msnbc | March 09, 2013
>>> with my own party leadership, my own president like saying donald rumsfeld ought to resign, we need to do the surge, then i'm a brave maverick. when i'm taking on others, then he's just an angry old man.
>> well, that is senator john mccain talking about his opposition to rand paul 's drone filibuster in the senate this week. for more on that and the president's gop outrage, i'm joined by political reporter for "the washington post ," aaron blake and staff writer alease. good morning.
>> good morning.
>> let's begin with rand paul talking about john mccain .
>> i treat senator mccain with respected. i don't think i always get the same in return.
>> so, aaron , why did mccain and lindsey graham attack him on the senate floor? didn't it hurt mccain and graham?
>> it might. i think this is an area where graham and mccain have a very significant policy difference with rand paul and a lot of the new republicans who are joining the senate these days. at the same time, i think this is an issue -- you know, the rand paul filibuster got a lot of attention because it was fascinating this guy was talking for 13 hours. it wasn't necessarily that people in the republican party were embracing his message, so to speak. so, you know, i think the republican party is very much split on this issue but i don't think it's a point of emphasis. i do think it's interesting that mccain and graham are spending time making this point and mccain even calling somebody names, which is unusual for the senate. but i don't think this is going to be a big deal long term given that foreign policy is not at the top of the ticket right now.
>> although, don't know, did you see that one picture of them inside the senate elevator? it was awkward.
>> really awkward.
>> i can't get that one out of my head. it was just -- they went each in their own corners. anyway, who are most republicans siding with in this gop squabble?
>> i think that's a good question. you know, 13 senators gop senators joined rand paul on the floor to voice their support. most were newcomers, new faces. mitch mcconnell , the senate republican leader , also joibed. what we saw was a huge response from the conservative grass roots supporting rand paul on twitter. we saw the conservative drudge report calling mccain an old bull, you know, freedom works is calling on mccain to apologize to rand paul . so i would say this raises a really important question. what is the gop establishment? maverick john mccain might have been on the wrong side of this one.
>> interesting. i'll stay with you as we switch gears here. we're going to take a bit from the president's weekly address talking about his gop meeting.
>> earlier this week, for example, i met with some republican senators to see there were smarter ways to grow our economy and reduce our deficits than the arbitrary cuts and the so-called sequester that recently went into place. we had an open and honest conversation about critical issues like immigration reform and gun violence and other areas where we can work together to move this country forward.
>> so, there appears to be some goodwill, genuine appreciation. the president reached out which he's not known for doing in the first term. did anything concrete happen in those first meetings?
>> it's hard for us to tell. we know what they ate but we don't really know what they said. the white house is closely guarding the details of this meeting. and even many of the republican senators in attendance are very unwilling to talk about exactly what was discussed. we assume that in the future, the details will leak out. but at this point, there's a lot of goodwill, which is a change in tone. but we don't really know the details.
>> at least we can say this much, it doesn't appear the sequester is going to end any time soon, right?
>> no. and these senators and the president can get together and have coffee and have dinner and, you know, say nice things about each other. but the fact is that we're still in a very partisan environment right now. and these republican senators still have to worry about their, you know, conservative electorates, their primaries. so, they're not going to sign onto anything that includes tax increases, unless we really see the sequester impact start to take a turn for the worse. unless the white house 's predictions turn out to be true. you know, i think we're still a very long way away from actually having any kind of an agreement on this.
>> well, here's a practical application of the sequester, aaron , and your colleague david has a front-page story on the white house stopping tours beginning told. i mean, is that really a victim of the sequester cuts or is that a political statement ? because really, how much can that cost to run?
>> it actually costs $2 million a year. and the secret service said it had to cut $84 million out of its budget. so, you know, exactly -- exactly where they needed to cut is really in the eye of the beholder . republicans are really focusing on this. it's become metaphor for the larger debate about, you know, the administration overhyping these cuts. ly say right now that the white house is concerned about how this debate is going and thinks they may be actually losing this right now. so, i think as we move forward and evaluate whether sequester is actually a big deal for the economy, i think this is one of the anecdotes that's going to be front and center.
>> well, $2 million is $2 million. your latest article about the republican paul ryan 's budget and how it might change the medicare cutoff point. what's the controversy there? some in ryan 's own party are squawking about this, right?
>> that's right. paul ryan will come out with his latest budget plan on tuesday. the big question people on the hill are asking, for which americans will his medicare overhaul apply? the gop had promised in the past that people 55 and under -- excuse me, 55 and older would not see a change at all. and what we're hearing now is that ryan may need to raise that age to 56 in order to balance the budget within ten years, which is what republicans have promised this plan will do. and centrist republicans are meeting with ryan and expressing a lot of concern, saying that if we go back to our voters and say we broke a promise, what do you expect us to do? and the midterms are coming up. and i think there's a lot of concern about this.
>> okay. elise, aaron blake, thank you for that. we appreciate