Hardball | February 20, 2013
>>> debate over spending and cutting is going just the way president obama planned apparently. he's out there every day making the case he's looking out for the middle class while the republicans are just as stubbornly looking out for the wealthy. in his automatic across the board cuts march 1st the president is taking advantage of the power of his office. he's doing interviews with eight local tv anchors. most of these markets include a significant defense presence, they're near bases, an industry that could be hit hard if a sequester goes into effect of here's a click from nbc oklahoma city affiliate kfor. let's listen.
>> we've got some automatic spending cuts coming up in nine days that will lay off hundreds of thousands of folks or furlough hundreds of thousands of folks all across the country. they're not necessary. they'll hurt our economy. they'll raise the unemployment rate. and the reason is because congress has not been able to compromise on a deficit reduction package that's more sensible.
>> yesterday the president insisted sudden across-the-board spending cuts would be unnecessary and damaging and he made sure that first responders were there to punctuate the message. let's watch and listen.
>> border patrol agents will see their hours reduced. fbi agents will be furloughed. federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off.
>> and keeping up the drum beat , house minority leader nancy pelosi will hold hearings on how middle class families could be hurt by the spending cuts that could kick in march 1st . joining me is u.s. congressman adam shiff of california. i was so impressed by the way you explained all of this this morning on msnbc. i'd like you to do it again. your take on what this fight is about coming up march 1st , sir.
>> well, the fight is largely a fight within the gop. you talked earlier about the schizophrenia within some of the gop members. that is most manifest in the house. they really have two minds. you've got the tea party contingent that wants to tear down government that ran on a platform of tearing down and never made the transition of being for anything. right now they're driving the train. they want the sequester to go into effect. they want it to go into effect because they want to show that they're serious about this and they feel that's their mandate. at the same time, it's going to be enormously destructive to the economy. we are poised to make a recovery, and if just the -- if the congress could get out of the way and stop manufacturing these crises month after month, i think we would have a full recovery. but what the president has proposed, which is a reasonable compromise, that's part spending cuts, part revenues is being rejected by the house of representatives ' leadership and we are where we are.
>> two major points i heard there at the beginning by the congressman. john, i want you to respond. first of all, the who. it is the hard right. you talk to people at the white house and they say this president, whatever you think of the politics, doesn't know who to talk to on the hill. there is no boehner, he's just a front man. eric kantor has his finger in the air trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing. how do you know who they are? are they hamas?
>> they are not hamas. there's nobody that speaks with one voice for the house republicans. when there is a deal cut it's always mitch mcconnell and joe biden .
>> who is obama talking to, the president? he has to send joe up to find somebody of like mind to talk to him?
>> yeah, because he doesn't have relationships on the hill. whether that's his fault or their fault --
>> we agree on that, there's no connection. congressman, back to you. the what. what i found profound in what you said this morning is it's not -- sure, we're going to argue whether one party won 60/40 or lost blamed. forget the blame game for a second. what's going on with the economy? i think the american people looking at the polling we got our hands are have become very demoralized ever since the election. they have been seeing shutdown talk, debt ceiling talk, this stupid named sequestration and all they hear is trouble in the nation's capital. the inability of our own government which has been elected to do its job. i think it's hurting the economy. your thoughts.
>> absolutely hurting the economy. what people want in business and family life is some stability. they want the ability to plan. they want to know what are my taxes going to be. they want to know, you know, am i going to have a job. am i going to be laid off. and all they want is some solidity to plan with. when we go through these crises, it's incredibly destructive.
>> do you think the right wing people know when they're sitting in their chairs voting no, no, no, bringing one manufactured crisis to bear after another that they're just happy when they pick up the paper and say public confidence going down. that's good for our party.
>> we know that grover norquist starving the beast of resources. now they're starving the beast of credibility. they're starving the beast of the federal government with any public confidence that it can actually solve problems. this is part of the destruction of our federal government . they would be delighted if people lost confidence in the government and if they could further tear it down. a lot of people run for congress against the government. that's a tried tradition in american history . but usually once they have office and they have responsibility to govern, they find they have to be for something as well. but this crowd has never made the transition to being for something.
>> but they take a salary, don't they?
>> they take a salary --
>> where they work in the united states government , they're working for the government to function, at least, even if they vote against it. they do want a functioning government but now i get the feeling they don't.
>> i think there was a little truth serum from the congressman. you campaign against the government as if it was the worst thing in the world and then you get there and you're supposed to change the stripes you showed to the voters.
>> you're supposed to change policy to the advantage --
>> but all these guys are focused on their very narrow constituencies. even within their districts, it's not --
>> what do you think about this result. in arizona we saw a very right wing crowd on immigration. when they pick up the paper and see the government is shutting down again and there's questions about whether we can move an aircraft carrier into the persian gulf if we need one, all kind of questions like that about security, do you think they're happy?
>> i think for a lot of people it's great, the government is shutting down. when they go to get services from the va or people are crossing the border or --
>> or they get in an airplane.
>> they care about --
>> how about getting in an airplane.
>> it doesn't take very long for the public to really get this.
>> congressman, i'm so impressed. thank you so much. you're a very eloquent spokesman for a very complicating situation, which i think gets worse every day. thank you so much for coming up.
>> thank you.
>>> up next, how a right wing smear, and it was kind of a joke to begin with, against chuck hagel went viral. this is this thing that if you say something even sarcastically some whack job will put it on the radio or on a website. next thing you know people are reacting to that reaction and it's become a frankenstein's monster. we'll show you how it works in a couple minutes. this is stirring and it's scary. it could involve you some day. this