Hardball | December 07, 2012
>>> well, this isn't a progress report because there's no progress to report. when it comes to the fiscal cliff that's threatening our economy and threatening jobs, the white house has wasted another week.
>> welcome back to "hardball." that was speaker boehner 's downbeat assessment of fiscal negotiations. he went on putting blame squarely on the president. let's listen.
>> this president has adopted of a deliberate strategy to slow walk our economy right to the edge of the fiscal cliff. it's time for the president, if he's serious, to come back to us with a counteroffer.
>> shortly after house ni mort leader nancy pelosi put the plame back on republicans . let's listen.
>> the only obstacle standing in the way of middle income tax relief are the republicans unwillingness to ask the top 2% to pay their fair share . this is a moment of truth . the clock is ticking. christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, but in many homes across america it's very -- a very, very lean time.
>> and today's jobs report showing 146,000 jobs added in november and unemployment dipping to 7.7% may give the president some leverage in negotiations with boehner . but while the president and speaker boehner are both negotiating for a win, what is a win for each of them. what adds up to this complexity of getting a deal done? christa freeland is author of quths plutocrats." cynthia is a visiting professor of journalism from the university of georgia . thank you for joining us tonight. let's see if we can define it. it's a game and it's incredibly high stakes . christa, thank you for copping on tonight. if you were the president of the united states and you were looking from here to the new year and the cliff, what do you hope is -- what do you think is a win for you to be able to go into the new year having gotten us off your back?
>> i think a win for the president is actually pretty clear. what the president wants is to extend the bush tax cuts for the middle class . he wants them to expire for those at the very top, and i think the president is actually willing in this context to agree to pretty significant cuts in revenue. so, you know --
>> cuts in entitlements?
>> yes, yeah, exactly. cuts in government spending , sorry. you know, so i think that that is okay for the president. i think what is difficult and why you're seeing this being a really difficult negotiation for john boehner is it's much harder to define a win for john boehner . you know, is a win, you know, holding absolutely fast? is a win saying, you know, great, we were the party that managed to cut social security for the middle class ? that's going to be pretty hard to go into another election with.
>> you know, do you agree with that assessment that it's easier for the president, cynthia, because he basically wins on taxes. he's the robin hood , if you will, of this issue. he's looking out for the regular people against the people on the top. on the other side he's saying, you republicans , you can be the scrooging this winter. i have to go along with it. but you're forcing me to do it so you're the bad guys. so i think i agree with kristin. this is basically a setup if there is a deal for the president.
>> well, i do think that the president would certainly get a big win with the middle class tax cut piece of this which i think is going to pass, whether it passes by the first of the year is another matter, but i think he'll get that piece of it. but i think it will be more difficult for the president's party to see his agreement to making big cuts in entitlement spending as a win. let's remember that the progressive coalition was strengthened in this election. we have more progressives in office than we did -- there will be more of them in congress in january than there are in congress now. and progressives already think that president obama is too willing to sell them out in these negotiations, so while i think the president is very dedicated to this idea of grand bargain two, you know, yes, if i can get increased revenues, higher taxes on the wealthy, i will certainly agree to some serious entitlement cuts. whether he can get the backing from his party, whether they will also see it as a win for him is quite another matter, i think.
>> let's get back to the pressure on them both, objective pressure on both of them. if we do get to the 31st of this month without any deal, who is that tougher on?
>> i think it's much tougher on the republicans and on john boehner which is why i think they're in such a difficult position right now. the reason it's tougher is game theory or negotiation theory . if we dive off the fiscal cliff or maybe a more appropriate metaphor is we walk gently off of the fiscal beach, that puts the republicans in a much more difficult negotiating position. all of a sudden the president can go out on january 1 and say, look, i am in favor of tax cuts for the middle class . your taxes have gone up because of the republicans . what kind of a crazy party is this which is standing in the way of tax cuts , right? we thought that was what the republican -- their job is to cut taxes. so i think the president has a very good hand of cards right now.
>> but on the other hand, doesn't the president have to get certain things done positively? doesn't he want to keep the payroll tax cut continuing? does he really want to take all those cuts in domestic and defense spending ? aren't there some things he really thinks will hurt the economy over which he's the steward right now does he want a second depression? no. a second recession.
>> it will hurt the economy. i think agree entirely. i think the short-term pressure is much more on john boehner , that he has -- if we go to the first of the year and taxes have gone up on everybody, i think that people will largely blame the republicans for that, as think should. having said that though, the longer this goes on, the more likely it is that it puts the economy in a second recession, and heaven knows that's the last thing that obama wants. so the pressure on obama may not be immediate, but it is there. let's remember, by the way, chris, i think it's always important to remind people, your viewers, what we're talking about here. if we all end up diving off this fiscal cliff, it doesn't make the deficit worse. it makes the deficit better. it would go a long way toward curing the deficit, but the deficit isn't the immediate problem for most people, the weak economy is.
>> i agree.
>> and if we dive off the fiscal cliff, the economy could get much weaker. that's --
>> by the way --
>> -- millions of americans. it's a problem for barack obama .
>> just to back you up, i really think the great thing is the economy is just starting to lift up a. the unemployment rate is really starting to come down. we're getting good job production . thank you so much, ladies, for coming on tonight. thanks for the sharp thinking we got tonight.
>>> up next, if you can't win by the rules, change then. that's what republicans are