Hardball | February 25, 2013
>>> showdown time of course. the clock is ticking down to friday as republicans and democrats face off over that massive automatic job killing spending cut that's scheduled to take place manch 1st. the president is taking his face to the american people as we have seen warning the public about the impact of those cuts. today he made an appeal to the governors.
>> now, these impacts will not all be felt on day one, but rest assured the uncertainty is already having an effect. companies are preparing layoff notices. families are preparing to cut back on expenses. and the longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become. i know sometimes folks in congress think that compromise is a bad word , and they figure they'll pay a higher price at the polls for working with the other side than they will for standing pat or engaging in obstructionism, but as governors some of you with legislatures controlled by the other party, you know that compromise is essential to getting things done. and so is prioritizing, making smart choices.
>> so the question tonight, what is the president's campaigning for? what is he getting done here? joy reid is managing editor of the agree ceo and howard fineman is editorial director for "the huffington post ." howard, i keep thinking the president's campaigning, the first lady was on the oscars last night, on jimmy fallon . she's delightful. it's nice and soft. what does it have to do with winning the american people 's confidence we can get the government running owe on a steady course and no more shouldown fierce that seem to be hobbling us in terms of building self-confidence for this country?
>> chris , i think the president, the obamas, are masters of all they survey in terms of the culture and in terms really of public opinion right now. if you look at the polls, the public is on the president's side in terms of his priorities, and they're on his side in terms of whom they will blame if there is a sequestration shutdown or limitation of the government come the end of the week. i think the president's theory here is to build as much outside pressure on the republicans in the house as he possibly can to get them to cry uncle again on taxes so he can then move onto entitlements and modifications there to make the grand bargain.
>> and the evidence it's working?
>> no. it's a long way around at this point, and he runs the risk, i think, of painting into a corner, cornering sort of the people he needs in the end. so neither side at this point, neither the president nor the republicans are really making anything easier.
>> that's the old question. you know, bullies usually get somebody in the corner and the guy ends up killing the guy or fighting back at least. if you bully is person into a corner and you say you have no alternative but to deal with me what do they do? they'll fight. i'm not sure they'll say uppingcle.
>> the problem, too, is the republican party , the calvin coolidge wing of the party is pretty much the only one that has an ideology they can --
>> which is don't spend money.
>> don't spend money and don't raise taxes no matter what. they would rather have the sequester even --
>> did you know that two months ago? i didn't.
>> you know what, no. i didn't know that wing of the party could stomach the defense part of the cuts. what they wanted was to replace the defense cuts with entitlement cuts and once they realized they wouldn't get the president to go out front and say we'll cut medicare instead, they will take the defense cuts if they can get austerity.
>> the hawkish party that was fighting in iraq, fighting in afghanistan, a lot of neocon influence, now basically says screw you to people like bill crystal, we're out in of the wars. buck mccune of all people, classic appropriate yater of california said in "the new york time times", a great reporting piece this is something that basically miscalculated, the obama people. they didn't understand the republicans cared less about defense spending than they do about spending cuts.
>> look, chris , i don't know if i can prove it because i don't know if i went on record in the huff post on it two months ago, but i think after the last time around when, as joy calls them the coolidge wing of the republican party felt they had been taken advantage of, if you will, by the president on the tax negotiations in the fiscal cliff, they were vowing and they were saying pretty clearly that they weren't going to let it happen again on taxes, and i also think that the coolidge wing of the party is a little less neocon and a little more isolationist, if you will, than the previous crowd of 10, 15 years ago that was around george w. bush and before that.
>> i agree.
>> this is a different group, and they are --
>> how do you fight it?
>> chris , they are almost like '60s protesters who are getting ready to take over the ad building, and speaker boehner kind of is in the role of dean wormser. he's helpless.
>> i think it will be the raspberry statement, not the stra you berry statement. i got you to laugh, howard. that's great. the whole idea of the raspberry statement. we don't care if the government shuts down, don't care if the 13e7nding gets cut. that's what we're here for. remember we watched that scene in john mccain 's town meeting, it had to do with immigration. but that same guy in the back row is probably jumping up as much as he doesn't like mexican immigrants coming in the country, he hates government spending , too. it's the same guy.
>> and in a way the president is being victimized by his own success. he stripped them of everything else they had. they're being told they got to do immigration even though their base hates it. they raised taxes. they voted to raise taxes which was a central plank of republicanism for like my entire life. they raised taxes --
>> for 1%.
>> he stripped them to their boxers.
>> you are really overdoing this. the republicans gave away the tax increase --
>> they gave it away. they're not going to give on spending. they're like, look, all we've got left is we're for austerity. we want the spending cuts p.m. come what may, we'll do it --
>> chris , i'm told by a lot of democrats on the hill that i saw over the weekend that if the president moves an inch on entitlements, in other words, if he resurfaces that topic, that there is room for a deal here. but right now the president isn't doing that. the president is only emphasizing the tax side of this because he wants, i think, to get cover with his own party --
>> i agree.
>> -- for when he comes along with --
>> how do you get the baby back from the kidnappers and get the hostage money for them? that's the -- the whole question is how -- it's a terrible metaphor. how do you do the transfer? how does nancy pelosi say i know we're going to get the tax reform and the spending and the revenue increase and that's why i'm willing to go with reform on entitlements?
>> i don't see what the incentive is for democrats to now cut medicare . if they win on loopholes, if they're able to get tax increase --
>> because -- i'll tell you why. if this government goes down and we continue to have this craziness, public confidence in the economy is going to drop and we're going to have a second recession and this president's second term ain't going to be worth claiming and that's the danger.
>> but there's no incentive for barack obama to put his name on it. republicans are the ones that want to cut medicare , they have to go out front. they keep trying to push him to do it.
>> let me give you my speech. it's not left or right. somebody has got to drive the fricking car and the kids in the backseat are going to complain. sooner or later you have to drive the car and it's obama's car. i normally -- i can't keep sitting in the backseat daddy she touched me. up next. car sick . it's the greatest thing i have seen in a long time. michelle obama on -- it was great, and he was great, too. i thought he was a mom there for a while. this is