Martin Bashir | March 07, 2013
>>> call it diplomacy by dining or perhaps compromise by consumption and just a short while ago the president wrapped up a diplomatic lunch with his former 2012 opponent paul ryan . this followed a more elegant meal wednesday night with 12 republican senators, many like john mccain and lindsey graham who are often critics of the president. and judging by the jovial tone of senator mccain , seemed to go quite well.
>> how did the meeting go?
>> terrible, terrible, a disaster.
>> senator, how did the meeting go?
>> just fine. fine. great, wonderful.
>> yet, this is still washington politics and while a good drink can turn the night civil, particularly when the president is willing to pick up the check, the question of whether this form of outreach works is still up for question. joining us now, karen finney, a former communications director for the dnc and jared bernstein, former economic adviser to the vice president. karen , jay carney has just said the president has engaged consistently with congress in numerous ways from telephone conversations to meetings in the oval office . so why this? because john boehner reiterated today no more talk of taxes. ja let's be honest. i'm a big supporter of president obama but one of the criticisms i think is fair is that over certainly the course of the first term, he probably could have done more. i certainly believe the republicans could have done more as well, but there needed to have been more of this kind of interaction because i think when you know where someone is coming from, it is a lot harder even if you disagree with them to go out and simply demonize them. i think it does shift the tone at least of the conversation. i think people forget how personal these things can get. i mean, at the end of the day , a lot of the stuff that we see playing itself out in front of the cameras and on screen, various screens, is he didn't call me back, i didn't get invited to this event. there's a lot of personal stuff that goes on back here.
>> absolutely. jared , an unnamed senator told my colleague chuck todd that last night was first time he'd heard that the president had proposed major cuts. and for our viewers let me show what that means. there's just over 200 pages of detail from the omb on the president's cuts for 2013 . there's even a handy one sheet for anyone too busy. why is this the first time they're hearing this? and does this not suggest bill o 'reilly is about as knowledgeable as some house republicans when it comes to what the president is proposing.
>> that's a scary proposition.
>> but it's true.
>> i understand it's true. there's no good answer to how can republican policymakers be so uninformed? that the president has not only consistently talked about the cuts he's offered, but he's even said, look, i'm willing to go outside of democrats' comfort zones, and he said this many times. so, look, people hear what they want to hear. i have often been discouraged when you poll the public on what they know about this sort of thing, but frankly the public is really busy kind of trying to get by. when you're a policymaker who is paid a lot of money to know even the most basic facts, it's really political malpractice and it helps explain why we're so stuck.
>> you know, martin, if anything, i think it actually speaks to the level of partisanship we've seen in this town. if you go into a meeting with your caucus and you are told the president is coming up here to talk about the affordable care act , we are against it no matter what he says, no matter what you see, no matter what you hear, well, of course you're not going to read the actual document, right? of course you're going to go with the talking points that you're given and not necessarily say, wait a second, why don't i read this for myself and see --
>> i'll tell you something else, i'll bet you a lot of people who are saying, gee, i don't know that, actually did know that but it was inconvenient for them to admit it at the time. once they've sat down in front of the camera and had the president say here are my cuts. they cant they can't really maintain that anymore.
>> what happens next week when paul ryan says here is my third budget balanced on the backs of the poor. what then?
>> that's really the problem. in other words, and i think you said this in your introduction, there's no sign that either side is budging in terms of the democrats and the white house insisting on balanced deal going forward. republicans, of course, only spending cuts. the ryan budget, we haven't seen it yet but he expect it to be a whole lot like his last one and just as you said, the majority of the cuts come from low income programs. there are no revenue increases, of course, and, in fact, and this is probably underappreciated. i think what we're going to see is not that the sequestration will be canceled, but that any of the defense cuts in the sequestration will be canceled and they'll all be loaded on the nondefense discretionary. meaning the things that affect people who really need government support right now.
>> welcome to paul ryan 's world. jared bernstein and karen finney, thank you so much.