Martin Bashir | February 28, 2013
>> our panel. lehigh university professor james peterson is a krnter for thegrio.com and an msnbc contributor and jared bernstein is senior fellow at the center of budget and policy priorities. speaker john boehner says, and i'm quoting him, the revenue issue is now closed. jared , given that the president has already given a 2 to 1 ratio in terms of cuts to revenues, if anything should be closed, it's any further cuts, isn't it?
>> exactly. the spending cuts thus far amount to $1.5 trillion over ten years and the tax increases $600 billion. so that's larger than a ratio of $2 of cuts to $1 of tax increases. and you're getting right to the heart of something that perhaps we don't quite focus on enough, which is why the heck are we stuck here? and the answer is that --
>> please, tell us.
>> the answer is that republicans refuse to give on revenues. the president's plan that kristin was just referring to, that offers significant cuts, and not just cuts in discretionary spending of the type that the sequester has, but cuts in entitlements, the thing that -- kind of the holy grail for a lot of republicans and outside of many democrats' comfort zone . so his plan is balanced. but the republicans say been there, done that in terms of tax increases. your point is exactly right. democrats, if they wanted to be just as gridlocky, they could say been there, done that in terms of spending cuts.
>> exactly. professor peterson, we heard eric cantor just now in his magnificent voice mocking claims that there will be travel delays and other impacts from the sequester, and boehner's claim that this is an effort to, quote, steal more money for government. professor peterson, what do you make of that rhetoric?
>> that language is extremely offensive, martin. to refer to an increase in revenue is collecting greater percentage of taxes for those who are the wealthiest americans in this nation is -- that's a striking statement to me, and it doesn't make any sense. look at the ways in which the income gap in this country has expanded over the last 20 years. look at the pays of ceos and the top 1%, top 2% increase. look at their capital gains tax . look at the resources of this country flowing upwards to the top 1% and 2% and to suggest by asking them to contribute more through their taxes to the challenges that this country faces right now after they've benefited for decades from this nation and from their businesses being operated in this nation is not only absurd, it's quite offensive.
>> i want to say a word about that, martin, kind of amplify some of the points james is making. the word steal there just really caught my ear as i think it did yours. remember, this country began with the actual tea party who made an argument that, in fact, since it was taxation without representation --
>> -- the british were, in fact, stealing from us. i think that is an argument that resonated with some of our first citizens and it should have. but what you heard there was as if the republican contemporary tea party is a separate nation. we're not in this together. taxes raised as a country through our constitution is stealing? i mean, this goes beyond the pale .
>> it's absurd.
>> jared , moving onto this subject of rhetoric, the notion that white house adviser jean spurling threatened reporter bob woodward continues to unravel. we have the e-mail from mr. spurling which reads and i will quote it to you in all its gory details, jared . i do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying that potus asking for revenues is moving the goalpost. i know you may not believe this, but as a friend, i think you will regret staking out that claim. jared , you know the man. does that sound like adviser speak for a knife to the throat? a bloodied threat that's coming his way?
>> look, this incident that -- first of all, gene's comment was obviously a substantive comment very much in the spirit of the ones i have been making so far today. so, you know, if you want to come after gene woodward, come after me first. but putting that aside, this is just amplifying washington insanity through the washington insanity ray which seems to be taking this town over, and i don't quite get bob woodward in this context who i always thought of as a fairly substantive guy. this is just --
>> he is.
>> -- taking a crazy situation and making it beyond crazy.
>> i'm reminded of the british parliamentarian who when he was attacked by the british secretary jeffrey howell described it as the equivalent of being ravaged by a dead sheep. thank you both for joining us