msnbc | February 16, 2013
>>> and in this week's office politics , i asked jonathan alter about the role of the tea party and got a somewhat bipartisan answer with him on that we began talking about the high points from the state of the union speech .
>> the most emotional part of the speech was clearly toward the end, where he said, give them a vote. he used that word vote over and over again. what's so important about that, alex, this will apply not just to gun control , but to a whole series of bills, which in the past for many years now, the way to stop them has been to keep them from even coming up for a vote. that doesn't mean he will win all the votes, but at least the american people will be able to -- through their elected representatives, have a chance to vote on gun control , immigration, a whole series of other issues.
>> and then there is the tea party response. when you look at rand paul and the tea party , are they living in an alternate universe ? or do they have viable issues worthy of discussion in some sort of merit?
>> they are a thorn in the side of the republican party . but their moment in american history has come and gone. they were an extremely important part of the last two years in our political life , and, you know, i have a little chapter about them in my next book and they did a lot of damage to the united states by -- by wrenching it so far to the right or attempting to wrench it so far to the right that it hurt not just the country, but the republican party . but they -- you know, they are a -- they are an implacable and still powerful minority faction in american politics . they are not going to be driving the train. but they will continue to be, you know, a problem in moving forward to address our central concerns.
>> but the tea party issues on the economy and their, you know, deep concern about the $16 trillion ballooning deficit, are those concerns legit?
>> concerns about the deficit are legitimate. the important thing to understand is that the republican party as a whole doesn't give a rat's patootie about the deficit. they can say they do all day, but if you are not for what the president calls a balanced approach, which all the experts say is the only way you will really address the deficit, a combination of steep budget cuts in certain areas and some tax increases in other areas, you cannot get from here to there in deficit reduction. so anybody who says that just budget cuts, no tax increases is not serious about reducing the deficit. and republicans have been a tax cut party, not a deficit reduction party for the last 25 years.
>> when it comes to things have you in your house, one thing i love is this gathering of campaign buttons.
>> where did that come from?
>> that collection is actually my father's.
>> adeli stevenson. i see a lot of that.
>> they got involved with adlai before they were married, and they equivalent in the early 1950s of very, very idealistic progressives. my mother was the first woman ever elected to public office in cook county which is chicago. so they led a very interesting life.