Morning Joe | March 14, 2013
>>> differences are just too wide. if their position is we can't do any revenue or only do revenue if we gut medicare or gut social security or gut medicaid, if that is the position, then we are probably not going to be able to get a deal.
>> all right. 26 past of the hour. joining us now former democratic congressman from massachusetts, barney frank . great to have you on the show.
>> thank you.
>> thanks for coming back. frank bruni and rick stengel is still bus.
>> barney has quotes from your dad.
>> he does. i can't read his writing put it's from strategic vision. impressive. should i he read it? i don't know.
>> i can tell you. we have talked about it. you know. we do see america 's military spending is essential and a responsible way to reduce a did he and can do it at no loss to security area we start sub subsidizing. your father has a good insight saying in that quote after their empirs crumbled, europe decided to leave the task of maintaining global security to america so they could use their resources to build their safety net . that is the best summary of that central point that comes from a guy who they can't accuse of being an isolationist or unaware of the national implications.
>> we have been talking about this a long time after the sequestration story hit. we heard hpeople saying there is a hollow force and we couldn't slash this much spending. then you dig into the numbers and find out that the pentagon was going up and up and up. so it's with a hallowed force because we are going to continue even under the sequester.
>> to defend the military, some of the people who are from the military, mostly conservative, not all, then decided to use the jobs argument because they couldn't -- i just saw a piece that is coming out and says the sequester has now completed the victory in america because when it was the stimulus, many conservatives said federal spending doesn't do anything for jobs but when it's defense, all of a sudden, this is the new deal and it's the wpa. so now everybody agreed. the second point is when you talk about hallowed out, briefly, leon panetta , a good guy and i admired by him hymn but overdoes the job he is pointed to. he said we could not hallow out the military again. he said we have done that after world war ii and cold war and vietnam war . now the colder war ended before bill clinton became president and who was bill clinton 's budget director? leon panetta . leon is apparently now cop to hollow out the military and i think budget director panetta was better on this.
>> so, frank, we had a politico report and we worked jim over pretty tough when jim was saying that politico headline was house republicans meet the new obama , same as the old obama and said we will never get a deal because the president is insisting on more tax revenue . john boehner is insisting on no tax revenue and wants big entitlement cuts over the next generation. i'm still hopeful. i think it says something that the president went to the hill and that the republicans were actually respectful.
>> absolutely. you want them to talk to each other. one of the big problems during this presidency is nobody is talking to each other. i think where there is conversation, there is hope. but to get back to what you said about taxes, if there is no give on revenue having laid down the lines that the obama administration has, if republicans won't give it all on loopholes a anything.
>> but they will.
>> if they do, then i think we are in business, because, you know, then i think there is something to talk about.
>> i don't mean to speak for the entire party but, barney, i mean, you know better than anybody how it goes. you get somebody in front of the camera. you're in front of the camera and you're a first turn or second turn democrat from massachusetts, barney are you giving on entitlements? you say no. you ask me is a first or second-term republican? no, we just gave them tax increases. we are not doing it again. but then you get the cameras off and people say, okay i'll give you this, you give me that. taking care of the long-term debt is so important.
>> i'm closer to you now than when you were a first or second-term republican.
>> you like him more.
>> he didn't say that.
>> personally i always liked him. i would be asked by a reporter in the midst of a negotiation will you do this or that? i'd have to ask the reporters, how many votes do you have in the senate? i can't negotiate with you when you can't give me anything in return. but i do think i'm more pessimistic for this reason, joe. i think the most important dynamic in american politics is the debate in the republican party whether you maintain the tea party kind of purism or whether you move. it's cargo versus ran paul. i think them to be in a compromising mode. i'm afraid now that the tea party wing has fought back harder and i think it may take another lelection.
>> there is a force in primaries.
>> it troubles me. one of the things i've always say if you're in the party leadership you better have 100% safe seat because if you're a party leader , you've got to take decisions that make people angry and i learned that myself when i was chairman of the financial service committee and we worked on the financial reform and i think it was both highly successful and wildly unpopular and i had the toughest fight in my life in 30 years. mitch mcconnell concern about his primary in kentucky is one of the down sides.
>> caty, you look at the tea party and what motivates a lot of people that got into the tea party . and it's the same divide that we had in '94 half of us came in obsessed on the debt. the other half came in obsessed on tax cuts . tom colburn is like me. i think the debt is high enough if you live in new york or connecticut or urban, the more urb urb urban centric states. i think they will strike a deal. what do you hear?
>> yeah. i think -- what is new right is the tax cut of obsession and the pledge that was signed back in 2008 by the tea party members who came in then. and that is what kind of gummed up the system in a way for a while. back room negotiations thaw were talking about, joe, that united kingdom do off camera, you can't do if you sign that pledge. if your single focus of being in congress to say i'm not raising taxes ever, you can't then do the kinds of deals that you're suggesting need to be done to close loopholes in order to address the long-term debt. can i ask the congressman a question? he's the perfect person to answer something i've been thinking about. we have had the ninth day in a row of the markets rising and dow reaching market highs. i thought the markets would turn on washington and say we don't think they can get their act together and turn on the country and see interest rates go up. actually it seems to me the markets have voted that congress is irrelevant.
>> barney --
>> that --
>> katty was asking we heard the sequester and all of its dysfunction in washington was causing rebellion for the market and keep going up and sends a signal that actually washington doesn't matter.
>> no. it is a fairly small percentage of cuts in the budget evenly distributed is not all that disruptive. i want to say one point in your favor and i'm still pessimistic and a couple of months you had conservatives say we cannot sustain these defense cuts. it does turn out with the new republican party support for debt reduction has trumped military spending and i think we have the makings of a bipartisan wings coalition. i think military spending is going to come down to a realistic point and that is an important element in getting the deficit under control.
>> that's a great example, rick. we heard the republicans would not support tax increases and we heard they would never support defense cuts and we have had over the past couple of months tax increases and defense cuts because more republicans are obsessed or enough are obsessed about long-term debt to go ahead and put some of these other issues to the side.
>> but if you're obsessed by that and concerned by it, you have to go to the places where the money is. medicare and medicaid and sdraei want to ask the congressman a last question. my bias is that reporters, because they don't understand economics or really understand the way congress works, place too much emphasis on personal relations on the president has got to have people over to the white house and they have to all go out to dinner and lbj used to put his arm around people. is that exaggerated or a legitimate concern?
>> grossly exaggerated. i was there 32 years and had presently relationships with people i never could work things out. lbj would put his arm around people and say i know you have a dam important to you and i don't mean it's able to put it forward if this happens. i think the personal is greatly exaggerate rated. put it this way. bad relations can make things worse and good personal relations can make things better. if people dislike each other that can make it worse. i think we are talking about things that are too profound. one other thing i have to say with the tea party . not just debt. tlrge people whom i disagree and opposed to the role of the government and for some people the debt is a way to make cuts in programs they never would have voted for in the first place and didn't like. you know who said that? dave stockman in his book. he said i came to washington and found all of these programs i thought were hoisted on the people by the liberals and turned out popular in our district. the notion to cut taxes to starve the beast goes back to that. an element they he want to not just reduce the yet but do it in a way that reduces government programs. that's another reason why taxes are not neutral as to how you reduce the debt. cutting programs does both reducing the debt and cutting medicare and social security .
>> the great challenge, of course, is taking care of the long-term debt. we talk about this around the table all the time. you can cut discretionary but it won't take care of your long-term debt. that is 12%, 13% of the budget. we have to reformed medicare and medicaid and social security . defense is in there as well. if you do all of those things, not only do you take care of long-term debt and if you do it with a long enough lead time you can do it without hurting people 54, 55, 56.
>> one thing. yes, it's important to reform medicare and medicaid . as part of a reform of medical care in america , i would not have voted for something which puts some constraints on medicare and medicaid and left the rest of the medical center unprotected. so had had to be reform of the medical care system the single biggest thing.
>> that is our greatest challenge.
>> former congressman barney frank , thank you so much. great to see you and thanks for being a piece of strategic vision to the table.
>> thank you.
>>> on tomorrow's show reverend al sharpton will join us and ann leery will be here with her new book. coming up on " morning joe ," the world according to dick cheney . awe new documentary profiles the former vice president and we will talk to the director of that film straight ahead .