msnbc | November 22, 2012
>>> lawmakers have packed up and left washington with the thanksgiving holiday. they have their work cut out for them when they return to town next week. already there are signs negotiations are off to a bumpy start. house speaker john boehner wrote an op-ed yesterday calling for the president's health care law to be part of the fiscal talks. the white house told the " huffington post " the president opposes that. joining me now from washington, nbc white house correspondent kristen welker and neil irwin. welcome to both of you. happy holiday .
>> happy holidays, alex.
>> kristen , politico said the negotiations are off to a rough start. what do you see as the likelihood of a deal before the end of the year?
>> alex, i think they are off to a relatively rough start. president obama expected to invite congressional leaders back to the white house next week after the holiday, but it seems at this point aides are trying to hammer out the beginnings of the deal. republicans seem to be digging in their heels on the issue of taxes, saying they don't want to see the bush era tax cuts expire for the wealthiest americans . of course, that is something the democrats have been adamant about. so they're stuck on this old issue of taxes. and also stuck on the issue of entitlements. we had harry reid come out and basically say he wasn't open to reforming especially social security . so there's a big question mark about how they're going to move forward. remember, these are sort of their opening bids. presumably there is room for some sort of movement on either side. in terms of getting a deal done by the first of the year, i think there's a lot of pressure on both sides to try to get something done here. you remember the debt ceiling debate. after that sort of knockdown dragout fight, congress had its lowest approval ratings in history. they know they need to get something done. remember, if they don't get something done before the first of the year, it could have serious consequences on the economy.
>> i want to ask you both to weigh in on this question. kristen , you do the political angle and neil you give me the nuts and bolts. yesterday john boehner wrote an op-ed calling for the health care law to be part of the negotiations, he wrote in part the president's health care law at the massive, expensive, unworkable program when the national debt exceeds the size of our country's entire economy. we can't afford it, and can't afford to leave it intact. is john boehner right?
>> no. look, it's a law that does a lot of things with the health care system . it's not predominantly a fiscal issue, in that that when the government does anything, it affects taxes. if you're the president you have no incentive to allow the health care law to be on the table in these negotiations. maybe on the edges there are a few spending programs you're willing to negotiate over. but in terms of the health insurance mandate and exchanges, all the things in this complicated law that passed two years ago, you're really going to draw the line and say, we're not going to reopen that debate. we won the election, so sorry, john. that said, there are specific programs in there that might be part of the spending negotiations that take place.
>> you know, kristen , politically speaking, doesn't this add another wrinkle to an already difficult negotiation process ahead?
>> i think it absolutely does. i think to some extent speaker boehner might be sending a message to republicans in his conference, making the point that, look, just because the president won the election we're not going to roll over on all of the issues that we care about. it's hard to see he has a whole lot of leverage on this issue. you heard speaker boehner tone down his rhetoric after the supreme court ruled it was in fact constitutional. and now president obama has won reelection. the president, the white house , democrats on the hill are saying this issue is a nonstarter. it's hard to see where he finds leverage on this issue. unless he tries to go for some of the smaller issues like medicaid spending. but i think this is going to be a wrinkle and will certainly prolong some of these negotiations.
>> hey, speaking of wrinkles, let me ask you about representative jesse jackson jr . who resigned yesterday. he was treated at the mayo clinic for several months, and the investigation into alleged misuse of campaign funds.
>> it's not surprising, he's been ill for a couple months now, a few months. he's had these ethics hanging over him. when he came into congress, he seemed like a rising star in the party. everyone knows his father. it has not worked out that way. in a way, it's unsurprising, but it is a moment of kind of lost potential.
>> okay. neil irwin and kristen