Morning Joe | February 13, 2013
>>> our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. and right now leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement , faith communities, they all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform . now is the time to do it. now is the time to get it done. let's get this done. send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and i will sign it right away, and america will be better for it. let's get it done. let's get it done.
>> let's get it done. 23 past the hour. joining us now, gentlemen, we have political analyst, host of cbs's "need to know" and columnist for yahoo! news jeff greenfield . also cnbc's brian schactman who was up way too early this morning.
>> way too early.
>> from los angeles , los angeles mayor antonio villaraigosa . good to have you on board this morning.
>> the point of the speech was to put obama front and center on the economy, it didn't work. primarily because the noneconomic part of the speech, particularly the section on guns, was the more emotional level. it really was the highlight of that speech emotionally regardless of your stance on guns.
>> yeah. most state of the union speeches are prose, not poetry. as you know this. you had to sit there and do the aerobic exercises. it's wonky. it's washingtonian. a lot of the stuff, the message, i'm on your side. the real message of the economic section was i'm from the government and i'm here to help which is a tough sell.
>> trickle down liberalism.
>> well, okay. but the gun part of the speech was so unusual for a state of the union , so charged, for obvious reasons, it's a visceral issue. anyone who's ever been a parent, you don't even have to be a parent to have experienced what newtown was like. i think if you're at home watching and you don't watch c-span 3 for erotic pleasure, if you're a normal american, that's what you take away from that speech. if the point of it was to say i'm on your side, i'm on the side of the middle class , i think it got overwhelmed by the sheer power of what happened later on in the speech.
>> it really was a strong, strong ending to the speech. very moving. mr. mayor, what was your takeaway from the speech?
>> well, from what i got to see of it, as you know i was dealing with a crisis over the last week, i can -- i thought pretty much the same thing. the issue of gun violence in america is visceral. it hits right to the heart strings of americans. it certainly was the emotional highlight of the speech. i thought the immigration section that we just heard is one of the most important. but that and the economic themes that he was trying to hit probably lost a little steam with the emotion packed with that issue.
>> yep. mike barnicle .
>> can you give us an update on the christopher dorner situation? h as it seemed to come to a head yesterday in the san bernardino mountains ?
>> thankfully it has. thanks to the brave men and women of the san bernardino sheriff's department it looks like we have our man. as you know, we still have to identify him. so at this point the people that were protecting -- who've been targeted are still being protected until we are absolutely certain that it is mr. dorner.
>> brian schactman, what did you take away from the economics of the speech?
>> well, it's interesting. because one thing you talked about, jeffrey, the middle class . we haven't talked about -- the pre-k thing came out of nowhere. the minimum wage hike was another interesting thing. one thing -- when we watch jobs, there's a huge swath of this population that might be out of work that will never find its niche consistently for the rest of their working lives. and so pointing the attention towards the next generation and maybe trying to make sure their educations are in place, that they can make -- because minimum wage is for young people . when you think about it, that's what you think of. so focusing on maybe making sure there isn't that structural unemployment for the next generation could have a lot of foresight. whether it's even a priority, i don't know. but people at home, they remember that, oh, minimum wage might go up. oh, maybe pre-k is something that might be taken care of for me. those are takeaways that i did not expect to hear.
>> jeff, i always -- people always said that washington was so hard to figure out. i said it's actually the easiest thing, place in the world. i'm serious. it's not that hard to figure out what somebody wants. then you immediately know their leverage. i got to say, though, barack obama continues to baffle me. in his inauguration, then in his speech last night, he wasn't doing what bill clinton would always do which is reach out and grab working class voters and talk specifically to them. he was talking in the state of the union last night about guns. he was talking about climate change. he was talking about universal pre-k. and it was striking themes, and it's not going to pass the republican house. but like the inauguration he seemed to be playing for the history books. to me.
>> okay. but i think in fairness state of the union speeches, one of the reasons why we remember so few of them is, unlike an inaugural, it is a speech where the president lays out a broad litany. i'm sure some people are going to criticize him for not talking about international affairs enough. you know, i think what brian is saying is right in the sense that for folks watching this who are not policy wonks, what they heard was stuff they could take with them. about minimum wage . about pre-k. the fundamental part about this is there is a huge chasm about what to do about the central problem we've been facing for five years, which is lack of growth and widespread unemployment. you've got a republican party at base that really believes in a version of austerity. and you've got a president who believes in what he calls investment and what republicans call spending. it is a chasm that i think is unbridgeable. and perhaps that's one of the reasons why the president went into other issues that don't require him to persuade a house majority that is not persuadable about his view of government.
>> right. mike, this problem actually has gone well beyond five years. the average wage for men has been on the decline since 1973 . we all remember bill clinton in december of 1991 , in january of '92, going around new hampshire talking about an economy in transition.
>> we're still in transition. and the working class continue to be left behind.
>> and you have the anomaly at some levels you have job growth , but not income growth. which is a really, really huge anomaly. it plays a factor in the lives of all of us, certainly. but in places like los angeles , mr. mayor, there is quite often, i would think, a link between structural unemployment , as brian schactman was just talking about, and the level of violence in specific neighbors. if you go into south central or into watts where huge unemployment rates have existed for years and years and years, the violence level has remained consistent. how do you cope with that in an economic environment as we're going through right now?
>> well, actually, in the last seven years, there's been a 40% drop in violent crime in los angeles . and in watts, there's been almost a 50% drop in crime. yet the unemployment rate is too high. and i can tell you that it's higher than many cities, precisely because so many people don't have a high school diploma . don't have a college education . in an economy where increasingly you need that. i will say something about immigration. one out of ten angelenos are undocumented. about 58% of los angeles households have at least one immigrant as the head of a household. this issue of immigration is an issue that isn't just a social issue, if you will. it's an economic issue. not just for cities like l.a., but for the nation. $1.5 trillion infusion into the economy. if we bring these people from out of the dark and into the light . it's an economic issue. it does strike at the heart of angelenos and people all across the country, particularly in our big cities , but also in rural areas as well.
>> final word, brian ?
>> what you said earlier about marco rubio 's response, do you want to chime in?
>> go ahead.
>> i think might be most important of the whole show. there was an opportunity to say what the republicans can do. instead he was saying about what the democrats and obama are doing that's wrong. i think there was a real opportunity to come across and say to that middle class american what the republicans can do for you. and they did not do that.
>> i've been saying since the day after the election, the great challenge for the republican party is to do what ronald reagan did and margaret thatcher did and explain, whether it's a selling point or not, but they believe it. reagan believed that free enterprise , free markets , were just as good for the 18-year-old latino and watts as a 65-year-old white hedge fund manager in greenwich, connecticut. you don't get the sense that conservatives like mitt romney and some we've been hearing lately connect those dots. they don't believe the gospel they're preaching. so americans turn them off.
>> given the unbridgeable, which would be possibly the economic side of this, the more i think about it, the more i think that last part of the speech was incredibly powerful. and actually brilliantly played. because he could have gone too far. and overpoliticized newtown. he could have overly used the victims' families. it was pitch perfect. and it was the one area where he warned republicans, let's get something done.
>> it wasn't prose, as you said.
>> yeah. and i think that's what -- that's what startled some of us who've been watching state of the unions for a very long time. it was of a different -- it was actually the debut of his new chief speech writer . cody keenan.
>> and it was one of those few times when a state of the union actually to me reached beyond the washington world . presidents always try to talk to two audiences. the congress and the public. that part of the speech was clearly talking to the public.
>> all right. mayor antonio villaraigosa , thank you so much for being with us. jeff, stay with us. brian , you'll be back shortly for business for the bell.
>>> coming up next, this is the resume for which president? 3.3% unemployment rate .
>> that's great.
>> 7% annual economic growth .
>> reduced government spending by 35%.
>> i'm voting for him.
>> and five years of budget surpluses. any guesses?
>> i know. i cheated.
>> up next, best selling biograp biography. what calvin coolidge could teach us about today's economy. that's next when " morning joe " returns. they see me rollin'