Tags: chicken | roulette | debt | talks

McCain, Lieberman: Debt Talks Like 'Playing Chicken' or 'Russian Roulette'

By Greg McDonald   |   Wednesday, 12 Dec 2012 10:28 AM

Sens. Joseph Lieberman and John McCain say they're not encouraged by the talks between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner and worry that they're playing "chicken" and "Russian roulette" with the approaching year-end deadline for striking a debt reduction deal.
"Unfortunately, you have to reach to find encouraging news right now," Lieberman told Fox News' Neil Cavuto in an interview Tuesday evening.
McCain also voiced concern in an earlier interview with Cavuto that both sides may be playing "chicken" with the fiscal cliff, and he criticized the president for spending more time in campaign mode pushing his tax increase plan than actually negotiating with Boehner.

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"It is a game of chicken," McCain said. "But I just don`t believe that it will happen, because I don`t think any of us at the end of the day want it to happen for the country."
Lieberman, an independent who is retiring from the Senate at the end of this year, said everybody knows that both Republicans and Democrats "have got to act" to avert the combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases due to begin on Jan. 2.
"In all common sense and sanity, that's what we should do," he said, echoing McCain's comments. But he added, "Right now I feel the contrary happening. I think, in both caucuses, in the Senate, people are beginning to react to the inside interest groups. So the Democrats are saying, 'Oh, no, don`t touch entitlement programs.' The Republicans are saying, 'I won`t support tax rate increases.'"
"That is playing with fire," he said, calling it "high-risk . . . Russian roulette" to allow the country to go "over the cliff" and then "come back under that pressure and negotiate a deal in January" when the new Congress convenes.
"The consequences could be disastrous," Lieberman continued, adding that the only way to deal with the problem is for Republicans to acknowledge they will have to accept some tax increases and for Democrats to acknowledge the same about entitlement reforms.
"None of that is popular. But I think . . . the American people would understand that that`s what we have got to do, not to be popular, but to help the country," Lieberman said. "And I think, if we negotiated a debt reduction agreement . . . it would be the best thing we could do for our economy."

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In his interview, McCain told Cavuto that he's still optimistic a deal can be reached before the end of the year. But he indicated Republicans would have to be guaranteed that spending cuts and entitlement reforms would be addressed early next year in exchange for tax hikes on higher income earners.
"I am in favor of most anything that would get an agreement," he said. But he added that "equal time" must be given in any final deal to entitlement reforms.
"We know what the elephant in the room is. It's entitlements," McCain said.

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