Hardball | March 13, 2013
>>> welcome back to "hardball." the chasm between president obama and republicans that was so pronounced in his first term shows no sign of narrowing. yesterday zero republicans voted to advance the seemingly easiest of the big three pieces of gun legislation. a background check . st zero. not one. they've dug in on taxes. no new taxes under any circumstances. yesterday paul reid offered a budget that zeros out the president's health care plan. today texas senator ted cruz proposed a plan to defund obama care himself. with polls showing the president's approval rating dropping, a new " washington post " poll put it down at 50% now, down five points from a month ago. republicans may have decided to stick to their old playbook. hope some of the mud that covers them sticks to the president. steve schmidt is former senior adviser to the mccain/palin '08 presidential campaign and senior strategist on the bush/cheney '04 presidential campaign . robert gibbs was senior adviser for president obama 's 2012 re- election campaign and served as white house press saek tear. of course, both are now msnbc colleagues. in fact, analysts as well. thank you. steve , i want to start by throwing some dirt ball at you. i don't know how you're going to catch this one.
>> as we've all watched for the last two or three months now since the horror at newtown, connecticut, where all those 6 and 7-year-old kids were slaughtered, basically, we've all watched to see what the government's going to do about that. and now we learn the republican senators, to a man, to a woman, i suppose, have voted against not only they're not going to do assault rifles, not going to do the magazines limiting them to ten rounds or whatever, they're not even going to cast one single republican senate vote for stronger background checks . how can your party be completely against gun safety ?
>> well, it's an issue that i think a lot of democrats also, chris, are towing the nra line on. you know, my personal view is that if i was -- i would vote for background checks . i think it's critical -- on the issue. i think it's fair to say the national rifle association may be the most power -- group in washington . those republican senators i think are making votes based on their political vulnerabilities or their perceived vulnerabilities in a republican primary . they don't want to lose the "a" rate ing. they don't want to come under attack from the gun lobby .
>> what is that about, robert gibbs ? who's the boss? like on the tv show . is la pierre the boss or the republican party its own boss?
>> i think you've got republican congressmen that are far more concerned about a primary challenge than they are anybody --
>> these are u.s. senators in for six-year terms. they're supposed to be the guys in robes that think deliberately, big picture . they won't touch anything on gun safety .
>> i think, look, this is going to be an interesting issue because -- i think it has been for a while. the public supports this at 92%. if something the public supports 92% can't get through congress i think it does give you a sense of the real structural problems that we have in terms of gridlock.
>> but they don't -- let me go back to steve . your party doesn't even want to catch the nuts. i mean, it's one thing to say everybody has a right to own a gun. and can be completely pure about it. the second amendment means carry anything you want if you can carry it. the right people have the right to buy a gun if they've got problems. criminals. wife beaters. mental, emotional problems that are clearly on the books. they've been ordered by courts to do things like spend time inside. and they still can call up and say, give me the best gun you got with the most rounds and the fastest i can shoot. i mean, why would a republican want to have that position? everybody that wants a gun should get one under any circumstance no matter what the condition of their head or their emotions or their criminal record ?
>> there are -- there are millions and millions of republican voters out there, chris, who don't share that position. people who support the second amendment believe you have a right to keep and bear arms. that's constitutionally prescribed. that doesn't mean that the government doesn't have the ability to regulate at some level the purchase of guns and make sure that guns don't wind up in the hands of people who shouldn't have guns. so i think when you see the republican senators make the vote that they made, they're not just on the wrong side of public opinion , they're on the wrong side of public opinion when you just look at nra members and you just look at republican voters. so this is speaking to the power of the lobby in washington , d.c. and it's another example of which there are many out there of political timidity.
>> today one guy who doesn't have any timidity, i wish he had a little more, texas senator ted cruise. let's listen to senator cruz make his case to eliminate the president's health care plan.
>> in my view, obama care should be repealed in its entirety. and that was the very first bill i introduced in the u.s. senate . but at a minimum, in my judgment, obama care should not be funded and implemented at a time when our economy is gasping for breath.
>> in other words, don't get rid of the military. just don't spend a nickel on it. their guy is basically saying in this sort of strange orwelian way, we're going to get rid of it by just not funding it. it's the minimum we can do. that guy is something else.
>> let's not make sure we don't use ted cruz as a barometer for much in washington . he reminds me of the japanese soldier that we found on the philippines years after world war ii ended still in his cave ready to go to war. the courts decided the issue of health care . the election decided the issue of health care . it's the law of the land . and i think it is -- like i said, let's not use him as a barometer on this. because i think the same people in the republican party understand that although they may not like it, it's the law of the land and it's going to move forward.
>> steve , where are you on this? do you think it's a settled deal? i think it is. i'd like to think it is --
>> it is a settled deal. look, i'm not an obama care supporter. i think most republicans are not. i think that there will have to be reforms to it as time goes on. but the problem with what ted cruz is doing, although it might be good politics for ted cruz and his standing in the faction of the republican party that he represents, is it keeps us permanently looking backwards on an issue that robert just described that's been settled by the supreme court , that's been settled by the last election. so the issue going forward is how do we project a message that the american people will find appealing. how do we get back on track after having lost the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 elections. when you keep focused on the past the way that ted cruz is doing, it keeps you from moving forward. it's just bad politics.
>> just to give you a chance to take something, take a popular position, taxes. it seems to me that your party has made it very hard for the president, they've dug in on taxes. their position is they have already given -- they gave the 1%. that's it. by the way, here's mitch mcconnell talking on that one. here he is.
>> there is no revenue solution on that i would say to you. it has to be done by making the eligibility for entitlements fit the demographics of america today and tomorrow. the only way to straighten america out is to fix the entitlement issue.
>> well, today president obama said that kind of inflexibility, refuse to even look at taxes, could scratch any deal. let's listen to the president respond to that. wide.timately it may be that the if their position is we can't do any revenue or we can only do revenue if we gut medicare or gut social security or gut medicaid, if that's the position, then we're probably not going to be able to get a deal.
>> so is that -- speaking for the president -- let me go back to steve . i said i would give you the first shot here. if the deal is you got to raise revenues up to a trillion dollars for reform or whatever is there not going to be a deal? because republicans don't look like they're going to go for it.
>> look, i think there's been a number of senators that said they are open to a grand bargain if -- fundamentally what everyone agrees an inherently uncompetitive tax code that makes the country incompetitive, that's the drag on the economy. the top rates are now 39%. i'm not sure how much higher people want them to go. why think that 40 cents on the dollar isn't your fair share ? when measure itch mcconnell is talking about the demographics of the country, he's correct. we need to reform these programs in order for them to stay. any time the republicans talk about reform and the president responds in the context of this is gutting the programs, i don't think that that creates an environment where you can have a common sense debate on these issues.
>> i agree with you on that. when the president came back and whipped back at you guys and said i'm not going to gut these programs, like saying i'm not going to touch them. steve schmidt, i noticed -- you're in the higher economic brackets. i noticed that new sensitivity to the 39% i hadn't seen from you before. thank you very much, robert gibbs .
>>> right now we know the answer to one of the biggest mysteries of the 2012 election. it was the bartender. that's who did it. who recorded mitt romney 's infamous 47% comments. he did it. the working people . they got some power, too. you know, he's going to be ed schultz 's guest tonight. ed's going to join us in a couple minutes to tell us what he's up to tonight with this amazing whistle blower. this