Martin Bashir | November 28, 2012
>> good afternoon, it is difficult to hold down the excitement here in new york. it is a growing frenzy that everyone's talking about. there are fantasies of celebration, if the numbers go their way. there are teams pooling resources. there's talk of high stakes and long odds. no, it's not the powerball lottery . it's the fiscal cliff. just in the last hour, at his first cabinet meeting since re-election, the president expressed the urgent need for a deal, one that he wants to see extend tax cuts for the middle class while letting them expire for the highest earners.
>> there is no reason why taxes on middle class families should go up. it would be bad for the economy. it would be bad for those families. in fact, it would be bad for the world economy . and so i think it's very important that we get that resolved. and i am very open to a fair and balanced approach.
>> the president met with middle class tax payers today, urging them to employ twitter hash tag my y2k, telling congress this is too important for them to screw it up.
>> today i'm asking congress to listen to the people who sent us here to serve. i'm asking americans all across the country to make your voice heard. it's too important for washington to screw this up.
>> and a new survey shows the president has the public on board in a new washington post poll, 60% support raising taxes on incomes over $250,000. a healthy majority. indeed, even some republicans appear to be under sway, by the force of reason.
>> in my view, we all agree we're not going to raise taxes on people that make less than $250,000. we should just take them out of this discussion right now. continue to fight against any rate increases. try to continue to work honestly for a much bigger deal .
>> oklahoma where the republicans agree with the president? well, that about turned speaker john boehner 's blood into a red river valley of rage.
>> i told tom earlier in our conference meeting that i disagreed with him. you're not going to grow the economy if you raise tax rates on the top -- on the top two rates. it will hurt small businesses . will hurt our economy.
>> taxing the rich hurts small business , yes, the very familiar offerings of one mitt romney . losing presidential candidate. who will be enjoying a free government lunch tomorrow at the white house at the invitation of the president. not sure what will be on the menu, but many are betting on a generous serving of crow with a beet salad. let's go to our panel, with him y william cohen , and here in new york is msnbc political analyst jonathan alter , also a columnist for the "bloomberg view." the president is pressing his case hard for a deal on middle class tax relief. secretary geithner will head to the hill. is john boehner now facing the rising tide against his yacht owners and the like?
>> i think he is. a 60-37 margin on supporting raising taxes on the wealthy is pretty definitive. most issues are not that clear. the republican party just lost a big election. do they want to shrink below independence? they're pretty close. you know, most people identify themselves as democrats. second, republicans . third, independents. the republicans have lost so much ground that they're actually in danger of slipping below independence in terms of party affiliation. this does not help them. there just are not enough rich people , martin, for there to be a constituency for this. so, they're coming to terms with this now. tom cole is not a squishy, moderate republican . he's a conservative. john boehner wants to cut a deal. he's saying these things now to maintain his street cred with the right wing, but the pieces are starting to move into place for some kind of a compromise.
>> that's pretty optimistic. bill, this hour the president will be meeting with business leaders, including the great goldman sachs chief lloyd blank fin blankfein. what do you think he should ask of wall street and the nation's ceos ?
>> well, martin, it's a tough sort of conundrum because on the one hand this election, wall street ceos , of course, endorsed mitt romney with a passion.
>> 3 to 1, i believe.
>> well, the top eight of the top ten givers, donors to romney were wall street firms. so, you know, i'm not sure the president needs to -- is going to be willing to listen too closely to these guys. on the other hand, lloyd blankfein is part of this debt relief program. he's offered to raise his own taxes. a lot of these ceos have made that offer. they should listen to them, take them occupy that offer. i mean, even bill kristol has said, raise these taxes, the economy will take off. during the clinton administration , tax -- top tax rate was 39.6% and the economy took off. let's do that again.
>> as we hear earlier mitt romney will be at the white house tomorrow. he obviously doesn't need to worry about my2k because his is worth more than $100 million. what's the understanding of this meeting? we understand paul ryan will be there as well.
>> i think the president wants to strike a bipartisan note. romney no longer has to mullify the right wing of his paerd. he doesn't have strong feelings about much of anything at all. is it possible he could come out and bless what these business executives have been calling for, which is the president's balanced approach? anything's possible with mitt romney . and i think it very much makes sense for the president to extend an olive branch . you can say that --
>> but i thought mitt romney was -- hang on a second. i thought mitt romney was the one who proposed and espoused the notion of closing loopholes as the only way --
>> we know he's a flip-flopper. we don't have to --
>> that's true.
>> he actually does -- it's easy to dump on him right now because he lost. but he got more than 60 million votes, you know. there are a number of people in this country who like mitt romney , voted for him. and if he endorsed a compromise, might be more willing to go along.
>> bill, the discussions become a little dark around these issues. i want to you take a listen to chandler rome, a businesswoman, who spoke at the fix the debt coalition. take a listen.
>> you know, great empires have fallen. the roman empire , the british empire and we are not infallible to this.
>> i'm not sure she'll be invited to buckingham palace saying things like that but could the american empire be in jeopardy if no deal is reached?
>> you know, that's a little strong. i mean, there are many people who think the fiscal cliff is, of course, really the fiscal slope or the fiscal curve or the fiscal sandbox. i think that, you know, if we cut the budget, if we cut the deficit and raise taxes, i don't think that's the worst thing in the world. as warren buffett has been saying for the last 24 hours , are you really going to turn down a good investment opportunity just because the tax rates are a little higher in we're talking about a minor 4 percentage point increase in the upper end of the tax rate here. it's not life or death. you know, cutting the deficit and raising taxes , if they can't agree, which congress has shown themselves inability to agree. if they're not going to agree, maybe it's not the worst thing in the world for tax rates to go up and for the deficit to be cut. i think that could result in a big economic boom .
>> and then, let's say two weeks after we go over the cliff, after the 1st of january, they then cut attacks for everybody --
>> but here's the problem with that notion. it's not fine. but, john, it's not fine because a lot of ordinary middle class people --
>> that's the problem.
>> -- are trying to spend money at christmas and they're deeply anxious about what's going to happen in january. and these people don't appear to have any regard for the fact that the majority of americans agree with the president and they need to have some kind of certainty. what does it take speaker boehner, what will it take?
>> see, this is the hammer that the president has over the republicans . is that going over the falls , going over the cliff, is not really that bad, okay? it would hurt people's christmas, granted, but people should know that it would not destroy the economy. and what would happen is two weeks into the new year --
>> when congress staggers back to work.
>> -- retro actively back to the first of the year, cut people's taxes who make less than $250,000. they would be back where they are right now. and the wealthy would have a tax increase. so, people should just understand, republicans need to understand, that the president's not bluffing. if they don't agree to his very reasonable terms on this, bring it on, we'll go over the falls .
>> martin, you're too logical.
>> i apologize, bill.
>> you're absolutely right. i mean, if speaker boehner where a logical, normal human being and could respond properly to all the stimulus he's getting, this would be a no-brainer. it's clear that the republicans in the house are beyond logical thinking . so maybe to get them to act, we do have to go over the cliff.
>> wow. gentlemen, thank you so