Hardball | November 22, 2011
>>> great reporter. gentlemen, a great team to look at this the morning after, if you will. let's look at this political climate. why isn't congress working now? look at these approval numbers. congressional approval as of november 13th and november 15th , that was the field days , 12%. you know, that's one in eight. they approve the job congress is doing. who is that one in eight person, jay-mar? who likes -- is it the far right person that loves gridlock, what?
>> probably those folks that wendt mega tense. 530 members of congress , 300 million americans and i can't think of anyone that approves of the job congress is doing. you've got the right idea in general. those who like gridlock, those who don't want to see anything moving forward have to be somewhat satisfied. perhaps a few people that just love their own member of congress or love the speaker of the house at the time.
>> or haven't been reading the newspapers for two or three years.
>> or didn't hear the question right.
>> couldn't hear the question. john, your thoughts. why is there still a residual -- it seems it should be a strikeout, a complete strikeout.? they don't get anything done.
>> some colleagues of my at the post looked into this question and there are a few people, a few conservatives that are just happy nothing is happening in washington so they approve of what congress is doing.
>> do nothing types.
>> and others don't want to say anything about anybody so they just say oh, it's fine with me what congress is doing. whether it's 9% or 12% support of congress , and this is before what is perhaps the biggest debacle of all, you can only imagine how much worse can things be.
>> i keep thinking about those european countries or south american countries before a coup. but in some countries with weaker constitutions and a failed political class, things happen. the tanks start moving in the streets. think about this.
>> if this were italy, we would presumably have a new government.
>> the colonels take overall those countries in latin america . let's take a look at what the president said with in hope about the payroll tax cut. he wants that extended and unemployment insurance extended. let's take a look at obama in new hampshire. he talked about this today. let's listen to the president.
>> this payroll tax is set to expire at the end of next month. end of next month, end of the year this tax cut ends. if we allow that to happen, if congress refuses to act, the middle class families are going to get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. if your members of congress aren't delivering, you've got to send them a message. make sure they're listening. tell them don't be a grinch. don't vote to raise taxes on working americans during the holidays, put the country before party. put money ? back in the pockets of working families . do your job.
>> so, jonathan, why do you think the president shifted from the disaster yesterday so quickly to what he wants done at the end of the year, which is to continue unemployment benefits and also extend the payroll tax cut? why is he more focused on those issues?
>> one of the things is venue. the president in 2008 in the primary ran as a tax cutter. if you listen to the robo calls, they said barack obama is the only one in the race that's cut taxes before. he's going to show the payroll tax cut, the only tax cut that's happened this year is also something of his. i think that's popular in new hampshire. i also think that it's something that he wants to be able to say not just there but all across the country, i'm cutting your taxes and maybe the republicans will stand in the way of this payroll tax cut that they don't like as much as i do.
>> so here's the president on the popular side of a fiscal issue finally. not for raising taxes , which is never really that popular, exempt if it's somebody else', the rich people 's. but nobody wants to play around with medicare and social security and cut those benefits. but here he's doing something almost everybody wants, a payroll tax cult giz for businesses.
>> and looks at the juxtaposition. he was just in this fight with the republicans who are insisting on protecting tax cuts for millionaires, now he can go on the other side of this and say they're trying to increase taxes by a thousand dollars on somebody that earns $50,000. they're trying to take away their unemployment benefits . it works out well for the president. a lot of people were critical for obama not getting more involved with the super committee . he said, look, this isn't my baby. they forced this super committee on me as a toll for raising the debt limit. he would much rather be talking about the payroll tax cut and things ? to get the economy going. he also has to get these things going or we're going back into a recession.
>> this has an economic impact if these things don't happen. if it costs more to hire somebody, that slows whatever there is of this recovery. the republican co-chair of the super committee blamed the failure on democrats in an op-ed. he wrote democrats on the super committee made it clear that the new spending called for in the president's health law was off the table. still committee republicans offered to negotiate a plan on the other two health care sbien minutes, medicare and medicaid . they offered modest adjustments but they were far from sufficient to meet the challenge and even their modest changes were made contingent upon a minimum of a trillion dollars in higher taxes and made sure to stifle job creation during the worst economy in recent history. it seems to me they're coming out with something here. the republicans are saying, you know, the democrats didn't want to really do -- didn't want to put forward a plan and, therefore -- and they also wanted us to raise taxes. they don't want to be stuck in the corner admitting that they screwed this whole thing up by refusing to raise taxes.
>> well, clearly already no mirrors left in the capital because everyone is pointing at someone else to blame and they ought to be looking in the mirrors on both sides. the republicans refused to raise taxes. they talked about new revenues. revenues don't necessarily mean new taxes. if you do new taxes, they were going to have a net of nothing. that is to say lower tax rates to make up for it. they're not willing to do it. it is the party brand, it's the image. grover norquist talks about this a lot. on the other hand democrats think they'll be able in 2012 to make the argument that some folks at the top ought to have
>> as ezra klein said in the " washington post ," here's something to watch if you watch the politics of this. basically the further right democrats tiptoed to catch the republicans , the further right they went. the strongest proposal by a republican on the super committee was a plan by senator po by pat toomey . boehner proposed $800 million in new tax revenue and dropping the tax rate of the wealthy down to 35%. now, that was the thing from this summer. look what toomey did. he said i'll save $300 million in new tax, mainly from the rich and i'm going to drop the top rate down to 28. so here's a guy -- frankly it's hard to find even one area in which super committee republicans offered a substantially new compromise or even matched what boehner offered obama a while back. if the question is whether the democrats or republicans moved further in the direction of a compromise, there's no doubting that compared to the last set of negotiations, the democrats moved right and the republicans moved further right. it looks like there was a little give on the democrats ' side even though they had a risk getting blamed by their own skpit constituents. they're willing to play with entit entitlementes if they could get some revenues.
>> now, interesting, though, from what i understand there was the framework for this, some of the senate democrats , like max baucus , was working with some of the ? house republicans .
>> i know he was.
>> they really could have probably struck a deal, but they were four or five members of the committee doing that but the rest had no interest in it. so there was really never a serious proposal to come forth in the first place.
>> let's talk about the president's veto threat. i was taken with it last night. it seemed to have a lot of stiffness in it. he did say that he will veto any attempt by the congress to wiggle out of these automatic cuts which include big cuts to defense.
>> i don't think he'll have to worry about it because i think it's going to be a very hard sell for conservative house republicans who want to keep the budget cuts in place. it's going to be a hard sell to get them to reverse that. they may shift around what gets cut, but that overall level of $1.2 trillion, i'd be shocked if you saw something move out of the house that lifted that and allowed for more spending. i think it's something the president wants -- it's good politics and he's going to win that argument.
>> he's going to stick to his guns and go strong into the general.
>> defend the manage airs and defense contractors .
>> i think he can win this fight right now. if you guys want to cut spending and deal with cutting spending and don't want to cut defense, cut something else. or, by the way, pay for the military, something you don't want to do. anyway,