The Last Word | December 12, 2012
>>> there aren't any taxes in his bill. why won't you vote for it?
>> i introduced a bill to lower the debt ceiling, not raise it. we need to lower it.
>> that was the most absurdist comment uttered during the last showdown between president obama and the republican house of representatives . the debt ceils debacle in the summer of 2011 made by paul brown . in 2011 , the paul browns in the republican house had enough power to threaten john boehner 's speakership and the full faith and credit of the united states . in 2011 , every day was marked with a new headline like this one in politico, boehner tries to tame gop on debt ceiling plan. that article was published on july 27, 2011 . the very next day, the house member who was then the republican front -runner for president went to the national press club and actually said this.
>> it did not include the defunding nor the repeal of obama care and it also increased the debt ceiling. i couldn't go down that road. so i couldn't give john boehner that vote. john boehner now has a second alternative that you have heard of. i will not be casting my vote for that bill. i cannot. i am committed to not raising the debt ceiling.
>> yep, she was the front-runner in the polls back when she said that. in 2011 , boehner lost 66 members of his party on the bill to raise the debt ceiling but that was then and this is no you. one republican who voted no in 2011 told "the washington post " today, quote, speaker boehner has a very hard job. i could not do his job. and i would not do his job. it's easy for mes athe lowest level of the house to criticize what others are trying to do but i'm not going to do it. . now, republican tea partyers, like republican congressman brown who wanted to lower the debt ceiling have been reduced to relevance speak at a press conference attended by five members of congress sponsored by an organization no one has heard of, teaparty.net.
>> we can stop this insanity in washington without raising revenue. we need to raise taxpayers not taxes on anyone. i will not back down from that.
>> people want to say, you guys are just trying to help your rich friends. i don't have a lot of rich friends. that is not what we're about. we're about trying to protect the principles in which this country was founded.
>> i agree with the tea party . we've been taxed enough already.
>> joining me now are sam stein, " huffington post " white house correspondent and political editor . and joy reid, managing editor for the grio. they had rand paul at this meeting. for a senator, we don't care how you are going to vote. we want to know if you are going to filibuster any deal. he would not dare say that. that's how toothless this group is.
>> the tea party that was supposed to be vaunted as they were going to take over the republican party . for a minute, they really did have old-fashioned republicans spooked. they were scared of them. john boehner essentially operated as the weakest speaker of the house in modern history for fear of them. now, john boehner and the house side has figured out, the way you deal with the tea party is by showing them who is boss. by revealing them for duty for bucking his leadership on votes, he has shown he is willing to use the power of the leadership for his caucus. if he could put a bill on the floor, the senate, this is going to pass the senate. this is all about the house .
>> blake therenthal, he was on this program, a hard liner in the past. he said, you can't have every member of the conference trying to negotiate. we elected speaker boehner to be our leader. we need to let him lead.
>> you may be very nostalgic. that was a much more exciting legislative standoff than this one. the context has changed dramatically. back then, we were in the midst of the republican primary . m michele bachmann was leading the polls. the tea party had been voted in. a wave election. they had just taken over the house again. boehner was their leader os sten stency bli. eric cantor is not undermining boehner in any way. we also have a different context politically. the house republicans maintained the majority but lost seats. i think they realize they can't go through these type of standoffs and continue to hold on to power. they also have cover, importantly, i think, from conservative commentators who are saying, maybe, this isn't the best time to start demanding no rate hikes. i think when the cultures step out there and give you that type of cover, that does give a lot of leeway and it does quiet some of the louder tea party members of the caucus.
>> as i said, they had exactly one senator with them today. let's listen to how tough rand ball wants to play this thing. let's listen to this.
>> my suggestion to them has been, and i've talked to several members, and you can ask them too, i think we should put forward what we are for. if it gets beyond that and something is going to happen, i think we should encourage those in the house to vote present. let the democrats own this tax increase and it could become a democrat plan.
>> you see the way the nut wing wants to play really, really tough is to let the democrats have what they want.
>> let it pass, indeed. i think it is funny. you are seeing the tea party sort of devoid of friends now. they used to be the darlings of the party. even the secret real backers of the tea party movement, which is the very rich themselves, big business , have gone on to the president's side on this. there is no one on their side. even big corporations, the lloyd blankfines of the world. the ceos are saying, go ahead, we'll take the rate hikes. now, they are just down to say, we'll talk about what we are for. you want to cut the department of education , school lunches, medicaid, medicare, lunches for kids. that's what they are for. the rest of the republicans don't want to touch it.
>> sam , they had a terrible decision to make strategically with this press conference which is the tradition in washington. it is all about the bodies. how many people can you throw up there behind the microphone. that shows you how much strength you have. frequently, there is too big of a crowd to take the picture of. what they did, they showed us how much strength they had, which was nothing. then, on the other hand, if they didn't have the press conference, i would be sitting here saying, they have nothing. so there was no way for them to reveal anything other than they had nothing.
>> well, they did what they should have done. they got a smaller room and it made it look bigger. clearly, there is not the strength in numbers there anymore. part of it is because the business community has more or less abandoned them on this issue. they certainly will on the debt ceiling issue. also, because president obama is much more comfortable living with the consequences of a standoff than they are at this juncture. that's just underlining everything here. he can go over the cliff and build a tax cut plan that he can then subsequently pass. republicans don't really have that option. i think they know that. they can hold all the press conferences in the world. when it comes down to the actual vote, the only option they have is to either vote present, basically. i think that's what they were signifying there.
>> sam stein and joy reid. thanks for joining me.
>> you are sitting in for alex tomorrow.
>> on now. now with alex wagner.
>> at 12 noon.
>> sam , your not going to miss that, right?
>> i'm surprised alex didn't pick me but i'm very happy for joy. i will watch and record it.
>> thank you very much, both of you.
>>> coming up, a republican today offered a little bit of trivia about republicans and taxes an his trivia needs a little bit of a rewrite. that's coming up.
>>> newt gingrich says republicans can't beat hillary clinton and hillary clinton has just said something to barbara walters about running for president. tony award -winning actor, alan coupling is he cumming will join me later. he may join me sooner than later. with alan, you never