Morning Joe | January 25, 2013
>>> i would take office as secretary proud that the senate is in my blood. but equally proud that so, too, is the foreign service . my father's work under presidents both democrat and republican took me and my siblings around the world for personal journey that brought home the sacrifices and the commitment the men and women of the foreign service make every day on behalf of america.
>> i do this because i love the lord. amen. do we get an amen? why we're here. i just do this because i lord -- love the lord. you know why?
>> three reasons.
>> because i never, ever did a campaign commercial sitting in a pew of my church.
>> you are unstoppable, joe .
>> that could have been the greatest tv ad ever.
>> thank you.
>> you need to run again because i need to see those ads again.
>> we were talking about taxes.
>> oh, okay.
>> i'm the democrat. and i want to see the revenue piece dealt with. i don't know how much higher can they go?
>> and i hear, steve , we were on the same page. we were just discussing this and all going back and forth here. where do you find this new revenue? do you mess with deductability, to joe 's point, entitlements?
>> it's not about the question you were asking steve , though. let's say you make $400,000. and you're in new york , manhattan, you've got a small business . in an urban area . your chances are good if you're in new york or california or illinois or some of these other states. you're paying the government 51%, 52%, 53% when you add in the local and the state.
>> how high can it go?
>> you are paying the government over 50% of your income. now, i know there are i a lot of people that say you should pay that anyway. that's great. give the money to the government instead of investing it in more jobs, more growth. more hope. where does this money come from, steve ? tax man?
>> don't put it all on steve .
>> i don't mind lowering your taxes as long as you're willing to have me lower your benefits because the numbers -- ultimately the math has to add up. joe , you are the great deficit hawk of all time.
>> i am.
>> you believe we should not be incurring this debt, so we've got to do something.
>> what is that something? we have an aging society with a large commitment to social welfare programs that the public does not want to see materially reduced. you may want to, but the polls say the public does not want to see them materially reduced.
>> by the way --
>> where is all this money going to come from?
>> it's not about what i don't want or want. this is basic arithmetic. the deficit, the debt that is incurred by medicare and medicaid in the out years, it just can't be made up, even in a small part by increasing taxes on the margins anymore. i mean, you could take the tax rate up to 95%, perhaps.
>> well, you don't have to go that high. the math has been done. and if you took the tax rate , the federal rate at 40 into the 50s, you could solve the problem. i'm not here to propose that.
>> to the 50s which would mean a lot of americans in new york and california would be paying 75% to 80%.
>> i'm not here to propose that.
>> you are something.
>> i'm here to find out what is the scarborough plan? it does not include raising taxes anymore because they're already too high.
>> no, you're wrong.
>> you're wrong.
>> i love the buffett plan. i don't want people like you --
>> all right.
>> -- and this is what makes me sad, people like you paying, what, 15%, 16%, 17% of your taxes because you've got your hoity-toity lawyers and accountants, steve rattner. i think every american like warren buffett says should pay a minimum 30% taxes. i'm saying in the top brackets. because all the really rich people are now paying 16%, 17%.
>> because most of it comes from investment income. mine's all earned income .
>> that's fine, but don't hold me to this exact number, $150 billion in revenue over ten years.
>> i'm getting yelled at right now from alex because we've got to bring in a guy who makes more money than all of us combined. i'm talking, of course, of the extraordinarily wealthy, a man who fortunately today is not wearing a top hat or his monacle, david gregory . and columnist and associate editor of "the washington post " and msnbc political analyst , eugene robinson , who is hoping to be outside of the nbc bureau later today when david gregory goes out and throws silver dollars . all over.
>> let's go back to talking about harold 's tv ads.
>> oh, my god, praise the lord .
>> it's diversionary.
>> that is a good diversion. so david , will you do us a favor and ask paul ryan how he's going to balance the bumgts dget in ten years? i think we have to balance the budget if ten years, but that's going to be hard sledding, isn't it?
>> it is. his previous budget, as you know, didn't even do it over a 30-year time horizon . he didn't deal with social security in his last budget. he of course, now, famously dealt with medicare with premium support. and that's the real issue. i spent time on capitol hill this week, joe , and where realms are adamant is they want what you've been talking about. they want some kind of entitlement reform. i don't think that you're going to see ryan go back to premium support, but he's going to try to push as hard as he can. on the flip side of that, the president wants exactly what steve 's been talking about, more revenue through tax reform . and i've been told that, in fact, as we get closer to the sequester, these automatic spending cuts, the president is going to lay out just how awful those would be. what the consequences of those would be to push republicans into a corner to try to get more of that revenue because, as you know, mitch mcconnell has said on the senate side, we're done with taxes. we're done with new revenue. now we have to deal with the spending side. so this is still where that fault line is between the white house and republicans right now. and that goes to the point of paul ryan and how difficult, where those spending cuts are going to come from if he's going to do a ten-year time horizon .
>> leigh, this is not about ideology anymore. republicans have raised taxes. at this point, the question is what harold 's asking, what a lot of democrats might be asking that have businesses, small businesses or large businesses, how much more can we tax americans that are already paying 50%, 55% in some of the urban areas without really damaging the job creators?
>> that's true. no, that's a huge point. and that's the issue at hand here. i mean, gene, let me ask you a question. getting back to paul ryan , you know, his vote on the fiscal cliff deal really distinguished himself from marco rubio . he basically talked a lot about, look, elections have consequences. you know, this is a pragmatic -- we have to govern within the limits that we're told to govern in. how do you think that's going to affect what happens going forward here?
>> you mean ryan 's decision to go along with the program?
>> i think -- i look at it more through the prism of ryan 's political ambitions and where he wants to position himself. going forward as a viable candidate next time around. i think he felt he couldn't continue to -- he couldn't position himself as a perpetual naysayer, and he has to get in the game. and so he did. but i will be fascinated to see what the components of this new budget are because like joe , i have trouble figuring how that's going to add up without new revenue. i think it can't be a pretty thing. and to the extent that it's not pretty, i wonder how it features into his future plans.
>> eugene and david , good morning. david , harold ford . real quick. you got ryan on the show over the weekend. and we had richard wolffe on earlier talking about the example in england and great britain where austerity has produced a triple-dip recession. joe has talked about austerity alone not solving these channel led challenges. i'm interested in exploring with paul, where are the growth elements? he's talking about only cuts. cuts alone won't invigorate and stimulate the economy. what's the republican plan that you've been able to surmise so far, been able to glean so far, what's their plan to actually grow the economy? it can't be cuts alone.
>> yeah, i think it's the right question, and i will ask it, harold , because what ryan has talked about is a down payment on a debt crisis, trying to stay a couple steps ahead of where europe is. so that america has influence around the globe and can try to get to a growth posture. look, the president believes very firmly that part of how you get growth is by more investment, by more government spending on infrastructure and the like, particularly in new sectors to try to, you know, get companies more comfortable with the idea of investment. i don't know where that's going to come on the republican side . particularly because their first-line belief is that until you get some kind of down payment on debt and reduce the size of government, you're not going to have enough confidence on the part of major companies to make those investments. so it's the question of what comes first -- what has to come first, and that's where the battle lines are going to be.
>> i think, david , it's steve . i think what the republicans are saying is basically if you liberate them from regulatory burdens, from uncertainty in washington, get government out of their hair generally, that's at least from what i've heard is kind of their growth program.
>> sure. yeah, no question about it. you know, one of the other areas of emphasis i know from paul ryan is, you know, the impact of obamacare, which republicans believe is going to have exactly the opposite effect on the economy and on medicare savings that the president says it will. so, you know, that's another area of trying to reduce the scope of that where they think that's part of the regulatory, you know, overhang that they want to try to deal with.
>> it will be interesting to see if he kind of draws a fence around defense spending . this has been a big foreign policy week in washington. and i'm wondering, given what we've learned about al qaeda and its resurgence in north africa and just defense posture globally, david , do you have a sense of what ryan is thinking about defense spending these days?
>> no, i don't, particularly with regard to ryan , but i think it's such an important point, gene, because the threat from northern africa alone, listen to secretary clinton's testimony beyond what went into the benghazi attack or what information was missed. the need to fortify our missions and installations and consulates and embassies around the globe. and to the extent that we're going to have an aggressive posture to deal with an al qaeda 3.0 around the globe or failing states, if that comes to pass in afghanistan, there are real concerns that a lot of people have about the united states right now. to say nothing of all of the costs related to our returning soldiers and the sort of care that they're going to need.
>> you know, what's so fascinating, steve rattner, talking about the debate, i'm actually hearing from conservative republicans in the house that they're thinking about letting the sequester cuts go through on defense. it's actually the president of the united states now who's talking about standing in the way of stopping those huge defense cuts.
>> but i think the posture of the white house at the moment actually is we're going to let those cuts go through. we're going to let sequester happen.
>> really? it may happen. let's hope it does.
>> i think they obviously want the republicans to come to them with compromise. right now their position is let them go.
>> cut defense spending . david , thanks. we look forward to this weekend, an exclusive interview with paul ryan on "meet the press." eugene gregory, thank you. we'll be reading your column in "the washington post ." t.j., what's going on here? okay. we were going to -- we were going to -- okay, fine. coming up, from -- we're going to give harold ford some problems here. but this is more exciting, actually, from the new nbc drama "deception," we have actor victor garber with us straight ahead on " morning joe ." here