Martin Bashir | December 04, 2012
>>> just 28 days to go, and we're back with more on the high stakes negotiations over the fiscal cliff. speaker john boehner says he's eager to sit down with the president now that republicans have put forward what he called a middle ground proposal. but that's not quite how white house spokesman jay carney sees the offer.
>> we don't know who pays. we don't know what we're talking about in terms of actual legislation to increase revenues. it's magic beans and fairy dust .
>> let's get right to our panel now. in philadelphia is professor james peterson . in washington msnbc contributor dr. jared bernstein, senior fellow at the center on budget and policy priorities and a former economist for vice president joe biden . jared , if i might start with you, speaker boehner says he put forward a middle ground proposal. no tax increases for the healthiest of americahealthy est of americans , yet he wants to rage the eligibility of medicare and he wants to slash billions from every program. if that's a middle ground proposal, i would rather have the paul ryan budget but maybe they're the same thing.
>> i was thinking what does the right side of the spectrum look like. you're absolutely right. if you look at the top lines here, which is all we have really, jay carney is right. there are no details here. the first thing you have that should really raise eyebrows is they talk about $800 billion in new revenues from unspecified loophole closures. where have we heard that before? i heard in your introduction references to the romney/ryan campaign. i mean, that didn't work in the context of a campaign. with the fiscal cliff three weeks away, it's absolutely crazy to be talking at that level of nonspecificity. and then, yes, you're right. you're talking about not just holding tax rates where they are, which wouldn't really work for high income people, but lowering tax rates and then making up your spending cuts by kicking the heck out of social insurance perhaps, medicare, medicaid, and social security . this is big time robin hood in reverse without any specifics at absolutely the worst time.
>> professor peterson, grover norquist appears to think the president regards himself as a monarch preparing for coronation. take a listen to what he told my colleague, alex wagner, earlier today.
>> and he thinks somebody made him king and he's going to have more taxes, more spending, and more regulations. it's a real problem for him. he doesn't have the mandate he thinks he does. so i think he takes us over the cliff because he doesn't -- he's got blinders on. he doesn't see where he stands in the universe.
>> the president will take us over the cliff because he doesn't understand his place in the universe. professor, one minute the president is a communist dictator. the next minute he's a european monarch. i thought the president was simply responding to the overwhelming view of the people, and they say that the wealthiest of americans should pay a little more.
>> you're right, martin, and look at the pot calling the kettle black here. if anyone is a monarch of their own sort of political realm, that would be grover norquist . he is unelected. he's looked at as royalty and he's got all of these sort of seve sever serfs who have made their pledge to him. this is a moment when consumer confidence and sort of the retail market finds its sort of zenith of the fiscal year. for people to be concerned about the payroll tax cut and some of these other draconian measures that the republicans have put on the table as part of their new compromise for the fiscal hill or slope or whatever you want to call it seems to me to be where we need to be putting pressure here. we need to have a different conversation at this time of year because it's an important moment for consumption in this country. regardless of where you are on this issue, this is the time when people consume most. a payroll tax cut or increase being on the table in these discussions can dampen some of the opportunities we have to keep our economy going.
>> jared , why does speaker boehner persist with the mathematical impossibility that closing loopholes and deductions will magically achieve the goal of raising sufficient revenues when we know that many of these deductions are cherished by the majority of americans ?
>> right. that's why you never hear any specificity. if you started actually talking about which loopholes you're going to close, you actually find that, you know, my loophole is your great job creation measure or for that matter is critically important in preserving charitable organizations out there. so that's a great way to really just keep this thing locked in neutral. look, the point on the tax rates is really important, and it goes back to pure republican orthodoxy. it has nothing to do with economics. this is supply side trickle down economics. i think jay carney called it fairy dust . the idea that it tax rates nudge up a percent or two on the top 2%, you will bring the economy to its knees. the nonpartisan congressional budget office showed if the rates increased on the top 2% of households, gdp growth would be almost exactly the same next year. it doesn't have the growth effects and in the long term getting our budget on a sustainable path is positive for the economy. it's an orthodoxy that's wrong and polluted our fiscal politics for way too long. the president has the opportunity to do something about it and i'm glad he's holding fast .
>> i want to put something to both of you, first with professor peterson, there is a broader context to this whole discussion because corporate profits have just reached a record for the third quarter of this year. yet at the same time the united states has the highest percentage of low wage earners of almost any developed nation. if you listen to boehner 's proposal, it does nothing but harm the working poor .
>> did you want --
>> professor, you first.
>> well, the thing is this is -- thank you for injecting some reality into the conversation here, martin because at the end of the day , the concentration of wealth at the top is really where we need to be focusing. people want to talk about the top 2% carrying undue burden of the tax burden of this country but they have an undue amount of the concentration of the wealth of this country. that disparity is something we need to focus on in these conversations. that's the reason why we need to keep the bush tax cuts for the 98%. that's the reason why we can incrementally raise taxes on the top 2% and have a healthy figures cal policy going forward.
>> i was just looking at the wage numbers this morning. i noticed something really quite disturbing and it amplifies both what you were saying martin and something james said earlier. if you actually look at the year-over-year wage growth of nominal wages, they're actually growing for middle income workers now. the kind of workers you're talking about here, not the corporate profit beneficiaries, their wage growth is the lowest on record year-over-year than at any time in this survey which began in the mid 1960s . so contrast that with your corporate profit point and think about in the context of taking the payroll tax break out of the system. that's $1,000 bucks for a median earner.
>> an attack on the middle class . professor james peterson and