tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC December 19, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PST
president obama is signaling he's serious about reforming the nation's gun laws, is congress? it's wednesday, december 19th, and this is "now." joining me today, radio host of studio 360 and author of "true believers," kurt andersen. washington bureau chief for "the huffington post," ryan grim, and eric bates. you are looking live at the white house where president obama is scheduled to speak any minute now for the third time since friday's massacre at sandy hook elementary school. he's scheduled to announce vice president joe biden will lead a task force to combat gun violence. obama's announcement will come
against the back drop of four funerals and three wakes to be held today for victims of the shooting. the nra announced it will hold a news conference on friday. it's unclear what the group will say or what it will do, but a statement said in part, "the nra is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." in recent days, the gun industry has faced pressures. gun makers have seen their stock prices fall and yesterday a major equity firm announced it would sell the company that manufactured the gun alleged used in the shooting by adam lanza. in california, lawmakers introduced legislation to require background checks on anyone who purchases ammunition, and rick snyder vetoed legislation that would have permitted concealed weapons in schools. the president is coming now. let's take a listen and hear
what he has to say. >> good morning, everybody. it's now been five days since the heartbreaking tragedy in newtown, connecticut. three days since we gathered as a nation to pray for the victims, and today a few more of the 20 small children and six educators who were taken from us will be laid to rest. we may never know all the reasons why this tragedy happened. we do know that every day ameri violence. we know such violence has terrible consequences for our society. and if there's even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try. over these past five days, the discussion has reemerged as to what we might do, not only to deter mass shootings in the future, but to reduce the
epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day. and it's encouraging that people of all different backgrounds and beliefs and political persuasions have been willing to challenge and mold assumptions and change long-standing positions. that conversation has to continue. but this time the words need to lead to action. we know this is a complexed issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides, and as i said on sunday night, there's no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. we're going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. we're going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. and any actions we must take, must begin inside the home and inside our hearts. but the fact that this problem
is complexed can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. the fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence. that's why i've asked the vice president to lead an effort that includes members of my cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than january. proposals that i then intend to push without delay. this is not some washington commission. this is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside. this is a team that has a very specific task, to pull together real reforms right now. i asked joe to lead this effort in part because he wrote the
1994 crime bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of crime in this country. that plan, that bill, also included the assault weapons ban that was publicly supported at the time by former presidents, including ronald reagan. the good news is there's already a growing consensus for us to build from. a majority of americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. a majority of americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. a majority of americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases so that current criminals can't take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won't take the responsibility of doing a background check at all. i urge the new congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner. in considering congress hasn't
confirmed a director of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms in six years, the agency that works most closely with state and local law enforcement to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, i suggest that they make this a priority early in the year. look, like the majority of americans, i believe that the second amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. this country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that's been handed down from generation to generation. obviously, across the country, there are regional differences. there are differences between how people feel in urban areas and rural areas. and the fact is, the vast majority of gun owners in america are responsible. they buy their guns legally, and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sports shooting, collection, or protection. but, you know what, i am also betting that the majority, the
vast majority, of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say we should be able to keep an irresponsible law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. i'm willing to bet that they don't think using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas, that an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily, that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone's criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show. that if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in newtown or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across america every day. since friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in memphis, leaving four children without their mother. two officers were killed outside
a grocery store in topeka. a woman was shot and killed inside a las vegas casino. three people were shot inside an alabama hospital. a 4 year old was caught in a drive-by in missouri and taken off life support just yesterday. each one of these americans was a victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 americans every year. violence that we cannot accept as routine. so i will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. we won't prevent them all, but that can't be an excuse not to try. it won't be easy, but that can't be an excuse not to try. and i'm not going to be able to do it by myself. ultimately, if this effort is to succeed, it's going to require
the help of the american people. it's going to require all of you. if we're going to change things, it's going to take a wave of americans, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals, and, yes, gun owners, standing up and saying enough on behalf of our kids. it will take commitment and compromise, and most of all, it will take courage. but if those of us who were sent here to serve the public trust can summon even one tiny iota of the courage those teachers, that principal in newtown had on friday, if cooperation and common sense prevail, then i'm convinced we can make a sensible, intelligent way to make the united states of america a safer, stronger place for our children to learn and to grow. thank you.
and now i'm going to let vice president go and i'm going to take a few questions. and i will start with ben philip. >> thank you, mr. president. i'd like to ask you about the other serious issue considering this town right now, the fiscal cliff. how did you betray some of the voters who supported you in the election by changing your positions on who should get a tax increase and then by including social security benefits now under this mix. and more broadly, there seems to be a deepening sense that negotiations aren't going very well right now. can you give us a candid update, are we likely to go over the cliff? >> well, first of all, there's no reason why we should. remember what i said during the campaign, i thought it was important for us to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way. i said it was important for us to make sure millionaires and billionaires paid their fair
share. i said that we were going to have to make some tough cuts, some tough decisions on the spending side, but what i wouldn't do was hurt vulnerable families only to pay for a tax cut for somebody like me. and what i said was that the ultimate package would involve a balance of spending cuts and tax increases. that's exactly what i've put forward. what i've said is that in order to arrive at a compromise, i am prepared to do some very tough things. some things that some democrats don't want to see and probably there are few republicans who don't want to see either. but the only way that we're going to be able to stabilize the economy, make sure we've got a platform for long-term economic growth, that we get our deficits under control, and we make sure that middle-class families are protected is if we
come up with something that members of both parties in congress can support. and that's the plan that i've put forward. i have gone at least halfway in meeting some of the republicans' concerns, recognizing that even though we campaigned on these issues, even though the majority of americans agree with me that we should be raising taxes on the wealthiest few as a means of reducing the deficit, i have also said that i'm willing to identify some spendi ining cutst make sense. and, frankly, up until about a couple of days ago if you looked at it, the republicans in the house and speaker boehner, i think, were in a position to say we've gotten a fair deal. the fact that they haven't taken it yet is puzzling, and i think, you know, a question that you're
going to have to address to them. i remain optimistic, though, because if you look at what the speaker has proposed, he's conceded that income tax rates should go up. except right now he only wants to have them go up for millionaires. if you're making $900,000, somehow he thinks you can't afford to pay a little more in taxes, but the principle that rates are going to need to go up, he's conceded. i've said i'm willing to make some cuts. what separates us is probably a few hundred billion dollars. the idea that we would put our economy at risk because you can't bridge that gap doesn't make a lot of sense, so i'm going to continue to talk to the speaker and the other leaders up in congress, but ultimately, they've got to do their job. right now their job is to make sure that middle-class taxes do not go up, and that we have a balanced, responsible package of
deficit reduction. it is there for all to see. it is a deal that can get done. but it is not going to be -- it cannot be done if every side wants 100%, and part of what voters were looking for is some compromise up here. that's what folks want. they understand that they are not going to get 100% of what they want, and for some reason, that message has not yet taken up on capitol hill. and when you think about what we've gone through over the last couple of months, a devastating hurricane and now one of the worst tragedies in our memory, the country deserves folks to be willing to compromise on behalf of the greater good and not tangle themselves up in a whole
bunch of ideological positions that don't make much sense. so, i remain, not only open to conversations, but i remain eager to get something done. i'd like to get it done before christmas. there's been a lot of posturing up on capitol hill, and instead of just going ahead and getting stuff done, and we've been wasting a lot of time. it is the right thing to do. i'm prepared to get it done, but they are going to have to go ahead and make some adjustments. and i'll give you another example. the speaker is now proposing what he calls plan "b." he says this would raise taxes only on folks making $1 million or more. what that means is an average of a $50,000 tax break for every millionaire out there. at the same time as we're not providing unemployment insurance
for 2 million people, who are still out there looking for work. it actually means a tax increase for millions of working families across the country at the same time as folks like me would be getting a tax break. that violates the core principles that were debated during the course of this election and that the american people determined was the wrong way to go. and so my hope is that the speaker and his caucus, in conjunction with the other legislative leaders up there, can find a way to make sure that middle-class families don't see their taxes go up on january 1st, that we make sure that those things that middle-class families count on, like tax credits for college or making sure that they are getting some help when it comes to raising their kids through things like the child tax credit, that that gets done, and that we have a
balanced package for deficit reduction, which is exactly what i've put forward. >> reporter: will you give more ground if you need to? >> if you look at the package that i've put forward, it is a balanced package by any definition. we have put forward real cuts in spending that are hard to do. in every category. and by any measure, by any traditional calculation, by the measures that republicans themselves have used in the past, this would be a -- as large a piece of deficit reduction as we've seen in the last 20 years. and if you combine that with the increased revenue from the wealthy paying a little bit more, then you actually have something that would stabilize our deficit and debt for a decade, for ten years. now, the notion that we would
not do that, but instead the speaker would run a play that cut -- keeps tax cuts for folks making $500,000, $700,000, $800,000, $900,000 a year and making tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires and raises taxes on middle-class families and then has no cuts in it, which is what he says he wants, doesn't make much sense. i mean, let's just think about the logic for a second. they are thinking about voting for raising taxes at least on folks over $1 million, which they say they don't want to do, but they are going to reject spending cuts that they say they do want to do. that defies logic. there's no explanation for that.
i think that any objective person out there looking would say that, you know, we put forward a very balanced plan and it's time for us to go ahead and get it done. that's what the country needs right now, because i think, you know, folks have been through some wrenching times, we're still recovering from a very tough recession, and what they are hoping for is a sense of stability, focus, compromise, common sense over the next couple of years, and i think we can provide it, but this is a good test for it. okay? carol lee. >> reporter: thank you, mr. president. just to follow on ben's question, what is your next move? are we in a position now where you're waiting for the speaker to make a move? >> i'm going to reach out to all the leaders involved over the next couple of days and find out what is it that's holding this thing up, what is holding it up.
if the argument from republicans is we haven't done enough spending cuts, that argument is not going to fly, because we've got close to $1 trillion in spending cuts. and when you add interest, then it's more than $1 trillion in spending cuts. if the argument is that they can't do -- they can't increase tax rates on folks making $700,000 or $800,000 a year, that's not a persuasive argument to me, and it's certainly not a persuasive argument to the american people. you know, it may be that members of their caucus haven't looked at exactly what we've proposed. it may be that if we provide more information or there's greater specificity or we've worked through some of their concerns, that we can get some movement there.
but, you know, the fact of the matter is that what would violate my commitment to voters is if i ended up agreeing to a plan that put more of the burden on middle-class families and less of a burden on the wealthy in an effort to reduce our deficit. that's not something i'm going to do. what would violate my commitment to voters would be to put forward a plan that makes it harder for young people to go to college, that makes it harder for a family with a disabled kid to care for that kid, and there's a threshold that you reach where the balance tips, even in making compromises that are required to get something done in this town, where you are hurting people in order to give another advantage to folks who don't need help. and we had an extensive debate about this for a year, and not
only does the majority of the american people agree with me, about half of republican voters agree with me on this. so, you know, at some point there's got to be, i think, a recognition on the part of my republican friends that, you know, take the deal. they will be able to claim that they have worked with me over the last two years to reduce the deficit more than any other deficit reduction package. that we will have stabilized it for ten years. that's a significant achievement for them. they should be proud of it, but they keep on finding ways to say no as opposed to finding ways to say yes. and i don't know how much of that just has to do with, you know, it is very hard for them to say yes to me.
but, you know, at some point, you know, they've got to take me out of it and think about their voters. and think about what's best for the country. and if they do that, if they are not worried about who's winning and who's losing, you know, did they score a point on the president, extract that last little concession, did they, you know, force him to do something he really doesn't want to do just for the heck of it, and they focus on actually what's good for the country, i actually think we can get this done. >> reporter: you mention the $700,000 and $800,000. are you willing to move on income level, and are there specific things -- >> i'm not getting into specific negotiations here. my point is simply, carol, that if you look at speaker boehner's proposal and you look at my
proposal, they are actually pretty close. they keep on saying that somehow we haven't put forward real spending cuts. actually, you know, there was, i think, a graph in "the new york times" today that showed. they are the same categories, right? there's a little bit of tweaks here and there, there are a few differences, but we're right there, and on the revenue side, there's a difference in terms of them wanting to preserve tax breaks for folks between $250,000 and $1 million that we just can't afford. keep in mind, i'm in that income category. i'd love to, you know, not pay as much in taxes, but i also think it's the right thing to do for us to make sure that people who have less, people who are working, people who are striving, people who, you know, are hoping for their kids, that they have opportunity. that's what we campaigned about. that's what we talked about. and this is not a situation
where i'm unwilling to compromise. this is not a situation where i'm trying to, you know, rub their face in anything. i think anybody who looks at this objectively will say that coming off my election, i have met them at least halfway in order to get something done for the country. and so i noticed that there were a couple of headlines out there saying, you know, oh, we're now in the land of political posturing. you know, it's the usual he said/he said atmosphere, but look at the facts. look at where we started. look at where they started. my proposal is right there in the middle. we should be able to get this done. let's get it done. we don't have a lot of time. carrie? there you are. >> reporter: thank you, mr. president. what is your level of confidence that if you are able to reach a
comprehensive deal with the speaker that he will be able to bring his members on board and get it passed? essentially, do you still trust speaker boehner in this process? >> there's no doubt that, you know, the speaker has challenges in his caucus, and i recognize that. i'm often reminded when i speak to the republican leadership that the majority of their caucus's membership comes from districts that i lost. and so sometimes they may not see an incentive in cooperating with me, in part because they are more concerned about challenges from a tea party candidate or challenges from the right and cooperating with me may make them vulnerable. you know, i recognize that.
but goodness, if this past week has done anything, it should just give us some perspective. if there's one thing we should have after this week, it should be a perspective about what's important. and, you know, i would like to think that members of that caucus would say to themselves, you know what, we disagree with the president on a whole bunch of things, we wish the other guy had won, we're going to fight him on a whole range of issues over the next four years, we think his philosophy is all screwed up, but right now what the country needs is for us to compromise, get a deficit
reduction deal in place, make sure middle-class taxes don't go up, make sure that we're laying the foundations for growth, give certainty to businesses, large and small, not put ourselves through some sort of self-inflicted crisis every six months, allow ourselves time to focus on things like preventing the tragedy in newtown from happening again, focus on issues like energy and immigration reform and all the things that will really make the determination as to whether our country grows over the next four years, ten years, 40 years. and if you just pull back from the immediate, you know, political battles, if you kind of peel off the partisan war paint, then we should be able to get something done.
and, you know, i think the speaker would like to get that done. i think an environment needs to be created within not just the house republican caucus, but also among senate republicans that say the campaign's over and let's see if we can do what's right for the country, at least for the next month. and then, you know, we can reengage in all the other battles that they'll want to fight. >> reporter: if you don't get it done, republicans have said they'll try to use the debt limit as the next pressure point. will you negotiate with them in that context? >> no. and i've been very clear about this. this is the united states of america, the greatest country on earth, the world's economic superpower, and the idea that we lurch from crisis to crisis and every six months or every nine months that we threaten not to
pay our bills on stuff we've already bought and default and ruin the full faith and credit of the united states of america, that's not how you run a great country. so, i've put forward a very clear principle. i will not negotiate around the debt ceiling. we're not going to play the same game that we saw happen in 2011, which was hugely destructive. hurt our economy, provided more uncertainty to the business community than anything else that happened, and i'm not alone in this. you know, if you go to wall street, including talking to a whole bunch of folks who spent a lot of money trying to beat me,
they would say it would be disastrous for us to use the debt ceiling as a plan to try to win points on capitol hill, so we're not going to do that. which is why, i think, that part of what i hope over the next couple of days we see is a recognition that there is a way to go ahead and get what it is that you've been fighting for. those guys have been fighting for spending cuts, they can get some very meaningful spending cuts. this would amount to $2 trillion, $2 trillion in spending cuts, over the last couple years, and in exchange, they are getting little over a trillion dollars in revenue, and that meets the pledge that i made during the campaign, which
was, you know, spending cuts for every revenue increase. and that's an approach that, i think, most americans think is appropriate. but i will not negotiate around the debt ceiling. we're not going to do that again. yes, i've got david jackson. >> reporter: thank you, mr. president, getting back to the gun issue, you eluded washington commissions don't have the greatest reputation in the world. what makes you think this is going to be the difference, given the passage of time and gun rights in the national rifle association? >> this is not going to be a commission. joe is going to gather up some key cabinet members, who have an interest in this issue. we're going to reach out to a bunch of stakeholders. we're going to be reaching out to members of congress who have an interest in this issue. it's not as if we have to start from scratch. there are a whole bunch of proposals that have been thought
about, debated, but hopefully also some new ideas in terms of how we deal with this issue. their task is going to be to, you know, sift through every good idea that's out there and even take a look at some bad ideas before disposing of them, and come up with a concrete set of recommendations in about a month. and i would hope that our memories aren't so short that what we saw in newtown isn't lingering with us, that we don't remain passionate about it only a month later, and as soon as we get those recommendations, i will be putting forward very specific proposals. i will be talking about them in my state of the union and we will be working with interested members of congress to try to get something done.
the idea that we would say this is terrible, this is a tragedy, never again, and we don't have the sustained attention span to be able to get this done over the next several months doesn't make sense. i have more confidence in the american people than that. i have more confidence in the parents, the mothers and fathers that i've been meeting over the last several days all across the country, from all political persuasions, including a lot of gun owners who say, you know what, this time we've got to do things differently. >> reporter: what about the nra? >> well, the nra is an organization that has members who are mothers and fathers, and i would expect that they've been impacted by this as well. and hopefully, they'll do some self reflection. and here's what we know, that
any single gun law can't solve all these problems. we're going to have to look at mental health issues, we're going to have to look at schools, there are going to be a whole range of things that joe's group looks at. we know that issues of gun safety will be an element of it, and, you know, what we've seen over the last 20 years, 15 years, is this sense that anything relate td to guns is somehow an encroachment on the second amendment. what we're looking for here is a thoughtful approach that says we can preserve our second amendment, we can make sure that responsible gun owners are able to carry out their activities, but that we're going to actually be serious about the safety side of this.
that we're going to be serious about making sure that something like newtown or aurora doesn't happen again. and there is a big chunk of space between what, you know, the second amendment means and having no rules at all. and that space is what joe's going to be working on to try to identify where we can find some common ground. so i've got -- i'm going to take one last question. go ahead, jay. >> reporter: it seems, to a lot of observers, that you made the political calculation in 2008 and 2012 not to talk about gun violence. you had your position on renewing the ban on semi-automatic rifles, that then-senator biden put into place, but you didn't do much about it.
this is not the first incident of horrific gun violence of your four years. where have you been? >> well, here's where i've been, jake. i've been president of the united states dealing with the worst economic crisis since the great depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars, i don't think i've been on vacation, and so, you know, i think all of us have to do some reflection on how we prioritize what we do here in washington. and, as i said on sunday, this should be a wake-up call for all of us to say that if we are not getting right the need to keep our children safe, then nothing else matters. and it's my commitment to make sure that we do everything we can to keep our children safe. a lot of things are involved in
that, jake, so making sure they got decent health care and making sure they got a good education, making sure that their parents have jobs, those are all relevant as well. those aren't just sort of side issues, but there's no doubt that this has to be a central issue, and that's exactly why i'm confident that joe is going to take this so seriously over the next couple months. thank you, everybody. >> that was president obama speaking from the james s. brady press briefing room about gun violence and reform, and, of course, the fiscal cliff. joining me now from capitol hill is democratic senator from california barbara boxer. senator boxer, thanks for hanging with us. >> oh, yes, yes. >> a lot to talk about. let's first, of course, talk with the gun question. i think the headline out of that was the fact the president said i want this commissi i want rec january. this is not your typical
washington commission. in other words, he intends to see action and reform and he intends to see it soon. >> yes, it's more of an action task force that's going to come forward and say, this is what we need to keep our children safe, this is what we need to keep our streets safe, and hopefully, there will be a range of recommendations how we get mental health help to those who need it, how we get weapons of war off the street, in the meantime, how do we keep our children safe. you know, there are 300 million guns out there in america, enough for every citizen practically. and, you know, any legislation is not going to really address getting those guns back, so in the meantime, what i want to make sure happens while we work for all the important laws that senator feinstein's recommended, senator schumer, and others, which i strongly support, in the meantime, we need to keep our schools safe. and we should know when we drop our kids off at school and our
grandkids that we don't have to look at the clock until they walk back into the house. >> senator, the president seemed to give at least a vague outline of changes he'd like to see, including a renewal of the gun weapons ban, gun shows, banning of high-capacity magazines, you were on capitol hill, is it likely republicans are going to play ball on some of these reforms? >> ooii'd like to say, it's not just republicans. people here are affected by the very strong lobby, and we know there's going to be some announcement made by the nra. i pray that they come to the table with some ideas, and those ideas shouldn't be let's arm the teachers. teachers aren't law enforcement. we want to get law enforcement at the schools, let's do that. let's not turn our teachers into gun-toting teachers and give another job to them that they weren't trained for, so i would hope the nra would say let's
look at these weapons of war that are on our streets and how we can get them off our streets and how we can make sure that people, yes, when they go to a gun show, have to object themselves to some kind of background check. we know what we have to do, and, you know, the president says this is complex, in many levels it's complex, yes, because we have the second amendment and philosophy entering into what is a well-armed militia mean, but in another sense, to me, i'm going to be speaking to you as a mom and a grandmother, as well as a senator from a state that's had a number of these shootings. it isn't complex to understand that weapons of war do not belong on our streets. it isn't complex to understand that our schools need to be protected. those are things that i think we should move on quickly. >> i want to open this up to our panel, kurt, when the president was talking about guns and gun reform or comments on gun reform, i thought it was interesting that he was trying to frame the debate not as me
versus you, your guns versus my desire to curb your access to the guns, but an "us" question, an idea this is about america, it's about moms and dads and to not draw battle lines, if you will, between those who have guns and those who don't. >> i was particularly struck when he was asked about the nra, instead of making any note of them, those other guys, those bad guys, he said, no, those members of the nra are fathers and mothers as well. i think he's making exactly all the right noises, and it is this, as well as republicans now being willing to talk about raising taxes and agreeing to raising taxes. the shift in the last year on, well, in the last week on this issue, is -- is hopeful and astonishing. the question is, as one of those questions -- some of the questions suggested is, what is the half-life of this concern? the president said you should be ashamed of yourself if we can't pay attention for more than a
month, but, you know -- >> we may end up being ashamed of ourselves. >> correct. >> in terms of the nra, the fact they are coming out with a proposal of some sort, they've been silent basically for the last week. it's, obviously, a very difficult time for the nation. it's an awkward time, perhaps, for them given where they've been on gun laws thus far. how optimistic are you that change is on the horizon for the nra or they will move measurably on anything? >> they are very vulnerable here, and what obama is trying to do is try to drive a wedge between nra membership and nra leadership. nra leaders are very ideological and they are largely funded by the industry, whereas gun owners are just regular people who like hunting and like owning guns. what obama is trying to say, look, most gun owners would support these restrictions. they don't want crazy people to have easy access to what he's calling weapons of war, which is probably good terminology. the nra needs to recognize they
are extremely vulnerable here. >> if you look at the membership of the nra, there's a notion it's these mom and pop hunters, but at the end of the day, there's a huge amount of corporate support. we looked at their tax returns, bloomberg business week did, we looked at that article, their revenue in 2010 was $227.8 million. fundraising, sales, advertising, and royalties were $115 million. there's a whole web, tiers of corporate giving dubbed the ring of freedom, and you have firearm manufacturers who are giving millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, to the nra, eric. >> they made a statement they wanted to make meaningful contributions to make sure this never happens again. based on their past record, meaningful contributions would mean campaign contributions and this would mean a debate over gun control, so that's where they've been, historically, and i think they are going to have to move some. but their position is going to be to try to minimize the damage, as they see it, to make
sure whatever is passed is as least onerous as they can make it. >> senator boxer, in terms of that plea to, you know, hunters, you know, normal everyday gun owners, that was very much, i think, a centerpiece of the president's argument. do you think it will resinate? >> well, i think it's already resinating. if you look at the polls, the nra members themselves already disagree with the leadership on many of these issues, the high-capacity clips, the assault weapons, and i thought maybe i could adjust a little story. when i went home last weekend after this tragedy struck and i was walking in my community, i had people who never come up to me, they respect the fact that i do these walks, i'm usually on the phone working at the same time, they came at me from every end and said what are you going to do? and you have to do, and a couple of people were very proud gun owners. one woman attorney who carries a gun to protect herself, and she
said, i'm over this. you better act. so i think i've been here for a long time, as you know, and i've gone through these mass shootings, and i've seen responses. for some reason, and it has to do with these babies that were executed with bullets and bullets and bullets in their little baby bodies that has touched america all across party lines, all across membership in the nra lines, and i do think the president is right to say let's put aside our ideology. let's protect our children. and if we could do that and while we're getting these weapons of war off the street, protect those schools, i think we'll make a difference in america, a good difference, a positive difference. >> senator boxer, your experience in optimism certainly makes all of us here optimistic. thanks so much for joining us and we'll talk to you soon. after the break, we'll have
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i have gone at least halfway in meeting some of the republicans' concerns, recognizing that even though we campaigned on these issues, even though the majority of americans agree with me that we should be raising taxes on the wealthiest few as a means of reducing the deficit, i have also said that i'm willing to identify some spending cuts that make sense. >> president obama addressed fiscal cliff negotiations during his remarks in the white house briefing room earlier this hour. we have a lot to discuss. and helping us do that is capitol hill sage nbc's luke russert. luke, there are many things that stood out to me in that press conference. we spoke to senator barbara boxer a about the newtown shooting and his push for gun reform, but in terms of the fiscal cliff, at one point he said, they just can't say yes to
me, speaking of house republicans. what he's put forward is imminently reasonable and the republicans can't get their act together. how's that going to play on capitol hill? >> it will be interesting, i also found it fascinating he almost became a political scientist regarding the house republican conference and how difficult it is for john boehner to get anything accomplished with that group of people, saying districts obviously did not vote for me. there's always a worry here on capitol hill amongst democratic aides that they say when the president gets involved with negotiations with republicans, a lot of republicans feel he's lecturing to them. from press conference it didn't seem like that, look, you've gotten essentially $2 trillion in spending cuts from the debt limit deal in 2011 and what i'm offering now in revenue, you're basically, for all intents and purposes, winning this and getting everything you like. the one thing that was interesting in the president's comments, alex, when he went down to that number $700,000 and
$800,000 in terms of income, saying i wouldn't accept something like that. his offer right now is at $400,000. is that some sort of message to john boehner, maybe i could go up to $500,000, maybe $600,000, maybe $650,000, because we know the plan "b" john boehner is putting out there is trying to leverage more and trying to get that rate number higher. >> i want to open this up to our panel. we were talking during break or i was pontificating, as i sometimes do, about the notion the president is reliant and has the support of the american people and that's reflected in poll numbers that show people think he's being reasonable and they are going to blame this if we go over the cliff on the house gop. we're talking about these sort of hijinx, the plan "b," the votes tomorrow, my contention is republicans aren't doing any service to themselves. this might be what john boehner needs to do to have higher
leverage with his house and caucus, but in terms of the brand and being seen as functional, in the least, all of this, dragging it out, taking it to the very ninth hour, the political theatrics, does not make the american public think any better of the party. >> absolutely. right now it feels the republican party has a choice, they can raise taxes on 1.9% of the population or raise taxes on 100% of the population. right now, we're sort of heading toward the point where at least on the democratic side or the liberal interest group side, people are not so concerned if we get to january 1st and don't have a deal, because they feel they'll be in a better angle and go at it retroactively and put through a tax cut again for most of the population. >> and i also would say, you know, ryan, "the huffington post" has been critical in terms of entitlement reform or suggesting it, he reiterated that today, but the hue and cry from the left has not been matched by that of the outrage
on the right as far as boehner and the suggestion he's going to raise rates. >> right, they've fallen into line. they saw what happened during the election. you know, apparently on the left, some people didn't see what happened in the election. the entire election, people said we're not going to cut your social security, we're not going to cut your medicare while republicans blamed democrats and said they are going to cut your medicare. now they want cuts to medicare and democrats want cuts to social security. it's just completely insane. we've polled this, and you don't see numbers on any other issue like you see on this one. actually, filibuster reform. filibuster reform and social security, the only places you see numbers like this. why the president would give in on social security after saying at the beginning of associations we're not going to talk about social security, harry reid said he told the negotiate tor ors t now it's not only back on the table, it's going to get cut. >> luke, i want to ask you in
terms of the things that are on the table, one of the items that seems to be a sticking point, and again it was mentioned in this press conference, is the debt ceiling. tell us the latest on that, because the president has been very firm about wanting sort of oversight of debt ceiling increases from now on. republicans seem loathed to do that, and how much is that going to play into final negotiations? >> it's very significant, because a lot of republicans view it as their best point of leverage in future negotiations. obviously, it has nothing to do with plan "b" that's going to go on the house floor tomorrow, but john boehner so far in his offer has been told to give one year in regards to the debt limit. you have to think after the president said today he would want that too, but again, that's something a lot of the rank and file don't want to be seen giving in these types of negotiations, because as one of them told me yesterday, bring the president to his knees. they realize the power they have in that. maybe not necessarily what kind of damage can be done to the
national economy, much less the world economy, but it's something the rank and file is very loathed to give up. if boehner does that, it's a huge concession. the talking heads in d.c. and new york probably don't view that as a huge concession, they say that's for the betterment of the world economy, but for house republicans, that's a huge concession. >> bring him to his knees, stay classy, gop. we have to leave it there. nbc's luke russert, thank you, as always, my friend. thank you to my panel, so patient and sadly so quiet. that is all for now. i'll see you back here tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when i'm joined by john martin, bloomberg business week's josh sherrington and sam siftton. until then, find us at facebook.com/nowwithalex. "andrea mitchell reports" is next. the usual, bob? not today. [ male announcer ] bob has afib: atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem,
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