Face in the News: "Chasm" in "cliff talks," Durbin & Coburn

Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., both expressed doubts that any deal on the so-called "fiscal cliff" would happen before midnight on Monday. Senator Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip said "I think there still is a chasm there, there's work to be done and not much time left," on the December 30th edition of "Face the Nation," hosted by Norah O'Donnell.

Coburn agreed with Durbin's outlook. "I think they're far apart. I don't think anybody knows what's going to happen," he said.

Follow the latest "fiscal cliff" coverage from CBS NewsDecember 30: Durbin, Coburn, fiscal cliff

Coburn said there might be some advantages to "cliff jumping," even though, he acknowledged, there would be a lot of disadvantages to not finding a deal and allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire and the sequester - mandatory spending cuts - to occur. Coburn said "One of the advantages will be that the American people are going to see what the real cost of their government is."

Ultimately, Senator Durbin expressed some optimism, saying "I've been around Washington long enough to know it takes a deadline, it takes a lot of sweat and a lot of worry and people reach a point where they finally say, alright, let's try to find the way through this. It's happened before, it can happen again."

The Senators then turned to the deeper issue at hand--the inability to compromise in Washington. Coburn suggested a problem endemic to America's political landscape, noting that "the reason people are upset with Congress, and especially the Senate, is because we make decisions based on what is in the best interest of our politics, not in the best interest of the country."

Coburn quickly pointed out "That's not a partisan statement. That's both sides."

Still, a bitterly partisan deadlock in Congress didn't prevent the two Senators and friends from working together, or, as Durbin confessed, sharing a meal together - he noted, "We actually had breakfast together!"

(For more on Senator Coburn and Senator Durbin's discussion "Face the Nation", check out The HillThe Washington Post, and Politico).

Following Senators Coburn and Durbin, CBS Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes and CBS Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett joined "Face the Nation" to discuss negotiations between Congress and the White House. Cordes was quick to observe a "good-faith effort on the part of the leaders to try to get this done," saying "It wasn't all for show. But they did need to prove that they were trying to do something. And at the end of the day, it's just too difficult for Republicans -- most Republicans to have their fingerprints on a plan that eliminates tax cuts for some people. This is just an easier way for them." Still, Garrett observed, deadlock bodes poorly for Obama's willingness to negotiate with Congress in the future. Said Garrett, "[Obama] now regards that entire negotiating process as largely a mistake and will never negotiate again on the debt ceiling."

Cordes pointed out the January 1st deadline isn't a hard wall--"There is a little bit of a cushion there, because the IRS didn't expect that we would get to this point. They thought that Congress would work something out. And so it's not as if people's paychecks are going to see higher withholdings on January 1st. It's going to take a few weeks for that to kick in."

For more "Face the Nation", check out this week's roundtable discussion, featuring the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, Dee Dee Myers of Vanity Fair, and Time Magazine's Michael Duffy and Joe Klein, or watch this week's flashback, a highlight of the more newsworthy moments on "Face the Nation" in 2012. As always, be sure to watch the full hour broadcast above, and we'll see you in 2013.

  • DJ Judd

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