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Notes from the November 20, 2011 Broadcast of Meet The Press

November 20, 2011

This morning’s Meet The Press was largely dominated by discussion of the looming deadline for Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the Super Committee. Two members were featured, Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Kerry (D-MA).

From the Washington Post’s explanation of the deadline:

The panel remained gridlocked… with the clock ticking toward a deadline of midnight Monday. Although the official deadline is midnight Wednesday, the committee is legally barred from voting on any plan that was not made public at least 48 hours in advance.

Kyl said, “There is no deal yet, but as both Senator Kerry and I have said, we aren’t going to stop until the stroke of midnight.”

Republicans have offered some revenue increases. Kyl said it even made conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist unhappy, but this package was still rejected by Democrats.

If the Super Committee fails to reach agreement (or if Congress does not act on the Super Committee’s recommendation), then automatic, across-the-board, budget cuts (known as sequester) will be enacted for 2013. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this would be devastating to the US military and “invite aggression” from our enemies around the world. (Some dispute this characterization saying sequester would take US defense spending back to 2007 levels… hardly a time of military weakness.)

Kyl says there is a way to avoid this, even to “work around” the sequester, but it will take work. Kyl’s bottom line is that the whole problem is due to Democrats who won’t make cuts without tax increases.

Kerry said, “That is patently false.” He reminded all that Democrats voted for the successful plan this summer which cut 900 billion from the federal budget with no tax increases, and Kyl knows it.

Kerry added that Democrats on the Super Committee put forward a 4 trillion dollar debt reduction plan that had huge cuts to so called “sacred cow” programs for Democrats, it was balanced with revenue increases, but Republicans rejected it.

Kerry said that there is one thing standing between the Super Committee agreement and the draconian cuts of the sequester: “The Republican unwillingness to not push for the Bush tax cuts to be extended now.” He said that if they will give up on their insistence on the Bush tax cuts, “we can get this done today.”

(My own point of frustration: Why did host David Gregory interview these two men sequentially instead of together? Wouldn’t it have been more interesting to try to push them toward some kind of common ground? And if they were interviewed sequentially because they balked at sitting together, then the audience should have been told. This is the age of transparency.)

In the Meet The Press political roundtable segment, a new poll was discussed showing former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in the lead with 24% in the Republican race for the presidential nomination. Governor Mitt Romney was second with 22%, businessman Herman Cain falling to 12%, Governor Rick Perry with 10%, and Representatives Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann tied at 9%.

In discussing the rise of Gingrich, the best line came from Democratic strategist Dee Dee Myers who said, “He is a sort of political sociopath. He constructs arguments to defend whatever he is doing at that moment.”

The other major point of conversation centered on Perry. Most agreed that his new ad uses a clip of President Obama which is taken out of context and distorts the president’s intent. The ad claims the president is calling Americans “lazy.” But some said it captures a tone about the president’s overall attitude.

At least a couple of the panelists thought Perry could rise again in the polls given the size of his organization and campaign bank account.

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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