The Cycle | February 05, 2013
>>> while it is critical for us to cut wasteful spending, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. our economy right now is headed in the right direction. and it will stay that way as long as there aren't anymore self-inflicted wounds.
>> that was president obama this afternoon calling on congress to delay automatic defense and spending cuts that go in to effect in three weeks. talking $85 billion this year alone. more than a trillion dollars over the next decade. the president warned of a major hit to jobs and economy on march 1st if washington doesn't act. republicans quick to pounce ahead of the planned speech. don't look now, america, but your president is proposing another short-term fix for the economy and the spending problem. joining us now in the guest spot is msnbc contributor howard fineman . howard , so in the president's statement today he revived basically the broad framework for about the 47,000th time called the grand bargain and offered up basically in the summer of 2011 and the run-up to the debt ceiling, and in the run-up to the fiscal cliff, excuse me, about a month idago, this idea of $600 billion in new revenue and entitlements. specifically in advance of the fiscal cliff, the white house wanted a change to the benefits formula for social security and basically be a benefit reduction over the long term for social security beneficiaries. is this just another, you know, trip down a dead end road to you or do you think there's movement on a grand bargain in the next month or two?
>> i'm glad to be back on the show to qualify "the cycle" skeet shooting tournament.
>> you're in.
>> check out the stance, howard .
>> i want to team up with s.e. of course.
>> smart move.
>> i called her already.
>> okay. this is the -- did you say 47,000th?
>> i lost count at 12,000. i'm guessing since then.
>> what is whatever you said plus one. there's practically politically speaking no way that the republicans right now are going to go along with anything like that number that you put up on the screen or, frankly, any number right this minute. their mood and i was talking with them this afternoon before i came on the air is they view the president's health care law as a form of a tax increase as the supreme court in a sense said it was. they think they got taken to the cleaners by the president. the progressives don't think that. most conservatives think they got taken to the cleaner by the president on the debt ceiling thing where tax -- income taxes raised on individuals over $400,000. they're not going to be in any kind of mood to accept any kind of, quote, revenue raisers, unquote. right now, or any time soon. i think what's going to be happening is you have a series of three different trip wires. you have the su quester. you have the end of the later budget and then the debt ceiling this summer. happening over and over and over again. when there will be if ever a grand bargain, i frankly don't know and i wouldn't bet on it given the mood in washington right now.
>> and meanwhile, we should point out, projections of the we have sit for 2013 under a trillion dollars down to 845 so maybe --
>> that's another point.
>> sometimes --
>> the other thing is immigration. obviously, you know, high on washington 's agenda this year, high on the administration's agenda. we had the news in the senate a week or two ago about potential bipartis bipartisan compromise with basically the enforcement and the pathway to citizenship and looks like that sort of that compromise might be hitting a snag in the house . the republican-controlled house where you have the republican chairman of the jewish dare committ committee this week holding hearings saying that's way too far. the further out i heard anybody go is eric cantor basically saying a version of the dream act with the children of illegal immigrants but a full-scale pathway to citizenship, maybe that's too much for house republicans . do you think house republicans could block it or they get to, okay, we'll go along?
>> i think the republicans could block it, steve . i think they may want to. my soundings this afternoon were, republicans in the senate who are part of the prospective deal still understand it and still i think would like to see something get done. at least they say so. but they say all bets are off coming to the house . i think the tea party is stronger in the house . i think you have to understand that the tea party is about spending and money and taxes but it's also about immigration. if you've been to a lot of tea party rallies as i have been, study the tea party you know the fear and role of immigration and people getting benefits that the tea party people think they shouldn't get is a big part of the psychology of the tea party and influence in the house . i wouldn't bet on anything getting through the house .
>> yeah. as steve mentioned eric cantor gave a big speech at the american enterprise institute today to provide a path forward for the republican party and sounded to me most of it was stuff that actually the president could have said. let's take a listen.
>> whether it's college or the cost of day care , making life work for more families means reducing the economic insecurity plaguing so many working moms and dads. explaining that rising health care costs, depressing takehome pay and saying that it's justified, that's little consolation to the working mom. because her grocery bills are still higher. her kids still need -- have needs more expensive. the rent is up. and now she's just trying to get by. i think all of us know getting by is not the american dream .
>> and howard , in that speech, cantor basically outlined and focused on some of the least travel aspects of the republican party platform, education, flexible working hours , closing loopholes in the tax code . things that are broadly popular across the aisle s. that the republican approach things that are popular in their party platform and just not talk about the other stuff?
>> well, i think that even uttering the phrase working moms is progress for this republican party .
>> but what matters is the details behind it. and whether you're talking about big cuts in discretionary spending that might include education spending, health care spending, child care , et cetera , when you talk about committing federal resources, tax money, to these kinds of problems, that's where the republicans go on a different direction and most of the american people at a time where they're worried about the future, where they're worried about the state of the economy, where they really frankly all that optimistic about the private economy providing them jobs, they're going to look to the government for help. if the republicans continue to be philosophically opposed to that idea which they are at root then all kinds of speechers by eric cantor won't make a difference.
>> gun control legislation is a big focus of the president right now.
>> he is using the bully pulpit . working with the senate. trying to keep this balloon in the air, keep people thinking about this and newtown. how do you think he's doing? and what does he need to do to get effective gun control legislation passed?
>> well, first of all, he needs to call harry reid in to his office and say get with the program, pal. i mean, harry reid not to use a bad analogy but sort of shot it down. and harry reid comes from a gun state, comes from that background. he's been hit or miss on this in the past. if you don't have strong support from the leaders of the democrats in congress, how do you expect to get anything sweeping enacted? talking to people today , even the whole notion of expanding background checks and making them universal, the phrase universal background checks has now become a word of fear and a term of art among conservatives and the gun supporters who fear it's about registering, if you sell your something to the guy across the road that that's going to be require registry and you get the black helicopters flying within seconds there. i'm not even sure that in the end is going to get enacted. it is a sad, sad commentary on where this issue is. it's the ultimate conflict between targeted inside money power and the presumed views of all the american people . 90% of the american people in favor of some kind of thorough background checks for all gun sales. supposedly three quarters of nra members are in support of that. the president is trying. but i -- i think the outside game is important. but unless he has strong, strong support from the top leaders of his own party in congress, there's no way it's going to get done.
>> howard , let's talk about the doj memo on drones. do you think that the mainstream media will give the president a hard time on that?
>> sadly from your point of view, s.e. the answer is no. i think it's going to be mixed. first of all, i think this will be a reference that most people watching the show won't get. late douglas is turning over in his grave.
>> steve got it.
>> the champion of liberty taught for years at the yale law school , one of the people that put all this legal reasoning together is harold koh and who was the dean and working as an advise tore the state department . i find it borderline chilling because they've expanded the idea of what's immediate in that memo if you read it.
>> they also say that infeasible can mean that it might result in the loss of the lives of americans trying to take the person out in another way. it's infinitely expandable. we are doing down a road we won't be able to go reverse direction on. i think it should be the topic of primary main discussion in the country. i would bet you that mike isikoff's great reporting notwithstanding, it won't be.
>> credit, too, to outlets like salon and given it attention over four years.
>> appreciate that. i appreciate the time from you, howard . we all do. great to have you back on the show.
>> great to see you guys.
>> just days after the super bowl , is the existence of the game of football in jeopardy? that's straight ahead . [