tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 28, 2012 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
outcome of the 2012 election and the myriad of voter suppression schemes years in the making, voters refused to be ignored, dismissed, or disenfranchised. voters proved that individual americans still have the power when we choose to use it. the more accurate reflection of the america in the 21st century, the key question becomes in 2013 whether or not this coalition will find ways to work together to lefage that electoral power for policies on immigration reform, gun control, equal rights, economic inequality and continuing to expand the american story. so what matters most is what happens next because it's up to us to make sure that the power we loan to politicians is used for the greatest good, and it's up to us to make them earn our votes and hold them accountable when they falter. thanks to the bashir team. the "hardball" team picks things up right now. deal or no deal.
let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm richard wolffe in for chris matthews. big numbers get thrown around at times like this in washington. as the legendary everett dirksen once said, a billion here a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money, about you this debate isn't just about the billions here and there. for average families the payroll tax cut that started two years ago is worth around 1000 as year. those families tend to spend that cash because they need it now. republicans say this is one tax cut they hate and the last time it was going to expire, the white house launched a whole campaign about $40 a paycheck. they asked families to send in their stories about what $40 meant to them. well, you know something? $40 a still a lot of cash for the families hit hardest by the great recession. for the wealthy people sitting
around the negotiating table in d.c., $40 is just another steak dinner for one. but for many people who voted them into office, it's the cost of groceries for a week of family dinners. let's not forget, they are the ones who still need an economic stimulus, not the families earning more than $250,000 a year. joining me today on a newsy day, "the huffington post" sam stein and the national reviews robert costa. sam, i want to start with you. you have been reporting this out all day, and we know that congressional leaders are with the president this afternoon. they haven't made comments to the press and they haven't been on camera, but what are you hearing? what was actually discussed today? >> well, the details are still scant because it just ended. none of the leaders came in front of the cameras which was not a good sign towards an agreement. what i'm hearing from a congressional aide is there was an agreement that senate majority leader harry reid, senate minority leader mitch mcconnell would try to hammer out a deal amongst themselves, get it passed through the
chamber and send it to the house. house speaker boehner made it clear he had not move first. he wants to see the senate act. the ball is now in the senate's court for all intents and purposes. >> sam, isn't it a bit late in the day to be playing this game of chick snn. >> i don't know what constitutes late in the day at this juncture. i guess we have a few more days, a couple more hours here. i think there's a general consensus we probably will hit the cliff, but that doesn't mean they can't hurry and get something done a day after, two days after, do it retroactively. the hit that would be felt by families would be minimum in that case. a lot of negotiations. we'll see what mcconnell and reid can pick up and forge together. >> nbc news has been reporting that the president's holding firm to this position of not cutting taxes for people earning more than $250,000 a year. you've been talking to republicans all day. will republicans vote for a plan that looks like the president's first offer, $250,000?
>> republican senators specifically were really looking for a $400,000 threshold, but as the clock ticks on this fiscal cliff, i think a lot of republicans will move towards that $250,000 number. 24e may not like the president's deal or his approach, but both sides want to extend middle class tax rates. that's the key. both parties agree they want to extend to a certain threshold middle class tax rates. it's all about where that ball ends pup. >> so you think republicans will go for $250,000. >> i don't think the republican leadership will agree on $250,000, but you will see as many republicans move towards $250,000, maybe a scattering in the senate, a scattering in the house, because at the end of the day they want to extend as many rates as possible. >> but, richard, the real question here, they don't have to agree to $250,000 but they have to let a vote happen on $250,000. in of that case mitch mcconnell would have to agree not owe filibuster and speaker boehner would have to allow the bill to come to the floor.
it's 9 process disagreements. >> i may not be the only person who is getting confused on the optimist/pessimist signals. let's listen to what we heard from a couple senators. first senator schumer on the demeanor tide and senator cocker on the republican side. there are different prognostications. let's take a listen. >> i'm getting a little more optimistic today. sometimes it's darkest before the dawn, and there are two good signs for optimism today. one is that leader mcconnell is actively engaged. for the first time leader mcconnell is speaking to the president. if the senate is going to be the place where action starts, you need both of them there. and the second reason for optimism is boehner is back at the table because you can't pass something just through the senate. >> this afternoon's meeting feels much to me like optics to make it look like we're doing something but let me just say one more time, this is a total dereliction of duty at every level. i have been very surprised that
the president has not laid out a very specific plan to deal with this, but candidly, congress could have done the same, and i think the american people should be disgusted. >> but let's be optimistic for a minute. let's say a deal is done. do you think that republicans can sell this to either their base or to the house at least as a tax cut, not a rise in taxes? >> chuck schumer brought up a good point. a key moment of these entire negotiations came on wednesday night when president obama calls mitch mcconnell, bring the republican leader in the process. what happens now is very important. as sam said, they'll be negotiating today and over the weekend in the senate. and if this $250,000 comes to the floor, if a few republicans attach themselves to what reid and obama agree to, then that means when it pose gophers to the house it has a much better chance of attracting republican support. if mitch mcconnell aligns republicans and tells everyone to oppose it in the senate republican conference, the chances of it succeeding in the
house are pretty low. >> sam, is this the end of the road for grover norquist and his pledge? >> it's odd because grover was the one sort of outside government institution on the conservative side who agreed with speaker boehner's plan "b" which would have allowed taxes to go up above $1 million in income. all the other conservative groups say no. i think grover's pledge, i don't know where it goes from here. obviously is doesn't have as much teeth as is it did because there are people who are willing to buck it. >> i think the key thing with the grover pledge though is that republicans feel like they're in such a corner here, the house is in disarray, boehner doesn't really know where his caucus is going to go. they're not really worried about grover's pledge. they're more worried about rebuilding the party and surviving this horrible moment when they barely control one chamber. >> okay. so i want to run this by you. charles krauthammer from "the washington post" has suggested this kind of complicated theory that the president has a bigger plan here. wonder if we can play this tape of what he says the president's strategy is. >> he's been using this, and i must say with great skill and
ruthless skill and success, to fracture and basically shatter the republican opposition. and his objective from the very beginning was to break the will of the republicans in the house and to create an internal civil war, and he's done that. >> robert, does this hold watter? is the president, a, doing this and, b, is it working? >> i don't know if it's the president aes ont tiff, it could be. but the he had for capitol hill is republicans who for decades were opposed to any kind of tax rate increase is talking about a threshold for marginal tax rate increases. so that's automatic a win for president obama. this is a time for reflection. here on capitol hill you have republicans talking about what's next? how do they survive obama's second term in this is the first battle. they want to win the war. they don't want to get totally bruced in this fiscal cliff situation. they're willing to buckle a little bit on rates right now but ultimately when they talk about the debt ceiling, they think they can some other things
they can attack 37. >> sam, is the obama white house this good? is this divide and conquer? >> well, first of all, no, they're not that good. and, you know, it's ironic because had boehner taken that last offer that obama gave him, one that would have changed the benefit structure for social security, it would have ended up fracturing the democratic base in some respects. a lot of progressives were upset the white house was even going there. they thought he didn't need to make that concession. a lot of this is the house republicans' own fault they're in in corner. they could have taken a deal, could have take an deal in the summer of 2011 which would have been more favorable to them. they didn't do either. >> if obama is coming out and from what we're hearing he's not making a real offer. he's coming out with $250,000 staying with what he had before christmas. he's playing hardball. if he came out and was talking about a $40,000 tlshg hold, we could say these parties may be close to promise but i don't see that right now. >> we're getting breaking news that the president will make a statement at 5:45 in the
briefing room so we'll stay tuned for that. robert, help me out here. how can boehner stay as speaker when it seems like his knees get cut out from him every day? >> is there some dissension within the house republican ranks, richard? sure. to really challenge boehner, you have to have a challenger and there are a lot of people in the house republican conference who are frustrated with the speaker, but they're not willing to run against him. you have big names like eric cantor and kevin mccarthy, number two and three, they're not even making noises about challenging boehner. so i think boehner come next month he's pretty safe even though right now he's having a tough time controlling his caucus. >> not only that, boehner was smart in bringing cantor and mccarthy and paul ryan into the fold when he introduced plan "b." did he that strategically so it looked like a united front. he still got undercut. he will probably be re-elected speaker but he is a much more ineffectual speaker after what happened. >> sam, give me a snap prediction. what do you think the president will say in the briefing room today? >> he's going to wish everyone a
happy new year and then say -- i don't know. i have no idea. things are changing by a minute-to-minute basis. i have a guess he will probably say this ball is now in the senate's court. he's going to encourage them to get something done and put the weight of the presidency behind it. >> okay. thanks sam stein and robert costa, appreciate that. coming up, will 2013 become the year of the perpetual fiscal crisis? when will businesses say enough? in case you haven't noticed it, the dow has been slipping as we korean toward the deadline. if we go over the cliff, are we looking at a potential -- next week? we'll provide live coverage of president obama's statement on the fiscal cliff negotiations at 5:45 p.m. also, through the magic of digital recording, chris matthews will be back to talk about why the 2346789 ra refuses to back even the most common sense proposals to limit the avail 5ek9 of assault weapons. this is "hardball," the place for politics. when you have diabetes...
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as the fiscal cliff nears, wall street is feeling the heat. today stocks closed down for the fifth day in a row following the demise of speaker boehner's plan "b." the dow closed below the 13,000 mark and lost 2% for the week. and if you think wall street isn't reacting to every twist and turn in this cliff drama, just look at this chart. shortly after 10:00 a.m. yesterday, senate leader harry reid said he didn't think the fiscal cliff could be avoided. as you can see, stocks plunged. shortly after noon, senator scott brown posted on facebook of all things that he was headed back to washington because the president had reached out to the gop leadership with a proposal. then the markets bounced up a bit. but then cnbc's john harwood tweeted the white house denied skost brown's post and markets dropped again. thanks, john, for that. then came a late day surge on news that speaker boehner called the house back to washington, and late today we learned that the white house is holding a conference call with ceos on the status of the fiscal cliff negotiations. so maybe things will change once
more again tomorrow. joining me now to discuss the business ramifications and what the markets think of all this, the editor of thegrio.com and msnbc contributor joy reid. >> hey, richard. >> hi, joy. do we also have fortune magazine's assistant, yes, excellent, managing editor, leigh gallagher. thanks for joining us, too. wall street seems to have been naive, maybe a little simplistic, about washington's ability to get the deal done. do you think they're finally waking up to the reality of what life is like in washington? >> i think that's true. and, you know, i think all of us sort of thought a month ago or six weeks ago that this was, of course, we were going to get a deal. why on earth wouldn't we get a deal? i think wall street was definitely a little bit more i don't know if the word complacent is the right word but definitely it's been a bit of a late-stage tremor that we've been feeling but we're definitely feeling them. i think this is a prelude of
what could happen if we end up going over the cliff even though by the time we do everyone will expect it, the market will still feel the lain. >> leigh, i know predictions are hard, but is this going to be a steady slide or is it going to be like that t.a.r.p. vote where you see 600, 700 points go off the market in a day? >> i'm not sure if it will be as extreme as the t.a.r.p. vote but given that that's what happened then and that's also what happened when we -- with the negotiations with the debt ceiling fell through last year, that was also a one-day drop, i think we'll see something similar rather than a slope. i don't think that's going to be the case in this -- if we go over. >> joy, i'm beginning to feel that this is all like deja vu all over again. it's going to be the debt ceiling again. they're going to kick the can down the road a little bit and then we're going to have the same fiscal cliff discussions and debt ceiling discussions we've been having for the last two years. so is 2013 going to be like this? is this what the politics has become zbh. >> you know what, richard, i think we've learned a few things
since the debt ceiling. i think the first time this happened, the markets didn't believe that one party in this country would really take us to that brink and really put a gun to the head of the economy that way, and i think the shock of that affected the markets. but people i've been talking to have been saying the markets have kind of priced in the idea that a deal could get done after january 3rd and that you wouldn't see a sharp drop. but there's a principle in law that you don't put a witness on the stand if you don't know what they're going to say. i think there's also a principle at work here that you don't dangle the possibility of a deal that you can't deliver. and i think the volatility in the markets and people i have spoken to agree with me, the volatility is in part because speaker boehner, scott brown, other people keep dangling the potential 6 a deal that isn't ultimately delivered and those expectations are the problem. so i think going forward into 2013 you won't necessarily see this because i think that maybe after the 3rd they will be smart enough on capitol hill to do a two-year deal, to get us to 2014 without having to do this annually. >> and if they don't, joy,
aren't we just going to expend all the political capital that's left in this town on these kind of deals? there's not really going to be any time or energy to do anything else? >> you're absolutely right. you have imagrees reform, gun issues out there. the problem is we are starting to look like an ungovernable country. we're starting to look like a country where one of our two chambers of the legislature literally has ceased to tucks. that is what's dangerous to the bond markets, what's dangerous to us long term. hopefully they will figure out how embarrassing this is for the country and how bad it is for bond markets and get it together. >> leigh, you work at "fortune" magazine. i have heard a lot in the last several weeks about how the ceos were going to step up. they signed their letters, made their statements, and then we were supposed to follow through and twist some arms to get the deal done and to make sure people understood there were real world consequences to this kind of debate. where are those ceos now? >> well, it's funny. we don't exactly know, but i mean, you know, the president and the white house made a decided effort to really court wall street this time around instead of last time around with the debt ceiling they really
courted lawmakers directly. they went external and focused on ceos. this fix the debt campaign, you had 158 ceos sign a petition to come to a deal. these are not small potatoes ceos, exxon, walmart, caterpill caterpillar. the biggest of biggest companies. they have done their part. i think the thing is what they have said is what everyone has said. they're basically saying compromise on taxes. it's time to compromise on taxes and that's not what congress wants to hear. they can say it until they're blue in the face. they should go directly to lawmake lawmakers. they may be dock that. it's definitely how they feel. these biggest of ceos really want this deal to happen and it's time to compromise to end the paralysis. that is far and away the message across business and across wall street. >> leigh, i imagine they want this because it affects the bottom line for these companies in a way that washington politics maybe didn't before. is washington and sort of wall street becoming closer in terms
of their relationship here? >> definitely. you know, it's funny, it used to be wall street was really focused on mechanics of companies. companies fundamentals. how did coke do this quarter? now they're much more focused on the macro because the macro is moving stocks and moving the market. things like europe, the european debt crisis, things like our fiscal cliff crisis, a slowdown in china. this is how stocks are moving right now. it's no longer how many cannes of coke did we sell last quarter. it's really tied to this so it matters more than before. they're panicking and starteding to see it. look no further than the consumer confidence number dropping, the retail sales. ge has blamed some poorer results this past quarter on lack of investment. you know, honeywell is seeing the pain. they're not filling empty positions. it's already -- it has been starting to affect companies for probably, you know, at least the past quarter already. >> okay. thank you, joy, and thank you leigh. remember, president obama is going to make a statement on the
fiscal cliff talks at 5:45 eastern time and msnbc will provide live coverage. until then, chris matthews is up next with the best "sideshow" moments of the year and the nra's best excuses for standing in the way of any and all reasonable restrictions on guns. this is "hardball," the place for politics. to the best vacation spot on earth.
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its all fabulous but i give florida the edge. right after mississippi. you mean alabama. say louisiana or there's no dessert. this invitation is brought to you by bp and all of us who call the gulf home. we have some breaking news. the congressional leaders came out of a meeting with the president, the white house. no comments on camera but we're getting the first reports from harry reid and also some reports about what house speaker john boehner said to his caucus at least through an aide. so joining me, i think we still have joy ann reid from the grio. i want to ask you if you're still there about the comments that -- i'll just read them out from harry reid, the senate majority leader. he said there was a long meeting at the white house, it was very constructive. we hope it will bear fruit but that's what we hope to learn.
he said i think the next 24 hours will be tre instructive as to what we're able to accomplish. we talked about a lot of things. there's no concrete proposal at this time he said. we have a number of different directions we're going it try to take and we're going to see what can be worked out. joy, if they're talking like this in vague terms, does this make us feel like there's something going on? i mean, obviously there's a communication there, but without a concrete proposals, how quickly can they turn this around? >> well, you know what, richard, i think this could be john boehner learning the lesson of not to put out any specifics he can't deliver on. we were just talking about that before. he's been burned before by sort of laying out the contours of what he's working out with the president only to have his caucus slap him down and tell him no. so i think the problem is, as well, he's already said he wants the senate to go first, which a little thing called the constitution case the house has to originate spending and tax bills. most 6 this should be on
boehner's shoulder. his chamber is where tax and spending bills are supposed to emerge. maybe it's because they are working out details and boehner doesn't want to get burned again. >> leigh gallagher from "fortune" magazine, thanks for sticking around, by the way. >> sure. >> harry reid also said he's had his confidence, this is a quote, he's had his confidence destroyed on other occasions so i hope it's not on this occasion, too. a lot of people have had their hopes dashed here, the markets we were just talking about. obviously, people who are looking forward to maybe paying at least the same amount of tax next year. do you think the markets will take some confidence in this or are these kinds of statements just going to lead to more uncertainty and more turmoil when we hit monday? >> i don't know. we're just three, four days away. this is almost becoming like the boy who krild wolf. i think at this point it's not -- i don't want to say it's better to go over the cliff but if we can put a more responsible deal together that is bigger, more of a grand bargain, so we
don't have to do this twice, you know, maybe there's something to be sid for that. but in terms of credibility, i don't know that this -- i mean, the market has really reacted to almost every single move as you showed with that chart. the market was overly optimistic yesterday, maybe it will be overly optimistic again come monday but, you know, it's not at sure thing. i mean, it's not by any means a sure thing. >> joy, i think i misspoke earlier when i said house speaker boehner was talking to his caucus. this is a read out from the speaker's office and in it there's some interesting details here. it says that the speaker told the president that if the senate -- this was in the white house meeting. if the senate amends the house passed legislation and sends back a plan, the house will consider it either by accepting or amending. the group agreed the next step should be the senate taking bipartisan action. on the face of it that sounds like what he's been saying before but what democrats have been looking for is an up or down vod on what the senate comes up with because that would allow a majority of the house instead of a majority of the
majority to take this on. should we take heart from this kind of statement coming from the speaker's office? >> i would say no because the only thing the house managed to pass last week was a bill that restored the sequester cuts to defense and which did some incredible damage to social programs by getting rid of the social services bloc grant meaning meals on wheels eliminated and things like that. that was essentially a bill that dealt with spending. the house has proposed extending all of the bush tax cuts for all income levels. that is something that cannot pass the senate. so i'm not sure what boehner thinks is going to be amended in the senate because the whole thing would be scrapped. the senate bill that was passed in july was sort of a clean bill. it was flawed in the sense that it didn't deal with the alternative minimum tax and some other things, but it extended the rates for everything under $250,000. that's the bill that the president wants to see an up or down vote in the house. again, even if the house were to vote on that bill, it would still have to go bab to the senate because the house has to act first. so it's just a mess. >> okay. thanks, joy.
thanks, leigh. thanks for sticking around. stay tuned at 5:45 or the president's statement. up next, the nra's response to gun violence? what else, more guns. and the renewed battle over gun violence is with chris matthews. in 15 minutes we expect to hear from the president so stay tuned to msnbc, the place for politics. stay tuned at 5:45 or the politics. campbell's has 24 new soups that will make it drop over, and over again. ♪ from jammin' jerk chicken, to creamy gouda bisque. see what's new from campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do.
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whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation and to do it now. >> but here is what it looks like when you run the numbers. slate magazine took a look at what a program to put armed guards in every school might cost. there are nearly 100,000 public schools in the united states and the average police officer makes about $55,000 a year. so a low ball estimate would be about $5.4 billion a year. what can we really do to keep our children safe from guns when they're at school? joining me an expert, mayor michael nutter of philadelphia and "the washington post's" columnist ewe yen robinson. eugene is also an msnbc political analyst. mayor nutter thank you for joining me because you're on the front line every time there's a death, a homicide in philadelphia. you know all the facts and figures and you certainly know about the school district. let's just look at this as if it came from pluto this idea and didn't come from the nra. what value does it have to have an armed police officer, say a
50-year-old guy with police 2r5i7bing, maybe an ex police officer, retired police officer standing somewhere near the lobby or the main door of a high school in philly? would it have the any value? >> here is the deal, chris. in many instances as we saw in newtown certainly, the person doesn't always come in the front door, and while in very specific situations in certain schools, whether it's officers patrolling nearby or as a part of their regular duties coming into schools, this is really not a serious idea. the issue is less guns, and certainly less semiautomatic weapons, rifles of this type. the issue is about the type of weapons that should be accessible and available to civilians, and no one has made any legitimate argument or case as to why military-style converted weapons, i'm not going
to go through, you know, the splitting hairs argument about, well, it's not really that, it's been converted to something else. it's a semiautomatic weapon of mass destruction and the issue is that most civilians should not have them in the first place. they're for 34i8 tear or law enforcement, bottom line. >> gene, what's your thoughts about this in write being it? >> well, amen to just what the mayor just said. this is what i have written. there is no reason to have these sorts of assault weapons in civilian hands. they are designed to kill people. they're designed to kill a lot of people quickly, and that's not for hunting. you don't need one of those -- >> who -- you get bombarded, i don't know if you read -- >> i do. >> when you write a column along those lines, do you hear from principled second amendment people who just like the idea of a gun to fight their government with or do you hear from deer hunters? who do you hear from? >> i hear from all those people. i also hear from police officers, from responsible gun owners, from self-described nra
members who say you're absolutely right. you know, yes, i want my hunting rifle but i don't need the ar-15 knockoff or the ak-47 knockoff. i don't need that. and that's the only thing. remember, there were armed guards at columbine whot engaged the shooters in gunfire and it did not stop the massacre. >> mr. mayor, what are your police officers, charles ramsey and the rest, what do they say, the top officials and the officers you meet? are they concerned about having to face superior fire power in the streets? >> we're always concerned about that, and, unfortunately, chris, as you well know, five months into my tenure as mayor back in may of 2008 h sergeant steven laspinski was con infantried with a pern who had an ak-47, shot him and killed him with massive injuries to him.
so, of course, our officers are concerned about people who have this level of fire power. why would a civilian need body armor? again, the guy in newtown, we've had other people in situations across this country, why should any civilian be able to purchase or get this kind of weaponry to get ready for massive conflict? i'm a strong supporter of the second amendment but i do believe i have a first amendment right not to be shot. i think i have a first amendment right to peacefully assemble, and there is no real conflict here. but the ability to protect the second amendment should not interfere with my ability as a citizen and my first amendment rights, and we have to be smarter about this. the president is absolutely correct. we need to ban the assault weapons, the high magazine clips and cartridges. we need to improve our background system, the checking
system, close the gun show loophole, and further provide better mental health services for a variety of people, not just related to this particular incident. >> i know. >> and and the nuttiest part of this whole thing is mental health services are on the chopping block as relates to the fiscal cliff. all these issues are interrelated. we just need to get our act together and stop messing around. this is a simple idea from a simple guy that we need not to spend any time talking about. >> well, let's take a look at somebody who agrees with you on the right. that's republican pollster frank lunts. he said this about the nra's proposal. let's watch. >> public wants guns out of the schools not in schools and they're not asking for a security official or someone else. i don't think the nra is listening. i don't think that they understand. most americans would protect the second amendment rights and yet agree with the idea that not he have human being should own a gun. not every gun should be
available at any time anywhere for anyone. >> i mentioned this before on the air because it meant a lot to me bobby kennedy was killed and it hit a lot of us in our hearts and i wrote a congressman. but it seems mayor nutter and gene what happens is everybody gets reactive. we all react, and then notice how wayne lapierre who is a brilliant professional. he waits a couple weeks. a couple weeks in now he will be the only one doing this full time. >> people who are interested in saying gun control laws have got to keep up the pressure, have got to keep up the focus and not do what you just said, not conform to this general pattern of, you know, it wears off. we forget about it. >> we're worried about the fiscal cliff. the gun guy is never not focused on guns. mayor, isn't that the problem? you have guys mostly in philadelphia -- >> that's part of the challenge. >> living noud reading, they
live right in the city, they think about the second amendment all the time. >> but i think there are many responsible gun owners, again, who are hunters, who know about gun safety and training. they put locks on their guns. they put them in a locker so they're not accessible to children or others who should not have them or don't know how to use them. the work that mayor bloomberg is doing and mayor menino, mayors against illegal guns that demand a plan, activity, and website. people should check that out. get engaged and involved. i saw an ad in one of the new york papers asking people to sign up. this issue is not going away. we as a country better damn we will figure out how to do more than one thing at a time. fiscal cliff, very important. public safety and gun violence, very important. getting people back to work in america, very important. we can actually do more than one thing at a time. mayors across the country do that every day. >> well said. thank you very much, mayor michael nutter. happy new year to you, sir, and
eugene robinson my colleague here. that, of course, was chris matthews with philadelphia mayor michael nutter and eugene robinson. we're going to take a break now and then we'll be hearing from president obama on the fiscal cliff talks. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ laughter ] smoke? nah, i'm good. ♪
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welcome back to "hardball." any moment now we expect to hear from president obama on the 11th hour fiscal cliff talks that he had this afternoon with the congressional leaders. we're joined now about nbc's kristin welker who is on the north lawn of the white house to give us a sense of where we think the talks are at. earlier today we just heard from senate leader mitch mcconnell's office saying he hopes that senate leaders can make recommendations on the fiscal cliff by sunday. kristin, i just want to ask you while we're waiting for the president to come out here, do you get a sense of where the white house is feeling these talks are going? >> reporter: according to a source close to the talks, president obama thought the conversation was constructive this afternoon. he apparently reiterated the plan that he basically mapped out last friday, which would
extend the bush era tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less, extend unemployment insurance as well as the estate tax, and i am told that those are two of the sticking points, the estate tax as well as that $250,000 figure. so that's really where the problem lies moving forward. but president obama i am told by this source essentially said to everyone at the meeting, look, if you put this to a vote in the senate and in the house, he believes it would pass. he gave mcconnell and reid about a day basically to come up with their own proposal, something that they believe would make it through both chambers, but interestingly, mcconnell said that he was optimistic in the wake of that meeting. reid said that he found the meeting to be constructive as well as did nancy pelosi. speaker boehner seemed to have a slightly different take, basically saying, look, we've already passed legislation in the house to deal with the sequester, to deal with some of these issues so why not revisit what was passed in the house? but the bottom line is the words
that are coming out of this meeting, constructive, optimistic. there seems to be a little bit of movement. you always hesitate to say that because, of course, these talks could become derailed at any minute, but president obama set to address the press and the nation hopefully to give us a little bit of a better sense of how that meeting wrapped up. >> kristin, how do we square the sense of optimism and everyone saying that the talks were constructive when they're still stuck on the same points? if this hasn't moved on from $250,000 a year? >> reporter: correct. it's a very good point, and so the question is what can leader reid do, mitch mcconnell do within the next 24 hours to basically put together a compromise package? i think what they are going to put forth is going to be a smaller package. it's not going to deal with the debt ceiling, for example. it might deal with some of those spending cuts, but it's not going to be that broad, sweeping plan that president obama and house speaker boehner had been
initially working on. this is going to be a much more scaled back version of a bill. just to sort of get over this hump. so i think that right now all parties believe that is really the main hope for getting something done, but you're absolutely right. the same sticking points remain, and that is going to be the problem moving forward over these next 24 hours. i think the pressure point comes when the markets have already started to react and, of course, if they fail to get a deal done by that all-important january 1st deadline, really everyone is going to be blamed for it. of course, the polls show that republicans will be blamed the most, but ultimately president obama will have to share some of that blame as well. so i think that right now that pressure point is one of the motivating factors in getting something done. >> kristin, stay with us. i just want to bring in joy reid from the grio and robert costa from "national review." we have just a brief moment before the president comes on here. robert, i want to start with you, mitch mcconnell is talking about the need for a bipartisan
deal. is that a positive sign in your view? >> it's a huge sign. if leader mcconnell is walking out of the white house and saying he's hopeful and optimistic, this is a man of few words. that means something is really in motion right now on capitol hill. as a reporter just said, the real question is the rates. if you see movement on unemployment insurance on the alternative minimum tax, a slew of other issues that could be attached to a package, that means these leaders are talking and deal sh in the works. it could come to the senate this weekend and go over to the house. >> squlou, what do you want to hear from the president right now? >> you know, i think the president -- what we'll probably hear from him is not a new package, no the new offers. i think the president is beyond the point of making offers now, and he'll call on the house and senate to do their jobs. one sort of thing we're getting in the notes that i'm sure you're seeing as well, richard, is the potential that the senate will be the ones to give complete cover to the house which don't seem to have the courage to act on coverage to t house, meaning they will take whatever it is that the house has been able to pass already, try to amend it to add things
like unemployment and then second that back to the house to sort of conference the bills. it's really a complete dereliction of duty. >> your could argue that it's a dereliction of duty, but the real story is something is happening. now the leaders are walking out of the white house saying something positive is happening. listen to the president today. it means there's something happening in the senate. >> christin, let me just welcome her from msnbc neez. we have a process here; is that correct? >> i think that that's correct. and what we are waiting to see are the terms. but i think that there is nooufmenoou movement. what you're going to see over the next 24 hours is absolutely right.
the focus is on the senate for them to come up with a package. and here's where nancy pelosi comes in. if you've got about 30 republicans, it could actually pass. >> good afternoon, everyone. i've been working with leaders to try to forge an agreement to grow our economy and shrink the deficit. a balanced plan that would cut spending a responsible way, but also ask the wealthiest americans to pay a little more and protect the middle class and everyone striving to get into the middle class. i still want to get this cone. it's the right thing for our families. but the hour for immediate action is here. it is now. we're now at the point where in just four days, every american's tax rates are scheduled to go up by law.
every american's paycheck will get considerably smaller. and that would be the wrong thing to do. it would be bad for middle class families and bad for businesses that depend on family spending. forchew nat ew fortunately, con can prevent it from happening. i just had a good discussion about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class. and i'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time. senators reid and mcconnell are working on such an agreement as we speak. but if an agreement isn't reached in time between senator reid and senator mcconnell, then i will urge senator reid to bring to the floor a basic
package for an up or down vote. one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike. guys, i can hear you over here. i believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities. if members of the house or the senate want to vote no, they can. but we should let everybody vote. that's the way this is supposed to work. if you can get a majority in the house and a majority in the senate, then we should be able to pass a bill. so the american people are watching what we do here. obviously, their patience is already thinned. this is deja vu all over again. america wonders why it is that in this town for some reason, you can't get stuff done in an
organized timetable. why everything always has to wait until the last minute. well, we're now at the last minute. and the american people are not going to have any patience for a politically, self-inflicted wound to our economy. not right now. the economy is growing, but sustaining that trend is going to require elected officials to do their jobs. the housing market is recovering, but that could be impacted. the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since 2008. but, already, you're seeing businesses and consumers starting to hold back because of the dysfunction that they see in washington. economists, business leaders all think that we're poised to grow in 2013 as long as politics in washington doechbt g don't get
america's progress. i just want to repeat. we had a constructive meeting today. senators reid and mcconnell are discussing a potential agreement where we can get a bipartisan bill out of the house and over to the senate so that we met the december 31st deadline. given how things have been working in this town, we always have to wait and see until it actually happens. the one thing the american people should not have to wait and see is some sort of action. i expect a bill to go on the floor, and i've asked senator reid to do this, to put a bill on the floor that makes sure classes on middle class families don't go up, and that lays the groundwork then for additional deaf sit reduction and economic growth steps that we can take in the new year.
but let's not miss this deadline. that's the bare minimum that we should be able to get done. and it shouldn't be that hard since democrats and republicans both say they don't want to see taxes go up on middle class families. i just have to repeat, outside of washington, nobody understands how this cemenseem e a repeat pattern. ordinary folks, they doo their jobs. they meet deadlines. they sit down and they discuss things and then things happen. if there are disagreements, they sort through the disagreements. the notion that our elected leadership can't do the same thing is mind boggling to them. and it needs to stop. i'm modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved.
let's make sure that middle class families and, in fact, the world economy, raren't going to be impacted people can't do their jobs. >> that was the president of the united states making a statement just about the talks on the fiscal cliff that he had been having with congressional leaders this afternoon. he said it was the bare minimum that congressional leaders could come up with a deal and it was the wrong thing to do to allow taxes to come up. i want to bring in christin welker. christin, it sounded like the president was saying he's got at least an agreement that should be an up or down vote, no matter what the agreement looks like on the senate and then on to the house. is that what you heard, too? >> reporter: that is what i heard. he essentially said, look, i asked reid and mcconnell to get
some sort of a compromise if they can't do this in a reasonable time, he's asking them to give an up or down vote on this bare minimum package that he outlined last friday that he talked about today, as well, extending the tax cuts as well as sort of staving off some of those deep cuts that are set to go into effect. but he also said he's modestly optimistic, which suggests this is certainly not a done deal. you also heard him talk about the fact that this is something the average american deems with every day. meeting deadlines. compromising. this is president obama's way of really acting these final days as the clock ticks down. so i think that president obama really trying too use his bully pulpit here to get s