Hardball | March 01, 2013
>>> good evening. i'm michael smerconish in for chris matthews . leading off tonight, who say frad of the big bad sequester? no one apparently. certainly not the financial markets with the dow near it's all-time high. in fact, both political parties maybe more okay with the big budget cuts than you'd think. the democrats get to cut the pentagon and protect their social programs and republicans get to cut spending. right now president obama is convinced republicans will pay the price for endangering the recovery while protecting the wealthy but what if he's wrong.
>>> also, let's go to the audio tape . now we can actually hear supreme court justice antonin scalia calling the voting rights act a quote racial entitlement. that one phrase has stirred the anger of who of his more liberal colleagues and may set up some big left/right confrontations.
>>> plus, the marn toward marriage equality just got a big boost. the obama administration has joined the fight urging the supreme court to overturn proposition 8 , california's ban on same-sex marriage.
>>> and look who just emerged from the mittness protection program, mitt romney , who has just done his first tv interview since the election. the question is do even republicans want to hear from him anymore?
>>> and, finally, let me finish with a vote for transparency where it matters the most.
>>> let's begin with the politics of those automatic spending cuts going into effect today. david corn is washington bureau chief for mother jones . michael steele is the former chairman of the rnc and both are msnbc political analysts. gentlemen, the president came out swinging at republicans today after his meeting with congressional leadership blaming them for the cuts that he referred to as dumb.
>> what's important to understand is that not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. the pain though will be real. so every time that we get a piece of economic news over the next month, next two months, next six months, as long as the sequester is in place, we'll know that that economic news could have been better if congress had not failed to act. and let's be clear, none of this is necessary. it's happening because a choice that republicans in congress have made. i have offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach, and so far we've gotten rebuffed because what speaker boehner and the republicans have said is we cannot do any revenue. we can't do a dime's worth of revenue. so what more do you think i should do? i am not a dictator. i am the president.
>> and on the other end of pennsylvania avenue , we didn't hear much hopefulness coming from speaker boehner either. david gregory sat down with him for an interview that will air sunday on "meet the press. ".
>> as we sit here friday afternoon, you have emerged from a meeting at the white house . there is no deal. take me inside the room. what happened?
>> very nice, polite discussion, but i had asked the president and senator reid to come with a plan to replace the sequester. listen, we've known about this for 16 months. and yet even today there's no plan from senate democrats or the white house to replace the sequester. and over the last 10 months house republicans have acted twice to replace the sequester.
>> in the end you don't really see a pathway here that's open as you sit here.
>> if i did, the meeting at the white house this morning might have gone better.
>> michael steele what strikes me as significant is that this week there didn't seem to be any real effort to avoid this. it was all for show. they came in, what, tuesday through thursday. the house was gone by last night.
>> so when did they cut it loose and decide, man, we can't save this?
>> weeks ago, weeks ago. this drama has been unfolding for, like the speaker said, 16 months, but everyone i think kind of came to a general conscientious, just let it happen and then we'll deal with it afterwards weeks ago. look, both sides have an opportunity here to move this thing forward. the president instead of having the meeting today could have had the meeting on monday. you know, sort of lead into what was going to happen at midnight tonight. that didn't happen. it's because everybody -- you set it up right. the democrats are going to, you know, they can say what they want about republicans on this. republicans got the defense cuts they want. you know, everybody is looking at the --
>> is it faux outrage then?
>> i don't think it's faux outrage in terms of the impact this is going to have. when the president says there are going to be some real consequences here, fewer food inspectors, 71,000 kids won't get into head start , maybe not until september, you know, 20% of salary cuts for federal workers impacting local economies . that's all very real. but i have to call out boehner because he's playing this sort of i think a dirtier game than the president. he goes, i just need a plan. give me a plan, mr. president. give me a plan, mr. senate majority leader. the democrats in the senate yesterday voted for a plan. it got 51 votes. it didn't pass because republicans filibustered. there is a plan. the president for 16 months has been pushing a plan. close tax loopholes and put that money to deficit reduction and have a different set of not indiscriminate cuts. that's his plan.
>> do you accept the criticism of boehner .
>> boehner keeps saying where is the plan. he just doesn't like the plan.
>> that may be true, but the house put two plans on the floor. they were voted on. they weren't voted on in the senate. you know, yeah, the senate voted --
>> their plan was to take all the cuts out in the military and put nem in social --
>> but, david, you have to start some place and the problems is democrats don't want to start where you need to start and that is having an honest conversation about what are you prepared to cut, david corn ? what are you prepared to cut, president obama ? what are you prepared to put on the table? we've given you $600 billion in january in new revenue with no cuts. so show me some cuts and then we can start talking about how serious you are.
>> 16 months ago the president against some of the desires of people within his own party did put things on the table. changed cpi for social security , medicare cuts. he did, and they came up with --
>> he used the words. he didn't put a plan. what was the specific amount of chain cpi? what was the number.
>> >> these were numbers passed between gene sperling and boehner 's office 37.
>> here is what i don't like. it suits each of their political objects tiffs. i want to use chuck todd . i have been saying it but he said it beautifully. he noted this in first read this morning. yes, both sides are kicking and screaming publicly, and yes these cuts will impact people's livelihoods but if you're a republican who wants to cut spending, you're getting your spending cuts. if you're a democrat who either wants to reduce defense spending or ensure that all the cuts aren't targeted only at social programs, you're getting your wish. this is perhaps the biggest reason why these cuts are going into effect, at the end of the day they were better than the alternative for republicans raising tax locals and eliminating loopholes, for democrats having the spinding cuts come exclusively from social spending . you're shaking your head. tonight republicans are already back in their districts and they're able to say we cut spendingd.
>> i absolutely agree with chuck. i think he's framed this perfectly. that's why i said they settled on this weeks ago. so all this drama and his tir ronnics, the world is coming to an end, kids won't get educated.
>> to go back to where i started, there was nothing consequential done because it suited their interests.
>> i agree with the political analysis but the problem we have is this is about the most immature way of approaching real problems that we have in this country. and i do believe -- you know, you can go to people like norm oranstein and thomas man who are centrists who say the conflicts within the republican's own side have made them tougher partners to get involved in a deal with the president and that's where we've been for the last two years, where we are now. bain ser asking for plans because he can't really cut a compromise.
>> let me put a period on this. we're not going to move beyond this conversation and the one we see unfolded this week until both sides realize each of them, their stuff stinks. the president's stuff stinks --
>> what's that going to take?
>> it's going to take the realization and i think it's going to be in 30 to 45 days when some of the cuts begin to trickle into the economy and people begin to feel it, that pressure is going to come back. the president is playing a real gamble here because i don't think this is all going to fall neatly on the republicans ' lap. this thing is going sto get spread on --
>> here is something else --
>> but if you look -- sorry, michael , but if you look at what the public says about how to solve that --
>> that's what they say today. let's see that they're saying in four weeks.
>> for 9 last year they have been --
>> guys, here is something that baffles me, it's what the market is doing. if the economy is going to feel the effects of the spending cuts, the markets sure haven't been scared yet. the dow closed just under 14,090 inching closer to the record of a little more than 14,164. i always think that these masters of the universe on wall street , they have it figured out, they're three steps ahead of us. why aren't they nervous?
>> didn't we learn in october 2007 that they're not always three steps ahead and they don't know what they're doing? they don't know what they're talking about? irrational exuberance? remember that? i think they have gotten used to the fact that washington has these manufactured crises. we have one cliff after another, and that they tend to sort of be worked out on a temporary basis. at pom point that might stop helping.
>> michael , whas your explanation?
>> it may stop happening but i think they've baked all of this into their form layings for the next few months. they know what's going to happen. we have fiscal cliff part deux or whatever you want to call it in the next few weeks. they know what the deal is. they're like let's ride this thing. when the boys and girls in the playground decide to come and do what they need to do --
>> i can't let the week end with the "a" team sitting on "hardball" without mentioning two boards, bob woodward . quickly the take on how that impacted this whole sfertion?
>> i'm in this business largely because of bob woodward , i was a big fan of his during watergate. i think it was unfortunate. he made too much of a deal over what gene wrote. it wasn't a threat. it was an apology. i think politico hyped it up because it makes good ratings, good for clicks and it became a temp pest in a teapot that evaporated just as right wing talk radio and tv was trying to make a big deal out of it.
>> what i didn't like was when woodward read allowed on politico from the e-mail he left out the words as a friend which i thought changed the whole meaning of it.
>> i'm sorry, i'm really sorry.
>> you ought to see my e-mail day to day . this is>> i have gotten treatment from the white house , this white house when they haven't like what i have said that is far worse than that. i would like to get notes like that.
>> michael , on the fundamental issue, woodward's the most credible of individuals to say, hey, this was the president's idea.
>> and that's the real rub for the white house and for everyone. this was the president's idea. it came from his economic team. so, okay, let's get past that --
>> everyone accepted it --
>> this is the point. the bottom line is when you got the left trashing bob woodward and the right embracing we're in a whole new landscape, folks.
>> thank you both for being here. michael steele and david corn . we appreciate you. coming up, we were stunned to read what supreme court justice antonin scalia had to say about the landmark voting rights act , that it's an example of a racial entitlement. now we can hear scalia speak for himself and the other justices who challenged him. this is "hardball," the place for politics. with the spark miles