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Dick Durbin talks fiscal cliff, same sex marriage, backs Susan Rice

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Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin took to Meet the Press Sunday morning to discuss, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca), the looming fiscal cliff, same sex marriage and Susan Rice's name in relation to the Secretary of State's office.

Durbin and McCarthy basically plumbed the same areas that have been dragged through the public back-and-forth on the fiscal cliff since the election in November - closing loopholes vs. increased tax rates for the wealthy vs. clamping down on entitlements - and managed to point the fingers of blame in the usual directions. The discussion:

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The urgency and impasse over cliff negotiations comes as a small, but growing, chorus on both sides of the aisle and in the press asks whether going Thelma and Louise on January 1 is really the worst possible economic scenario for the country. Writing in The Daily Beast, Daniel Gross argued in November that going over the edge amounts to a leap of faith for President Obama in a drastic way to implement his economic policy of taxing the rich and pursuing deficit reduction:

Of course, President Obama doesn't want to preside over big tax increases and arbitrary spending cuts. But with his last election behind him, he has a much greater capacity to weather economic pain than he did a year ago. And the cliff actually helps Obama achieve two stated goals: cutting the annual deficit and making the tax code more fair. The changes in policy that result from simply doing nothing will reduce next year's budget deficit by several hundred billion dollars--more deficit reduction than any grand bargain would provide. The Congressional Budget Office says (PDF) the fiscal cliff would lead to $607 billion in deficit reduction in fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013. (Take that, Bowles-Simpson!) And for the last several years, Obama has campaigned on the proposition that the wealthy should pay a higher share of their income in taxes. Come Jan. 1, they will.

Buy into that argument or not, time's a tickin' on a deal, armageddon, a new reality or whatever the outcome may be. How much time? This much:

After debating the cliff, Durbin and McCarthy briefly addressed the same sex marriage story that emerged Friday with the Supreme Court agreeing to take up two cases looking at what should be done to regulate the practice. Sen. Durbin said "marriage equality is part of America's future ... part of what America is all about."

As for the looming battle over Susan Rice, a potential nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Durbin offered words of support for the embattled Ambassador to the United Nations:

"I do believe so," Durbin said of her ability to win approval. "Some of the criticisms against her have been unwarranted," Durbin said, adding that she's an "extraordinary person."

Lynn Sweet has the full transcript.

UPDATE: President Obama and Speaker Boehner meet in private Sunday to talk fiscal cliff.

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