Morning Joe | November 13, 2012
>> you're scaring debbie.
>> she's giggling.
>> it's --
>> that's nervous laughter. she'd rather not be there.
>> let's see the dance again.
>> see what i mean?
>> with us now, mika, who do we have?
>> democratic representative from florida and chairwoman of the democratic national convention , congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz . committee, yes. good to have you onboard.
>> good to be here.
>> maybe you can speak better than me, i'm half asleep .
>> mark haleprin has the first question.
>> all right. a lot of questions about nancy pelosi and whether she will continue on as your leader. will she or won't she?
>> you know, i think that's probably the hottest question in the capitol right now. but personally if you ask me, i would be shocked if she left. you know, would really surprise me if she stepped aside. nancy pelosi is someone who absolutely loves to be part of the architecture of big major decisions, the big issues. we wouldn't have health care reform without barack obama and nancy pelosi . and with the fiscal cliff issues and the big economic decisions we're going to be making it would be hard for me to imagine she walks away. plus, you know, we had a successful election and we've got a job to finish. so just knowing her, that's my gut feeling.
>> did you guys have a successful election? because --
>> you mean in the house?
>> yeah, obviously the president won big, the senate won big, but the republicans are still in charge of the house.
>> yeah, they are. but, look, i think if you look at -- if this election were not right after redistricting, and if you did not have the massive infusion of the super pac money into these house races, that's where superpac money is able to have the most disproportionate in the race. you can really make an impact if you dump $2 million into a race, you know, at the last minute. harder, obviously, to affect the senate race or presidential election , but between the republicans all across the country, they took over many, many state legislatures , redistricted most of the maps to their favor, and then add super pac money . and so i think that was more a factor in the outcome. i think we would have -- i would think we would've won the majority if not for those two factors.
>> can we talk about the rise of women in washington? how exciting is this?
>> a lot of new names including elizabeth warren .
>> heidi heitkamp .
>> i have a question not skewed at all.
>> it's skewed.
>> not meant to be an insult to men at all. if it was just women in washington, how quickly would we solve the fiscal cliff?
>> do you know how often women in congress talk about that?
>> i'm serious. there's interesting data about how women and -- sort of work to solve problems.
>> build consensus, put aside petty differences.
>> about how you're basically better than us?
>> we don't do a lot of chest beating.
>> chest thumping.
>> mika, remember in 2010 , that was the first time since 1982 that we actually lost -- we went down in the number of women serving in congress. and one election later, we have a record number of women serving. 20 members of the u.s. senate , 78 members in the house of representatives . women are now not just firmly established in the leadership of this country, but now as the longer and more seniority women gain, the more -- the more of a role we're going to have in the significant decisions made.
>> and john heilemann when you get men and women together, women have the men like a puppet show . sorry.
>> on the question of the fiscal cliff, a lot of liberals, paul krugman and others on the left are saying there is no fiscal cliff. it would be crazy for us to go for a big deficit reduction deal. you're hearing this loudly starting to echo in quarters of the democratic party . it sounds to me like on the basis of what we were talking about off camera that you disagree with that and we need to do a big deal .
>> look, there isn't anyone out there in the grassroots, which we just came through an election in which there were tens of thousands of doors knocked on, phone calls. what i heard all across the country as i traveled on behalf of president obama is that whether you're a liberal or conservative, people are clamoring for us to come together, to work together, and to move our economy forward. and people do not think that we should have massive defense cuts and massive discretionary cuts and that we have to focus on making sure we add solvency to medicare , deal with social security , which is not in crisis so we have more time to deal with that. i mean, we'll be in our 80s by the time there's -- we're upside-down in social security and we have to be responsible about the approach we take. we have to deal with it.
>> medicare , though, obviously medicare and medicaid are the two big --
>> yeah, but we've shown we can add years of solvency like we did -- well, you can continue to focus on making sure that around the margins we deal with cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse. we've already in the last year and a half --
>> that doesn't mean anything.
>> it sure does, joe.
>> it doesn't. fraud and abuse, seriously?
>> taking the $17 billion in savings and plowing it into waste, fraud and abuse, in the last two years we went from --
>> the savings went in to start a new entitlement program called obama care.
>> no, what it it did, it took that money and we not only made sure that we cracked down on waste, fraud and abuse, in the last two years we've doubled the amount that we've collected in fraudulent payments, $10 billion plus. in part. not completely.
>> how else do we do it?
>> well, we have to take a comprehensive look at making sure that we are not -- we've looked at fraud. we've looked at waste, and we're going to have to come together. i'm not going to give a prescription here on the air, but we have to come together and build consensus around what you can do to add the solvency.
>> back to the question you didn't answer which i asked, you think that --
>> i did answer.
>> you said you thought we should avoid the fiscal cliff and everyone agrees on that. my question is whether you think -- what you think the long-term deficit reduction is a priority going forward?
>> yes, it is. if you misunderstood my answer, yes, it is a high priority. we should engage in long-term deficit reduction. but focusing on jobs and getting the economy turned around is the number one priority. we also have to deal with deficit reduction and the fiscal cliff is an immediate issue to take on.
>> do you want to stay on as it dnc chair? will you stay on as dnc chair?
>> i'm not focused on that right now. we've got a lot of decisions. i'm focused on --
>> raising the retirement age, i'm just asking, is it -- is it something that needs to be -- is it one of the many things that needs to be talked about?
>> i don't think so. i think we can take a look at there's a lot of different approaches you can take. i'm not someone that believes that significant benefit cuts or taking people out of their eligibility for medicare is the right way to go.
>> so final question, how do you soldier on over the next two years without allen west by your side in congress?
>> well, i'll try to find a way to deal with it.
>> congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz , thank you so much. we're back in just a moment. some