The Ed Show | November 15, 2012
>>> show." thanks for watching tonight. middle class americans will not be the ones kicked over the fiscal cliff . not if bernie sanders and true democrats have anything to say about it. you can always count on bernie, can't you? here's senator sanders today at a progressive summit in washington.
>> we're going to send a loud message to the leadership in the house, in the senate, and president obama , do not cut social security , do not cut medicare, do not cut medicaid, do not cut -- we must not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, or the poor.
>> on the other side of the aisle, senate minority leader mitch mcconnell is sounding obs nant out of the gate. here's what he said about the president this morning.
>> let's be clear. an opening bid of $1.6 trillion in new taxes just isn't serious. it's a joke. a joke.
>> house speaker john boehner has been far milder in this rhetoric. according to politico, some house republicans might consider a tax hike on millionaires. many republican lawmakers privately concede that the 2012 election left them far short of a mandate on taxes. and if urged by democrats to raise rates on the megawealthy, they will have a tough time resisting. for the record, president obama 's position sounds much more in line with senator sanders ' way of thinking.
>> there are some tough things that have to be done, but there's a way of doing this that does not hurt middle class families, that does not hurt our seniors, doesn't hurt families with disabled kids.
>> let's bring in ruth conif, political editor for the progressive magazine. also with us tonight, e.j. dionne , msnbc contributor, " washington post " columnist and author of the book "our divided political heart." great to have both of you with us tonight. ruth , you first. you know, this could set up to be a moment of real disappointment for liberals if the democrats can't close the deal. i mean, there was, you know, 2010 , when they didn't think they got enough of health care . and when the economy was struggling a little bit. they thought president obama didn't fight hard enough for them. this is round two. and i think that liberals are pretty energized. how important history?
>> it's absolutely critical. and you can see that the republicans feel that it's critical because it's their political opportunity to scare us about the fiscal cliff and use it to actually do something that has nothing to do with the deficit which is this changing of social security that they want to put on the table. that's something bernie sanders addressed very effectively. it was interesting he quoted ronald reagan on the floor yesterday to point out social security has nothing to do with the deficit or balancing budgets, payroll tax that employers and employees pay into the trust fund that finances that and it should not even be discussed in these negotiations. but furthermore, this whole election, this whole national election was a referendum on the republic republicans ' ideas expressed so well by mitt romney by the way yesterday afternoon when he talked about with such contempt for people who might need college loans, or health care , god forbid . and, you know, this election showed americans are completely opposed to the proposed reforms by the republicans on medicare and social security . they don't want entitlements changed or touched. and they want to see the top 2% pay some taxes. like they did in the clinton era. so if their elected representatives come in and within a week they're talking about changing entitlements and not raising taxes on the very rich, it's not just liberals who will be disappointed. this is whole country here that are behind what obama and the democrats campaigned on which is justice.
>> e.j. dionne , if you had to pick a side you could team up with to negotiate, who has the upper hand here?
>> well, i think it's pretty clear despite what senator mcconnell said today that the republicans have given in fundamentally on principle and we're talking about what the price is going to be for a tax increase. john boehner said early on, well, we can do it through tax reform . but he -- that, by saying that he was saying we can raise taxes on the rich. now, think there are some really tricky things that we face here. one is, the republicans just don't want to go back to those clinton rates. i think the right way to do this is to restore all the clinton rates and then have a discussion of tax reform . you're not going to be able to raise as much money as people say you can. for example, are people going to really want to whack at the mortgage deduction when we're just coming out of a housing crisis? and then if you don't really whack at it, then you're not raising much money. but the republicans , i think, have signaled very clearly that they know that if they spend the rest of the year sounding like they're just fighting to save very rich people from modest tax increases, they know that's a political loser.
>> all right. here's speaker boehner on the chances of cutting a deal. here it is.
>> if you've looked closely at what the president had to say and look closely at what i have had to say, you know, there are no barriers here to sitting down and beginning to work through this process.
>> ruth conniff , i really don't know what that means. do you?
>> it makes me nervous because i don't really want to see us moving that close to boehner. and, you know, it's interesting. i talked to economist dean baker, he's the economist in america who showed that the housing bubble was a threat back in 2002 . before it actually popped in 2005 . he has a lot of credibility. he said the best deal might be no deal. if obama can go into these negotiations and say this fiscal cliff is not going to impact people on january 2nd , it's recessionary, but he could get the two main things he campaigned on, even if there's no deal, which is an instant hike on the very rich and no touching of social security , medicare and medicaid . then the republicans just as e.j. points out would have to turn around and explain why they wouldn't then want to go along with a tax decrease for 98% of voters. right? so they would have to stand up against that and that is an impossible position. if they even know that obama would consider letting them go off the cliff , i think that might be a stronger bargaining position.
>> well, we haven't heard much about this payroll tax cut. but this part of the fiscal cliff . how's this going to play out, e.j.?
>> well, i think the -- first of all, i want to underscore something ruth said which is this doesn't have to be a cliff . and i think we shouldn't be scared of the cliff . i think he does, the president does need to stick to this as a bargaining position. you don't have to put all the cuts in effect the first month of the year. you have the -- the government can kick those down the road. you don't have to change the tax table. so you don't have to start with drawing money from people's paychecks. i think there are ways of going over the cliff and make it more like i against lawrence o'donnell says a curb on the street. i think the payroll tax is really difficult issue. because a lot of -- and liberals are torn about it because on the one hand, i kind of like the idea of goosing the economy and letting people keep another year of their payroll tax cut, but we're worried about the long-term for social security . it's a tough, tough issue.
>> all right. ruth conniff , e. jechlt dion, great to have you on the program. thanks so much.
>> good do be with you.
>>> next, the real cost of the fiscal cliff . president obama gets a firsthand look at what's really at stake in cities across the country.
>>> and while john mccain was out complaining about the lack of details given on benghazi, he misses a key briefing offering details about benghazi. richard wolffe will weigh in. stay