Martin Bashir | December 11, 2012
>>> it is crunch time here in washington . exactly three weeks left to cut a deal before automatic tax increases and spending cuts will send the economy over the fiscal cliff, and around the capitol there's largely the sound of silence as the white house and congress try to work out a deal behind closed doors . the president has no public events on his schedule. and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except, that is, for john boehner , who emerged to gavel the house into session this afternoon after a week's recess with his trademark holiday cheer.
>> washington has a spending problem. now, the president doesn't agree with our approach. he's got an obligation to put forward a plan that can pass both chambers of the congress because right now the american people have to be scratching their heads and wondering when is the president going to get serious?
>> i'm sorry, i meant his trademark ba ham bug which he's been doling out by the sleigh load.
>> there's a stalemate. let's not kid ourselves. we have a debt problem that is out of control. we've got to cut spending. washington has got a spending problem. just more of the same.
>> more of the same indeed. and as minority leader nancy pelosi today declared with americans making their lists of holiday shopping and calculating their year-end finances, now is no time for playing politics.
>> it is not a time to inject even more uncertainty into the lives of the american people and the economy of our country and what that means globally. it simply isn't the time. many of these ideas are bad at any time, but they're particularly harmful at this time.
>> and while speaker boehner bemoans the lack of spending cuts, white house spokesman jay carney was happy to hold up the physical evidence of those cuts in today's briefing.
>> pages 17 to 45 details on proposed spending cuts by the president. what we haven't seen from republicans to this day is a single specific proposal on revenue.
>> i wonder why that would be? sheer stubbornness or might there be some sort of strife in the republican power structure ? majority leader, harry reid .
>> they can't decide what they're going to do. we have heard about the infighting going on with the house leadership, boehner is having trouble finding help from his leadership as to what they're to do.
>> according to senator reid, the battle is between boehner and congressman kevin mccarthy , eric cantor , and one paul ryan . ho, ho, ho. let's get right to our panel. with me here in washington is msnbc political analyst david corn , and in new york msnbc political analyst professor michael eric dyson . david, can i start with you? the president began with, o come all ye faithful , and now we have speaker boehner singing in the bleak winter. how far does the president have to go to give boehner something that helps boehner go to his caucus and say let's just do our deal.
>> you want someone to be singing "i'll be home for christmas ."
>> there you go.
>> first, it's nice to see you in d.c.
>> it's a great pleasure.
>> we have this little bubble of optimism in the conventional media the past few days. although they're talking, they're not saying much, there must be progress, but we still have a fundamental divide here. the president says rates have to go up. he doesn't want to trade the debt ceiling for anything. he thinks that should be separate. and boehner put out a proposal saying we'll raise invest knews but we're going to lower rates. won't specify, as you noted earlier. there seems to be in the staff level at least not much progress, any progress, being made. i have to believe the fundamental dynamic is still the same, that boehner is going to have a hard time convincing more than half of his caucus, even half of his caucus, to support something that really gives the president a lot in terms of revenue cuts and doesn't go to the debt ceiling as ransom. i don't know what breaks that log jam. today in the bureau we got in a little bit of a tizzy, boehner is going to talk at noon, he's going to talk at noon, he's going to talk at noon. why? he said nothing. he obviously was talking to his own people saying the same thing he said along. he may not be able to cut a deal. he may not be able to cut a deal until it's ten minutes to midnight when he says to these guys, listen, i have no choice.
>> professor dyson, speaker boehner wonders when the president is going to get serious about these matters. but even rush limbaugh says the speaker has no leverage left. would you like to share with the speaker what the president has been saying for the last 12 months?
>> absolutely. let me, first of all, begin by let's throw another song into the mix that many of the american people are saying james brown says, santa claus please come to the ghetto. the reality is this, the president has been saying the american people deserve to be treated fairly. now, we've gone along with this madness from the republicans that those at the top need a tax break and a tax cut , and this is just ludicrous. the american people have spoken. the re-election of president obama validates his particular approach here, which is that middle class people should not have a burden placed upon their shoulders. the working classes should not be punished, and god knows the working poor should not be further marginalized in this economy by trying to give goodies and treats to the republicans. they are playing grinch for -- the grinches who stole the christmas of working class people here, and president obama is trying to talk about the spirit of generosity and common sense of the american people . so what he's been trying to say is, i'm not going to budge, and i think he's got a reassured approach here. the american public has spoken. president obama has girded up his lions and he's digging in his heels. it may be one of these right before the stroke of midnight that he says, look, i have no other choice here. we're not going to have this mexican standoff , so to speak, and i have to get out of the way in the game of chicken. recogniz otherwise, ear all going to be soup at the end of the day .
>> harry reid cites paul ryan as one of those giving boehner heartburn. do you think ryan is trying to bully boehner with his presidential dreams, his p 90x?
>> there's a great shakespeare play to be written involving eric cantor , paul ryan , kevin mccarthy and others. we've seen in the course --
>> is that the comedy of error s shakespeare ?
>> i think it's more of a tragedy than a comedy.
>> maybe "hamlet."
>> they all end up on the floor at the end.
>> poor york. the thing is the internal dynamics of that leadership bloc have been fascinating to try to watch and discern from the outside, and eric cantor has gone from playing good cop, back cop, back and forth --
>> your book details all of that.
>> up until last year and it's taken a few new rounds since then. the question is whether boehner has the ability to negotiate in good faith with the president without being stabbed in the back by one of hirs tehis team leaders. at the moment you see these story in the post and the ti"the time times", that boehner has more control of his party than ever br. that's really a low bar.
>> professor dyson, republicans are so aggrieved over how this fiscal fight is doing, they have now called in karl rove 's crossroads gps to make some ads about it calling the president a job killer, and karl rove made his triumphant return to fox news last night. i guess the party is united in amnesia, if nothing else.
>> no doubt. out, out, damn spot, or i am more sinned against than sinning, or tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow creeps on its petty tape. take one of those lines from shakespeare and you see what the conundrum is. they portrayed themselves as the defenders of the elite in the name of the middle class , and that shenanigan has been proved to be wrong. the kun in ordnard that they are putting this forth has been disproven. the wagon is we have to give tax breaks to the rich. there's no other way to present it. there's no other story. we have exhausted the narrative. give it up, fell las. go ahead and join with the american people and let's do something good for the american people . stop this namby-pamby pee-wee herman like approach. i know you are but what am i and try to get on board to figure out what we can do to make the american public better.
>> the only thing i would offer is mcbeth which i think aptly described john boehner , full of sound and fury signifying nothing. david corn , professor michael eric dyson , thank you