Hardball | March 05, 2013
>>> wshg back to "hardball." if there's unanimity on anything in washington it's that everybody is tired of talking about the sequester. possibly no one more so than president obama particularly because it's siphoned momentum away from issues he wapts to make signatures of his second term. in both his inaugural address and the state of the union he outlined the specific goals that he has for the country.
>> we will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. overwhelming majorities of americans, americans who believe in the second amendment, have come together around common sense reform like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving hopeful immigrants, and right now leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement , faith communities, they all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform . now is the time to do it. now is the time to get it done.
>> and with the president's picks for energy secretary and epa head, we're getting a glimpse of how he may achieve his goals. today's " washington post " notes that obama's second term cabinet members will have bigger roles and more latitude for action. quote, obama will rely on these new nominees, several of whom have experience in the agency they have been picked to lead, to identify the levers of executive power they can wield quickly. joining me is eugene robinson and jonathan alter . both are msnbc political analysts. jonathan , what's doable from that list?
>> well, i think a lot of it is doable. you know, he's throwing a lot of things against the wall to see what sticks. it's important to remember though that we're not going to move to that agenda right away because, you know, not to get too down in the weeds, but what they call the continuing resolution, which is basically the budget to keep the government open, is going to come up at the end of this month. so we have at least three more weeks of a lot of arguments about the sequester and about the larger budget issues. you saw that today the white house canceled all white house tours saying that it was the sequester that was to blame. that's really going to get the attention of congressmen because they use those tours for their constituents. but once we get into april and may, you're going to see the president shifting more to these other issues that are on his agenda.
>> eugene, that's not too optimistic of a look forward from jonathan because, you know, it seems like these manufactured crises, by that i mean those that they just refuse to work together to resolve, they keep coming up and up, and i don't frankly see an end in sight.
>> no, they keep coming and coming and coming, and so anything that requires action from congress is sort of held hostage to these periodic crises that we seem to have to have. now, there are some things, the president did say that when he can't get congress to act, he will do what he can through executive action , and one thing that is sort of teed up for him is climate change . specifically, through the environmental protection agency 's regulatory power limiting carbon emissions at power plants , which is a huge thing that he theoretically could do when he feels he has the political capital to do it.
>> in other words, that story from "the post" today acknowledging that he intends where possible to end run congress and get these things done on his own time.
>> that's right. you know, he does have executive powers . remember when congress wouldn't act on the dream act on immigration. he essentially decreed a version of the dream act himself through his executive powers , and he has -- he can do that on some of these issues but not all. a lot of this agenda will require legislation to get through congress , and that's a heavy lift.
>> jonathan , in his press conference on friday, the president was pretty exasperated. he admitted the limits of presidential power. let's watch this moment.
>> you're saying this is a republican problem and not one that you bear any responsibility for.
>> well, julie, give me an example of what i might do. i have offered negotiations around of that kind of balanced approach, and so far we've gotten rebuffed because of 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?
>> the new yorker's ryan lizza brot of that exchange, quote, all president's come to appreciate the limits of power of their office but rarely do they ventilate such thoughts in public. jonathan , is that how you read what you heard from the president last friday?
>> yeah. i mean, as he said, you know, he can't have a jedi mind meld with congress . you know, the great editor charlie peters said that to claim that the president should, quote, work his will on congress , which is what you hear a lot of people saying, is like saying that a man should work his will on a woman, or a husband should work his will on a wife. it takes two to tango. at a certain point if the congress doesn't want to go along with him, in our system there's not that much he can do about it and he really can't blame him. he can only go so far. does he need to use other tools at his disposal to try to, you know, bring them in to work with people below the level of the leadership? absolutely. and he did not do enough of that in his first four years. you saw him have john mccain and lindsey graham in for a private conversation this week. to me that was a very good sign. it's very important that they keep talking to each other and maybe on some issues like immigration they can make some progress.
>> and, eugene, politically speaking the white house already starting to lay plans for what's going to happen in 2014 . they need 17 seats to take control. that's a tall order. it would have to be clinton-like in terms of its achievement.
>> it's a very tall order, particularly after redistricting has made a lot of safe districts for the republican majority. it's very difficult to draw a map and look at it and see how they pick up those 17 seats. then again, we're getting used to some pretty big swings in the house.
>> no doubt.
>> and not all anticipated.
>> thank you.
>> it happens.
>> thank you.
>> you gene robinson . thank you, jonathan alter .
>>> up next, it's happened yet again, the right wing falls for another story without checking into whether it's true. this is "hardball," the place for politics. her recipe with sharon,