Hardball | February 26, 2013
>>> gridlock and that's where we stand tonight. no closer to a deal to avoid the automatic spending cuts set to take effect this friday. just like democrats and republicans in washington, the public has mixed views on just what to do about the deficit and the budget. let me show you some new numbers from our own nbc/" wall street journal " poll just out tonight. we asked how americans feel about the president's budget negotiations with republicans in congress. do they make people feel more or less confident about the economy. 51% said it made them less confident. it's hurting people's confidence in the economy and it could have a real impact on our lives. on the spending cuts scheduled to take effect on friday, 52% said they are a bad idea, but 53% think congress should deal with the deficit with friday's scheduled cuts or plan even more cuts. in other words, they're complicated on this. the public doesn't like the idea of automatic spending cuts but if they had to choose, these spending cuts but more spending cuts. and when asked which statement is more in line with their thoughts on the cuts, the country looks pretty evenly divided. 50% say the cuts are too severe. 46% say it's time for dramatic measures to reduce the deficit. those numbers if you look at them reflect the whole numbers, 50% being obama and 46% being roughly romney. with numbers like that, what do you do if you're president obama or speaker bonn janer. i have two former mex of the house of representatives . republican steve latourette , thank you. congresswoman thank you so much. i'm going to put you in a difficult position to be president obama right now. he's given so many speeches. his wife is all over the police. mrs. obama is on every show including the academy awards . they're getting a lot of popularity but it's kind of thin. it's nice, good, it's happy but what does that have to do with getting a deal with the republicans who are insistent on no new revenues?
>> you know, i think -- i think actually let me add on to what you were saying. 27% of the public says that they're not even interested in it anymore. i don't know. i don't know where to go. if i were doing it i would say let's look at bowles simpson, simpson/bowles a and b. what are we doing? where should the cuts be? the military says of that cuts can be had with a scalpel, not with a cleaver. 20 years ago when i was in congress, i said let's talk about entitlements. we've never really debt with entitlements except on the margins. that's what i would be doing if i were president.
>> i would --
>> the president says he will do it after the republicans do their thing on tax reform and raise some revenues. then he says i'll look at reforming medicare and medicaid. so it's a sequence thing. sure, i'll do. it's like i say in this terrible metaphor, it's like there's been a kidnapping and you wan the baby back and you have to give the money to the kidnappers. where do you do the drop? how do you make it xhult because nobody trusts anybody? congressman, your thoughts. you're now mr. boehner . cries occasionally. you have to play him. your friend. can he cut a deal?
>> yes, he can.
>> what would be the deal he'd cut with the president?
>> he was close to a deal a year ago august in 2011 on the debt ceiling limit, and he was pulled back by his folks more conservative folks and the president was pulled off the cliff, too, if you look at bob woodward 's book as to how that thing unraveled. they both have to channel. he needs to channel tip o'neill and the prids needs to channel ronald reagan and they have to do things. people talk about it it was wonderful, it was bliss, it was euphoria. but they made tough choices. they raise the age of social security , and they raised revenues and the only way you solve this problem is through the big deal .
>> don't you have to be big to do a big deal .
>> yeah, but these are the leaders --
>> is your leader your leader? i don't think boehner is your leader?
>> he is my leader. but not anymore i'm retired.
>> i don't think he calls the shots.
>> i don't agree with that. he calls the shots. he has 20 or 30 that came in in 2010 and that are going to vote no. it's final to forget those guys.
>> has he done that.
>> he did it at the end of the year. when they rejected plan b he broke the hastert rule and put it on the floor.
>> we heard some harsh words from speaker boehner and nancy pelosi this morning. let's hear what they had to say on the latest.
>> i don't think the president's focused on trying to find a solution to the sequester. for 16 months the president has been troofling all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move the bill. we have moved the bill in the house twice. we should not have to move a third bill before the senate gets off their [ bleep ] and begins to do something.
>> the republican leadership says let the senate begin. i remind them the constitution says appropriations and revenue bills must begin in the house. so we have important work to do, the american people want us to work together. most people don't even know what the word sequester means. sequestration equals unemployment. sequestration we don't want it.
>> you know what i think, marjorie, and this is my big concern, that both parties no longer competitive with each other. there's no common group of voters like there used to be reagan democrats , conservative people, a lot of catholics and conservative jewish people that switched back and forth, and therefore you could compete for that clump of voters. therefore, smart politician would say let's try to get that center. today the democrats -- and the republicans play to the conservatives and the districts are all gerrymanders and nobody wants to go to the middle. and i don't hear boehner going to the middle and i don't hear the president and that is a problem because i like the president.
>> and there's huge frustration even with members. bob brady , children of the city committee and head of the house administrations committee says that he is absolutely -- it's more than frustrated. he's revolted. he can't believe -- he cannot believe that nothing -- he said it's tied up with leadership and members of congress are walking around saying what the hell is going on? frustration is all around. the sequestration would almost be comical if it were not affecting to many people. kind of like patriot deucers. let's do it, nobody will like it, the show will never open, and it's there. and i think the public has crisis fatigue. what are we going to do with it? the cr is coming in a month. they have the debt crisis in the wings. people are just frustrated, and i think members of congress , members are extremely frustrated, too.
>> well, i think the president went out there campaigning thinking that the republican party would never go along with defense cuts because it's a hawkish party, and what do you know you're seeing people like buck mckoen saying i'll take the cuts if i can get some domestic cuts. miscalculation by the president? ?
>> miscalculation to put sequester in place. if this is the wake-up call and it sobers people up, you can make the big deal still and get it done. to your point on the districts in marjorie's state a guy name tim holden , a great guy, he lost because he wasn't a good enough democrat. and the same thing happens in my party. the biggest challenge we face now are primaries on the right or left. it's not november anymore.
>> that's a problem.
>> it is.
>> thank you very much, congressman. thanks for coming. congresswoman margolis, i have always respected you.
>>> up next, how did first lady michelle obama end up announcing the academy award winner for best picture . how oscar's biggest secret stayed that way. he was surprised at the very moment of it. and this is "hardball," the place