the end of the day. The Obama White House is basically saying, and Democrats, rates are going to have to go up. These Bush tax cuts are going to have to be gone for good, and the question is maybe they are eliminated but there is something you end up getting in the longer term with some sort of tax reform, or maybe the White House ends up saying, 'Look, you know, the Bush tax cuts on capital gains have to go up but on income they dont.' There are a lot of ways you can negotiate it but it seems to be, the deal is going to be taxes or tax revenues or tax rates have to go up and that Democrats are going to have to give a little on entitlements. Right now we are in this negotiating stage of who is putting out the offers as kind of a wait-and-see approach. As far as when we actually might end up getting a deal, a really smart Democrat said to me expect around the middle of December and that is particularly why you are getting closer to the deadline you usually end up getting these deals right now but don't expect anything for the next couple of weeks.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Yeah, I agree that there wouldn't be probably something for the next couple of weeks. I do think that it comes down to this idea that we've said that everybody agrees they need to raise some money from the rich but they don't know how, if it is going to be revenue or tax rates. Then the other side of the ledger is what do Democrats give on Medicare? It seems to be that the phrase "means testing" has become popular. You heard (Rep.) Jim Clyburn say it, the assistant leader, you've heard Republicans talk about it. So we will see what they can do, if there is something small on Medicare they would end up doing or something a little bit bigger. I would lean toward something smaller.

MARK MURRAY: And then to answer Grimey's question on who has the most to lose, probably I would think the answeris Washington and actually the governance. Both President Obama and House Republicans, they all ended up winning re-election, so they have plenty of time before- you know President Obama is not going to run again, House Republicans have two more years. You can make the argument that if this thing turns into a huge problem that somehow all of these sides can actually repair their reputations, which is possible. But after the debt ceiling fight, it almost seems as if Washington at large--I think people are looking to see if it actually--if people can make the tough decisions, make compromises to actually give faith that you know what, when the chips are down political leaders can actually come together. We saw that after Hurricane Sandy where Chris Christie was there with President Obama. I think people are looking to see if there can be a deal where John Boehner and Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell are all together and they can cut some type of deal.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well Chris Christie wasn't without criticism from the right, and you are going to hear all those kind of disparate voices from the fringes on both sides who aren't happy with whatever deal might wind up being struck. The thing is, I think Democrats start out with an advantage on this. Polling is showing that if there is no deal people will blame Republicans. But it's all about perception. As the negotiations continue, who does it appear to be that is more willing to work with the other side, versus the side that looks like they are more entrenched in their position. That perception over the next few weeks is really going to determine who wins or who loses politically if there is no deal, but I think at the end of the day everyone was hurt in the debt ceiling fight, everyone will be hurt if something isn't done with this "fiscal cliff".

MARK MURRAY: That is a great answer and great questions from DaNoid and Grimey!