tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC July 17, 2011 4:00am-4:30am PDT
we all know how it's going to end. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chuck todd here at the white house. it's a beautiful day. let's have class outside. in tonight for chris matthews. leading off, the adult in the room. that's how president obama is trying to portray himself. the calm daddy trying to discipline the group of unruly children on the other side of pennsylvania avenue. the president again positioned himself as the sensible centrist, insisting the public agrees with him on not just cuts, but taxes, and that republicans in congress are dug
in for ideological reasons. the fact is we all know how it's going to end with the debt ceiling being raised, no real big agreement on spending and taxes. all that's left now is about a week of political posturing. plus what would happen politically if no deal was reached and the u.s. does default? would voters blame the president for a faltering economy or hold republicans responsible for refusing to make a deal? the answer to that could determine who wins the 2012 election. also, let's go to the videotape. michelle bachmann's husband denying that he ever referred to gays as barbarians, despite the tape that indicates differently, referring to gays as barbarians. we have the full tape on that, and that tops our 2012 coverage tonight. and the drip, drip, drip of the rupert murdoch scandal continues. first, rebecca brooks, the head of newspaper operations on the other side of the pond resigned. and late this afternoon, we learned the ceo of dow jones, which publishes murdoch's "the wall street journal" here in america is stepping down.
can murdoch himself stop the scandal completely overwhelming his empire? findly, kumar, as in harold and kumar, is leaving the white house for a recurring role on "how i met your mother." that's the sideshow. first, who's holding up the agreement? congressman chris van holland is a democrat from maryland. he joins me now. he was in on the biden talks when those were the center of the debt ceiling negotiations. congressman, let me start with this. we know, i guess at this point, how this is going to end, some sort of raise in the debt ceiling, some form of cuts, but not the grand bargain. do you feel as if your party politically is in a better position today than it was a week ago when these talks begin? >> chuck, i don't know exactly what the end game is going to be. it could play out the way you talked about. it could take another turn. i'm not sure exactly where all the dynamics are between the house and the senate are right
now. what i do know is the president said today that he still held out hope to try to get a grand bargain. speaker boehner said the same thing. of course, in the next breath, speaker boehner said he wasn't willing to close any of these corporate tax loopholes, which had been a big obstacles to trying to get a deal done. again, i think there's a growing consensus that something will be pulled together, but i think there's a whole lot of -- there are a lot of hurdles along the way still to go. >> the president in the press conference finally put some details to the speculation on what it is exactly he put on the table when it comes to entitlements. here's what he said about medicare means testing. >> we've said that we're willing to look at all those approaches. i've laid out some criteria on what would be acceptable. for example, i've said very clearly that we should make sure
that current beneficiaries, as much as possible, are not affected. with should look at what we can do in the out years so that these programs are more sustainable. those going on medicare, meaning people like myself -- i'm going to be turning 50 in the next week. so i'm starting to think a little bit more about medicare eligibility. yeah, i'm going to get my aarp card soon and the discounts. >> congressman, medicare means testing. the president is for it. are you? >> no. but let me say this, chuck. medicare -- and there's been a lot of misunderstanding about this because part "b" of medicare, which is physician reimbursements, and part "d," which is prescription drugs, are already means testing. in other words, the higher income, the more coinsurance you
put in. that's current law. so if the president is saying, as part of a big deal, we can look at some of those things, that's one thing. what happened is the republicans in the house totally pulled the rug out from under speaker boehner when he said, all right. we're going to get the president to make some changes possibly in medicare, maybe some other areas. but we've got to close corporate tax loopholes. and his caucus said no way. now the current reaction is, unless you enact the republican budget plan, which ends the medicare guarantee, slashes medicaid, unless you do that, we're going to allow the u.s. to default on its debt obligations. they're right back in the corner, no compromise, which is where they started. >> so what you're saying is you would have accepted medicare means testing as part of a grand
bargain if it meant some sort of reform in the tax code that meant the wealthier might be paying more to help pay down the deficit? >> what i'm saying, chuck, in the context of a very large agreement, we were willing to give the president some running room to see what he can negotiate. without seeing the specifics, i wouldn't say today whether i would vote yes or no. i would say that particular feature is an example of portions of medicare. i wouldn't agree to that with respect to part "a," which are the hospital reimbursements, and i'm not saying i'd agree to it in respect to other things either. the difference between the republicans and the democrats is we said, we may not like these things, mr. president, but at least talk about them. bring them to us. we will not from the beginning say, as the republicans say, we're not going to agree to it because you guys won't close the corporate jet loophole or get rid of subsidies for oil and gas. that's the difference. >> the president also talked about some of the politics, i
think, we're going to see in the next week before an eventual deal. here's what he said. ya >> my expectation is you'll probably see the house vote on a couple of things just to make political statements. about if you're trying to get through $2.4 trillion without any revenue, you are, in fact, gutting spending that is going to be too burdensome and is not going to be something that i would support. >> congressman, it seems as if the eventual deal speaker boehner today almost dictated. he talked about, well, let's get these votes. then we'll talk about this plan "c." it's going to be some version of a commission, a binding commission about congress that harry reid is pushing forward. a lot of cuts, it looks like,
and this idea that the debt ceiling, the burden would be put on the president. if that's the eventual deal to raise the debt ceiling, are you going to support that? >> chuck, again, i would be crazy to say in advance, without seeing the particular language on this deal, how i'm going to vote. we all know the devil is in the details. let me give you one example. of the $1.1 trillion we were talking about with respect to discretionary spending, one of the sticking points throughout the biden talks and something that continues to be a sticking point is to create firewalls so all the cuts don't come out of education, out of research, cures for cancer. we also say that the pentagon and some of the security agencies are going to take their fair share of the cuts. until we know what that firewall to make sure that there's a fair allocation of the cuts, it's impossible to say speaking for myself. how to move forward on that
particular proposal. >> all right. congressman chris van hollen, the ranking democrat on the house budget committee, who's been involved in these talks. thanks for coming on "hardball." >> thank you, chuck. >> susan page, the washington bureau chief for america's newspaper, "usa today." it's interesting that actions speak louder than words. watching republicans, watching mitch mcconnell do legislative jim nat ticgymnastics to come u escape plan, is that they knew they were losing, and mitch mcconnell was throwing himself in front of a bullet essentially for speaker boehner. is this political win for the president, though, or is the air out of the balloon because ultimately he couldn't get washington to come together, he couldn't bring this together? some are going where was he the last six months rather than the last six weeks? >> he definitely needs a deal to
happen if for some reason this doesn't come together. his political career is staked on the economy doing better. he's warning us right and left, if the debt ceiling gets close and not raised in time, the fragile recovery is going to have the pins kicked out from beneath it. i think one reason he's saying he no longer wants a clean debt ceiling is americans are concerned about spending rather than raising the debt ceiling. he's saying, i had to spend a lot of money because the economic crisis when i took over, but i'm trying to take steps now to deal with it. >> it's interesting. he had had a message to progressives as well. he said, we can't have the conversation be -- he was making the case that you want a big deal and you want to try to do this, even after the debt ceiling because, if the debt is an excuse not to do something, then you can't do an investment in a new education program or you can't do a special investment in a new
infrastructure project, is that going to resonate? >> i think he'll have some problems with liberal democrats, who are not going to be happy with changes in social security and medicare, who will want to higher taxes for the wealthy that's not going to be a part of it. there's no indication there will be fintaxes in the final deal. on the other hand, democrats are likely to follow the president. we find that even the most liberal democrats still support the president wanting to be reele reelected. he's not getting challenged in primaries. so he's still in a relatively strong position there. >> it's a big difference. the progressive elite may think one thing, but when you look at the rank and file and look at these polls, they're with him. susan page, bureau chief for america's newspaper "usa today." >> thanks, chuck. >> coming up, what happens politically if republicans and democrats don't reach a deal and the u.s. does somehow go into
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welcome back to "hardball." it's no doubt that if they fail to reach a deal, the impact on the economy are catastrophic. charlie cook is an msnbc political analyst and editor of the cook report. and michael scherer covers reports for the old gray lady, "the new york times." my apology to "the new york times" for referring to "usa today" as america's newspaper. but you get one thing, they get the other. charlie, your column today, you basically pinpointed republicans
as political losers on this regardless of whether a deal is reached. explain. >> i think republicans right now -- i mean, i sort of start off talking about the punch line of the old joke, what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable. what's happening is we don't know whether president obama could have made stick with democrats on capitol hill. entitlement cuts, domestic spending cuts. we don't know whether they would have been able to compromise and do the right thing or not. the way republicans are coming across is so enflixible, so indoctrineaire, to over to their bases, they're losing this fight. i think this is a fight for independence. 90%, 95% of the people in each party vote for candidates in its party, and turnout does not vary much from year to year. it's about independents. what republicans are doing is playing a losing hand toward independent voters. >> the president seems to believe that. he almost cloaked himself today
in polling numbers. here's what he said, for instance, about the fact that a grand bargain that the american public was already for it. he almost didn't understand why republicans weren't. >> the notion that somehow the american people aren't sold is not the problem. the problem is members of congress are dug in ideologically. you know, so this is not a matter of american people knowing what the right thing to do is. this is a matter of congress doing the right thing and reflecting the will of the american people. >> michael, there is a political reality here, though, for speaker boehner, for a lot of these republicans in that they get primaried, and they would lose if they cut sort of grand bargain. >> right, they're sort of stuck. i agree with charlie. they sort of positioned themselves in a way that they probably are looking at more of the blame as this thing goes forward. the president clearly today was looking beyond the next couple
of weeks and looking to 2012 and trying to start that conversation about who has -- who is responsible. but i will say this. i think the original question you asked, which is what if no deal would be reached and we were to go into some sort of default? i think, perhaps the republicans still get blamed initially, but ultimately if the secretary of the treasury is right and the calamity happens that he says would, i don't see how anybody in office escapes the blame, especially the president, who would be the one presiding over the country at a time of 10%, 11% unemployment if all of these terrible things happened. and that's got to be bad for him. >> charlie cook, we know the american public has a short attention span sometimes, but they've been angry for three straight elections. fired the republicans in '06, fired them in '08, then the public was mad at the democrats, fired them from control of congress. if washington is not working right now, at what point does the public throw up their hands,
fire both of them, and look a third way? not since perot '92 has there been a vacuum, it seems, that someone from the outside can fill, and yet there's no obvious outsider. >> i think in presidential elections it's hard enough to find a viable, credible third party ind dependent candidate. in congressional elections, it's pretty binary. it virtually never happens. i don't think it's a legitimate possibility. >> but then where does the angry turn? i guess that's my question. >> i think they're going to start throwing out incumbents in both parties. i think that you could see, if they're angry and they throw out republicans in two elections, democrats in the next election, and things seem just as dysfunctional or more so, i think they just start throwing a bunch of bodies out of windows, and some of them wear red jerseys and some wear blue. it's people that weren't seen as responsive. i think that's a more likely
scenario than anything else. i think these guys are on very, very thin ice here. i think people look at washington. they see it as dysfunctional. and they throw the in party out. right now the house of representatives the in party is republicans. >> at one point voters also say, hey, where's all this focus on jobs that, first, republicans were promising then democrats. instead, it's all been debt talk. >> well, i think -- i don't think that -- voters want to see the economy turned around, and i think they've lost faith in government and government's ability to turn an economy, to create jobs. i think that's kind of off the table. it's just no longer a rational incentive forevoters. i just don't think they think these people have a whole lot to do with creating jobs. >> let me just say, chuck, i think that was one of the things that appealed to the president about the grand bargain was the idea that, if the markets and everybody else in this town were
surprised that they had managed to come up with this massive plan. >> overperform, yeah. >> overperform, yeah. that that might kickstart the economy in a way that nothing else he could do would. >> charlie and michael, you want to finish that thought? >> no. i think that's what appealed to him about the idea of the grand bargain. that might have done things that he couldn't have done otherwise. >> i'm going to have to leave it there. michael, charlie, as always, thank you both. up next, the actor who famously played kumar, has in "harold and kumar," is leaving the white house for a role on "how i met your mother." [ female announcer ] ever wish vegetables
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ceiling negotiations sparking intense partisan politics in congress this week. yesterday marked the 50th annual congressional baseball game at nationals park. the final score 8-2 democrats over the republicans. but the democrats had a bit of a ringer. freshman representative cedric richman of liu, who also happens to be a former college baseball pitcher. he struck out 13, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and even though they did not play in the game, eric cantor and nancy pelosi did stop by to cheer on their teams. by the way, the senator also knocked in a bunch of runs. cal penn, an associate in the public engagement at the white house, will be leaving the white house to pursue his alternate career as an actor. think you've never heard of cal penn? you'll recognize him now. penn is best known for his roles in the requested harold and kumar" movies. took a break in 2009 to work for
the obama administration. this time penn is heading out for a recurring role in the hit series "how i met your mother" starring neil patrick harris. neil patrick harris got his career restarted thanks to cal penn in those "harold and kumar" movies. one helping the other. the crew on the space shuttle "atlantis" and the international space station got a vip call from the president this afternoon. before turning serious matters, the president could not hold back from having a little fun with the crew members. let's listen. >> hello. this is the international space station. >> this is president obama. who am i talking to? >> hello, mr. president. you're talking to the increment 28 crew and the crew of the space shuttle "atlantis." >> that's funny because i was just dialling out for pizza. i didn't expect to end up in space. >> well, the old pizza joke. why not? the president then thanked both crews for their hard work and dedication to the mission. both the international space station and, of course, the shuttle crew.
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