Melissa Harris-Perry | March 02, 2013
>>> good morning, i'm melissa harris-perry, and today, it is saturday march 2nd . remember last saturday when i said that in less than a week $85 billion of automatic spending cuts would begin to take effect, and spending cuts that no one wants and leaving americans to take furloughs or job layoffs? well, happy sequester day, because the sequester is here, and it looks like it is here to stay, because even though the congressional leadership met with president obama at the white house yesterday morning, nothing came of it. both camps came out with the same talking points they had when they started the meeting. republican house speaker john boehner moseyed on out of the white house with the same ole same ole to offer.
>> make it clear that the president got the tax hikes on january 1st . there is a discussion about the revenue in my view is over. it is about taking on the spending problem here in washington .
>> and even though he heard it all before , president obama gave some of the republican delegation the benefit of the doubt yesterday.
>> i do know that there are republicans in congress who privately at least say that they would rather close tax loopholes than let these cuts go through. i know that there are democrats who would rather do smart entitlement reform rather than let the cuts go through, so there is a caucus of commonsense up there on capitol hill , but it is a silent group right now.
>> of course, we are well past common sense . if we have learned nothing else from the debt deal showdown, the fiscal cliff and now the sequester, it is that putting together a fiscal plan for one of the largest economies in the world apparently has nothing to do with common sense , because here is common sense . common sense tells you that when someone holds out a football, you kick it. when they pull it away just as you are about to swing the leg, you might be a little bit more cautious the next time they hold the ball out for you, but we, the people, each have a little bit of the charlie brown optimism in us, so we say, hey, okay, let's take another shot, but when once again we are about to kick the ball, they snatch it away. it is safe to say that we are never going to get to kick the ball down the field. let's not forget that the sequester, itself, was the punt of the punt from the original punt in the 2011 when congress and the white house finally made a so-called deal on the debt ceiling, and as the president reminded us yesterday, none of this was even necessary.
>> we are here for american families who had been getting battered pretty good over the last four years and just starting to see the economy improve, and businesses just starting to see some confidence coming back, and, you know, this is not a win for anybody. this is a loss for the american people .
>> so see that is the conventional wisdom here, that just this week there were several signs that the economy was continuing to recovery, and a revised estimate by the u.s. commerce department that showed that the economy expanded slightly in the fourth quarter last year, and we learned that the number of americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 22,000 and the dollar gained strength, but of course, the longer the sequester lasts the longer the gains could be rolled back. that is the common sense approach to politics. that is the rationale that makes you think that in a deliberative democracy that opposing parties could be convinced by the process of sharing information and exchanging data and listening to one another's argument, but the only argument that sways toward cooperation is if the position is a political liability, that good old fear of losing their jobs. but it looks like even though the political leaders packed up and went home this week without doing their jobs, it looks like we are the hardworking charlie browns in this country, because we are going to end up on our butts. with me is amy walter, senior editor of the cook political report , and tom shapiro , director of the institute of assets and social policy at brandeis university , and heather mcgee, advicer of public policy and demos.com. and ed ppakskey, because he brings doughnuts and is our favorite mayor.
>> and we are talking about everything across the board and every single thing is going to be cut and not with any reason, but just because we manufactured a crisis. amy ?
>> yes, we are good alt manufacturing the crisis.
>> why? why?
>> i appreciate when the president came out to say, there is a silent caucus of reasonable people up here. actually, there aren't. there are not reasonable people.
>> they are not just silent, they are just not there.
>> they are gone. they used to exist ten years ago and there were democrats who would vote who were moderates, and there were republicans who were moderate and over the last few years starting in 2006 and then going through the redistricting of 2011 , they are gone. 96% of democrats sit in districts that barack obama won. 94% of the republicans sit in districts that mitt romney won. there is zero incentive for them to work on the other side. why would they do that? they are saying that the constituents are telling them to stay strong, and they are not lying, because the constituents look like the party they represent.
>> well, there is a point when the constituents want something to be done. i want to listen to the president, and at one point the reporter asked him a question, and asked him, can you actually sequester congress and make them sit in a room unthil is doil all of this is done. and this is the president's response.
>> couldn't you just have them all down here and leave them in the room until you have a deal?
>> well, you know -- i mean, jessica, i am not a dictator. i am a president. so ultimately if mitch mcconnell and john boehner say that we need to go to catch a plane, i can't have secret service block the doorway.
>> okay. heal heather, i get that, but i mean, i change flights, and we are talking about $75 and $100 fee to change the flight, and the president has his own plane that he could lend to the speaker, and are you saying it is fine to say, i have to get on the plane, and at what point must they do the jobs?
>> the problem here is that you are right, amy , it is true that the districts are really polarized, but what has happened is that it is not left/right issue as washington issue, because even the republicans in the republican districts want balanced approaches, and want tax increases as well on the wealthy and closing the corporate loopholes and this is a common sense thing that even the republican base wants burk when you the beltway bubble which is surrounded by thousands of lobbyists and the donor class setting the agenda, the real division is between washington and us, and not the democrats and the republicans.
>> and rick scott , the republican of florida said this, and i want to listen to this, and then, tom, i will have you respond to this. well, we don't have him saying it so i will say it. this is rick scott saying that the impacts on florida's military installations and defense industries will be severe under sequestration, and our immediate concerns include dramatic reduction to the national guard which tlent threatens our ability to respond to wildfires this spring and hurricanes in the fall. so this is a real.
>> well, we all hope that the nation's business is more important than doing another chicken dinner on saturday afternoon somewhere else . but the governor starts to hit at what many people think will be the impact down the road that might change some of the balance on this, and that is as the cuts start to hit real people in their real lives, and they start to respond. i mean, we are seeing both very, very painful kinds of hits with this sequester. those are the ones that the governor and others talk about, but i'm concerned about the invest. to future, so it is not just about what we don't have tomorrow, but it is about the nation and the families and the children will not have in the next two the three years.
>> and those effects are cumulative and the dramatic impact at the moment, and it is cumulative and so let's look at the sequester cuts are, and respond, mayor. we are looking at more than a 1 million federal workers going on the furlough, and 800,000 defense department furloughs, and 70,000 students cut from head start , and 10,000 teachers cut, and 9.4 cut to unemployment benefits , so we are getting a body blow to the economy that is starting to recover.
>> yes, it is estimated just in pennsylvania $11 million wages lost in the short term, and over $53 million if this goes on in the next year. it is real money in real people 's pockets that are helping to fund our economy. so it is going to have some real life impacts. for cities, it is devastating. we are struggling and stretched to the breaking point because of all of the other cuts that congress has made and many of the programs that are going to be cut are going to affect cities disproportionately where a majority of the revenue is generated for the economies nationwide, and u, you know, everything from education to, you know, housing for the homeless to flu shots. i was talking to my health director and we will have to turn over 1,000 kids from flu shots in a season that flu has had an enormous impact on us.
>> and even more lost wages . with we want to stay on the topic of the real life experience , because here we are once again and i feel like charlie brown and i keep saying, okay, it is going to be better, and then every time seeing that football yanked away. so now when we come back, we are going to the beltway to talk about the issues that is real people suffering because of washington 's dysfunction. hey, it's sara. i'm