The Last Word | December 03, 2012
>>> today republicans came up with a plaj injury rised counteroffer to the president's budget proposal and it includes some of the same ideas that sent mitt romney into a forced political retirement that, according to the washington post , he is not enjoying.
>> both sides seem to be digging in on a fiscal cliff deal.
>> a new week brings new opportunities for gridlock.
>> right now it's a stalemate.
>> republicans used words like stalemate.
>> is this a true stalemate?
>> i would say we're nowhere.
>> going nowhere .
>> the path to nowhere.
>> you're doing it wrong.
>> just 28 days left.
>> i think we're going over the cliff.
>> it's not a good sign.
>> republicans were flabbergasted.
>> you can't be serious.
>> going know where just 28 days left.
>> i feel almost sorry for john boehner .
>> does john boehner have control of his caucus?
>> will john boehner lead his sdmaukz.
>> is he leading his caucus or will his caucus lead him?
>> two party two is going to dwarf tea party one.
>> this is embarrassing.
>> he's the problem.
>> he's willing to act like the election never happened.
>> we're not getting anywhere.
>> we're going over the cliff.
>> it's the gop who has been short on specifics.
>> i would say we're nowhere, period. we're nowhere.
>> the same exact policies.
>> this shows that republicans are really chicken hawks .
>> you can't be serious.
>> chicken hawks when it comes to reducing the debt.
>> get serious.
>> we're not getting anywhere.
>> the path to nowhere.
>> be prepared for the plunge.
>> i would say we're know where know where.
>> there's clearly a chance.
>>> today, john boehner , eric cantor and paul ryan finally kind of sort of responded to the president's budget proposal, a proposal of their own that they were so unmarried to that they didn't put their names on it. they said the whole thing was erskine bowles idea. they summarized the testimony that the bill clinton chief of staff last year gave about what he thought might kind of be a workable budget deal way back then. because bowles is a democrat, the republicans thought they he could try to pretend that single democrat means that they are actually willing to compromise big time even though erskine bowles is a very easy democrat to negotiate with, unlike the actual elected democrats in washington. in other words, erskine bowles is willing to compromise on things or was willing to compromise on things that the democrats are not willing to co comp pro mice on. which means that it's utterly meaningless on your way to try to get a deal with the president of the united states . erskine bowles ' proposal included a $600 billion cut in medicare spending which he achieved by raising the medicare eligibility age. so republicans just proposed raising the eligibility age for medicare , a proposal that polls show is supported by a full 30% of the american people and rejected by only 67% of them. white house communications director dan fi officer rejected the offer and repeated that any agreement must include some higher income tax rates on top earners. the republican plan would raise tax revenue by not extending the current obama cut in payroll taxes . but the republican plan still refuses to raise the top income tax rates. yesterday, treasury secretary tim geithner made it clear that there can be no deal without higher top tax rates .
>> last question, can you promise that we will not go over the cliff?
>> no, i can't promise that. that's a decision that lies in the hands of the republicans that are now opposing increases in tax rates . if they recognize the reality that we can't afford to extend those tax rates , then we have a basis for the agreement and that's going to be the responsible thing to do and my judgment is they are going to do it.
>> joining me now, ezra klein , huffington post , ryan grim. ezra, what do you make of the boehner proposal that was kind of cribbed from erskine bowles ?
>> two things. one, republicans are terrified about by the polls showing that they are going to immediately get blamed if they are not willing to compromise. the reason you initiate the bowles ' plan is you say, look, they are going along with the former chief of staff said. it's important to know that when erskine bowles brought up this idea, it wasn't his plan. he was in testimony and he said to the supercommittee, given what the two sides, you republicans and you democrats have put forth, here's what it would look like. if you actually took the simpson/ bowles plan, you wouldn't have $600 billion in tax increases. you'd have 2.6 trillion. and even if you just moved the budget plan up a year, the same erskine bowles offered to the super committee that they are using now, for complicated reasons it it would now be worth $950 million in tax increases. so even in the kind of world of the bowles ' plan and muchless simpson/ bowles plan, this isn't quite right there.
>> ryan , do they think that one democrat in a world who is not in office anywhere and theoretically compromising with him even though he says, hey, that's not a workable deal, do they actually think that's a presentable step towards the president?
>> clearly they do. you know, democrats have been kind of guilty of the same thing in the past but this is a little extra ridiculous because erskine bowles is not somebody that's just been out of operativeness for a long time. he wasn't in office. he was inoperative, but he also works for morgan stanley right now. it's not like this is some type of a new deal that says, look, here's the deal that we've cobbled together with erskine bowles and the fact that he came out and rejected it today is that much more embarrassing to them. they are calling it the bowles ' plan and bowles came out and said, i don't support this.
>> there's a potentially very important development in the house, nancy pelosi saying that she might move to what they call a discharge position. she said, instead of wasting the public's time, house republicans should allow a vote on the senate-passed middle income tax cuts . democrats are filing a position to force a vote on extending the middle income tax cut on tuesday at noon. ezra, the way the houseworks, of course, it's hard for the minority to get anything to a vote. this is the only way they can, this rarely used discharge petition . how does that look as it develops?
>> it's a little hard to say right now. usually you don't get to the discharge position because it scares them enough to move it. i've heard some people suggest that boehner would be happy to have that happen because it gets a vote and he doesn't get the blame for it. it happens despite his objections. remember, they didn't filibuster the middle class tax cut extension. you can easily imagine the scenario where this part of it, the middle income tax cuts get taken off the table early. and i believe abc saying that the republicans have developed what they call a doom's day scenario plan in which if we really hit the fiscal cliff and really haven't figured anything out, they just let the democrats have the middle income tax cuts and then we go over the cliff or over the curb, as you would have it, and then we begin in a month or two to hit the debt ceiling and yet now democrats don't have the leverage of the tax cuts . i'll be honest with you, lawrence, i have tried and tried and tried to figure out what the political advantage of doing that would be for the republicans . i've had no success figuring out the strategy behind that plan but certainly there are smarter minds than mine over there. maybe they have some idea of where getting the tax cuts done will help them and not the democrats .
>> i'm going to read what abc is actually reporting about this. they say, house republicans would allow a vote on extending the bush middle class tax cuts and offer the president nothing more. no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes, under one variation of this doom's day plan, republicans would vote present on the bill allowing it to pass entirely on democratic votes. and ryan , not only would it pass entirely on democratic votes in that scenario, the republicans would still be holding the debt ceiling as something that the president would have to come back to them for after all of that was done.
>> that's right. but they'd be rapidly losing credibility. they could, you know, theoretically, you know, force the country into a default by simply refusing to lift the debt ceiling but if they go through the scenario that they lay out and i think that that's an extreme long shot, by that point they would have been so beaten up they wouldn't have the political capital to have the last stand in front of the debt ceiling. they will have been getting rolled for several months in a row. so why all of a -- they don't have the spine right now to stand up for the debt ceiling. you know, they make some gestures towards it but not much of them. so why is it that after getting beaten for a couple of months they would then finally have the ability to thwart it on the debt ceiling? i don't see it happening but as long as this debt ceiling is part of the statute, then it is always going to be something that the country has to worry about and actually the globe has to worry about.
>> ezra klein and ryan grim, thank you for joining me on the latest twists and turns.
>>> coming up, president obama is not going to let the republicans forget that they lost the election because they campaigned to keep taxes low for the top income earners in america.
>>> and mitt romney is looking for a new job and republicans are looking for a new leader and democrats might already have their next leader for the next presidential election .
>>> and in the rewrite tonight, in praise of bob costas for saying what had to be said about the biggest thing that happened in the world of football this week. that's coming up. [ loud