Martin Bashir | February 08, 2013
>>> his budget battle with the president, then who would be the real losers? well, there's 70,000 poor children who could lose their access to head start. there's 600,000 women and children who could lose their nutritional assistance. there's 125,000 families who could lose their permanent housing. 100,000 formerly homeless people who could end up back on the streets. over 7,000 people suffering from hiv and aids could lose their medication. and then there's the legions of senior citizens who would lose 4 million meals delivered through the meals on wheels program, and that is just a partial list of the damage that speaker boehner and his mirthless band of tea party fanatics are threatening to inflict. as the white house with great understatement said today, these large and arbitrary cuts will have severe impacts across the government. let's bring in professor james peterson of lehigh university and msnbc contributor jonathan capehart of the " washington post ." professor, republicans love to use the word "sequester" without ever referencing what that means in practice, but the president is absolutely clear. take a listen.
>> they recognize that the sequester is a bad idea, but what they've suggested is that the only way to replace it now is for us to cut social security , cut medicare, and not close a single loophole. i believe the american people understand that, yes, we need to reduce the deficit, but it shouldn't just be on the backs of seniors. it shouldn't just be on the backs of young people .
>> professor, do republicans not realize that they are protecting the interests of massive oil companies and their profits and potentially throwing the poor into abject poverty?
>> if they look at the data and look at the facts, i would say they would absolutely have to acknowledge that. you know, this is kind of a tricky situation, right, because the sequester was never meant to be put into policy. it was meant to sort of threaten politicians to make policy that could be more efficient and a little bit more balanced. a lot of people criticizing this president would not working on behalf of the poor or defending the poor. when you look at the draconian cuts you just listed at the beginning of the segment, those things all attack and undermine the economic and food security of poor people in this country. what's interesting about this whole sequester piece though is that the kind of cuts that we actually need to get in the military are somehow in some ways represented here. so it's kind of like shiny candy from both sides, and i think the republicans think they can ride this in the same way the president sort of rode out the fiscal cliff deal to his advantage, but it just won't work out that same way. so we have to understand the sequester is really just code word for undermining the safety net and food security and economic security for the poorest folk in this country.
>> absolutely. jonathan , the sequester, which would inflict $85 billion in across the board cuts in just one year, was designed to be so awful that congress would have to act to prevent it. house republicans appear increasingly willing to let the sequester take effect despite their concerns to cuts over defense spending . i think that's actually the preferred position said republican representative tom cole of oklahoma. so, jonathan , how did the sequester go from being the worst thing in the entire world to something that republicans now would prefer to see happen?
>> you know, i wish i had the answer to that question, but congressman cole is not alone. he's not all by himself in that view. republican member of congress told me yesterday that he didn't think that the sequester was a big deal . so you have this stick that professor peterson talked about and that we knew about in 2011 that was supportsed to force and cajole congress into doing the right thing.