Martin Bashir | November 29, 2012
>> while today's lunch was perhaps an opportunity to shake after a hard fought campaign, not everybody was feeling so friendly. take for example john bain mother earlier today slammed the president for campaign style events on the fiscal cliff.
>> no substantive progress has been made in the talks between the white house and the house over the last two weeks. so right now all eyes are on the white house . the country doesn't need a victory lap. it needs leadership.
>> speaker boehner said the president needs to get serious about what spending cuts he's willing to make. but that was news to senate majority leader harry reid .
>> he says that democrats have got to get serious about cuts, spending cuts. where is the disconnect then?
>> i don't understand his brain, so you should ask him, okay?
>> he's not alone. all this comes as treasury secretary tim geithner held separate meetings today with boehner , reid, nancy pelosi , and mitch mcconnell , and over at the white house spokesman jay carney said the debt ceiling should not be a pawn in any kind of fiscal gamesmanship.
>> asking for a -- that a political price be paid in order for congress to do its job to ensure that the united states of america pays its bills and does not default for the first time in its history is deeply irresponsible.
>> now, if you're sensing a distinct lack of holiday cheer down in washington these days, take heart. because joe biden is still our vice president and no fiscal cliff fights are going to stop him from a shopping blitz at washington 's new costco super store . the veep came looking for pies and left with a television, books, fire logs , and a huge smile trailed by a horde of surprised shoppers.
>> just walking through this store. get some guidance.
>> you know, i have a feeling that the president may have missed his usual lunch partner at the midday meal today. joining us from washington is msnbc own historian the great chris matthews , the host of "hardball" and the author of quk jack kent , elusive hero," available now. highways t that's the advertising over. we learned the menu including white turkey chili and no humble pie after all.
>> no dessert at all. i wondered about that double helping of poultry. what a strange meal. the turkey and then the chicken part. it's a strange meal. must have been dietary rules. i don't think that's a natural decision by the chef. strange meal.
>> how do you think the meeting went though in truth?
>> i think it's been screwed up because mr. romney, the governor, gave a wonderful concession speech, he came out at 11:20 , gave a short concession speech, said all the right things and then a couple later was talking about how the president bought the election. he really did put some bad blood there between the two of them that he didn't have to do. i thought it was wonderful the president talked about using romney as someone who could come in as an efficiency expert, his strength during the olympics of course, he proved that, to really help the federal government become more efficient and more effective at setting out or meeting the commitments it makes. i think why not bring in a republican business guy to do that and there's certainly a wonderful tradition. truman brought hoover in from the cold in the 1940s and there was a man who had been villainize ed since the great depression and he ran the hoover commission . of course, fdr, the british were already in the war and he sent wendell willkie over as his personal emissary. there's a great tradition of using the person you beat if you're on the right page.
>> aside from that luncheon, chris, speaker --
>> they're not there, though. they're not up to this level yet. these two fellows. i don't see it yet.
>> speaker boehner continues to stamp his feet. he says treasury secretary tim geithner, with whom he met this morning, i'm quoting him, has no specific plan. but isn't speaker boehner confusing the issue here? the president has made it clear that he wants to sign a bill that's already passed the senate and would retain current tax rates for those earning less than $250,000.
>> it's a piece. they don't think he's given what they want to see in terms of entitlement reform. the president has a program of entitlement reform. he's got the essence of a plan. they know what it is. i think it's almost like, to use a movie version of reality, where they got the kidnapper wants to see the money at the same time you turn the kid back over to the parents. it's a strange deal. they ought to have a meeting somewhere over the weekend where they agree nobody goes out of the door with anything until everybody has put their thing on the table. obviously we're watching a minute wet right now. sometime before christmas they will put the cards on the table in time not to screw up the whole thing that they may well be on the road to screwing up. i'm very concerned that -- who was it, simpson/bowles, erskine bowles came out and said they're going off the cliff. what a horrendous thing that would be.
>> boehner spoke to the president for close to an hour. it was a frank, direct conversation. what does the president need to offer to speaker boehner so that speaker boehner can show his face back in the house and not be too humiliated.
>> the way i see it should be about a 55% to 60% democratic solution. it will never be 50/50 because the republicans lost the election. the winner, the winning party, gets to call it. and so i'd say 60%. what the democrats have to win on, they have to get an increase in the tax rate of people making a lot of money. it has to go up beyond 35% to something at least 37%, maybe 38%, maybe not 39.6% but somewhere around 38%. get that in. get rid of some deductions and i think that's it. they might want to raise the cap on payments toward medicare when you're working years. something that would make the medicare prom more secure financially which would appeal to the progressives and people with big city and working class constituencies.
>> what about the age for when you qualify for social security ?
>> well, i wouldn't touch that. that's too high. you don't do that over christmas rush. you know, you do that over a long period of time and you make a very serious concession to people who have really heavy lifting jobs. it's different if you're working in a law firm and they keep you around for a few more years rather than you're driving a semi ray cross the country on route 70 or 80 all night long. you may not want a guy 730 years o -- 70 years old or a woman driving that truck. i really think you have to find something not -- i think the word hardship, not handicap, whether it be a hardship type role that are recognized as such where you get to retire sooner. i think we can deal with that over time but it takes more finesse.
>> george will in his column today writes this, with a chip on his shoulder larger than --
>> i think will has a chip on his shoulder .
>> -- barack obama is approaching his second term by replicating the m is stake of his first. now he seeks another surge of statism enlarging the portion of gross domestic product grasped by government and dispensed by politics. i guess that's how he describes keeping middle class tax cuts but while this may cause apoplexy among some republicans, isn't it time they realize that a majority of people voted for government, not against it.
>> yes. let's just do -- as bkt would say better than any of us could say, let's get to the arithmetic. right now the federal government is spending about 23% of gdp. it's collecting about 17%. we've got to get back to around 20%. both sides have to give a bit. if we're going to get close to 20%. both sides have to give a bit. it's not as simple as the government is growing by leaps and bounds. it's up above where a lot of people would like to see it. get it back to 20%, get the ruff revenues up to 20%. why does everybody act like it's so complicated.
>> we know the house republicans and the president is watching the new film "lincoln ". what lessons should they take about the president you wrote about.
>> jack kennedy , the day he was killed, was sitting in the car with john conley and jim wright , the congressman from texas who told me this story years ago and he was trying to figure out ft. worth was still yellow dog democrat , solid democrat, and why dallas was so republican. he was trying to figure out politics to the very end of his life. he was working with the house judiciary committee on getting that civil rights bill through, using the cardinal in philadelphia, using boss dick daley in chicago to try to get some members there. he was working, working, working. it is a job, politics. it's an honor and it's a job. you got to do it, and i think the president would learn from this fellow jack kennedy . as gamerrous as this guy was, he was a worker bee when it comes to politics and i think the more the president spends time with members of congress on the hill, the more liberal as well as the more conservative, the more personal sometime he spends with those people the better shot he has at establishing a working relationship. it's not done by the telephone. you go the to meet, you got to get in the same room together.
>> words of wisdom . words from history. chris matthews , as ever. thank you so much.
>> you're a great colleague, sir.
>> thank you, sir.