UYGUR: Welcome to the show, everybody. Now to discuss some of today‘s biggest political stories, we bring in our Power Panel.
All right. With me now is MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard. Also joining the conversation, syndicated columnist Bob Franken. And Matt Lewis is our senior contributor from “The Daily Caller.” Good to have all of you here.
First up, is the GOP House about to cave in? Republicans and their right wing agenda are seeing a free-fall in our brand new NBC poll. I like that picture of Ryan. Sixty percent say that the Republicans in the House has brought little change, that‘s bad. Twenty three percent say, it‘s brought the wrong kind of change. And get this, only 13 percent say, it ushered in the right kind of change. That seems like a disastrous number. And the corner stone of the GOP agenda is getting crashed as well. The Ryan plan is more unpopular than ever before. It‘s negative rating has shot up nearly 10 points in the past two months. Matt, you‘re our conservative. Those numbers look terrible, don‘t they?
MATT LEWIS, “THE DAILY CALLER”: Yes. Well, look, it is tough to sell Paul Ryan‘s Medicare plan. Even though I think it‘s happen to be a good plan. It‘s easy—politically, it‘s easy to say, you‘re going to kill Medicare, and it‘s hard to explain well but the truth is it‘s going to—if we don‘t fix it—it becomes very nuance. But look, I would actually disagree with the premise which is that anybody is going to be thinking about a congressman from Wisconsin when the 2012 elections come around. I mean, just today the DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said, we own the economy. The truth is, in 2012, Barack Obama is going to be at the top of the ticket. And at the top of everybody‘s mind is going to be the question, are you better off today than you were four years ago. I think it‘s going to be about the economy and about the unemployment rate, not about Paul Ryan.
BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, you know, that overlooks the reelection of Bill Clinton that most people attribute to the fact that Newt Gingrich had been the speaker of the house. This Congress with approval ratings on another poll for the second month in a row are nine percent are the kind of thing that just might re-elect Barack Obama even though his presidency in the minds of many has started to slip a little bit. We‘ve gone from the good old days of do nothing Congress to a Congress that many people would say, do nothing, please.
UYGUR: Now, Michelle, look, when you look at those numbers, 13 percent say they are going in the right direction, that‘s a terrible, terrible number. Do you every look at that and go, hey, maybe we are headed into the right direction? Or do they think, fantastic, let‘s go get them.
MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, quite frankly, when I look at those numbers, I would imagine that the Republicans and truth be told, Cenk. Democrats as well are looking at their numbers and they are saying, I hope they are saying, what are we doing wrong? I think if you would go out and talk to people who are truly independents, people who are just right the center, and left the center, the numbers for Democrats are probably not that much higher either. The bottom line is, the country is on, you know, in free-fall. When we talk about the economy, people are, I think, absolutely dreadfully tired of both Republicans and Democrats. I think that‘s why we see so many people.
UYGUR: Yes, no, I think.
BERNARD: Let me finish. Numbers will show you that we have more and more people self identifying as independents. And the reason they are doing is because they are disgusted with both parties. These are clearly not good numbers for Republicans but nobody is helping us.
UYGUR: Look, look, look. If you watch this show at all, you know how angry I get the Democrats. You just see two segments ago how angry I get at them, right? And so, I‘m certainly not their fan, right? Having said that, it is false to say, hey, let‘s just equate the two. OK, I‘ve got terrible poll numbers on Republicans, and so there must be terrible poll numbers on Democrats. There isn‘t. We‘re going to talk about President Obama next whose poll numbers are actually pretty good. Look, Bob, I think there is two different problems here. One is the Republicans have bad plans. When you ask the American people, they hate those plans. The other problems that the Democrats have is, they would actually fight for their plans. They would actually fight for things that are incredibly popular.
FRANKEN: Well, quite frankly, the criticism of the Democrats could be that they don‘t really have any plans. It is sort of like that old saying, if your opponent is shooting himself in the foot, or wherever, stand back and let them do it. And I think that there‘s a belief in the White House that the Republicans are going to implode. The problem is, is that they didn‘t implode in the last election and I think that that‘s a dangerous, dangerous strategy.
UYGUR: All right. But Matt, look, I want to play your clip from the debate of all the different candidates supporting the Ryan plan which is also polling even worse as we go along. Then I‘m going to ask you about it. Let‘s watch it first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We‘ve got to restructure those programs and the Paul Ryan approach I totally support.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why can‘t we opt out of whole system?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It is not financially solvent. We have to fix it.
We have to reform it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We have to deal with this problem now. And what Paul Ryan has suggested, which I wholeheartedly support, is to use a program that is identical to what seniors already have. It is called Medicare part D.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So come on, Matt, getting on board for a sinking plan like this, how is that going to help the Republicans run in their presidential race?
LEWIS: Well, look, I think it‘s a matter of political courage. There is no easy way to cut $6 trillion out of the national debt. But Paul Ryan‘s plan if we do that, if we don‘t do that, Medicare is going to end as we know it. But look, let me make a point that I think is interesting. No one else is really bringing this up. But Barack Obama needs to be really careful. I wrote about this at “The Daily Caller” yesterday, if you chart when George W. Bush‘s popularity imploded, it wasn‘t Katrina, it wasn‘t Abu Ghraib. It‘s exactly correlates to when the democratic primaries began in April of 2003. When they had all of these debates. And you had Howard Dean and everybody bashing Bush. This could happen to Barack Obama.
LEWIS: And so, I think that these debates should not be overlooked by Obama. This actually could have real consequences to him.
UYGUR: Right. Well, that‘s an interesting theory. It actually going to relate to our next topic, which is how is this guy still this popular? Referring of course to President Obama. Unemployment is at 9.1 percent but President Obama is still polling really strong. He‘s got 49 percent approval rating. Forty six percent disapproval of the job that he is doing as president. Now, that‘s better than Reagan and Clinton where at this stage in their presidency. So, is it going to be something right? Or is it going to last? So, those are the questions I‘ve got. Look, Michelle, you look at that, we talk about it a little earlier, those are good poll numbers even with stunningly high unemployment. Obviously, the country likes him to some degree, to a large degree.
BERNARD: You will not get any argument from me there. I think that this shows that people fundamentally like Barack Obama. They like his presidency. They like him as a person but still, I think that it would be very unwise to say, that Barack Obama is a shoo-in for 2012. Here are two things that the Obama administration and Democrats really need to look at. Whether people like the Paul Ryan plan or not, Paul Ryan came out with a plan.
He has put something out there that has given rise to some discussion about what we do about the economy. The unemployment rate in this country is nine percent. The unemployment rate, Cenk, in clarities (ph) of color particularly for African-Americans is 16.2 percent. If you go, if you listen to discussions, political analysts and some political talks on urban radio stations, black Americans are very, very angry with the president. They feel slighted. And the worry for the president is not that that population is going to suddenly go and vote republican, but that they are not going to turn out at all. And in the south in particularly, that‘s a problem for the 2012.
UYGUR: Right. I hear you Michelle. Look, on the first part you‘re saying about, hey, he is an shoo-in, I actually totally agree with that. And Bob, I want to ask you about that. But I want to give you some polls here. Again, this is from the new NBC News poll. When matched up against Romney, President Obama is still winning by six points. When matched up against Pawlenty is crushing him by 13 points. Romney is polling away actually from the rest of the field. He‘s at 30 percent among the Republicans. Far above anyone else. Look, 49 percent approval rating is fantastic at this point with this economy. Can he keep it up? Or does he have structural problems here that if Romney wins he can expose.
FRANKEN: Well, I mean, you could say that that is an approval rating for Barack Obama. Or you could say that it is sort of a reflected disapproval rating for the opposition right now. And as far as Mitt Romney is concerned, I think that he is leading in the yes, whatever category when it comes to Republicans. He is certainly not somebody who makes the blood boil of his supporters. The problem with Barack Obama might be that the last time around, he created an army of people really enthusiastic to make history and all that type of thing. His problem may be that because he‘s had to make the kind of compromises that any president has to make, that the passion may be gone in his followers who may stay home and leave the passion to those on the right wing.
UYGUR: All right. For my purposes, I think he‘s got to really watch those numbers. The longer unemployment stays that high, the bigger trouble he‘s in. We‘ll see if the Republicans have anybody that could take advantage of they‘re or if they keep going further and further right wing.
All right. Michelle Bernard, Bob Franken, Matt Lewis, you guys were all great. Thank you so much for the discussion.
BERNARD: Thank you.
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