msnbc | February 09, 2013
>>> now to politics and his new weekly address today, president obama issued a warning about the latest fiscal crisis threatening the u.s. economy .
>> if congress doesn't act by march 1st , a series of harmful automatic cuts to job-creating investment and defense spending , also known as the sequester, are scheduled to take effect. and the results could be a huge blow to middle class families and our economy as a whole.
>> joining me now for today's strategy talk, is former u.s. senator and majority leader tom daschell, senior policy adviser for dla piper and author of a new book "the u.s. senate ." looks like a great book. thank you for joining us.
>> my pleasure, alex .
>> so let's talk about the white house what it was doing yesterday painting really a dire picture of what sequestration would look like. among the things they talk about, 70,000 kids losing head start services. 10,000 teaching jobs at risk. cuts to food inspections. cuts to the fbi, hundreds of federal prosecutors furloughed. that's just a small sample, senator. are they exaggerating at all for the sake of argument? or do you really think it would be that bad?
>> i think it would be that bad and maybe even worse . i think, alex , this is yet another one of these crisis-driven decisions that the congress is going to have to make with the realization that failure to do so could have devastating consequences. we're talking about the winter storms. we just celebrated groundhog day a couple of days ago. i think we're in groundhog day phase three for this year. and i have to say it's getting a little weary. people are getting very concerned about these crises, these 11th-hour decision that is constantly have to be made. but president is right. the consequences yet again for not making the right decisions could be devastating.
>> i can't imagine anybody is not weary. i heartily agree with you on that assessment. how about the possibility of a deal, sir? any chances we'll be reached before the deadline? if not can we even afford a short period of this sequestration?
>> well, the disruption that sequestration causes is really very concerning. even the defense department has announced already a lot of the decisions they've had to make anticipation of these decisions. even if it is a short term, the disruption and the economic consequences could be very severe. so i'm hopeful. you asked about a deal. i would say that it's only about 50-50. but i think as people begin to realize just how serious this problem really could be, more and more of the republicans are going to come around to the belief that there are other ways to make their point. we can resolve this. we have to address the fiscal challenges we face. but not in the crisis-driven mode we're in right now.
>> but you almost have to address what this is doing overall. the self-created cry eaises, fiscal cliff, sequestration. is this any way to run a country?
>> i just came back from a fairly extensive trip in asia. you wouldn't believe how amazed people are in these other countries as they watch the united states in disbelief. they just can't believe it washington could be this dysfunctional over and over again. and it's really a devastating portrait of the united states . and i think having a very consequential effect on our image abroad. so this isn't just a domestic issue. in many respects it's an international issue affecting our country and the way we're viewed around the world for perhaps quite a long time.
>> in this book, it's a new textbook on the u.s. senate that you just wrote. how do you explain in it this fractured almost fanatically partisan era to students?
>> well, it's been a great project to try to do. because i think students have to understand. the institution itself is not broken. it's a lot of the people running the institution, especially on the republican side . the people who are not willing to compromise. governance requires coming to the middle. it requires common ground . to the extent that people insist on standing their ground alone, you get the dysfunctional results that we've seen now over and over again this year. and in the past couple of years.
>> do you think it's at all fair to also turn the mirror on the democrats on your party?
>> well, obviously these arrangements, these problems occur on both sides. i must say, i don't think there's much doubt, however, that democrats especially the president have been willing to come to the middle. has been willing to suggest ways with which to find compromise. we just haven't seen very much on the other side. but clearly, i think we both have a job to do. and reconciliation and finding ways with which to address these challenges in a much more consequential way. i give the president great credit for making the effort to do just that.
>> i want to quickly run with you with the big story this week, the obama administration's drone program in which we learned some new details about it and the leaked justice department memo and john brennan 's confirmation hearings. the big question is the killing of american citizens. do you believe, snork snorks that those strikes are warranted?
>> well, i don't have the details and information necessary to make that judgment. but i do believe that it's a threshold that we have to be very, very careful about, alex . this sets a dangerous precedent going forward. we've always been a country of the rule of law. and the rule of law has constitutional elements to it that are guaranteed all citizens. and so i'm concerned about it. i think we have to give it very careful thought and really question whether this is something we ought to do in a permanent way . security is important. but so are the constitutional rights afforded every american.
>> well, senator tom daschell, many thanks for your time. good luck with the book. i hope itfares well with students across the country. thank you.