Morning Joe | March 13, 2013
>> i'm dave letterman . i'm calling from new york city .
>> no kidding? hang on. i'll put you on speaker.
>> how is the conclave going? anybody emerged as the front-runner?
>> well, it's a couple of votes for darwin and some wise ass wrote in joe pesci !
>> have you guys been able to agree on anything yet?
>> yeah. we agreed that indicate hudson is not only hot, she is red hot , right, guys?
>> that is pretty good. welcome back. you like that one? mike barnicle and harold ford jr . is still with us. can't look at the same way, can you?
>> my segway!
>> we have the moderator of "meet the press" david gregory and nbc news chief white house correspondent and host of "the daily rundown" chuck todd .
>> good morning.
>> they don't look as amused by the letterman.
>> i'm amused.
>> is that your i'm amused?
>> i guess so.
>> they are a tough audience!
>> awkward. i think i'm just going to --
>> a little awkward.
>> like the muppets.
>> we have a lot of stuff going on, guys. ron fornia, yesterday, if you can start being serious now! i wanted to have a good time but if you really are going to drag us into that ditch to news, we will do it!
>> talk about the pope.
>> we are not going to talk about the pope. so ron fornia had a fascinating conversation with a top aide chuck todd over at the white house , that is your beat, obviously, saying basically saying this whole reach-out thing is a joke, we are just doing it for you media guys. my friends in the white house certainly haven't been saying that. this is a joke he reports i hope you all in the media are happy because we are doing it for you. i have no doubt that ron talked to somebody high up in the white house . i'm certainly not undercutting his story. i'm just saying the people in the white house i've been talking to really have been skeptical up until the past week or so. then they started saying, you know what? maybe we can get a deal and maybe do something together. are you guys hearing the same thing?
>> i tell you what, there is still a sentiment inside the west wing that doesn't trust this process. that thinks we in the media drove this, that we in the media are whining and we push it and we always were biased toward bipartisanship and if we don't see it, then we criticize and they hate the false equivalency. all of those things. there are some in the west wing that think that so it doesn't surprise me that ron found somebody who said that. i think the new chief of staff, dennis mcdonough is the driving force behind this. he is the new person at the table so he's the one taking a fresh look. he's the one that was doing the outreach phone calls when he was in the transition mode. and would find out outside of the west wing the number one complaint in washington was the president doesn't do a great job reaching out. the president doesn't do a good job reaching out to congress. so i think that there are -- joe, that this is a case where everybody is right. there is a faction that says this is a waste of time. we have been down this road. watch. lucy is getting the football.
>> david, if i can just add. i think the president doesn't view it as a joke. i think he recognizes that this was a tactical shift that he had to make. if he was going to break through on something. i think you wrote in one of your op-eds last week. the president sensed they had some advantage here and the president miscalculated how sequester plan could move forward and how the pressure could move forward to try to get a sequester replacement. i think he recognizes he has to pick some senators off, some members of the house off if he is going to really do something that gets in his mind toward a balanced approach on the budget and i also think that a lot of members in his own party as well are chafing at the idea they are not in the mix on some of these big discussions. it can be the budget , it could be other things like guns that they want into this process and i think that is why there is a little bit of celebration going on capitol hill about this return to regular order, which is basically congress doing its job without the president telling them what to do all the time.
>> chuck, the president came out. he said what democratic presidents say about the budget . we hate sunshine and daffodils and hate anything that is nice. that is regular order in and of itself. i see democratic budget and i go, look. tax and spenders, what a big shock. a trillion in taxes. good luck talking about that in my district. but you also, though, what feels so much better about this process now is that while they are sniping at each other, you've got them working behind the scenes and, i'll tell you, i'm tipping my hat. i've been really tough on the president, certainly over the past month or two, but i tip my hat. you know? it's not easy for any president to go up to the hill, sort of hat in hand, especially not easy for this president from what everybody said about him. he doesn't think it's his job, it's his responsibility, but he did it any way. i think we should all salute him for that.
>> i hear you but i have to say the budgets aren't farther apart. for all of the happy talk of last week, what happens is you had basically both parties said, house republicans and senate democrats said we are putting our worst offers on the table. here you are. you think that we have gotten past some of the politics and we have gotten past some of the nastiness and certainly in the feeling, everybody feels better. then they say, okay, now that everybody feels better, here is our worst offer and both sides put their worst offer out there. and you can, okay, a long way to go.
>> these are political documents and statements of principles. paul rein saying we lost the election as we look at the democratic plan but ryan says we lost the election but doesn't mean we will abandon or principles. more of a political document. we talked about it on "meet the press" sunday. does the president start to make a shift where he doesn't just signal that he is willing to do entitlement cuts, that he is willing to do means testing, that he is willing to do that gradual reduction of benefits but he starts affirmatively talking about the need to take on entitlement reform. dick durbin , a progressive senator from illinois who voted for the simpson/bowles said we have to do something about medicare and social security . we have to take that on. will the president campaign for that openly as he tries to lure me more republicans to the table?
>> dick durbin is another hero on this front in saying what very few people have been saying. you got to give a profile and courage award to him.
>> and tom colburn.
>> if you believe on one side that revenues have to be raised in some regard to get to a balanced budget and on the other side the entitlements have to be reformed, chuck, how do you reconcile what we just said here some we are going to talk to paul ryan in a couple of minutes here. john boehner has said it many times. we are not bluffing here. we are not going to raise taxes. we gave you 600 billion a couple of months and it ain't going happen. yesterday tom harkin saying we told president obama in effect be careful about this grand want to touch social security or medicare when others way to keep them solve vent besides cutting benefits. where is the movement between those two positions?
>> i don't think there is any movement there, but in a final deal, i think that if this deal does come together, tom harkin is not going to support it on the left. and half of the republican conference is not going to support it on the right. if you do strike the balance and the grand bargain you have to sacrifice that. i think it frankly can't come from the house. the budget is not -- you know, the compromise isn't going to come from the house. it's going to come from the senate. right now, you have paul ryan , his job was to devise a budget 218 votes and not 130 republican votes and the rest democrats. he didn't devise that budget . patty murray devised a budget to get 51 senate votes out of 55 and not find 51 votes that would get you, say, 35 democrats and 26 republicans. she didn't write that budget .
>> so the question is when does that happen? at what point does that happen? the idea is both sides pass their budget and then we go to a conference which my fear is it could look like the super committee again where they will say all of the right things and then deadlock.
>> david gregory , i think we have paul ryan waiting so we will go to him. david, quickly. it's not always what people say on the show that i pay attention to. it's what they say when the camera is turned off. and at "meet the press," when i thought -- everybody i talked to after we did the show on sunday, they started talking about a deal.
>> you know what? we will give on this if they give on that. i think more than any time over the past four or five years, you had politicians who understood they needed to come together. they needed to do a deal.
>> yeah, i think that's right but i still think we have to somehow and i'm sure you'll take this on with chairman ryan, is deal with what role the government is going to play in economic restoration. you know? the president certainly believes that you don't need a giant stimulus again but that there is certainly a role for government to be replacing some of these education cuts and deal with the fact that federal and state workers jobs have been lost and would the unemployment rate be lower if some of that hadn't happened? what does it take to get the economy going a little bit more? is that a bigger priority in terms of the role of government that even dealing with some of our shorter term debt.