The Ed Show | March 14, 2013
>>> show." today president obama finished his meeting with republicans and democratic caucuses of both houses of congress. now, according to several gop sources, the president wanted to convince republicans that he was serious about cutting entitlements. congress said it was a really great first step. he did express a willingness to give on entitlements. the word give bothering me. here's what the president said today.
>> i think we've had good conversations. but ultimately, it's a matter of the house and the senate, both caucuses getting together and everybody being willing to compromise.
>> house leader nancy pelosi said chained cpi and medicare means testing were possibilities.
>> if there can be a demonstration, the cpi does not hurt the poor or the very old. then it's something to put on the table. other things that might sustain social security for a longer period of time recognizing the demographic shift that is taking place.
>> what's going on here? the washington post reports leader pelosi and senate majority leader harry reid are prepared to rally, rank and file around a grand bargain. then there is house speaker john boehner trying to place the entire burden on democrats.
>> listen, i'm glad president obama reached out yesterday and visited with the house republican conference . and i think we had an honest discussion. but this is going to take more dinner dates and phone calls. it's going to take the president and senate democrats rolling up their sleeves and making tough choices about how we solve our nation's problems.
>> all right. let's turn to our congressional panel tonight. congressman keith ellison of minnesota, congressman tim ryan of ohio. i'll take the liberty to say three of my best friends in the congress. no doubt.
>> that's right.
>> gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight. congressman ellison , you first, what's going on here?
>> well, we have 107 people in the house caucus, democrats who say that we are going to stand firm on social security , medicare and medicaid beneficiarie beneficiaries. the bottom line is, you know, they're -- anyone who wants to make any changes there is going to have to talk to the rank and file democrats. and a lot of us are very clear on where we stand when it comes to seniors, people with disabilities and people who are living on survivor benefits. these are folks with very limited income and they have already given.
>> do you have enough to stop what i'm hearing on some of these sound bites tonight and the coverage from today? what do you think? is this a softening from the white house or what?
>> well, the white house has pretty much been here for a long, long time. we pushed them back earlier on when they wanted to change the medicare age to 67, which is probably one of the worst policy ideas i've ever heard. and i was insurance commissioner for eight years in california. i know that would really terminate medicare even as much as the voucher could because it really sets up a situation. you're going to have sicker and sick people in that particular area. there are things that we can do and what we really need to do is to focus on growing the economy. the deficit is there. we can deal with it. but growing the economy is the first priority.
>> congressman ryan , president obama campaigned on protecting the middle class . so why all of a sudden is chained cpi up there for grabs. even nancy pelosi is starting to embrace it here. are we seeing the democrats shift towards the republican position on protecting the big three?
>> well, i'm not sure nancy pelosi is there just yet. i thought she was very careful on what she said, protecting the poor, protecting those seniors. so everything's fungible. and i'll go over battles for the poorest of the poor, our children and senior citizens with nancy pelosi any day of the week. and i'm confident in the house with the leadership of people like keith and john that we will be able to hold a line on some of this from the democratic side. but it does get worrisome every now and again when you hear these comments. i know you've got to be conciliatory and be ready for a grand bargain, but we're not going to sell our soul in the process.
>> in an op-ed, speaker boehner wrote during our debt discussions in 2011 , he wrote that president obama supported such reforms such as raising medicare eligibility age something you talked about, john, in achieving savings in medicaid. he has since taken these reforms off the table. and boehner said this today.
>> and the president's idea of compromise is just do it my way. and that's just not going to work.
>> well, i hope that's the case because they're not going to give up any revenues, congressman ellison .
>> absolutely. i mean, here we win an election where governor romney's signature position is repealing obama care. and yet, in the ryan budget, that's the main thing they say they're going to repeal. i mean, they seem impervious to the facts. and i think it's very clear that their opening bid is no revenue, we're going to repeal obama care. i mean, i think it is the leadership of the republican caucus that needs to take a look in the mirror and roll up their sleeves.
>> and congressman garamendi, i have not seen or heard of any defined loopholes that the republicans are willing to close in the tax code . they love to throw out we've got to fix the tax code , but when you ask them about that, stthey start to talk about lowering corporate tax rates.
>> well, we've talked from years about ending the loophole that the oil companies has. the richest industry in the world does not need our tax subsidies. there's still a lot of subsidies going for american corporations when they offshore jobs.
>> but the republicans haven't identified any of them yet, have they?
>> well, they're not willing to talk about it other than loose generalized, terms. you need to get down to the nitty-gritty. they don't do that. but there's many out there that the taxpayers are giving away to very wealthy corporations and individuals not necessarily toward the growing of the economy. there are things that can be done to rein in those loopholes and we need to do it. whether that gives us the money we need to lower the corporate tax rate as we've closed those loopholes, that's a discussion that needs to be taking place.
>> tim, what do you think?
>> well, we had a budget mark-up last night. we were in until about 11:30 in the evening marking up the paul ryan budget. there was an amendment that said we need to protect the mortgage tax deduction for middle class people. and every republican voted against that democratic amendment. so that shows you where the priorities are. they're not even willing to sit down and say, hey, we're going to protect this mortgage tax deduction that so many middle class families take advantage of. and i think that's a sign of what's to come.
>>> well, the next big indicator of where this is headed is what, gentlemen? you first, congressman ellison ?
>> well, i think the next big indicator. i'd like you to take a look at our back to work budget. we're putting forward an affirmative vision that says jobs, good jobs needs to be the measuring stick by which --
>> and have the republicans addressed that at all?
>> no, they're not talking jobs, just talking about austerity.
>> where do we go, john?
>> the republicans for austerity, the democrats for growing the economy by making the traditional investments that grow an economy. education, research, infrastructure, manufacturing, make it in america. that's our mantra and do it in a balanced way with reasonable tax and revenue increases that come from ending unnecessary loopholes.
>> congressman ryan , do you think the public is still very strong with the president on this?
>> i would like to think so. i mean, i think as long as we stand our ground. but leadership is about empowering those grass roots people that were just going door-to-door. and i think we've got to stand firm. even if we have to play the long game, ed, we may have a tough year or two, but there will be midterm elections. and i think we've got to stand for what is right. the top 1% has seen 93% of the income growth in the last few years. we've got to stand up for middle class people in the small businesses. we can't keep having this system where we have economic growth , but it goes primarily to the top. we're not mad at people for getting rich. god bless them. what we're saying is we've got to grow the pie and let everybody participate. so standing our ground is going to throw gasoline on all of that energy and that fire that we had over the past year during the election.
>> i keep hearing from senator sanders that chained cpi hurts veterans, any of you want to comment on that?
>> he's right. it certainly hurts people in the lower end . remember, the median income for seniors on social security is less than $20,000.
>> that's the median, not the average.
>> well, not just the chained cpi , these millions of vets we have coming back. it's the hundreds of thousands that have some injuries. it's the tens of thousands that have post traumatic stress . we've got to address this problem. go to the republicans right now and you say, hey, we need a little bit of dough to help make this happen so we can honor the service of these veterans.
>> yeah, they're not there.
>> nowhere to be found.
>> and that's a major issue. we've got to pay for some of these things, that's the responsible thing to do, but these vets in this scenario need the help.
>> congressman keith ellison , tim ryan , john garamendi .
>>> my long time friend senator tom daschle joins us. what should the senate do about