Morning Joe | March 08, 2013
>> well, speaking of dining with the enemy, let's talk about the meals that have been taking place over the last couple of days. after ongoing criticism for failing to reach out across the aisle, president obama had his second date in two days with top republicans. the president in lunch yesterday with paul ryan . that was at the white house . also there, ranking democrat chris van hollen . according to both camps, they discussed issues from addressing the deficit to replacing the sequester cuts. just the night before the president dined with 12 top republican senate members while nearly all of those senators described the talks as productive and optimistic. speaker john boehner added an "if" to the dialogue.
>> i did have a conversation with the president about last friday. and it was really kind of interesting that this week we've gone 180. now he's going to, after being in office now for your others, he's actually going to sit down and talk to members. i think it's a sign -- a hopeful sign -- and i'm hopeful that something will come out of it. but if the president continues to insist on tax hikes, i don't think we're going to get very far.
>> mark halperin , is this a meaningful change in strategy or a cosmetic thing for the president to serve, inoculate himself against the criticism the fact that he hasn't sat down face to face with republicans?
>> as was said on this program, accept the fact the president's going to do things like this. i'm hopeful you didn't go back to the archives. the white house has been smart. they've chosen people like paul ryan , the president reached out in dinner and phone calls to people like rob portman to people totally willing to work with the president, totally willing to find common ground . and i think if they keep it up, it's the right thing to do. i think he's got to do it because he needs to change the dynamic. michael steele , do you think republicans like a paul ryan , like rob portman and others at the dinner, senator mccain , are going to be -- feel free to try to build coalitions with the president or from either the grass roots or the republican leadership do you think they'll be yanked back?
>> i think they will do both, actually. i think it's very smart, the president's selection of individuals to help him in this regard. he's got a team of folks at the table he can begin to rework the grand bargain which is now back in play. and on the table for consideration. at the same time, those individuals who were at that dinner can network within the caucus itself, understand and appreciate where those who will not budge at all are and isolate them and begin to pull to that table those who are going to be willing to work with them to get something done. this all, i think, is going to be a play, this round at least, out of the senate. the house is going to be sort of a secondary player to a certain degree. yes, paul ryan is at the table now to an extent. but i really think the president and the white house are going to look to those 12 senators who were at that dinner to really help fashion the next round of the grand bargain.
>> john, michael says the grand bargain is back in play. "politico" has a piece this morning sayi in ing the same thing. you listen to boehner talk about revenues and taxes, it's hard to imagine where he moves on that. where is the middle ground on the grand bargain if there is one?
>> i don't know where it is. i'll say that i don't think the white house is operating in bad faith in doing any of this. i don't think they're doing it just to provide an excuse for -- in response to their critics. i think they're genuinely trying to find a way to a deal. an ancillary benefit is to smoke out what the real differences are. when you see mccain react like that, it was almost a mocking tone in a way that he said i'm glad to see the president doing this after four years. then he comes back to the substance. most of them won't accept new revenue. until someone gives on that question, there's not going to be a grand bargain. that's the nature of it. i think the white house can do a grand bargain with the senate. the biggest problem, as it has been for the last two years, has been the vast majority of the house republican caucus will not accept new revenue in this deal. and until that changes, that's -- there's no grand bargain. and i don't know that these dinners or lunches or any of the other socializing is going to change that basic fact in john boehner 's caucus.
>> if you give them tax reform , lowered rates and entitlement reform, you can get new revenue out of the house. i don't think there's any doubt. it's a question of the sequencing. the sequencing in so-called regular order. which is the path they were on until three days ago. you could never get the timing to work out. how do you sync up major tax reform with major entitlement reform. a grand bargain means -- particularly if john boehner was -- he's been turning the floor over to the democrats, you can get new revenue as long as you lower rates, get rid of corporate loopholes, bring in new revenue and entitlement reform. and the president at the darin talked openly about both social security and medicare. that is plenty to bring to the table on that side to get new revenue.
>> the fact that we're using the words grand bargain all week is significant, given where we were a couple weeks ago in december, january. so you know, the president is trying. you know, was it lindsey graham who said yesterday, anybody who doesn't say yes to this offer, it's your job. it's your job to do this. you know, all you had to do was ask. is there kumbaya? has peace broken out? there's very good issues you guys bring up.
>> they all have agreed to step out together. i think mark's point is most salient because after this dinner, what happened, lindsey graham was attacked by those who may run against him, some group that may run against him in his primary. so it will take a courage from both sides to get this done. they're going to have to do it -- the sequence will have to be done together when they step out and hopefully they'll be able to bring enough of their colleagues on. i was a little concerned by boehner's tone. i think up to this point, i think he's been a courageous figure. it sounds like there was a lot of frustration yesterday. hopefully that will abate if some sort of grand bargain is made.
>> how about feeling left out?
>> he's got to save face a little bit after the fiscal cliff.
>> a lot more to talk about. we're talking about the bank stress tests. we've got a jobs number coming up. incredible week on the stark hole stew means.
>> you look good this morning. the "today" show has come to " morning joe ." i love it.
>> more of harold's series, dining with enemy combatants later.
>>> still ahead on " morning joe ," david gregory . also steve schmidt, stephanie cutter , eugene robinson . later, a special guest joining us live from florida where he is at spring training . that's coming up in this hour. but first, bill karins with a look at the forecast. hey, bill.
>> willie, as advertised, a difficult travel morning for everyone in new england . i'm sure a lot of schools are canceled and a lot of parents are scrambling to figure out what they're going to do. we are watching that heavy snow continuing at this hour, especially boston, massachusetts, all the way out on the pike in southern portions of new england . this is that same ocean storm that hit virginia and moved all the way across the country including dumping that snow in chicago. it will finally leave us during the day today. so here's a look at the radar. the white shows you the snow. the blue is the heavier snow inside. we have snow all the way from philadelphia to south jersey . not expecting a lot of accumulations there. but the travel trouble's really outside the big cities especially outside of new york city . once you get up to hartford and providence, there's a lot of snow out there. the treated roads are doing okay. especially secondary roads and bridges are troublesome. we've heard as much as a foot of snow in the higher terrain of connecticut and in massachusetts. so the snowstorm continues in new england . the roads will dramatically improve for your way home from work. as we look to the southeast, a beautiful day today. there's a new storm that's going to move across the country this weekend. that today is going to bring thunderstorms and heavy rain to l.a. and phoenix. that will move into texas on saturday. a classic spring storm with snow in the mountains of the rockies including denver. and thunderstorms heading into the central plains . and then by the time we get to sunday, you will notice at least the northeast begins to warm up. we should have a nice weekend after the snowstorm. it's the middle of the country's turn to have to deal with some nasty weather. we're looking at new york city . no accumulations whatsoever there on the pavement. but the grassy surfaces probably in central park , maybe a slushy inch. careful driving into work today anywhere in new england . you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks.