AC360 Tuesday 8p

Ferry crew members answered questions about why more life rafts were not deployed. Tonight on AC360, the latest from South Korea on the effort to reach victims.
December 3rd, 2012
06:05 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Gergen: Will President Obama push us over the cliff?

Editor's note: David Gergen is on AC360 tonight at 8 and 10 .m. ET. Follow him on Twitter.

Forgive me, but haven't we seen this movie before in the aftermath of national elections? Usually, it doesn't end well.

In the weeks since his victory, President Barack Obama has argued - correctly - that voters are demanding that high-income Americans pay higher taxes as a way to reduce deficits. Some 60% in exit polls endorsed that proposition, and a Pew/Washington Post poll released this week found that 60% still support it. The president, then, has good reason to push the idea.

In a breakthrough, House Speaker John Boehner quickly lined up behind the idea of the wealthy paying more. He still disagrees with the president on how to get there, of course, but critics are losing sight of how far Boehner seems prepared to go. In private negotiations with Obama last year, the two men first agreed on raising $800 billion in new taxes over 10 years. When Obama pushed to see whether Boehner would go up another $400 billion to $1.2 trillion, the talks fell apart amid bitter recriminations and conflicting accounts of what happened.

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Filed under: Congress • Economy • Fiscal Cliff • President Obama
Cain must give straight answers, and fast
November 2nd, 2011
07:04 PM ET

Cain must give straight answers, and fast

(CNN) - Herman Cain may very well bounce back and remain a popular contender for the GOP presidential nomination, but the normal rules of politics would say that he has about 48 hours to get his campaign under control.

As he struggles with the allegations swirling around him, it is worth remembering that so far, there is no hard evidence that he has done anything wrong. It is also worth recalling that in sexual harassment cases, perceptions of men and women can differ and lines can be blurry. That was especially true in the 1990s when the alleged events took place. He deserves the benefit of the doubt until we know more.

His fortunes have been bolstered as well by the way conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have rushed to his defense. Limbaugh has sparked a familiar cry among tea partiers about "liberal media witch hunts." On Wednesday, Politico - the news organization that broke the story - reported that voters in Iowa aren't paying much attention: Cain still rides high there.

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Filed under: Herman Cain • Opinion
October 18th, 2011
04:10 PM ET

GOP debate: Time to address Occupy Wall Street

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter: @David_Gergen. Michael Zuckerman is David Gergen's research assistant. Watch the GOP debate Tuesday night at 8 ET on CNN.

(CNN) - As GOP presidential candidates gather in Las Vegas Tuesday night for another key debate, pressure is mounting on them to address spreading public protests against Wall Street. How they answer could shape the political landscape from here to the November elections.

Republicans haven't had to pay much attention to Occupy Wall Street till now - they could afford to sniff that the crowds in Zuccotti Park looked more like Woodstock than Wall Street. But as demonstrations have sprung up across the U.S. and Europe, reverberating through social media and gaining more serious attention from mainstream media, politicians must pay more attention.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Occupy Wall Street • Raw Politics
July 14th, 2011
03:45 PM ET

Gergen: Time for a truce on debt-ceiling talks

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

(CNN) - With tempers near a boiling point and the risk growing that the United States could default on its debt obligations, it is time for a truce in the budget talks in Washington - essentially a cease-fire in place.

The outlines of a cease-fire are readily apparent, and indeed there are signs that behind the scenes some conversations are already taking place. Here's what a truce might look like:

• Democrats agree to accept some $1.5 trillion in spending cuts that have been on the table but give up their demands that a deal also include significant tax increases.

• Republicans agree to lift the debt limit by some $2.5 trillion, enough to carry past the 2012 elections, but give up their demands that spending cuts must match or exceed the debt-limit increase dollar for dollar.

• Both sides agree to close tax loopholes and raise fees for government services, but agree to use the resulting revenue for offsetting payroll tax decreases and other means of pumping life in the economy, thus making the proposition revenue-neutral.

• Both sides agree that this fall, a new set of negotiators be appointed to press forward with additional ways to achieve credible, long-term deficit reductions.

A deal like this certainly won't meet the full expectations of Washington warriors, but it will be good for the country - and arguably, a lot better for the parties than their partisans may think.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Opinion
July 13th, 2011
09:05 AM ET

Gergen: Why Obama's pushing for a mega-deal

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

(CNN) - With a debt-ceiling crisis building in Washington, the administration on Tuesday opened another window into President Obama's thinking about the best ways to bring resolution.

On Monday, I wrote a piece arguing that the major players in the debt negotiations have all painted themselves into corners.

The Republicans were the first to lock themselves in, signing pledges during their campaigns promising not to raise taxes - period. Democrats insist they won't accept any deal that doesn't have significant new revenues. And Obama on Monday promised to kill any compromise that is short term. If we are to avert a default, I wrote, all three parties must find ways out of their corners and compromise.

On Tuesday, a high-ranking official familiar with the president's thinking explained to me why Obama's opposition to a short-term solution makes sense. He made some persuasive points, though I still think that Obama may need some wiggle room before this is over.

The president clearly sees himself as the man in the middle trying to pull off a historic grand bargain. So far, he thinks that while Democrats will strongly resist, they would ultimately go along with entitlement reforms as a way to get a mega-package of some $4 trillion in savings over 10 years. There is give on their side, he believes. But there are no Bob Doles and Pete Domenicis on the Republican side willing to show similar flexibility on taxes.

With prospects dimming for a mega-deal, the president is driving hard to ensure that whatever agreement emerges will keep the country below a new debt ceiling until February 2013. The administration calculates that it will need to raise the current debt ceiling between $2.5 trillion and $2.7 trillion to get to that point.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Opinion • President Barack Obama
June 29th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

Gergen: Will Obama's barbs help or hurt debt talks?

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) - "When they won't see the light," goes the old saying, "make 'em feel the heat." That was the strategy President Obama employed today in his press conference as he skewered Republicans over deficit negotiations. But where will it lead?

The president likely scored political points with two arguments. First, he skillfully made the case that in refusing to end tax breaks for oil companies, millionaires, and CEOs on corporate jets, Republicans are taking money away from hard-pressed Americans who need help. Who would want to do that?

After the conference went on so long that he seemed bored, Obama came alive with a question from CNN's Jessica Yellin about the debt ceiling. Speaking with exasperation, Obama argued that the debt ceiling is not some abstraction but "a jobs issue." Most analysts have talked about the debt ceiling in financial terms; Obama wisely tied it to jobs.

Repeatedly during the 70 minutes, Obama took snide jabs and belittled Republicans. He surely infuriated many of them. They won't appreciate being told they are not as responsible as his young daughters doing their homework. They especially won't like him saying they have been going home too much, and should stay in town to work on the deficits.

Who is he to take that poke, they will ask? Only a few days ago, a conservative columnist argued that Obama himself had gone to nine fundraisers in the previous two weeks while spending only an hour and a half with his Treasury secretary on the economy.

Such personal slights will only prompt Republicans in Congress to dig in their heels. They will insist - with justification - that mammoth deficits are due in large measure to a government that spends nearly a quarter of the GDP, the highest levels since World War II. Their voters have also told them they don't want any more tax increases. Republicans on the Hill will be more alienated from the White House after today's press conference.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Opinion • President Barack Obama
Opinion: A victory for Obama - and America
President Barack Obama announces the killing of Osama bin Laden from the White House on Sunday night.
May 2nd, 2011
09:30 AM ET

Opinion: A victory for Obama - and America

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four U.S. presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) - It is far too soon to judge the long-term significance of America's successful operation to kill Osama Bin Laden. Will al Qaeda begin to crumble now that its charismatic leader is dead, or will we endure new terrorist attacks, perhaps on U.S. soil?

Will the poisonous relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan now heal, or will there be new strains, especially if it turns out that elements of the Pakistani government were harboring bin Laden? Questions abound.

Yet it is already clear that assuming the facts hold as we know them now, President Barack Obama and his national security team have been enormously strengthened in the near term. The outpouring of joyous crowds on the streets of New York and Washington - where people were chanting "USA! USA!" - show that the news not only electrified Americans but brought us together as a people in a way we haven't seen since 9/11.

With good reason. Bin Laden was not only the most hated man since Hitler but he was also the most hunted man in the world. His killing was unabashedly good news. And Americans have desperately needed some good news: After all, the past decade since 9/11 has not only seen us drawn into wars that drag on and on - without victory - but we feel the sting of terrorists every time we enter an airport. Since our economy nearly collapsed, the inability of our leaders to restore jobs and prosperity has also left us feeling increasingly helpless as a a great nation. Finding and killing bin Laden was a huge tonic.

All of this is likely to have important repercussions:

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • President Barack Obama