Morning Joe | February 18, 2013
>>> senator, i have to say, it must be frustrating for you to carefully craft a rebuttal speech and then have it overshadowed by the fact you took a drink of water.
>> yes, i have to admit, it's a little aggravating, seth. so what? my mouth got a little dry and i took a drink of water. we've all been there. you're about to give an important policy speech, you get a little nervous, and you eat a whole bag of roasted peanuts and some beef jerky . there are how the lights on you. the room isn't ventilated. you're wearing your lucky unitard. then you take a drink from the tiniest bottle of water anyone's ever seen. and then for no reason, you set the bottle down even farther away . so what?
>> joining us from choig, senior adviser to president obama , david axelrod . mark halperin , john heilemann and andrew ross sorkin are all back at the table on this president's day.
>> i was hydrating all during that clip.
>> good. and feel free during the segment to pick up a drink.
>> own the drink.
>> so senator rubio says that the president's immigration plan, the backup plan is dead on arrival . is it?
>> well, first of all, the president's backup plan is a backup plan. i think the president's -- my understanding is that the president's staff has been meeting with senator rubio's staff and all of the staffs of the gang of eight throughout this period several times a week, so i think the president's plan is to support what they come up with, but he said there needs to be a comprehensive plan. he's working an a backup plan. the mistake here was to disseminate it so widely within the administration that it got leaked. and i'm sure if they could, they'd take that back.
>> so it's just a protocol issue, david ? their feelings are hurt?
>> it can't be more than that because i don't think they've seen the actual plan. and when i read about the details of the plan, it matches up with the parameters that people set, which is strong border security , going after employers who violate the law, making sure that people who are here illegally go to the back of the line, pay fines, learn english, pay back taxes. so i think it didn't warrant the reaction that we saw, but my expectation is that those senators in the gang of eight are going to come up with a bill and it's going to be one that the president can support.
>> and again, just to be very clear because the white house i think has come out and said, seemed to be saying it this morning, the president's going to stay out of the way, let congress develop and shape the bill but have this backup bill in case something goes wrong there.
>> it is kind of ironic that some of of the same people who want to involve the president in some things want him not to be involved in other things. but be that as it may, i think that the thing is moving along , and we ought to let the process work .
>> hey, some good news yesterday, at least from my point of view, john mccain yesterday talking about, well, first of all talking about chuck hagel , going to sec' d up. but more importantly, after newtown and after chicago and after all the things we've been seeing in the papers day in and day out and continue to say, john mccain said it looks like there's going to be broad support for universal background checks . that is a significant advance in the battle to stop all these killings from guns.
>> it is, joe, and i'm happy to hear it. i'm not surprised to hear it. we've talked about this before. you've seen the polling. it's a 92% issue, and nra members, it's a winner. so it would be a very hard thing for this congress to walk away from background checks . and as you know because you talk to a lot of the folks who are involved in the gun safety movement, there's a strong feeling that background checks can have an enormously positive impact. so it is a positive development.
>> and i do, i want to restate this for people that may be tuning in right now, but we've been obviously talking behind the scenes with a lot of people involved in the gun safety movement and they've said all along to me, even though i'm focusing also on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, they say, listen, tough gun trafficking laws as well as the universal background check will do a lot. that does a lot, not only in newtown. that does a lot in chicago .
>> yes, absolutely. so much of what happens in chicago has to do with straw buyers flooding the streets with guns, arming the gangs. if we can take aggressive action to cut off that movement, that would be very helpful here.
>> we need really, really harsh penalties for gun trafficking fer these straw buyers. mark halperin .
>> david , on the sequester, should we give us hope that there's any chance of heading it off, or do you see a route to having tom tax increases replacing it?
>> what i hope is that we could head it off because the impacts are dramatic. i heard bob woodward on the show earlier talking about some of those, and all of you guys know why i have particular concern about things like medical research . but there's so many impacts of the sequester that are negative that, you know, you would hope that reason would prevail. but time is running out. congress is on a nine-day hiatus, and so, you know, it's concerning. and i'm not overly optimistic about it.
>> what does the president plan to do to try and fix this problem?
>> mika, here's the issue, and i'm not speaking for the president, but i can only tell you what he said, which is we need to solve this, but we need to solve it in a balance way so that we are moving forward and not making those kinds of cuts. we are making the kinds of cuts that make sense over the long-term that won't throttle down the economic recovery and that some of that will come from tax reform and closing some of these egregious unwarranted tax loopholes. so that is the prescription for moving forward, and ultimately that's the solution to this problem.
>> but how does he do that? what does he plan to do? i get that that's a good outcome. i would agree with it, actually. but now what's the process? what's the mechanical process of getting the two sides together to try and do this?
>> well, the two sides i think are talking at the staff level throughout. i don't think that there is no conversation going on. it's going on, and the question is just whether we have to go over the edge on the sequester in order to -- and have people absorb the impact of it in order to solve this or whether it happens before. i hope that it happens before. the sequester's not a reasonable solution to this problem.
>> david , how much does it matter that the stock market doesn't seem to care about the sequester, at least hasn't fallen on this issue? normally the market puts enormous amount of pressure on washington at these times when you think about the debt ceiling, but right now there's almost been expectation in the market that we're going over, and yet the market continues to go up.
>> yeah, i don't know the answer to that. i do think that after two years of this back and forth, there is some suspicion that somehow either a rabbit will be pulled out of a hat or the can will be kicked down the field and that this will be solved. so we'll see as the clock ticks down if that is the reaction. and there are some, perhaps, who believe that the sequester is an appropriate answer to the problems of deficits. but that's a short-sighted view because it will have a very negative impact on the economy. a million jobs lost, and it will be a real drag on the economy so it's not a good answer.
>> all right, david axelrod , thank you. you're going to have newt.
>> i'm interviewing newt tomorrow at the chicago institute of politics. should be fun.
>> that's exciting.
>> david , great to see you. come back soon. up next, best-selling authors, nancy gibbs and michael duffy take us inside the world's most exclusive club. a tribute to our former commanders in chief when "morning