msnbc | February 05, 2013
>>> hi, everyone. good morning. i'm thomas roberts . topping our agenda, immigration and guns. live at the capitol this hour, the house committee debating the road ahead for immigration reform and a path to citizenship for 11 million people. house speaker john boehner saying this in the last hour.
>> this is not about being in a hurry, this is about trying to get it right, on behalf of the american people and those who are suffering under an immigration system that doesn't work very well for anybody.
>> meanwhile, at the same time, the president is making his case for immigration reform with progressive and labor leaders. this afternoon, he's going to do the same thing with a number of ceos. today's focus on immigration comes just one day after the president took his campaign for gun control on the road for the very first time.
>> we don't have to agree on everything to agree it's time to do something. that's my main message here today. keep the pressure on your member of congress to do the right thing. and tell them, now is the time for action. that we're not going to wait until the next newtown or the next aurora.
>> and following the president's call for action, the first sign of bipartisan on the this highly divisive, a group from the white house set to introduce legislation today, to tackle illegal gun trafficking.
>> republicans and democrats, for the first time in the house , were coming together, not just on common ground , joe, but i say, we are on higher ground .
>> with possibilities for compromise emerging in washington, later today , majority leader eric cantor expected to give a major policy address to rebrand the house gop and put a softer touch on the gop 's slash and burn priorities. now, it's something that politico is calling cantor 4.0.
>> listen, i think we learned a lot of lessons from the last election. and what i would like to see us do, and what i'll talk about today, is really explaining and demonstrating why we are for the things that we're for.
>> i want to begin the hour talking about immigration , both on capitol hill and the white house . and joining me to do that from the white house is nbc news correspondent, kristen welker. so, kristen , nbc's first read is talking about and describing this as flooding the zone. but john boehner really refusing to endorse the path to citizenship that's been talked about. so what's the strategy as we go down the wire here? we have just one week to go until the state of the union .
>> reporter: well, thomas , the strategy is for the president to try to define and set the tone of the issues that are being discussed, before congress can do it. and as you point out, he does have a pretty strong bully pulpit right now, because he is exactly one week out before his state of the union address . and of course, the big sticking point right now between this white house and republicans is that idea of a path to citizenship. president obama thinks that it should not be linked to stronger border security , but the republican plan, eric cantor , does want to see that linked to border security . so today president obama going to use his bully pulpit . he's going to meet with labor leaders and ceos and he's going to make the case to them that immigration reform is good for the economy. here's a look at who he's going to be meeting with in terms of the labor leaders. richard trumka of the afl-cio, eliseo medina , lloyd blankfein , and arnie sorenson, among others. so those are just a few of the folks with whom he will be meeting this afternoon. of course, time is of the essence , thomas . the president believes he has about a year, year and a half, to really make movements on some of these other policy issues, like gun control , like immigration reform . as you know, he was in minnesota yet, pressing for new gun safety measures. so i think this is a tactic you're going to see this white house continue with over the next several weeks.
>> when you say time is of the essence , because of 2014 , the midterms coming up. and when we talk about time, we know we have just a week to go until the state of the union address . but we're also learning that the president is going to deliver the remarks this afternoon in response to the problem that's looming about the sequester. a short-term fix to that. can we expect to hear the president give any specifics about what he'd like to see done in this afternoon, in those remarks, or kristen , do you think, from what you're hearing, that this is going to be more about a band-aid approach, of kicking the can down the road.
>> reporter: i think it's going to be a band-aid approach to some extent. the president will call for a short-term lusolution to avert the sequester. that economists believe could have a negative impact on the economy. so president obama is going to make the case, we expect him to, when he speaks publicly this afternoon. for congress to come up with a solution to avert that in the short-term, for at least the next several months. and we'll make the argument that, look, they need more time before they can get a long-term solution. something that extends to ten years. of course, president obama will make the case that he believes any solution should include cuts and new revenues. that is something that republicans are staunchly opposed to. they believe they should avert the sequester through a series of cuts. so this is really where the big argument lies. it is where it has been for quite some time now. but that is what we expect president obama to come out and say when he speaks publicly, a little bit later on this afternoon. thomas ?
>> kristen welker, great to see you. thanks so much. we want to bring in this power panel for this tuesday. joining me is jackie kucinich, maria teresa kumar, and republican strategist, chip saltsman. we have a lot to talk about, gang. and i want to dive right in and talk about what the president will be doing in terms of immigration , and when then that what got the president re-elected is the obama coalition. maria teresa , you know this best of anybody, with the work that voto latino did. and as we look at the numbers, let's show everybody, the obama approval ratings among hispanics. we look at the numbers, how they've gone up, gone up considerably from july of 2012 , at 56%, all the way to january now at 70%. maria teresa , the voters out there that believe in this president, not only believe believe in the action of what he's going to be able to deliver on. but is there worry that there is not the consensus from the right. the right sees this as, we don't have a lot to gain, because we're just going to give into the democrats and that's going to give them the support they need to carry through more elections.
>> what was interesting was, the reason that the republicans are pushing immigration now, they did see what happened at the polls. so did the asian community, another increasingly growing population. and the republicans realize that in order to fix and actually go and win the white house in the next couple of years, they have to win the latino vote. what the president right now is trying to do is basically tee it up for them. saying, let's create a pathway to citizenship for these 11 million undocumented, and all of a sudden the next day, you won't have a latino vote problem, you won't have an asian vote republican. and unfortunately, the republicans are right now sticking too much to their extreme right. because when you poll republicans and independents, they have a tendency of actually believing that there should be a pathway to citizenship. we talk about these 11 million undocumented, 5 million, roughly, came here as children, and you have 65% of them have been living in our country and communities for ten years. it's not that they just came across the border, it's that they've been living and contributing. now let's get them out of the shadows and give them a pathway to citizenship.
>> chip, as we look at what the republican side can gain from this is a lot, because when you're basically on the floor, there aren't a lot of places to fall from that. there are only areas to go up from that from. and the republicans see that the latino community is one they should embrace. politico today saying, " house gop seeking path on immigration ." then we get this quote from representative goodlatte, the head of the judiciary committee on the house side. "when senate majority leader harry reid says there has to be a path to citizenship, i wonder whether he's serious about doing immigration reform . you have to come at this with a willingness to look at all the options and find common ground ." this is all on the heels of that bipartisan senate group that came forward with what they think is best for immigration reform . is the house really going to be an obstacle moving forward, chip, and not being on board? we know they've got their hearing that's taking place as we speak.
>> we'll learn a little bit about what the house wanted to do with eric cantor and his speech, and the rebranding of the republican party . but first, thomas , congratulations on a big win on sunday. that was a great game.
>> thank you, sir, i'm running out of purple.
>> i'll send you some more. but for immigration in the house , we need to talk about what we believe in, and celebrate immigrants, and talk about how we do legal immigration , and make sure that people not only have -- the reason they break into this country is because there's not a pathway to get here legally. i think we've got to first recognize that. and if the house will start moving on that, start some bipartisan talks about that, i think that can be a good starting point for the house .
>> jackie, let's move on and talk about eric cantor . the rebranding, the reimaging is certainly topical and eric cantor wants to be the new face of that. as we look at what his priorities are for the house gop , they're education initiatives, simplifying the tax code , health care reforms, and immigration reform . jacqui, these are all kind of popular issues that the right could take the lead on and gain traction with. but what do you think about eric cantor trying to come out to rebrand, especially, when he's been down this rebranding road before?
>> yeah, we have seen this before from eric cantor . and you know, the fact that he is making this speech, to try to renew momentum on some of these issues, i mean, is something that he's been wanting to do since december, when the republicans rr pretty divided. but the devil's in the details with these kind of speeches. when you're talking about tax reform , i think he told " national review " that he wants to look at a family-friendly tax reform . well, when you have a budget chairman preparing a budget that's going to balance in ten years, it's going to be really hard to keep things like the child tax credit . so we're going to see how this pans out, because you can't talk about a budget plabalancing in ten years without cutting some tax cuts that are really important to the middle class . we'll see how this pans out in terms of policy, rather than what we're going to hear today.
>> so eric cantor was on " morning joe " today, talking exactly about that. the financial aspect of what it means to be helpful to america. and you bring up the middle class . take a listen.
>> i think where we have a lot of room to grow as a party, as conservatives, so to plain again why we're for the kind of fiscal discipline that we're for. what is the reality and how are we going to help people?
>> maria teresa , do they have a lot of room to grow there in coming forward as being known as the party of how to help people?
>> you know, i caution the republican party , when cantor speaks today, saying, i'm going to detail a speech of how we're going to rebrand. what i encourage them to do a little bit more of and the republican party in general is a listening tour. the fact that they went out in virginia yesterday and was talking to constituents that may not be the extreme right of his party, that's going to serve him well to actually start talking and connecting with individuals. and that's the only way that he can actually start explaining and translating his policies. but the republican party just needs to go out into everyday americans and really hear what their mains are. and when you're talking about balancing the checkbook, americans are suffering that right now. they completely understand the importance of being fiscally responsible. but we need to do it in a way that's not in the backs of middle class people. and it's not on the backs of children either. i think the more they can go out and have a listening tour and talk to everyday americans , the more receptive everyday americans will be to their policy changes.
>> chip, is this all about making relevance the issue? it seems as if the republican party that wants to stay relevant, why not elect people that actually believe in what they're trying to tell you. are americans supposed to be that gullible to believe that they now have a huge, you know, come to jesus, awakening, of what they need to do over immigration reform , of what they need to do to help the middle class , over all of this stuff. are we supposed to be to that gullible?
>> i think the first thing republicans need to say is, we're conservatives and we're not angry. they seem very angry and that's what they come across as. and i think what eric cantor is doing this afternoon makes a lot of sense. i like that listening tour idea. i think that makes a lot of sense. every issue that the house republicans are talking about affects the kitchen table, the family of four, mom and dad making those tough decisions. and every, that we talk about needs to be related back to, how does that affect us.
>> didn't this election prove how tone deaf they are? a listening tour? they're tone deaf . the election proves that.
>> well, there are certainly some republicans and some democrats that you can say are tone deaf . i think what eric cantor is doing is really focusing on what republicans believe and how we communicate that to a greater country and say, this is what we believe and this is why we believe it. going back to immigration , to win over hispanics, we don't need to change who we are, but we need to communicate what we believe and why that's important to them.
>> my thanks to the power panel today, great to see