Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Reid Signs Off on Debt Ceiling; McConnell Dismissing Idea Tea Party Holds Republicans Hostage on Debt Ceiling Debate; Tea Party Shines Light on Washington Spending; Disfigured Iranian Woman Shows Mercy to Attacker; Two Await Trial Results in Iran; Ochocinco Surprises with Move to Patriots

Aired July 31, 2011 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone.

Breaking developments this hour in the months-long debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling. This has been playing out for quite a while. And finally -- finally -- we're seeing the makings of a deal right now in Washington.

They're really playing it close here, we have until the 2nd -- really, the deadline is tonight and when those Asian markets start to open.

By any means, Senator Harry Reid, Democratic leader in the Senate and one of the key players in the long debate, has signed off on terms of an agreement. His support, we should note, is pending the approval of his fellow Senate Democrats.

I want to go straight to congressional correspondent now, Kate Bolduan, standing by on Capitol Hill.

OK, Kate, is this the moment that we have been waiting for?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a step in the right direction in terms of reaching a compromise. The big question, though, remains, while we have heard that Senator Harry Reid has signed off on the deal pending the approval of his caucus, of the Democratic members, where do Republicans -- the key Republican negotiators in this whole deal, where do they stand on the issue? In the House as well as in the Senate?

Well, we're still obviously looking to get guidance on that. But I will tell you, we have heard from one top Senate Republican leadership aide who said at least -- at least right now, they're not there yet, saying that the agreement is not done and that they're still working on it. So, it seems that while Harry Reid, he's onboard -- seems at least for the part of Senate Republicans, seems there needs to be a little more work to be done before -- to get them onboard as well -- Don.

LEMON: OK. A little more work.

Do you have any idea about the timing? Or we just don't know? It happens when it happens? BOLDUAN: To be honest, I don't think anyone really knows about the timing. This story has changed from moment to moment and it's very fluid.

LEMON: Oh, yes.

BOLDUAN: It's always the question, I promise you, it's the question that we have been asking every senator that we've been talking to today, as they've been in session, is: you could get a deal to might? Could you get a vote tonight? All of these questions we've been tossing at them. And what we've heard from them is really, honestly, we don't know -- when the deal is struck, the deal will be struck.

LEMON: The deal is struck.

BOLDUAN: And then they'll move forward.

But I have heard kind of mixed messages. If people really wanted to do it, they could possibly move forward with a vote later this evening. I heard that from one senator. But another senator saying he didn't think they could get the bill kind of written up in time that they would have to do something possibly tomorrow.

But that's getting way ahead of ourselves. Once the deal is figured out, then they will find -- if they have the -- if they have the desire to, they'll find a quick path forward, Don.

LEMON: And, Kate, if anybody knows, if anyone knows how much is changing, it's you, because you have been covering this and you've been there on Capitol Hill following all of these people.

You know, it's just amazing. It seems like you and I were here for the health care debate and all the other things, always comes down to the last second we're doing this.

BOLDUAN: They do like to say that democracy is messy up here. But I don't know if they like to use that as cover for them electing to sneak right up near the deadline or not. But we definitely do like to hunt deadlines pretty tightly up here on Capitol Hill.

LEMON: All right. Well, you're not going anywhere for long.

BOLDUAN: I know.

LEMON: So, stand by, Kate. Thank you very much.

Let's go to Capitol Hill now -- from Capitol Hill to the White House where our Dan Lothian is standing by.

So, Dan, what's the president doing now while the Senate moves are happening? Do we know?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we know that there are a lot of conversations that have been ongoing here at the White House today in terms of the president's specific schedule. The White House has not released any details on that. What I can tell you, at least according to sources, is that the vice president has been deep in negotiations not only internally here at the White House but also with lawmakers up on the Hill and at least according to one source he's been meeting with the president as well. So, we can only imagine that the president has been meeting with not only the vice president but other top advisors here at the White House.

But the one thing that top aides have been pointing to us is that, yes, you know, there is a lot of encouragement behind this time, that there has been significant progress being made. On the other hand, they're also sending out a word of caution that there is no deal.

And we have been repeating this over and over again. No deal until they get a deal because there are still some differences that remain. Clearly, they've been close to this line several times in the past, going back to July 4th. One source pointing out they thought they had a deal over the July 4th weekend. The difference this time is that, you know, we're -- the clock is winding down. And we only have a few hours left before that August 2nd deadline.

LEMON: Yes. Well, it's August 2nd deadline but we really have less than that for until the markets open tomorrow, the Asian and European markets. And that is really going to be the thing that shapes all of this -- what happens when those markets open.

And the White House, Dan, is very aware of that. That's why they're wanting, I think, something to get done by tonight before those markets open.

LOTHIAN: You're right. Look, the White House is very aware of the impact of what this could have on the markets. In fact, one of the senior advisors of the White House on the Sunday morning shows pointed that already, I mean, even if a deal is reached, you can take a look at how the uncertainty has created havoc for the stock markets and other concerns among the minds of Americans.

And so, yes, they are paying very close attention to what a pending decision would mean to sort of deflect some of the concerns that we've seen in the financial sector.

LEMON: Yes. As well they should. Dan Lothian, thank you very much. Of course, Kate Bolduan.

Both of them are standing by this Washington, on opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. They're standing by nonetheless.

And as we follow this breaking developments, we wanted to show you something that happened in the Senate today that struck us as extraordinary, but only because it happened so rarely. Two senators, one from each party, holding a courteous grown-up discussion on taxes, spending and the issues behind the debt ceiling debate. It's the kind of thing a lot of Americans have been hoping to see for a long time.

Here's Democrat Dick Durbin and John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: One of the real bedrock beliefs among Republicans is that if you cut taxes, particularly on the wealthiest people in America, the economy will prosper. We hear that over and over again.

Didn't we try that experiment under President George W. Bush? Didn't the debt of the United States double under the president and he left a shambles behind him? Two-point-three million jobs lost in the first three months of President Obama's administration because of this failed economic policy which you continue to espouse, that if we cut taxes on the rich, America is going to get wealthier? Haven't we tried it? Where are the jobs?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Could I take a trip down memory lane with my friend from Illinois, who I had the great privilege of many years ago. I don't know if I should mention. 1992 election, he and I came to the House of Representatives together, and might recall that one of his own, then a Democrat congressman from Texas, got together with President Reagan.

And guess what we did? We cut taxes, and guess what? We had one of the strongest recoveries in recent history in this country because -- could I just -- because we didn't start spending and add spending without paying for them.

And I would say to the senator from Illinois, he is correct. The spending that went up in the previous administration was not acceptable and led to the deficit.

Let me just finish. But I will say, speaking for myself, I voted against the Medicare Part D because it was not paid for. I voted against the earmark in pork barrel spending which were abundant as every appropriations bill came to the floor and dramatically increased spending in the worst way -- wasteful and corrupt way I will say.

And I'm proud that at least some of us said if you don't stop this spending and get it under control, then you're going to face a serious problem.

What I would also mention, and you've seen the char, it's gotten a lot worse, gotten a lot worse since the last election. And you can't keep BIOB -- you can't keep up blaming it on Bush.

Go ahead.

DURBIN: I'd like to respond to my colleague through the chair, my colleague from Arizona.

Does he recall what happened with the Reagan tax cuts? Because what happened was we tripled the national debt during that period of time, and President Reagan came to Congress 18 times to extend the debt ceiling. He holds the record.

So, to argue the Reagan tax cuts led to great long-term prosperity is I think seriously in doubt if you're going to use the deficit as a measure.

MCCAIN: If I could say we believe and Reagan believed cutting tax cuts would restore our economy, which was in the tank -- thanks to the practices of the previous administration before him. And we -- Reagan presided over probably one of the greatest job creation periods in the history of this country. And those are numbers that I would be glad to insert in the record.

Compare that with what has happened since this administration took office with the promise that if we passed Obamacare, if we passed TARP, all these others, that the economy would then be restored and grow.

And again, it's hard for my dear friend from Illinois to refute the fact that the categorically stated that if we pass the, quote, "stimulus package," that unemployment would be at a maximum of 8 percent. Unemployment today is 9.2 percent. And if you look at any indicator, whether it be housing starts, whether it be the deficit, whether it be unemployed, whatever it is, it's gotten worse since the stimulus package was passed rather than better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, imagine that. No notes, no talking points, just a civilized discussion.

And I want to have one right now. I'm joined now by CNN contributor Will Cain in New York, and Jamie Harrison, a partner in the Podesta Group and a Democratic strategist.

Good to see both of you.

Will, how about that?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good seeing you, Don.

Yes, it's good, Don. It's not great. I don't know if I'm quite as impressed as you are.

They're having a pretty decent debate about what leads to a better economic environment. Is it one of low taxes and low government spending? Or is it one of high taxes and high government spending?

But they keep mixing up two things. And that is whether or not what contributes to the deficit and what contributes to a good economic environment?

As they referenced -- Durbin, for example, references, look, guys, you had low taxes during Reagan, but you had high deficits. He's right. But the issue is about the economy.

LEMON: But I have to say that I am just impressed because they're talking to each other and not talking at each other. That is rather -- you know, whatever they're talking about, that's important. But they're actually doing --

CAIN: Yes.

LEMON: -- using the Senate floor, what it's supposed to be used for, Jamie.

JAIME HARRISON, PARTNER, PODESTA GROUP: Yes, you're right. Where has civility been in Washington? It's so good and so refreshing to actually see members of Congress getting on the floor and debating each other without calling each other names.

This is what we need back in Washington. And this is what the president's been asking for -- for some debate about the issues and then coming together and getting some compromise.

LEMON: OK. You know what? We're going to have more on that extraordinary back-and-forth on the Senate floor. Plus, Will Cain and Jaime Harrison are going to join us again after the break.

And if you, the viewer, if you want to talk to me about the debt crisis and what should get done, what do you want to see get done -- you can reach out on Twitter, on Facebook, CNN.com/Don and on Foursquare. And "Get It Done," my special report with Wolf Blitzer, is coming up 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

We're back in just moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: The senator from Illinois, I believe that we're close to an agreement here.

DURBIN: I hope so.

MCCAIN: And does the senator from Illinois agree that most likely that agreement will not have an increase in taxes associated with it? At least in short term?

DURBIN: I hope not.

MCCAIN: You hope so?

DURBIN: I hope that there's revenue included in any agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Dick Durbin, John McCain -- old school senators who know a thing or two about negotiations, but, quite frankly, don't always do what they're supposed to do on the Senate floor -- talk, debate.

Will Cain and Jamie Harrison will discuss.

But, first, let's see if the senators manage to do what everyone else in Washington can't seem to do -- reach a consensus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DURBIN: Would the senator yield for a question? Does the senator --

MCCAIN: I'd be glad to just hear your comment.

DURBIN: Well, I'm going to give you a chance to speak again.

MCCAIN: Yes.

DURBIN: Does the senator believe that defaulting on our national debt for the first time in our history, which has been the threat looming over us from the House Republicans and others for a long period, is good for America's economy?

One of his colleagues on the floor here from the state of Pennsylvania has come in and said, listen, defaulting on the debt is not that big a deal. It can be, quote, in his words, "easily managed."

Does the senator from Arizona agree with that thinking?

MCCAIN: As the senator may know, I came to the floor a couple days ago and made that comment and that the senator from Illinois and I are in agreement. Point number one.

You can prioritize -- I think the senator -- and most -- every economist I know literally would agree. You can prioritize for a while where you want what remaining money is left. But the message you send to the world, not just our markets, but the world, that the United States of America is going to default on its debts is a totally unacceptable scenario and beneath a great nation. We are in agreement, number one.

DURBIN: Amen.

MCCAIN: Number two is that to insist -- to insist that any agreement is based on the passage through the United States Senate of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as I said before, is not fair to the American people because the terrible obstructionists on this side of the aisle, the terrible peddler, their flawed philosophical views about the future of America is not going to allow us to get 20 additional votes from your side, assuming that you get all 47, since it requires 67 votes to pass a balanced budget amendment under the Constitution.

DURBIN: This president --

MCCAIN: But I think it was not only a wrong assessment, I think it's not fair to the American people to say that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution through the Senate at this time.

This kind of discussion, I think, is important, number one.

Number two is we should have this national debate on other forums besides just the Sunday show and perhaps the floor of the Senate is the best place to do that. And I want to continue to engage with the senator Illinois. But I hope that this agreement, I hope that this agreement will assure the American people that we will meet our obligations, that we will meet our obligations not only physically but fiscally, but also meet our obligations to them to govern -- to govern -- because they did send us here to govern.

I think the senator from Illinois would agree with me. The last approval rating of Congress I saw, both sides of the aisle, was about 16 percent, and I have yet to encounter anyone in that 16 percent category in my travels back to my state.

And by the way, I would like to note the presence of the budget committee chairman here, Senator Conrad, who I think has made enormous good faith efforts to reach an agreement on some of these issues. And I thank him for his work, and I want to assure him his reward will be in heaven, not here on earth.

Does the senator from Illinois have --

DURBIN: I would also like to thank the senator from Arizona for the few minutes that we've shared on floor. And I really hope more members will do this, rather than just taking turns giving speeches. These exchanges, even when we disagree, are valuable.

But I hope, at the end of the day, I agree completely with the senator from Arizona. If at the end of the day, we cannot allow our economy to lapse into this default. It will be devastating to a lot of innocent families and businesses across America and it will cost us dearly in terms of our national debt.

So, let us hope we can find this bipartisan agreement that people are working on even at this moment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right. That's John McCain and Dick Durbin, once again debating the debt ceiling on the Senate floor.

CNN contributor Will Cain is in New York and Jamie Harrison is here as well. He is a partner in the Podesta Group and a Democratic strategist.

I thought I was watching parliament there, ask the prime minister for a moment with these two guys going back-and -forth, Will and Jamie.

Jamie, any chance -- you mentioned civility -- that this might catch on or is this just a one-time thing? It certainly is a lesson for everyone.

HARRISON: I really hope so. Where we really need to see this type of civility is on the floor of the House of Representatives.

You know, I worked in the House for six years and when I first got there, you saw debates like that. But now, it's gotten -- you know, there's a lot of vitriol and almost hatred. And we really need to work past that. LEMON: You know what, Will? There's a very good question that someone sent me on Twitter and they said, you know, you see the Republicans and the Democrats. You saw a Republican and Democrat there. But the people who really needed to be involved in that sort of discussion were people from the Tea Party, who were elected to go to Washington.

CAIN: Well, you know, Don, I got to tell you, I'm not near as pessimistic about the nature and the status of our debate right now. I understand that it's been messy over the past couple months. But I think we've had a really, really healthy conversation over the future course of this nation and how we approach spending and taxation. I think it has been -- there have been all kinds of parties contributing to it.

And the fact that it has to go -- held against this debt ceiling is unfortunate. That's not ideal scenario. But I don't think we should act like this has been a big food fight in the past couple of months.

It's actually been a pretty healthy debate and it should go on.

LEMON: Well, it's -- you may think it is a healthy debate, but maybe it has. But I don't think most Americans are privy to that. Most Americans see that nothing has been done and here we are at the 11th hour and there's still no agreement. We're hearing, oh, there's a possible agreement. Harry Reid, his caucus, has signed off on it.

But I mean, it's almost August 2nd and the markets open in just a few hours. Did it really have to take this long? And I think that's the frustration if they had just gotten all together and talked like that, then maybe the process wouldn't take as long.

Let's talk more, Will, about this whole process. Harry Reid has signed on to the deal, right? Given what you know about this deal right now, are Democrats getting anything done out of this?

CAIN: Are Democrats getting anything done?

LEMON: Are they getting anything they want?

CAIN: Right now -- well, they're getting one thing. We know this. They're going to get it extended beyond President Obama's next election cycle. I think that if you really want to be cynical, you could say that apparently is the most important thing to Democrats right now because they've lost on substance on most of the points.

So, again, they got that going for 'em. They get to push it beyond the 2012 election.

LEMON: So, Jamie, are Democrats going to back this? Could you see -- could they see a rebellion on the political left?

HARRISON: Well, it all depends. You know, as long as the issues of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid are protected, I think Democrats will back this. I mean, there are three principles that Democrats really wanted and that president articulated -- deficit reduction now, some talks for deficit reduction in the future, and then also making sure that there were certainty for the markets.

And so, those are three principles and I think if those things are there and you protect Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, I think you'll see a large number of Democrats who will support this.

LEMON: OK. And, Will, I'm going to ask you, will Republicans approve of this?

CAIN: Let me tell you this, Don. This gets kind of wonky. But the whole deal is going to boil down to what the trigger is for the second raising of the debt ceiling. The first one is about $1 trillion in the near term. And everyone seems to be onboard with that. The second one is the key where they bring the special commission together to negotiate the next round of deficit and debt control.

The question is, if that committee cannot come together and provide a compromise to Congress, there is a trigger that will cut huge defense -- will mark huge defense cuts and huge cuts to Medicare. You'll see both Democrat and Republican pressure on that, pushback on that. But I do think this will go through.

LEMON: OK. How late are we going to be up to -- how late are we going to be up tonight, Will?

CAIN: You may be up. I'm not.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: You're not even going to watch to see what happens?

CAIN: This will get done, Don. It will get done, man. Why wait up all night to know something inevitable?

LEMON: Jamie?

HARRISON: Yes, I think the announcement will be in the morning. I think they want to make sure it's primetime before the markets open. So, we can have good times for the rest of the week.

LEMON: All right. Thanks to both of you. We'll have one less viewer. But, tonight, I want you to watch at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, a CNN special report. Just what will it take to find a solution to the debt crisis? Our Wolf Blitzer and myself will break down the obstacles and the options. Don't miss "Get It Done: Countdown to Debt Crisis," 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Another huge story in the debt talks is the Tea Party's influence on the House vote and Speaker John Boehner. That conversation is next with Tea Party official Amy Kremer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VERNON HILL, IREPORTER: Why are they so stupid and refuse to realize that they cannot keep spending money when the bank is broke and they have no more money in the bank? Who are they fooling?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, that's the American people speaking on CNN's iReport, CNN.com/iReport.

And we have breaking development this hour from Washington. Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate and one of the key players in the long debate, signed off on terms of an agreement. His support, however, is pending the approval of his fellow Senate Democrats.

A top Democratic source tells CNN that while there is some grumbling about terms of the deal among Democratic senators, they are likely to support this compromise. A deal would extend the debt limit through next year moving the debate beyond 2012 and the elections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY KREMER, CHAIRWOMAN, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: We are putting the pressure on these people that are in these halls right now working on legislation that affects every single one of us. If it were not for us, they would have already raised the debt ceiling probably a couple times and continued to have spent even more. We are the reason that it has not been raised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That is a chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, Amy Kremer, at a rally in Washington this week, proud of the prominent role the Tea Party is playing in the debt ceiling debate.

Even if you don't support them, their influence has been undeniable.

Amy is joining me now from Washington.

Amy, good to see you. I haven't seen you since New Hampshire. How are you doing?

KREMER: Hey, Don. Thanks so much for having me. It's good to see you.

LEMON: Good to see you.

And we have been asking everyone who comes on to not give talking points. I don't think you're the kind of person to come on and give you talking points anyway. But we'll ask you that.

So, you know, the Harry Reid plan, Amy, would raise the debt limit to $2.4 trillion and cut spending up to $3 trillion without any tax increases.

Is that something that you and the Tea Party can support?

KREMER: Well, you know, it's -- it has been our truly gut wrenching week here with the back-and-forth. And my organization, Tea Party Express and I know Tea Party activists across the country have supported this "cut, cap and balance" legislation. And, Don, the reason we got --

LEMON: But can you support this plan though, Amy? Is this something that you can support?

KREMER: Well, I think we're going to have to wait and see what's all in it before we can say we support it. The real thing is -- this is the big issue -- is that everybody's made about it the debt ceiling. And really, the debt ceiling is only a symptom of a bigger problem. And that's a massive amount of spending.

LEMON: OK. Let me ask you this. Stop you right there.

You said everyone is making it about the debt ceiling.

KREMER: OK.

LEMON: But everybody has -- but it seems the Tea Party or the Republicans and some people say it's the extremes in the Tea Party who have tied the debt ceiling to the deficit debates, and when they're really two separate issues.

KREMER: Right.

LEMON: But you said that everyone has tied this. You don't think the Tea Party has done that?

KREMER: Well, I think everybody has. I mean, honestly, no offense to you, my friend, but the media has done it, because it's an easy identifiable thing. But the fact of the matter is, is that when Moody's and S&P and these other credit-scoring agencies are threatening to downgrade our credit rating, it's not because of the threat of default or the amount -- the debt that we owe, it's because the amount of debt that we have, the size of our debt.

And so, that's what's been lost in this.

LEMON: OK.

KREMER: And so, you can raise the debt ceiling -- let me finish -- you can raise the debt ceiling right now and, you know, you can cut a little spending here and there. But the thing is, this Congress cannot bind future congresses.

LEMON: OK. All right, Amy, we get the point.

KREMER: So, if this Congress right now were to cut --

LEMON: And I want to talk to you. I understand. I get your point. I'm not being rude or just cut off you here.

KREMER: OK.

LEMON: But I want to get to a lot of topics.

KREMER: OK.

LEMON: And -- but I think that because of Washington and because of the strategy in this from the right, from the Republicans and the Tea Party saying they won't do, extend the debt ceiling without something being done about the deficit.

So you don't think Washington has tied this? Because we're, here in the media, and only reporting what's happening in Washington.

KREMER: No. I mean, it is Washington -- look, the whole reason we're in this -- you know, I've been getting crucified this past week saying, oh, you're only against the Democrats and you're against the president. That's not true. I mean, the fact of the matter is our federal government has created this problem. It's been pushed on the Tea Party movement. I mean, as you have heard, I'm sure, now we're being called terrorists and we're holding the country hostage. That's just bologna. We didn't create this situation we're in. Our federal government created it. And here we are on the precipice of bankruptcy. And if the United States of America goes bankrupt, do you really think our children and grandchildren are going to care if it was Democrats or Republicans that caused it? It is an issue that needs to be resolved and it needs to be resolved now.

LEMON: OK.

KREMER: And all Americans want to see resolution to this.

LEMON: All right, Amy, hold that thought.

We're going to talk after the break.

KREMER: OK.

LEMON: Don't go anywhere.

KREMER: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Much of the day we've been meeting with our House Democratic leadership. And, as you know, we met with our leadership of the Democrats in the Senate. We've been carefully reviewing what the legislation is. I -- we're all determined that we will not default, that senior citizens will receive their Social Security checks, that our military will be compensated in a timely fashion, and that list goes on, that the United States will honor its obligations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi just moments ago in Washington, just moments ago updating us on the situation.

Now listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, FACE THE NATION: Why are Republicans allowing freshmen congressmen to control this debate? And this person said, "It's like letting the teenager in the family run the family budget."

(LAUGHTER)

I mean, there's some truth in that.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Look, we don't have any more internal differences in the Republican conference in the House and Senate than they do in the Democratic conference in the House and Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. That was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissing the idea that the Tea Party is holding the Republican Party hostage in the debt ceiling debate.

I want to bring back Tea Party Express chairwoman, Amy Kremer.

Amy, what do you think? Is that offensive to you? What do you make of that statement?

KREMER: Actually, you know what? There may be many teenagers that can do a better job in Washington. Their math classes are fresh in their minds.

No, look, it's no -- it's no secret that the Tea Party movement, this grassroots movement is driving this debate. As you played in the clip earlier this week, from earlier this week, if it weren't for this movement, there would have already been a blank check signed and they'd be on to the next issue.

We are the reason. And we're not here to promote the Republican Party whatsoever. Our objective is to bring conservatives to Washington. But the Republican Party needs to remember, if it weren't for this movement, they wouldn't have the power that they have right now in the House of Representatives. And we sent these people there to do a job. That's what we want them to do.

LEMON: OK.

KREMER: The people spoke loud and clear last November that they want to reign in the spending. That goes for all of Washington.

LEMON: Amy, let's talk directly to the viewer. People say, why do you cut them off? You understand we have limited time here to do this segment so --

KREMER: I understand.

LEMON: -- and to go on -- you get it, right? Sometimes the viewer doesn't get it. KREMER: I do.

LEMON: Yes. Amy, the Tea party vehemently opposes tax increases. I want you to listen to economist, Peter Morici, on what tax increase was mean for the economy at this point. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER MORICI, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Well, increasing taxes wouldn't hurt any more than cutting spending. Both would decrease the amount of demand in the economy. To say taxes would hurt the economy is kind of code for cutting spending is OK, but taxes are not. That's simply not true.

ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST, CNN MONEY: Right.

MORICI: In fact, raising taxes may be less deleterious than cutting spending. Economic theory says so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Amy, Morici is not alone in saying that. So why does the Tea Party disagree with that? Is the argument with this about cutting and about revenues? Is it up-side-down here maybe?

KREMER: Look, you know, to ask for tax increases is to ask to spend more money. And it's just simply not acceptable. We need to cut our spending. You cannot -- you cannot do tax increases enough to balance the United States budget. You are going to have to cut spending. That's the bottom line. You can spin it any way you want, but you can't get away from it. We have a spending problem. Washington has an addiction to spending. I hate to say it. But, you know, they do.

LEMON: I don't think anyone will disagree that we need to get the spending under control and the deficit and debt. Come on, that is common sense.

KREMER: Right.

LEMON: I think everyone can agree on that. I have to ask you this, Amy, how do you feel about what the Tea Party has done in what some believe is a very short amount of time that we have gotten to this point and you say, in large part, because of the Tea Party? Very quickly, I only have a few seconds.

KREMER: Yes. Look, the Tea Party hasn't created this problem right here. The Tea Party has shined the light on the addiction that Washington has. The Tea Party has forced the issue. We have not created the problem --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Why don't we just -- I mean, where we come in this -- where we are now with the Tea Party and the deal and what the Tea Party has forced and negotiated, that's what I'm asking you about. How do you feel about that? (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You have to be proud of it.

KREMER: No, I think we've absolutely -- we've put our mark on this debate. We're not going to back down. We want to rein in the spending. Look, at the end of the day, Americans want a solution. They don't want a deal. We're tired of the deals. The deals are what have gotten us into this problem.

LEMON: Amy Kremer, appreciate you coming on. No talking points.

KREMER: Thanks so much for having me.

LEMON: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

KREMER: Thank you.

LEMON: Have a good one.

We'll all be watching tonight.

KREMER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: And make sure you watch at 9:00 p.m. eastern, a CNN special report, just what will it take to find a solution to the debt crisis. Wolf Blitzer and I break down the obstacles and options. Don't miss "Get It Done, Countdown to Debt Crisis," right here on CNN.

And if you were blinded by an attacker, would you support eye-for-an- eye punishment? We'll tell you what a woman decided after an attacker blinded her with acid, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD SHANKLE, CNN IREPORTER: What is the basis of a democracy? Compromise. That has become a dirty word today. Nobody wants to compromise, especially the right wing Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We're hearing from you on these debt talks in Washington, the American people, from our iReports. Go to CNN.com/ireports. We'll get it on the air.

An Iranian woman disfigured in a horrifying assault proves much more merciful to her attacker than he ever was to her. And two young Americans locked up in Iran could soon learn their fate.

Azadeh Ansari, of our international desk, she is an editor there, is following both of these stories.

Azadeh, we should probably warn, the one about the acid, the pictures, the images are tough to watch. But she was merciful. AZADEH ANSARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL DESK EDITOR: She was. This is a sad but strange story in the way it all came together at the end. And it brought together a very heated debate on, should Islamic law be carried out, an eye for an eye? Should that be implemented? And as we see in this case, we reported on this in 2009, she was followed by the suitor, who consistently pursued her for about, you know, two years, wanted her and she denied him. And then he threw acid in her face. And today was her day where she could say, you know what, after all the suffering that I've been through over the past seven years, I can now seek revenge. And at the last minute, at the 11th hour, she decided to pull back.

LEMON: They were about to pour the acid. She said --

ANSARI: Yes. He was down. The doctor was ready to go. She said, you know what, I pardon him. I allow him to go. And the interesting thing is that, behind the scenes, we were talking to our producer out in Iran, and he was saying that he was hearing that he was still rude to her after all of that. You know?

LEMON: Yes.

ANSARI: And it just makes you think, it really makes you think.

One other thing I want to point out with this. She even said, when you have the power in your hands and when you grant someone forgiveness, that's being the bigger person.

LEMON: That's a whole big thing. Because she's obviously much better off than he is. I'm sure he's dealing with his own personal demons.

Let's talk about the hikers.

ANSARI: That's right, Don. Today, they had their final hearing. And it lasted four hours. So the lawyer of the two hikers that are still in custody came out and said we can expect a verdict as early as next week. And this rise on the eve of Ramadan, and that's holiest month of the Islamic calendar. That's generally when people are pardoned and -- go ahead. You were going to say something?

LEMON: I was going to say, this has been playing out for them. I'm sure they want to get this over with.

ANSARI: Yes, absolutely. After all this time, I mean, two years. Sarah Shourd is free now. She's in the States. But the two men, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, are still there.

LEMON: Can you imagine two years to be in Iran and then spending that time in -- much of that time in prison? My gosh. And your family here?

ANSARI: And not knowing most of the time.

LEMON: Not knowing. Not knowing.

Thank you, Azadeh. We'll be watching you guys, CNN International, as you cover and watch those stories.

President Obama reacts to a massive attack in Syria, calling it horrifying. That report coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CYNTHIA EPPS, IREPORTER: I implore John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to sit down together as true statement to create one unified plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: As a matter of fact, Nancy Pelosi came out a short time ago reassuring the American people that something would get done and that benefits would be paid. We're paying close attention to this story. We're hearing your voices and we're not going far away.

Meanwhile, we want to turn to other news.

Turning to the Middle East, a bloody day in Syria as military tanks attacked the city of Hama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

(GUNFIRE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Witnesses are saying the tanks rolled in just before dawn and started firing indiscriminately in residential neighborhoods. That's according to the official Syrian news agencies. Syrian forces were battling armed gangs that had taken over parts of the city. But human rights groups say it was an unprovoked raid on civilians. At least 71 people were reported killed. But CNN cannot independently verify the death toll.

President Barack Obama said today he was appalled by the carnage and vowed to put more pressure on Syria's leadership. In a statement, the president said, quote, "The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SIRENS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: In Cairo, Egypt, a fire in the cockpit sent nearly 300 passengers racing for the exits. Look at that if you ever fly. It happened just before takeoff. The Egypt Air Boeing 777 was still at the gate when the co-pilot saw smoke coming out of the instrument panel. Several minor injuries were reported among the passengers as they evacuated. The fire was put out and another flight took the passengers to Saudi Arabia.

Well, from "Dancing with the Stars" to the New England Patriots, Chad Ochocinco is making the move and it's caught some people by surprise, a lot of people, as a matter of fact. We're going to talk about it with Jon Wertheim of "Sports Illustrated" right on the other side of the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Not bad. Not bad. Remember Chad Ochocinco on "Dancing with the Stars"? He made news this week on his day job when he and fellow NFL bad boy, Albert Haynesworth, joined the New England Patriots.

Joining me now, Jon Wertheim, "Sports Illustrated."

There's the cover that you shall see -- there it is -- featuring Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

OK, Jon, I can't believe I'm saying this, the lockout over. The Patriots shocked a lot of people by acquiring a couple of guys who had worn out their welcome with their old teams. What were the Patriots thinking?

JON WERTHEIM, SPORT'S ILLUSTRATED: They got these guys cheap. It's very interesting. The Patriots don't tend to traffic in drama and they get these two controversial players but they got them so cheap, like getting a Hugo Boss suit on clearance. Get it to work for you, you got a bargain. If you can't get the stain out, no great loss. It will be interesting to see how they blend in. The Patriots didn't pay a big price for either of those players.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: I love you for doing this. All the sports guys, when they come on, I ask a question, and the direct answer is they got them cheap. There's no, like, well, with all the things going around and this and because we believe -- they got them cheap. Thank you. So refreshing.

The Patriots were already one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Are they running a risk of upsetting their locker room, especially with Haynesworth, who is at odds with the coaches in Washington?

WERTHEIM: That's the big one. Chad Johnson (ph) -- I can't say Ochocinco -- is flamboyant, fun, and he will probably turn it down. Haynesworth is potentially more problematic but he is also potentially -- this is a great, great player. He's just been this serial malcontent lately. He's really the risky acquisition. But again, big upside there if they can get it to work.

And you're got to believe they brought him in and say, if you come here, will you do X? This wasn't a blind signing. This could really pay off for the Patriots.

LEMON: You saw the "Dancing with the Stars" thing. Ochocinco took part also in a professional bull riding event earlier this year and had a tryout with a soccer team. Will the Patriots put up with his flair for publicity?

WERTHEIM: Yes, keep it light. This is a guy who's been in Kansas City and Cincinnati, and who has been on great teams. He's a serious tweeter. And if you listen to him these past few days, he's thrilled to be there. You have a sense he's going to tone it down a little. Haynesworth is problematic. Chad Johnson (ph) is a fun guy and I think he will tone it down a bit.

LEMON: Let's switch gears, Jon. A Major League umpire gets death threats at his home after missing a call this week that gave the Atlanta Braves victory over Pittsburgh in the ninth inning. Look at the play. All right, so, Jon, the game started with a temperature in the 90s. Do you think umpire, Jerry Meals, was just ready to call it a night after six hours and 39 minutes? It was 1:50 in the morning?

WERTHEIM: I think his wife was calling him, saying, when are you getting home? And he just botched this call.

(LAUGHTER)

No, I think -- if we'd seen the video, this is just indisputably a bad call. It was two teams in a game of significance. I think baseball -- they've really resisted this, but the technology exists tonight --

LEMON: Yes.

WERTHEIM: -- to get all of these calls right. It's not prohibitively inexpensive. It's going to take calls like this, unfortunately, not on a game in late July, but in a playoff game -- eventually baseball has got to move to replay. Too much is at stake to allow human error to botch these calls and determine these outcomes.

LEMON: Yes. Even the umpire admitted, once he saw the replay, he made the wrong call. I think maybe there's something to that.

So what happens if the Pirates should miss a playoff -- this is my last question. I wanted -- miss the playoffs by one game, and by changing the rules here? What happens?

WERTHEIM: Right. Then I think -- we've really got impetus for replace. That's what everybody is looking for and already everybody is putting an asterisk on this game the other night, the one on this botched call. I think that it's a shame, because we all love tradition. Baseball's steeped in it. But we could get it right. I can't imagine too many other businesses thumbing their nose at accuracy. Why not get it right all the time. I think you're absolutely right. If the Pirates miss the playoff by one game and everybody goes back to this game in late July, maybe we'll finally get instant replay on baseball.

LEMON: That's a very good quote, not too many businesses thumb their nose at accuracy. Well put.

Jon Wertheim, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

He is the author of the book "Sportscasting" and also with "Sports Illustrated."

Appreciate it, sir. See you next week.

We'll have more at the top of the hour on the debt ceiling crisis. And right after the break, new tape from Nancy Pelosi, her new comments.

Plus, a check on the Asian markets with a report out of Tokyo. They're opening shortly. You know, it's the news you'll only get right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)