Durbin defends Obama’s campaign-style fiscal cliff events [VIDEO]

Nicholas Ballasy Senior Video Reporter
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Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said President Obama is “trying to dramatize … what the polls already show us” by hosting a series of campaign-style public events in Philadelphia about the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said the “real work” selling the president’s plan to avert a fiscal-cliff scenario will “have to be done on a person-to-person basis.”

“The real talks are under way between the speaker’s staff and the president’s staff — Rob Nabors — to see what we can come to an agreement on,” Durbin said Tuesday at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.

“In the meantime, I think what the president is trying to dramatize is what the polls already show us, that 60 percent of the voters, far more than voted for him, agree with the premise that the wealthy should pay more in taxes, that 70 percent believe that taxes should be part of this whole solution.”

“Now, I know we’ve heard it. We could give one another’s speeches at this time, what we’ll hear from the other side on small business. We’ll have an answer to that as well,” Durbin insisted.

“So the public debate will continue, but the real work that needs to be done will have to be done on a person-to-person basis between the speaker’s office and the president. And I am honestly more optimistic than most in my belief that we can come up with the fundamentals of an agreement before the end of the year and avert this steep slope or fiscal cliff.”

In his remarks, Durbin had a message for progressives as the fiscal-cliff negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders continue.

“We can’t be so naive as to believe that just taxing the rich is going to solve our problems,” he said. “Though you’ll see, as I lay out my remarks here, I believe that’s an important part of a solution. We have to look to reform and change that is significant, that preserves many of the values and programs that brought us to political life, and we cannot believe that merely ignoring these programs or not engaging is going to solve a problem.”

Durbin also said he does not know if Democrats have a mandate after the last election.

“I don’t know if there was a mandate that came out of this election, but there certainly was a work order. It said: Get to work, and do it together and get the job done. I think we can do it and I hope that those of us on the left, on the progressive side, can make a positive contribution.”

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