Morning Joe | February 26, 2013
>>> so what happens if this sequester kicks in?
>> just in time for spring, national park services with see their services cut.
>> and civilian workers a 20% pay cut.
>> as long as iran doesn't attack on thursday.
>> kids kicked out of childcare programs and workers meals slashed for seniors and fewer children receiving vaccines for diseases like whooping cough and the flu.
>> holy -- we're doomed! students without financial aid will have to get jobs feeding 6 children to old people! why did i only buy the hat?
>> welcome back to " morning joe ." top of the hour, mike barnicle and steve rattner are with us with katty kay from washington and joining us former press secretary robert gibbs and joining us msnbc political analyst , eugene robinson . we will begin this hour with a looming sequester. president obama and republicans have reportedly not spoken directly since last week and yet to meet face to face this year. instead, the president continues to push his plan to close tax loopholes. white house speaker john boehner rules out the possibility of any new taxes.
>> i stand by those commitments to make the reforms for smart spending cuts. we also need republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform speaker boehner championed just two months ago.
>> the president says we have to have another tax increase in order to avoid the sequester. well, mr. president, you got your tax increase. it's time to cut spending here in washington . instead of using our military men and women as campaign props, if the president was serious, he'd sit down with harry reid and begin to address our problem problems.
>> robert gibbs , can we just clarify something. maybe i'm confused.
>> i doubt it.
>> i'm sure it is. just a little lady here with ideas. does he want to raise tax rates again or just close loopholes?
>> i think the president would tell you he wants to close loopholes.
>> does that hurt businesses?
>> no. i think it would -- tax simplification is what corporate tax reform would partly be about. it's interesting to note you saw speaker boehner there say we can't have another increase in revenue. the increase in revenue that was had as a result of the fiscal cliff equalled less than what speaker boehner offered in the negotiations.
>> what's he upset about? i'm confused.
>> you mentioned had i met face to face i think was at the insistence of speaker boehner , said i'm not getting involved in any more of these negotiations and that's where we are.
>> the president can't meet face to face with other republicans ? with senators?
>> apparently it causes problems.
>> i think he can meet with prev previosome but unless and until you meet with the house of representatives --
>> when he says we won't raise tax rates is not telling the truth.
>> nobody said he wants to raise taxes.
>> actually, yes.
>> he has a proposal -- he has a rove n revenue professional revenue proposal. you could deduct 28% on your deductions. the republicans say no revenues. that's where we are.
>> which incidentally was a proposal the president made several times in different budgets some what analogous to what mitt romney offered up in the first denver debate as a way of getting loopholes deductions and revenue back in the back.
>> gene, i'm at least not going play the blame game here. i personally think the president -- any president yields compare influence and can shape events far more than anybody in congress. let's not play the blame game . let's look at both sides and say these guys haven't gotten together and talked in the new year. we're about to have spending cuts that will go after true productions, military, and a true meat axe approach and as steve rattner said in the last hour not touching entitlements and instead going after discretionary domestic spending. this is no way to run a railroad.
>> no, it isn't. i always tell people, keep in mind, they all agreed to do this. they agreed on the sequester. it didn't happen by force or something, they agreed. they voted to do this. so they would -- so they would then be forced to come up with a more reasonable way of moving forward and they didn't do that. i guess it's going to happen. the assumption is it happens and then everyone scrambles to fix it. the argument is over how you fix the sequester, how you fix the bad thing you've done rather than how you avoid it. that seems to be where we are today.
>> mike, look how they're going about this. again, they haven't talk. come on, they have not talked since the beginning of the year. if you are running a business, running a corporation, running a small business and you weren't talking to your partner, that you have to deal with around the board table to get anything done, your business would collapse.
>> you're criticizing both sides, right?
>> if you're running a serious business, you wouldn't talk to any of these people. they're playing a game. both sides are playing a game. you just heard the speaker of the house say, you know, the president of the united states insists on playing games with our military men and women, using them as campaign props. all right. so just take that one statement. a high school math teacher could go in and look at the defense department budget and cut it responsibly, but if you talk about the defense department budget you immediately get comments like that, national security .
>> the iranians are going to attack us. both sides are playing a game here, joe . both sides.
>> that's why our budget is projected right now, mika, to go up over the next 10 years to 25$25.4 trillion. it's unsustainable.
>> yeah. katty kay , would you see this, from your point of view, as both sides playing a game?
>> yeah. they're both looking at the polls and they're wondering at this stage who's going to benefit more or perhaps suffer less from the political consequences of sequestration. the republicans , particularly the tea party members of the house, who think their only real risk is a challenge from the right in primary season, think, okay, you know, the polls may look terrible for the republican party in congress but actually they're really worried about their re-election prospects and maybe voting for sequestration and letting it pass will help them in the long run basketballs it proves their conservative credentials and the president is hoping when the public wakes up to the impacts of sequestration the polls will prove him right. neither of them are looking at the long term health of the country, both looking at their short term benefits.
>> i would definitely say those on the right are looking at re-election long term prospects, gosh, when you look at cpac and people they're putting at the top of the list. they're definitely focused on winning.
>> there's a difference between the presidential election and tea party members.
>> getting to the next story, conservative gasser the in cpac , they do that three weeks from now and they didn't invite chris christie .
>> why should they? the guy has 74% approval rating . he stood up to powerful union bosses. he made the pension programs --
>> my goodness, look at his approval rating . who wants that!
>> he actually has cut spending in real dollars .
>> this year's budget compared to 2008 budget . he's cut corporate tax rates.
>> good lord.
>> he's grown the economy by over 100,000 jobs over the past couple of years.
>> don't want that.
>> in his state. he's the first pro-life governor in new jersey since roe v. wade passed and he is thriving in a state -- he has the highest approval rating in a state that hasn't gone republican in a presidential contest since 1988 . why would they want a winner there? they want people that scream at microphones and talk to a very small self-reinforcing echo chamber .
>> yes. little one.
>> let me ask you a question, joe .
>> that's great.
>> please put on your political consultant 's hat. you're handling chris christie .
>> i come to you from cpac and say, we'd like the governor of new jersey to come and speak. we will fit him in between sarah palin .
>> and ted cruz ?
>> and the senator who shall not be named from texas, do you send him?
>> they've actually done him a great favor.
>> do you remember the bar scene from " star wars ," they walk in and there's that crazy collection of robots and monsters all drinking a bluish milky liquid, that's coming to washington in just three weeks.
>> a " star trek " convention, my god. it is!
>> i will say this, i think this shows there's so much hub hub around washington republicans , this one will be the nominee and this one. i think it shows washington becomes sort of a tea party echo chamber , right. you say something loud, i'll say something louder, i'll try to be the loudest. i do think in 2016 . watch the governors . they're the ones that have the ability to understand how to get things done working with legislatures and in trying to advance their version of conservative principles without being behold onto the washington game. that's why in 2016 , watch the governors rather than watching senators.
>> watch the governors . i tell you one example of a governor not to watch, gene robinson , is the gubernatorial candidate in virginia right now, ken cuccinelli . he is a guy that's being distanced from bob mcdonnell . here is another great example of how i won't even say far right the republican party has gone, how radical elements in the base have gone. bob mcdonnell is now seen as a liberal by some members of the conservative base while ken cuccinelli is having events to raise money and actually being lectured by people in the audience, who are standing up at what's supposed to be a very positive event. again, gene, this is a guy who said he wasn't going to have his child sign up for social security because quote that's how they track you down.
>> that's how you track you down down. social security is evil.
>> medicare , he's going after medicare , he's going after social security .
>> it's all evil. some satanist plot to drain us of our precious bodily fluids. he's out there. that's where cuccinelli is. yet the true believers love him. skr joe , doesn't there need to be a revolution in the conservative movement at some point and people who are pragmatic and who do want to win, like governor christie and like other governors and other conservatives around the country, oust this sort of crazy cabal that's running the movement and the republican party and will run both into the ground.
>> right now, you have a divide, steve , between washington republicans and republicans across america. always important to remember as bad as 2012 was for the republican party , not a single republican governor incumbent lost in 2012 . we still control 60% of the governors ' seats. we still have a majority in state legislatures . we still have a majority in state senators . outside of washington , they know how to get things done. inside of washington , it's this talk radio mentality. you scream in the echo chamber , you are more focused on stirring up resentment than you are in winning votes. i suppose they're going to wait and think that somehow they're going to win again big in 2014 and that will make everything okay. then of course we will lose in 2016 with this sort of attitude.
>> the white house thinks they will win in 2014 . we'll see who's right. i take both your points about republican governors being rational about medicaid expansion and not holding it hostage to their political ideologically. you take the republican party , and they have done nothing to improve their position and i think the position whatever rights and wrongs may be on sequestration, it seems to me obvious they will lose politically on sequestration.
>> i think it's actually tightening up.
>> yes. we saw a poll tightening.
>> i do think, robert, i'd like you to push back. i think the white house has overplayed their hands talking about taxes and americans are thinking, we raised taxes a couple months ago, putting out this list talking about all the terrible things if sequestration goes through, i think there's a danger of the white house overplaying their hand.
>> the danger is what you saw with jon stewart stuff, if the cuts don't feel like they hurt initially, that could change the calculus. just as you line up for this battle, the brand of the republican party is so tarnished, they'd have to play a lot of cards right in this next poker hand to really overcome the predispositions what people bring to this debate.
>> i think we're in the 20s right now.
>> you're not at the legal drinking age , which is -- i've always thought a bad thing.
>> the problem is that their position is sequestration is no big deal , we can take 2.3% in cuts, it doesn't matter. i think in 60 to 90 days we will find out it does matter.
>> talking about gop governors meeting yesterday, they had this to say about those in power in washington and how they're handling the sequester. take a listen.
>> now's the time for him to show leadership, propose $85 billion, propose those reductions in an administer balanced and thoughtful way. every governor has to do it.
>> i could not be more frustrated than i am right now. how many more times are the governors going to have to pick up ness of washington d.c. ? something is wrong. my kids could find $83 billion out of a $4 trillion budget . this is not rocket science . what this is is an inability to want to get to work.
>> we could provide a viable alternative. as governors we've shown you do it state by state. it's about time we go from our state houses to our nation's capitol and make that happen.
>> i couldn't agree more that they can't find $88 billion out of a $4 trillion budget . katty kay , i think this does-and a lot of people don't want the moral equivalency here, this is really a pox on both their houses when it comes to what mainstream swing voters think about what's going on in washington . makes us all look silly.
>> yeah. it makes you look silly. it makes markets very nervous about the prospects for the country doing the big things that need to be done. you keep talking about this, joe , they need to address entertainment reform. steve 's chart earlier 45% of the budget is entitlement spending of the deficit and only 4% of the cuts. that's completely skewed and not the way it should be. if you want to address the health of the country, you have to address entitlement reform. neither side is wanting to do the hard stuff and say to the voters, you're really going to have to take some pain here.
>> katty or joe , let me ask you, for argument sake and when this was argued in the opinion pieces and on television, the president says he has a plan, $900 billion in cuts, chain cpi, medicare but close loopholes. what are the republicans coming up with? are they still afraid to talk about what's actually going to be cut? can they bring something to the table or just complain about closing loopholes even though many republicans think that's the fair thing to do.
>> what do you think about the paul ryan plan on medicare ?
>> it's harsh but they're not putting it forward on medicare .
>> my point is republicans put a plan forward on medicare and get absolutely skewered. that's fair. both sides are waiting for the other side to get specific. robert, do you believe, is the president going to come forward at some point, not now, but specifics on medicare and medicaid .
>> to take your point on paul ryan , remember, through health care reform the president does make adjustments in medicare . i think the result in the 2010 election was for several hundred billion dollars in medicare changes was several hundred million in political commercials that have actually made it harder for the president to go out and talk about medicare changes the result of republican political commercials. i think the question is and we should ask this of republicans and democrats, if the president puts his ideas, if he puts, as you just talked about, change cpi and adjustments in medicare , if you put that on the table, you on the other side of the table, what are you willing to put in the middle? that's what this all comes down to. a compromise has to be everybody putting something in the middle that makes them inherently uncomfortable. if the president does that, what's the other bid?
>> do you think any of them on either side the administration or congress has any idea of the psychological damage of people looking to washington they schedule these crisis every three months.
>> and my guess is governing will start -- i watched the governors and smiled not one will lose points screaming and railing at washington . if i were them, i would schedule bimonthly meetings to coordinate with these deadlines.
>> katty kay , thank you very much and eugene robinson , thank you. you can read eugene's column at the " washington post ."com.
>>> still ahead, the state of virginia shaping up to be hardest hit by friday's automatic spending cuts with possibly 200,000 jobs lost and over a half a billion dollars in lost wages . we'll ask virginia governor tim kaine what can be done to avoid sequester cuts. chuck todd joins us from the washington . you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks.