NOW with Alex Wagner | May 29, 2012
>>> the world is not safe. we have two courses we could follow, one follow in the pathway of europe , shrink or military smaller and smaller to pay or four social needs. the other to commit to preserve america as the strongest military in the world second to none with no comparable power anywhere in the world.
>> that was mitt romney speaking yesterday at a memorial day event, staking america's future on the strength of our military. steve, does anyone in the world believe that europe is having the problems its having because their military isn't strong enough?
>> it's a way to use the holiday a military themed holiday to introduce the europe bashing back into the campaign.
>> this is mitt romney 's whole thing, right, the military needs to be strengthened, the military needs to be strengthened and that's never squared with how you slash spending. i will bring to everyone's attention, paul krugman speaking about paul ryan 's budget once you strip out mr. ryan's magic asteri asterisks, increase revenues and cut spending in ways he refuses to specify, you're left with plans to increase, not reduce, federal debt . the same can be said of mitt romney who claim his will balance the budget but whose proposals consist of huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, of course plus a promise not to cut defense spending . i believe the cbo analysis, glenn -- sorry, if we're talking about defense cuts you look at defense spending and cuts and tax cuts for the top 1%, the top 5%, as mitt romney has sort of proposed, his plan adds to the deficit. so it begs the question, how legitimate, is this just good marketing on the part of the gop?
>> it's throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. i mean, six months ago, when we were on the hill and we were dealing with this debt meltdown we were starting to have a frank exchange with both democrats and republicans seeming to embrace, a, notion that entitlement spending needed to be addressed and the fact that the military spending in the last decade has been nuts, i mean dealing and with the two wars not in terms of you know qualitative judgment. but you know, that consensus, which is sensible, and one of the few good takeaways from the debacle has dissipated in the presidential campaign .
>> we're already spend 6% of our gross domestic product on defense top to say that is the exact right number between now and the foreseeable future doesn't sem liem like the smart government. when romney says this speaking to a group of people leaning towards him that think he really, if i'm translating he wants to say, obama 's weak on defense. that's what this is about, it's not about the number.
>> and, scott, this is part and parcel with him vilifying russia and china and taking a really aggressive posture towards the chinese, saying day one he'd reframe the relationship with the chinese.
>> he has to say these things, per our conversation before the break, it's all about branding. so he has to come out of the box saying these things. what's interesting is, you know, you listen to what he's saying, warning about the future, we're going to be weak. but look at the last four year obama 's been tough on foreign policy and hawkish. how man thousand word story in the day of the kill list of him approving drone missions? it'ser hard to argue that he has not acted hawkishly or to some degree of having some degree of hawkishly.
>> yeah, talking about extraordinary rendition and military commissions . the list --
>> the surge in afghanistan, added troop there's.
>> but what's interesting, talking about what mitt romney wants to do in terms of spending i will drive everybody's attention to this quote fromm n invut, if you take a trillion out of the first year of the federal budget that would shrink gdp over 5%, by definition throwing us into recession or depression. i'm not going to do, of course, what you do make adjustments on a basis that show in the first year actions over time get you to a balanced budget . all of this talk on capitol hill about slashing and spending immediately, mitt romney actually says, i'm not going to do that and throw the country into a recession.
>> he's say, the government needs to play a role to prop up grow during the recession. you have the defense sequestration cutting the budget. you have revolt from republicans, you take that money out of the military, that's going to hurt the economy. there's an argument, i don't know whether i buy it but i'll put it out if you're interested in kansyian economics and the stimulus to get us over the hump , romney might end up being a better president because of this. the republican party wasn't always opposed to stimulus, they became absolutely opposed when obama became president. even under bush they were approving stimulus. if you accept that approach, if mitt romney gets in there maybe that opposition to stimulus relaxes in a way that it won't if obama gets a second term.
>> great segue to what happens at the end of the year. we know the lame duck session 's going to be anything but lame, or maybe ultralame i don't know, and sequestration kicks in january 1st . how much are republicans on the hill taking their marching orders or how easy are they going to make life for candidate romney ? over the student loan question romney led and said, i'm not going to get the rates go up. and the house republicans had to fall in line with that. jim demint said i'm not opposed to doing this, ensuring the loan rates are low, but i'm glad romney was smart enough not to take the bait because he's got to pick his battles and not jump on everything the democrats are throwing out to try to trip him up.
>> i think john boehner articulated it best, described the conference ace wheel barrel full of frogs, right? this is not going to be easy for anybody to do. i think it's going to be nice to have a daddy of some kind presiding over this pros else are you saying john boehner 's not daddy enough.
>> feels like uncle john . what was striking about the romney quote there is, identical to what you hear the president saying. there's little daylight in terms of governance on that stuff, the other area, getting back to military, if you can find a lick of daylight between obama and romney , a real difference on afghanistan withdrawal, tell me about that. all of that criticism is ginned up.
>> president obama and anybody in conservative circles in terms of articulating foreign policy plan different from the one in place, i have yet to see it.
>> that might be the big secret of the campaign for the extreme rhetoric in terms of actual policy preferences and the narrow lane these actors can function in, isn't that much room to maneuver the big secret revealed months before the election.