Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
Read the transcript from the Wednesday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Richard Wolffe, Rep. Jim McDermott, Chris Larson, Robert Greenstein, Dana Milbank,
Ed Rollins, Eric Boehlert
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Thank you, Chris. He‘s actually right there, the magic of television. Hi, Chris!
All right, now, welcome to the show.
UYGUR: Welcome to the show, everybody. I‘m Cenk Uygur. Now, in a day of high political drama just two days before a possible government shutdown, President Obama accused House Republicans of injecting politics into the budget debate. That preceded word that the president and Vice President Biden will meet with top Republicans tonight at the White House to try to get a budget agreement. It may not be a very friendly meeting.
Here‘s what the president said at an event in Philadelphia today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We‘ve now agreed to cut as much spending as the Republicans in Congress originally asked for. I‘ve got some Democrats mad at me, but I said, You know what? Let‘s get past last year‘s budget and let‘s focus on the future. So we‘ve agreed to a compromise, but somehow, we still don‘t have a deal because some folks are trying to inject politics in what should be a simple debate about how to pay our bills. I do not want to see Washington politics stand in the way of America‘s progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I got to be honest with you guys. Look, I don‘t want to do it, but to me, I don‘t know if he doesn‘t get it or what it is, but of course, you‘re in politics. You‘re the Democrats. They‘re the Republicans. They fight hard. Do they inject politics into it? Of course they do. But if you keep saying, I want to look towards the future and I want to just get beyond this, so just give them whatever they want, well, then, they keep winning.
Remember, politics is about policy ultimately. This isn‘t just to say, Oh, you‘re not playing politics. Well, every one of these cuts is real. They‘re billions in cuts that wind up affecting you. That‘s why we want the president to fight.
Look, I‘m on his side. I want him to do better. But as he keeps constantly giving in and being proud of it, it‘s frustrating! Now you‘re going to see the Republicans in a second. They‘re the exact opposite. The Obama administration, you know, has already agreed to the $73 billion in cuts. But of course, it‘s not enough for the Republican Party. Now they want deeper cuts.
And as if to prove President Obama‘s point, they‘re playing politics to get what they really want. But when they play it, it is vicious. Republicans like Speaker John Boehner know that if a government shutdown happens, military members would remain working, but would not receive their pay until the government is back up and running. Now, think about that for a second.
So (INAUDIBLE) look, they say, Look, we got the $73 billion that we originally wanted. We don‘t care. We want another $7 billion. And if the military doesn‘t get paid—remember the guys that we used as props for eight long years under Bush, saying, Oh, you better watch it, oh, you‘re hurting the troops. Now they don‘t care about hurting the troops because they want their political agenda.
And they again, for the eighth time in a row, now they hold them hostage. Whenever they have a situation, they know the president cares. I get that. You understand that, right? The president cares. He doesn‘t want the military to go without pay. But they use that against him. It‘s almost like Spiderman. You know he‘s going to save the bus full of people, right, so then you hold that bus full of people hostage. And that‘s what the Republicans do time after time.
But he‘s got to stop falling for that trick. He‘s got to draw clearer lines, in my opinion. So Boehner, of course, today proposed another one-week spending plan, which he‘s cynically is calling a troop funding bill. The only reason the troops would need special funding is because the Republicans cut off the money and shut down the government! That‘s why they need the special funding.
But here‘s Speaker Boehner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The government‘s due to shut down tomorrow, so we‘re going to be prepared to move forward with our troop funding bill that would fund our troops, keep the government open for another week, and cut $12 billion in spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I mean, that‘s cynical, dirty politics in a nutshell. The guys threatening to take away troops‘ salaries pretend to be the ones fighting for it.
All right, joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott. He‘s a Democrat from Washington. Also with me, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe. Thank you for joining me, guys. I appreciate it.
Congressman, let me start with you. I know they‘re going over the White House. Will there be a deal? Do you know anything about it? And if there is a deal, will there be more compromise from the Democrats?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: I‘m very doubtful there‘ll be a deal because the Republicans have never wanted a deal. I voted no on the first one. I voted no on the second one. I‘m going to vote no on this because you can never give them enough. They‘re always going to want to take more. And the president should have figured that out by now, in my view.
I simply think you‘ve got to stop backing up and say, Put your money where your mouth is. We are either going to close this government down because you won‘t fund it, or we‘re not going to. I think they are going to have to give on the Republican side, but they take the position that they don‘t have to compromise because compromise is a dirty word and it means you‘ve given up your principles. It is simply raw politics. There‘s nothing else here but raw politics. And the president has got to stand up to them and jam them against the wall.
UYGUR: All right, now, Richard, look, you cover the White House. You hear Congressman McDermott‘s frustration. You heard my frustration. Does the president here—do you get a sense that he gets that the progressive side goes, Come on, please stop giving in already?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, he does, and that‘s what he was saying today. That‘s what he said out of the White House yesterday. You know, he has reached the end of the line here, and he is willing to call a bluff because this has turned into a game of blackmail, let‘s face it. It was $1 billion or $2 billion for a couple of weeks, and now it‘s turned into $12 billion for one week.
And enough already. That‘s what the president is saying quite clearly. I think if you‘re asking the question, Is he going to give them something more? Well, he‘s given them everything they wanted to begin with. And this is moving in the wrong direction, from the White House‘s point of view, because every time they sit down or try and talk about it, the demands get greater, they get more outrageous. And we haven‘t even talked about the rider or anything else.
So you know, when you look at this, you look at the polls, look at the new NBC poll, although everyone gets blamed, there is no question Republicans come off worse out of this. That‘s why you‘re seeing Republicans trying to play this naked political ploy about the troop funding bill. They know this is going to hurt them more. They‘re all about pre-positioning for what comes next.
UYGUR: How about the riders, Congressman McDermott? If the president says, All right, we‘ll give you one or two riders, does that add to your frustration? You know, how do you vote on that? What‘s your take on that?
MCDERMOTT: I‘m not voting for it. I—listen, this—I‘ve been watching these games for 40 years. I‘ve been through budget battles since 1970, 23 of them here in the Congress. And what they‘re doing now is a simple old game of jamming it down his throat and saying, We‘re going to walk away.
Now, when somebody does that to you, they‘re not negotiating with you. They‘re not putting something on the table to negotiate it. They are just jamming it at you. And the president just cannot allow himself to be taken by that kind of maneuver. He has to say to them, No riders. I gave you the money. Now, that‘s the end of it.
MCDERMOTT: Riders have nothing to do with balancing the budget. NPR
cutting NPR does not make the fiscal situation better. Taking away Planned Parenthood does not make the fiscal situation any better, and I‘m not giving you that. If you can‘t get it in legislation on the floor, you‘re going to have to try, but you can get it at your own risk. You‘re not going to get it by jamming me on the budget.
UYGUR: Now, Richard, take us inside that meeting at the White House today. What‘s going to happen? Is the president going to say what Congressman McDermott is saying there, No on the riders, I already gave you everything you originally asked for and a billion dollars extra, and I‘m not giving a nickel more, or is he going to go a little further down the road?
WOLFFE: I suspect he‘s going to say, Come on, Congressman, Speaker Boehner, you‘ve got everything you want. What‘s it going to take to do a deal? You know you‘re going to come off worse in this. This isn‘t a fight the president wants to have. It‘s not his...
UYGUR: That‘s the problem.
WOLFFE: ... kind of politics. It‘s not his kind of policies. He does not—he did not get elected...
UYGUR: What is his politics, can I ask, Richard? I‘m sorry to interrupt.
WOLFFE: He didn‘t—well, you know that...
UYGUR: I‘m sorry to interrupt, but is his politics? What‘s...
WOLFFE: You‘re not that sorry. Don‘t worry.
WOLFFE: But it‘s—look, he was elected to unite red and blue America. He was elected to find the common ground and to come up with compromise and try to move beyond this kind of partisan squabbling. He has been dragged into this unwillingly even at the time when he‘s trying to say, I‘m making a play for independent voters, I‘m trying to be reasonable here, I‘m giving everything I can. But there is a line here, and he‘s come up against it.
He doesn‘t want to play that kind of game, even though Democrats are going to come off better for it. That‘s the kind of conversation he‘s got to have with Speaker Boehner tonight because the question is, What can Boehner really deliver? Does he speak for the center of American politics or doe she speak for the Tea Party? And that‘s the kind of realpolitik that‘s going to be played out in the Oval Office tonight.
UYGUR: Well, who Boehner speaks for is incredibly clear. Of course he‘s speaking for the radical right. And he has no delusions of speaking for the—I don‘t think he does. I mean, he might say it, but it‘s obvious to everybody watching that he does and he‘s for the radical right. But at least he represents his position.
Congressman McDermott, do you think President Obama‘s going to hold the line today? I don‘t even know why they‘re having a meeting if he‘s going to hold the line. My guess is that he‘s going to give them a little bit more. I mean, am I being overly cynical? And please also address what Richard said, which is, Hey, listen, he‘s trying to find the center here. He‘s the president of all of us, trying to unite red and blue. Is that a fair argument?
MCDERMOTT: This week, the president announced that he‘s running for reelection. Now, if he‘s running for reelection by backing down from the Republicans every time they push him against the wall, he‘s going to have a real tough time in this election.
This is the time for him to take a stand and say, Look, I have been as polite and gracious and conciliatory as I can be. I‘ve given you everything I‘m going to give you, and we are done. You do whatever you want to do. You let the country fall on its face, and I will point to the people who could not put it together.
UYGUR: All right. Congressman McDermott, very clear. Richard Wolffe, great analysis. Thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
WOLFFE: You bet.
UYGUR: All right. And by the way, just so you know, I‘m with McDermott. Not a nickel more.
All right, still ahead, a stunning loss for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and his brand of slash-and-burn politics. A bold progressive comeback shows national Democrats in Washington how to play smash-mouth politics and beat the Republicans. Now, that‘s a lesson they could use.
Also, the Beck stops here, Glenn Beck leaving his Fox News show later this year. Here‘s an interesting question. Was he fired? Did he get too crazy even for Fox News? We‘re going to discuss that, coming up.
UYGUR: Scott Walker is on the run! Did you hear what happened last night? The Wisconsin claims a stunning Democratic victory last night was not a referendum on him, which I don‘t believe for a second. We‘ll explain why. But he can‘t hide from the power of the progressive movement that brought a massive turnout to defeat an incumbent Republican. We‘ll talk to one of the lawmakers who defied Walker on his union bill next.
UYGUR: Big news out of Wisconsin that may signal the beginning of the end for that state‘s extreme right-wing governor, Scott Walker. The Associated Press reports that Democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg holds a narrow lead a state supreme court election that has become a referendum on Walker and his union-busting allies. In what would be an enormous upset, Kloppenburg leads incumbent judge Republican David Prosser by 204 votes. Prosser was the heavy favorite to be reelected. In February‘s open primary, Prosser won 55 percent of the vote. Kloppenburg just had 25 percent. That‘s a 30 percent margin. But now she appears to have won the run-off election.
Look, you got to understand this. I‘ve been covering politics a long time. Coming back from a 30-point deficit almost never happens. I know there were several people in the race. She might have picked up some of those votes going in. But 30 points is gigantic! It shows that Walker‘s union busting lit a fire under progressives, and that showed with the massive voter turnout.
Now, it‘s relative and it‘s in context. Look at this -- 33 percent turned out to vote in this election. That is way up from years past. The passion we first saw in that state capitol back in February has been mobilized and channeled to fight back during elections. And Walker‘s now in big trouble. His poll numbers are plummeting, and several of his Republican pals who passed that anti-union bill will likely soon face recalls and might get voted out, as well.
Also, the Republican that Walker wanted to win his old job as a Milwaukee County executive lost badly yesterday to the Democrat, as well. The victory in Wisconsin shows progressives that it‘s the states where we need to fight and organize, not in Washington, where most Democrats only worry about how to agree with Republicans, not whether we should agree with them at all.
You know I get frustrated with that, but I love what‘s happening in the states. That‘s strong progressives fighting back. Now, beyond the Beltway, Republicans have been knocked back on their heels and the left is on the march. The real fight, the place where we‘ll win, is actually totally in those states and in the grass roots movements that we‘re seeing with our own eyes here.
Joining me now is Wisconsin state senator Chris Larson. Chris, how are you?
CHRIS LARSON (D), WI STATE SENATOR: Good. Thanks for having me on, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. I appreciate you coming on. How encouraged are you guys by—you know, Walker loses his old seat, the Republican does, and then Kloppenburg coming back from 30 points. You guys got to be ecstatic.
LARSON: Yes, it‘s—I mean, it‘s pretty amazing. The people who were marching around the capitol, who were protesting, who couldn‘t be heard at the capitol by Walker and the Republicans, you know, their voice was heard yesterday in the election, where they were able to take out an incumbent. An 11-year incumbent who was the speaker of the assembly before that, had statewide name recognition, was beat by someone who just a month-and-a-half ago, people were asking, you know, Who‘s—what‘s a Kloppenburg? Who‘s a Kloppenburg? And now she will be the next justice.
I think it‘s beautiful. The state just woke up. The Wisconsin movement just got another victory. And it‘s just getting started.
UYGUR: Any sense from the Republicans in the state—I know, of course, Scott Walker‘s going to put on a brave face and say, Oh, nothing ever bothers me. But the reality is, if you‘re a Republican politician in Wisconsin and that didn‘t bother you, you don‘t understand politics. So any sense of whether they‘re in a scramble, they realize the kind of trouble they‘re in?
LARSON: I think he‘s still in denial about all of this. I mean, I think he was saying it—you know, before, he was saying that a lot of these people he thinks are from out of state, you know, that were marching around the capitol. He‘s saying today that he thinks, oh, this was driven by one city and it wasn‘t the entire state. So I still think, you know, he‘s in denial about this whole thing.
But it‘s—this was a referendum on him and his agenda. You couldn‘t walk around in the state without hearing every three sentences about Walker and his attack on workers‘ rights. That‘s exactly what this election was about. We saw the highest turnout for a supreme court race in our state‘s history. You know, it exceeded expectations by 70 percent, where they ran out of ballots in cities across the state. And I think that he‘s still being in denial is—it‘s strange and embarrassing. I think he‘s kind of become the Charlie Sheen of Republican governors, where he‘s the only one who thinks he‘s winning right now and everyone else gets it.
UYGUR: You know, you took the words right out of my mouth, and we‘re going to do that in another section. But all right. That‘s a great point. Look, the other thing is, I think people have woken up to what‘s going on.
I don‘t think this is what they expected from Walker and the Republicans.
Let me show you a national poll. It‘s actually an NBC poll. And you see that the country is actually incredibly progressive. Look at this. Should the government do more? Fifty-one percent say yes. How about cutting Social Security? They say no -- 77 percent say no. How about cutting Medicare? Seventy-six percent say don‘t cut it. How about cutting Medicaid? Sixty-seven percent say don‘t cut it. How about raising taxes on millionaires? Yes, yes, raise taxes on millionaires, 81 percent.
So are people finally realizing this is the agenda that they want and the Republicans are definitely not going to give it to them?
LARSON: Right. Exactly. I mean, I think the line was very clearly drawn, you know, when Walker had his billion-dollar phone call and with this conversation that our state‘s been having over the last two months, where people—people realize where the Republicans stand. They stand with the richest. They stand with people who don‘t need a tax break, but Republicans want to continue to give it to them. They continue to try and shut down the middle class, shut down people who want their voices heard.
And Democrats, I mean, what we did, leaving the state for 22 days to make sure those same people could be heard, making sure that teachers continue to be valued in our state and to make sure that seniors and people with disabilities still have a place in our society and aren‘t viewed as being somebody as a problem in our society, that should be paying their money towards the richest people. That line is very clearly drawn in our state, and hopefully, it gets drawn across the country.
UYGUR: All right, State Senator Larson, fighting the good fight in Wisconsin, thank you for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.
LARSON: Thanks so much, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Just ahead, the fuzzy math of Captain Gorgeous, Paul Ryan.
UYGUR: That‘s a good one! The pundit class is praising him for the political bravery of his new budget plan. That‘s also a good one. But when you take a closer look, the numbers just don‘t add up. Turns out that 2 plus 2 equals $6 trillion, if you ask Ryan. We‘ll show you the numbers.
But first, the wit and wisdom of Tim Pawlenty. That disaster when we come back.
UYGUR: Tim Pawlenty, the most boring man in America, gave a speech to the Iowa Federation of College Republicans last week, and he was desperately trying to sound hip. Don‘t do it! Don‘t do it! But he went there. He started with a Justin Bieber joke, which was a disaster. They‘re not 11-year-olds, they‘re in college. Then he moved on to a Charlie Sheen reference. Pawlenty thinks Republicans and Sheen actually have something in common. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM PAWLENTY ®, FMR. MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: There‘s one other thing that, unfortunately, has captured everyone‘s imagination, that‘s Charlie Sheen. Now, we may not in this room have tiger blood like he does, but we do have something else in common with him. There‘s going to be a lot of winning on the Republican side for 2012.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Winning? Except Sheen doesn‘t really win. He‘s only winning in his deluded mind. Hey, maybe that is a good analysis for the Republican, as State Senator Larson referred to Governor Walker with the same exact delusion in the last segment we did.
And then it continued to get more awkward as Pawlenty compared President Obama‘s relationship with young voters to a Lady Gaga song.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAWLENTY: These younger voters have figured out that this is really a broken relationship. He made soaring promises, grand expectations. He‘s broken those promises. He‘s failed to fulfill the expectation. If this was a Lady Gaga song, the relationship between the youth vote and Barack Obama would be “Bad Romance.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: What I love is how he punches the lines, like, It would be—are you ready for this, are you ready for this—“Bad Romance”! Winning! You know what? It actually reminded me the another Republican from back in the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it was in the Rose Garden where I issued this brilliant statement, If I had a magic wand, but the president doesn‘t have a magic wand. You can‘t just say, Low gas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Low gas! You kind of miss him, don‘t you? You can‘t beat Bush on goofy! But I like that Pawlenty tried—winning, “Bad Romance.”
By the way, here‘s who shouldn‘t try stand-up comedy, Republican presidential candidates. Don‘t do it.
All right. Guess we won‘t have Glenn Beck to kick around anymore, the Fox News host calling it quits after a brief but interesting stint on national TV. Here‘s an interesting question. Was he fired? Uh-oh! Let‘s talk about that a little later in the program. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN ®, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: For starters. We propose to cut $6.3 trillion in spending over the next ten years from the president‘s budget. We‘ve reduced the debt as a percent of the economy. We put the nation on the path to actually pay off our national debt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: It‘s the big, bold new republican plan, $6 trillion in spending cuts over a decade, reshaping Medicare and Medicaid. It‘s Paul Ryan‘s path to prosperity, as he calls it. Here‘s one giant-sized problem though. Scratch the surface even a little and just look at the facts and it all comes apart. Ryan‘s claiming a cut of $6.2 trillion, but it turns out the actual program costs or more like 4.3 trillion, because the extra money is money that goes to Iraq and Afghanistan that‘s going to be cut by Obama‘s budget anyway, so he knows that, but he put it in there, anyway, to say, oh look at me, I am cutting $6 trillion. I love their gimmickry. They‘re just shameless about it. President Obama agrees to the same exact thing. Do they say he‘s he‘s cutting that money, no, they don‘t say that, no, no, they‘re cutting. All right. Now, Ryan calls his idea for overhauling Medicare. Here‘s another great trait premium support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: We support people more if they‘re low income, more as they get sick and wealthy seniors don‘t get as much support. And doing it that way fixes the problem, saves Medicare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That sounds really good, right? Listen, they‘re going, oh yes, that‘s great, except for this part. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that most future retirees would actually pay more for health care under Ryan‘s plan. Look at this devastating quote, “Beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program would bear a much larger share of their health care cost, than they would under the current program.” The CBO says, that by 2030, Ryan‘s plan will have seniors paying over $20,000 out of pocket for health care, 20,000. Strangely, Paul Ryan has neglected to mention that pesky little fact. And here‘s another pesky fact that Ryan isn‘t talking about.
The spending cuts he‘s calling for overwhelmingly hit programs that help the poor. Now, take a look at this cart. It‘s from an article from Robert Greenstein on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It shows that two thirds of the spending cuts come from programs that help lower-income Americans, programs like Medicaid, food stamps and low-income housing, but I guess it shouldn‘t be a surprise. After all, someone‘s got to pay for all those tax breaks for the rich. Now, remember, Ryan‘s proposal also drops the top tax bracket for individuals and corporations from 35 to 25 percent. That‘s a huge gift to the rich. Somebody‘s got to pay for it.
That is part of why you have so much that you have to take from the middle class and the poor. Here‘s the scary part. The plan might just work anyway. But you have to understand its real goal. Even though Ryan‘s numbers don‘t add up, they could have a huge impact on the bigger fight, which is the ultimate objective. Imagine this is a current budget debate. Democrats on one end of the spectrum and Republicans on the other. And you see where the center is, right? OK. That‘s interesting. Now, here comes Paul Ryan with his gigantic specter-shifting proposal, $6 trillion in reductions he claims over ten years. And what happens?
Suddenly the whole debate shifts, and you‘ve got a whole new center. Suddenly Democrats are forced into a fight over defending Medicare. Last year, the fight was over whether we should extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. This year was overcutting spending by tens of billions. Next year, it will be overcutting trillions instead. You see how they move the center. So, all of a sudden the whole country is further and further right? That‘s the big win for extremist ring-wingers, shifting the whole debate. That‘s the whole point of this exercise. They realized that the Democrats can‘t be pushed around, so they figure the further we put our side out to the right, the further we can bring Democrats in that direction. Now, let me tell you how you stop that. You stop giving into them, and you fight back.
All right. Now, let‘s talk more about this issue with Robert Greenstein, he‘s the president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And Dana Milbank, national political reporter for the Washington Post.
All right. Robert, let me start with you. Some of those numbers are pretty devastating, two thirds coming from the poor, even though of course Ryan claimed almost exact opposite from the clip that we showed you. What‘s the reality here? Where do most of the cuts come from?
ROBERT GREENSTEIN, PRESIDENT, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES:
The two thirds is a conservative estimates, probably more than two thirds of Ryan‘s cuts come from programs that are targeted on lower, moderate-income people. Let‘s just right there in the budget. Medicaid alone takes a $1.4 trillion hit, hundreds of millions more taken away from subsidies to help modest income people by health insurance. And we learned just this afternoon that he has a $127 billion cut in the food stamp program. I remember when the big food stamp opponent was Jesse Helms. This would make Jesse Helm looks like a liberal by comparison. The cuts in those areas are huge. And as you said, Cenk, they‘re right alongside massive tax cuts.
The Urban Institute Brookings Tax Policy Center tells us that making the Bush tax cuts permanent at the high end as Ryan‘s budget would do, would provide an annual average tax cut of over $125,000 every year for people who make over a million dollars a year. Over a ten-year period, that‘s over a million in tax cuts. And that doesn‘t even count the huge estate tax giveaway for the richest estates in the country that Ryan would also make permanent. Nor does it count the reduction in the top rate to 25 percent. But when you look at his plan as a whole. He has $4.3 trillion in budget cuts overwhelmingly aimed at lower-income people, and $4.2 trillion in tax cuts which are regressive, so the main issue here isn‘t deficit reduction. It‘s really what would be the greatest transfer of resources in modern American history by an act of the government from the bottom part to the top part.
UYGUR: You know, it‘s ironic, because the Republicans always talk about redistribution of wealth. You don‘t get any more redistribution of wealth than this, except it‘s going from the poor in the middle class right up to the rich. You know, Dana, let‘s talk about a Washington reaction to this. You know, there‘s so many people out there saying, oh this is a wonderful, serious plan. Now, we‘re finally having a conversation. Is this Washington‘s idea of a great discussion? Redistributing all the wealth to the top?
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you see, Paul Ryan himself said
yesterday—I don‘t know if he exactly meant to say this, he said, this is
not a budget, this is a cause. I think that was a rare moment of honesty,
because it really is about a cause, and that cause is sort of permanently
lowering the tax burden. And look, everybody knows how to get out of this
the looming debt problem that we have, and that is, you can‘t do it all by spending cuts. And for that matter, you can‘t do it all with tax increases. Everybody is going to have to feel some pain in here. What Paul Ryan did is say, look, actually it‘s just the other side that‘s going to have to feel some pain and have their beloved social programs cut, we‘re not going to take much out of the Pentagon. And in fact, not only we are not going to increase taxes, but we‘re going to decrease the top rates for corporations and for the wealthiest Americans.
So, in that sense, it wasn‘t a serious proposal. I think the way you set it up is correct, it‘s really sort of the opening game but here to say, OK, we‘ll be over here to try to pull you in our direction and you have the president sort of being I think in his own way, a bit extreme by saying nothing needs to be done here is essentially what his budget does...
MILBANK: Well, yes.
UYGUR: It‘s not the sense I get from the president, I mean, he did the deficit commission, which is at least halfway towards Ryan, so.
MILBANK: Exactly. I think, and that‘s the—and that‘s where things are going to have to end up. I mean, you have the bold Simpson proposal. The final solution is going to have to look something like that.
UYGUR: I don‘t agree with that, I‘ll be honest with you. Because in that proposal, taxes were also cut. I mean, they raise them in other ways. But I want to go to Robert on this, I don‘t know if you studied up on the Deficit Commission, but what they seem to do is lower the top brackets like Ryan does, but then increase taxes, which wind up hitting middle class again. So, I like that solution in some ways even less. The middle class gets spending cuts, and tax increases, and the rich still get their tax cut.
GREENSTEIN: Well, the Bowles shows some commission clearly as preferable to Ryan. My concerns about the deficit commission package is that I think a really balanced package would be about half budget cuts and about half revenue increases. And the Bowles-Simpson is about two-thirds budget cuts, and one-third revenue increases, it does have some revenue increases from closing a lot of tax deductions, credits and the like, but it didn‘t specify which deductions and credits. And in the real world, those provisions will be, I think almost impossible to pass on the hill. That‘s one of my worries about Bowles-Simpson. It held out there lowering the top rate to 28 or 29 percent. And more than paying for it by massive changes unspecified in areas that would have to include the employer health exclusion, the mortgage interest deduction.
I think a lot of what it recommended there would be good policy, don‘t get me wrong, but I don‘t see how you could pass it. And I do think Bowles-Simpson went too far on some of its budget cuts, but in any event, Dana makes a good point that that‘s one possible way out. What we don‘t know is whether Republicans on the hill, other than the few of them who were on the Bowles-Simpson commission would ever accept something like Bowles-Simpson, which does have significant defense cuts and does have net tax increases, even though it lowers the top rate. Paul Ryan and all the House Republicans are on the deficit commission voted against it. So, a big concern would be if this group in the Senate, bipartisan, that‘s trying to produce a bill based on Bowles-Simpson came forward with it, and it somehow got 60 votes in the Senate, I think Paul Ryan and the House republican leaders would reject it out of hand anyway.
UYGUR: Right. Now, look, a lot of the tax increases that you mention, that you give credit to the commission for are again, they hit the middle class. So, I don‘t like that deal, either. And look, last question for you, Dana, look, when you asked American people and NBC did, the poll shows, they say, 81 percent say, raise taxes on the rich. Ryan plan doesn‘t have that at all. And in fact, I don‘t think really the deficit commission has that plan, either in terms of the rich. Why don‘t we try what the American people want?
MILBANK: Well, the American people don‘t want any of these things, let‘s face it. You know, we just want, you know, have our cake and eat it. But Bob is correct, it is going to have some sort of a mix of tax spending cuts here. And people are not going to like it, you‘re not going to like it, Cenk. Bob is not going to like it. I‘m not going to like it. But that‘s where the debate has to be.
UYGUR: If you went by the polls and he said, all right, now the percentage we‘re going to cut, largely comes from the tax increases the American people are in favor of. And we will cut in X, Y and Z places, we would have a deal. Just listen to the American people. We‘re supposed to be a democracy. Look at what they‘re saying, don‘t cut Social Security, don‘t cut Medicare and Medicaid. There are other places to cut. In other polls, they also say cut defense. This Ryan‘s plan is the exact opposite of what the American people want.
MILBANK: And the problem is, it only takes a small group in the Congress right now to prevent anything from happening. You see that even in this short-term thing here. The White House said to Speaker Boehner, look, we‘ll give you the $32 billion cut you want, and all of a sudden, he‘s got the small group of Tea Partiers won‘t let him accept what he originally asked for in the first place.
MILBANK: So, there‘s not a whole lot of hope that we can come to any sort of agreement even if we get reasonable people to table.
UYGUR: Yes. Dana Milbank and Robert Greenstein. We‘ve got to leave it there, right there, unfortunately. We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: Paul Ryan‘s disastrous budget, may be most disastrous of all for Republicans planning on running against President Obama. Clip, meet presidential wannabes, that‘s next.
UYGUR: Congressman Ryan‘s budget puts 2012 Republicans hopefuls in a sticky situation. They can‘t come out against the mother of all budget cutting plans, but they also can‘t afford to alienate senior citizens by supporting a proposal to destroy Medicare. Look, 59 percent of seniors voted republican in 2010. They need those votes in 2012, but unfortunately this plan cuts a huge chunk out of Medicare. So, that‘s the bad idea. So, where are the republican presidential candidates come out? They say, well, we really applaud his leadership, that was excellent leadership, which is a little ironic. If he‘s the leader, why are you guys running for president?
And then second of all, about the actual pendulant, well, I‘m still saying, which was the wind is blowing. I‘m not going to give a direct answer to that. Classic politicians. By the way, Tim Pawlenty who did whole spiel, his book is called “Courage to Stand.” “Courage to Stand,” a little later when I find out which way things are going.
All right. Now, to talk about this, we‘ve got Ed Rollins, he‘s joining me, he‘s a longtime republican strategist, who is also a political director for President Ronald Reagan. Ed, great to have you back.
ED ROLLINS, FORMER REAGAN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: My pleasure. Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Ed, I get the sense you‘re not buying this. You think this might be a political trouble for the Republicans.
ROLLINS: Well, it‘s not a political bill. It is a public policy bill, and I applaud Congressman Ryan for putting something on the table. It‘s a long way to go in this process, but is it politically astute at this point in time, probably not. I think one of these things that you‘ve got to do is educate the public which comes over a period of time. And right today, you can‘t scare the elderly, basically who are on Medicare basically. There‘s a lot in this bill that a most people don‘t understand yet, and I think they—in the course of a campaign, some people will take sides, some people won‘t.
UYGUR: All right. Now, I want to get back to the politics through this, and how is going—in a second. But you said as you keep the public. But, you know, you guys have been trying to do that for a long time. I mean, that‘s what—that‘s what Newt Gingrich said back in the mid 1990s, we‘ve got to educate the public.
ROLLINS: I guess he would then do a very good job.
UYGUR: All right. But is it possible the public is educated and they just don‘t like your plan.
ROLLINS: Well, I think the bottom-line is that people can‘t be confused, can‘t be scared. And I think at the end of the day, no one who is on Medicare today is going to lose Medicare. And that‘s in the provision. It‘s for.
UYGUR: But they get a massive cut.
ROLLINS: They basically, the cuts come down below. And I‘m not going to argue the details. I‘m not—the bill came out yesterday, and unlike Democrats, I don‘t want to take 1,000-page bill and explain it until I know something more about it. Right at this point in time, if you‘re one of 100 members of Congress who live in very safe republican districts, I would vote for this in a heartbeat. If I‘m in a marginal district or in some other states or not quite so, I would be more careful.
UYGUR: See, and that‘s what we‘re discussing here, the politics of it, right? So, for the republican presidential candidates, this could be an albatross around their neck. I mean, if they come out and they said, oh yes, I‘d loved the cut—then that would come back to.
ROLLINS: No one is going to say that. I think first of all, we don‘t have any candidates out there announced yet. And obviously we have a year and a half to go before this thing becomes prevalent. I think they have to offer an alternative if they don‘t accept this one. Most of them will, and here‘s their plan of how they basically try and reduce the deficits. The president hasn‘t offered his plan, and I think to a certain extent, any candidate who runs has to have their own plan.
UYGUR: But if they get behind this bill, that could be political trouble. Because you got the cut in food stamps, you got the cut in Medicaid, I mean, look, we can argue about whether it‘s a real cut Medicare. But the CBO is in, you know, I don‘t want to get into that policy debate, but it seems pretty clear, you see the political damage that could happen to them, especially in a general election.
ROLLINS: Well, I think the key thing is we‘re in a general election, we‘re in the beginning of a process. And, you know, Democrats didn‘t even pass a resolution last time. So, I think at the end of the day, this is Ryan‘s plan. It may very well be the House republican plan, it‘s not going to get the law of the land, and I think at certain extent that candidates when they get in this race, most of them have been governors, most of them are smart, they understand deficit, reduction and what have you, I think they‘ll be careful in some of the items here, and they have to come up with their own plan if they don‘t like this one.
UYGUR: All right. Now, I want to move on to something else, a new NBC poll just came out, right?
UYGUR: And I want to run some of the numbers by you. First, among the primary voters, when you have everybody included, it‘s interesting, it‘s a tight race. You‘ve Mitt Romney up top with 21 percent. Huckabee is at 17, Trump is at 17 which I‘m shocked by. Newt Gingrich had11. Palin at 10, Pawlenty is down at six, Bachmann is at five. Santorum is irrelevant at three. And Haley Barbour even more irrelevant at one. So, but here‘s the interesting part, before we discuss that, if you take out the people who probably will not run or have not voiced an interest in running, right? Huckabee, Trump‘s not really going to run, so they take him out. Palin, Santorum.
ROLLINS: Huckabee may very well.
UYGUR: No, I think Huckabee might, too. And that‘s why this gets to how relevant he is, right?
UYGUR: And I think Santorum is going to run, but he‘s irrelevant anyway. All right. So, Mitt Romney then becomes 40 percent, Newt Gingrich which at 20 percent, Pawlenty at 12, Michele Bachmann, 11, Haley Barbour at three. What I‘m getting out of that is if Huckabee leaves the race, Mitt Romney looks like he‘s in great shape, doesn‘t he?
ROLLINS: He certainly does at the start. You know, he was, he and Huckabee were second and third, last time, I‘m just reminded, having done this for five decades now. I‘m reminded of President Giuliani that led in all 50 states last time and then you had President Thompson who jumped in at 31, 32 percent. Right now, polls are about name idea, Donald Trump who is not a serious candidate, everybody knows who he is, some people are form, some people, but when you get down to real debates, you get down to real candidates, and they have to make real choices, Donald Trump is not going to be in the fact.
UYGUR: Did Giuliani have the worst idea of saving his candidacy to Florida that you‘ve ever seen in.
ROLLINS: Absolutely, by far. And the fact that you could skip Iowa and New Hampshire when everybody starts there and the media is there, it was nuts.
UYGUR: Even skipped South Carolina. It‘s crazy. Why you just skip the whole thing?
ROLLINS: It would be like skipping Staten Island in a mayor‘s race in New York. You won‘t win if you‘re republican.
UYGUR: All right. Ed Rollins, thank you very much.
ROLLINS: My pleasure.
UYGUR: We really appreciate it.
All right. Now, when we return, well, Glenn Beck, we hardly knew you, FOX News host announcing plans to quote, “transition off of his TV show.” We‘ll talk about it with a man who perhaps has done more to expose Glenn Beck than anybody else. Eric Boehlert from Media Matters.
UYGUR: It‘s official, FOX News is bidding farewell to Glenn Beck‘s 5:00 television show. Beck made the announcement on his show earlier today, and a final show date has not been set yet, but tensions between the network and Beck have led to a near total separation. Now, it‘s near total, because Beck‘s production company will still occasionally produce special content for FOX, when they need a crazy, crazy conspiracy theory, he‘ll come riding to the rescue. Now, Beck‘s departure isn‘t that much of a shock when you look at the numbers. Since he started the program in January, 2009, he‘s lost over 300 of his advertisers, because they were afraid their brands would be associated with Beck‘s nonsense. And in the past year, Beck‘s show has lost 30 percent of its total viewers and 37 percent of its viewers in the 25 to 54 age group, which advertisers most seek, OK? So, but what‘s the real reason he got fired or perhaps got canceled? Well, it might have been Beck‘s show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This president I think has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don‘t know what it is.
The gates of hell are going to open up, and we will do nothing.
This is the way I feel. I feel like President Obama is just saying, you know what? I‘ve got the 3.5 trillion budget that we‘re doing, you know.
Get into the light and stand in it, because evil is growing rapidly.
I told you for weeks, you‘re not alone. I‘m turning into a freaking tell evangelist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now you‘ve turned back into a radio host.
All right. Joining me now for more on this is Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters for America. All right. Let me be a little flippant first. Was there a moment at Media Matters today when somebody came on and gave a Bremer-like speech, ladies and gentlemen, we got him.
ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: It was funny, I mean, the news came across the wire, and I think a lot of people were like, is this for real? I mean, there had been talk. I mean, there have been times a month ago said, this might have been like for FOX News beyond Glenn Beck. But to see it in print was sort of interesting. I mean, obviously we‘ve been paying very close attention to Glenn Beck and doing massive fact checking on him. And let me just say, I mean, the show really did represent a shameful chapter in American television, the fact that FOX News, a so-called news organization would give a fear monger like that, a platform is really wildly irresponsible.
UYGUR: All right. So, what I‘m hearing from you, is you guys will at least going to have a little cake, but underplayed a little bit. All right. So, now, let‘s talk about whether he was fired. Now, today Roger Ailes came out and said, half the people were saying, he got cancelled, half the people are saying, he quit, and I‘m pretty happy with that.
UYGUR: That‘s an interesting comments, so, what happened here? Do you think he got cancelled or fired?
BOEHLERT: It was a pretty frosty relationship. I mean, Roger Ailes was not rushing to Glenn Beck‘s defenses. And Glenn Beck is, you know, the perfunctory comment about FOX News. Look, I mean, he still had two million viewers, but FOX News couldn‘t make any money on the show. I mean, it‘s supply and demand. You got 300 advertisers that don‘t want to be on the show, but you still have the same supply. You‘ve got 22 minutes of adds every hour. You‘ve got 300 or 400 companies saying no, we‘re not going to. So your pool of advertisers shrinks and you can‘t make the money you‘re supposed to.
UYGUR: Well, that‘s the key thing, and some of that was bleeding over to some of the other shows. They‘re saying, if Beck goes on another show, we‘re not going to advertise.
UYGUR: That is the bottom-line. To be fair to Beck, he did have a big audience, he lost a big chunk of it, but it was still sizable.
BOEHLERT: Right. But then it becomes a hollow victory, you‘ve got a show with great ratings, and you can‘t monetize it. You can‘t turn it around. FOX News in not in the tradition of having symbolic hollow victory, they want to make some money.
UYGUR: Right. And I think what happened here though, the half measure, which is he‘s going to come back, I think it‘s so he doesn‘t launch a crazy conspiracy theory, oh my God, FOX News are the bad guys, can you believe they‘re part of Armageddon, do you think that‘s what it is?
BOEHLERT: I think it was a polite way to say, you know, don‘t let the door hit you on the way out. I mean, I think that‘s what it was.
UYGUR: And he gets to save face. They both win. You know, they don‘t make his viewers angry and Beck has to say, no, no, I‘m still doing some things, absolutely.
BOEHLERT: Yes, I know but, you know, and Beck‘s team was telling “New York Times,” you know, he doesn‘t need FOX News, he‘s going to take over a cable channel. He‘s got a big plan. That‘s great. FOX News made Glenn Beck. You know, he‘s been on the radio for a long time. Nobody really cared about him. It‘s FOX News, it what who he is.
UYGUR: Right. And by the way, its radio ratings are not doing well, either. All right. So, it‘s a whole separate thing. Eric, thanks for joining us, we really appreciate it. All right. That‘s our show for tonight everybody. “HARDBALL” is next. Thank you for watching. It‘s coming up, right now.
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