The Last Word | December 10, 2012
>>> tonight, who in america is betting on john boehner in his tax showdown with president obama ? exactly no one. not even rush limbaugh .
>> i don't think there's a republican alive who could stop what's going to happen.
>> with the fiscal cliff just 22 days away .
>> we're down to the final three weeks.
>> the president is on the move.
>> i'm willing to compromise a little bit.
>> president obama on the ground in michigan.
>> i will work with republicans .
>> delivering a speech at an engine manufacturing plant .
>> i'm willing to compromise a little bit.
>> i'm willing to compromise a little bit.
>> they are ready to make a deal.
>> they are ready to make a deal on tax rates .
>> republicans know that they have to give on taxes.
>> i don't think there's a republican alive who can stop what is happening.
>> senator corker has nailed this one.
>> the leverage is going to shift.
>> you have to have leverage.
>> we don't have the leverage. the power isn't there.
>> could a secret meeting seal the deal when it come to the fiscal cliff? the white house says it can happen.
>> president obama and speaker boehner sit down at the white house .
>> their first one on one in three weeks.
>> the heavy lifting is going to have to happen this week.
>> if this week goes bad --
>> this week is going to be a critical week.
>> even if the speaker and president are cuddling in the lincoln bedroom --
>> i think everybody needs to cool their jets.
>> that's not going to get us a deal.
>> raising taxing will hurt the economy.
>> your stuff stink. we don't want it.
>> if anybody out there who is, quote, rich doesn't think that their taxes go up, drink are on me.
>> republicans are totally over the barrel.
>> raising tax rates will hurt the economy.
>> we'll push it all the way to the senate and then we'll lose.
>>> with 22 days until we take that first step off the fiscal curb, president obama traveled to michigan to keep the pressure on republicans in congress.
>> if congress doesn't act soon, meaning in the next few weeks, starting on january 1st , everybody's going to see their income taxes go up. it's true. y'all don't like that, huh?
>> we can solve this problem. all congress needs to do is pass the law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody's income. everybody. that means -- [ applause ]
>> republican now admit that president obama has won the debate on tax rates .
>> my view is, get the tax issue off the table. it's the weakest one for the republicans .
>> boehner does not have unity behind him. so it looks as though his path is going to be to concede on rates.
>> i guess what i'm saying is, i don't think there's a republican alive who can stop what's going to happen. we don't have the leverage. the power isn't there.
>> republican lawmakers continued to undermine speaker boehner 's negotiating strength.
>> a lot of people are putting forth a theory and i actually think it has merit where you go ahead and give the president the 2% increase that he's talking about, the rate increase on the top 2%.
>> will i accept a tack increase as a part of a deal to actually solve our problems?
>> no republican makes more sense than the original house defek for on tax rates , congressman tom cole .
>> they go off automatically. i can tell you that the sun is going to come up in the east tomorrow and set in the west. that doesn't mean i had a darn thing to do with it coming up or coming down. those rates are going to go up. we either act now to keep them from going up from as many people as possible or they'll go up on everyone.
>> a spokesman for house speaker boehner tells nbc news that negotiations between the white house and republican policy staffers continued today. president obama and speaker boehner met privately yesterday. nbc news first read team makes this point. if the plan is to get something passed by friday, december 21, right before the christmas holiday , then the legislation has to be written by december 18th and that means that obama and boehner must reach a deal by december 14th , 15th if there is going to be a deal. so the time for posturing and pr is over. a new political poll shows that likely voters support the president's tax increase on the upper brackets. 60% favor raising taxes on households that earn more than $250,000. 64% favor raising tacks on large corporations. 33 oppose. the poll asked likely voters, do you believe that if we raise taxes on households that earn over $250,000 per year, it will have a negative impact on the economy. 38% said yes. 58% got it right and said no. today president obama outlined the deficit reduction legislation he would sign into law .
>> what you need is a package that keeps taxes where they are for middle class families, we make some stuff spending cuts on things that we don't need, and then we ask the wealthiest americans to pay a slightly higher tax rate . and that's a principle i won't compromise on because i'm not going to have a situation where the wealthiest among us, including folks like me, get to keep all our tax breaks and then we're asking students to pay higher student loans .
>> krystal , the republicans are on the run here. the new reel that we get to run every night about the latest republicans saying this is absolutely hopeless is absolutely amazing. limbaugh is an amazing spot tonight saying that he doesn't think that there is any republican that can stop this.
>> my favorite has been ann coulter .
>> how do you win this if all the rates go up?
>> i think they are exactly right. i mean, if you're going to have -- if you're going to get what you want if you're republicans , you have to be able to threaten something, either voter wrath or some legislative outcome that they don't want or further down the road the debt ceiling but that's not until further down the road. they just have nowhere to go with this. so i think truly the best thing, the smartest thing for them to do is to go ahead, raise the rates for the upper incomes because they just have nowhere to go in this debate, especially with the public against them the way that it is and because people like limbaugh and ann coulter and various congressional representatives have come out and said, we should go ahead and do this, everybody is going to have cover for at least not going crazy. maybe some of them will vote no but at least not going crazy when rates inevitably go up.
>> the president just said the deal that he would like to do would be the tax rates that we know about and then he has this little line in here, make some tough spending cuts on things that we don't need. now, things that you don't need are not tough spending cuts. there isn't anything there that's available to be can cut that someone doesn't think we need.
>> right. and this is where i think you have to be careful and you can say, sure, the republicans are kind of boxed in here on the tax issue if we get to january 1st and nothing happens, they lose on taxes. either that will happen or they will give in on taxes. that much is true. i think the debt ceiling is very much an issue right now and you can see that in some of the stuff leaking out about the negotiations. specifically, a report out last week said the white house is thinking sort of the basis -- the framework for a deal was coming into focus and that included the top rates for the wealthy going up to 37% in exchange for raising the medicare age from 65 to 67. why, if the rates are already going to go up on january 1st , would you settle for a deal like that at the white house and it's the latest leverage that the republicans have. they are threatening to use the debt ceiling like they did in 2011 . obama has ruled out, ex split sitly ruled out invoking the 14th amendment . if you're not going to use the 14th amendment and you're dealing with a party that is really intent on ex trablthing concessions on the debt ceiling, you're going to need republican consent to raise the debt ceiling. instead of negotiating over the debt ceiling in january, they are intent of rolling it into these discussions right now. if you're going to include the debt ceiling in this, you are going to have to give something up to the republicans , something like raising the medicare eligibility. that's why if these reports are true, that's why it is in the mix.
>> that's why the president said so emphatically last week, i will not play that game on the debt ceiling. it's not that he has any new cards to play. he said he won't do that. but i think, krystal , what he's saying he will do is, if you try to hold him up on the debt ceiling like steve just said, he will say to you, i will not do it and i will not negotiate on the debt ceiling and what his leverage is is sanity. his leverage is that everyone now knows that allowing it to crash is an insane act and they will not commit that insanity.
>> i think it will be a lot harder for them. last time they were quite credible that they really would commit that sanity.
>> they were crazier then and hadn't lost the election yet.
>> that's right. it was right after 2010 . they were at their height in terms of these new freshman tea party members. the tea party was in full swing. now there is a difference story. boehner does seem to have more control of the caucus and i don't think that they could credibly do it also because the american people have looked back on that whole debacle and said it was a mess, it was the republicans fault. the president is going to have the american people on his side in dealing with republicans and the debt ceiling. that's not to say that they are not concerned about it and would like to take it off the table. for one thing, i'm sure the markets are not going to like it if we go through any new debt ceiling debacle but it's not as big of a concern this time around as it was in 2011 .
>> again, all of this is behind the scenes . we don't really know what the discussions are. i'm giving a lot of credence to what ezra klein wrote because he's plugged in down there in washington. if it's true that raising eligibility for medicare from 65 to 67, there has to be a reason for that. there has to be a big reason for that because those are major concessions.
>> let me just say, i don't think there's any chan of this administration to agree to changing the medicare age. absolutely no chance.
>> we have a history of them dangling it in 2007 .
>> any chance for debt ceiling he can change either. so that's why i think the president was saying what he was saying about the debt ceiling so clearly because that is the next stage of the fight.
>> the other thing i would say, if we are going for that bigger deal where we're going to take on entitlements as well as the tax code , doin see any way that it gets done before january 1st .
>> no. that takes at least a year.
>> and it's going to be hard for boehner to go along with a tax rate increase if you're going to the democratic caucus with major entitlement reform. i just don't see that happening before january 1 .
>> it would take month of working the democratic works and the house of representatives to do anything on it. and then you'd never get them for the age increase. krystal ball and steve kornacki, thank you.
>> thanks, lawrence.
>>> if we do go off the cliff, how long does it take to hit the bottom?
>>> and who was the most influential politician from the last 30 years? from 1980 until