Morning Joe | February 08, 2013
>>> the u.s. postal service says delivering the mail on saturdays must stop if they are to survive.
>> the postal service hopes the cuts will help it save some $2 billion annually after losing nearly $16 billion last year.
>> wow! i can't believe the business model of transporting letters with vehicles across the country for 40 cents a pop is failing. where do you want me to take that? hawaii? yeah, no problem. i'll put it on a plane, get there in two days. you got a quarter? i'll do it for a quarter. [ bleep ] that, i'll just do it.
>> okay, 46 past the hour. a live look at the white house . that was funny. here with us now, senior political editor and white house correspondent for the huffington post , sam stein in the jump seat . hi, sam .
>> we're going to do "must-read opinion pages." kelly o'donnell is going to take us through the first one. what did you pick?
>> reporter: just looking over the list, let's take a look at "the washington post " and sequester. we're only a few weeks away from this, mika. where charles krauthammer writes, "the sequester is for cutting. the only question is whether it will be done automatically and indiscriminately or whether the president will offer an alternative set of cuts. then we can take up real problems. to succeed, republicans must
remain united under one demand: cuts with no taxes, or we'll let the sequester go into effect. the morning after they should sit down with obama for negotiations on real tax reform as recommended by the president's own simpson-bowles commission. broaden the base, lower the rates." and it was one of the things that secretary panetta was talking about, richard, the impact, he said if this goes into effect, it won't be short term, and the ramifications would be deep, steep and devastating. is that a fair assessment, that it would be very hard to turn this around quickly?
>> if you have to do all the sequester in a hurry, then yes, it's a real problem because it doesn't let the pentagon begin to plan and distribute, if you will, the cuts. but at the end of the day , whether it's defense spending , education spending, health spending , what always matters more than how much you spend is how you spend it. and so i'm not, at the end of the day , all that worried about how much we spend, whether it's on defense or anything else. you just want to have the time to make some intelligent cuts rather than have to make them literally in a matter of days which would probably mean that readiness more than anything else would be cut out of the defense department account. and that's probably the one thing you don't want cut out of it.
>> sam stein, you're close and yet so far away over there at the jump seat . what are the odds that the sequester actually takes place? we know the president's proposed something to push them back a while. are we going to see these kind of cuts, the ones that were outlined in the sequester proposal?
>> i think the odds are pretty high, to be honest. i don't think there's any appetite from republicans in congress to do any deal that has any tax revenue component just because they just signed off on a deal, the fiscal cliff deal that had $610 billion in tax revenue . they think it's time to go back to spending cuts. they really don't take into consideration the fact that we had the debt ceiling deal which was all cuts. that means they'll probably hold out for something that has cuts only. democrats won't take it, and we'll go over that proverbial cliff at the end of february. what's going to end up happening, i think, is that there's going to be incredible quick economic impact because of it. and that might persuade congress to go back and look at it and try to put in some sort of replacement. keep in mind, we just had a report a week ago that said that the economy shrunk in the fourth quarter in preparation for the sequester. not because the sequester hit, but in preparation for the sequester. so if that's just in preparation, i can't imagine what's going to happen when we actually do go through all the planning of going through sequestration.
>> this is the worst on both levels. in the short run, it tends to be recessionary, if you will, it slows down an already slow economy. also by not discriminating between investment and spending, it really is the worst possible way to run this business called the united states .
>> not all spending is equal. but this does not allow us to discriminate.
>> well, it's these do-or-die deadlines and these countdowns. i don't think anybody's buying them anymore, and they're really not leading to results, jonathan capehart.
>> no, they're not. do-or-die countdowns and also recalcitrance. remember, we're still talking about a republican party that's resisting, you know, even when the president says hey, republicans, you've got this idea that i like. i'm for it. and then they turn and they're against him. i think now what we're seeing with the president, now that he's been re-elected and inaugurated for a second time, he's much harder negotiator and quite frankly , i think, you know, maybe the president will call the republicans' bluff and say, look, if you don't want to do revenues, then fine. let the sequester happen.
>> kelly , is it impossible at this point to think that the president could call in the republicans and say we're not leaving the room till we agree on something long term that's really good for this country? and i don't care if we're here for weeks and weeks and weeks?
>> reporter: not impossible in the sense that there are already plans with lots of alternative ways to deal with this that exist. the house will tell you they've passed two of them. a set of cuts that would be different than just taking this ax across things. but is there the political moment for this? the one thing about deadlines is it sort of exhausts the opposition where they realize that it's harder and harder to fight, and it gets people to make some decisions. we're not quite there yet. three weeks feels like an eternity in washington. sometimes we've seen it going down by just a matter of hours where people finally get to something. and there's so many issues, too, with guns and with immigration. there's so much that is splitting the attention of members of congress. is it impossible? no. is it likely? it doesn't feel that way right now.
>> really quickly, the president and those close to him have said that he has invited republicans to come, and they could come anytime, anytime of day or night, to do a deal. what are you hearing in congress about that offer?
>> reporter: they want to be more specific. could you be here tuesday at 2:00? you will find that members of congress don't feel like they can simply call upon the president, that it is the president who must extend a specific invitation. and when you think about that, you know, it's a sense of almost propriety. they don't want to say, mr. president, we're going to be there. are you free for lunch? they want him to sort of set that agenda. mcconnell was saying it just yesterday. bring us over. as you point out, the president says come on over, and yet nobody's getting in the car.
>> drop by anytime. versus come on over at 4:00. we'll have tea.
>> like dating. why does he always make it -- is this like dating? i'm not going to call him. he has to call me. what?
>> it's a little sad.
>> okay. kelly , thank you so much. sam stein, stay with us.
>>> still ahead, we'll bring in independent senator angus king of maine and "meet the press" moderator david gregory joins us as well. we'll be right