Guest Host: Al Sharpton
Guests: Kelly O‘Donnell, Pat Buchanan, Bill Press, Kristen Welker, Joe Madison
AL SHARPTON, HOST: Good evening. I‘m Al Sharpton.
We begin with breaking news. President Obama is set to make a statement any moment. It comes after another day of wrangling over the debt limit talks. The president went out to College Park, Maryland, and spoke at an open town hall meeting. He‘s been bringing his case to the people.
On the other side, the Republicans have been going back and forward. Their bill went before the Senate. It was defeated today. There‘s been wrangling all over Capitol Hill. But, we understand that Speaker Boehner has walked out of talks and we are waiting on the president to make a statement.
Let‘s go live right now to NBC news Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O‘Donnell, who‘s been covering those talks.
Kelly, what can you tell us?
KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: It‘s a bulletin Reverend Al. Speaker Boehner is breaking off talks with President Obama. We learned this just a short time ago. The speaker has alerted members of the House. He also reached out to Majority Leader Reid and Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell.
Speaker Boehner saying he will abandon White House negotiations and turn it back to the Hill to work this weekend to try to come up with a deal to avert a debt crisis and they need to do that by Monday in order to allow all of the process to take place.
This is a significant development. Sources tell us it was actually the “gang of six” proposal that helped to derail this and the intervening event was described to us that way. That they had been working on a deal which would have had significant cuts in entitlements. Significant changes in the tax code, which would have raised revenues but dropped some rates.
No specifics were entirely nailed down. But we‘re told there were agreements between the leadership here, Secretary Geithner and the president about some general areas of how they would go forward. We‘re told in the time line, things really fell apart on Tuesday. When the “gang of six” came forward, that had been considered almost a dead proposal and it was brought back up—and because of what the gang of six was talking about, with a different sort of package, that it was more aggressive than what the president had agreed to—according to House leadership aides, that president backed off.
So, that‘s how they are describing it. I‘m sure the White House will have a different take on this, but they are breaking off these talks, Al.
SHARPTON: Well, I‘m sure that‘s their side. We don‘t know the White House side.
But, clearly, this is really raising the stakes with the speaker walking out. We are very anxious, I‘m sure, around the country to see what the president is going to say.
But when you say the speaker is going back it Congress to work it out this weekend, what could that possibly mean without some kind of agreement with the White House?
O‘DONNELL: Well, ultimately the president would have to sign any deal but they want to take the president out of negotiating room. Working with Harry Reid, working with Mitch McConnell to try to come up with something that can pass the House.
We are told that from the Boehner side, House Republicans have to have an increase in the debt ceiling matched with cuts that total that increase amount. Kind of back it square one, if you will, Al.
And there‘s a lot of talk about a last ditch fall back effort offered by Reid and McConnell. That in the way, we heard about it. Still isn‘t ready to go. But that could be a format where you‘d have not the grand barring of huge cuts and big structural change but something smaller more likely to help the country limp past that deadline and then maybe they can start talks for a broader change to social programs and the tax base.
But this is a dire circumstance because there had been so much hope about the cooperation between the speaker, Eric Cantor, and the president, and Secretary Geithner—a serious impasse tonight.
The president will be able to tell us more when he comes to the microphone. I was told the president just received a phone call within the last half hour or so and Hill leaders just hearing about it today as well. And a lengthy letter went out to House colleagues saying that there was never a deal, it was never close and that they are breaking this off.
SHARPTON: This could also be Speaker Boehner feeling the pressure of the Tea Party—
SHARPTON: -- caucus in the House. And clearly if he is saying that “gang of six” proposal, we certainly haven‘t confirmed it. This could be him having to bow to pressure in his own caucus from some of Tea Party freshmen and the like.
O‘DONNELL: Everybody move could be looked at through a political lens. This could be new pressure to get something done. It‘s being described by Republican aides that the “gang of six” sort of confused things when they thought they were on track in a way it get a deal.
Again, no deal ever close they say.
SHARPTON: Kelly, let me interrupt you here. We‘re going to go to the president of the United States.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wanted to give you an update on the current situation around the debt ceiling. I just got a call about half hour ago, from Speaker Boehner, who indicated he was going to be walking away from the negotiations that we have been engaged in here at the White House for a big deficit reduction and debt reduction package.
And I thought it would be useful for me to just give you some insight into where we were and why I think that we should have moved forward with a big deal.
Essentially, what we had offered Speaker Boehner was over a trillion dollars in cuts to discretionary spending, both domestic and defense. We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs—
Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. We believed that it was possible to shape those in a way that preserved the integrity of the system, made them available for the next generation, and did not affect current beneficiaries in an adverse way.
In addition, what we sought was revenues that were actually less than what the “gang of six” signed off on. So, you had a bipartisan group of senators, including Republicans who are in leadership in the Senate, calling for what effectively was about $2 trillion above the Republican baseline that they‘ve been working off of.
What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking taxes—tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions, and engaging in a tax reform process that could have lowered rates generally while broadening the base.
So let me reiterate what we were offering. We were offering a deal that called for as much discretionary savings as the “gang of six.” We were calling for taxes that were less than what the “gang of six” had proposed. And we were calling for modifications to entitlement programs, would have saved just as much over the 10-year window.
In other words, this was an extraordinarily fair deal. If it was unbalanced, it was unbalanced in the direction of not enough revenue.
But in the interest of being serious about deficit reduction, I was willing to take a lot of heat from my party—and I spoke to Democratic leaders yesterday. And although they didn‘t sign off on a plan, they were willing to engage in serious negotiations, despite a lot of heat from a lot of interest groups around the country, in order to make sure that we actually dealt with this problem.
It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal. And, frankly, if you look at commentary out there, there are a lot of Republicans that are puzzled as to why it couldn‘t get done. In fact, there are a lot of Republican voters out there who are puzzled as to why it couldn‘t get done—because the fact of the matter is the vast majority of the American people believe we should have a balanced approach.
Now, if you do not have any revenues, as the most recent Republican plan that‘s been put forward both in the House and the Senate proposed, if you have no revenues at all, what that means is more of a burden on seniors, more drastic cuts to education, more drastic cuts to research, a bigger burden on services that are going to middle-class families all across the country. And it essentially asks nothing of corporate jet owners, it asks nothing of oil and gas companies, it asks nothing from folks like me who‘ve done extremely well and can afford to do a little bit more.
In other words, if you don‘t have revenues, the entire thing ends up being tilted on the backs of the poor and middle-class families. And the majority of Americans don‘t agree on that approach.
So here‘s what we‘re going to do. We have now run out of time. I told Speaker Boehner, I‘ve told Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, I‘ve told Harry Reid, and I‘ve told Mitch McConnell, I want them here at 11:00 tomorrow.
We have run out of time. And they are going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid default. And they can come up with any plans that they want and bring them up here and we will work on them. The only bottom line that I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013.
And the reason for it is we‘ve now seen how difficult it is to get any kind of deal done. The economy is already weakened. And the notion that five or six or eight months from now, we‘ll be in a better position to try to solve this problem makes no sense.
In addition, if we can‘t come up with a serious plan for actual deficit and debt reduction and all we‘re doing is extending the debt ceiling for another six, seven, eight months, then the probabilities of downgrading U.S. credit are increased, and that will be an additional cloud over the economy and make it more difficult for us and more difficult for businesses to create jobs that the American people so desperately need.
So they will come down here at 11:00 tomorrow. I expect them to have an answer in terms of how they intend to get this thing done over the course of the next week. The American people expect action.
I continue to believe that a package that is balanced and actually has serious debt and deficit reduction is the right way to go. And the American people I think are fed up with political posturing and an inability for politicians to take responsible action as opposed to dodge their responsibilities.
With that, I‘m going to take some questions—Ben.
REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. You said you want the leaders back here at 11:00 to give you an answer about the path forward. What is your answer about the path forward? What path do you prefer, given what‘s just happened?
And also, sir, quickly, what does this say about your relationship with Speaker Boehner?
OBAMA: Well, with respect to my relationship with Speaker Boehner,
we‘ve always had a cordial relationship. We had very intense negotiations
I‘m going to have my team brief you exactly on how these negotiations proceeded. Up until sometime early today when I couldn‘t get a phone call returned, my expectation was that Speaker Boehner was going to be willing to go to his caucus and ask them to do the tough thing but the right thing.
I think it has proven difficult for Speaker Boehner to do that. I‘ve been left at the altar now a couple of times.
And I think that one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is can they say yes to anything? Can they say yes to anything? I mean, keep in mind: it‘s the Republican Party that has said that the single most important thing facing our country is deficits and debts. We‘ve now put forward a package that would significantly cut deficits and debt. It would be the biggest debt reduction package that we‘ve seen in a very long time.
And it‘s accomplished without raising individual tax rates. It‘s accomplished in a way that‘s compatible with the “no tax” pledge that a whole bunch of these folks signed on to, because we were mindful that they had boxed themselves in, and we tried to find a way for them to generate revenues in a way that did not put them in a bad spot.
And so the question is: what can you say yes to?
Now, if their only answer is what they‘ve presented, which is a package that would effectively require massive cuts to Social Security, to Medicare, to domestic spending, with no revenues whatsoever, not asking anything from the wealthiest in this country or corporations that have been making record profits—if that‘s their only answer, then it‘s going to be pretty difficult for us to figure out where to go, because the fact of the matter is that‘s what the American people are looking for, is some compromise, some willingness to put partisanship aside, some willingness to ignore talk radio or ignore activists in our respective bases, and do the right thing.
And to their credit, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the Democratic leadership, they sure did not like the plan that we are proposing to Boehner, but they were at least willing to engage in a conversation because they understood how important it is for us to actually solve this problem.
And so far, I have not seen the capacity of the House Republicans in particular to make those tough decisions.
And so then the question becomes, where‘s the leadership? Or, alternatively, how serious are you actually about debt and deficit reduction? Or do you simply want it as a campaign ploy going into the next election?
Now, in terms of where we go next, here‘s the one thing that we‘ve got to do. At minimum, we‘ve got to increase the debt ceiling—at minimum. I think we need to do more than that.
But as I‘ve said before, Republican Leader McConnell in the Senate put forward a plan that said he‘s going to go ahead and give me the responsibility to raise the debt ceiling. That way folks in Congress can vote against it, but at least it gets done. I‘m willing to take the responsibility. That‘s my job.
So, if they want to give me the responsibility to do it, I‘m happy to do it.
But what we‘re not going to do is to continue to play games and string this along for another eight, nine months, and then have to go through this whole exercise all over again. That we‘re not going to do.
REPORTER: Standing here tonight, Mr. President, can you assure the American people that they will get their Social Security checks on August 3rd? And if not, who‘s to blame?
OBAMA: Well, when it comes to all the checks, not just Social
Security—veterans, people with disabilities—about 70 million checks
are sent out each month, if we default then we‘re going to have to make
adjustments. And I‘m already consulting with Secretary Geithner in terms
of what the consequences would be
We should not even be in that kind of scenario.
And if Congress—and in particular, the House Republicans—are not willing to make sure that we avoid default, then I think it‘s fair to say that they would have to take responsibility for whatever problems arise in those payments. Because, let me repeat, I‘m not interested in finger-pointing and I‘m not interested in blame, but I just want the facts to speak for themselves.
We have put forward a plan that is more generous to Republican concerns than a bipartisan plan that was supported by a number of Republican senators, including at least one that is in Republican leadership in the Senate. Now, I‘ll leave it up to the American people to make a determination as to how fair that is. And if the leadership cannot come to an agreement in terms of how we move forward, then I think they will hold all of us accountable.
But that shouldn‘t even be an option. That should not be an option.
I‘m getting letters from people who write me and say, at the end of every month, I have to skip meals. Senior citizens on Social Security who are just hanging on by a thread. Folks who have severe disabilities who are desperate every single month to try to figure out how they‘re going to make ends meet.
But it‘s not just those folks. You‘ve got business contractors who are providing services to the federal government, who have to wonder: are they going to be able to get paid and what does that do in terms of their payrolls.
You know, you‘ve got just a huge number of people who, in one way or another, interact with the federal government. And even if you don‘t, even if you‘re not a recipient of Social Security, even if you don‘t get veterans‘ benefits or disabilities, imagine what that does to the economy when suddenly 70 million checks are put at risk. I mean, if you‘re a business out there, that is not going to be good for economic growth. And that‘s the number one concern of the American people.
So, we‘ve got to get it done. It is not an option not to do it.
REPORTER: And your degree of confidence?
OBAMA: I am confident simply because I cannot believe that Congress would end up being that irresponsible that they would not send a package that avoids a self-inflicted wound to the economy at a time when things are so difficult.
REPORTER: Mr. President, can you explain why you were offering a deal that was more generous than the “gang of six,” which you seemed to be embracing on Tuesday when you were here?
OBAMA: Because what had become apparent was that Speaker Boehner had some difficulty in his caucus. There are—a group of his caucus that actually think default would be OK and have said that they would not vote for increasing the debt ceiling under any circumstances.
And so I understand how they get themselves stirred up and the sharp ideological lines that they‘ve drawn.
And ultimately, my responsibility is to make sure that we avoid extraordinary difficulties to American people and American businesses.
And so, unfortunately, when you‘re in these negotiations you don‘t get 100 percent of what you want. You may not even get 60 percent or 70 percent of what you want. But I was willing to try to persuade Democratic leadership as well as Democratic members of Congress that even a deal that is not as balanced as I think it should be is better than no deal at all.
And I was willing to persuade Democrats that getting a handle on debt and deficit reduction is important to Democrats just as much as it‘s important to Republicans—and, frankly, a lot of Democrats are persuaded by that.
As I said in the last press conference, if you‘re a progressive you should want to get our fiscal house in order, because once we do, it allows us to then have a serious conversation about the investments that we need to make—like infrastructure, like rebuilding our roads and our bridges and airports, like investing more in college education, like making sure that we‘re focused on the kinds of research and technology that‘s going to help us win the future. It‘s a lot easier to do that when we‘ve got our fiscal house in order.
And that was an argument that I was willing to go out and make to a lot of skeptical Democrats, as you saw yesterday.
But ultimately, that‘s what we should expect from our leaders. If this was easy it would have already been done. And I think what a lot of the American people are so disappointed by is this sense that all the talk about responsibility, all the talk about the next generation, all the talk about making sacrifices, that when it comes to actually doing something difficult folks walk away.
And last point I‘ll make here. I mean, I‘ve gone out of my way to say that both parties have to make compromises. I think this whole episode has indicated the degree to which at least a Democratic President has been willing to make some tough compromises.
So when you guys go out there and write your stories, this is not a situation where somehow this was the usual food fight between Democrats and Republicans. A lot of Democrats stepped up in ways that were not advantageous politically. So we‘ve shown ourselves willing to do the tough stuff on an issue that Republicans ran on.
REPORTER: Mr. President, there seems to be an extraordinary breakdown of trust involved here. And I wonder if you could address what we‘re hearing from Republicans, which is that there was a framework and a deal that was agreed with your chief of staff, with the treasury secretary, about a certain number of revenues, that the Republicans had agreed to that. And then after you brought that to your party and the discussion of that, the goal line was moved.
Is this an example of where the goal line has moved and that that‘s what has led to this breakdown in trust?
OBAMA: Norah, what I‘ll do is we‘ll do a tick-tock. We‘ll go through all the paper. We‘ll walk you through this process.
You know, what this came down to was that there doesn‘t seem to be a capacity for them to say yes.
Now, what is absolutely true is we wanted more revenue than they had initially offered. But as you‘ll see, the spending cuts that we were prepared to engage in were at least as significant as the spending cuts that you‘ve seen in a whole range of bipartisan proposals, and we had basically agreed within $10 billion, $20 billion—we were within that range.
So, that wasn‘t the reason this thing broke down. We were consistent in saying that it was going to be important for us to have at least enough revenue that we could protect current beneficiaries of Social Security, for example, or current beneficiaries of Medicare; that we weren‘t slashing Medicaid so sharply that states suddenly were going to have to throw people off the health care rolls. And we were consistent in that.
So, I want to be clear. I‘m not suggesting that we had an agreement that was signed, sealed and delivered. The parties were still apart as recently as yesterday.
But when you look at the overall package, there‘s no changing of the goalposts here. There has been a consistency on our part in saying we‘re willing to make the tough cuts and we‘re willing to take on the heat for those difficult cuts, but that there‘s got to be some balance in the process. What I‘ve said publicly is the same thing that I‘ve said privately. And I‘ve done that consistently throughout this process.
Now, with respect to this breakdown in trust, I think that we have operated aboveboard consistently. There haven‘t been any surprises. I think the challenge really has to do with the seeming inability, particularly in the House of Representatives, to arrive at any kind of position that compromises any of their ideological preferences. None.
And you‘ve heard it. I mean, I‘m not making this up. I think a number of members of that caucus have been very clear about that.
REPORTER: But they were willing to move on some revenues, apparently.
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. But what you saw—and, again, you know, you‘ll see this from the description of the deal—essentially what they had agreed to give on is to get back to a baseline—this starts getting technical, but there were about $800 billion in revenue that were going to be available. And what we said was when you‘ve got a ratio of $4 in cuts for every $1 of revenue, that‘s pretty hard to stomach. And we think it‘s important to make sure that whatever additional revenue is in there covers the amount of money that‘s being taken out of entitlement programs. That‘s only fair.
If I‘m saying to future recipients of Social Security or Medicare that you‘re going to have to make some adjustments, it‘s important that we‘re also willing to make some adjustments when it comes to corporate jet owners, or oil and gas producers, or people who are making millions or billions of dollars.
Wendell? Where‘s Wendell? Wendell is not here.
Lesley? Is Lesley here?
REPORTER: Yes, Mr. President.
OBAMA: There you are.
REPORTER: Thank you. You‘ve said that your bottom line has been the big deal; that‘s not going to happen. Are you going to be willing to go back to just raising the debt ceiling still?
OBAMA: Well, I think I‘ve been consistently saying here in this press room and everywhere that it is very important for us to raise the debt ceiling. We don‘t have an option on that. So if that‘s the best that Congress can do, then I will sign an extension of the debt ceiling that takes us through 2013.
I don‘t think that‘s enough. I think we should do more. That‘s the bare minimum; that‘s the floor of what the American people expect us to do.
So I‘d like to see us do more. And when I meet with the leadership tomorrow I‘m going to say let‘s do more.
But if they tell me that‘s the best they can do, then I will sign an extension that goes to 2013, and I will make the case to the American people that we‘ve got to continue going out there and solving this problem. It‘s the right thing to do and it‘s time to do it. We can‘t keep on putting it off.
REPORTER: You suggested that Speaker Boehner didn‘t return phone calls this afternoon.
OBAMA: You know, I‘m less concerned about me having to wait for my phone call return than I am, the message that I received when I actually got the phone call. I‘m going make this the last question. Go ahead.
REPORTER: The markets are closed right now as we see. What assurances are you going to make people on Wall Street? Are you going to be reaching out to some people on Wall Street? Is that when Monday comes, we don‘t see a reaction to the—developing right now?
OBAMA: I think it is very important that the leadership understands that Wall Street will be opening on Monday and we better have some answers during the course of the next several days.
REPORTER: What can you say to people who are watching and who are working on Wall Street? Do they find this a bit alarming, perhaps?
OBAMA: Well, I think what you should say—well, here‘s what I would say. I remain confident that we will get an extension of the debt limit and we will not default. I am confident of that. I am less confident at this point that people are willing to step up to the plate and actually deal with the underlying problem of debt and deficits. That requires tough choices. That‘s what we were sent here to do. I mean, the debt ceiling, that‘s a formality. Historically, this has not even been an issue. It‘s an unpleasant vote but it‘s been a routine vote that Congress does periodically. It was raised 18 types when Ronald Reagan was president. Ronald Reagan said, default is not an option. That it would be hugely damaging to the prestige of the United States. And we shouldn‘t even consider it.
So that‘s the easy part. We should have done that six months ago.
The hard part is actually dealing with the underlying debt and deficits. And doing it in way that‘s fair. That‘s all the American people are looking for. Some fairness. I can‘t tell you how many letters and e-mails I get including from republican voters, who say, look, we know that neither party is blameless when it comes to how this debt and deficit develops. There‘s been a lot of blame to spread around. But we sure hope you don‘t just balance the budget on the backs of seniors. We sure hope that we‘re not slashing our commitments to make sure kids can go to college. We sure hope that we‘re not suddenly throwing a bunch of poor kids off the Medicaid role so they can get basic preventative services that keep them out of emergency room.
That‘s all they‘re looking for is some fairness. Now what you‘re going to hear, I suspect is well, you know, if you—if the Senate is prepared to pass the cap, cut and balance bill that republican plan, then somehow we can solve this problem. That‘s serious debt reduction. It turns out actually that the plan that Speaker Boehner and I were talking about was comparable in terms of deficit reduction. The different was, that we didn‘t put all of the burden on the people who are least able to protect themselves, who don‘t have lobbyists in this town, who don‘t have lawyers working on the tax coat form. Working steps out there. Ordinary folks who are struggling. Every day. And they know they‘re getting a raw deal. And they‘re mad at everybody about it. They are mad at Democrats and they‘re mad at Republicans because they know somehow no matter how hard they work. They don‘t seem to be able to keep up. And what they‘re looking for is somebody who is willing to look out for them. That‘s all they‘re looking for.
And, you know, for us not to keeping those folks in mind every single day, when we‘re up here, for us to be more worried about what some thunder says or some talk radio show host says or what some columnist says. Or what pledge we signed back when we were trying to run or worrying about having a primary fight. For us to be thinking in those terms, instead of thinking about those folks, is inexcusable. Then the American people are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done. So when Norah asked or somebody else asked, you know, why was I willing to go along with the deal that wasn‘t optimal from my perspective is because, even if I didn‘t think the deal was perfect, at least it would show that this place is serious. That we are willing to take on responsibilities even when it‘s tough. That we are willing to step up even when the folks who helped get us elected may disagree. And, you know, at some point, I think, if you want to be a leader, then you got to lead. Thank you very much.
SHARPTON: That was an extraordinary, extraordinary statement from the president in the press room of the White house. And I must say that I‘ve not heard President Obama speak like that in some time. With real passion and candor, saying things if, like if you‘re going to lead, lead. That we‘ve got to do tough things. That we‘ve got to ignore the columnists and the talk show hosts and the activists. I‘m really challenging both the Republicans and the Democrats. It was a very poignant and passionate and no-holds barred speech and statement from the president. In light of Speaker Boehner saying, he is now walked out of the negotiations from the White House. The president has now summoned Mr. Boehner and the republican and democratic leadership to the White House tomorrow morning at 11. And he says, he‘s going to do whatever it is that he must do to save the country from going in default.
Joining me now to analyze what we‘ve just seen and where the debt talks go from here, we have Congressman Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Bill Press. Congressman, let me start with you. I mean, what‘s your call on this? This is an extraordinary evening.
REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D-PA), PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: Oh, it is and I think that you saw the president in a very effective way lay out what he had put on the table. So we know, we don‘t have to guess about it anymore. We know exactly what was on the table in terms of spending cuts and revenue raising. And it seems obvious that speaker notwithstanding his best efforts, can‘t convince House Republicans that for the sake of saving, the country in our economy, this is the greatest nation in the world, the wealthiest nation in the world, the notion that we would become the world‘s dead beats should be beyond any of us.
SHARPTON: Well, he actually quoted Ronald Reagan saying that a default would be below the dignity of the country. Pat Buchanan, you heard the president. It was an extraordinary statement. But he also laid out specifics of what was on the table. He said that the offer had been 1.2 trillion and discretionary funds, 650 billion in entitlements. And on the other side, just 1.2 trillion in revenues. And they were working it in a way that he felt was more than on his side of the column. It was absolutely tilted toward the republican side. But he said that he doesn‘t see that they have the capacity to say, yes. How do you respond to that, Pat?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first I thought the president was extraordinarily effective. I agree with the Congressman Chaka. Secondly though, Reverend Sharpton, yesterday many conservatives felt we were indeed very close to a deal. And you had a lot of statements out of there that you would going to get an increase in the debt ceiling, you‘ll going to get dramatic spending cuts. And then we‘re going to go on reform the tax code, drop the rates and give up all these exemptions, deductions and the things the president doesn‘t like. And then all of a sudden, Mr. Boehner, walked out. And I think Norah O‘Donnell‘s question is critical here.
She said, Republicans are saying the president, after he met with the Democrats last night who raised the devil by about what he was doing, that the president walked the cat back. That he moved the goalpost. I think Reverend Sharpton, what we‘ve got to hear is from Mr. Boehner as to what happened between yesterday when a lot of us, including me were very optimistic. We were close to a big deal and a good deal. What happened to cause Mr. Boehner to walk out? The president said, it was Republicans in the House. Let‘s hear from Mr. Boehner.
SHARPTON: Well, let me say this. Bill is coming on, the president in response to that said that they did not move the goalpost. In fact, he said he had been left standing at the altar too many times here. That he was the one waiting to make the marriage. And that they just didn‘t show up. So, Bill, I mean, how does that in anyway act as though something overnight changed.
BILL PRESS, HOST, “THE BILL PRESS SHOW”: Yes, first of all, let me just say, I‘m at the White House every day, right? I see the president very often. I have never seen him as angry as he was tonight. As blunt as he was tonight.
SHARPTON: I agree.
PRESS: Or as strong as he was tonight. And I think we know what happened. Look, the president made it very clear. The Republicans can‘t take yes for an answer and very clear that John Boehner is not in charge or is not willing to exercise leadership. Al, you said it right, when the president left, that‘s what we‘re going to remember from this news conference. If you want to be a leader, you‘ve got to lead. You‘ve got to stand up to members of your own party. John Boehner for the second time has shown he is not willing to do that. And in response to Pat‘s question we know what happened. Eric Cantor told John Boehner, you don‘t have my permission to do this. And John Boehner walked away again. Republicans are shown again, they are not willing to take yes for an answer. So, you know, what‘s going to happen. I think we‘re going to get the Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid plan. They‘re going to advocate total responsibility, pass the buck to the president and he will sign it.
FATTAH: Let me say this to you, Congressman Sharpton.
SHARPTON: Yes, go ahead, Congressman.
FATTAH: If we would assume Reagan Alert (ph), now Pat worked in the Reagan White House. Reagan Alert back there would have been, led Boehner, the speaker working out with the majority leader. When they get a deal presented to the president for his signature. If Boehner is going to get a better deal for Reid, you know, that will be all going to Walt Disney. He had a good deal with the president, Reid is not going to, if he has to negotiate a bill with the Senate, Democrats, it is not going to be as tilted towards the Republicans as the proposal that the president laid out. So, Boehner had the best deal he could get.
SHARPTON: Well, everyone stand by.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
I will let you do that but joining me now from the White House, is NBC News Correspondent Kristen Welker. Christian, is there anything you can tell us that has developed since the president‘s very extraordinary statement?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would just add Reverend Sharpton that he really did seem incredibly frustrated, really in his breaking point. I would say, in terms of these negotiations. As you heard he called these leaders of both parties back here at 11 a.m. tomorrow. He says, we‘ve got to get going on this. One of the phrases that really stood out from that press conference was he said, time has run out. It is time to get something done. As you know the president had been pushing for this grand bargain. He wanted to get about $4 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. And it looks like at this point that is not going to happen. The president even saying what I would like to see now is the debt ceiling raised through 2013. That‘s why I believe this focus should be. One other thing that was interesting was that he made the point that he had called Speaker Boehner, earlier today, didn‘t get a call back until he heard from him to say that this deal was in fact going to fall apart.
We did get some reaction from Speaker Boehner‘s office who says that a deal was never reached and was never really close. So, again there has been a lot of back and forth on both sides one, of the major sticking points was over taxes as you know. You heard the president just say that we had identified about $1.2 trillion in savings through changes to the tax code. Apparently, the Republicans just weren‘t buying that. All along they have said, they‘re not going to get behind anything that resembled a tax hike, it seems like ultimately that may have been one of the ending points to this potential deal.
SHARPTON: Well, Mr. Buchanan. You hear the president say clearly that he was offering $1.2 trillion—he was putting in entitlements and discretionary funds on the table. But he was not willing to do it all on the backs of one side. And that I think in the most graphic language I‘ve heard the president say publicly, he talked about the corporations, he talked about those that were the wealthiest, and he talked about those that we‘re have to choose between their meals at the end of the month. He talked about lettuce he got. I mean, how do you think the Republicans can respond to the American people hearing the president lay it out like that, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Very simply. What Mr. Boehner ought to do is go back to his caucus and say the deal was not as close as the president indicated. And there were good features to it. And the big deal is dead. Now we‘re not going to let our country go into default and we are going to pass a six-month increase in the debt limit worth about 500 billion in cuts that have already been agreed to by the Biden group and by the others. And pass a six-month increase in the debt limit. And send it over to the Senate and to the president. And let them decide the democratic Senate, the democratic president, whether they wish to put this government in default or whether they wish to put this government into a position where half of it has got to be shut down. Send it right back over there and put full responsibility on the president of the United States, give him the cuts he‘s already accepted and give him an increase in the debt limit.
PRESS: Let me interrupt this filibuster here, Pat Buchanan. That would be the worst thing that Congress could o because, you know, where that puts us, that puts us right into the middle of the 2012 election campaign which is exactly what these Republicans want. The only reason they have linked to debt ceiling to all these debt reduction, they‘re not fiscal conservatives, they are playing politics.
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SHARPTON: Well, Congressman Fattah, you are a member of Congress, Congressman Fattah, what happens if they do that, and how do they do that in light of the fact that the president has laid out such a case that even according to polls republican voters have said, we want to see some shared sacrifice here?
FATTAH: What‘s going to happen is what happen today. They did that announcement in the House this week. Senate to the Senate, Senate voted it down. This is what is actually going to happen. It is in the genius of the design of our government. You will get a bipartisan bill out of the Senate. The president is going to for it, and you‘re going to see a split screen up and you will going to see people‘s pensions and the investments going down on Wall Street next week and the House, this Tea Party guys are going to end up having to vote for what comes out in a bipartisan way.
Pat Buchanan is talking about a plane flying with one wing. The House can do whatever it wants. The Republicans could do whatever it wants. They don‘t run the country. This is going to have to be a bipartisan solution. And the best we could do now is look at the design of our government which allows the Senate to be more reason they run for longer term. They represent broader constituents and they‘re going to do the job that the speaker and House majority doesn‘t seem to have the moral compass to be able to accomplish.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
BUCHANAN: The Congressman says, what‘s going to happen is that we‘re
going to have a bipartisan agreement or no agreement. What he‘s saying is, if it‘s not bipartisan, Barack Obama will shutdown the government and take all of the consequences. I don‘t believe it. I think if we call the president‘s bluff, send him something over this weekend and he.
PRESS: Come on, Pat.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
SHARPTON: Well, maybe Pat, the president is—maybe the president has called your bluff, the republican bluff...
PRESS: Yes, exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I love this time, Pat.
PRESS: Yes, Pat‘s got it backwards as usual. He called the Republicans bluff. Let them shutdown the government. You know, the president has shown—wait a minute, Pat, it‘s my turn now. I just want to say something. Let‘s get this out there, too. I believe as a democrat what the president was willing to do was a bad deal for the Democrats. It cut Social Security. It cut Medicare. There were no tax revenues right away not until 2013. I didn‘t like that deal. But the fact the president showed, he was willing to go that last mile to try to get an agreement. The American people know after tonight.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
SHARPTON: Let me ask Kristen, let me ask Kristen at the White House. Kristen, do you think the president is prepared to shut the government down if he has to.
WELKER: Well his tone this evening was one of trying to assure the American people that that wasn‘t going to happen. And it‘s really one of the critical questions here. One of the reporters brought up the point that the markets are watching this so closely. So even when you‘re talking about how the markets are responding, we saw the market go up. Earlier this week, when it looks like there was the possibility for a deal. So you can just imagine the potential for what could happen on Monday. So, President Obama has made it very clear and he said.
SHARPTON: I think the president clearly said that they need to send a signal to Wall Street over the weekend.
WELKER: That‘s right. That‘s exactly right. He said, we have to send a signal to Wall Street. It doesn‘t seem like he wants to shut the government down over this.
FATTAH: I was just going to say something, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Yes. Let the Congressman say something.
FATTAH: Forget what people are saying, watch what they‘re doing. The Senate is in session and they are going to work a deal. The bipartisan group in the Senate. Senator Coburn is not a progressive. You know, the senators who come out Republicans for the deal, I saw Lamar Alexander come out for the Gang of Six. You saw the president the other night say the Gang of Six deal is the way to go.
SHARPTON: So, you predict the Senate will make a deal.
WELKER: Well, you get a 70-vote package. Democrat and Republicans out in the Senate. It will be as it was in healthcare. When Buchanan (ph) says, this is what we can get the votes for, that was it in terms of affordable healthcare. That was going to be the deal.
SHARPTON: Pat has the Republicans put themselves in a very awkward position because the Tea Party has taken the leadership there and really hijacked the party where Boehner cannot show the strong leadership the president so clearly challenged him to show tonight.
BUCHANAN: Well, Reverend, you are so wrong on this. The reason John Boehner is sitting alone with the president of the United States is because behind him are the tough folks and principled folks of the Tea Party who aren‘t taking any new taxes. That‘s why Barack Obama has been making one concession after another after another that he admitted. Now, with regard to Congressman Fattah, I think that the House Republicans are going to move first and swiftly, that‘s too complex a deal in the Senate. They simply raised the debt ceiling. Put them at $500 billion in cuts on it. Send it over there. That will calm the markets unless the president vetoes it.
PRESS: The reality here, Al, the reality here.
SHARPTON: Let me just say this, to Congressman is coming in. What was concessions now, that it is off the table. It becomes now points to the American people that president clearly said tonight, I was willing to go all the way. I was willing to take flak from my own party. We have quotes from Senator Feinstein saying, she doesn‘t get angry, she was free last night. He said, I was willing to do all of that. But they could meet me even less than half way. Don‘t you guys lose in the end when the American people say who was willing to sacrifice.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
BUCHANAN: You make a very good point, Reverend Sharpton.
BUCHANAN: That‘s why according to Norah O‘Donnell, the republican said, after the president got the beating from Senator Feinstein and the others, he began to move the goalpost.
SHARPTON: Oh, Pat they‘ve been saying that for six months.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
Congressman Fattah, I think Pat is trying to make up. I know that Mr.
Boehner is speaking at 07:15 but let‘s wait until—before we say it.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
FATTAH: Reverend, what Pat knows tonight as we saw a president and a party, willing to rise above politics for our nation, you saw one and you saw another party that shirk strength from that responsibility.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
BUCHANAN: That‘s unfair.
PRESS: Reverend, let me get in here if I can, please.
PRESS: Couple of quick points. Number one, Pat, every time we are on this show, he says the president is talking about raising taxes. He is not talking about raising taxes.
SHARPTON: I think he made that clear.
PRESS: I would like to deal with facts. Exactly, OK. The second thing is that, another factor here that nobody is talking about. Because the Tea Partiers will never vote for anything, this plan cannot pass the House without democratic votes. And I got to tell you, I talked to a lot of Democrats today in the House who will not vote now to cut Social Security and Medicare. So, I think the president‘s got to be careful and the congressman.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
BUCHANAN: You make a point, Bill. If the Democrats are not going to vote for any of those cuts and things like that, you got to get House Republicans to do it. They‘re not going to take any new taxes or revenue enhancements as you call them. And you can get that across.
PRESS: Pat, the House Republicans are losers. They don‘t vote for anything. Forget those guys.
SHARPTON: Pat, let me ask you this. Pat, let me ask you this question. Will this has any effect on them tonight, will the president‘s statement and reaction that it will cause to the American people, will it have any effect on them tonight in the House?
BUCHANAN: I thought the president quite frankly, listening to the president, I thought he made a powerful, emotional case that he has walked a long way. I don‘t deny that. I think he is sincere. But it‘s unfair when we haven‘t heard the argument of the Republicans, when it seems there were something going on. And secondly, the Republicans have a strong position and should stand by their guns.
SHARPTON: Well, Pat, let me ask you this. You were a speech writer in the White House. You‘ve been someone that has been good with the pen even though I probably not agreed with what you have written. What could you possibly say to Mr. Boehner if you could right now, he‘s going to speak at 7:15, what can he say now, where he doesn‘t look just like he‘s being defensive, trying to justify himself. What could he say that could really match the president in rising above the politics and say to the American people, here‘s what we are sharing the care. What could he say, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Here‘s what I would tell him to say. I would say, look, I‘m not as eloquent as the president and I share his concerns about what is going to happen if we default. And we‘re not going to allow that. But we‘re also are not going to allow a big revenue enhance or tax increase on an economy which is flat on its back. So, we‘re going to pass tomorrow. We‘re going to pass tomorrow an increase in the debt ceiling. And we‘re only going to put on that increase in the debt ceiling, cuts to which Democrats in the House, Vice President Biden and Republicans have agreed, we‘re going to do that for six months. I know the president.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
SHARPTON: Why did you walk away—Mr. Boehner? They will ask, why did he walk away? Why did he walk away if really had the same concerns for the American people?
BUCHANAN: Well, that‘s why I‘ve asked you Reverend Sharpton, why don‘t you listen to the man speak. And before you can.
SHARPTON: Because, look.
WELKER: Reverend Sharpton, can I just jump in for a second?
SHARPTON: Gentlemen and lady, just a second. Let me bring in one more voice. A Sirius XM radio host, Joe Madison. But Joe, as you come in, I think I heard Kristen Welker, you wanted to say something at the White House?
WELKER: Right. Just in terms of the type of pressure that Speaker Boehner has been getting. We‘ve been trying to gauge this all week long because these talks have been going back and forth. He is, according to our reporting, getting quite a bit of pressure. Especially from some of those Tea Party freshmen who have come in and they are just adamant that they‘re not going to support anything that looks like a plan that would increase taxes. In fact, earlier this week, a whole group of them gathered outside the White House. They remember, don‘t even believe Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner‘s assertion that we‘re going to difficult on August the 2nd. So, they think they are being lied to. So, he‘s dealing with an immense amount of pressure from a lot of his freshmen Republicans who really are quite strong in numbers.
SHARPTON: Joe Madison, Joe, would you give us your assessment to this extraordinary night?
JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Well, she‘s absolutely right in talking to Charlie Rangel today, he talked about the Democrats having the same problem with the boll weevils and the blue dog Democrats. And he says, it is a matter of arithmetic, leadership. And because of that, Boehner is showing very poor leadership. Look, Pat‘s a good friend. But six months is not going to fly because he knows, look, August is out. Because you‘re vacationing. Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas holiday. You‘ll be lucky to get three months out of that six months that you‘re proposing, that they raised the debt ceiling and the reality is that the American people, there are more unemployed people, under-employed people. People who are watching their neighbors home being foreclosed and they are wealthy people. And the argument still flies. If these are job creators, they don‘t want to sacrifice an increase in taxes, hey, where are the jobs?
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
SHARPTON: Buchanan, the president said tonight, if you can‘t get this with this democratic president, haven‘t you really blown an opportunity here? Here is a democratic president that was willing to do this even people like brooks was saying, do this now and I think you saw a president that said, I‘ve gone as far as I can go. Now, you‘re going to walk out, you‘re going to leave me standing at the altar again, we have got to just stop it. The time has run out. How do you respond to that?
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
Let me respond to Joe Madison too, for heaven sakes.
SHARPTON: Go ahead.
BUCHANAN: Joe says, we can‘t do it in six months because three months are wasted on these holidays. Joes, isn‘t six months better than one week if we are facing the default?
MADISON: Hey, Pat, listen to Moody‘s. Listen to Standard and Poor‘s.
The market will not take six months. They need more assurance than that.
They need more confidence than that. It‘s not going to work. Give it up.
SHARPTON: Gentlemen and Kristen, just a second. Let me let the Congressman have the last word.
FATTAH: Look, the Republicans are under some illusion that we got a one house form of government. Let the president step back, let Boehner work out, whatever he can work out with Harry Reid. He is going to end up with a deal that none of the Republicans will be able to vote for in the House. If Harry Reid, he‘s going to negotiate with Harry Reid. He should proceed with the agreement, with the president.
BUCHANAN: Well, if you do that Congressman, you‘ll default if you do that.
SHARPTON: Well, let me say this.
FATTAH: We‘re not afraid of any boogie man, Pat. We‘re going to proceed but we‘re not going to compromise it.
SHARPTON: What happens at the White House tomorrow at 11:00, I hope the adults come in the room. I hope real leadership stays. And I hope we all do what is best for the country. I saw president tonight, though, that I think I want to see more of. I would like to thank you all for joining me tonight.
A live edition of “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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Guest Host: Al Sharpton