tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC October 1, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PDT
including house speaker john boehner who responded by impersonating the president on the house floor. >> i talked to the president earlier tonight. i'm not going to negotiate. i'm not going to negotiate. i'm not going to do this. >> this morning the senate voted down the speaker's latest proposal, an 11th hour request, literally the request made at the 11th hour to resolve their differences in conference. according to congressman chris van hollen, it is a request that came after the house had a similar compromise roughly 18 times before. >> on 18 occasions, senator lee and other republican senators blocked the effort to go to budget negotiations. now, senator mccain said that was insane for republicans in senate to do because he pointed out our republican colleagues claim they want to work on the budget negotiations all along. why would you block that, mr. speaker? because when gow to a budget negotiation, you've got to compromise.
you've got to meet the party halfway. you've got a tea party in the house that refuses to compromise. >> meanwhile harry reid and mitch mcconnell continued to debate which side was truly at fault. >> government was closed because ir rationality what was going on on the other side of the capital. it's unfortunate but that's the way it is. >> they will say it's the mean old republicans or tea party or fox news or maybe even george w. bush. they shut down the government and now they are praying the american people will think somebody else is responsible. >> my friend, the republican leader, spoke as of george orwell wrote his speech. this is 1984 where up is down, down is up, east is west. >> while the president is due to address the nation from the rose garden this hour, one thing remains clear, the mighty 113th congress which passed even fewer laws than the 112th congress which itself passed fewer laws
than all other previous congresses has now officially hit rock bottom, probably. joining me today senior political reporter "politico" maggie and mark halperin senior political analyst and host of hardball, also the author of "tipping the gipper, when politics work." joining us from washington, press secretary robert gibbs. chris, i want to start with you. i want to ask you as someone who lives in washington and has lived through a lot of political brinksmanship, where do we go from here? >> this is a unique time. a lot of the media is trying to play this as something that happens regular. it hasn't happened in 17 years. even by that time we had appropriations bills passed by now. it wasn't a government shutdown. it wasn't a government shutdown. i'm wondering who is feeding the elephants at the washington zoo. what's still being done? the problem the president has and harry reid and mitch
mcconnell and the speaker has. nobody in politics is trusted anymore. there may be a time when you went on television and spoke, at least the facts were straight. when obama says this is a shutdown and they are taking nonnegotiable commands about taking a bill already in place. that's in flux. one more vote on obama care. no acceptance of fact. they speak from different pages. that's why it's very hard, if there's still somebody in the middle to figure out what's going on. >> not only are the facts fungible but who is speaking for the party is something that remains a mystery. when i say the party, the republican party. the question is for the president, who has taken a much harder line stance than he did in 2011, what does the white house do next? paul ryan made a statement a couple of days ago saying he was confident the president would cave and negotiate over the debt ceiling. i don't know. based on the president's behavior the last 24 hours, he
seems very resistant to any kind of hostage negotiations. >> look, well he should be. this, as the president said yesterday, this is one faction of one party in one house in one branch of government that has decided we will delay obama care for the simple right to fund government at a lesser sequestered level for two months. i mean, that's not a deal anybody would take. i think if you're the white house, you just sit back and watch. i don't think there's anything for you to do. i don't think there's anything you should do. i don't think they will negotiate in any way on a temporary fix to this. the tea party got the republicans into this. and some either facts the taker party or the rest of the republican party will have to get out of this. >> mark talks about the scramble and sitting back and watching. if it wasn't so devastating, it
was some kind of political theater last night, the back and forth between the house and senate,villification of various leaders in each party. who can pull the republican party together? the question is harry reid said point-blank we're not accepting anything but a clean funding bill that funds the government for six weeks. how do you get that through this current house of republicans. >> i think we're waiting for one of three things to happen or a combination. one is a senate deal that's bipartisan that then the house is under some pressure to pass. second would be for john boehner to just basically turn the floor of the house over to nancy pelosi and say i'll pass a continuing resolution or something else acceptable to democrats with democratic votes largely in the house. or the third thing we're waiting for is for john boehner to do something incredibly wacky and creative that he brings over enough husband republicans that he doesn't have to turn the floor over to the democrats. john boehner is really the man of the moment. more than the president, more than any senator, more even than
ted cruz, believe it or not. viewers of this program will be stunned to hear, in this case john boehner. >> viewers of this channel. >> john boehner has more influence. we're all students of john boehner. we all look at his face and try to figure out what's going on. the 75-second press conference did not tell us anything. >> 73 seconds. >> i rounded up to the nearest five. i don't know what he's going to do. what causes him to move. the president risked his job to pass universal health care. right now for this, the next crisis, the debt ceiling, to end john boehner is going to have to risk his job one way or the other. >> it's hard. very hard for me to see him saying, here you go, nancy pelosi. >> or any kind of democratic cooperation. last night i was on the air 1:00 to 2:00 in the morning. i apologize to anybody who watched that. no, it was a great program was a lot was happening. among things that happened speaker boehner came out for 73 second press conference, did not mention the words government shutdown. luke russert is kind of like a distant cousin, young nephew to
john boehner, they have a personal relationship on the hill. luke came out and said i have seen john boehner a lot. i know that face. he's upset, looks broken. the last time was in 2011 when he said he was no longer going to bargain or speak to president obama. i don't know what happened behind closed doors but i don't imagine it was anything good. >> i don't think. john boehner is someone who believes in the rule of order. this is upsetting for him. this isn't where he would like to be. i agree with mark. he'll have to be the wizard in the scenario. i agree with mark. interesting to see where the soresry comes from. i don't think it's option two. i don't think he'll turn the floor to the democrats. it will be the end of his speakership. if we were at that point, he'd be doing that already. i think it's going to have to be some other. >> the debt limit hits and the list of demands is even worse than just defunding obama care.
it's undoing greenhouse gas regulations, approving keystone, eliminating social service grants, eliminating dodd/frank. >> they are adding onto a problem that's beyond severe. i think when you notice ted cruz says he's really after the debt ceiling. john boehner is saying we'll push off this fight to the debt ceiling. they are loading down a crisis that's already critical. the problem is, people talk about the stove, you have to touch the stove to know it's hot. once you touch debt default and united states becomes a deadbeat in the world. you know how you take a plane ride and it says 1,000% safety rating. what if it said 75% safety rating or bungee jump, p 5% safety record. you don't get on the bungee jump, airplane again. who is going to buy bonds once we reneged once. we don't know. the problem is they take his baby -- they kidnap, they grab the baby and ask for the money.
in this case they grabbed the money and are asking for the baby. the parent doesn't give away the baby. it's like asking lyndon johnson to give you back medicare, voting rights or civil rights, or fdr to give you back social security. this is who they are historically. i think the democrats also feel this. i think it's one thing without the president being a great leader of the problem, which he's not, for whatever they are sticking with him on this, which is so interesting. a guy with no charm offensive, never worked them as individuals, yet they are sticking. >> i think that's a testament, probably, to how horrible it is to be dealing with the republican party. >> i want to say something else. if you watch democrats back to harry truman, certainly roosevelt they have made a promise, whoever is running, even a moderate democrat, the one thing we believe in and they don't believe in is national health. that's the one thing democrats believe in. it's part of the social democracy they want to advance. they don't have any other
advance plans, by the way. this has been sitting in the on-deck circle in baseball terms since i was born. i think they can't give it back. >> robert, to chris's point taking the money and asking for the baby, i think the president can not only give away the baby, he can't give away a rattle or booty. if he gives anything away, it then sets the precedent, okay, one can negotiate over the debt ceiling. that sort of happened in 2011. it sounds like the white house is going to dig its heels in. can he survive -- can the president survive numbers wise through a debt ceiling default setting aside the calamitous effects it would have on the american economy. >> that's what we're going to find out in a couple weeks. the one thing -- couple of differ things. you can't think of these events as separate events. i think they are part and parcel of a larger funding discussion. i don't think the american people are going to break out the shutdown from the debt limit. so the pain that republicans are causing themselves right now is going to affect, i think, their
ability to be persuasive and effective using what they think of as leverage for the debt limit. look, the president is not going to negotiate and put obama care in the middle of the table simply to fund government or simply to pay the bills that we've -- that congress has already approved. look, it would be a horrible precedent to set if he did. i don't think they will. i don't think there's anything to be gained by that. look, going back to mark's scenarios of one, two, and three. i don't think anything can happen unless or until we have several days of this shutdown. i mean, if you're a republican and you think this is a great strategy, there's no reason for you to cave today. if they don't cave today, it's probably hard to see how this unwinds before either the weekend or the beginning of next week. i think we're in a scenario where we're in a shutdown for five or six days and republicans will probably evaluate after
that. john boehner can't move on a number of those different scenarios right now. he just doesn't have the strength and he can't deliver enough votes to do it. >> mark, in terms of that scenario one about something happening in the senate and passing in a bipartisan fashion. other things passed in the senate in a bipartisan fashion and the house hasn't felt the need to move. we do have outspoken republicans from days preceding the shutdown and now and surely in the days coming up. mccain, corker, graham, burr, peter king has been no shrinking violet. charlie dent and tom cole. how much do they -- there was some talk yesterday that there was going to be an insurrection on house votes. enough of this, we're not shutting down government. does their power increase in the next few days? >> there's a lot of sources for democratic advantage, many listed before. they are united, white house is a much bigger bully pulpit on a lot of these arguments, the majority of the arguments the president has a stronger hand in
terms of public sentiment. the problem is the moderates can say all they want. a couple of missing figures. paul ryan, eric cantor, lets see if they after 48 hours of this decide something needs to change. >> someone else a missing figure israeli prime minister netanyahu here in the united states speaking at the u.n. general assembly. let us take a quick listen in. >> like everyone else, i wish we could believe rouhani's words. we must focus on you iran's action. it's extraordinary contradiction between rouhani's words and iran's actions that is so startling. rouhani stood at this very
podium last week and praised iranian democracy. ra iranian democracies. the regime he represents executes political dissidents by the hundreds and jails them by the thousands. rouhani spoke of, quote, the human tragedy in syria. yet iran directly participates in assad's murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children in syria. and that regime is propping up a syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people. rouhani condemned the, quote, violent scourge of terrorism. yet in the last three years alone, iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks
in 25 cities in five continents. rouhani denounces, quote, attempts to change the regional balance through proxies, yet iran is actively destabilizing, lebanon, yemen, bahrain and other middle eastern countries. rouhani promises, quote, constructive engagement with other countries. yet two years ago iranian agents tried to assassinate saudi arabia's ambassador in washington, d.c. and just three weeks ago an iranian agent was arrested trying to collect information for possible attacks against the american embassy in tel aviv. some constructive engagement. i wish i could be moved by rouhani's invitation to join his
wave, a world against violence and extremism. yet the only waves iran has generated in the last 30 years are waves of violence and terrorism that it has unleashed in the region and across the world. ladies and gentlemen, i wish i could believe rouhani, but i don't. because facts are stubborn things. and the facts are that iran's savage record flatly contradicts rouhani's soothing rhetoric. last friday rouhani assured us in pursuit of its nuclear program, iran -- this is a quote. iran has never chosen deceit and
secrecy, never chosen deceit and secrecy. while in 2002, iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility. then in 2009, iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain. rouhani tells us not to worry. he assures us all of this is not intended for nuclear weapons. any of you believe that. if you believe that, here is a few questions you might want to
ask. why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities? why would a country with vast natural energy reserves invest billions in developing nuclear energy? why would a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programs continue to defy multiple security council resolutions and incur the tremendous cost of crippling sanctions on its economy. why would a country with a peaceful nuclear program develop intercontinental ballistic missiles whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads.
you don't build itms to carry tnt thousands of miles away. you build them for one purpose, to carry nuclear warheads. and iran is building now icbms that the united states says could reach this city in three or four years. why would they do all this? the the answer is simple. iran is not building a peaceful nuclear program. iran is developing nuclear weapons. last year alone, iran enriched three tons of uranium to 3.5%, doubled its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium and added thousands of new centrifuges including advance centrifuges. it also continued work on the heavy water reactor in iraq.
that's in order to have another route to the bomb, a plutonium path. since rouhani's election, and i stress this, this vast and feverish effort has continued unabated. ladies and gentlemen, underground nuclear facilities, heavy water reactors, advance centrifuges, icbms. it's not that it's hard to find evidence that iran has a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons program, it's hard to find evidence that iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program. last year when i spoke here at the u.n., i drew a red line. now, iran has been very careful not to cross that line. but iran is positioning itself
to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing. iran wants to be in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it. yet iran faces one big problem. and that problem can be summed up in one word, sanctions. i've argued for many years, including on this podium, that the only way to peacefully prevent iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with credible military threats. that policy today is bearing fruit. thanks to the efforts of many
countries, many represented here, and under the leadership of the united states, tough sanctions have taken a big bite off the iranian economy. all revenues have fallen. the currency has plummeted. thanks are hard pressed to transfer money. so as a result the regime is under intense pressure from the iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or removed. that's why rouhani got elected in the first place. that's why he launched his charm offensive. he definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted. i guarantee you that. but he doesn't want to give up iranian's -- iran's nuclear weapons program in return. now here is a strategy to achieve this. first smile a lot. smiling never hurts.
second, pay lip service to peace, democracy and tolerance. third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions. and fourth, and the most important, ensure that iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time that it chooses to do so. you know why rouhani thinks he can get away with this? i mean, this is a ruse. it's a ploy. why does rouhani think he can get away with it? because he's gotten away with it before. because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past. he even brags about this.
here is what he said in his 2011 book about his time as iran's chief nuclear negotiator. and i quote, while we were talking to europeans in tehran, we were installing equipment. for those that don't know, the facility is an indispensable part of iran's nuclear weapons program. that's where uranium oo ore cal yellow cake is converted into number form. he boasted, and i quote, by creating a calm environment, a calm environment, we were able to complete the work. he fooled the world once. now he thinks he can fool it
again. see, rouhani thinks he can have his yellow cake and eat it, too. he has another reason to believe he can get away with this. that reason is called north korea. like iran, north korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. like iran, north korea also offered meaningless concessions and empty promises in return for sanctions relief. in 2005, north korea agreed to a deal that was celebrated the world over by many well meaning people. here is what "the new york times" editorial had to say about it. quote, for years now, foreign policy insiders appointed to north korea as the ultimate nightmare, a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an
aggressive nuclear weapons program. very few could envision a successful outcome. and yet north korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, return to the npt, abide by the treaty safeguards and admit international inspectors. and finally, diplomacy, it seems, does work after all. ladies and gentlemen, a year later north korea exploded its first nuclear weapons device. yet as dangerous as a nuclear armed north korea is, it pales in comparison to the danger of a nuclear armed iran. a nuclear armed iran would have a choke hold on the world's main
energy supplies. it would trigger nuclear proliferation throughout the middle east turning the most unstable part of the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger. a nuclear armed iran in the middle east wouldn't be another north korea, it would be another 50 north koreas. now, i know that some in the international community think i'm exaggerating this threat. sure, they know iran's regime leads these chants, death to america, death to israel, that it pledges to wipe israel off the map, but they think that this wild rhetoric is just bluster for domestic
consumption. have these people learned nothing from history? the last century taught us when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later its appetite for aggression knows no bounds. that's the central lesson of the 20th century. we cannot forget it. the world may have forgotten this lesson, the jewish people have not. iran's fanaticism is not pl bluster. it's real. this regime must not be allowed to arm itself with nuclear weapons. i know that the world is weary of war. we in israel, we know all too well the cost of war. but history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we must
be firm today. this raises the question can diplomacy stop this threat. the only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully dismantles iran's nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future. president obama rightly said that iran's conciliatory words must be matched by transparent verifiable and meaningful action. and to be meaningful, a diplomatic solution would require iran to do four things. first, cease all uranium enrichment. this is called for by several security council resolutions. second, remove from iran's territory the stockpiles of
enriched uranium. third, dismantle the infrastructure for nuclear breakout capability, including the underground facility and the advanced centrifuges. four, stop all work at the heavy water reactor in iraq aimed at the production of plutonium. these steps would put an end to iran's nuclear weapons program and eliminate its breakout capability. there are those who would readily agree to leave iran with residual capability to enrich uranium. i advise them to pay close attention to what rouhani said in a speech to iran's supreme cultural revolution, supreme cultural revolutionary council
in 2005. quote, here is what he said. a country that can enrich uranium to about 3.5% will also have the capability to enrich it to 90%. having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons. precisely. this is why iran's nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiabley dismantled and why the pressureoff on iran must be continued. here is what the international community must do. first, keep up the sanctions. if iran advances its nuclear weapons program during negotiations, strengthen the sanctions. second, don't agree to a partial deal. a partial deal would lift
international sanctions that have taken years to put in place in exchange for cot mekt concessions that will take only weeks for iran to reverse. third, lift the sanctions only when iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons program. my friends, the international community has iran on the ropes. if you want to knock out iran's nuclear weapons program peacefully, don't let up the pressure. keep it up of we all want to give diplomacy with iran a chance to succeed. when it comes to iran, the greater the pressure, the greater the chance. three decades ago, president
ronald reagan famously advised, trust but verify. when it comes for iran's nuclear weapons program, here is my advice. distrust, dismantle, and verify. ladies and gentlemen, israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. against such a threat, israel will have no choice but to defend itself. i want there to be no confusion on this point. israel will not allow iran to get nuclear weapons. if israel is forced to stand alone, israel will stand alone. yet in standing alone, israel
will know that we will be defending many, many others. the dangers of a nuclear armed iran and emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, israel is not their enemy. this affords us the opportunity to overcome historic animosities and build new relationships, friendships, new hopes. israel welcomes engagement with the wider world. we hope our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future. israel continues to seek an historic compromise with our palestinian neighbors, one that ends our conflict once and for
all. we want peace in which a demilitarized state recognize state of israel. i remain committed to historic reconciliation and building a better future for israelis and palestinians alike. now, i have no allusions about how difficult this will be to achieve. twenty years ago the peace process through israel and palestinians began. six israeli prime ministers, myself included, have not succeeded in achieving peace with palestinians. my predecessors were prepared to make painful concessions. so am i. but so far palestinian leaders haven't been prepared to offer painful concessions they must make in order to end the confli
conflict. for peace to be achieved, finally recognize the jewish state. israel security needs must be met. i'm prepared to make a historic moment for genuine and enduring peace but i will never compromise on the security of my people and my country, the one and only jewish state. ladies and gentlemen, one cold day in the late 19th century, my grandfather nathan and his younger brother judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of europe. they were seen by a group of anti-semitic hoodlums who ran towards them waving clubs,
screaming, "death to the jews." my grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself. he then stood alone against the raging mob to slow it down. they beat him senseless. they left him for dead. and before he passed out, covered in his own blood, he said to himself, what a disgrace. what a disgrace. the descend ants of the mackabees line the mud powerless to defend themselves. he promised himself if he lived, he would take his family to the jewish homeland and help build a future for the jewish people.
i stand here today as israel's prime minister because my grandfather kept that promise. and so many other israelis have a similar story, a parent or grandparent who fled every conceivable oppression and came to israel to start a new life in our ancient homeland. together we've transformed a bludgeoned jewish people left for dead into a vibrant thriving nation defending itself with the courage of modern mackabees, developing limitless possibilities for the future. in our time the biblical prophesies are being realized. as the prophet amos said, they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them.
they have plant vineyards and drink their wine. they shall till gardens and eat their fruits. i will plant them upon their soil never to be uprooted again. [ speaking foreign language ] ladies and gentlemen, the people of israel have come home, never to be uprooted again. [ applause ] >> that was israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu speaking at the united nations.
robert, just underscoring the many things that are on president obama's plate, netanyahu basically excoriating rouhani's character, questioning whether this engagement iran is proposing is constructive at all, calling rouhani a wolf in sheep's clothing. how much does this underline the foreign policy the president is seeking in the middle east and specifically his negotiations with iran? >> none. i think this was as netanyahu's speeches in front of the world tend to be directed only at a domestic audience in israel. i don't think israel helps itself in some of the rhetoric that you heard from the prime minister, particularly the notion that the world may have forgotten what happened in the 20th century. i don't think that's the case. i don't think the imagery of israel standing alone is ever
going to be the case. i think the president believes exactly what netanyahu said, sanctions in the threat of military force have brought the iranians to this point. he has no intention of letting the iranians off the hook. every step in this process is going to have to be met by iranians doing something. but in the end, i don't think prime minister netanyahu does himself a huge amount of good with that speech. >> chris, what did you make of it in terms of basically distrust, dismantle and verifies suggestion for iran's nuclear program, casting aspersions on legitimacy of the position and coming to the president with the message of wanting to work together and negotiate on some of this stuff. is president obama's agenda set back at all. >> no one wants to hear that because it's depressing. it may well be true. sometimes telling the truth at a time when people are hopeful and optimistic about a new relationship with iran.
maybe distrust is a strong word but has been their pattern. energy is not the future. why are they doing it when they have all this oil. do they want a situation, as the prime minister said, race across the finish line, the red line any time they want to. that's going to be the american negotiating position. stopping them short may not be enough for israel. what i found com telling in what he said, his statement from one of the toughest leaders in the world. if nobody is with us, i'm going. don't get that confused with waiting for the americans. this ain't a team support. got it? it isn't a team support. israel has to protect itself. >> it was a very striking remark. i don't think it's a setback for president obama. i don't think it's what he wants to hear. i don't think there's much point in pretending they have a great relationship anyway. he has seen his audience as very different. it's a very focused statement.
i think chris is right. he's speaking with historical precedent. you listen to the arguments he laid out, they are fairly compelling. >> yeah. go ahead, mark. >> yesterday's visit with the president was stage managed, there was no tension coming out of it. the reality is the president has in the region and really around the world new to speak not only strongly and clearly, has to have relationship with allies. it can't afford another misstep now. there's a lot of scepticism. people around the world, they wish him the best, hope he succeeds but doubt his willingness to follow through watching this. there's a lot of scepticism. i look to as much as anybody. a great piece in the "new york times." the implementation, follow-through, all the concerns netanyahu has are really front and center. the president and his team has to be on those where there's no distance. >> let me say one thing.
i lived in israel, it's a small country. the idea of anybody building their future there, a parent, grandchildren staying there, please stay here, don't go to new york, l.a., stay here. you won't be as successful economically but you'll be in the homeland, even if you're secular, means so much to people here. the minute a country like iran has a nuclear weapon pointed right at israel, nobody is going to live there. nobody is going to build their lives there. they absolutely historically have to get rid of the nuclear threat. it isn't about who is the current leader of the secular forces, what do the mullahs think this week. you can't live in a country where mullahs decide whether you live or not. that's why i has to fight so hard. he may not be a charming character but i don't think it's about charm. it's about stark threat. >> and force. robert gibbs, thank you so much for hanging with us. we hope to get you back again soon. president obama is expected to deliver a statement on the government shutdown and
affordable care act from the white house rose garden in a few moments. we'll bring you live. first, shut downs a by product before. in the past there was a sense compromise was around the corner. we will ask chris matthews about tip and gipper and revisit the halcion time when politics worked. humans. we are beautifully imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world.
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led by a guy named newt gingrich shut down the government. chris matthews tip and the gipper, when politics worked reminds us it wasn't always like this. chris matthews describes battles of ronald reagan and leader of democratically controlled house speaker tip o'neill from 1981 to 1986. the story is a memoir recalling
matthew top aide and a road to how the democratic system can function. tip and gipper tackled same issues the 113th congress has proved incapable of resolving, government shutdowns, battles over government shutdowns and debt ceiling programs but their solutions were entirely different. when it came to raising the debt ceiling, chris matthews writes, speaker o'neill made a request. he wanted top liaison to relay back to his boss precisely what the deal would be that he, tip o'neill, wanted a personal note from each and every member of the house asking his or her support in the debt ceiling. he agreed on the spot and carried it back to reagan. he asked for letters arrived the next day, all 243 of them. it was a small, telling episode. here was the democratic congressional leader proposing a wholly pragmatic soocease-fire.
o'neill proposed avoiding harm to either party. with the federal government closed for business and a default on america's credit in a few weeks, chris matthews offers a look back and path forward. chris, congratulations. >> thank you. >> it could not come at a more important time. >> i worked there six years. it's sort of my material. the one part in my life i was at the berlin wall, in south africa when they had the election there. i was with this guy every morning. chris, what do you hear? anything special. where are we at? i had to tell him everything. he had been elected 50 times to office, big liberal, last mant standing against this incredibly charismatic president. at the end of the day, these two guys would find a way to deal. they would do it in a gruff way. reagan would say tough things. sometimes alan greenspan had to be brokers for social security deal, tax reform, lower all rates to 28%.
the rich loved it. but same rate for long-term capital gains and earned incomes. liberals get a piece of it, conservatives get a piece of it, the deal is cut. same thing with big tax increase. reagan worried about the deficit, get 100 votes, you get 118 from me. give me 100. tax reform deal, the one i mentioned, he said give me 50, i'll take the rest. we're not taking heat from the corporations. they always managed -- they were so interesting how intricate they were about this. they also could use the other guy. he would beg reagan in a secret letter, i know what it is now. i will never tell anybody this if you get maggie thatcher to change the policy in northern ireland so there will be peace up there, i'll never tell anybody about it. he went over to gorbachev when gorbachev first became the leader. he said reagan and i disagree but i completely trust him on nuclear arms reduction. he wants to do it. we're all behind it. when liberals tried to push the
freeze thing right in the middle of the meeting, ron from berkeley said cool it. please cool it. this guy has a bargain. he said no fighting over spending. we can't be fighting over that. patriotism, personal stuff, praying together when reagan was shot, reciting psalms together. this personal relationship and patriotic relationship can supersede the political. that's what we don't have today. >> also say mark, talking about speaker boehner having no idea what he's going to do. you're talking about one of the two parties is effectively at war with itself. there is a real question about who is the true leader of the republican party, the hard to negotiate and have relationships when there is such infighting going on on one side of the aisle. >> look, those are two incredible men chris documents had affinity and common ground. the times were different. you tell me if we had fox news,
drudge report, rush limbaugh in -- >> the heritage foundation. >> in the 1980s and all the things on the left, the pressures on them were a lot less great in the news circle. 6:30, they had to sit through half hour of news. they are extraordinary guys. if they were here now, i'd like to think they would be doing what they did. times are different. >> also, tip was the real leader of the liberals. he was the most liberal of them all. reagan was the new leader of the conservatives. when they spoke or dealt in that back room. john boehner not really a tea party guy at all. he has to think what's my chief of stat going to say in the car on the way back to the hill. what is he going to do. tip didn't have to worry. even lebanon he'd take on the party and say we're keeping that in lebanon. he didn't like doing it.
boehner is going to face the moment of truth. are you willing to break with your majority. >> the other thing is, at the time no one thought we'd have anything but a democratic speaker of the house. no one thought we'd have anything but a republican president. they both had president safe perches. >> talking about leaders that don't face a lot of questioning from their own ranks, nancy pelosi is much better analog for tip o'neill. >> very strong. >> look how democrats behaved over all the shutdown back and forth, they have effectively stood in line and done what she has asked them to do. >> absolutely true. you can't say that about other legislative fights, obama care being significant among them. when they get criticized for not applying the same lens to the democratic side, democrats are standing together, republicans are not. the other thing i would say to mark's point about the different contenth and media cycle, you have house members, and senate members, but house members able to cultivate their own brands and they are very focused on that in a way they are not over
the national brand. the ability to do that didn't exist in the same way. i do think that is a big piece of it. you are seeing a national brand that is taking a hit in the way the democratic brand is not. you saw that in quinnipiac numbers. part of that for several reasons. twenty years of messaging against democrats. democrats are big government lovers. it's very hard for voters to accept they are the ones who are shutting this down. i think this is all part and parcel of why it is a different time. >> chris, when we look to tip and the gipper, i think if you read it, you think can we get back there. you lay out a couple rules, explain how this happened anecdotally and analysis. as ezra klein writes at some point we have to adapt to the partisan landscape we have rather than imagine we can turn to i had logically mixed parties and bipartisanism of the mid 20th century. >> the voters have to be respected.
they did vote for obama. the tricky part is today 230 seats held by republicans in the house voted against obama. so the majority of the house voted against him in terms of their grassroots. it's hard for them to buck that. there's another thing, respect for each other's offices. obama has not done a good job with keeping in contact and respecting and liking politicians in this country. it's hurt him. the more he deals -- reagan was a fantastic lobbyist. that's another thing. you can still do that in the 21st century. >> and loved politics. there was a joy in being a politician. >> he was impressed with the fact got elected 20, 30 years. it meant something to them. >> the book "tip and the gipper, when politics worked." it's on sale now. >> as of today. >> as of today. chris matthews, thank you. don't forget to catch chris tonight and every week onnight on hardball. thank you for joining us today. joy reid in for me tomorrow.
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right now on "andrea mitchell reports," closed for business. thousands of federal workers furloughed. how long will the government shutdown last? we'll hear from president obama in moments. xx xxxx it's a mess, like kids on a playground, fighting, fighting, ridiculous. >> unpaid leave. >> it's okay if it's a half day. if it's weeks, that could be a serious problem. you know, with this congress, you