Martin Bashir | November 13, 2012
>>> we begin with an action-packed day in washington . fallout from the petraeus affair is turning into a nesting doll of military indiscretions. a scandal now involving general john allen , the man nominated to be the supreme commander of nato. general allen is being investigated for alleged inappropriate contact, a veritable treasure trove of e-mail correspondence with jill kelley, the woman who online activities led to the investigation of paula broadwell. for his part general al sentence denying misconduct, but the scandal goes further because an internal fbi inquiry has been launched into the agent who started the investigation. a senior government official has told nbc news that the agent sent topless photos of himself to jill kelley prior to the investigation. at today's white house briefing spokesman jay carney was hit by a barrage of questions.
>> how is it that the white house didn't have any idea of this until the day after the election?
>> is the president as commander in chief at all worried about a culture -- an inappropriate culture in the military.
>> what's the president's reaction to this? is he disgusted? is he embarrassed?
>> does the president see this in general as an unwelcome distraction?
>> well, i certainly i think wouldn't call it welcome.
>> not welcome, indeed, and you'd think there was nothing else going on in washington , but, in fact, the president is already engaged in the fight to define his second term. after a decisive election win, he must now translate that victory into shaping policy and in the short term steering clear of the so-called fiscal cliff. today the president met with labor and progressive leaders at the white house , the first of several meetings aimed at avoiding automatic tax increases and spending cuts at the beginning of the new year. the president has made no secret of his wanting to raise taxes on the wealthy as part of a balanced approach to reducing the deficit. a point jay carney made again today.
>> one thing we know about the president's plan is that the numbers add up, and i think if nothing else over the course of this past year, we've earned some credibility on the fact that we know our arithmetic.
>> indeed. the american people affirmed that view with their votes and in exit polls with 60% of voters agreeing taxes should go up on the rich or on everyone. that includes 40% of those who voted for romney/ryan. so has the gop listened and learned from the voters who defeated them? paul ryan is among the members returning to capitol hill today as congress gets back to work. so what does he have to say?
>> it was a well-run campaign. we made this campaign about big ideas and big issues, which is the kind of campaign we wanted to run, so we ran the kind of campaign we wanted to run, and it just wasn't enough at the end of the day and we just have to accept that.
>> big ideas , big issues that lost. it seems acceptance is the final stage of grief. let's get to our panel now. in washington msnbc political analyst david corn , author of "showdown" and here in new york joy reid, who is managing editor of the grio and william cohen , an author and columnist for the bloomberg view. if i can start with you, joy, if we might take a momentary break from days of lives centcom edition, this week is crucial for the president in terms of setting his agenda for the second term.
>> the president now has to take the victory he won in the election which was decisive in an electoral sense, it was a landslide. and to take that mandate and convince the people on the other side of the aisle that that election actually happened, that they need to accept the results of it and part of the result of it is that the american people ratified the idea that the wealthiest 1% are going to have to pay more taxes. that has got to be a part of any final plan for the president's own credibility. that's what he ran on, been campaigning on for more than a year, and that's what the american people asked for. republicans are going to have to accept it.
>> david , you of course, chronicled the last showdown between the president and how republicans in your book which sent me into a spiral of depression upon reading it.
>> the people should still buy it anyway, right?
>> do you see any positive signs from house republicans or are we more likely to see topless pictures of speaker boehner before we see a willingness to compromise.
>> i wish i could get that imagine out of my head.
>> i apologize but that's the reality.
>> maybe yours. everybody is saying, look, john boehner has talked about the possible of raising revenues, he looks really reasonable now. he hasn't said no. the big question is, we've talked about this since the election, you and i and others, that what's at stake here is whether boehner can actually cut a deal and still remain speaker of the house . that is there isn't a mutiny, there isn't an opening on the right for a rebellion against him. he could not do that last time around in the summer of 2011 when the president tried to reach this grand bargain with him. it was clear to people working with him and in the room, democrats and members of the administration, that he himself would have cut that deal and would have, you know, walked away and held the president's hand and said look what we can do when we're adults in washington . but he was told by members of his own party, if you do that, our speakership is done for. so the question is after this election, does he have any more leverage, any more leeway having suffered the loss?
>> and the answer to that question is?
>> joy just said, listen, the republicans that it's time to make a deal. it may take more than just convincing the republicans . i think the president has to continue to campaign. i know you don't want to hear that, and just keep public pressure on the republicans even though they're in gerrymander district and try to pring bring over 5, 10, 20 republicans in the senate. it's going to be very hard.
>> there you go. there's the answer. bill, conservative commentator bill crystal says the gop should go ahead and let the bush tax expire, particularly for the wealthy.
>> it's president obama 's proposal. he ran on it. let him implement it. it things slow down, it's his fault and that's fine with me. and i hope things don't slow down. i hope we get real tax reform in 2013 . i think picking the fight right now on the expiring bush tax cuts is a mistake.
>> can the president allow all of the tax cuts to expire given the impact that's predicted on the economy?
>> look, one hopes that these warrings factions that we have in washington will reach a compromise before january 1st .
>> but david corn says that's virtually impossible.
>> i don't understand what's so hard about this because the other thing that bill kristol said is that back when the economy was strong, he referenced 82 to 85 in the reagan administration when marginal tax rates were 50%, the other time the economy was really strong was during the second clinton administration when marginal tax rates were 39.6%. that's what president obama is talking about doing. going back to 39.6%. the economy took off. this should be a no-brainer. you're asking people to pay a little bit more to help out the whole fiscal health of the nation. come on. it's time to -- people have been partying since it's been 1999 for like 25 years. it's time to do this very simple thing.
>> martin, i would submit what's so hard about it is january 3rd is still ahead of john boehner . he still has to be reb elected speaker by his own caucus. i think the question is can he make this deal before january 1st and still retain his speakership.
>> you're saying to me now that the speaker of the house of representatives is more concerned about his continuance in a position that he holds than the nation's economy?
>> well, i don't know if it's more he's concerned. i think john boehner feels he should still be in leadership.
>> so his personal ap biggs is more important.
>> and he is -- more than that, he's practically a hostage so the same 87 tea partiers who are not there. they're still there in the lame duck congress. they have not changed their minds on these issues and i think the problem for him is that he goes into january 3rd making a deal like this and raising taxes , he probably -- or he may not be speaker on january 3rd .
>> david , you have been wanting to get in.
>> let me defend john boehner because i usually don't get to do that, so i would like to give a stab. it's not just that he's concerned about his own speakership, but he has to have enough votes to get something to pass. now, the question is can he actually get a split in his caucus and deliver enough votes with enough democrats and some democrats probably won't support a compromise but probably enough will to make it happen if they see the republicans coming together. the question is not just personally himself can he ri main as speaker, it's really can he get enough people in his own caucus, in that tea party dominated caucus, to support any compromise that will have some reasonable revenue enhancements in it. and that's a really big open question .
>> i get that. fair enough, david , but, bill, does that mean that the election as far as that caucus is concerned is rendered meaningless?
>> well, it better not because if they do nothing, if they don't compromise, come january 3rd , as joy said, all the taxes are going to go up for all americans. i don't see how even if you're a republican in congress, even if you're a tea party member of a republican in congress, you could want to support taxes going up for your constituents in your districts. i don't understand it. this to me is a no-brainer. a compromise is so clearly not only in the best interests of the politicians but also in the best interests of the american economy .
>> can i just reblind for one quick second. remember the debt ceiling fight. there were enough people willing to go over the edge . you can't talk about this being a no-brainer --
>> you still have the same extremists, the sort of rejectionist wing of the party. they're still there and they're not going to leave until the new congress comes in. i would submit that, first of all, the world isn't going to end on january 1st if they all expire. what will happen is republicans will have a lot more incentives to make a deal. john boehner will then have gotten his speakership back and i think he will be in a stronger position. if you let them go every republican can vote for a tax cut . hr-1 i can bet is a middle class tax cut .
>> that's semantics. i don't know why people would want to bring it to the brink ben. of course, they had the debate with the debt ceiling and the same thing they did with the t.a.r.p. they voted it down and then voted it up.
>> it's a crazy way to govern but there we have it. speaker boehner , topless or otherwise. joy reid, david corn , and bill cohen , thank you all. apologies to david for that offensive anal si.