Mitchell Reports | March 15, 2013
>> get stuff done.
>> good day i'm andrea mitchell live in washington, while conservatives are firing up the base at cpac, the president concluded a week of outreach to republicans on capitol hill . and first trip to israel and the west bank , he's in illinois on energy policy . white house press secretary jay carney joins me. what a week this has been. the president going back and forth to capitol hill . and working his charm with democrats as well as republicans . because he's got some base cleaning up to do as well. what is your take-away after this week? there's a lot of reporting that he has not moved the needle at all as far as the republican opposition on the budget.
>> we feel very good about the how the week has turned out in terms of the president's meetings on capitol hill with house republicans , senate republicans and house and senate democrats . this is part of a process of engagement. that you know he's embarked on. where he's trying to find willing members of the caucus of common sense . he wants, andrea , as you know, to have conversations with republican lawmakers about whether they're interested in finding some common ground , in the effort to reduce our deficit further. whether they would agree with the basic principle that reducing the deficit further is something we can do, if we do it in a balanced way. reforming our entitlements. to produce savings. but also reforming our tax code to produce savings and apply both of those savings to reducing our deficit. if we do it that way, if we do it in a balanced way that asks the well-off and well-connected to pay a little bit, to contribute a little bit to deficit reduction, not just seniors and middle class then we don't have to put all of the burden on seniors and the middle class while giving a massive, massive tax cut yet again to the wealthiest folks. the president felt very good about his meetings. he a great session with senate republicans yesterday and you saw numerous quotes i think from senate republicans that reflected the fact that it was a good meeting and a constructive meeting and there really is the potential for common ground . but the differences are large and they remain large do get back to your point, when it comes to deficit reduction, it may be that the gab is too wide to reach a deal. the president hopes that's not the case, but we'll see, it's certainly worth having this engagement to try to find common ground .
>> why did it take so long? i know you're going to say he's met with them before. but it's commonly accepted, and this is not just conventional wis ddom that dennis mcdonough has made a difference, this is outreach to members whom he's never met before, republicans .
>> well i mean the members he hadn't met before or hadn't heard him speak, this is a fourth meeting the president has had with the entire house republican conference . since he became president. and the only year he didn't have a meeting was during an election year last year.
>> but jay, paul ryan , at their lunch, paul ryan 's lunch was their first conversation other than the brief meeting at the house republican caucus . so it was the first time that he had actually sat down as republican budget chair with the president. united states to talk about policy and the way forward .
>> first of all, again andrea , i could bore your viewers to death with the list of meetings the president has had with congressional republicans , it goes on and on and the hours he spent with the speaker of the house and congressional leaders in 2001 . i think rivalled engagement at that level of any recent president in, with their opposition counterparts. there's no, there's no comparison. what we do have is a change in circumstances. because as you know, we've been governing from crisis to crisis with manufactured deadlines now, repeatedly whether it was the debt ceiling negotiations or the super committee. or the fiscal cliff or the sequester deadline. now because republicans chose to embrace the sequester, let it take place, let it be implemented with all its negative impacts, that's a negative. but the fact is it means we don't have the looming deadline that requires you know, huddled negotiations with congressional leadership to try to produce an outcome before you know, something terrible happens at midnight on any given day. we now are engaged in what's called regular order. budget process that includes the house passing a budget resolution , the senate passing its budget resolution . the president submitting his budget and then hopefully, hopefully through conference you know, through meetings of the house and the senate, you know, some kind of compromise emerges that represents the balance that the american people want. you know, we can, we hope that that's what happens and that's why the president is engaged in this strategy. we don't know if it will, because you know, it's definitely, when you hear house republicans say as the speaker of the house did earlier this year, he will never negotiate with the president again -- that makes it a little difficult, right? when you hear some house republicans say they would absolutely refuse to kproe means mice at all. when it comes to balance, that makes it difficult. but the fact is that the public is with the idea of balance where the president is, and a lot of senate republicans have expressed interest in it. so we'll see where this takes us. we think it's the right direction to go and we hope it produces results.
>> jay, ha do you say to the house democrats like congressman ellison and others who are angry about entitlement changes, you would call them changes, they call them cuts.
>> near reforms and these produce savings. the fact of the matter is the president has consistently put forward balanced proposals, including in his or offer to the speaker of the house . they represent tough choices made by democratic leader, made by the president of the united states . and all he is asking is that republicans also make some tough choices on the revenue side. if we live, if the conventional wisdom is drew in washington, which is that republicans want no tax revenue , only spending cuts and democrats want no spending cuts and only tax revenue , then each side should be compelled to make some tough choices to reach compromise. the president is doing that. he knows that some of these decisions are tough. but he's leading on this issue and we just want to see republicans do the same thing. lead on the issue, make a tough choice, come together, do what's right for the american people .
>> the president in his interview with israel 's television channel described his relationship with benjamin netanyahu as business-like. obviously they're not quote friends, he pointed out he has met with him more than any other foreign leader. ha do you hope to accomplish? because some are suggesting that this is basically a sight-seeing tour of israel , his first visit to israel as president. and that there is very little that he can accomplish at this point with netanyahu weakened after the election. just putting together this coalition. you covered foreign policy for years for "time" magazine. you know exactly what the situation is. and that there's really been no dialogue between israel and the palestinians.
>> well there's no question that the middle east peace process has been a challenging issue for this president, for all of his recent predecessors, but it is absolutely important for us to continue to press the israelis and the palestinians to take steps towards direct negotiations over the issues that divide them. when it comes to trying to reach that goal. that they both share. a two-state solution. and we will continue to urge both sides to do that. and continue to urge both sides not to take steps, unilateral steps that make it harder. to engage in direct negotiations. look, i think the visit is very important. the president is not coming with some new peace proposal. because we're very clear about what needs to take place in terms of direct negotiations for progress to be made. but it's very important for the president to sit down with israeli leaders, as well as palestinian leaders, as well as the king of jordan to engage on the whole range of issues that the united states has with each of these leaders. and, and move forward. i mean iran is an issue, syria is an issue. the israeli/u.s. relationship in many ways has never been stronger. the president wants to speak to the israeli people and the israeli youth about this incredibly important relationship and the unshakeable bond that we have with israel and our commitment to israel security. but he also wants to speak to the palestinian people about and the palestinian youth about our support for a palestinian state . a sovereign palestinian state . and the needs for negotiations to reach a two-state solution, so this is, this is i think a very important trip. the president is looking forward to it.
>> and finally i want to ask you about guns. there was a hearing on the hill as you well know, where the chair, dianne feinstein , the sponsor on the judiciary committee of the assault weapon ban, basically sent ted cruz back to school for his approach and his challenge to run constitutional grounds. but here was wayne lapierre today speaking to cpac.
>> the vice president of the united states actually told women facing an attack, to just empty their shotguns into the air. honestly, have they lost their minds over at the white house ?
>> do you have any response to mr. lapierre?
>> i think that mr. lapierre -- public handling of the aftermath of newtown has been amply annal analyzed and discussed and has not been particularly helpful for his cause or the more important cause, which is reducing gun violence in america and i think that's an assessment that is widely held. what we need are partners in a cause that should not divide democrats from republicans , because the victims of gun violence are not democrats or republicans , they're americans and sometimes they are six and 7-year-old americans . the president believes we need to take steps, common-sense steps that reduce gun violence in america . i'm sure you didn't hear from wayne lapierre is that not a single proposal the president made with the vice president, whether it's an executive action or a legislative measure, would take a single firearm away from a single law-abiding american. because the president believes in our second amendment rights. but he also believes we have to take steps to reduce gun violence . steps like closing loopholes in our background check system. that's something that 91% of the american people support. 91%. republicans , democrats, independents. rural americans , sportsmen and women. urban americans . i mean this is something that even the nra, even wayne lapierre used to support. so -- i think this is a common-sense measure that we hope and the president hopes, is moved forward on it. there's progress on in congress and that he will eventually get to sign into law .
>> before i let you go, jay, there's a report on "reuters" that chuck hagel at the pentagon is going to be announcing a new missile defense to be installed in alaska presumably to protect against anything coming from north korea . can you tell us about that? well i want to point you to the announcements coming out of the defense department , so i don't have a lot on that for you. we have obviously very mindful of the north korean threat as well as threats from other areas. that's why we have pursued missile defense in the way that we have. but i'll leave the specifics to the secretary of defense.
>> and i don't know what the protests are outside the gates there, but it sounds as though you've got some company, a little chorus.
>> i haven't been able to see them, there's a screen here, but i'll go check it out after this.
>> okay, well we just want to say that that was not -- there's something outside the gate of the white house . outside the gates on pennsylvania avenue . thank you very much, jay, great to have you.
>> thank you, andrea , good to be with you.