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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  December 13, 2010 4:00am-5:00am EST

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and a dogcatcher at times. one location involved in a cruelty to animals case. we will do anything we can to make sure these bars are out of business. this sunday, the tax fight. the president gets some powerful support for his deal with republicans but liberal democrats are in revolt, unmoved by the president's rationale follow compromise. >> i think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers unless the hostage gets harmed.
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then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. in this case, the hostage was the american people. >> will the deal pass congress and what will it do to create jobs? we'll ask our lead news maker guest, the chairman of the white house council of economic advisers, austan goolsbee. and then the politics of the center. if washington is broken is the answer an independent? independent mayor of new york city michael bloomberg joins me exclusively to discuss the economy, the president's leadership and his own political future. finally, our political roundtable on the president's course correction after the midterm. what does the tax deal say about the prospects for bipartisanship over the next two years? with us, democratic congressman from new york, anthony, former congressman from tennessee, harold ford and paul gigot and nbc news white house correspondent savannah guthrie.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television >> good morning. back in september austan goolsbee was appointed to the economic council. along with treasury secretary tim geithner, goolsbee delivers a briefing to the president every day. goolsbee is now front and center in the administration's attempt to achieve agreement in congress on this tax cut deal before they go home for the holidays. mr. goolsbee, welcome to "meet the press." let's start there. are you going to get a deal? will this pass through congress before christmas? >> i certainly hope it does. what the president got in the package is very important for the economy and to see 150, 200 million people and their families have taxes go up in
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less than three weeks would be a serious blow. i think everybody should take a step back if -- i understand the feeling that it's a bitter pill to swallow high income tax cuts but what the president was able to get that is substantially bigger than that and important for the economy whether it's incentives for investments for firms, whether it's a payroll tax cut for 155 million workers, money for college education, et cetera, is really important and we can't let that go. >> you predict passage? >> i'm predicting passage. >> let's talk about the rationale for this deal. this week the president's economic adviser larry summers warned of consequences of inaction here in a briefing. i'll put part of what he said on the screen. failure to pass this bill would materially increase the risk that the economy would stall out and we would have a double dip recession. now, for months this administration, the president's economic advisers have been downplaying, dismissing the idea
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of a double dip recession. when it comes to building political support for this tax deal, suddenly this is the fear. >> i think it takes larry's comment out of context. i think all private forecasters agree that when they saw this package announced, you saw them step forward and say that it would significantly raise the growth rate of the united states in the coming year if we were to pass it and get the unemployment rate down and jobs created more than they thought before that and if you let these tax cuts expire, which they will in 20 days if we do nothing, i think that would be a serious blow to the economy. everybody agrees on that. i don't think we should get into the semantics of how much it raises the probability of double dip but just recognize not acting is very bad for the economy and acting would be good for the economy. >> what about the affect on jobs? that's what matters whether the
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unemployment rate is going to come down. ron brownstein is critical of that prospect of stimulus. it further entrench this is deal, the bush tax cuts, even though the median income and number of americans with jobs are lower today than when the tax cuts were originally signed in 2001. almost unprecedented decade long record of futility. >> be careful with that. the context before the president came out with this deal was a cycle of dysfunction in which democrats are putting forward reasonable ideas like a three-month extension of unemployment, defeated. extending the middle class part of the bush tax cuts. defeated. the republicans are also arguing about the bush tax cuts. what the president was able to do in this negotiation was expand the board beyond just the
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bush tax cuts. the important stuff in this, in addition to preserving the tax cuts for middle class, are the obama tax cuts. you've got incentives for education, a new payroll tax cut for 155 million workers, earned income tax credit, investment incentives that are new, these are things which i think help the economy and all i would say to mr. brownstein who i respect a great deal is when they announce this package, it's not often that washington announces something that leads the private economic forecasters to come out and say we believe that gdp growth rate will be one-point higher. that's what they did. >> this is a tough question. the president and his economic team said in the first stimulus that the tax cut provisions were the least stimulative part of the package. i ask you if there's a change of philosophy here. >> which tax cuts? i don't believe the president
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doesn't believe that the high income tax cuts work. period. i don't think the evidence supports that. as i say that, it's a bitter pill to deal with. it's a compromise. by giving that one piece we were able to get a series of things that i think make a big difference to middle class and working families. >> what about 2012? we're going to make the case that tax cuts on upper earners don't make economic sense. what makes them think he can make a better case in 2012? do you think in an election year you won't see a vote in congress to extend these? >> the only argument being put forward by republicans why to extend them are as you come out of the deepest recession since 1929 we shouldn't affect anybody's taxes. in 2012 that's not going to be the circumstance. in 2012 i believe they will have to stand up and defend on their own merits that they think high end income tax cuts work and they will not be able to do that because they don't.
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the point was by giving on this one issue the president got more than twice as much than the size of those for his priorities that will help us grow our way out of this. >> let's talk about the broader context here talking about a jobs crisis. we're also talking about a debt crisis. this is what treasury secretary geithner said back in august about temporary extension of the tax cut for wealthiest americans in the country. this is what he said. >> the world is likely to view any temporary extension of the income tax cuts for the top two percent as a prelude to a long-term or permanent extension and that would hurt economic recovery by undermining confidence that we're prepared to make a commitment today to bring down our future deficits. >> you have a compromise here but isn't the secretary's warning already coming through? 80 hours after the president says the debt commission did great work to slash the deficit, within 80 hours he announce this is deal that adds a trillion dollars to the deficit and two-year extension to when
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prospects of reversing these is very difficult to imagine in an election year that congress wouldn't extend the tax cuts further. >> you got a couple questions embodied in that question. first adding to the deficit. the majority of that money is preventing taxes from rising in this recession. that's 500 plus billion of the total. there's 350 billion of new tax cuts that are on the obama program. i think it's a little bit different. i agree that's the downside. the president doesn't support -- if we were voting just on extending the high income tax cuts on their own, we would be 100% against it. they don't work. we've all been publicly stating for a long time that they don't. but by trading that we were able to get things that really matter for the economy. >> how can you show you're serious about long-term efforts to bring down the debt? >> that's the second part of your question and what i would
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emphasize there is the fiscal commission highlight that it is medium and long run fiscal consolidation and responsibility, which is their goal. you cannot reduce the deficit if the economy is not growing period. they each have made clear that the short run growth of the economy -- we should not be conflating it medium run deficit reduction with short run getting out of recession. >> that's not what secretary geithner made in august. >> i don't know that's true. >> the language is plain. >> i don't know what he said just before and after that. >> i didn't take it out of context. >> do not make high income tax cuts permanent. we can't afford to do that. there is risk. we'll fight that. in 2012 we would have been growing our way out of and tax cuts will have to stand on their own merits which they cannot. in the meantime by making that
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two-year trade, we got things on the obama priority list twice as much as what's in those high income tax cuts that are fundamentally important for the growth of the economy. >> is it a flaw that this compromise did not accompany long-term solutions to deal with the deficit? >> i don't know that we could sort out the entire long run solutions to the debt in if the 20 days that remain before hundreds of millions of americans are about to see their taxes go up. the president created the fiscal commission. believes that the medium and long run fiscal consolidaon that's required in the country is critically important. we have to sort that out in a way that is distinct from getting the economy growing, which is what we're going to do with this package. >> after two years when you hit that two-year mark of the extension, do you agree with peter that tax cuts for wealthy americans and middle class are unaffordable? >> i absolutely agree that the 700 billion you have to borrow
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to pay for the high income tax cuts is a mistake. that doesn't work. the president has called for extending the middle class part of the tax cuts permanently and i don't think you can balance the budget just on the backs of the middle class. that will not work. >> can we afford even middle class tax cuts? >> it depends on what other actions you take. it's clear that medium and long run fiscal challenge facing the country has to do with the rise of entitlement spending, they have to do with longer run imbalances that we created in the structure of the system. you can't just choose one thing and say can you afford this one piece unless you are looking at the whole package. that's why the president set up the commission. >> final question quickly. when do you think we'll see a meaningful reduction in the unemployment rate? >> well, as you know, the unemployment rate is influenced not just by how many jobs are created but also by people coming in from the out of the labor force status.
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there's an official forecast that the government puts out and we update it every six months. it's been better this year than it was forecast to be in february but it's not nearly enough. having private sector job growth for 11 months adding 1.2 million jobs is a good start but we've got to do much more. this tax deal according to private forecasters goes a long way to up the growth rate. that's why the president is for it. that's why he insisted -- >> it will bring down unemployment? >> i think it will. deepest hole since 1929. takes a while to get out of there. >> thank you very much. coming up next, the politics of the center. independent mayor of new york city michael bloomberg joins me exclusively to discuss the economy, washington and his own political future. then it's our political roundtable on bipartisanship and state of the president's relationship with his liberal base. democratic congressman anthony weiner, former congressman
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democrat harold ford, "wall street journal's" paul gigot and nbc's savannah guthrie.
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my exclusive interview with independent new york city mayor michael bloomberg. if washington is broken, could an independent candidate be the if washington is broken, could an independent candidate be the answer?
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we're back, joined by the mayor of new york city, michael bloomberg. welcome back. nice to have you. >> thank you for having me.
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>> you have heard the administration make its case. on the issue of tax cuts, i want to ask you, last time you were here, you were in favor of a temporary extension of the tax cuts, middle class, wealthy earners, but you thought it had to be pegged to long-term solutions as well, which is not the case in this compromise. are you disappointed with what's been accomplished? >> no. i think you should be encouraged. at least both sides of the aisle and both ends of pennsylvania avenue have finally come together to do something in a bipartisan way. i'm sure the president would have liked other things, but the real world of governing is to do what is possible and everybody getting something, nobody getting 100% of what they want. i view this as the first step. incidentally, the president did get some of the things he wanted, the extension of tax cuts that he was in favor of for business, and an extension of benefits for the unemployed. >> what about the debt? here we are were. last week, the president was talking about the debt. the debt commission's findings. within 80 hours, he is
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championing an agreement that adds $1 trillion to the debt. >> the bottom line is unless he does this, he's not going to get a chance to do the next step. you know, the president has got to get some of the other party to go along with him and he has to keep his own party in line. that's what leadership is all about. and you can't sit there and say i'm going to do everything at once. you'll never get anything done. he has made a step. he has opened the door. and i think now it's incumbent upon him to keep working together with the republicans and democrats and the next thing will be tougher, as you point out. it's easy to reduce taxes, very hard to reduce expenses. >> is there a concern that when, really, people look at this, this is a two-year extension. 2012. hard to believe a politician is not going to vote in an election year to extend tax cuts. does it send a signal that we're not serious about tackling the long-term debt picture? >> no. i think that's one of the ways he will have to try to get on the agenda. you have this commission, well-run commission, smart people. they come up with some ideas and then congress doesn't even want to consider them.
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that's disappointing. on the other hand, eventually, they're going to have to face some of these issues, because the chinese will stop buying our debt. we're going to get to the point where business has so little confidence they're not willing to expand. there's a lot of problems facing us down the road. some of these funds like social security running out of money, medicaid and medicare taking over the whole economy. whether you like it or not, there's going to be a point where you have to stop kicking the can down the road. and this president, his job is, to some extent, explain to the public why that's the case. it's going to require shared sacrifice. never easy to get sacrifice. but that's what leadership is all about. >> what about the impact on jobs. do you believe that tax cuts have an actual stimulative effect on the economy? >> i don't think there's any question they put more money in people's hands and i think that the public will do a better job with more money in their hands to stimulate the economy than you will do with government. >> economists say, especially
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wealthier americans, don't end up necessarily spending money that they keep through tax cuts. look at the effect of bush tax cuts, a decade of futility some call it if you look at the number of job created. >> number one, some of these things are not connected. they just happened to have happened at the same time. the more money you put in people's hands, the more they will spend. if they don't spend it, they invest it. and investing it is another way of creating jobs. it puts money into mutual funds or other kinds of banks that can go out and make loans and we need to do that. >> what about the president's leadership? you've had some observations about him, one of them in an interview with "gq," a portion of which i'll put up on the screen. the president, i think, needs some better advisers. he campaigns, i'm going to do a, and then he doesn't do it. now he's pissed off the supporters and the opponents. you go for it. does his agreement on this deal signal to you that he's going in a different direction?
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>> no, it signals he's going for it. >> he's going for it? >> yeah. he can't sit there and depend on ideology. his job is to lead and leadership is doing the possible and not sitting around waiting for the perfect. i start with the assumption that -- or with the belief that this president has to succeed. we all have an enormous amount of capital invested in his success. his success is the country's success. and whether you like him or not, whether you voted for him or not, you want to vote for somebody else, you'll have that opportunity in two years. but right now, we should all pull together. republicans and democrats both sides of the aisle, the public as well as the elected officials and make sure that this president is successful. >> how does he deal with an angry liberal base? >> he says, look, this is what i did. this is the best i can do. suck it up and let's get on with it. we have other things we can do together. this is not the only tough vote. this is not the only issue. whether you're a liberal or conservative, there are lots of other things that you probably feel the country should be doing and can do. >> the big question is whether
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our nation's leaders are making the tough choices, whether they're making the sacrifices to really make progress. you spoke about that this week in new york, about the gridlock in our politics. let me play a portion of that. >> as families struggle to get by, they have seen little but partisan gridlock, political pandering and legislative pandering and finger pointing, blame games and endless attacks. put simply, when it comes to creating jobs, government hasn't gotten the job done. >> to follow up on that, do you think we have the balance right between investment in the economy, innovation in our economy and the kind of austerity you've been talking about that is necessary to make tough choices about how much we are spending? >> no, i don't. i don't think we're focusing on innovation. if you go back and look at history, in 1816 or something like that, the erie canal was built. it opened the whole midwest.
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during the lincoln presidency, transcontinental railway opened the whole country up. henry ford in 1905 all of a sudden created factories and processes that could employ an awful lot of people. you go world war ii. world war ii did help the economy a little bit but the great thing that came out of it was the gi bill. for the first time, the average person could go to college. whether it's microchips, lasers or cell phones, the internet. each of these things are innovative things that have created new industry and we are not putting the kind of money into basic research that we used to do so that i don't know where the next thing is coming from. what's really worrisome is because of our immigration policy, our next great thing might be invented or developed elsewhere, not in our country. >> that raises the question of larry summers, the best thing you can do for economic recovery is to make sure you achieve rapid economic recovery before
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you get to the business of slashing the deficit. that doesn't seem to be where the politics is moving in washington or the voice of the electorate at the midterm. >> no, it doesn't. but i don't believe you need big stimulus things to get the economy going. i think there are things that don't cost very much money but would have a greater impact. number one, you have to build confidence. banks have money, but they're unwilling to make loans. companies have money. we're at a record amount of cash, an article in the paper the other day, in company's bank accounts that they are unwilling to spend on plans and new employees. we have to make sure people understand that this country is going to pull together. it's confidence more than anything else. if people have confidence, the consumer will start spending money. and that's the biggest single impediment to growth. >> what about tough choices? as you look at this landscape of spending, entitlements, other parts of the budget, immigration. what is a tough choice that you would support washington making now that moves the country forward? >> first thing is open the doors to those with the skills we need
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from around the world. i think the whole issue of what you do with 11 million undocumented, i feel very strongly, we should give them a path to citizenship. we cannot let those two issues, which are controversial and take some time to work out get in the way of right away starting to make sure anybody that gets a graduate degree in america from oversaturdays gates a green card attached to their diploma. that's the ways that we are going to keep going. all these other countries are trying to attract the best and the brightest and we're helping them. it's even worse. we're educating them, and then helping them. this is craziness. i call it national suicide. we have to go and get the immigrants here. first thing i would do is that. that doesn't cost any money. >> let's talk about politics. >> i'm shocked. >> shocked that we would get to that. let me show you the cover of "the new york post" about your speech. state of the union, presidential in quotes, mike leads riot act
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to d.c. goods picture. do you think an independent could be president? >> i don't know. i'm not going to run for president. i have a great job. i'll finish out my 1,100 whatever number of days it is left to go and leave the politics to the experts. >> do you think it's possible to scrap the two-party system in would you be in favor of that? >> the original founding fathers didn't seem to have an interest in party politics. i've worked hard for nonpartisan elections and i'll give a speech next week on nonpartisan redistricting. parties have a place, but party loyalty, i don't think, should get in the way of doing what you as an elected official believes what's right. i think that's what most of the public wants. >> you say you don't want to run for president, yet based on all my reporting, you're taking a series look at this, doing some calculations about whether this could be something that you could actually win. are you saying that you're not
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even looking at the possibility of running? >> no, i'm not looking at the possibility of running. i've got a great job. i am going to speak out on those things that affect new york city. that's my job. people would say, oh, you shouldn't be talking on a national level. well, we created 55,000 private sector jobs in new york in the last 12 months. that's much greater than the percentage we should create with our population, but we can't do everything without help from the federal government and our state government. and so i'm out there, talking about immigration, talking about regulation, talking about the president being out there, selling our products, all of these kinds of -- >> if advisers came to you and said, mr. mayor, we've taken a hard look at this. we think this could not just be a vanity plate but you could actually win this thing, would you change your mind? >> no. >> no way, no how? >> no way, no how. >> your supporters who create all this buzz should cease and desist? >> i don't think most of them create this buzz. yes, they should cease and desist. but most of this is just because the press wants to have something to write about. the bottom line is, i have a great job.
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i want to go out being -- having a reputation as a very good, maybe the greatest mayor ever. i'm lucky. i have three predecessors, giuliani, dinkins and koch who have been helpful in trying to make me a better mayor. >> you talked about the broken nature of our politics. let me show you that piece of it. >> despite what ideaologs on the left believe, government can't tax and spend its way back to prosperity, especially when that spending is driven by pork barrel politics. at the same time, despite what ideaologs on the right believe, government should not stand aside and wait for the business cycle to run its natural course. >> if somebody wants to influence the national dialogue, we've looked at this, sounds a lot like what candidate obama said in 2008. it's easy on the outside to say that kind of thing rhetorically. what makes you think or anybody else that believes what you believe could come in to be the president and roll congress and
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somehow do what the president has been able to do in terms of bridging that divide. said, federal and state government should do in new york at our level and i've been in office nine years now. new york city has done pretty well during that period of time. we've never had the deep recession other cities have had. we've recovered faster. >> the question is still how do you -- even a new york model, you're not dealing with congress. isn't it easier said than done to say from the outside, get in there and roll congress, tell the far left and the far right they're both irrational? >> there's no easy jobs in the world and particularly in the politically charged world that we live in, with the constant scrutiny of the press and the lack of funds to go ahead. but, you know, that's the job. and i think the president is capable of doing it and i think he is doing it. i don't think we give him enough credit. i have said he should go around the world and sell our products. he was in india. he negotiated a trade deal with korea, which i think will be
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great for our manufacturers, who will sell to korea, and great for the consumers, who will buy stuff from korea. i've said that he should get more business experience on -- in his advisers. why? i come from a business background. of course i would think that. you read the papers. roger altman, somebody i was told is being considered. he would be perfect. there are other people like that, who can give him a broader perspective and the perspective of somebody who has actually had to get up in the morning and sweep the floors before his employees came in and lock the door afterwards is experience that he should have himself or if he doesn't have it, get that other people have and they can tell him, what you're talking about theory. let me tell you the real world.
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unless you've done everything, what you don't know, you can't do. but can you have advisers to tell you. >> is cliff lee hopeful for the yankees? >> giuliani had a subway series. i had a world series, had a super bowl win, haven't had a subway series yet. >> we'll wait and see. mayor bloomberg, thanks as always. >> thanks for having me. >> up next, course correcting. after the mid terms, what does the president's tax deal with the republicans say about prospect for bipartisanship over the next two years and what damage will the deal do with the president's relationship with his liberal base. anthony weiner, former congressman from tennessee, democrat harold ford, from the wall street journal, paul gigot and savannah guthrie after this brief station break. i'm looking to save in insurance. don't want to deal with a lot of flibbity-flab or mumbo-jumbo.
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our roundtable. nbc news white house correspondent, co-host of msnbc's "the daily rundown," "wall street journal," paul gigot, democratic congressman from new york, anthony weiner and former congressman from tennessee, democrat harold ford. welcome to all of you. we talked about substance and impact on the economy. i want to talk about the politics of tax cuts this week and the president's difficulties with his liberal base. savannah guthrie, something extraordinary on friday. president clinton comes to meet with president obama. they meet privately, presumably
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to get some advice. and then a funny thing happens on the way to the exit. that is, they find their way into the briefing room. watching this scene unfold was great washington theater. here was a portion of it. >> i'm going to let him speak very briefly and then i actually have to go over and do some -- just one more christmas party. he may decide he wants to take some questions, but i want to make sure that you guys heard from him directly. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. president. first of all, i feel awkward being here. and now you're going to leave me all by myself. >> here is what i'll say. i've been keeping the first lady waiting for about half an hour. so, i'm going to take off. >> i don't want to make her mad. please go. >> you're in good hands. and gibbs will call last question. >> help me. thank you. >> what i love, savannah guthrie, is that i didn't sense
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the awkwardness that bill clinton felt or that he expressed. >> yes. >> what was behind that? and what good did it do? >> it may not surprise you, having watched that, but this was not something that was planned over the series of days. it was as ad hoc as they get. when the two presidents came down to the briefing room, it was locked. they were wandering around trying to get into the briefing room. ran into secretary gibbs and they said we're looking to talk to some reporters and he said give me five minutes. they had this meeting. it was long scheduled. the president called president clinton after the midterms to express his thanks for what he had done during the campaign. they scheduled this meeting. the white house wasn't 100% sure where president clinton stood on the tax deal. having met in the oval office 90 minutes, the two presidents died amongst themselves to come out and do this news conference. and i think especially in a week in which the left wing of the party was so disappointed with the president, to have this
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former president considered the most successful democratic president in modern history come out and ratify the deal, validate it, they felt -- >> he was speaking to you. you have been outspoken in your opposition to this tax compromise, and to have the president, the former president up there to synthesize the deal, this is what he said to opponents like yourself. >> look, if we had 5% growth and unemployment was dropping like a rock, maybe you could have the so-called mexican stand off and say it will be you, not me. the voters will hold responsible for raising taxes if they all go down next year. that is not the circumstance we face. >> his point this not the time to fight in the way that you want. >> since he preached at my wedding, i don't think -- he stood up and fought for the values of the democratic party, fought for what we cared for and
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the republican-led congress, the reason that the country came to a standstill with the government. many of us are saying we want the president to succeed. it's simply a question of this. in these times when the middle class is under so much pressure, when debt is approaching $14 billion -- trillion, can we really afford to give mm airs a $160 this tax cut? that's the big question here. i think now you saw mr. goolsbee, the president, even president clinton all agree that the answer is no. if that doesn't seem to be the fight we have in washington. >> in the end do you vote against this? >> i think the house of representatives on the democratic side said we won't go for this deal. we have to get something done to make sure taxes go down for the middle class and, two, it has to be done quickly. we're doing our job in congress. we're going to change this and hopefully the president will back us up as we try to take out the worst things that are in it. >> congressman, how do you feel? >> this position that anthony is taking is the one that was rejected on november 2nd. as much as i believe all taxes should go up on every american to some small extent, we're
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dealing with a different congress and a different reality. in comparison to president clinton when he lost in '94, remember, unemployment was not at 10%. the kind of whipping we took as democrats in the congress was not as large and as grave as it was a few weeks ago. i think the president should lean more into this agreement. we got everything we wanted. we got cuts for the middle class. we got payroll tax cuts. we got an acceleration of tax cuts for business and even had extended some of the other tax cuts the president wanted and in addition, 13 months of unemployment compensation. the only thing that we added was the cuts for the top earners, less than a quarter of the spending. if you look at the bulk of the spending, additional debt spending here, the majority is for the middle class cuts, which i support. if we had 65 votes in the senate, 300 in the house, i think anthony's point would be the one that is followed. president clinton said it very well. this is no time for a mexican standoff. challenges we face are grave. the agreement reached by this
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president and republican sincere is a good one. it could have been worse. >> the question is, to you, does this signal an actual shift in the president's philosophy of what's going to make the economy work again? >> they're saying no, no shift. however, it is a shift. i love the symbolism of two democratic presidents, not one, but two, endorsing bush tax cuts, saying we need them to help the economy. the president is implicitly admitting that tax rates matter after a couple of years as you showed in the conversation with goolsbee and geithner said they don't matter. yes, they do matter. tax cuts matter more for growth than spending. and it makes you wonder, why didn't they do this two years ago? >> you heard from mayor bloomberg, the left the president should say suck it up, take the longer view here. i gather that doesn't sit well with you. >> no, look, it depends what your philosophy is. i'm not a member of the tail between my legs democratic party. i believe we fight for the things we care about.
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>> do you think the president is -- >> here is what i will say. this is not a fringe element of the debate going on the last ten years. this is the crux of it. the middle class is getting crushed while the well to do have done remarkably well. i did math on a back of an envelope on the way in. 3% of the beneficiaries of the tax cuts will get 38% of the tax. it's just not fair. something else. you cannot say you are concerned about the deficit and support giving giant tax cuts on the estates of billionaires or giant tax cuts to millionaires. it's inconsistent. you fight for the values. today, with a mantle in the house, majority in the senate and we control the presidency and we're acting like we have a weak hand. we have the right side of the issues and the numbers and i don't know -- >> it's the question of timing. why it is the president put himself in this position to have to negotiate out of such weakness. what's going to be different in 2012, another political year, to make him think he will prevail in this argument? >> you heard austan goolsbee
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make the argument, the economy will be in a better position. they are banking everything on that because they think they'll say now we can afford to see those tax rates rise on the wealthiest americans. one of the most potent arguments against letting those wealthiest americans tax cuts expire. republican side is that it will imperil the recovery. i don't think the president has backed off his position of being against the tax cuts, rolling back the tax cuts of the wealthiest. the point is he's staring at the barrel of a gun. the tax rates are going up in january and he's not going to take that gamble. that's why he made this deal. the question is, six months ago, why didn't democrats in the house force this issue? why didn't they make it a campaign issue as some liberal members of the caucus wanted to? >> democrats probably should have done that. i supported them doing that. paul, in fairness, you wrote a great editorial. it was funny in some ways, saying president bush should have been on the panel up there with president obama rather than clinton.
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one of the realities of the mess that we're in we passed the medicare prescription drug plan without paying for it which president bush did. we're fighting two wars. we have not paid for them. as much as they are noble causes, i think we'll have a strategic assessment on whether or not afghanistan should continue but president obama has a unique opportunity to reduce the debt. i hope "the wall street journal" and others will ask the paul ryans of the world to support responsible tax increases and responsible spending cuts. you cannot be for just cutting spending and not raising taxes at some level. this president might have had a stronger hand if he said we're going to raise taxes on everybody and i'm going to stand firm. since he chose not to do it, which i'm glad he did not, i think it's the right thing to do and anthony and others will come around. >> what about to peter orszag's point that all of these tax cuts are unaffordable and in two years they should go away? >> i don't agree with that. i would love to see a larger tax
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reform. all this deal really does is extend the status quo. so, that's not terrific. it's going to help avoid a huge hit to the economy in 2011. that's good, but i would love to see a larger reform. maybe both parties can get together on that and that's the kind of debate we'll be having going into 2012. >> i'm going to take a break and come back and ask two very pointed questions. is there something of a war between the president and the left, given his comments this weekend? and what does this deal say in [ female announcer ] imagine the possibilities with stelara®.
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we're back with more from our roundtable, because they just keep talking during the break. you have to hear all of this. congressman weiner, to hear the president talk, and he talked about the criticism of the left, he said it felt like a return to the debate on health care. he said i could have stuck to my
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guns on that and then we wouldn't have had health care reformat all. listen to how he put it. >> so this notion that somehow, you know, we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate we had during health care. this is the public option debate all over again and we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the american people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. >> that's his view. congress this week, you were leading a chant that says no, we can't. not yes, we can. this is a real standoff. >> first off, i wasn't lead negative such chant. let me say this. the president needs to understand that the critique he gets from his base and supporters that wants had imto succeed is different from mitch mcconnell. it feels like the public option.
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had he fought harder for that, we would have had it. the president needs to understand an enormous number of us are waiting to be called to have this competition of ideas. we really need to have this contest. look, he made a deal. it doesn't necessarily mean it's a great one. we in congress have it. we're trying to improve upon it. we're on his teep. when he calls us sanctimonious and says it's like past debates, the only reason it's like past debates, we still want him to be the president we elected. we will help him do that. if he digs in, he will find the american people supportive and we, his supporters, will rally to his side. >> was this a moment to go back to the clinton era for president obama to stand up to the base? >> i think he's standing up for americans and standing up for jobs. i like anthony and respect him a lot. to suggest that the president doesn't fight a lot, we had a fight a outcome on november 2nd. he has fought and fought and fought and given the democrats
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in congress the ball to run every time. unfortunately the american people, whether it's a communications problem -- i don't think it is. it's hard to communicate effectively with 9.8% unemployment and have people rally around you. the president's move last week was an important move for the american people. if at the end of the day unemployment begins to drop by a quarter point, every democrat, including anthony, will say this is the right thing to do. >> what does it say about how this president wants to do business in washington over the next couple of years? >> what's fascinating about this, i don't know that there was a ton of strategy going into this. i think it was dictated by circumstances. they had to make a deal. they felt they had to. perhaps it was to draw out the partisan on both sides and stake out this middle ground. the news conference on tuesday was so remarkable in the sense that it seems to me to be the most authentic view of president obama we've seen. this seem to be the closest approximation of the man behind closed doors being forceful and
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compelling, but interestingly, all that fight, all that vim and vigor was directed to the left of his own party and you can see he's incredibly frustrated by that. it's like republicans, i expect them to oppose me, but why aren't the left in my own party supporting me when i've been out there. >> washington post, columnist who the white house apparently lo loves now, he wrote the following, which is much more complimentary of obama and where he is going the next couple of years. he writes this, a great cost that will have to be paid after this newest free lunch, the package will add as afternoon as 1% to gdp and lower the unemployment rate by about 1.5 percentage points that could easily be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012. obama is no file. while getting republicans to boost his own reflection chances, he gets them to make a
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mockery of their newfound, second chance, post bush, tea party, this time we're serious persona of debt averse fiscal responsibility. >> i don't think it will be that great a stimulus but the economy has momentum. this assures we won't stop that momentum and send the country back into recession. it will help, no question. it also helps republicans, though, honor a campaign promise. they get to do that. a lot of republicans who aren't thrilled with this deal because they had to give up a lot and they would love to see the house democrats defeat this. because they'll come back in january and say we'll clean up the mess. you'll be responsible for tax increases. we'll get a better deal for our voters. >> the only things that republicans really wanted coming out of this campaign -- we know what they're against, health care and a lot of things democrats did the last couple of years. the only things they wanted, they got them. the estate tax, that's where the leverage was for the president on that. we gave away that and then some. >> you needed to do that in
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order to get some of the other -- >> every economist that the president roll out and supported this plan, every one of them said the tax cuts on the estate tax and upper bracket do virtually zero. those were the giveaways to the republicans. when did the fight happen, full throttle fight happened? harold is 100% wrong if you think it happened during the campaign. between the time of the state of the union and the election, this, our primary point of difference with the republicans, the priorities. we defend the middle class. they defend the rich. >> your position was defeated roundly november 2nd. i'm a democrat, proud democrat. more importantly, i'm a proud american. the president, for the first time in the eyes of many americans, particularly independents who voted for him, said we're going to strike a deal. i got everything i wanted. i don't know if anything in this tax bill that we didn't get that
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a democrat wanted. if we gained 60 seats, he wouldn't have to be here. there would be a huge broad agreement. the reality is that big winners yesterday, the day before, the day before that are the american people because government is working. >> has the president redefined himself? is there a pragmatism? >> aides say he has always been this guy. >> not always seen. >> right. on the left, they liked edwards. that was their candidate not barack obama. but when he became the nominee, people say he protected -- he is the man that he has been, pragmatist and that's the obama you will see. we want to take a moment to remember elizabeth edwards who was laid to rest yesterday next to her late son, wade, before hundreds of mourners. she was praised for her strength, wit and