UYGUR: Welcome back to the show, everybody. Time now for our power, power, Power Panel. I like saying it that way. Of course, they`re here to discuss the biggest news stories of the day. With me now, is the versatile Ben Mankiewicz who`s both one of the cost of The Young Turks and a host on Turner Classic Movies. Also, with me, David Sirota, radio host and syndicated columnist and all around progressive ass kicker. And finally, Josh Trevino, vice president of communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation think tank. Josh is a conservative.
Nonetheless, we tolerate it.
JOSH TREVINO, TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION: Hello, Cenk.
UYGUR: Hey, Josh. All right. First question for the panel. Will the purity test crush Republicans in 2012? Today Governor Haley Barbour warned conservatives at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Summit that purity is a loser for the GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISSISSIPPI: In politics, purity is the enemy of victory. OK? We can`t start out with the ideas the Faith and Freedom Coalition that our candidates have to agree with me on every single thing. We cannot expect our candidate to be pure. Winning is about unity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Josh, that took some courage on the part of Haley Barbour to say that as that convention. On the other hand, he`s dropped out, so he gets a little bit more courageous. But to you think he`s right?
TREVINO: Well, you know, Haley Barbour, of course, one of the grand men of the modern Republican Party, he is right. There`s always a tension between the ideals and the pragmatism of politics and politics being the art of compromise and the art of the possible. Our nominee and our eventual president in January 2013 won`t be the pure candidate, but he or she will be the winning candidate. And it was ever thus. Same with Barack Obama. I know you`ve had your differences with him, Cenk.
UYGUR: No question about that. But how about the flip-flopping? You mind, hey, I was kind for cap-and-trade, and now I`m kind of against it. Is that OK?
TREVINO: Well, it depends on the issue and the circumstance. Changing your mind is one thing. Flip-flopping for transparent electoral advantage is another. And the voters are smart enough to discern which is which.
UYGUR: All right, Ben, you know, this is run by Ralph Reed, this little faith and freedom stuff, right? But how has it helped the Republicans to get associated with Ralph Reed? I mean, he`s the guy who was associated with Jack Abramoff and took all his money? Like, can they ever learn a lesson here or they`re just going to double down for the rest of their lives?
BEN MANKIEWICZ, CO-HOST, THE YOUNG TURKS: I think it`s very wise for Haley Barbour to go to an event sort of run by Ralph Reed and say, I don`t think we should concern ourselves with purity. I think that`s state thinking all the part of Haley Barbour. Yes, I mean, Ralph Reed is a corrupt guy, Ralph Reed is a bad dude. And I guess these guys just don`t care. Ralph Reed took money from Indian gaming tribes and then under the – - he funneled money through the Christian coalition to pretend to argue against them while Jack Abramoff was playing one tribe off against the other in order to take Indian gaming money while Ralph Reed sits here as part of the Christian coalition and pretends to be against it all. But these guys, they don`t care.
TREVINO: What was he indicted for? Just, can you refresh our memories on that?
UYUGR: OK. Now, Josh, let me ask you about that. He was not indicted. That`s a good point.
UYGUR: Go ahead, Ben. Go ahead.
MANKIEWICZ: No. I just think it`s great. No, no, you go ahead and defend Ralph Reed. That will go well for your guys.
UYGUR: Josh, look, he even lost in the republican primary. I mean, come on! Are you saying that Ralph Reed didn`t take gambling money from Abramoff and then pretend he didn`t? Are you saying that?
TREVINO: Well, Cenk. There are entire island population in the pacific.
There`s such — a Jack Abramoff. It`s one thing to be associated with Jack Abramoff. It`s another thing to have done something actually wrong. And one assumes given the paid attention to — by Jack Abramoff by the authorities over the past several years, it`s reasonable to assume that if Ralph Reed had done something illegal, it would have come out by now.
UYGUR: All right. Now, David, look, there might be a reason why they`re going to this conference. First, it`s faith and freedom. So, of course, they love that, right? But the other reason is as always with the Republicans, the money, La Bousky (ph), right? So Reed apparently, this group is going to put in $15 to $18 million over the next year or so. Do you think that`s why they`re all attending?
DAVID SIROTA, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Absolutely. I think it`s a convergence of all this, that each candidate wants as much grassroots support as possible. You asked the original question, will purity hurt the Republican Party? Will demands for purity hurt the Republican Party? I think what hurts the republican candidates, and frankly this is an adage for democratic candidates, too, is not if they disagree with their party.
But if you suggested if they`re flip-flopping and it looks like their disagreements aren`t about principle. And when I hear Haley Barbour is going to a conservative audience saying that we should accept candidates who disagree with us, I think that is very smart. But I think that the question will be is whether that part of the grassroots of the Republican Party can appreciate a principle disagreement as opposed to simply political expedience based on flip-flopping.
UYGUR: I hear you. All right. Now, we have to move on to the next question for the panel. And that is, believe it or not, can Democrats trust the White House during budget negotiations? Yesterday`s meeting, the Democrats led by Representative Harry Waxman called for stronger action from the president in fighting back against the Republicans.
Someone at the meeting said that President Obama responded by saying “There`s a difference between me and a member of Congress. When I say something, markets and countries and people react in a way where it could cause us more problems than we have now.” David, I found that quote really telling. It said to me that the president`s like, oh my God, I have to worry about the markets, I can`t be doing progressive things because of the markets. Am I over reading that?
SIROTA: No, I think you`re exactly right. I mean, I think the president — the comment seems to exude that he`s thinking not about necessarily the agenda. He`s thinking about other factors. I`m not saying he should only think about what he wants. There`s many, many parts moving here. But I think you`re exactly right, that the question should be, what has he promised? What does he want to do? And will he do it? And that requires marshalling the entire platform of the White House almost regardless of those other external factors. Frankly, the president can`t control the market. We`ve learned that from George Bush to Barack Obama. He should be thinking about how to get his agenda through the Congress.
UYGUR: All right. Ben, I want to talk about taxes. Because Obama said, he was going to stay strong on that. But I`m going to read you the quote and get your reaction. He said, “Whatever we agree on, we`re still going to have a plan to argue about in 2012.” Referring to Republicans. “I`ve said I`m not going to renew the tax cuts for the top two percent. We might agree on tax reform or simplification. But on the upper income tax cuts, we`re just going to have to agree to disagree.” You know what I got out of that, Ben? That he`s going to save that tax cut issue for 2012, that he`s not really going to tell the Republicans, oh, yes, you know what, I want to raise taxes now as part of the deal.
MANKIEWICZ: Yes. So in a sense what Obama I think then is saying is, you can count on this. You can count on me, you can count on not counting on me. So finally, we won`t be able to complain about anything because at least with both of those quotes, he`s prefacing it. He`s letting you know, hey, man, enough with saying you can`t count on me, we all know it`s true. So, I`m going to give you a little hint here. You can`t count on me. And I think that`s fairly clear. At least we won`t be as disappointed.
UYGUR: But Josh, I mean, when you see these quotes, you got to be excited. Because he`s saying, no, I`m not going to fight back against the Republicans because the markets will get jittery. And on the tax increases, et cetera, we`ll save that for a campaign issue for 2012. Well, that means that it looks like you`re going to have two wins.
MANKIEWICZ: I love, I love that President Obama is contemplating running for re-election next year on a platform of high unemployment and a tax hike on the segment of the population. That`s brilliant. Couldn`t have scripted it better. So, hope and change. Welcome to it.
UYGUR: Josh, wait a minute, now. Look, look, when you talk about tax increases for millionaires, that`s an 81 percent popularity rating. You really think that that`s unpopular? How could you possibly think that?
TREVINO: I think, well, let`s look at it not from, of course, I have my principle disagreement with you on this, Cenk. But let`s look at it at a pragmatic point of view, do you, do you, Democrats all, except for me here in this little soiree, do you trust the White House and the re- election messaging apparatus to get that trough? Or do you think it`s just going to be a message of tax hikes?
SIROTA: Well, I actually do trust the White House to do this on that particular issue.
TREVINO: Well, Godspeed.
SIROTA: Because the White House can look back to the Clinton era and say, listen, did you like the economy under Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton`s tax rates? Or did you like the economy under George W. Bush`s tax rates? That`s the easiest, safest way to put it.
TREVINO: Nobody`s going to identify the Obama economy with the Clinton economy.
SIROTA: The Obama economy with the Clinton tax rates. All you have to say is that did you like the economy under Bill Clinton`s tax rates or do you like the economy under George W. Bush`s tax rates?
MANKIEWICZ: That might be Hillary Clinton`s primary challenge. That`s not Obama.
UYGUR: All right. OK. All right. We got to leave it right there. And, you know, if you think that the Bush tax cuts, Josh, worked out, OK. If you think you can convince the American people with that, OK. But look, what I`m worried about is this deal that`s coming up. I`m afraid that President Obama gave some clues not in the right direction. But that`s my opinion. Ben Mankiewicz, David Sirota, Josh Trevino, you guys all rock.
Thank you for the great discussion tonight.
MANKIEWICZ: Thank you.
TREVINO: All right.
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