msnbc | February 23, 2013
>> talking sequester. my next guest who served in congress for nearly 20 years has quite a bit to say as well. former nine-term ohio representative steve latourette recently wrote an op ed for "the daily beast ," who used a word that i can't exactly say television, former congressman steve latourette joins me now.
>> happy to be here.
>> the governor's association is meeting in washington and some had a press conference moments ago. let's listen to what governor hickenlooper had to say in this clip.
>> sequestration was designed by both the administration and congress as something soed onnious, so repellent that it would force both sides to a compromise. so it can't be any question. this is something that nobody wants.
>> so in television-friendly term, please, sir, can you tell us what you think has been the biggest obstacle to reaching a deal here some.
>> think the biggest obstacle is that nobody's talking to each other. the president is going around the country and trying to talk about how it's going to first first responders, hurt this and hurt that. the republicans weren't in town this week and hopefully everyone will be in town next week and that leaves five days and that's not enough time to get this done. as was the case that began with the first budget problem in august 2011 when they do talk, they talk past each other and they're talking to their base rather than talking to each other to try to get the big deal and the op ed that i wrote talked about the fact that people have been saying you haven't gotten a big deal done and you're playing small ball and i have another term of what i thought about that, but the fact of the matter is they're not playing small ball and all they do is govern by crisis. and so even if the republicans came back and said oh, president obama will take your $85 billion deal and even though it raised taxes again, it fixes it for ten months. it's sad.
>> when you say they govern by crisis and you spent a long time there in that governing body , can you tell us a little bit about why it is so hard to change washington and the way they do business?
>> absolutely. because if you look at, particularly in the house which is my experience, if you look at the country for the last number of cycles and certainly being from ohio , it's ground zero , we're a very split country between red and blue. so as a result everybody is afraid that if you give an inch you're somehow surrendering or in my case you become a rhino, a republican in name only and you're not the same thing on the democratic side and you have on the republican side the tax problem with of gthe norquist side. and even though people are living to 79 today if you do anything to upset that upper cut you're not a good democrat and that's not conducive to working something out.
>> now, house majority leader john boehner is a fellow ox high owe statesman of yours and a longtime ally. how do you think he's handled this crisis?
>> john has the toughest job in washington , and a lot of people think it's the president and after the 2010 election when he became the speaker, there's about 40 of them that really aren't interested in governing. they're more interested in keeping issues alive and the president has the same thing, you know, in his party, as well. it's very difficult, and if you look at the fiscal cliff, one of the last speeches boehner made and i heard in the closed-door meeting was, look, two things are facts. the president's been re-elected and taxes are going up and our challenge is how to work within that set of facts to get something done and there are some people in my party and the other party, as well, that just aren't interested in listening to that.
>> i'm curious in that you talk about how difficult speaker boehner was and they're starting to assign blame with this already. how do you think it got to this point and what are the factors that got into this and ultimately who is responsible?
>> i think it's on both houses. if you read about woodward's book and i think it will be in the post tomorrow that clearly sequestration was something that jack thought up during the discussions and you know, the republicans adapted and i voted for it and so to say that it's the president's fault here, it's counterproductive. we got here with at least in this last generation, in my opinion in august 2011 when the president and the speaker were meeting behind closed doors that reached the simpson- bowles type agreement, and they were both pulled back from the extreme wings of their party and ever since then nothing productive, nothing good has happened in washington , in my opinion, since then.
>> let's talk about your life after washington . you are heading a centrist organization called republican mainstream partnership. what's the version of what you think how you think we can solve the budget problem?
>> i think people should grab whatters kin bowles came up with and the 600 billion in taxes that were raised in taxes only leaves you with 2.4 drill twron and i can say 2.4 trillion only in washington speak, but they just embrace what they c out with, it would actually solve the problem and you wouldn't be revisiting this question every 60 days and every 90 days and president obama could push his bowles agenda that he wants to push for the second term and america can get back to work because business people would know what the taxes are and what their regulations are and what the health care costs would be and we could go back to main street and leading our lives.
>> the state of ohio , every election cycle is a crucial swing state that has both parties desperately coveting it. it voted blue in 2012 , what do you think it would take to win a republican candidate to win in 2013 ?
>> they have to be normal and by normal, the reason we're at the center of it all and that's what my license plates say, we come from all walks of life. we really are the melting pot and you don't have the extremes of right or left. people just want the government to function in ohio and the reason in my opinion that president obama was successful in 2012 is governor romney had been taken so far to the right in those republican primary debates that by the time he got back and attempted to come back to the center after the colorado debate it was too late and people said this guy, you know -- this guy's way out there and the president, even though some people were not quite in love with what he'd done in his first term, they thought he was a safe bet and mitt romney was not.
>> that's great political advice. be normal. i like that.
>> former congressman stevela tourette, thank you so much.
>> thank you so much.