The Last Word | December 20, 2012
>> if i knew last night that john boehner didn't have the votes to pass his plan b , why didn't he?
>> tomorrow the house will pass legislation to make permanent tax relief for every american.
>> yes, we are going to have the the votes.
>> wasting everyone's time.
>> will there be a vote tomorrow?
>> the meaningless vote is even more meaningless.
>> this is some sort of dance.
>> these are gyrations i've never seen before.
>> a bunch of members called up john boehner and said we don't like this.
>> house republicans have refused to govern.
>> every time this guy takes a step forward he gets slammed.
>> oehner takes a step forward .
>> joe biden spoke today for the first time.
>> the president is sab luteally committed to keeping this promise.
>> he was not chosen by accident.
>> he has such a long history with these issues.
>> we are five per scent of the world's population and we have 50% of the guns.
>> you have to deal with that glaring statistic.
>> only six more days until the cliff now. after house republicans revolted tonight and john boehner had to send them away on their christmas recess. there are now only six days left starting the day after christmas for him to figure out a way to avoid going over the fiscal curb. tonight the house of representatives was supposed to vote on the plan b bill but when he realized he did not have the republican votes to pass that bill, something he could have learned last night if he had been watching this program he called a special meeting with house republicans a source in the room tells nbc news that he pleaded for votes. he told republicans they would lose their negotiating power if they didn't pass plan b . during the meeting, conservative host mark levin wrote on facebook, i am told the leadership in the house is threatening members with losing their posts if they do not vote for the tax increase. then, after 8:00 p.m . he issued the following statement. the how about not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficienfficient support from our members to pass.
>> will there be a vote tomorrow?
>> are you ditching plan be?
>> no. and here is republican congressman account of what happened ip that meeting.
>> he led us in the pledge and the prayer, he gave the serenity prayer and then went to the microphone and said there was going to be a short conference and as a result said we are not going to be here and we are not going to be here until after christmas and maybe we don't come back at all this year. i hope you have a merry christmas .
>> was there a plead to go along with this vote?
>> no. i mean, we have been doing that for two years with these people and they become martyrs. they become martyrs in the eyes of these extreme groups
>> one of the martyrs the office of republican congressman scamp released a statement tonight reading the camp has stated consistently that the house should stick to its objective of extending all bush obama tax cuts when they kicked us off our committees. i'm glad that enough of our colleagues refused to go back down thus preventing the conference from abandoning our leadership.
>> tomorrow the house will pass legislation to make permanent tax relief for nearly every american.
>> we are going to pass the permanent tax relief bill.
>> joining me you now is luke russert .
>> how did this happen?
>> it is fascinating.
>> i'll give you the rundown. he is announced his plan b on tuesday.
>> it was met with scepticism among conservative members of the gop conference. we are going to make sure there will be no defense cuts. we are going to offer over $200 billion in spending cuts for you to vote for this deal. this deal would have raised taxes for those making $1 million or above. it would have cut meals on wheels in order to pay down the deficit as well as make sure that the defense cuts would not go into effect and all of that was not good enough for the house republican conference tonight. it is really quite extraordinary when you think of governing that a deal like that, that is so much in favor of the party was outwardly rejected by the conference.
>> we seem to have cop flikting leaks in their meeting tonight. we have mark levin saying it was threats and intimidation. we had congressman laturret saying no, and he gave up. what i heard was that he walked ip there and was calm and somber and was going to lose power because of this and the cag congressman from pennsylvania said we need to rally behind the speaker. the folks shook their head and realized all right we will have a merry christmas . i haven't heard anything about the comment assignments. but i've not heard anything outwardly like that
>> as to the bold statements yesterday. this was going to pass and it was going to do it. it is now my sense that he knew as well as i did then how much trouble he was in and publicly he was trying to assert that it would pass. that is part of the way that they communicate with their membership. some of them start to think well, he must have the votes. absolutely. that you want to be on the winning team and every one remembers the winner so come along. the congressman had an interesting name for these 40 or so conservative members. he called them the chuckleheads. you are starting to see this divide. the ones who are concerned about groups like heritage action and the ones that say we were sent here to covvern. i'm going to look at going forward. it looks like we are leading towards going over the fiscal cliff. but do republicans get involved ip the negotiating and try to give him some cover and maybe move forward. obvious obviously, it is quite surprising to see this much of a divide with the house gop . luke did anything happen tonight to change the prospects of john boehner being speaker next year?
>> because eric can tore was behind john boehner on this vote i'm leaning no. he has an element within his conference that would not be there in support of him if there is a viable alternative. if this was the final vote, we feel for the guy. but republicans , it is interesting, harry reid said this was a dance. they realize that too, there was no way forward for the bill. but the bhoener will get a lot of press in the next few days.
>> luke russert thank you for your reporting there.
>> ari, the republican started to realize something that everyone else had been saying about this. they started to realize, we are roting for something that we know won't be taken up by the sep senate but we are being asked to vote for a tax increase. john could not convince them that there was a point. and he could not convince the white house or the public. this was his back up plan. he needs a back up plan for the back up plan. that is a bad thing for him. it is a bad thing for the rest of us because there isn't any leadership going on here. but i think to echo one thing that luke was reporting. this is a moment of sorts for the tax crusaders. they came out with the weird statement that this tax wasn't a tax. so even they, the supposed red line guardians of these endless debates about taxes have said you can do it and they said no for the reasons you explained. they are in a real pickle.
>> they said no following the reasoning of rush limbaugh .
>> if he agrees to raise taxes on the rich. then they are conceding that, that is the problem. and that reduction can be addressed by raising taxes on the rich. he has the eraser if he cab get the republicans to agree with his premise. then they are giving up a lot of what they are known for.
>> that seems to be what it came down to for the republicans who stopped john boehner tonight.
>> being noknown for the guys who cut taxes on the rich is working out so well for him right now.
>> he does not have the votes to pass a deal with president obama . we know he doesn't have the votes to just do his own bill if it wouldn't get a signature from the president. the only viable plan c he could have is to get a deal that he has some republican support for and some democratic support for. the long time role where you need heavy majority support will not pass anything. conp seservatives in the house you need a majority in the entire house . so if a couple of conservatives decide they just run, somebody gets 25 or 30 votes. that is enough to deny him a speakership. and the gopral pxgop rallies around him
>> it has raised the key question for bay nor's future. he may have a serious struggle at a first ballot victory as speaker. yeah, they don't need that much to do it. gop caucuses made.the changes the republicans decided you need a majority to pass things. that is not required under the constitution but they don't want to do anything that is bipartisan. it wouldn't take that many republicans to team up with a democratic main stream majority to get something done. barack obama is dealing with a lot of irresponsibility actors here. he is as worried about his job i understand that predicament having said that, the president has offered too much with a mandate on the issues. they need to step back and start from stracratch.
>> listen to what congressman dan burton thinks is coming. he said let's say that we don't do anything. he lets us go over the fiscal cliff and they are going to blame republicans and the president is going to be the savior. the president comes back and says okay we are going to give tax cuts to everyone under $250,000. who is going to vote against that everybody will vote for that? everything. ez ra that is dan burton 's reading of what lies ahead and that is why john boehner knew the leverage is with president obama . this gets into complicated budget anounts. right now, the deal president obama offered john boehner is a $1.2 trillion tax increase. after january 1st , the deal is approximately a $3.8 trillion tax cut . it is easier to sell the tax cut the deal is the same. but that makes it easier if he chooses to go this route to offer a $3.5 trillion tax cut which would be a larger tax increase. so this does snap into a difficult place for republicans . where it becomes a big, big tax cut .
>> from the start we have been saying that once you are off the cliff everything that the president is proposing becomes easier to pass.
>> coming up. more on bay nor world out-of-control. and during the first meeting of vice president's task force on gun violence , there were more funerals being held in connecticut. and in the wre ewrite tonight, the c conservative case for an assault weapons ban . where's