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Notes from the June 19, 2011 broadcast of Meet The Press

June 19, 2011

Today’s broadcast featured Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Durbin says progress is being made in the bipartisan process, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to reach a budget deal which could also lead to a deal on the debt ceiling.

Durbin wants to cut costs in Medicare, but will not go for means testing or raising the retirement age. Graham suggests cutting ethanol subsidies as a way to pay off the debt (guess he isn’t running for president) and would do means testing and age-raising for Medicare (host David Gregory points out that the rest of the Republican Party is not with him on this).

Gregory asks if the United States is headed toward Greek-type riots over budget cuts. Durbin says we can avoid that.

On Libya, Graham stands true to the Republican position that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. He says President Obama has done a lousy job of communicating with Congress regarding Libya, but says he will be no part of trying to defund the effort.

“If we fail against Ghaddafi, that’s the end of NATO,” Graham says. He adds that Egypt would then be overrun by refugees and the price of oil would double.

Durbin, also true to party roots, says, yes, the War Powers Act is an infringement of the president’s power as commander-in-chief, but so is the US Constitution which makes clear that the American people make decisions about war through the US Congress.

On Afghanistan, Graham is fearful of a rising isolationism in his party. He says, “If you think the pathway to the Republican nomination is to get to the left of President Obama on Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq, you are going to meet a lot of headwinds.” He adds that this is not an Afghan war of independence, this is the central piece in our war on terror.

Durbin says, however, in 2001 I voted to get rid of Osama bin Laden and Al Queda. I did not vote to have the longest wat in US history.

(Production note: Durbin and Graham both appeared via satellite, but the backdrops and the HD signals looked great. I have been critical in the past of poor technical quality on some of these feeds, but this was perfect.)

On to the roundtable, NBC’s Chuck Todd said the focus in the GOP 2012 presidential field is now on the “player to be named later.” And it may well be Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX).

Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal said a new Federal Reserve report says 40% of the new jobs created recently in America have been in Texas. And this will be Perry’s selling point. But, Gigot adds, the big question will be, are northern cities and suburbs ready for another Texan as president?

NBC’s Richard Engle mentioned that in the GOP debate, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) called the people of Afghanistan “Afghanis,” which is actually the name of their currency. The people are called Afghans.

On Libya, there seemed to be general agreement that President Obama has done poorly in the personal politics of explaining the matter to Americans.

The show wound down with general discussion about whether or not deficit spending on infrastructure, education, and job development would be good for the economy. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) says this is the road to growth. Gigot says jobs only come from the private sector so government must cut spending.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

Also follow the show on the MTP Facebook page, track Twitter feeds from host David Gregory, Meet The Press, and Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, watch the midweek PressPass interview, and don’t forget Gregory’s blog.

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