The Rachel Maddow Show | December 03, 2012
>> you get a tweet from president obama , you will know it by his signature. the president has an official twitter account from which all sorts of on message things get tweeted. but the white house says you know when a tweet has been written by the president himself because in that case the tweet gets a little initial signature. a "bo" in lower case . barack obama , as in i the president wrote this tweet. if it was a dog, it would be the paw print . the president was writing his own tweet this is afternoon. the string of twitter messages about the budget negotiations in washington . the white house announcing in advance today that the president himself would be answering people's questions about the negotiations in washington . he would be answering them directly on twit ter starting at 2:00 p.m . eastern. it is kind of awesome that regular people can ask direct questions from the leader of the free world . it's like a town hall but you don't have to go to new hampshire in the winter to do it. but doing this shows the unique risks of totally unmediated communication methods for high profile people. like there was this exchange this afternoon which does make sense and it is on message, even if at first it doesn't seem that way. the person who's writing the president here is called, don't be a prat. that's their name on twitter. here's the president answering the question. @barackobama. as a recent college grad without a job, these cuts wouldn't help me, would they? here's the president's response. cuts without revenue e equal reductions in student loans . also work study credits expire. bad for growth, like your hair. right. no. punkuation. end of one thought, those are bad for growth. also i like your hair. when you look at the avatar for her, nice hair. i myself had blue hair once. more blue, less purple, but still. direct public to president communications have potential risks. but paying those risks is one of the things that this white house has proven willing to do. it's part of the price of admission this they have been willing to pay for how this president is trying to win his first big political fight in d.c. after being reelected. the president's e-mail system for contacting his supporters, being employed to ask the people who just voted for him to now contact congress and take the president's side in these negotiations over taxes and sending. the president asking people to use twitter and facebook and anything else they can in social media to weigh in on these negotiations in terms of contacting congress. the president touring outside of washington like it was still during the campaign. building up support for his side of the argument. all to increase his political capital in this fight he's having with the republicans in congress. now the republicans have not been shy in condemning the president for taking this pop list approach in the way he's trying to get his way in the fight. the republicans own strategy is basically the opposite to what the president is doing. they are keeping their side of the argument very firmly within the beltway. they are not out barn storming anybody on this. they are not asking the public to get involved. they are trying to make sure this conversation ventures no further afield than the sunday morning talk shows . let's keep this in washington . because it is in the belt beltway where the republican side of the argument makes the most apparent sense. there's no suspense in how washington , d.c. is going to vote in the election. but in the real world , out in the rest of the country, the president just won reelection and his party, the democrats picked up seats in the house and senate at the same time. before this election, which the democrats did very well and the republicans did not do well, before this election happened, the republican speaker of the house john boehner had proposed that revenues should be raised by this much. this was his pre-election offer. after the election, which his party lost, after contesting on these grounds, after the election where his side lost, look at his new offer. now he's offering this much new reven revenue. his offer has gotten worse. you cannot have what i offered you before the election. what election? that's how the republican house speaker is playing the game this week. maybe in the world of the beltway and the sunday morning talk shows , maybe that makes sense. in the real world , here's what happened. here's the bigger picture. our economy broke very, very badly. not long ago on a historic scale. now in the real world , we are having these tiny little glimmers of recovery of economic growth . the first blue bar, that's when the stimulus bill went into effect. the stimulus kicks in and the economy starts to grow after having fallen off a cliff. that's the real cliff. just the other day, we learned our latest glimmer of growth was bigger than we had thought it was, which was awesome. the bad news, though, is that we are in danger of falling back. we are in real danger. the deficit is not the biggest problem in the country. the deficit is shrinking by hundreds of millions of dollars every year the president has been in office. to the extent we need to use debt to accomplish other goals, you may not like the idea in the abstract, but debt is cheaper now than it has been in a long time. focusing on the deficit is like arguing about the color you might paint your car while you're crashing that car into a tree. in washington the republicans are arguing about not a pretend problem but something that's a secondary problem. a problem that has no need to be the one problem we wreck everything else to solve. if you look at the real economy in the real world , outside of sunday morning, what the economy needs is stimulus. you don't need to take money out of the economy. you don't need to further contract the economy. you need to stimulate the economy. the economists who track this stuff already think we're not growing enough to get back to a healthy economy. they cut the estimate to how much we are growing. people are not making enough money and therefore, not spending enough money and businesses are not hiring enough people. we need to be talking about growth. the problem in the country is an economic growth problem. the deficit, nobody wants there to be a deficit, but that's not the pressing need we've got as a nation. growing the economy, frankly, is the only way we have gotten rid of red ink in the past. when americans are better off, they pay more in taxes. the government can pay for the usual things and pay down the debt. president clinton , the surplus, he got that partly from raising revenue. raising taxes . but also he did it in a way that grew the economy and the nation prospered and the debt became no big deal and then the debt was gone and the debt clocks that were supposed to be scary got shut off. that was because of prioritizing economic growth and being willing to raise revenues. look when we started growing again after the recession. it was not long after the stimulus kicked in. the government spent money and the economy grew. that's how it works. that's why it used to be a beltway consensus when the economy needed to e grow, you needed economic stimulus in terms of your fiscal policy . now the discussion about how we need to make sure we contract the economy and cause as much pain as possible to the people who will be hurt the most by that contracting, maybe that makes sense on sunday morning, but the rest of us go to work during the week and sometimes we go to parties. right now as we speak, here's the scene in washington . at the white house , which bo obama has shown us what it looks like for the holidays, tonight is the first white house crist christmas party of the season. it's the white house christmas party for members of congress. john boehner , eric cantor , the top house republicans are all there at the white house alongside president obama tonight. and so e.j. dionne , senior fellow, friendliest person in the sunday morning circuit, while those guys are standing over the punch bowl , what should president obama be saying to them to get them to focus on what the country needs?
>> i think i might say and do a couple things. i would have two really beautiful leather bound volumes and say to them, merry christmas . these are the county by county returns from the last election bound in this beautiful leather. you might want to study these. it's not 2010 anymore so let's figure out what to do. the second thing i'd say is this is a religious season so we think of religious folks. dear lord, give me chastity, but not yet. that's how you guys are with taxes. you sent me this letter. you say $800 million in taxes from tax reform , but we'll figure it out next year. no, we need the money now. tell us what deductions you get rid of and maybe you can give me a specific proposal where you outline those cuts and then we can negotiate is and maybe we'll get this settled by christmas.
>> the first point about the election returns i think is a beautiful idea and makes me want to commission that from somebody. but there is this remarkable thing that john boehner is doing, which is that he did have an offer on the table before the election. that got worse after the election. and i'm assuming this is a hard-nose negotiating tactic. but at some point, how does his bluff get called on that? he can't think he'll get more than what he wanted before the election.
>> i think the bluff can get called in two ways. we can always go past january 1st and then all the taxes come back and we can start from there. and that's why i don't think people should be worried about the fiscal slope or whatever we want to call it. these are bunch of artificially-imposed deadlines to create a frenzy. that's one thing that can happen. but i think a second thing can happen. you have tom cole out there, the republican from oklahoma, who said we're draz si if we don't extend the middle class tax cuts . you could see more republicans get there. and that's why i'm really glad president obama is not negotiating both for himself and for the republicans , which was sometimes his habit the last time. he's basically saying you want a bunch of cuts i don't have. don't make me propose them. that's creating some pressure on them. i think both those things will have an effect. we'll get the taxes back if we do nothing.
>> the conversation in washington being separate from what it feels like the real needs of the country, a familiar feeling for me. i often have this frustration that the beltway discussion is not what the important questions are that are facing the country. in this case, i feel like as long as we're willing to talk about the economic needs of the country, as long as we're willing to talk about fiscal policy , how can it be we're not talking about new stimulus. the republicans ran against that as if the stimulus was this awful thing. but the republicans lost and we have an economic growth problem now. i wonder if you see signs of hope in what the president is asking for there in the way people are talking about the need to goose economic growth .
>> there were three good things in his proposal. one is $50 billion to create an infrastructure bank, which by the way, republicans ought to like because it's a public/private partnership. he also says, and i think he's right about this, we have to extend unemployment insurance and we should extend the payroll tax holiday another year. we don't want to take all that money out of people's hands when the economy is this shaky. the money to average americans is more stimlative than to rich folks. you wouldn't do damage by those on the rich. there are other things you could do. they should speed the resolution of the mortgages under water. we could take a lot of pressure off the economy. i'd like to see something like a holiday on student loans or something to cut back what people owe on that. an old idea that died which was an idea for school improvements all over the country. there are a lot of schools in our country, particularly in poor neighborhoods, that aren't in good shape. these projects don't need new permits. . we could get good money out there and do something really good, which would make kids proud of their schools.
>> e.j. dionne , relentlessly constructive as always. " washington post " columnist, thank you.
>> great to be with you.
>>> president obama said he was not going to make a big speech this afternoon. but then he ended up kind of making a big speech about the subject he cared most about when he was senator obama . lots to get to tonight. that's coming up next. stay with us. you