Hardball | February 21, 2013
>>> sabotage. let's play "hardball."
>>> good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. it's a down and dirty world when you decide chopping down the government and hurting the economy is the smart move. but bring it all down is now the hard right battle cry. slash spending, short the pentagon. crew up traffic control whatever raises the noise level, bashes the democrats and lowers hope. is this the tea party dream? is this john boehner 's version of feeding time at the zoo, giving the crazies what they want so they will sit in their seats and behave? is this final payment to insanity the last vestige of what calm republicanism is ready to cough up? but how else can you explain the readiness of the gop leadership to let this fraken stein's monster, it doomsday machine , this sequestration go all out berserk? how else can we understand the party of lincoln doing such economic damage to the republic, such damage and moral to the people. democrat ed rendell and republican michael steele . gentlemen, i want to start with you, michael , because i know you will disagree with me and that's what this is about. i read a lot of good reporting today, not analysis, but good reporting from your side of the aisle, further right than you i believe, that says, great, let's have sequestration. let's short the pentagon. let's cut $85 billion out of the hide of the economy. let's remove hope from the country, maybe risk a second dip because it all helps the republican party and the ideology of lower government, less government. your thoughts.
>> well, i doubt you read that they said well, you know, let's take hope out of the country and ruin the economy. but i get your point. what i find interesting in your argument, chris , is that you seem to overlook the fact that you have just as many democrats out there screaming the same thing on the left starting with someone like howard dean . you're also overlooking the fact that this whole idea of sequestration emanated out of the economic team of the white house .
>> whoa, whoa, whoa. what office does howard dean hold right now?
>> i'm saying you're pointing and saying this is just republicans talking about this. you have democrats in the senate and the house. you have democrats outside of the senate and the house who feel the same way, that maybe this is a moment that pushes both of these folks, the white house and the congress, to actually gibb to face --
>> which democrats want to -- i'm sorry, i want to check your facts, michael . i respect you. what democrats holding office in the congress want to cece questions tration.
>> well, the one whos voted for it starting with them.
>> they don't -- they did it to force themselves something better.
>> hold up. wait a minute, chris . you mean this whole thing got past just on republican votes.
>> it was called kicking the can --
>> are you kidding?
>> i'm going to ask you again do you believe right now there are any democrats in the house or snit who want to cece questions tration?
>> name one.
>> there have been folks on the record, chris . i can't name one off --
>> just one.
>> at the moment, but there are -- check the records. there are democrats on the record just as there are republicans now --
>> a lifeline out there. i hope they call in right now because you need a name. anyway --
>> chris , wait a minute -- no, chris , you're not going to --
>> name a name.
>> give me a second. go ahead.
>> okay. governor rendell, your thoughts. i thinkmocrats who don't like sequestration because they're afraid it will not only cut the government, cut government spending , which is already a problem with reduced government joubs out there, but actually really hurt the economy, certainly morale of the country. your thoughts.
>> there's no question. think of it, it's alice in wonderland . democrats are fighting to make sure we don't have willy-nilly cuts that harm the military strength of the country and republicans are advocating for cuts that would severely diminish the military capability of our country. it's nuts, absolutely nuts. it is politics over what's good for the country. the president, chris , put a balanced solution of cuts, significant cuts, including entitlement cuts and raising revenue by making sure that everyone who makes $1 million pays a tax rate higher than the ordinary working person. what's wrong with that? that's what the polls say.
>> that's wrong with that.
>> "the new york times" suggested that congressional republicans are not concerned about how this fight will pan out for their party . they report, quote, house republicans say they are feeling invulnerable to the current clash, redistricting has made moth of them immune to political thets and entreaties for many representing conservative district where the president holds little sway. an attack by president obama is a badge of honor. here is some of the tea party types we found today, just today, michael , who are backing the cuts. ohio congressman jim jordan said back in october, quote, i would say the only thing that's worse than cutting national defense is not having any scheduled cuts in place at all. louisiana congressman steve scalise told dow jones business news, quote, the con shen sus is we want the sequester numbers to come in and finally dereduced spending in washington. south carolina congressman mike mull vain yea said we want to keep the sequester in place and take the cuts we can get. georgia congressman paul br oun, i want to see it go into place and rand paul in his tea party response to the state of the union said not only should the sequester stand, many pundits say the sequester really needs to be at least $4 trillion to avoid another downgrade on america's credit rating . there you have a lot of people on the record, michael , on the republican side saying they want the sequester. i'm curious why you contend this is not a partisan issue.
>> because it isn't, chris . chris , it passed on a bipartisan vote. so unless you're telling me that those democrats including those in the white house who supported -- who originated this idea of sequestration are now saying that that vote didn't matter, that's just ludicrous. that's my only point. yes, republicans have come to a point where republicans are now saying, yeah, okay, let's see what --
>> i think a fair analysis of this is that the democrats who streeted for the sequestration, those who did thought that republicans would never put up with a big cut in defense. i think --
>> so they didn't mean it. they were just toying around with the economy.
>> you could call it toying around.
>> i can -- oh, yeah.
>> i'm not defending everybody that votes --
>> look, you're not getting 9 democrats off -- you're not getting your side off the hook on this and dropping it all on the republicans ' lap because that's the mantra and the spin you want to put on this.
>> both sides are equally responsible --
>> i have to examine that phrase, my fat off the hook. i just found that incredible as a met fa for. it must be an old time expression.
>> you're trying to get your fat off the hook.
>> ier that's a barnyard expression i guess. governor rendell -- you've losted so much weight i don't think that counts. the fat off the hook.
>> i think it means the meat off the grill so the fat doesn't burn away, am i right, michael .
>> that works, too, governor.
>> well, i want to ask michael one question.
>> go ahead, take over.
>> michael , and i agree with you, democrats did vote and support the sequester although i don't think many democrats , if any, would be for the sequester going into effect. but what is wrong with significant cuts in entitlements, more cuts than raised revenue when the only revenue we're raise something on millionaires to make sure that they pay the same tax rate or slightly higher than ordinary working people pay? what's wrong with that.
>> didn't we just do that? hey, governor, didn't we just do that last month?
>> no, let me respond to that. let me respond to that. what we did the last time is we raised the rates but we didn't stop rich people from having their accountants and tax lawyers --
>> oh, lord.
>> rip asunder that and wind up paying 15%. while a secretary pays 28%.
>> you guys are just greedy. you're just greedy. you want to spend, you wnt to spend, you want to spend. you don't want to deal with the debt and this deficit.
>> displan does deal --
>> two chairman fighting. let's look at the "hardball" scoreboard. let's look at the latest poll numbers from bloomberg. president obama is at 55% approval rating , i highest he's been since the first couple weeks of his administration bay back in '09. 55%, michael . let this sink in. 55% job approval.
>> i want it to sink in.
>> what's your point?
>> that's a point in itself. the republican party which you still represent vaguely is at 35% job approval. 35% for a political party that needs 50% to stay in the business. look at this other number up to date. who is to blame for what's gone wrong in d.c. right now? 43% say congressional republicans . and by the way they're the ones you have to defend here, and 34% say obama and the democrats . i think these numbers are pretty scary if you have mr. boehner .
>> chris , i'm not going to argue the politics on that. you're absolutely right. the messaging of the gop is quite frankly, sucked on this issue. there's no doubt about that. but it still doesn't change the underlying facts that democrats , including the newly elected -- re-elected president are on the hook for this just as much as the republicans are. neither side have effectively dealt with this. we've left simpson/bowles sitting on the sidelines. we've now had simpson/bowles two, no one is talking about that. sequester is something that both democrats and republicans put on the table. and now everyone is acting like, oh, my god, we're going to do this? come on.
>> so the republicans are losing the fight over public opinion , governor. it's usually important in politics, public opinion .
>> it's not important until it's time for an election.
>> and a the republicans are losing the fight and democrats are winning it, and the question is who is playing fair here? i don't think boehner is at fault. i think boehner 's problem, and i use the phrase feeding time at the zoo very accurately. i think he's keeping the right wick of hi party now satisfied. they want the sequestration. they don't mind if government takes a big hit . that's what they have been trying to do for years. don't they benefit there 24? if you're in a far right wing district aren't you better off saying we wanted this and we got it, a big cut in government?
>> that's true for the people in the far right districts but is it true for patrick meehan and fitzpatrick and dent in suburban philadelphia? i'm not so sure. i think they're risking losing the house. if john boehner had his druthers heened a the president back in august of 2011 would have entered into a grand bargain which would have had plenty of entitlement cuts, raised revenue, $5 trillion of debt reduction and we wouldn't be facing these problems. but boehner took it back to the caucus and the caucus said no.
>> is that fair? michael , what he just said?
>> i think some of that is fair, yeah. i'm not going to play the whole partisan card here and jump up and down screaming because i'm on your show. no, i think some of that is fair.
>> you don't have to do that. you never do that.
>> i never do that, but i think some of it -- just to bring it back into the real, i mean, i get the whole partisan game of wanting to put the blame on one side, but you know at the end of the day , that poll notwithstanding, the president also risked coming out of this thing on the second of march a little bit more bloodied than he is today as do the democrats .
>> they're all going to get hurt but i do believe if the republican party were a united party today of the slightly or somewhat center right, a bit to the right, maybe a couple notches, it could come to terms --
>> you're going to give us just a couple notches? that's it. just a couple notches?
>> how far right do you want to go?
>> until i'm comfortable.
>> i think it isn't a bargaining party . that's the problem and the priz needs somebody to bargain with like the israelis when they have a good government kand find somebody on the other side of the river to deal with.
>> like i said, when i come into the room to bargain with you i want you to still be in the room and the president has often times left the room, too.
>> i want to say, chris , the president has no fat on the grill. he has no fat on his body at all.
>> fat on the hook? michael , let's get the met fa for. foot on the hook?
>> fat on the hook.
>> what in god's name what does it mean?
>> i think it's on the waterfront. i think it's how rod steiger ended up with that movie. thank you michael and et. coming up, the karl rove schadenfreude express. he was bush's brain, the architect, the evil genius . then came 2012 , now the tea party has declared war and progressives are as happy as hell munching on popcorn and watching this whole spectacle. karl rove is in the middle of trouble.
>>> also, here is the latest critique of the gop appearing in today's " washington post ." the party has become to extreme, too ideological, it's position is irresponsible. you might expect it from nancy pelosi but it's from virginia's lieutenant golf bilboing. it's republican lieutenant governor by the way and things are pretty bad when republicans are talking that way about their party .
>>> and are prisoner the at guantanamo getting federal benefits ? no. it's an online joke that some republicans fell for.
>>> let me finish with what happened to the republican party of the 1960 . it was all about civil rights , all for voting for civil rights and voting rights . you should see the numbers. today it's the party of reince priebus and all that voter suppression . i'm going into that at the end of the 140e. the good republican party on civil rights and today's party . and this is "hardball," the