The Power Panel: What’s the Deal on Medicare? Will Democrats Cave on Medicare? Cenk Uygur MSNBC Live TV May 25, 2011 video and transcript

Joining me now is our power panel. I love this. With me is Alex Wagner, reporter for the Huffington Post and MSNBC analyst. very powerful.

Ari Berman from the Nation and author of “Herding Donkeys: the Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party.” and Simon Rosenberg, founder of the New Democrat Network. Yesterday Vice President Biden signaled that such big-ticket items as entitlements might take a hit.

I made it clear today that revenuing will have to be in the deal. Everybody knows at the end of the day we’re going to have to make some really tough decisions on some of the big-ticket items, but I think we’re in a position where we will be able to get to well above the trillion dollars pretty quick in terms of what would be a down payment on the process.

Alex, i’m going to start with you. First, does this indicate that we have not actually done any tax increases yet, that the revenue side is not on the table yet, the whole trillion is in spending cuts?

This is — this is the Democrats’ efforts to get some skin in the game on the question of entitlements, but fundamentally it’s to get the Republicans to the table on tax increases. You know, the Republicans have been pretty masterful in terms of framing this debate and getting the Democrats to say we’ve got to tackle the Medicare. For a long time the White House said entitlement programs are not an immediate threat to the economy. They have changed course on that, but given the manna from heaven, there’s no way they’ll get close to attacking the problems in the same way.

I know, not in the same way. Look at what Democratic House Minority Steny Hoyer from Maryland said, I have said it over and over again, everything needs to be on the table. Isn’t that going to totally blow their advantage that they just got and we had evidence of in the 26th district race?

We’re clearly in the early stages of these negotiations. I think as Alex said, one of the most interesting things is how can there be any negotiations if the Republicans are saying that revenue increases are off the table? There’s no way to have a serious conversation about reducing the deficit unless there’s substantial new revenue into the government.

Look, i know, they’re tough guys and always want to say, we’ll never raise taxes. I get that, but how about our side? When you talk about progressives, saying, hey, we should cut medicare, does that make any sense given what’s happened?

I think the deal that the Democrats strike this year includes large substantial cuts, as opposed to reforming that will save monies, and I think these are different things. I think there’s — i think if there are cuts, as opposed to modernization, I think it could be trouble in the Democratic base.

Ari, is there a real difference between cuts and reform of medicare?

Well, there could be. There could be, for example, letting an independent advisory board address this issue or there could be Paul Ryan’s voucher program. What republicans are doing, they are begging Democrats to bail them out on this issue. They realize they made a huge mistake embracing Paul Ryan’s plan which we saw play out last night, and now they’re saying, c’mon, throw us a lifeline, and it would be crazy if the Democrats did that, if they let Republicans get off the hook for what they have already voted on.

Ari, that is absolutely correct. If they say we’ll help you cut medicare, what are you doing? That’s crazy. All right, but that’s been my position. To the next question, why do Republicans want to attack Elizabeth Warren so bad and should President Obama give her a recess appointment? Last week she dove into a confrontation with Patrick McHenry about what time she was allowed to leave. Warren said staff agreed to let her go, but McHenry said he had made no such agreement. Basically called her a liar. Let’s watch that first.

We had an agreement.

You had no agreement –

We had an agreement for the time this hearing would have occurred.

This is simply not the case. This is not the case.

Mr. Chairman, you just did something that I — I’m trying to be cordial here, but you just accused the lady of lying.

She’s accusing me of making an agreement that I never made.

I think you need to clear this up with your staff.

Why do the Republicans hate Elizabeth Warren so much? Not personally, but as in getting that position. They don’t want her to get it under any circumstances.

That was awkward. I think they actually don’t like her personally either, Cenk. Elizabeth Warren was largely the architect of the Consumer Protection Bureau, and Republicans have not liked her since the beginning. not just because of who she is but what she’s trying to do. The housing industry doesn’t like her. She was releasing reforms for mortgage documents, and they don’t like that. They think it stifles innovation.

Here’s what I said. I want innovation stifled in the financial industry.

I was at this hearing yesterday and covered it. It was incredibly surreal, but it wasn’t surprising. Republicans have been attacking Elizabeth Warren and the bureau for a long time. They attacked it during the Dodd/Frank debate and they’re attacking it now. The people that gives them the most money, the biggest banks, the mortgage brokers, all those people don’t want to be regulated. That’s what these attacks are about.

Should he do a recess appointment? Should he say apparently they’re not going to confirm anyone anyway, why not put her in?

He has no choice, because Republicans in the Senate have said they won’t confirm anybody, not just Elizabeth Warren without change for the bureau, which the Obama administration is not going to agree to.

Do you agree?

I think the biggest mistake tactically, the more they attack her, the more he has to appoint her, because it looks like he’s giving in. Otherwise, if they had just left this alone, this may have been — the President may have had a choice. He doesn’t have a choice anymore.

I hope you guys are right. I would love it if he did a recess appointment. If he has no choice, in my book, that’s fantastic. Put her in. She fights for all our consumers. One last question for you guys. is the GOP war backfiring? Look at this new poll on Florida governor Rick Scott. It’s got him at 29% approval rating, with 57% disapproving of the job he’s doing. I have a bold prediction. I don’t think he’s going to make it out of a first term. I think somehow he’s going to get thrown out of office. Am I crazy? Alex, go.

I think getting thrown out of office is one thing. I think that same poll, 54 or 53% of the voters thought his budget plan was unfair. I think that’s what the Republicans will have to work on, the idea that people that got us into this mess are the rich, and the people that are bearing the burden of it disproportionately are the poor and working class. When you’re saying to workers in Florida, you’ll have to take parts of salary to put it toward your pension, and slash education spending, it feels unfair. The Republicans thus far have not sold the country and Floridians, a package that I think is palatable to them.

Will he not make it out of the first term?

He never should have been governor in the first place. Before he was governor, he ran the nation’s largest for-profit hospitals. He was accused and pled guilty to 1.7 billion in medicare and medicaid fraud. It was the largest health care fraud settlement in history. Somehow Floridians elected him, but almost instantaneously they didn’t like the guy. Maybe they should have looked closer at who they elected.

Simon, last word.

What’s amazing is Republican numbers all across the country are tanking, the congressional generic is showing some substantial movement. It’s happening very quick, and I think what’s happened is the American people realize the Democrats want to give them more, the Republicans want to give them less, they’re not happy about it, and it’s having a significant impact across the country. The Republicans are in trouble very early. One of the great stories you’ll be covering is how much the presidentials are trying to distance themselves from the early Paul Ryan politics. We’re going to be following this story for months.

You end on a completely correct note. Governor Christie is in trouble, Walker is in trouble, they’re all in trouble.

They’re all in trouble.

Great panel tonight. Alex Wagner, Simon Rosenberg, and of course Ari Berman from the Nation.

Transcribed by the Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC.

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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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