Morning Joe | March 07, 2013
>>> let's go to "politico," executive editor, mr. jim vandehei . good morning.
>> good morning. how are you?
>> good. let's talk gun control as it pertains to universal background checks . we talked earlier about the president's dinner meeting last night with republican senators. you say the president's going to continue to reach out today. but we're talking here about chuck schumer and tom coburn . they were working together on universal background checks . looks like now schumer may be going his own way.
>> yeah. the further we get away from those shootings and guns being such a national issue, the harder it is to get a deal. and you see this now where you had coburn and schumer trying to do a deal just on background checks , and it got hung up over what happens when you sell your gun privately to a friend or to a neighbor. they can't even get a deal on background checks , much less what are we going to do about assault weapons ? ammunition clips? they're down to that one narrow issue in finding bipartisan support even on that is difficult which goes to something we've been talking about on the show for some time, it's going to be really hard to get anything substantive done on gun control in this congress because republicans just aren't interested in it, and they're not hearing anything from their constituents about a need to do new gun laws in this congress.
>> so are we at the point now, jim, when an assault weapons ban is just a total pipe dream ? if it can't even get the votes it would need?
>> i thought we were at the pipe dream stage months ago. i never thought there was a chance of getting an assault weapons ban through this congress. you've got to look at who represents the districts. and who the senators are. and there's just not the votes in congress to get it done. so i don't think gun control is going to be the big issue this year. i think it's one of the reasons, by the way, that you see the president now moving over and trying to get back to this idea, can we get a grand bargain back on the table? i think the conversations at dinner last night, they're important. they are a first step. you guys were talking about that earlier on the show. we're reporting right now that paul ryan 's going over to the white house today for a lunch with the president. that's another important one-on-one conversation, one that hasn't been happening a lot until recent weeks. and so the fact that people are talking maybe to outsiders, you'd say, isn't that what people do? not in washington. so the fact that they are talking, that's a good thing.
>> so jim, where's the wiggle room, then? who budges if mitch mcconnell , if john boehner don't want to move on revenue and won't for the sake of their jobs, among other things, where does that movement come on that side in terms of tax increases? and on the other side from the president and others on entitlement reform?
>> that's why i really wonder if the president is pinching himself about how they handled it last year. had they made all these calls, had all these dinners right after the election when those bush tax cuts were going to go away, the president had so much leverage to get a lot more in tax increases than he ultimately got. and he could have used that to get a grand bargain. now that those tax cuts have kicked in, it's a lot harder because republicans don't want to put a lot of revenue on the table. here's what i think the president is up to. there are senators like lindsey graham who are willing to put more revenue on the table in exchange for entitlement changes, a decade or more away from now. i think that you could see a deal where they do something on new revenues matched with entitlement cuts and then keep the $1.2 trillion covered by sequestration, but reorder them. decide that different programs are going to get cut, maybe more get cut in the out years, say not this year and next year but in the other eight years that are covered by sequestration. you could see that being part of a deal.
>> yeah. putting it another way, we're really actually not that far from something that makes sense. if you got another 400 to $600 billion in revenues and you rearranged that $1.2 trillion to include something sensible on entitlements and restore some of these stupid discretionary cuts, you would be at $4 trillion of deficit reduction that a lot of us feel is not all we hoped for but enough to at least sleep at night.
>> so where are we? break it down.
>> we're right now at about $3.5 trillion of deficit reduction that we've achieved. $600 billion of it was the tax increase at the end of last year. all the rest of it was actually spending cuts.
>> you've got $600 billion in taxes, about $700 billion in interest savings, right, that they're counting?
>> that's buried in that whole thing. you had three rounds of spending cuts.
>> it's about 2.7, i think. yeah. you basically had back in '10, the continue resolution. you had the budget control act in '11 and then you had the sequestration. you've had a lot of spending cuts. and then you had this tax increase.
>> and unfortunately, of course, those cuts, most will say, came from the discretionary accounts. we need to move more aggressively towards entitlements, and there may be a deal to be done on entitlements.
>> i think for those of us who care about not just the overall numbers but what's inside, that's a critical element. you need to trade off some of those cuts that you and i have talked a lot about that are harmful for some entitlement cuts which nobody wants but are unfortunately necessary.
>> jim vandehei aboutwith a look at the playbook.
>>> coming up, jay bilas getting us ready for march madness and talk about his new book. more " morning joe " when we come back. [ female