CENK UYGUR, HOST: Welcome to the show, everybody.
We start with some disastrous news for the Republicans. As they stick with their Tea Party base, the numbers are not good. And a new CNN/Opinion Research poll has found that 47 percent of people have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party movement. That‘s up from four points from December and 21 points from last January. And that is a disaster for the Tea Party.
You know what‘s happening? People are actually looking at the Tea Party and going, oh, that‘s what they stand for. OK, well, I got no interest in that.
But nonetheless, the Republican Party has said, I‘m with those guys, those guys rock. And they are totally affecting the so-called budget negotiations we‘re having right now. Look, we‘re having the wrong conversation in the first place, OK?
Here‘s how the conversation went—all right, we‘re going to give giant tax cuts, over $800 billion in tax cuts, and then we‘re going to have a conversation about how we‘re going to cut spending.
Well, that‘s a Republican conversation. We shouldn‘t be having that conversation in the first place. But, of course, as always, the Democrats agreed to it.
.Now, the only question that remains is: how much are we going to agree with the Republicans?
So, in that regard, let‘s look at how, again, the so-called “negotiations” have gone so far. Oh, we‘ve got a new graphic—fun for everybody.
OK. In the beginning, Barack Obama gives away basically $40 billion from his 2011 budget proposal. You see, the car moved a little bit, or whatever that thing is. It‘s an arrow, it moved. OK, you see it‘s going through, it‘s a roadblock.
And then we had a continuing resolution that said that, hey, you know what? We‘re going to cut $4 billion more. And we had another continuing resolution for another three weeks that said we‘re going to cut $6 billion. There it is. It‘s going and going and going. Still, the roadblock has not moved at all.
And now, we just found out recently, the Republicans have offered—
I‘m sorry, the Democrats—of course, the Republicans offer nothing—the Democrats offered another $20 billion.
And where have the Republicans gone all this time? Nowhere!
OK. And you know what happens today? Now, there‘s talk of the Democrats offering another $6 billion in cuts.
Will you—for the love of God—stop already! OK. Look—but it doesn‘t look like they‘re ever going to stop.
And everybody sees like this as a loss for the Republicans somehow. Sometimes, I can‘t understand Washington conventional wisdom. They‘re like, do you know, that they‘re fighting amongst themselves. Now, they‘re patting exactly where they were.
I‘m going to give another fact. Do you know when all this started? You forget the original $40 billion—the Republicans said that they wanted $32 billion in concessions. They‘re already at $30 billion in concessions from the Democrats. And it may jump out to $36 billion in concessions. They‘re massively winning.
But, finally, the Democrats have gotten a little tougher and they looked at that poll and they‘re like, whoa, the Tea Party is unpopular. Time to hit them.
So, here‘s what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had to say about the Tea Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The country doesn‘t care much about the Tea Party. The people who care about the Tea Party are a very small number who care about them positively.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: And he laid the smackdown. That‘s as tough as Reid gets.
The country doesn‘t care about the Tea Party. Go get them, Harry!
All right. Now, “The Washington Post” is reporting that Republican leaders are talking to Blue Dog Democrats to get a budget compromise before next week. Maybe they saw those polls after all. Is this the beginning of a tiny, itsy-bitsy, little-bitty, this much compromise? Maybe.
Senator Reid said yesterday the Republicans were willing to move down to $36 billion in cuts from their original $61 billion. Are they not merciful?
But, so far, there‘s been no public commitment on that from the GOP. Though Eric Cantor digging his heels this morning, saying that for some reason, the House is going to hold another vote this Friday on the budget bill that they already passed. Here‘s how he explained it:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: This week, again, we will act. On Friday, we will bring to the floor the government prevention—excuse me, the prevention of government shutdown act. And that will say to the American people the Senate‘s got to act prior to the expiration of the C.R. If it does not act, H.R.1 becomes the law of the land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That is wildly and comically wrong. A bill does not become the law of the land if the House simply passed it twice. That was weirdly wrong. Was that a slip of the tongue or does Cantor have no idea how our system of government works?
Has he even watched Saturday morning cartoons? That even tells you how a bill becomes a law. It‘s not like hey, you know what, if the House passed it and the Senate doesn‘t, and the House votes again! No, that‘s not how the system works.
But, unfortunately, that is the Republican vision of America. If the GOP insists hard enough, their proposals should just become the law.
All right. Joining me now to talk about all this is Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington.
Congressman, you know, I think—as you just heard, I think we‘re having the wrong conversation in the first place. So, I‘m going to keep it real from you right from the get-go. Whose fault is it that we are seeing a tiny little compromise on how much we cut spending from Republicans as a victory, instead of the gigantic loss which I think it is?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Well, I think the president and the Democrats never should have agreed to extending the Bush tax cuts for my extended period of time at all. We made the deficit worse at that point.
What we‘re doing now with the Tea Party, these are a group of people elected not to govern, not to understand government, not to figure out how it works—but simply to come in here and tear it apart. And what you‘re going to see when we have a government shutdown here in a week or so that, like children, they‘re going to find out that what they‘ve been told that government has a role and a responsibility, they‘re going to find out that the American people are really going to be angry when they can‘t get into their national parks, they can‘t get into their museums, they can‘t get their passports, they can‘t get all the myriad of services that they get from government.
The Tea Party would have you believe that public servants do no good, no place, no time, and we could do without all of them. And that‘s simply not true and we‘re going to find out very shortly because we‘re going to hit the wall.
UYGUR: So, Congressman, let me ask you, you seem like you‘re pretty sure there‘s going to be a shutdown. I mean, there‘s talk about how Boehner is reaching out to the Blue Dog Democrats and you might strike a deal with them. Do you think there‘s going to be a compromise? Or do you think we‘re definitely headed towards a shutdown?
MCDERMOTT: Well, Mr. Boehner has a terrible problem. He‘s got 85 people in his caucus who simply just don‘t understand what this is about. They are neophytes, all of them. They think they know everything. They‘re just like little kids who think they know how things work and they don‘t.
So, Boehner‘s now got to lead them by the side of the road and reach over to the Democrats, and, ultimately, when he puts together—he‘ll say, well, I‘ve got a bipartisan proposal. But it won‘t go through the Senate. So, then, they‘re going to try and blame it on the Senate. The Senate Democrats killed the bipartisan agreement from the House. I think we are headed for a terrible mess here in the next few days.
UYGUR: Yes. Look, if the Democrats lose that public relations battle, I‘m going to lose my mind. I mean, right now, you‘ve got Cantor, you saw him in that clip. And you‘ve got all these guys saying it‘s the Democrats‘ fault, they‘re the ones who are going to force the shutdown. That seems mental to me. But, of course, most of the Washington media takes it seriously.
How do you fight back against that?
MCDERMOTT: Well, Mr. Cantor has been running the Republican follies in the House now for 13 weeks. You know, we read the Constitution and we‘ve done—we passed all kinds of silly bills that had no impact. We haven‘t passed a single bill related to a job.
And then he comes out here and says if the House tosses this bill, it will become law. Well, we have to explain to him how a bill has to pass both houses of Congress before it can be presented to the president. He doesn‘t even understand the basic mechanisms of government. It really is a classic farce going on in the Republican caucus.
UYGUR: But, Congressman McDermott, let me challenge you on one
premise. You know, you‘re saying that the Tea Party guys are kids and they
don‘t get it, et cetera. But hasn‘t that intransigence worked? I mean,
like I said, initially the Republicans just wanted $32 billion in cuts, the
Tea Party forced them to $61 billion, and the Democrats—for some reason
went along and now it looks like they‘re going to get more than $32 billion in cuts.
So, didn‘t the Tea Party‘s stance in some way work? And didn‘t the Democrats enable it by constantly compromising and not drawing the line?
MCDERMOTT: You know, I‘m a child psychiatrist and I‘ve dealt with children my whole life. And there comes a point in which you tell a child, don‘t do that, it‘s going to hurt you. And you say, don‘t do that, it‘s going to hurt you. Don‘t do that, it‘s going to hurt you. Ultimately, they get hurt and then they cry and say, you know. Well, that‘s what you‘re going to hear around here when the Republican Tea Party people actually get what they‘re wishing for, because you cannot run government on two weeks at a time.
Nobody in business runs two weeks at a time. Nothing in the world works two weeks at a time. And they are simply strangling the economy and destroying the job opportunities for their own people and the people back home know it. And you‘re going to start to see the reaction. You‘re seeing it in the polls you‘ve already shown.
I think it‘s only a matter of time before the people get on to them.
UYGUR: All right. Congressman Jim McDermott, thank you for your time this evening. We appreciate it.
MCDERMOTT: You‘re welcome.
UYGUR: All right. Now, let me bring in MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.
Richard, let me ask you this first. You know, you cover the White House extensively. So, what is the White House plan? Are they planning to just give more and more and more concessions on the hope the Republicans will move at some point? Or do they have a bottom line? Is there a line in the sand anywhere?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Sure, there‘s a line in the sand. What they want to do is come out with something in the middle and show that they‘re reasonable. In fact, what they want to do more than that and the numbers can get dizzying because, remember, we‘re halfway through this current year and there would be various compromises along the way in terms of cuts.
But what they really want to do beyond the numbers is explore the different ways the Republicans are fracturing here. You‘re seeing them already moving towards negotiating directly with the Democrats, with the White House. There‘s some kind of intermediary here. You‘ve got Boehner‘s staff is talking to Reid‘s staff.
And this whole Tea Party dynamic, combined with the presidential dynamic that you‘re seeing on the Republican side, is a new playing field for this White House. It‘s such a different prospect from what they had for the last two years. That‘s where you saw real intransigents on the Republican side and it was very effective. It‘s not just the same kind of politics anymore and I think the White House is exploring this.
The results, of course, do mean cuts, and they‘re going to be painful cuts. But the politics does look different and that provides different opportunities for the White House, too.
UYGUR: Well, Richard, help me out on that—walk me through that, because right now, it looks like they gave the Republicans the tax cuts that they want, and now, they‘re giving a giant portion of the spending cuts they want—it‘s still not enough, but they‘re negotiating over that.
So, where does the wind come in? Like talk to me about the politics. Like people talk, oh, the Republicans are fracturing, and?
WOLFFE: Well, and the big momentum they had in the last election came from this grassroots support, which is about to be massively disappointed. You can say that they‘ve got everything they want, but that‘s not how they view it because they‘re not going to come up with the $100 billion of cuts that they wanted. And, remember, you‘re going to have to go through all of this all over again when it comes to the debt ceiling and next year‘s budget which the president unveiled earlier this year.
So, this is a rolling pain for the Republican leadership. And that‘s just the internal dynamic for Republicans. You know, there are serious budget discussions, deficit discussions that both parties want to have.
For the president, looking for re-election—yes, he‘s had to concede stuff, but he was elected to bring red and blue America together. The more he‘s drifted away from that, the worse it has got for him among independent voters. For him to be able to say he‘s the man of compromise, you many not have liked the tax cut deal, but actually, voters—especially, independents—really liked it.
UYGUR: Well, Richard—
WOLFFE: That‘s going to be his path for 2012.
UYGUR: I‘m going to respectfully disagree with you. I want to show you two polls here and get your thoughts. New polls out on President Obama and now, his disapproval rating is up to 48 percent and his approval is only 42 percent. Well, that‘s disastrous.
And then when you ask, does he deserve another term? Fifty percent say no, he does not. And only 41 percent say he does. Also disastrous.
Here‘s my theory, Richard, it‘s that President Obama wins a lot of short-term battles by appearing to be reasonable and compromising, et cetera. So, people go, oh, yes, that‘s reasonable. OK, I get it, I get it, I like him.
But in the long-term, he never makes his own case. He keeps agreeing with the Republicans, agreeing, agreeing, agreeing. And at the end, in the long-term, you look at him and you go, why do I approve of this guy? I guess I don‘t.
WOLFFE: Well, you picked up one poll today and I can show you the Gallup poll today which actually flips those numbers around. He‘s still within this range. The only time he‘s really broken out of it is when he got all the stuff done in the lame duck session at the end of last year.
So, I actually don‘t think that—it may have been a temporary win for him, but pulling back those independent voters, that has been the big dynamic in the last two years against him. That‘s why Democrats are struggling and the bigger issue for him is the underlying problem in the economy.
You can make any number of different compromises in Washington. You can look reasonable. But people don‘t think it‘s working unless they see the economy and especially jobs come roaring back. So—
UYGUR: That‘s definitely true.
WOLFFE: That‘s why it‘s temporary.
UYGUR: No, that‘s definitely true. But the problem is, if you agree to spending cuts, you‘re probably going to have job losses, not job gains. So, that doesn‘t seem politically smart either. But I know I‘m tough on the president. Maybe he knows better than I do. Hey, he‘s president, right?
WOLFFE: He got elected. That‘s right (ph).
UYGUR: All right, Richard Wolffe, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.
WOLFFE: Thanks, Cenk.