The Rachel Maddow Show | February 20, 2013
>>> a bunch of first responders lose their job because you want to protect some special interest tax loophole? are you willing to have teachers laid off or kids not have access to headstart? or deeper cuts in student loan programs, just because you want to protect a special tax interest loophole that the vast majority of americans don't benefit from. that's the choice. that's the question.
>> joining us now is ezra klein , columnist for the " washington post " and bloomberg news, and our msnbc policy analyst. ezra, it's great to have you here. thanks for being here.
>> good evening.
>> if everybody agrees that the cuts that are to go into effect next friday, the sequester, if everybody agrees that they're bad for the country and they don't want them, does congress have the option to just not do them, to just repeal this stupid thing?
>> congress does have that option. what congress gave the country for no good reason, it can taketh away for a very good reason. at the moment they're not doing that, because in the weird calculus of the sequester, they created a thing so terrible that we would never let it happen , and thus we would come to some bigger deal they would like better. we didn't come to that bigger deal , and so we now need to let the thing that we would never let happen now happen. it doesn't make a lot of sense, but it appears to make a kind of twisted sense that is appealing to house republicans.
>> let's say they did not do the thing that everybody says would be a bad thing to do. let's say they did repeal the sequester and not go through with it. is there anything about the process of doing that that would then preclude the two sides from having the big debate for the bigger deal that they want to have thereafter?
>> nothing. there is nothing -- the congress can come to a big deal at any time they would like. if you want to know, the only -- the really counterintuitive bang shot argument that relies on congress being even more horrible than people i think even recognize for the sequester is f if they didn't have this bad thing to use to leverage, to make the country sweat and worry, they would go on to possibly shutting down the government next month, or, or they could wait a couple of months and breach the debt ceiling, both which would probably be significantly worse than using the sequester. they could of course choose to do none of them. they could choose to not destroy the economy for no particular reason. they could decide not to have terrible cuts that don't have a purpose behind them that honestly achieve nobody's goals, including those of deficit hawks. they have not come to that solution because it would require climbing down from trees they have all scurried up.
>> brinksmanship, as individual americans are watching what is going on in washington, it is remarkable to see the number of brinks that we have been pushed to in the last couple of years when washington apparently decided this was the only thing to get anything done. when you look at the record, both of the last couple of years and more broadly, do row think there is a case to be made that brinksmanship works? that this is a way to get stuff done that we otherwise wouldn't do, or should we make a case based on american history that we can legislate threw normal means and still have real debates?
>> no, i think this is really important point to make. this is not a -- none of this is a lesson that brinksmanship works. it is a lesson that not compromising doesn't work if you want to get things done under a divided government there is nothing stopping the u.s. government , congress, and the president from coming to a compromise. all that republicans would need to do is accept a certain number of tax expenditure cuts which they already said they would accept in tax reform in that deal. they haven't done that because they don't want to compromise. and so they haven't gotten their goals done. nothing here is required for a compromise. only compromise is, and we haven't seen it yet.
>> it's amazing. it's unbelievably amazing. it is confrontation for the sake of stylistic confrontation with nothing to show for it over and over and over again and never mind the consequences. it makes me crazy. ezra klein , the only person in america i can stand to listen to talking about the sequester, ezra, thank you.
>> thank you, rachel.
>> appreciate it. all right. we have some hometown heroes coming