Morning Joe | February 13, 2013
>>> 1978 . do you remember these commercials?
>> there's chris christie right there.
>> now, stop it. it's just -- you know what? it's amazing, the way we marketed poison to our children.
>> oh, i tell you what. poison tastes so much better than this.
>> stop drinking that. and you need to change, by the way, robert gibbs has a sweater does not look like it will walk away .
>> robert looks good.
>> you, i have some advice that's coming in on twitter @morningmika saying that you should get some febreze and spray joe . that might help.
>> i don't know what that means.
>> that might help.
>> is it about my sweater?
>> i think that's much more --
>> i'm the only one on the face of the earth who doesn't know how to say tupac because i'm getting killed. i'm not going to look over there anymore. sorry about that.
>> during the show. it's very distracting. how did the president do last night, robert ?
>> i thought the president outlined a very robust, busy agenda for america . i thought --
>> can he get any of it done?
>> look, i think that's going to be the $664,0$64,000 question. i think the prosecutes is right to say we cannot govern a series of manufactured crises. but the things that have been done in washington over the past two years are those things with these hard backstops of deadlines that move people to do something. i think immigration reform is different, but i think that's almost entirely because republicans who had an exit poll the morning after the election and decided we've got to fix that.
>> there's nothing like a hanging at dawn that focuses, more than the hanging at dawn that focuses -- gene, though, we were talking about this earlier, isn't the president, though, the guy in charge? the buck stops with him, and if washington is tacking from one crisis to the next, he is the captain.
>> yeah. but he doesn't have the power to pass legislation. he doesn't have the power of the purse . so he laid out an ambitious agenda, most of which needs legislative action, some of which can be done with executive action . and i think he made clear that he will do with executive action what he can accomplish and try on the rest. i don't think we heard a lot that would give us confidence that we're going to have big, bold legislative progress.
>> right. i asked before, what was ted cruz 's strategy. because i'm having a hard time figuring it out. in a completely different ballpark here.
>> i'm asking, what the president's strategy of speaking past congress to the american people when he knows, over the next couple of years, he's going to have to deal with people that were in front of him last night if he wants to get some of the legislation passed that he really wants passed?
>> well, i think he perhaps has difficulty figuring out what it is he's supposed to say to the people in front of him that will have the desired result, right? he said what he believes and what he would like to see and let's work together toward it. we won't all get everything we want, but we'll get some of it. and the country will be a better place . that's a reasonable message, right? and i think if you've sensed a certain reality check inside the president's head about who was listening there in that chamber and if you perhaps saw a few of the battle scars, then maybe that's what you sensed. but, you know, he laid it out. i don't know what else he could have said.
>> john heilemann, some republicans are accusing the president of already looking ahead to 2014 . trying to set up nancy pelosi as speaker of the house , realizing he's not going to be able to work with john boehner 's house . do you think that's a fair conclusion to draw from the speech last night and the progressive message that was contained in his inauguration?
>> well, i don't, really, joe , in the sense that the kinds of issues that the president spent a lot of time on last night, you think about the push that he gave to gun control . you think about the climate change push that took up a lot of the speech and was a big deviation from the first four years. those are not issues that democrats in the house -- i mean, there's obviously people on the left wing of the democratic party who love those issues. but for vulnerable depthmocrats, those are tough issues. democrats in purple districts and the few remaining democrats that are in kind of red states , those are hard votes to take. that's not agenda for a democratic majority.
>> well, it's not also an agenda for democrats that are running for re-election in the senate in 2014 which is, again --
>> right. right.
>> -- a reason why i raise the question, what was the president after last night? because he's going to have as much trouble with kay hagen on that as he is from kevin mccarthy who we're about to interview here.
>> from north carolina .
>> from north carolina , right.
>> i think there are two different things going on, joe .
>> a democrat.
>> i think one is that the president is playing a long game with respect to helping to cement the coalition that he built in 2012 . these are issues that are good issues for democrats on a national level that helped them be a presidential party . they're not necessarily great for a lot of democrats in congress for a lot of vulnerable democrats in congress , but there are good issues on which to build that coalition on which he won in 2012 . and on the short-term thing, look, the president looks back on 2011 , and on every time there's been a fiscal negotiation, when he's tried to play the inside game, he's gotten nowhere. and so his lesson that he's taken away i think from the debt ceiling debacle and the way he won the payroll tax fight in the early part of 2012 was that you win by playing the outside game, by bringing public pressure on congress . you can't win by just playing the game, as david axelrod put it once, by trying to negotiate with republicans in quite rooms. he's got to drive public pressure , and that's the only way progress is going to happen.
>> we've got kevin mccarthy coming up in 30 seconds. quickly, robert gibbs , when i hear the speech last night, and it looks like he's brushing past republicans , i think back to that editorial meeting in reno, i think it was, back in 2008 where he said i want to be a transitional president like reagan. i think this is about building a center/left coalition for a generation to come. that's his goal.
>> i think what john said is right. look, you're dealing with members of congress that are sitting at a 12% approval rating , right? you don't spend a lot of time in meetings thinking, what happens if we go to 7%, right? they've got -- the president has to bring some outside pressure on behalf of the american people . i think the refrain of they deserve a vote was written in there not just about gun control but about all the other proposals in the speech, saying to the american people , pressure this congress into voting on the series of things that you heard tonight. and as the president said, it is your choice. you can vote yes or you can vote no. but they deserve some vote in this.
>> yeah. and i think it was also promoting an element of teamwork rather than confrontation, which, you know, i think it would have been criticized if he got -- if he went there too hard on the republicans . with us now from capitol hill , let's ask house majority whip and republican representative from california, congressman kevin mccarthy who joins us now. kevin , good to have you on this morning.
>> thanks for having me.
>> first of all, i'd love to hear your response to what the president had to say, and then i'm going to ask you about marco rubio .
>> did we put the water -- do you got the water to the side of you there?
>> we have a cup of water.
>> it's a cheap shot, i'm sorry. go ahead.
>> look, i mean, the president, what he laid out, there were some things we had heard before that were pieced together again. there were a lot of -- in some of those arguments that i hear you talking around the table with, one democrat turned to me and said, let there be a vote, it wasn't so much he was talking to the house . he was trying to talk to senate democrats because a lot of the things that he talked about he'll actually have trouble getting through a senate . so part of it was talking to the outside trying to change congress , trying to move together. but he delivers a good speech. the most difficult part that i was looking for, of all the things he wants to add, i would have set up talks on both, do the first priority, and then we can talk about where we're going to spend the rest of this money.
>> let's talk about the democrats up in 2014 . and i talked about kay hagen . there are a lot of others. democrats face a really uphill battle . do you get the sense that some of the president's asqugenda items, whether it's global warming or gun control , or going to face roadblocks in the senate because of senate democrats ?
>> i think if he tries to move any of that through the senate , it's probably one of the most difficult jobs he'll have to get it out of the senate . what do you got, six senators, the states that obama got under 42% in are up for re-election. that's a tough play. and the senate is not known for getting together and moving, and this makes it even more difficult.
>> i mean, south dakota , alaska, north carolina , louisiana , montana , arkansas. i mean, those --
>> that's not an agenda they can run on for re-election.
>> and those are all democrats that got elected in really red states that are up in 2014 . go ahead, harold. i'm sorry.
>> kevin , good morning. harold ford , congressman. very quickly, the president did speak to the need for congress to act on a variety of things. and he spoke specifically to how congress responds to manufactured crises. i can appreciate the concern. i know you're expressing for democrats up for re-election in the senate next year, but was is there some truth to the fact that --
>> kevin 's worried. he's sensitive.
>> sincere, too. is there some truth to the fact that congress only responds and reacts when they're faced with a crises, and can we move beyond it? because i think there's a frustration in the country, probably in california, certainly across the country about how this legislative branch only reacts when they have the proverbial legislative gun to their head.
>> look, i've watched a lot of governments through the years. and nine times out of ten, they only react till after the deadline's passed. this place is no different. if you check with what has gone through the house today, we had a debt ceiling crisis. did you hear us go to the brink, or did you watch the house and the republicans take the lead and move that beyond and put the focus on to the budget? when you talk today about sequestration, what the president talked about, that's what was the president's idea in the last debt ceiling. one thing i will say is the most important thing we need to do is end the uncertainty, end the crisis prks but what you have to do is deal with those issues early. that's why the house , last term, passed two bills that dealt with sequestration. the senate did nothing. now we're coming up to the deadline, and now people are creating a crisis. if you want to focus on something, you should plan to the future. and if we haven't had a budget come out of the senate in the last three years, and what i think is most ironic, you've got tim cook , ceo of apple, sitting up with the first lady. the last time the senate democrats passed a budget, the ipad wasn't even introduced yet. so yeah. i would do the first priorities and planning in a budget would be the best thing to end a lot of crises.
>> so what's the republican plan right now on sequestration? the president doesn't want it. but some conservatives are starting to say despite the fact there are a lot of defense cuts in there, this may be the only way we get real spending cuts over the next year.
>> if nothing happens, sequestration goes into effect, if i look at past behavior of washington , there's a very good chance it goes into effect. that is what the deal was more than 18 months ago, and that was the only thing the president asked for. you're asking for three cents on the dollar to be cut, and it's over a ten-year time frame . so everything i see going forward, it's going to go through. and then at the end of the month, you're going to have a continuing resolution which you're going to find that republicans in the house want to make sure that we do not create a crisis. that we actually pass a continuing resolution early enough, no problems, move it forward, and let's plan for a future that we can actually build an economy.
>> so kevin , just before we get to the republican response, are any leaders in congress , republican leaders, willing to go to the white house and meet with the president and try and make some sort of at least small deal, if not a bigger one?
>> look, we're more than willing to work with the president on any issue he wants to work on. but to be quite frank, we're kind of tired of being charlie brown and have lucy pull the football out from under us. there's many times we go there and want to deal with entitlement reform. and look, i'm one that firmly believes in divided government , you achieve big things . ronald reagan had tip o'neill and they reformed the tax code . bill clinton , he had newt gingrich and bob dole . and they balanced the budget by reforming welfare. right after the inaugural, we had that lunch. and i was seated at the table next to bill clinton . you know what i whispered into his ear? i never thought i'd tell you this, but we miss you. i said, my best advice is, you should call the president every night for 30 minutes . talk to him. how do you get to a place? welfare reform was not a place democrats wanted to go to under bill clinton , but he took them there. we went there together and it was best for america . we can do that same thing to save entitlements and put america back on a different financial track. and i'll tell you what. you could achieve a lot more when you have a different financial house .
>> hey, kevin ?
>> you've got to go. i mean, in order to get something done, don't you have to meet?
>> we'll gladly meet.
>> there's no problem with us not meeting. the difference is, remember the last times when we meet? the president would take the time to say he couldn't meet because he was out campaigning. he'd go to michigan. he'd go to pennsylvania.
>> kevin , kevin , kevin , you know what? hold on. you can also say that the last time you guys were close to something, you guys released it to the press before you went to the president. go back. just go back. just stop.
>> mika, i've been there many times, and i've watched the negotiations, and i've listened to the president say many times he wants to reform entitlements but can never get there at the end of the day . so, look. the framers of this country set out that the house does work. the senate does work. and then you can go and finish the job and send it to the president. sometimes i think that's probably the best way to get the job done.
>> joe .
>> kevin , thanks so much for being with us. we greatly appreciate it. i always love talking to you. can i leave you with one bit of advice?
>> if somebody ever asks you to give the response to the state of the union address , do what chris christie did, and just say no. is it not a no-win situation, actually?
>> you know the best advice for republicans is to win the white house so we never have to give the response.
>> there you go. bingo. kevin mccarthy , thank you so much. i greatly appreciate it. you know, i thought, gene, actually, when he -- when kevin was talking about, he leaned over and whispered into bill clinton 's ear, i thought he was going to say, i thought i had been around in the '90s so i could impeach you.
>> what gift says more than impeachment? come on.
>> it's so funny. david axelrod goes crazy when bill clinton and i talk about all the great things we accomplished in the '90s because they impeached him! in the '90s, it seemed like the thing. it just seemed like the thing to do at the time.
>> what happened in the '90s stays in the '90s.
>> unfortunately, no.
>> correction on something kevin said. remember, it was the senate that acted first to help avert the fiscal cliff. had it not been for mcconnell, had it not been for reid and biden and the senate acting first before the house --
>> that said, in kevin 's defense, house republicans passed so many things that just never see the light of day. and harry reid 's senate . but the way things used to work, you used to pass things in the house , and then the senate would pass things. and then when harold and i at least were in washington in the '90s, then you go to conference committee , and they battle it out. that doesn't happen if harry reid doesn't pass things in the senate . he is the president's pocket veto .
>> the step you're missing in that is -- and kevin mccarthy 's interview proves that denial is not simply a river in egypt -- there's no conference committee .
>> can i -- hold on. hold on.
>> that's a good one. that was so fancy.
>> is not just a river in egypt .
>> that's what he does now.
>> that's something brad pitt would say in one of those chanel ads.
>> let's call brad.
>> standing against the wall wearing nothing.
>> he's wearing the sweater.
>> go like this.
>> you can't get away with saying things like that on this show.
>> i want to hear his vision.
>> why? more " morning joe ."
>> i know you're way above the cliche. i'm sorry.
>> stupid cliche.
>> what are they putting on the table when they go to the white house ? what are they putting on the table to get us halfway from where the president is and house republicans are to where we have to meet in the middle ? these guys pass bills, like he said, and they act like if the president doesn't accept their bill, then somehow the president isn't doing his job. i mean, to use your ship and captain analogy.
>> right? it is as if it's more like the oceanliner that's adrift in mexico, right?
>> the constitution needs -- the constitution requires that the captain in this case get approval from everybody else before we turn that wheel. and it requires --
>> don't bring up the constitution because i'll say the constitution believes that you're going to have a lower chamber of the house , an upper chamber of the senate , they'll both pass legislation, they'll come together in conference committee , they're going in regular order, they're going to go ahead and get a deal, and then they're going to take it to the white house . but harry reid has been the president's first line of defense against having to answer any of these pieces of legislation.
>> also, by the way, you pass a bill with a majority in the senate . you don't need 60 votes for everything.
>> i think fortunately we're heading that way. by the way, and we need to remember these six states because it really is key to the president as much as house republicans . democrats , in 2014 , running in south dakota , alaska, north carolina , louisiana , montana and arkansas. the president barely got 40% of the vote there. harold ford , that's going to be key to what passes in congress .
>> i do think that kevin has a slight concern for those democratic senators, but i think the larger point is the correct one. whether or not the agenda the president laid out last night and the way that he did is one that can be successful run in these states. the outcomes, if we reduce gun violence , yes, create a path so citizenship for so many americans who are hardworking and paying taxes, yes, that will help. the way politics are played around these issues, i would agree.
>> listen, and i'm just going to say as a guy that wants universal background checks passed, as a guy that would like to see the high-capacity magazines lifted -- and landrieu in louisiana , baucus in montana , i'm very concerned that a lot of this sensible gun legislation, even trafficking, may be endangered not just by house republicans but by senate democrats . it's going to be tough.
>> eugene, thank you so much.
>> gene, thank you.
>> robert , can you stay with us? i'm getting my clip board out. i can't wait to write all these down.
>> i'm ready.
>> denial is more than just a river in egypt . brad pitt .
>> not just. if he's going to do it, can you ask him to get it right, at least?
>>> coming up next, comcast chairman and ceo brian roberts is going to be here.
>> oh, boy.
>> to discuss why in the world he would want to buy all of nbc universal when we worked here. also with us, mika, who?
>> oh, we have mayor antonio villaraigosa and political analyst, jeff greenfield . up next, senator tom coburn joins us along with chuck todd . you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. my