Left hook. Voters fight back against the budget. New signs GOP budget triggering backlash.

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CENK UYGUR, HOST: Good evening. I‘m Cenk Uygur. And we‘ve got a lovely Friday show for you guys today.

In fact, tonight, the left has started fighting back. From local town hall events to the president, it‘s on.

President Obama did his part by continuing to pound Republicans who want to give tax breaks to the rich and make the poor and the middle class pay the bill.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don‘t want my tax cut paid for by cutting children from Head Start, or doing away with health insurance for millions of people on Medicaid, for seniors in nursing homes or poor children, or families that have a disabled child. I don‘t want to make that tradeoff.


UYGUR: Those are good fighting words. All right. Here we go.

And now the simmering outrage is also beginning to boil over at local events. Every day we‘re getting new reports of Republican lawmakers getting grilled by voters in their home districts over plans to privatize Medicare and, of course, on their plans to reduce taxes for the risk.

Now, check out what happened to Congressman Sean Duffy.


REP. SEAN DUFFY ®, WISCONSIN: I don‘t want to penalize businesses. I want to encourage them to come here and set up shop and put our people to work. That‘s what I want to do. And if you penalize them by way of mandates and manipulations—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making them pay their fair share? The Ryan budget proposes to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

DUFFY: No, it doesn‘t.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that‘s what my understanding is—that‘s what it is.


UYGUR: And for the record, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office agrees with the informed constituent there, not the congressman. That is what the Ryan plan does.

Now, here‘s another Republican on his heels over Ryan‘s plan, Congressman Patrick Meehan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you voted to abolish Medicare, how do you explain that to people who are in their 50s, who are out of work, that they will have not the Medicare that I have?

REP. PATRICK MEEHAN ®, PENNSYLVANIA: You said in your comment that I voted to abolish Medicare. And that‘s factually wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, how is that wrong?

MEEHAN: Ma‘am, let me answer the question and then I‘ll talk to you.

Thank you.


MEEHAN: I voted for the Ryan plan.


UYGUR: By the way, guess who said he didn‘t vote—wouldn‘t vote for the Ryan plan just a few months ago during the campaign season? Of course, Patrick Meehan.


MEEHAN: That‘s the agenda I‘m not voting for. That‘s the first and most important thing.


UYGUR: Oops, except when he did vote for it. I love that his constituents are now holding him accountable.

Now, back to the action, a town hall held by Republican Lou Barletta this week also got out of hand.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take the tax cuts that were given to the wealthy two percent —


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: — and put it in Medicare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with her. And you know what? Why don‘t you tell me to sit down?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She‘s an American citizen.



UYGUR: There‘s a lot of shut up and sit downs in there. It‘s getting heated.

And if all that wasn‘t enough, this week, Paul Ryan, the actual architect, was booed by his own constituents for resisting raising taxes on the rich.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to lower spending, but it‘s a matter of, there‘s not wrong with taxing the top because it does not trickle down.

REP. Paul RYAN ®, WISCONSIN: We do tax the top.



UYGUR: I never tire of that.

And finally, how is this for a direct message? At a town hall meeting for New Hampshire Republican Charlie Bass, a voter said, point blank, “I like Medicare the way it is. Don‘t screw it up.”

You know what? That about sums it up.

So, joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott, Democrat from Washington, and a member of the Progressive Caucus.

Congressman, it looks like the Republicans have a little role reversal here. They loved it when you guys were getting attacks at the town halls. All of a sudden, when they‘re on their heels, they‘re like, “What?” Did you notice some of the annoyed looks on the faces there? They‘re like, what are you doing questioning me?

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Well, I think they never guessed, Cenk, that they couldn‘t keep selling this program and that the people would wake up and figure out what was behind it, that there was really a voucher plan behind it all, and that they were going to wind up out there with a program that didn‘t cover what they needed when they were sick. The people have figured it out, and they are not going to sit still for it, and the Republican plan is doomed. Even though all of them drank the Kool-Aid and went out and voted for it, they are doomed on that issue.

UYGUR: I love one of the women at one of those events when the other people started yelling at her. The congressman told her, hey, listen don‘t worry about it. For people above 55, this isn‘t going to apply anyway. She‘s like, well, how about my kids and my grandkids? So why are you going to take their Medicare away?

It seems like that‘s their big strategy, is to say, don‘t worry, senior citizens, we‘re only harming other people that you know, not you.

MCDERMOTT: That‘s exactly what it is. If you‘re over 55, you‘re on a free ride to the end of your life, but anybody behind you, well, they‘re going to get this voucher system that is not going to pay for what they need.

And they think that somehow seniors are so selfish and so into their own thing, that they don‘t care about their own children or their own grandchildren. They couldn‘t be more mistaken.

It was the most—it was the biggest mistake I have ever seen any political party make, thinking that they could divide seniors from their family and say, hey, don‘t worry about your grandchildren or your son and daughter. It just was stupid.

UYGUR: All right. Now, Congressman, I‘m worried about the substance, though, because right now, as we‘re having these town hall events and the president is speaking very forcefully on the road, there‘s movement afoot in Congress over a CAP Act. Now, the CAP Act would cap the amount of spending we could have, and it wouldn‘t touch taxes at all, which gives the Republicans a huge advantage.

Is that a bad idea to be negotiating on their terms?

MCDERMOTT: Well, what we should be deciding in this country is what we need to take care of the needs of is the people of this country, and then find out where the revenue is to do that. Now, the president has suggested that we should start taxing billionaires and millionaires to help pay for what this country needs. And to put a cap on it and say, well, we can‘t touch any taxes is simply not realistic.

The president is telling the truth, and the American people know it. They know that billionaires who got big tax breaks did not need it, did not deserve it, and are not paying their way.

UYGUR: Now, the president has a different plan, but do we have a sense in Congress of which way it‘s going to do? Because of course, the Republicans are immediately claiming the CAP Act is bipartisan and we shouldn‘t touch taxes.

Is it likely to go in that direction, or is it likely to go in the president‘s planned direction instead?

MCDERMOTT: I think we‘re going to have to go in the president‘s direction. There has to be a combination of judicious cuts, things that make sense. There are places in the Defense Department and other places where we can make cuts, but there must be some additional revenue.

And it‘s got to come from the people at the top of the pile. Millionaires do not need to have every dime they‘re having. They should be sharing it with some of the people at the bottom, making sure that ordinary people can make a living and can take care of their children.

UYGUR: All right, Congressman. Last quick question for you. If the CAP Act is the final solution here as we get closer to the debt ceiling, is that a failure for Democrats?

MCDERMOTT: Well, I‘m not going to make a judgment that that‘s what‘s going to be the resolution. I think we‘re going to find a way to get a clean raising of the debt limit and deal with the budget down the road.

I think that the president just has to be firm and say, I only want a clean raising of the debt limit, don‘t tie all these other issues on it, because that‘s not—we don‘t need to threaten the world market, we don‘t need to disturb our own currency.

UYGUR: All right. I hear you. You know, I hope he stays strong on that. I hope the crowds are encouraging him in the right direction.

Congressman Jim McDermott, thank you for joining us tonight.

MCDERMOTT: You‘re welcome.

UYGUR: All right.

Now I want to bring in MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.

Richard, let‘s go back to the town hall events for a second. I know back in 2009, et cetera, that there were a lot of these town hall events where the right was very angry. I want to show you a little clip of that first, and then we‘ll come back and talk about it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I am leaving. I have every right to leave.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the Obama administration has already started to restore trust in health care—


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Beg your pardon? You don‘t trust me?


UYGUR: All right. Now, how organized was that stuff compared to what‘s happening today?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it was a combination of things, but there was serious organization behind it. We know for a fact that Freedom Works, Dick Armey‘s group, which has extensive ties to corporate America, and especially the health care industry as well—one of its board members has long-standing ties to the health care industry—

Freedom Works was talking about Astroturfing this idea that you pretend to have a grassroots operation and involved in organization, too. But it was very fertile ground for Republicans, because they had so many fears of, ironically, corporate America, and also of these big government plans that they thought the president was behind.

Of course, you know, this is very different. There has been organization behind some of these protests just as there was behind Social Security protests, when President Bush tried to reform that. But you‘re looking at a very different operation here.

You‘re looking at a situation where over 70 percent of the population does not agree with the Republican position either on taxes or on Medicare. So if the Republican organization was dealing with something that their supporters wanted, here you‘re in a situation where it‘s not just Democrats who agree with the president‘s position, the Democratic position. Independents and a substantial number of Republicans do, too.

So you don‘t need to organize them in the same way.

UYGUR: Right. But it wouldn‘t hurt. I mean, that‘s the thing.

I‘m seeing all these events, and it‘s one or two people—it looks like in New Hampshire, God, there were people who voted for McCain, people who voted for Obama. They come together and they‘re mad that their Medicare might get taken away. But on the other hand, if progressives organize them a little bit, that might help.

WOLFFE: Yes, it would help. And I think that‘s going to develop as well.

You are already seeing the traction both from elected officials and from some of these interest groups. There are people organizing right now.

This isn‘t going to end right now. I mean, remember, it‘s easy to look back on the health care protests and think they suddenly emerged out of nothing. They group over time as Republicans, as the Republican media found that they could fuel these things, people could appear on TV and get coverage for it. They picked up their own steam, and I think we‘re going to see the same through the next several months, if not the next year or so, as we debate this whole Republican package.

UYGUR: All right. Now, speaking of the package, I do want to ask you again about the CAP Act. We talked to Congressman McDermott about that. That seems to be what the Republicans are pushing, which would be a hard cap on spending.

So, if they reach that cap, they‘ve got to cut everything. They‘ve got to cut regular spending, Medicare, entitlements, Social Security, et cetera. And they don‘t touch taxes at all.

That seems like a huge Republican win. Right now there‘s reporting from Washington that the Democrats are considering that.

Is that crazy talk, to consider that?

WOLFFE: Well, I think you have got to look—ironically, you showed a clip there of Claire McCaskill from Missouri. She‘s been talking about spending caps as well.

The question is, what kind caps, how far do they extend? And do they really have to throw this out right now?

If you listen to the president, the reason he‘s taking on Republicans on the debt ceiling so hard here is because they know Republicans are going to blink. They know that corporate backers—they know that John Boehner has said the debt ceiling will be raised. And even if they adopt Ryan‘s plan today, they‘re going to have to raise the debt ceiling anyway.

It‘s going to be raised, so why give up so much now? But could spending caps be out there in some form now or in the next year or two? Yes, probably, if there are enough senators in the middle like McCaskill who want this to happen. There isn‘t that big a Democratic majority to hold it back.

UYGUR: You‘re right, McCaskill is one of the sponsors, but it‘s a terrible idea. You‘re right, they‘ve got them on the ropes, and the corporate guys—

WOLFFE: Don‘t have to give it up now.

UYGUR: — are never going to let the Republicans not raise the debt ceiling. So don‘t do it. Don‘t—I always want to ask them, don‘t do it, please don‘t do it, it doesn‘t make sense.

All right. Richard Wolffe, great analysis. Thank you for joining us.

WOLFFE: You bet, Cenk.


About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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