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Inside the Boiler Room: A Mandate for Obama?

NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss the outlines of a possible budget deal and whether or not the president has a mandate to craft one to his liking.

Thanks newdayDAWNING...RETURNED for the question!

Video edited by NBC's Jay Rankin.



MARK MURRAY: Welcome to Inside the Boiler Room, I'm NBC's Mark Murray joined by Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, it has been a while since we have done an Inside the Boiler Room! We ended up getting a lot of really good questions, particularly as it relates to the fiscal cliff. This actually comes from newdayDAWNING...RETURNED who asks: "Mandate. We keep hearing the word, and both sides claim it. Did the President get a mandate on taxes in this last election, and will that help in making a deal with the Republican House? Or did the House Republicans retain an edge since they held the House? 

DOMENICO MONTANARO: I love that we talk about mandates when people win fifty-one percent of the vote. It seems to me kind of nuts that anybody thinks there is an overwhelming mandate for anyone to get anything done. I do think thought, that the President has some leverage, more leverage than House Republicans because he did win fairly overwhelmingly, especially in the Electoral College. There's all of these changing demographics going on. He ran on this idea of raising taxes on the wealthy. So, on that one specific issue I think he does have some leverage. I don't know if I would call it a mandate. I think the longer that it goes, the less that political capital he will have. But just like after '08, he had a lot of political capital. Well he has got political capital again coming out of this thing but it is just going to depend on whether or not Republicans are going to decide they want to take that leap and sign off on increasing rates, so far they haven't. The other thing is Republicans think they have a mandate because they retained the House, because in most of their districts 88 percent of them won by 55 percent or more, two-thirds of them won by 60 percent or more so they dont feel like they need to give an inch. 

MARK MURRAY: Right, and when you look at the exit polls, what was really striking to me was that 60 percent of the entire presidential electorate ended up saying that they actually favored raising taxes on everybody or those making--with income of $250,000 or more. That is pretty significant and you are going to hear the White House and President Obama return to those figures time and time again, and also Democrats are pointing out, 'Look, this isn't 2010 again when we actually had to come--during the debt ceiling negotiations,' that actually came after Republicans had taken control of the House, after Democrats had gotten thumped in those midterm elections. But in this presidential contest, and Domenico as you mentioned, probably the biggest idea between President Obama and Mitt Romney was precisely on the burden on the wealthy. President Obama made it a big issue and won, getting about 51 percent of the vote and winning decisively in the electoral college.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: What is a little fascinating to me is that they are still seemingly having a fight that they had during the campaign because the President wants to raise rates on the wealthy, and what Republicans in the House are saying is let's cut tax deductions and loopholes. Well who said that during the 2012 campaign? Mitt Romney. So they are still pushing the same line that Mitt Romney was pushing even though they have seemed to have thawed a little bit on revenue at all, but you know, at the end of the day, as we get closer to a deadline it is going to be interesting to see if--who gives on what here.

MARK MURRAY: Right. I do think the President has the upper hand, but then again, if this is going to be a big deal it seems like everybody is going to get a little something and also have to give up something in return.