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tv   MSNBC Live  MSNBC  December 30, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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6:00 on the east coast. just 30 hours remain before the country goes over the fiscal cliff, and we're still waiting for a deal. good evening. i'm chris jansing. the senate is going home for tonight. democratic and republican leaders had hoped to reach an agreement by 3:00 this afternoon. >> i was really glad to hear republicans have taken their demand for social security benefit cuts off the table. the truth is, it should never have been on the table to begin with. there's still significant distance between the two sides, but negotiations continue. there's still time left to reach an agreement, and we intend to continue negotiations. i ask unanimous content that the senate proceed tomorrow morning. >> earlier, they took to the floor to explain the setback in negotiations this morning. >> i'm concerned about the lack of urgency here.
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i think we all know we're running out of time. this is far too much at stake for political gamesmanship. the consequences of this are too high for the american people to be engaged in a political messaging campaign. i'm interested in getting a result here. >> this morning, we've been trying to come up with some counteroffer to my friend's proposal. we have been unable to do that. at this stage, we're not able to make a counteroffer. >> senate democrats said a major sticking part in the gop offer was the inclusion of reforms to social security benefits. but after harry reid said he would not entertain a change in the chained cpi, republicans said they had taken that chained cpi off the table. but with pessimism running high,
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the vice presidents go involved in negotiations. president obama says the inaction of any deal is the result of republican resistance. >> they say their biggest priority is to deal with the deficit in the biggest way. but their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest americans are protected. at some point, i think what's important is that they listen to the american people. >> joining me now, congressman chris von holland of maryland. good evening. it is a good sign that chained cpi is off the table. the senate will be back tomorrow at 11:00. how high is your optimism or pessimism at this moment? >> well, it was a very bad sign when senator mcconnell put this social security change on the table, as part of a small deal, that was obviously something that could have totally thrown a monkey wrench into the process.
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so the fact that they backed off that is obviously good news. but as senator reid said, there are lots of obstacles still to go. and the fundamental issue remains what the president just said in that clip. both today and for the last year, the number one priority of republicans have been -- has been to use the middle class tax cuts as leverage to try and extract these super big tax breaks for very wealthy individuals, including now their focus on trying to get 7,200 estates, an average tax break of 1.2 million. this is the top fraction of 1% of the super wealthiest estates, inheritance taxes in the country. they apparently want to put more silver spoons in more people's mouths and provide this big break. again, the sorry part of the story is they're using the
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middle class to extract these concessions for very wealthy individuals. >> at this late hour, are we going to be dealing with that level of negotiation? is it more the big picture stuff? for example, what would the number be in terms of whose rate would stay the same, whose would go up, $250,000, $400,000, $500,000. are we looking at bigger generalities if we're going to get this done in the next 30 hours? >> that's certainly part of it, where the threshold would be. but this estate tax represents about $140 billion. that's not a trivial amount. republicans proposed increasing the burden on medicare beneficiaries, and they're trying to protect inheritance tax rates for 7,200 families in the entire country next year,
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who would get an average tax break of $1.2 trillion. compared to the president's proposal, which is the lowest level of estate tax rates that existed between 1916 and 2009. he wants to go to the 2009 level. so it's just important that people understand that as the clock winds down, republicans in congress are using this time to, again, threaten to allow middle class taxes to go up in order to extract these tax breaks for the wealthiest, because they don't think they should contribute anymore to reducing our deficit. >> they say obviously that it's the democrats who are stone walling here. they said they were expecting a counteroffer to their offer this morning at 10:00. at 2:00, we saw mitch mcconnell come out and say we still don't have a deal. we've heard criticism about the president's tone today on "meet the press." this is what john boehner had to say, blaming the failure of a
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deal on the president. >> your response? >> well, that's very interesting, chris, because speaker boehner has refused to even hold a vote in the house of representatives on the president's proposal. we're not asking speaker boehner to endorse the president's proposal. we're not asking republicans to say they want to endoris the proposal. we're simply asking for a vote. we believe that republicans and democrats together could get a majority for the president's proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff and deal with the deficit in a balanced way. in fact, as we know, republicans like tom cole, a very conservative member from oklahoma, and others have said that that approach makes sense. and yet the speaker refuses to allow a vote on that proposal.
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and so allow democracy to work and so far unfortunately, speaker boehner has been held captive with the tea party wing of the republicans in the house, which voted down his own proposal just about a week ago, because he said, well, we should ask folks making over $1 million to pay more. his caucus said no. so what we're saying is, let the whole house, democrats and republicans, vote on the president's proposal. let democracy work its will. worst case scenario is that would be defeated. but you don't know until you hold a vote in the house of representatives. that's how democracy is supposed to work. it's not supposed to allow a small, extreme group within the republican caucus to dictate terms to the country. >> there is some indication from the hill that the call to bring vice president joe biden, two has negotiated deals in the past, obviously, with mitch
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mcconnell, has seemed to move this forward. they're going to continue negotiating, even though there won't be any votes tonight. so let me ask you, what is your sense of what's going to happen here? are we going to avoid going over the fiscal cliff? >> i don't know. i think it's 50-50 as we go into the final hours here now. the fact that negotiations are ongoing is a good sign. i served on what was known as the biden group in the summer of 2011. unfortunately, at the end of the day, as you remember, the republicans walked out of those negotiations. why? for the same time they've abandoned all the negotiations so far, is they didn't want to ask high income individuals to share greater responsibility for reducing the deficit. they wanted to put that burden on the middle class. maybe in the final hours, something will change there. but it's important to understand that's exactly what's happening there. they're using the clock and the
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final hours and the threat of a slowing economy and higher taxes on middle income folks to try and get this leverage for bigger tax breaks for wealthy people. the more you provide tax breaks to folks at the top, the more the overall burden of dealing with our deficit, which we have to do over a long period of time, the more that burden will fall on the middle class, the more it will fall on seniors, the more it will mean less opportunities for our kids to go to college through student loan programs and that kind of thing. >> congressman, thanks for being with us tonight. >> thank you. >> let's take a live look at the senate floor. kelly o'donnell reports there there will be no votes tonight. let's bring in ryan grim, washington bureau chief, and robert costa, washington editor with the national review. good to see both of you. ryan, give us what you know, what's going on right now? >> there was some reporting
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earlier that reid had made a counteroffer to republicans. that's not true. that was a misunderstanding. so at this point, we're stalled. negotiations will continue through the night. reid said everybody can go home until about 11:00 tomorrow. tomorrow is new year's eve, for those paying attention. and apparently, there's no dignity left in the senate or house and they will be in tomorrow on new year's eve pretending like they're going to get to some kind of resolution here. >> what do we know about where they are, robert? did the inclusion of the vice president make any difference? what do you know? >> i think that's a key point, chris. tin collusion of vice president biden in these talks means that though these talks are stalled, negotiations continue. harry reid and mitch mcconnell had some problems getting to a final offer, final counteroffer this afternoon. but the inclusion of vice president biden means the white house is in the loop with what
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minority leader mcconnell is doing. >> how much hope is really the question here, ryan? taking the cost of living essentially, the cpi off the table for social security, which was going to be a non-starter for harry reid and for the president, so i guess the republicans could say look, we gave that up. what are you giving us? >> i don't think there's much hope at all, frankly. part of the reason is that nobody really has an incentive to get a deal done today or tomorrow. all the incentives line up to push people over the cliff. what you saw with social security today indicates how unlikely it is they're going to get to a deal. in some sense, i think the republicans got played a little bit, because president obama was the first one to introduce chained cpi, social security cuts into the conversation. and then democrats just erupted today when republicans reintroduced them. as they should have, because social security cuts are -- they don't contribute to the deficit,
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they're not part of the sequester. so it's unclear why they would be part of the bargain. and it's not social security this would hit, it would hit veterans and spouses of soldiers who died in combat. so if that's the way congress thinks it ought to balance the budget, by cutting the pensions for widows of soldiers, that's where we are now. >> chris, i respectfully disagree with ryan here. yes, there's a lot of pessimism among reporters here, but at the end of the day, when you talk to staffers in democratic and republican circles, all sides want to extend middle class tax rates. that rate discussion, to get to a threshold, $250,000, hopefully 400,000 if you're a conservative or republican, that is going to drive the deal. so the question is, how long do they draw this out between the 30th, 31st and the 1st? maybe they go over the cliff for 24 hours.
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>> well, i think it's worth mentioning, ryan, that wall street is open tomorrow. so maybe some of this could be driven by if we see the stock market tank, i wonder if they would put any pressure on congress. >> i suppose so, but i don't see the stock market moving on this. the irs said it's not reconfiguring its computers to deal with these tax questions. the pentagon and all the other government agencies told their employees that they're not going to do anything with the sequester in january, because they're assuming congress will get its act together in january, february or so. so the idea that the markets are going to panic over this, you know, i think is a red herring. who knows? maybe they tank tomorrow. maybe they go through the roof. but i don't see that happening. though if it did that would drive things a little bit. >> do you have any sense they're feeling pressure from constituents at all? i would describe this as people
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are profoundly unhappy. >> that's a great point. congress' approval ratings are abysmal. but the pressure from the right for conservatives to cut a good deal, all this discussion about chained cpi is confusion. basically it means that republicans want to include entitlement reform as part of a deal. but why did they take that off the table? because when the debt ceiling comes next year, they can have a bigger fight about entitlement reform. so the big story today is that republicans are starting to resign themselves to the fact that this ultimate deal will be about tax rates and nothing more. >> and taxpayer also have to resign themselves to the fact that if we do go over the fiscal cliff, this is just the start of a long set of unpleasant negotiations. good to see you, gentlemen. >> thank you. coming up, with just under 30 hours to go before the
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country goes over the fiscal cliff, we'll talk to senator bernie sanders of vermont. where he thinks we're going next. and coming up, david gregory's interview with president obama on "meet the press." our special coverage will continue after this. ♪ [ male announcer ] it started long ago. the joy of giving something everything you've got. it takes passion. and it's not letting up anytime soon. at unitedhealthcare insurance company, we understand that commitment.
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with the clock winding down to the fiscal cliff, no one is even talking about a grand bargain anymore. what's being hoped for now is a narrow, last-minute deal aimed at preventing those automatic tax hikes. there has been some movement that the democrats are calling a setback. we do know now that republicans took the chained cpi off the table, as we've been talking about. so if it really was the major
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sticking point the democrats said it might be, does this put us any closer to a last-minute deal? joining us now, senator bernie sanders, an independent from vermont who caucuses with the democrats. tell us what your status report is, where do you think we are in these negotiations? >> people have got to understand what the so-called chained cpi is. it sounds like a technical term. in real life it means that if you're 65 years of age today on social security, by the time you're 75, it will be a $600 a year reduction. by the time you're 85, it will be over $1,000. that is a huge cut. in addition, what the chained cpi could do is significantly cut benefits for disabled veterans and for the thousands of those people who died in iraq and afghanistan. that is not how you balance the budget. i think the other context that we have to look at is what is going on in america
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economically. we have a middle class, which is in significant decline, while the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well. who should pick up the burden for deficit reduction? working people who have seen their wages go down or the top 2% who have done phenomenally well, while their effective tax rate, as mitt romney reminded us by not releasing his tax returns, is extremely low. so to my mind, what this deficit reduction debate is about is asking the wealthiest people, the large corporations to help us with deficit reduction and give a break for a change to the middle class and working families. >> as you say, one that would mean less money for seniors with the social security adjustment is off the table, are you more optimistic about getting a deal done. >> we still have a long way to
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go. >> what do you see as the major sticking point? >> one of the sticking pointing, what the republicans want to do is continue the 2010 agreement on lower estate tax rates, which means, chris, $120 billion tax break over a ten-year period for the top 0.2 of 1%. they get $120 billion tax break. and people come forward and say we're very serious about deficit reduction. third area that we have to look at, the president wanted, as you recall a few weeks ago, $1.6 trillion in new revenue. we're now down to, as i understand it, about $600 billion. a significant reduction. if you don't have new revenue coming in from the wealthiest people, it will mean, as we go
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down the pike -- >> there are so many issues like, this that are -- have been originally talked about. but when push comes to shove, and it comes up to the absolute deadline and everybody is hopefully still talking tomorrow, how narrow could this deal be to get it done? >> how what? >> how narrow could this deal be? could it be just about whose taxes expire and whose don't? >> as i think some of your commentators made, people have to understand the world does not collapse in terms of the so-called deficit cliff, which many of us see as a slope. it doesn't collapse on january 1. not everybody's taxes are going up. you have until february to work that out. programs, discretionary spending is not necessarily going to be
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cut in january, or even february. we have time to work that out. the immediate impact, and these are the issues that have got to be dealt with, 2 million workers will lose unemployment benefits. you've got to deal with that. >> dianne feinstein has talked a lot about that, but she's tied those 2.1 million people on unemployment benefits of her concern about a contraction, a contraction in this economy that is so fragile right now. are you concerned at all, even though people may not see it or feel it in january, are you concerned about things like consumer confidence and people stopping spending? >> absolutely. in the case of up employment compensation, you're talking about money millions of families will not have. will that have an impact on the economy? certainly. and consumer confidence is a big issue. so i hope that we can avoid going over the cliff. but the republicans in the
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senate have dominated the negotiations in 2010, 2011, right now we are in a standoff for the middle class. >> senator, always good to see you and thank you for talking with us tonight. american's frustration with congress may well be summarized in this simple statement. in terms of output, the 112th congress has been the least effective in decades. in part, because of the rising influence of the tea party. that's ahead when our special coverage continues, in a moment. [ male announcer ] it's that time of year again.
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time for citi price rewind. because your daughter really wants that pink castle thing. and you really don't want to pay more than you have to. only citi price rewind automatically searches for the lowest price. and if it finds one, you get refunded the difference. just use your citi card and register your purchase online. have a super sparkly day! ok. [ male announcer ] now all you need is a magic carriage. citi price rewind. start saving at gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentlelady from florida is recognized. ms. ros-lehtinen: i yield such time to the gentleman from this is live, the floor of the house of representatives. legislative business is taking place in the house tonight, but members are not voting on any measures related to the fiscal cliff. as we've been reported, the senate won't tonight either. although they're talking and we expect them to come back tomorrow morning at 11:00. as we all know from past battles, today's fiscal cliff fight is, sadly, typical. in fact, this congress is on
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track to go down as the least productive congress since recordkeeping began. in the course of nearly two years, the 112th congress has passed 219 bills that have actually been signed into law by president obama. but a lot of these laws were insignificant, things like the names of post offices. and a slew of bills passed by the house had no chance of passing the senate or getting the president's signature, like repeated attempts to repeal the affordable care act. the influence of the tea party lawmakers have been a clear factor. >> the tea party, which is not even on the screen about a year ago at this time, is a very domineering force. >> one story will be with us, the rise of the tea party. >> regardless of what those elites think, the tea party movement is authentic, grassroots movement. >> i wouldn't sell short these candidates. >> tea party americans, you're winning. >> it's a big mistake not to take it seriously.
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>> you think the tea party is here to stay? >> absolutely. >> this book was just named the best book of the year. good evening and congratulations. >> thank you, chris. happy to be with you. >> this fiscal cliff was supposed to be so severe, so potentially devastating, there would be no way for congress not to make a deal. yet here we are. how did this happen? how much do you think the tea party has to do with it? >> well, the ptea party provide much of the energy and uncompromising demands. but ultimately, the republican party leadership in the house embraced them and acted on their what have from the very beginning of this congress, demanding immediate spending cuts at a time when the economy
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was still pretty shaky, and taking the unprecedented action of holding the necessary rise and the debt ceiling hostage to their own policy demands, leading to a downgrade in our dollars and the decline in the economy. so, yeah, the tea party bears responsibility. but the tea party and the republican party, sadly, have become one in the same. >> well, take us sort of micro now, that's the macro picture. take us micro into these next 29 1/2 hours and how this might play into whether or not we go off the fiscal cliff. >> yeah, listen, as you know, you've been talking to many other people up there, there's an easy way of agreeing to a
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small package that deals with tax cuts extending the tax cuts for most families, and an extension of expiring unemployment benefits. everyone had hoped to have something much more ambitious. but in the end, the republicans are not free to talk taxes. they've bought on to grover norquist's no new taxes. and that sort of has set the stage for a complete failure on the broader efforts to deal with taxes and spending. so to avoid this utterly upness artificial fiscal cliff crisis,
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all they need to do is approve something small. but it's something republicans remain reluctant to do, and will only do, if they do, at the last minute, after having then str t demonstrated to tea party supporters they did everything they could. >> i wonder if we should be surprised. do you see any short term way to fix this? what is your thoughts about the chances here? >> yeah, listen, there are fewer competitive seats. many more safe seats, largely as a result of an idealogical and geographical sorting. gerrymandering contributing it to, but it's by no means the main factor. the things that we can do in the long run, but in the short term,
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republicans have to feel that they have to change, they have to open their party, broaden the base if they are to avoid falling into permanent minority party status. >> thomas mann, thank you so much. for republicans, losing the political fight over the plik may not be the down side of the strategy, it may be the strategy itself. that's ahead when we continue right after this. with aches, fever and chills- the flu's a really big deal. so why treat it like it's a little cold? there's something that works differently than over-the-counter remedies. prescription tamiflu attacks the flu virus at its source. so don't wait. call your doctor right away. tamiflu is prescription medicine for treating the flu in adults and children one year and older whose flu symptoms started within the last two days. before taking tamiflu tell your doctor if you're pregnant, nursing. have serious health conditions,
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that is the question that has to be decided after a lot they're still making their voices heard on the senate floor. this is senator kay bailey hutchison. but no votes tonight and back at 11:00 tomorrow. the negotiations on capitol hill revealed yet more times of a fractured republican party, as josh baro writes, for republicans, losing the political fight isn't the down side of the strategy, it is the
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strategy. he says the gop will be forced into agreeing on a deal that will be good for the democrats. republican senator lindsey graham congratulated the president on "fox news sunday" earlier today, crediting him with a strategic win. >> i think what have we accomplished? political victory for the president. hats off to the president. he stood his ground. he's going to get tax rate increases. maybe not at 250, but on upper income americans. i hope we'll have the courage of our convictions when it comes time to raise the debt ceiling to fight or what we believe. but hats off to the president, he won. >> joining me now, richard wolf. good evening, richard. >> good evening, chris. >> we know fighting a deal is good for the republican base. but sort of in the big picture, what is the strategy here, what do they think they're accomplishing? >> i don't think there is a strategy, chris. they are a fractured party.
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it's very clear now that they are two parties. over 2010 and the last couple of years, we've seen them trying to pretend it's one republican party. it's clear that there are two parties and it's easier to unite when you're saying no than when it is when you're saying yes. that's precisely the problem republicans face now. because saying yes means agreeing month each other as opposed to opposing the president. saying yes at this point is extremely difficult as a big loss in this strategy is that john boehner is now sidelined. he's just not a relevant part of these discussions and that's a major defeat. >> so it's about mitch mcconnell then? >> the senate minority leader is the most important figure in the republican party today. who could have predicted that, even two, three months ago? >> were you surprised when you
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heard he called vice president joe biden and said, we need you i guess is what we must have said? >> mcconnell cut the deal earlier about the payroll tax cut extension. so he has a track record, in spite of his rhetoric and saying that his number one priority was making sure president obama was a one-term president, he has managed to cut deals before and joe biden has cut deals, as well. so it doesn't surprise me that's where it's headed. but maybe his relationship with joe biden is better than it is with harry reid. >> what happened to john boehner? it was really interesting. i spent a lot of the christmas holidays in ohio. but also since i've come back, a question i get over and over and over again is, is john boehner a good guy? i think the point of that question is, is he willing to work with the president? is he willing to do what needs to be done to get a deal done? now obviously he's marginalized.
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but what happened there? >> i don't think it's a question of intent so much. because he's had at least two attempts at going for a bigger deal, a bigger bargain in terms of cutting deficits, raising taxes. he has tried to move his party, but he's incredibly weak. the problem for the white house and the president specifically, what can you do when you're negotiating with someone who cannot deliver? and that's a problem for his entire party. he's going to get re-elected house speaker and not have the authority to do the job he's been given. john boehner is in an impossible situation. i guess no one else wants the job. but that suggests that house republicans, as a force, even though they're the majority, are not a factor in these critical discussions facing the count try and the federal government at this time. again, that's a bad strategy, a bad place for them to be in, when they just won re-election. >> do you have a good sense,
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richard, of how many republicans or maybe democrats for that matter, aren't so worried about going over the fiscal cliff at this point? >> i don't actually buy this argument that people are happy going over the fiscal cliff. they can see how damaging it is politically. they also are looking forward to the next fight about the debt ceiling, which is going to be even more damaging. so they always say it's the other guy who wants to go over the fiscal cliff. i don't hear people going out and saying i think it's a good idea that everyone pays more taxes or there are these deep spending cuts. they're all pretending like they know everyone else's strategy. it's about coming to a yes as opposed to agreeing to a no. that's where they don't want to take the heat. >> richard wolf, always good to see you, my friend. thanks. >> thanks, chris. >> the real victims of the fight will not necessarily be republicans or democrats, of course. it's going to be the american people. we talked to bernie sanders
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about those 2.1 million people on unemployment. we'll look at what going over the fiscal cliff will actually mean to you. our special coverage continues in just a moment. ♪ [ male announcer ] every time you say no to a cigarette, you celebrate a little win. nicoderm cq, the patch with time release smart control technology that acts fast and helps control cravings all day long. ♪ quit one day at a time with nicoderm cq.
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welcome back to msnbc's continuing coverage of the fiscal cliff deadline. i'm chris jansing. for millions of out of work americans, the cliff has come early. the final emergency unemployment compensation has been given out for the year. without an extension, those participating in the program won't get any more assistance. and nearly a million more will be unable to collect any federal unemployment benefits in the first quarter of 2013. no deal also means no extensions on tax credits for the working poor. families with children, people paying college tuition, medicare payout als will be reduced.
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joining me to explain the real world implications of the fiscal cliff, e.j. dion, msnbc contributor. good evening. >> good to see you. >> we hear a lot of talk about how if we go over the fiscal cliff, people aren't going to feel it very quickly. is that so? >> it's not. and i was really glad you began with that, because i think particularly all the people who are unemployed who are going to lose benefits, we're not paying enough attention to that. that's bad in two ways. first, those are very vulnerable americans. and secondly, that's a lot of mop e ey -- money sucked out ofe economy. so this is a very serious consequence. it is, by the way, why i still think there is going to be a deal on the cliff. i think on the republican side, they know that the only way to contain the tax increase that would come full force if we go over the cliff is to make a deal now. because it will be harder for
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them to deal after the clinton tax rates all come back. they also realize they're probably going to take most of the blame. but on the democratic side, there is a real interest in protecting all of those vulnerable people, plus the middle class people on the amt. and the last thing president obama wants is something that will stop what looks like a reasonably steady economic growth that we're having right now. this coming year could be a very good year for us if we don't let all this political nonsense get in the way. >> it's hard to imagine how it doesn't. you look at the record, and we talked about it, of this congress. fewer bills passed of any since they've been keeping records. 219, the previous he was 313 bills that got through congress. and a lot of them are basically, you know, naming a post office. and at the same time, it sounds
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like, tell me if you think something else is going on, this is going to be the narrowest of possible deals. tax rates are going to stay the same for people making 250, 400 or maybe $500,000 a year or less. and then all the other stuff is going to have to -- entitlements are going to be put off until 2013. the debt ceiling is looming there for 2013. i like your optimism, but i just don't know. >> you had my friend, tom mann on earlier. i think it's very important that what you had happen in the house is the most right wing members were able to block any progress. speaker boehner walked away from negotiations with president obama when they were actually quite close. president obama put a deal on the table that made significant concessions to the republicans. if they had bought that deal, we would have bought about ten years of relative fiscal stability. i think we can still get around
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to making a reasonable deal after the deal. but this is a terrible way to govern and a terrible way to run our government. any business likes to have some way of planning. so do government agencies. by having these deadlines makes it hard for people who are trying to make the government work. >> always great to talk to you, my friend. thank you. >> thank you. much more ahead as the nation inches forwards the everyone of the fiscal cliff. and at the top of the hour, david gregory's interview made news from "meet the press." that's coming up, too. [ male announcer ] it's that time of year again. time for citi price rewind. because your daughter really wants that pink castle thing. and you really don't want to pay more than you have to.
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i also pledge to call to the vice president to see if he can help jump-start the negotiations on his side. the vice president and i have worked together on solutions before and i believe we can again.
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>> that was senate minority leader mitch mcconnell. we're back with our special coverage of fiscal cliff negotiations. joining me now is correspondent for the national journal who wrote about vice president joe biden coming back into the picture. good to see you, chris. >> hey, chris, good to be with you. >> you describe this process as a slow-motion car wreck. do you think that biden coming into the picture, and i don't know to what extent, is it helping things? >> you know, chris, i thought it was a big move by the senate republican leader, to almost call joe biden off the bench. when i was talking to his office and his aides last week, they said that the white house hasn't allowed any lines of communication between the two men. and in that way, there was not a lot of back channel happening. when things stalled out between mitch mcconnell and harry reid this afternoon, mcconnell put the call in to biden. those are the two closers for the republican and democratic
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parties. we saw it last summer, they were able to get a deal. and the fact that those guys are talking and that the tone that you have from all the interested parties, harry reid went to the floor today and said we're not there, but everyone is working in good faith. i think, you know, it shows that there is some optimism, that there still could be a last-minute deal on taxes here. but it's still far from certain. >> when we heard that republicans took social security off the table, that had to be a good sign. >> it was interesting, because democrats hemmed and hawed over that. they said we can't believe that the republicans would ask for social security reform. that was only a grand bargain deal. that's not something we can do now. and a few hours later, the republicans huddled and said okay, we can take that off the table. and that was a good sign. but they're still waiting for democrats to counteroffer. what's unclear to us right now
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is whether or not harry reid is going to do that counteroffer or if that comes from joe biden. in fact, just a few minutes ago, reid was asked how things were going. he said ask mr. mcconnell and joe biden. so there's an indication of how things are going. >> you wrote that democrats are hesitant to put a deal on the senate floor with no republican backing, because it just offers them a chance to score political points when public opinion does seem to be favoring the democrats. democrats don't have an incentive to waste a show of support for something that can't pass, right? >> that's exactly where democrats are. they feel like they want to get a deal with republican backing, if they can. but remember on friday, the president kind of put republicans in a box. he said either cut a deal in the senate and push it through, or i'm going to ask harry reid to put my scaled back plan on the senate floor. and remember that scaled back plan has tax increases for everybody who makes over $250,000, which republicans don't love at all.
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i'll have harry reid put that on the floor and you'll have to block it. and you will have to then take responsibility for not pushing it through. so republicans are a little bit in a corner here, which is why i think mcconnell exercised the biden phone to the white house to see if he can work something out. >> so you guys are ordering in pizza tonight, lots of coffee? >> we're here for the duration. we're watching and waiting and will report it as soon as we know it to you guys. >> thank you, chris. we look forward to that. we'll have much more as we cover the negotiations on capitol hill in an hour. i'll be back with continuing live coverage. right now, we're going to go to david gregory's interview with president obama on "meet the press." i'll see you back here in 60 minutes. share everything.
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