The Cycle | February 06, 2013
>>> today in the cycle, president obama works through his top secret meeting with senate democrats and what he said that can throw the party into chaos.
>> president obama is going to o spring break and does he need it. i have a feeling he will be leaving his board shorts at home this time.
>> in st. louis, the president has a tough job. we all work hard for the money. when is the last time he got a raise.
>> plenty of bark. what he is doing to help new york grow its way back from hurricane sandy.
>>> say farewell to the old fiscal cliff and debt ceiling and get used to this word. sequester. it hit in march if congress doesn't act. if you lost track of the debt ceiling and budget battles t came out of the debt limit deal. it was the white house 's idea to hold washington 's feet to the fire. the cuts were never supposed to happen. the committee that replaced them failed and at the start of the ewe near, the deal triggered even further until march 1st . we are faced with the looming cuts a few weeks away that boiled down to $85 billion that will be slashed by this fall if nothing happens. the focus has been on the cuts and the entire $1.2 trillion will be a 50-50 defense between defense and spending. to put us into perspective is the center for social inclusion . the sequester was designed to be something that would never happen. prot expect would scare washington into coming out with something else. there sounds out of washington , particularly from republicans that they might be okay with nothing happening and sequester being triggered. half is defense and half non-domestic discretionary spending . can you explain to people what would be cut if the sequester goes into effect.
>> it's a pleasure to be here. it's an important set of questions for americans . what we are talking about is whether half of these cuts are going to prevent our children from getting the supports they need to get educated in school including children with disabilities. whether we are going to be supporting the elderly to help with their heating bill or in the summertime, their air conditioning . whether we provide homeless assistance for people who are homeless to get them back into permanent housing. we are talking about a series of programs that not only help our citizens get back to work. they are fundamental to ensuring families will just survive to the end of the paycheck.
>> practically speak the alternative if you look at what president obama laid out yesterday rveg e yesterday, he was asking them to take it off the table and put the idea of a grand bargain back on the table. it takes that same basic $1.2 trillion target and this time about half from new closing loopholes and deductions. the other half is from sbrilthsmentes and this idea of cpi which is a reduction in benefits for people. how would you compare the grand bargains to the programs in which you are talking about if the sequester takes place. is one worse than the other?
>> do we have to have this discussion at all? we should be looking at a patient approach. we are in a time when the economy is fragile and some of the communities hardest hit by the economy that we are currently in whether it's rural communities or white men who lost jobs and lost employment at higher rates and had a harder time finding jobs. that means investing in our people and infrastructure like public transit and broadband access and all the things that get our economy back to work and create jobs, jobs, jobs. that's what this is about. our deficit has been coming down and the patient approach is to recognize that we actually have time. we should bring the deficit down, but we have time. we should take the cuts off the table and think about how to get the economy going. if people work again, we are on the road to solving the problem.
>> to that point and looking at the cuts you have been pointing out to head start and cuts to wic, the women, infant and children nutritional assistant program, they are penny wise and foolish and may be making things worse in the long run.
>> i'm glad you raised that, crystal. if you think about the single mom working 12 hours a day and her paycheck does not take her to the end of the month on food. what she realizes and has been a responsible mom, but realizes after she makes the decision to have her child not have an abortion is that her paycheck is not going to help her feed her infant. the women infant children program not only feeds these families, it also teaches them about nutrition and how to be healther and live healthier lives. this is important for families and the economy. we are helping people stay healthy longer and one of the reasons we have a deficit problem is controlling health care costs. these are controlling some of the costs we care about.
>> going back to steve's point and the reality of this, how do you convince democrats to both protect the programs that you are talking about and not worry so much about entitlement reform or sort of stick to their idea of entitlement without giving one or the other up?
>> it's an important question and i am glad you asked that. one thing we have to think about is what we need to take care of. the fastest growing segment of the population right now. those who are 65 and older. when we are talking about that, i don't like to use the word entitlements. what we are talking about is our parents and grandparents going to be able to care for themselves after they stop working and will they have a health care they need? it's something we have to talk about and how we take care of the needs of our elderly as the fastest growing population. this is one of the things that suggested what we should do is slow down. we should take these measures that are requiring us to speed up and make fast decisions when we have time to figure out how to do it right and how to do it in a way to invest in our future. we have dropped. i will switch to education, but our children used to be number one in the united states of america . we are now at 12th because we have been cutting funding. we are looking at cutting literally losing support for education for over 1.7 million children and by the way, more than half of those will be black and latino children, the fastest growing demographic racially.
>> just to follow-up, you don't top the call it entitlement reform and i understand that point, but would you encourage democrats to error reforms in an effort to look forward as patiently as you might want overtime?
>> yeah and i think democrats have been willing to look at the programs. the question is how. it's starting with the frame that said if you look at the budget deficits , one of the things that is important for americans to understand, the biggest spikes in the deficits we had, world war i. world war ii . iraq and afghanistan. when we invest in war, our costs go way up and so does our budget deficit . we are in a process right now where the deficit is starting to come down. that's the good news. that's part of slowing down. democrats have been willing to look at those programs. we start with the frame of how do we take care of our people? when we start with that lens of how we take care of them, we hope up the opportunity to innovate and think about how we take care of all of us.
>> i have two for you. i like that lens. you are talking about i like you challenging the notion of calling it entitlements. what should we call it instead?
>> i think we should call it investment. take social security . one third of all americans rely 90% of the pay they get to pay for food and pay their rent and pay for their heating bill is paid for by social security . for over 50% of americans , social security is paying close to 50% of their cost of living . we have to look at what people are actually able to pay their bills. far too many americans are retiring without the ability to pay for their cost of living . that means they are sinking into poverty. if you are black, by the way, the rate is 40% of black people rely on social security to pay 90% of expenses because we earn way fewer wages unfortunately. i think we have to look at it for what does it take to care for ourselves and our aging population ? the president said it in his inaugural address quite well. we are not being to disinvest in the generations that built this country or turn our backs on those who continue to built the future. that should be our principal.
>> that's right. the other thing is brinksmanship. is this a way to run an effective government?
>> no. that's why i think we have to start looking at patience and data and have an informed discussion. it's parnt that this is a bipartisan effort. this is more about politics than the priorities of a country. the priorities are jobs, jobs, jobs. what economists are telling us is in order to make sure we are solidifying recovery and investing in economic future and protecting our people means we that we have to invest and talk about what the investments should be and how they should work and how we pay for them. that means we will have to talk about investing in people and at the same time we will have to talk about raising revenue. i think taking a patient approach to not do brinksmanship and not make bipartisan decisions as we heard from steve at the top of the hour unless we are taking the time to do it right.