The Ed Show | December 20, 2012
>>> welcome back to "the ed show." eventful last hour. no doubt about it. you're looking at tape of house republicans leaving a conference meeting earlier this evening, within the last hour. speaker john boehner didn't have the votes for his own plan b this evening. republican house leader eric cantor sent his members home tonight after leadership failed to pass a bill. keep in mind, both boehner and cantor spent all day saying that they had the votes. boehner introduced plan b to save face with his caucus after rejecting an offer by president obama . he should have taken the president's deal. in a new nbc news/" wall street journal " poll it shows that 24% of americans will blame republicans if we go over the fiscal cliff , compared to 19% for the democrats. 58 -- 56% will blame both parties. 38% trust president obama to handle the fiscal cliff . only 19% trust john boehner . and in the wake of tonight 's developments i would imagine those numbers would get a little worse for the speaker of the house . joining me tonight , former governor howard dean of vermont and cnbc political analyst. mr. dean, good to have you with us, governor.
>> thanks, ed.
>> give us in short order your commentary without question, what do you think has happened here this evening?
>> well, the inside baseball of this is really a problem for the speaker. you can't -- this is something you can't do. you can't have your budget overridden, as governors know, and you can't have a major initiative like this go down when you think you have the votes and you don't. it would not entirely surprise me to see eric cantor or kevin mccarthy , who've been waiting in the wings , kind of gently stack the speaker in the back for a couple years, to make their move after the new session starts. the fiscal cliff , as you know, i believe the country would be better off if we went over the fiscal cliff . we would get enough revenues to be serious about balancing the budget. we'd get some defense cuts, which congress will never vote for otherwise. we will get some human services cuts, which i don't like, but you know, we're in a deep hole here and everybody's going to have to put something in the pot. the truth is the belief that millionaires or people who make more than $250,000, if you tax them more that's going to solve the deficit problem, that's just not so. so i think it would be better for the country if we go over the fiscal cliff . and i'm not sorry this has failed. but i do not think this has helped john boehner 's speakership.
>> the tea party protected the wealthiest americans tonight . there's no doubt about that. but did we see vulture politics in action tonight ? do you think eric cantor worked hard for votes?
>> i don't know. that's the most interesting thing. as i said, cantor -- throughout john boehner 's speakership and cantor's majority leadership, cantor's been really trying to wrest the power of the caucus away from john boehner . in the last few weeks it's been all lovey-dovey between them. i don't know. i think cantor's going to have a hard time restraining his ambition because this is a very bad blow to the speaker. if you can't deliver your caucus and you publicly fall on your face like that, it makes everybody in your party look bad. the tea party people know that. this is a problem for john boehner .
>> well, they're going home tonight without a deal. they'll come back after christmas. what's the next best play for the president, do you think, governor?
>> i think the president -- unlike me, the president really does want a deal. i'd like to make a bigger down payment. i think we're not going to raise the revenue or cut the defense to the degree we need to without the fiscal cliff . this was a bipartisan deal made between democrats and republicans a year and a half ago and i think we ought to keep it because it would be better for the country. but i think the president does want to compromise and he'll try again to compromise. the problem now is the question is is john boehner so weakened by this really pretty spectacular failure from an inside the beltway point of view that he can't deliver anything?
>> it is a spectacular failure. he has been out badmouthing the president day after day about the president not moving at all, being disingenuous about it all, and then he doesn't even know where his own caucus is. trying to save face . couldn't cut a good enough deal for the tea party wing of his caucus. and now he goes home with egg on his face.
>> steny hoyer -- sorry. go ahead.
>> no, you go ahead.
>> i was going to say, steny hoyer 's right. eventually the only way -- this is a huge risk for the speaker. eventually you're going to have to get this thing passed with let's just say 160 republican votes and 110 democratic votes. that would mean the bill would have to move even further to the left to get 110 democrats. i don't think the speaker can survive that either. because then he's really divided his caucus. he's really, really in a bind. his seat right now is the most uncomfortable in washington, d.c.
>> how much more should the democrats give up to get a deal? you've said you don't want a deal, you want them to go over the cliff . do you think the president has put enough on the table to get a deal?
>> no. he may have, but the problem is it's not going to reduce the deficit all that much. and it certainly isn't going to cut defense all that much. so again, i respect the president, and i certainly worked very hard to get him re-elected. we just have a difference of opinion on this issue. i am uncomfortable with the idea that beer not goiwe're not going to get mu ch deficit reduction out of this. and we're not, given the last thing that's been on the table. and the republicans wouldn't even agree to that. i think we're just better off really biting the bullet. wall street will hate it for about two weeks and suddenly they'll realize we're dealing with a deficit and i think the investors will like it a lot.
>> you think the president -- the democrats should take social security off the table?
>> well, you know, social security 's not the problem. medicare 's the problem.
>> it's not the problem. but it was a negotiating chip that the republicans didn't respond to.
>> that doesn't -- i was surprised at that. i didn't understand it that much. you know, i have a lot of faith in nancy pelosi , and if nancy pelosi doesn't think that the cpi indicator is that -- i'm not familiar with exactly what they were proposing. but if she says that's not going to harm social security then i'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt . but somebody does have to do something about medicare . and the way to do it is not to cut benefits. it's to change payment mechanisms to a system where you pay by the patient instead of by the procedure. that'll change everything. you can save a lot of money in medicare , and you don't take away anybody's benefits. i'd like to see something like that on the table because that really is a game changer.
>> well, we're going to find out if speaker boehner wants his job back or if he wants a deal. that's really where we are right now.
>> that's about it. you're about right. i agree with you.
>> can he go back and get you enough republican votes, mix them in with support of the president over on the democratic side, and come away with something that's going to save a lot of hurt for a lot of people in this country and i think the tea party tonight showed that they do not want this president to succeed in any way, shape, or form. they want the economy to go down. and if we go off the cliff there might be a pretty good chance that that could happen. howard dean , great to have you with us --
>> i don't think so.
>> go ahead.
>> okay. i think we'll get -- we probably will have a couple quarters of recession but when we come out of it we'll be much stronger.
>> yeah. governor dean, good to have you with us tonight . thanks so much for joining us.
>> thanks a lot, ed.
>> that's the news tonight . that's "the ed show." i'm ed