SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: But so far I hear from you, in the short-term, no entitlements are on the table.
DICK DURBIN: Only the Medicare part of it, I want to be very careful. This means so much and we saw what a mess was made of it by Paul Ryan’s budget, where the actual future of Medicare was in doubt with his premium support plan. We don’t want to go near that. We want to make sure that Medicare, at the end of the day, is a program that is solvent, and we can count on it for generations to come.
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: So if I’m a Republican lawmaker watching this interview I’m saying, okay, he basically has put nothing on the table that’s an entitlement. So all this talk about Democrat — and this is talk by the way from you, you’re the one who said, you know, we need to be honest on our side of the aisle, we need to make meaningful reforms in Medicare and Medicaid without compromising the integrity of the program. You and I talked about that not long ago.
O’BRIEN: If I’m listening to this and I’m a Republican lawmaker I’m saying he’s put nothing on the table in the short term. We’re going to go over this fiscal cliff.
DURBIN: We don’t need to do that. The point I want to make is yes, entitlements need to be part of a long-term strategy but do it in a thoughtful way. we’re down to four weeks here. I don’t want to see the future of medicare, major changes, decided in the heat of the moment here. Let’s get through this fiscal cliff, let’s find a way to avert it but let’s at the end of the day take medicare and treat it as the important program it is for so many millions of Americans.
O’BRIEN: I speak with great respect to you, sir, but we’re down to four weeks because of all of y’all, right? We’re down to four weeks — we’re not down to four weeks because of me and any other voter. We’re down to four weeks because Congress has not gotten its act together and now we’re down to four weeks and technically less because i think the last day for congress is December 14th. Even though the fiscal cliff is December 31st. If you all go home, it’s even fewer than 34, 33 whatever days. so it sounds like there’s not going to be a deal.
DURBIN: Well, I think there will be. and just keep in mind, not trying to defend myself or anyone, Congress certainly is to blame for the fact this hasn’t been solved, but two years ago we had the Simpson-Bowles Commission report which i voted for. we’ve come up with alternatives. The super committee which Senator Patty Murray co-chaired, was an effort to try to move in the same direction as Simpson-Bowles and we didn’t get it done. But forget the past for a moment and look to the future. We need to reduce this deficit, we need to have meaningful reform, which includes thoughtful entitlement reform. What I’m suggesting is let’s not do this in the last few days here, make changes in Medicare that we may regret later on.