Mitchell Reports | March 06, 2013
>>> president obama goes on a charm offensive starting tonight. he's having dinner with 11 republican senators and is scheduling more meetings with house and senate republicans on capitol hill next week. so, dare i say it, is a grand bargain in sight again? joining me now to talk about it, maryland congressman chris van holland, ranking member of the house budget committee . congressman, thank you for your time. busy day today.
>> good to be with you, chris .
>> thanks. can you talk about the president we're seeing is having dinner tonight with republican senators. i know paul ryan , your colleague on the budget committee , got a call from the president, he said, this week. some more meetings with the president coming up to capitol hill expected next week. is this a charm offensive, is this the president changing tactics, and regardless of what it is, do you expect a different result than we've seen when we've gone down the grand bargain road in the past?
>> well, chris , i don't think it's a change in the sense that the president has been trying to reach out all along, but most of that outreach has been to the house republican leadership. now you have people like speaker boehner saying, you know, he doesn't want to have these one-on-one meetings with the president anymore, so the president is reaching out to other folks within the republican caucuses in both the house and the senate. makes a lot of sense, and i do hope that as a result of this, we'll finally be able to come up with a balanced approach. we still have a long way to go, but there are certain things that are aligning that could produce that result. so, let's see.
>> now, congressman, i want to play something that mitch mcconnell , the senate republican leader , had to say yesterday about the president's outreach. then i want to come back and talk about it. let's play that.
>> i expect the president to talk to various members. frankly, i wish he'd done more of that over the years. we've had, all of us, very limited interaction with the president, and he's certainly doesn't have to go through me to call on my members.
>> so, congressman, i have two questions for you. one is, is senator mcconnell right in his criticism the president hasn't done enough outreach to republican members and has the president not done enough outreach to democratic members in terms of selling his agenda?
>> i think the president has done enough outreach to democratic members and republican members. senator mcconnell was the one who said his number one objective was defeat the president in the reelection rather than focus on jobs and the economy. it was very hard in that environment for the president to get things done. as senator mcconnell just recently said, it's great the president is reaching out to my republican members, but he has sent out word they should not agree to anything that includes additional revenue, even as part of a balanced plan that also includes cuts. look, i think the president deserves great credit for saying he's going to reach out to every member of congress . if their leaders don't want to come down and meet with him in the white house , the president's willing to meet with others in the white house and the president's willing to come down to capitol hill . it just shows he's absolutely determined to get something dope to break through the dysfunction and get a compromise.
>> congressman, i want to ask you one more quickly. my colleagues at "the washington post " over the weekend published a piece how president obama is looking at the 2014 midterm elections in taking back the house, keeping the senate as critical to his legacy. that piece has drawn criticism from republicans who say, look, this is a president playing poll polit politics. too early for the president to be talking about the 2014 midterms and his legacy, or not?
>> what the president's talking about, chris , is trying to accomplish the agenda that he ran on in the last presidential election . and the point he's made is he would like to do this in partnership with republicans, whether it's immigration reform or gun safety or dealing with the budget, but his number one priority is to follow through on the promises and commitments he made. and so right now he's reaching out to republicans, as we were just talking. look, i want to compromise with you. but it's also important to have a back-up plan and for people to know his number one priority is to meet those commitments he made to the middle class in this country, to make sure we strengthen the middle class , keep our commitments to seniors, invest in our future. that's his priorities, and he'd rather do it with republicans joining him, but you always need a back-up plan to make sure that you can follow through on those commitments ultimately. i think it's important to have plan a, as well as plan b .
>> congressman chris van hollen , thanks for your time.
>> thank you.