Morning Joe | February 28, 2013
>> i love it.
>> mika says everyone is criticizing her hair.
>> i went to an event last night and they liked it.
>> she walks into her house and her daughter says your hair makes you look old.
>> she's 14. she just went right there.
>> i think the hair looks good. do you think the hair looks good?
>> supercharged sandy duncan . that's positive.
>> you know whose hair is fabulous? whose hair is always fabulous?
>> wait until you see this man. see if you can find anything wrong with him.
>> ralph reed says when he goes hunting his camos are starched.
>> perfection, republican senator from south dakota and chairman of the republican conference, john thune .
>> we've decided we're not going to call the sequester the sequester because it's boring. we're going to call it dooms day budget machine. there's a front page story in "the new york times" where both sides are starting to say maybe this won't be so bad after all. what is it the republican conference's position on the sequester today?
>> well, two things, joe. one, we need to honor the commitment that we made and not shut it off. not do away with the sequester. secondly, we shouldn't allow it to be replaced with a tax increase. the president got his tax increase in january and so the republican position on this really is that we should make this a lot less painful than what the president is advertising it will be and so we're going to offer a proposal that would give him more discretion if he's really concerned about the impact this is going to have, he would be able then to target low priority spending opposed to high priority spending that he says that will impact. we're going to have a vote on that today.
>> okay. just curious aside from all this just conceptually, philosophically, do you have a problem with closing loopholes?
>> i don't. we talked a lot about this. i would like to see us get away from a tax code riddled with loopholes and exemptions and exclusions and widen the base with a goal of economic growth . the goal should be to get the economy growing and expanding again. this sluggish anemic growth we've seen in the economy that is complicating our fiscal picture. if you grow at 2% to 3%, the problems get smaller.
>> the president wants to close loopholes when we talk about revenue.
>> some of the things that he's talking about are things that many of us would support if done in the context of tax reform that lowers the rates and makes us more competitive and if the goal on tax reform is really to grow the economy, an expanding economy is what we need to see in this country. if we get that, we get more people back to work. we increase take-home pay and fiscal picture that we face going forward becomes a lot smaller. more people working. more people investing. more people making money . more people paying taxes.
>> why isn't there more urgency addressing these issues? why are people taking vacations and why is the meeting tomorrow opposed to today?
>> it's unfortunate that we waited until tomorrow. tomorrow is quote, dooms day , as you said and today is the last safe day to go outside. the president has flown over 5,000 miles around the country campaigning using scare tactics when he should have been back here working with congress. my guess is that those meetings tomorrow will be more informational and more for optics than anything else. we'll probably -- the sequester will go into effect tomorrow. we'll see what happens. we have another opportunity march 27th to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of the year and so this isn't the last step in the process of this debate. i think we're going to have a number of opportunities over the course of the next several months to talk about spending and debt but we ought to talk about it in how can we reform and restructure entitlement programs . ten years from now entitlement spending and interest on the debt will represent 91% of all federal spending if we don't do something about it.
>> senator, you mentioned earlier --
>> this is josh green with bloomberg. he comes with billions of dollars. go ahead.
>> you mentioned earlier the imperative of economic growth . economists say the sequester will cut about 0.6 of a percentage point from gdp and kill 750,000 jobs. why not undo or delay the sequester?
>> i think there's a certain amount of pain. josh, i'm not trying to minimize when you reduce government spending it will have impacts. i think the short-term consequence in terms of economic growth is going to be a lot smaller relative to long-term harm that we create if we don't get fiscal house in order and get spending under control and put policies in place to get economic growth . i think if we continue to go on the path that we're on today, we end up by 2018 according to the congressional budget office , you'll spend half a trillion dollars a year just paying the interest on the debt. at some point that's going to exceed the amount we spend on national security . this is a train wreck that's waiting to happen. i know this may have some short-term impacts. i'm not suggesting that it won't. all i'm simply saying is the goal here -- we ought to take the long view and how can we get economic growth and how can we start bending this cost curve down on federal spending over the long haul.
>> senator thune, to underscore what josh was saying. one of the comments made by fed chair bernanke is there is no amount of flexibility that will prevent the economy from not retracting as a result of the sequester. in fact, he is taking the long view. because you have said that you believe that we need to close loopholes, because that is the president's position, because of the long view on the economy, why is it over the weeks and weeks and weeks leading up to today, not just a meeting tomorrow but leading up to today, hasn't there been a move to a long view that involves dealing with loopholes and preventing the sequester from going into place?
>> i hope, melody, that we will get to a place where we are doing the big deal . we need to do entitlement reform and tax reform together but picking and choosing little things now to fix the short-term problem makes the long-term deal even more difficult to get to. and here's my view on taxes. the president got what he wanted on january 1st . he got a $620 billion tax increase. if you add that to all tax increases in the health care bill, you talk about $1.6 trillion in new revenues coming into the federal treasury over a ten-year period. you continue to pile on more and more taxes making the economic growth argument i was just making that much harder to achieve. i don't think raising taxes is the way to get economic growth . you can't ask anybody about a tax they would increase that would lead to more economic growth . but i do think that closing loopholes, broadening the base and lowering the rates needs to be part of tax reform that has a long-term eye and goal of getting that economic growth that is so important for our economy and so important for our fiscal situation as well.
>> all right senator john thune , thank you very much. say hi to brittany.
>> thank you for sending your book.
>> she's reading that. she needs that. also she has an incredible voice.
>> she does.
>> send me her music.
>> we're talking about john's daughter.
>> i'll send it to someone. i'm going to asker if i can tweet it. she's amazing. ask if i can tweet her music. thank you very much, senator.
>> she thinks the same of you, mika. thanks.
>> her dad is perfect. must be hard to live up to.
>> how do you live up to john thune ?
>> i don't know. brittany can.
>> is thune great or what?
>> he's great.
>> i'm just talking about as a face and voice for the republican party .
>> he's a reasonable man. he doesn't like dooms day .
>> coming up, the supreme court turns back the clock to 1965 . now some key provisions of the voting rights act could be in jeopardy. that story is next on " morning joe ." [ male announcer ] if you think you've seen all that the cadillac xts has to offer... look again. the 2013 cadillac xts --