Melissa Harris-Perry | November 17, 2012
>>> this morning, my question, us, is washington already forgetting about ohio? plus, the gift that keeps on giving. that will beeping sound you hear is the gop bus backing up over mitt romney .
>>> and our national obsession with abe lincoln . but first, the power struggle continues. it is deja vu all over again.
>>> good saturday morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. now, if you've been paying attention to the news in the past week, you've probably been hearing some big confusing and scary sounding words. words like budget crisis , deficit sequestration, and of course, the fiscal cliff . listening to breathless elected officials discuss the fiscal cliff can be terrifying. as the story goes, we've made some bad choices over the years. we've tried to outrun it, but in the ends we're trapped and it sounds like like our country is facing this. but let's just take a moment and breathe. because fear is not going to help. and facts will. here are some of the facts. if a new plan for the federal budget is not reached between congress and the white house by the end of the year, january 1 , 2013 will be the first day that significant spending cuts and meaningful tax increases take effect. adding up to about $500 billion in 2013 alone. now, let's remember this cliff is manufactured. the result of lawmakers tying each other's hands back during the 2011 debt ceiling debacle. first all of the bush era tax cuts would be eliminated. bringing taxes on nearly every taxpayer and many businesses back to the preet- 2001 rates. the payroll tax cuts instituted by president obama which has benefited the middle class will also expire along with $26 billion in unemployment insurance that supports thousands of americans without jobs. add that to the huge cuts in financing for nearly all federal programs, military and civilian alike, which would be about another $65 billion. now, why are we on this cliff again? aren't you thinking to yourself, don't these guys in washington do this every year? well, yeah. it wasn't always so dramatic. republicans and democrats alike have routinely raised taxes and made surgical cuts notice government services. back in 1982 , even the gop hero ronald reagan instituted one of the largest tax increases in modern american history . what's going on? i this i it comes down to one important word, than word actually isn't taxes. it's power . here at the fiscal cliff base camp are the same players in the same chairs, the same issues as 2011 but man, the power dynamics have changed. if last year the name of the game was hold the line , this year the opening salvos are more about let's get things done. here is house speaker john boehner yesterday after meeting with the president.
>> i believe that the framework that i've outlined in our meeting today is consistent with the president's call for a fair and balanced approach. to show our seriousness, we've put revenue on the table.
>> now, in politics, much of power is about perception. in a post re-election 2012 , perceptions are mighty different. here's the president at his first post re-election press conference on wednesday.
>> if there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and mr. romney, it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, i argued for a balanced responsible approach and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest americans pay a little bit more. i think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate. and the majority of voters agreed with me. by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.
>> now, that is not the president obama of yesteryear or even last year. this week the president's opening bid was to raise $1.6 trillion in revenue from letting the bush tax cuts on the top earners expire. instituting the buffett rule letting estate taxes go back to 2009 levels and closing loopholes. the president people are saying is in throwdown mode. if he's ready to throwdown, he just may have the power to keep us from that thelma and louise finale. with me at the table is new york congressman gregory meeks , a democrat and member of the financial services committee . ryan alexander of taxpayers for common sense , danielle garza of the libre initiative and louisiana state senator karen carter carpenter chair of the louisiana democratic party . thanks to everybody for being here. i want to start with you, representative meeks. i was making this point that isn't this what you guys do? don't you look at the federal budget , you make decisions. when i look at this fiscal cliff on the one hand i hear folks saying look, you got all the power this time on the democratic side. go ahead and go over this cliff . on the other hand, i look at the folks most likely to be fundamentally implemented by it, they're the most vulnerable. how do you manage that power relationship?
>> i think that the president is doing it right. i think that you see the tone has changed by the speaker particularly. there's a difference this time than it was before.
>> before when you had the tea parties who came in 2010 and they are the grover norquist no taxes and they were campaigning, so they were not move aginch. we knew we were going to have to move some and everything had to be on the table. i think that the speaker now understood is as he understood then. he tried to strike a deal back then and when he came back, his confidence wouldn't allow him to strike the deal. i think now he is more empowered to strike a deal because the conference be sees the results of the election and know the american people have spoken and now a deal can be struck and we'll get one done.
>> this is not a small point. we talk as though we're in this great partisan divide as though the parties are always totally in lock step. the big issue was that the republican party itself was being held hostage by a mini power play . is that different this time?
>> i don't think it is. in fact, within conservative circles what you're hearing there is going to be a -- they're going to dig in.
>> the tea party faksz.
>> especially, but i think there is enough outside of the tea party faction where they're saying this is still about principles and ideas. and the idea here is that you know what we want to see is no to revenue, but if you are going to say yes to revenue, a compromise on revenue antic it up more on the maximum tax, what we want to see are really promises on entitlement reform and something real in cuts. until you get that, i don't think you're going to see any movement.
>> the problem is they didn't win. when they didn't win the election and the majority of americans said that way doesn't work, i tend to disagree a little bit with daniel in that if you listen to governor jindal, it seems as though they're backing away and trying to tone down some of the rhetoric. but the rhetoric doesn't match it the the policies. they can't hold on to those kinds of policies. everybody has something at stake. the deadline is real now.
>> this is not a small point. this idea that on the one hand, nothing changes. obviously this is the same actual human beings , the same people in the same positions as before because it's not post january 20th . but the outcome of the election does feel like it is fundamentally change the how power is operating.
>> i think the other power dynamic that changed is speaker boehner's power has changed. he worked really hard to re-elect his caucus and got a majority of his caucus when a democratic president won in a difficult economy. he can say to his caucus follow me here. he's gotten things done in his career in washington . if you look at his power , his changing power within his caucus, he's going to be able to pull a few more members with him. i know there are definitely conservatives saying hey, we came to town on principle. we believe this. this is what we believe. and we're not going to change our minds.
>> let's talk principle a little bit. part of why i want you here at the table, in the least partisan terms like sort of clearest way possible, when we're looking at this, this is not the debt ceiling. the fiscal cliff is a different thing. and part of how we determine where power sits is in the perceptions of the market and the market seems to be kind of like well, whatever. there doesn't seem to be the same angst we saw in the run-up to the debt ceiling debate. is there a principle issue here?
>> it's worth noting the debt ceiling comes back up in the early part of the year and congress and the president are hoping that could be circled into whatever lame duck deal is made.
>> but see, what happens is why our government works is we generally find a way to compromise. if you stand on one principle, then the country never moves forward. the way our country always moved forward was we found a way to compromise. we need reasonable people to compromise. we don't expect all of the members of the republican party to say we're going to vote this way. we need democrats and republicans, some democrats and some republicans, to come away to be the majority of the votes to say we're going to move this country forward. that's why our government has been the strength and we've been who we are in the united states of america .
>> we're going to come back on this because karen, i'm particularly interested in talking to you about this because as a democrat in bobby jindal 's louisiana you guys know how to make power work in difficult circumstances. even as the negotiations seem like a do-over from 2011 , there was one voice notably absent from the table this time around. who and where is he? that's