Transcript for Roundtable: This Week in Politics
years old that I recall even learning what a u.S. Senator was, and the person who fascinated me most was this man of japanese descent with one arm, full of dignity and grace, and so to see this man, this senator, this powerful, accomplished person who was not a central cast, the way he commanded the respect of an entire nation, I think it hinted to me what might be possible in my own life. President obama remembering senator daniel inouye on friday. A rare moment in washington where democrats and republicans came together. That american hero. We'll talk about the rest of the week's politicians on our roundtable joined by peggy noonan of "the wall street journal," mayor cory booker of newark, abc's political analyst matthew dowd, also grover norquist, also an nra board MEMBER AND KATRINA vanden Heuvel, publisher and editor of "the nation," and you also write a weekly column for washingtonpost.Com. You have a blow-by-blow account of how the speaker's plan collapsed after the president's plan collapsed, as well. In your view what went wrong? It seems like there were so many wrong turns and an absolute collapse. Yeah, it has been a bit of a debacle, I think you can say. I think the speaker has been in an impossible situation, and i think that he tried to put forward a plan that just might save things a little, and it didn't work. I do think part of the story, which doesn't get enough attention from folks like us, is that the president has been a little michael corleone towards the republicans in the negotiationsehner and that essentially he is saying when boehner says, I'll give you this, I'll give you this, i think the president is saying this is what I'll give you, nothing. He doesn't want to reduce spending. The republicans are willing to bend on taxes but spending is where the real action is, and i really do think that this may go up to the end and may go over. I think that's very possible. Matthew dowd, one of the things the white house will argue they did the spending cuts last year. No question of the president taking a firm line in these negotiations but speaking of the impossible situation, that peggy just mentioned, it does appear no matter what speaker boehner negotiates with the president, it is something that cannot get through his conference. Well, first, merry christmas to you and your family and everybody here. Happy holidays to all that and have a sticker my daughter made me wear santa claus until santa claus comes, better be nice and not naughty. I think this demonstrates, this fiscal cliff and I know we'll talk about the whole debate over hometown or newtown which I actually think encompasses a problem that's systematic in this country. The dogma on the far left and far left stake out purity of positions and doesn't allow the people in the middle that have to gain the yards on the field to get the job they need to get done and both stick to a dogma that's not true and the public doesn't believe. They want to stick to a dogma you can't raise taxes and democrats say you can't do anything to fix entitlements and the only way you can really fix this fiscal problem that exists, which is even if you resolve the fiscal cliff, we still have a fiscal problem is go in the middle and argue over both tax increases which everybody knows needs to go up in order to fix it and spending cuts and entitlements. It may not exist in washington. On your point about dogma, grover norquist, of course, you popularized the no tax pledge for many years. On this plan by the speaker which would have allowed taxes to go up, your group said it wasn't a tax increase and that still wasn't good tough for a lot of house republicans. L's understand, there is a plan to actually solve the debt that's been run up, the deficits to continue, the entitlement reform and tax reform to get more pro-growth, tax reform, and that's the ryan plan, which hasctually passed twice by the house of representatives. People can talk -- no support from the president. It's not going anywhere. The democrats haven't done a budget in three, four year, haven't put anything forward that deals with entitlements. There's one and only one plan that has actually been passed by one house. The president hasn't put anything forward that fixes entitlements. His budget, his plan if you continue it out, you know, to 2040, 2050 takes 38% of gdp and the economy collapses. This gets to an issue which others have brought up during the week. It is -- you're right, congressman ryan's plan passed the house but there has been an election and house republicans are only one part of of washington right now. And the president is only one part. The republicans actually passed a budget that -- not a budget, not just a budget but a budget plan that goes out through the year, gives you entitlement reform and pro-growth tax reform and doesn't have to raise taxes, the left wants to raise taxes but you don't have to balance the budget. They have a plan. They've passed it and got re-elected having done that. The senate got re-elected because they never voted on anything. Only way they were able to get re-elected. Haven't put something forward and the president's plan w an outline that the house and senate voted against. You can't vote you have a mandate when your own party voted against it. Katrina. There was an election. Americans voted very clearly for a sense of different priorities than grover norquist has stood for. One was that the richest in this country paid their fair share and I also resist very strongly matthew dowd with the good band-aid and all but what he said about the left and right. It's not just the left, it's not just the right, the progressives but americans in survey after survey support social security, medicare and to take social security away from widowed women when the richest are paying the lowest taxes in modern memory is not about being a compassionate country in this time of season, it is about a time that's lost its way. There are good ways to reduce the debt and deficit but the largest issue, george, is that this is a manufactured crisis. We don't have a short-term deficit problem. We have a jobs and growth problem and faltering recovery but we should put off the sequester, put off this grand bargain, come back, let the bush tax cuts expire, make sure the middle class -- you're saying just go off the cliff at this time? The cliff is a manufactured media drama but the largest point is to say that the left are progressives supporting the great reforms of -- I would -- at a time when the richest are paying their lowest -- I would discount that maybe but on january 2nd when everyone's taxes go up, it may not feel manufactured but real to an awful lot of americans. That's the point and this is what folks don't understand. Where she's making a strong point is we're taking this, this incredible mallet and about to smash america and the people who will suffer are those in my community who want to go to college and lose avenues about how to do that, about the fbi agents cut that are protecting our borders and our nation from a challenge. People will be cut out on programs that support the poorest americans get access to healthy food and a strong strength for their children and this is what bothers me right now. There is a way forward through this. There is a way forward and, peggy, I want to bring it back to you. It does seem if you look at the constellation of forces in washington, the only way that something is actually going to get to the president's desk is if house speaker john boehner agrees to let there be a vote on something that will get democratic votes and republican votes and probably shear off his most conservative members. That may be true. That may be where this whole thing ends, but I think it still has to be made, this point, that everybody, republicans included on capitol hill, they all know there's going to be a tax increase. They know it. Done. This is coming. Even if it doesn't come in sequester, it's going to come in a deal, so they all know that, but for two reasons, one for the seriousness of it, a $16 trillion long-term debt has to be dealt with and also so republicans can say, okay, we got something, a little fiscal sanity, in return for a tax increase. There ought to be plenty room for there because the president and the house -- the president suggested -- the president has spending cuts. The reality is there's been compromise and there's been give and we have a way forward not to hurt american people and what we're driving ourselves to is a real fiscal cliff, there will be thousands of dollars cut for families barely making their mortgage payments or barely holding on and so to have a ridiculous debate right now when real american families are in the lurch now are going to be suffering in ways that most in washington don't understand. What's the way out? Then why doesn't the president stop this? He is the one that can deal with boehner. He's tried -- not allowing -- george, the way out ultimately has to be right down the middle. Right down the middle where there's a series of compromises. Every good leadership is about both conservative ideas and progressive ideas, we have to move forward, move forward into the future and conserve thoughts that are helpful to the country. Leadership is about both of those ideas. Da. But -- wait, katrina. The problem we have is both the left and the right set down markers on the table and grover and his group said we can do it without raising taxes on the wealthy. We passed a bill. You cannot call for a sacrifice and say we won't -- we know the dynamics of medicare, medicaid and social security, the demography of this country cannot sustain those -- I want to make a deal with grover. I want to make a deal with grover. There are fair share ways to reduce the deficit. The short-term deficit isn't the main problem we have, but the republicans last week voted to keep the defense budget out of the cuts, out of the sequester. I would like to say to mr. Norquist that the left and the right, citizens of conscious and sanity, should agree that the most loaded, defensive one is the defense budget and make cuts this that and do a financial transaction tax and those are the drivers of the problems of our economy, social security shouldn't by law cannot contribute to the federal deficit so it shouldn't even be in the same sentence with debt. While we talk about imaginary things that might happen in the future, on january 1st and 2nd ave the very real thing that nobody talked about and people know at home haveneen hey the press, a series of tax increases to pay for obama care that start january 2nd in this country. The president has taken those off the table. This is not part of the sequester or the fiscal cliff. This is a trillion dollar tax increase over the next decade that just hit. So there's a $20 billion to $30 billion over the next 10 years tax on medical devices that make stents, prosthetic devices -- all signed into law by the president. The law of the land, 90% of the tax incrs to pay for obama care conveniently, interestingly took effect, begin to take effect after the president got himself safely re-elected. If you're a poor person and you get sick, and you have 7 1/2% of your adjustable gross income used up in medical costs, the president decided, the democrats in congress voted, to take that -- I get your point -- average americans who are very sick are paying $2 billion to $3 billion more in taxes to pay for obama care. These are tax increases on the middle class put there by obama. He wants you to talk about taxing the rich as he's busy socking it to the middle class. I'm sorry. There is a luxury of a debate that washington may have, that folks like me on the ground in cities all across america don't have. I've got to balance a budget. But what we've had to do in newark is cut our workforce almost 25% and cut government spending almost 22 but we've had to raise taxes as well because it's a pragmatic way forward. But this is what I learned in newark. If you start cutting programs for the poor, you start to inflict a damage not on the poor but on yourself because in this country, it's the truth. It's easier to raise strong children than to heal broken men. We wonder why we have such high prison systems and high medical costs, we're not making the front end investments in colleges and universities and cut their ago central into college and universities, we may get a short-term benefit but lose the long-term gain. I think our table is reflecting why congress is having trouble, as well. The other big debate over how to confront violence in schools and across the country. We saw that press conference by wayne LaPierre on friday. The national rifle association executive vice president, and, boy, did it draw a fierce reaction. Look at the cover of "the new yond "daily news." "Daily news," craziest man on earth, "new york post," "gun nut." Grover, you are a member of the board of the nra and I know you agree with the positions of the organization, but do you think that performance helped your cause on friday? Well, what's interesting is the reaction to when wayne LaPIERRE BECAUSE HE HEADS THE Nra. When bill clinton introduced the same idea on april 16th in 1999 after columbine, federal money for armed guards at schools, you didn't see the -- but that didn't matter. Well, it may have, but i think this interesting point that the idea is one that has a bipartisan background, I know that the leadership of the nra was just over in israel meeting with the people who do the training for the people who carry guns in schools to protect children. These are -- this is an idea that seems fairly reasonable, and when presented by bill clinton, you know, new yorkers didn't attack it, and so I think part of what we're seeing I think sadly is, again, rahm emanuel's comment "never let a good crisis go to waste," and gun advocates jumped on every tragedy and tried to exploit it. I think the nra did well to hold off for awhile in responding. I take what you say about the mood of it. Here's something that I think was important, the first half of THE wayne LaPierre statement in which he passionately scored our culture, the video games, the movies, the whole thing, we've all been through this for 25 years, and yet we cannot say it enough, our culture is helping to make unstable people sick and dangerous. It does make a contribution. He was right to say it. I was delighted to hear it. I am for the banning of the extended magazines or extended clips -- I can never figure out exactly how to say that, but i know what it is. I don't think there's any reason to have 33 bullets in a killing machine that you can take into a place like a sl. I think there are simple and discreet measures that can be taken on capitol hill such as the banning of the magazines that could actually be helpful for our country and would give us a feeling of relief. George, I don't know -- please, please. I don't know if anybody here has seen anybody shot. I have. I don't know if anybody here has had to put their hand in somebody's chest and stop their bleeding. I have. So they don't die. And the false debate, it's a false debate. This is a convenient trick to try to divide our country more. Most of us in america including gun owners agree on things that would stop the carnage going on in all cities in america. Let me agree with grover. All the shootings in my city, only one was done by a law-abiding citizen who bought a gun. Buy the guns you want. But the problem is in america right now is that a terrorist person who is on the no-fly list could go into the secondary market today and buy a weapon. We need to shut down these secondary markets and when you members, 74% agree that nobody in america should be able to buy a gun without doing a background debate. Let's stop the false debate. Cory is right. This is a false -- shut down -- part of what happens, this is so many things in washington, it's built on myths. And it's not reality, and the nra and the leadership of the nra is built on myth. I would not have guessed that anybody who had diminished credibility could get up and diminish their credibility more than what wayne LaPIERRE DID FRIDAY. Average folks, like cory said, average folks know you have to do something about this and know how comprehensive. I live in texas. I own five guns, and all the folks I associate with, when you go out hunting, you take your guns and you put them in a safe and everybody goes to bed. It's the wild west everybody talks about the wild west, the wild west, almost every part of the wild west you check your guns at the door before you walk in somewhere in a wild west town is the way it used to be. I worked for senator bentsen who you know. Senator bentsen represented texas. He helped pass the assault weapons ban. Though it may not solve the problem, I expected wayne LaPIERRE, I ACTUALLY EXPECTED wayne LaPierre to stand up and say exactly what he said and then say, oh, by the way, I have stuck to too many dogmatic positions for too long and it's time to ban the -- this is the importance. The nra is built on myths at this point in many ways. The nra has 4 million members. It is essentially a lobby for gun manufacturers. Not for its members, who the majority of them according to a poll commissioned by frank luntz, a republican pollster, do not agree with the nra's positions on background checks, on the ban on assault weapons. I think that's important because the nra myth has put us in a stranglehold in this country. The other thing, I respect the noble sentiments about the need to treat mental illness and deal with the video games but other western industrialized countries have those problems and have video culture. Japan is at the cutting edge and don't allow access to military assault-style -- this is not about freedom but tyranny and destruction. This is what frustrates -- the mental illness argument has been used to evade action. More guns and bullets, more dead children. We must, must regulate guns and I do think it's a tipping point moment. Not just "the daily news" and "the new york post" but you're seeing pro-nra senators like senator manchin, senator warner, governor hickenlooper in colorado, others saying we must move, speed is of the essence. Senator manchin said we have to consider everything. Let me give grover a chance to respond to some of this now. Look, the national rifle association represents a great number of americans and 20% will tell you in polls that they belong to the nra, and so one is a very important issue, one, we should support the first amendment, as well as the second amendment. I'm not sure -- some people's suggestions of censorship worries me. One, we ought to calm down and not take tragedies like this and use them for political purposes. President obama has been president for four years. If he thought that some gun control would solve this problem, he should have been pushing it four years ago. He didn't. Democrats had a majority in the house and supermajority in the house and senate for the first two years that they were in office. If they thought that this was really an important issue, they might have done something then. They didn't so what they're now doing is politicizing a tragedy rather than trying to do something that might -- I'm sorry. One point is very important. What happened in connecticut was a grievous tragedy, but every single day in america, every single day, people in communities like mine go to bed fearing violen you see 34 people murdered every single day, and with carnage like this going on regularly in our country, when you have gun owners and nongun owners and nra members and non-nra members all agree on changes that would make cities like mine safer. I'm tired of the political debates. They're not necessary. I'm tired of the ideological positions. We don't even need to visit them. Let's stick to the pragmatic center where all americans believe the same thing and let's pass legislation that would make america -- and pragmatism means what works, and those states with concealed carry permits that allow honest and decent citizens to carry a gun with them, they have less crime, and the crime has fallen faster than -- when there's a bad kid in the school yard with a baseball bat, we don't give everybody else baseball bats and say, go to deal with it and defend yourself. What we do is take the baseball bat away and sit down and say what can we do to make -- we have to take the baseball bat away from the bully. Look at the data. One out of two women being murdered by a gun are being murdered by someone they love. The ones that have shut those down, they've reduced murders by 40%. Didn't eliminate them. I'm not saying this will solve the problem but eliminating the secondary problem, so a terrorist can't fly on a plane, stop them from -- are there any of these -- any of these proposals that everyone here is calling common sense? Do you think the nra is open to considering any -- any kind of reforms in the wake of this tragedy? Well, the argument is, look, we ought to do things that work and we ought to not do things that don't work and we have to take a look at what has worked and drop the number of murders, rapes and robberies and have more with concealed carry permits in your state. The data is clear, it's been out there for decades. We know what works, which is allowing honest people to carry guns on themselves. It also shows the states that have the more gun regulation and less gun ownership have lower levels of gun violence. No, chicago is probably the most heavily regulated city and state in the nation, illinois -- come on. Look where -- I've been coming back, other countries, I come back to this, even individualistic countries, you know, like australia, in 1996 they had a gun rampage. You take the guns out, as cory said, you begin to take the guns out, you begin to reduce the harmn be done -- but don't we -- ? There's no question -- two small points, two discreet points. There are many americans who are very pro-second amendment but they are not gun people themselves. I can tell you let me speak for them for a moment. We consider the phrases like "assault weapons," "semiautomatics," "automatic, "assault rifles." All of those appear to be terps of art used by people who occasionally are trying to mislead. I wish publicly we could make clear exactly which of these weapons are most dangerous, most unhelpful and most unneeded. We could do that publicly and we could take a week and do that. I wish that would happen. Another angle for a second. I'll let you finish your point. I think someone has to fairly make the point here that americans have guns. Not only because they love the sport, not only because they love hunting, not only because they think it is their right. Not only in some cases because they're a little nutty and love guns, they alsve guns because they are afraid. They think their society and their culture are very frail and in trouble. They think someday they may be on their own. They want guns to protect themselves and protect their families. I thinat has to be respected and not denigrated. So the military assault weapons -- a military assault weapon which can pump 30 to 40 bullets in the face of a kid, that's what we need to protect ourselves from in this country. Those things I am against but the idea of gun ownership and some significant gun ownership and strength is not to be denigrated. You didn't completely understand. Look, we have to understand the culture. We and a lot of americans are blue after newtown because they think we can't turn this around. We are going to descend into -- we're having a long debate again. Oh, my. Listen to me. The people dying in chicago, the people dying in newark are not being done with law-abiding gun owners. We do not need to go after the guns. A law-abiding mentally stable america, that's not america's problem. This is -- chicago, where are chicago's guns coming from? We trace the weapons coming into my city, and when residents say stop the carnage, look at the guns we're tracing, I have no power to stop them coming into my city, as rahm does in chicago, they're coming from places that have free secondary markets where criminals and gun runners buy them so easily and pump them into communities like mine and easy for a person like a criminal to get his hands on a gun. No person -- the nra included -- no person could justify a system in america where somebody like the mumbai terrorists who didn't use a bomb who used automatic and semiautomatic weapons that you could so easily get in this country -- that's why law enforcement -- -- machine guns in this country. Wait a minute. We're finding these weapons on our street. Onmore, my police director, 25-year professional has never seen as many semiautomatic weapons and they're not coming from law-abiding citizens. They're coming from a secondary trade. So clear -- the gang bangers, who is using them? Who is killing people? Criminals are killing people. That will have to be the last word today. This has been a terrific debate. Obviously it will continue. Thanks to everyone on the roundtable. Have a good holiday. Grover norquist will stick around and answer your questions. When we come back, a look at the white house's christmas spirit. vacation earth. (All) the gulf!
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