tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 31, 2012 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
agreement on tax rates in their negotiations. let me tell you what we know at this hour. the deal is said to raise $600 billion in revenue over the next decade through a series of tax increases on the wealthiest americans. th bush era tax rates would be text ended for all single americans with incomes below $400,000 and couples with income below 45000$450,000. all income above that would be tacked at 39 pittsburgh.6%. the deal is said to include a permanent fix for the alternative minimum tax and it extends unemployment insurance for another year for 2 million americans. this was huge for the democrats. speaking at the white house in front of a group of middle class americans just a few hours ago, the president urged congress to act immediately. >> for now our most immediate priority is to stop taxes going
up for middle class families starting tomorrow. i think that is a modest goal that we can accomplish. democrats and republicans in congress have to get this done, but they're not there yet. they are close, but they're not there yet. >> so just an hour after the president made those remarks, senate minority leader mitch mcconnell signaled his agreement with the president after multiple negotiation sessions with vice president joe biden. >> so i agree. let's pass the tax relief portion now. let's take what's been agreed to and get moving. we all want to protect taxpayers, and we can get it done now. >> but not everyone is happy about this deal. senator john mccain spoke just before senator mcconnell on the senate floor. >> i guess i have to wonder, and i think the american people have to wonder whether the president
really wants this issue resolved or is it to his short-term political benefit for us to go over the cliff? >> aides on the hill are telling nbc news there will be no vote on any deal in the house tonight, so it does look like we'll be going over the cliff, at least temporarily. joining me now from capitol hill, nbc white house correspondent mike viqueira. what's going on right now? >> reporter: furs of all house republican aides will tell you there's nothing to vote on. in that they would be entirely correct. we've been talking about the parameters of the deal and you have correctly outlined them as far as i understand them in terms of the income levels and the alternative minimum tax, the extension of unemployment benefit insurance and odd and ends of things that are important to the business community. some text breaks that are extended every year. tax breaks left over from the
stimulus. there's a lot there for people to be happy about. the trouble is there's a little bit too much for people to be unhappy about. you remember the sequester, this term we've been throwing around washington now for about a year and a half. it was the result of that debt budget deal, that ceiling rise in july of 2011. they said if there was no deal to significantly reduce government spending by this time, midnight tonight, then there would be this draconian and indiscriminate cut across the board, 50% of it, $500 billion over ten years in defense, $500 billion over ten years in other social spending, including social safety net programs. everyone was going to feel a little pain. the trouble is now some elements, particularly in the senate, are trying to delay that, put that off, one month, two months, three months, even a year by some estimations, and a lot of folks, particularly republicans in the house, say no way, we're not going for that. we're getting nothing out of this in terms of spending cuts except the sequestration. a lot of ironies here. it was house republicans who literally blamed the president
for coming up with the sequestration idea to begin with. they've spent months blaming him. what you saw mitch mcconnell do on the senate floor, fascinating, chris, on the surface. he came out after the president gave that upbeat, cheery, he was joking with all the attendees there in the white house complex about being close to a deal, but really sticking it to republicans in some not so subtle ways that angered a lot of people, including john mccain, but including a lot of people behind the scenes. but mitch mcconnell didn't take the floor and rise to that bait. he said, look, mr. president, you have been saying for weeks if not months we agree on the tax rate issue. let's vote on what we agree on. we'll put the sequester off. we understand there's a closed door meeting of senate republicans going on right now. you correctly reported that the house of representatives does not plan a vote tonight on any putative deal. there is no deal. let's reemphasize that again. we are technically going over the cliff. nothing is certain here, chris. the parameters of the deal you
just outlined appeal to be what people are settling. that one issue of sequestration still the sticking point, but nothing is guaranteed at this point, although there is a reason for optimism today, this evening. >> but is it possible there will be no vote whatsoever, that all of this could fall apart? >> sure. as a matter of fact, one key chairman in the how many times, mike rogers, he's from michigan, he's chairman of the house intelligence committee, doesn't have direct stake in this but he did emerge from a meeting in the speaker's office and told our frank thorpe that he thinks what he's been hearing, at least without that sequestration or a delay in the sequestration, could not pass the house of representatives. so there's always that problem as well. it's been thought all along by some people that going over the cliff would make it easier for something to pass the house of representatives. you know the logic there. they'd be voting to cut taxes as opposed to allowing them to rise on the top 1% or 2%, something that's anathema to the core of the republican party. there are theories put forward
by many democrats that john boehner would not put any type of tax vote that would inflame his cause cuss, inflame conservatives around the country until after that gavel is safely in his hands when the new congress is sworn in on january 3rd. so things are still very much up in the air. we do know they will technically be going over that cliff at midnight tonight because the house and the senate for that matter have not voted on anything, and there is no handshake agreement that we are aware of on the totality of a deal, chris. >> if you could stand by, mike, i also want to bring in kristin welker who is at the white house and get a gauge of the mood there and what they think the next step is here. >> reporter: well, chris, they continue to say that they're optimistic, but, of course, they have been saying this all day and as mike points out, until there is a final deal, there is no deal. so they are hoping that through their conversations, they say they have been working the phones all day long. of course, the president, vice
president, who has been deeply engaged in these negotiations have been reaching out to the folks on the hill as well as top negotiators here at the white house and staffers trying to get this ball over the goalposts. so that's really what they're focused on right now. and, of course, the vice president has really stepped forward and played a key role in these negotiations. negotiations seem to have fallen apart on saturday. mcconnell reached out to the vice president, asked him to engage. he did. he is someone who, of course, has more than 30 years service in the senate. 23 of those with mitch mcconnell. so they have a strong working relationship, a good relationship, so they're hoping that that will really help these negotiations to move forward. so that is the focus right now. but again this sequester remains the big sticking point with the white house democrats saying that they want to stave it off for a year in part, my sources are telling me, so they can do some real sort of comprehensive
deficit reduction tax reform within a year. they're hoping that their chances will improve with the new congress and with a little bit more time. so that is where things stand right now at the white house. certainly they are hoping that there is a vote in the senate, but as you point out, chris, that is not a guarantee. >> hold on, kristin welker. let me go back to mike viqueira. is there sort of a conventional wisdom at this point when we could see a vote? >> reporter: you know, i'm going to hesitate to get into that. i have got to get out of the prognostication business here, chris, because so much of this is up in the air. i think you'll be heartened to learn that house republican leadership aides watch msnbc and i just received an e-mail emphasizing that there's nothing for the house to vote on. they're sort of sore about this idea that they are the ones sort of taking us over the cliff by not voting tonight. they say that their whip notice said as announced in previous updates, we expect previous votes to be the last votes of the day. members are advised to stay close to the capitol tonight
should any additional votes arise. at the same token, i'm told sort of privately that, you know, the house leadership is not going to try to stick this bill on the floor in the wee hours of the night when tomorrow is a holiday and by their judge as a practical matter it really isn't going to make any difference whether they do it at 12:30 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. so as far as a conventional wisdom is concerned, chris, i have been watching this stuff from a front row seat for a few years now. i would say, you know, exactly as we've been reporting. they are close, nothing is guaranteed. i would say if past is precedent, we will see a couple hiccups, if not downright explosions over the course of the next several hours. a few mini crises as well. again, if past is pattern before we reach a final resolution of the fiscal cliff. >> and, kristin, you mentioned the vice president who got engaged in this after he got a call from mitch mcconnell and by all accounts late into the night and into today there were many phone calls between these two men, who have done deals for i
guess you could say decades now. >> reporter: absolutely. >> do we now how involved he is right now? and will he continue to be through the evening? >> reporter: i think he will be. i'm told that he has been working the phones all day. we expect that to continue certainly throughout the evening. as you point out, these two men have a very strong relationship, and so right now the hope is that they, along with, of course, the hen of the other people involved in these negotiations, the president continues to be involved, majority leader harry reid continues to be involved. i'm told he has spoken to the president several times today. so the hope is though that they really will be able to at this point because they are so close to move this forward. but, again, that remains a big question mark. president obama, of course, today had that sort of campaign-style event. he has waged this public campaign to pressure congress, not only republicans, but also democrats who have expressed some skepticism about this emerging deal that is coming together. so that is part of the president's tactic as well, to not only be working the phones
behind the scenes, but also to hold these public events and, of course, he sat down with david gregory this weekend on quths meet the press." that's part of his calculation as well. >> let's talk more about the political calculation. for more reaction i'm joined by nbc's luke russert. good to see you, luke. >> how are you doing? >> i want to pick up on what mike was saying, even as we were on the air house republicans were watching us and sending him e-mails saying, listen, we don't have anything to vote on. is there a sense that members on both sides of congress are feeling some pressure from their constituents even as folks are preparing to go out and pop the champagne and celebrate the new year? >> reporter: oh, yeah, sure. i get those e-mails, too. a lot of us in the press corps get them. you really are seeing the pressure is i think two-fold. i think number one, there seems to be this feeling around the country of why can't you guys just get something done? this is so very, very important to all of our bottom lines. and to be honest with you, i
don't think we've paid enough attention to how significant it is that mitch mcconnell and vice president biden have agreed at $400,000 as the threshold for individuals. that's a huge concession for republicans to make, albeit, it's the night before we go over the cliff. you think about all the wars that have been fought over the tax threshold number in the last ten years. it's very significant we've got ton that point. where is the urgency? we talked to members on both sides. they say that their constituents tell them they want to get this done. they would like to have a little peace in the new year. but tonight is not the end all, be all. tomorrow is not the end all, be all. this is simply just going to punt a lot of these big decisions that the country and members of congress need to make about spending cuts and deficit reduction and tax revenue into later part of february, perhaps march. this compromise we're talking about, chris, doesn't deal with the debt limit. it doesn't deal with funding the government. so it essentially -- and this is
what a lot of republicans have told me. they're happy to go through this on the tax rates if they get anything above $250,000, they think that's a win because they believe they can have the same type of fights over spending, same type of fights as one told me a few days ago, bring the president to his knees in a few months. so this is not that big of a concession for them off the bat. it's extraordinary when you think about it in the context of ten years but in terms of moving forward, they really see it's helping their negotiating leverage which is a fascinating, fascinating development. >> to tell you about the patience of the american people, they did this survey about words and phrases they want to get rid of. number one, they're done with fiscal cliff. >> yeah. >> and also kicking the can down the road. but to your point, that is exactly what's going to happen, and whatever comes out of this deal and whenever the vote happens, this is really barely the start. >> reporter: correct. and i think that folks really need to brace themselves for what's going to be a very contentious next three to four months here on capitol hill.
we had an election a few months ago, as you well know, chris. you covered it so much on top of the ball, and a lot of folks thought, okay, that election was going to answer a lot of questions. the president won, he won by 4 million votes. that is sort of the idea where the country is moving. when we do stories, we do those men on the street, and everyone sort of post-election has had this idea of it's time for shared sacrifice. we understand there's going to be some tough decisions made. we're going to have to give. that message has not resonated too much with house republicans specifically here in washington, d.c. they're negotiating very hard until the end because that has been their tactic in every single one of these fights with president obama. from talking to republicans, they don't think that president obama is a good negotiator. one of them told me earlier he couldn't negotiate his way out of a paper bag. that's why biden is here on capitol hill. so with that mindset, they're moving forward in these talks and they're more than happy to have more fights over the debt limit, more fights over
government funding which they think can elicit more of what they want from the president. now, democrats say, okay, we're getting a big concession with the $400,000, but president obama is smart in this case. he's going to get the tax threshold that he wants from republicans, and instead of giving them the cuts he had already promised boehner in the talks before, upwards of $1 trillion in social security and medicare, he can come back around and do that during the debt limit negotiations so he's essentially going to win out. remains to be seen whether or not that holds true and whether or not we get to your broader point, the country wants to go through another one of these in just a few months. >> luke russert, thank you. mike viqueira, kristin welker. help new year. >> happy new year. when we come back, the latest on secretary of state hillary clinton's condition. we just learned doctors found that blood clot in the space between her brain and the skull, behind her right ear. doctors say it did not result in
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secretary of state hillary clinton remains hospitalized this evening at new york presbyterian hospital. state department spokesperson phillip ray na said that doctors found that clot sunday during a follow-up exam. secretary clinton had fainted and fallen earlier this month as a result of severe dehydration from a stomach flu. she is being treated with anti-co-ing a lantz to resolve the clot which was found in her head. with us to discuss the case, nbc news chief science and health correspondent bob bazell. good to see you, bob. when we talked last night, what you said was we were missing a critical piece of information, which is where is the clot, and it's in the vein situated in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear.
what can you tell us? >> this is a vein that drains blood from the brain into the central circulation system. the danger with it, because it's so close to the brain, is that if the clot were to grow, it could go inside the brain and become a stroke. that didn't happen according to the doctors. it's appropriate to treat this kind of clot with anti-coagulant therapy. one of the things everybody was talking about before was usually when somebody has a concussion, they get a blood clot called a subdural hematoma and that cannot be treated with that therapy because it presents certain dangers. because this is in a vein outside the brain it can be treated. it's a fairly rare complication with concussions, but it is a possibility. >> obviously, the big concern, that would have been the kind of result of a concussion that killed natasha richardson. >> natasha richardson had a
deeper, bigger clot than this. so this was not -- yeah -- >> so this is not that type -- >> no, it's not, but there is a danger with this that if it's not cleared out properly that it can cause neurological damage and they were very specific in a statement they just now issued in saying that they have checked her out for memory problems, for movement problems, and that sort of thing, and she's not suffering any of that. so she seems to be in the clear neurologically and they made a big point of saying they expect her to make a full recovery. >> she will be released, the statement says, once the medication dose has been established. >> it's very difficult to get the right amount of medication with anti-coagulant and then subsequently blood thinning. it's different for every individual. they have to make sure that you're not giving so much that you risk a different kind of stroke. they have to monitor that very carefully and closely. they also, i'm sure, are giving her constant -- because she is who she is, ct scans and mri
scans to make sure that the clot is, in fact, dissolving appropriately. >> are there any keshs now moving forward? because it sounds like she's making excellent progress, she's in good spirits, she's engaging with her doctors. are there any real concerns other than finding this sort of baseline for her for the level of medication? >> i don't think so. you know, again, all the information is what we were getting from the secretary's office, but according to this, they expect her to make a full recovery. there's been no damage from this. this is a fairly rare but not unknown complication from falling down and getting a concussion. >> i thought if you got a blood clot after you had a concussion, it usually appeared within hours or certainly within days and it's been a matter of i guess a couple weeks. >> no. that's the danger of it getting even larger and going back into the brain. clots can form over time. you get a small clot and it starts to grow. she probably had a headache or some serious symptom which brought her in on sunday to get checked out, i'm just guessing
at that. they're saying it's routine but it doesn't sound like something that was very routine. >> bob bazell, thank you so much. when we return, back to the fiscal cliff. were there any winners and losers in this months' long battle and where do we go from here? you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. at that. here?
welcome back. we are here with continuing coverage of last-minute negotiations aimed at avoiding going over the fiscal cliff. earlier today we heard from president obama who expressed frustration that congress has yet to come to an agreement. >> i have to say that ever since i took office, throughout the campaign, and over the last couple of months, my preference would have been to solve all these problems in the context of a larger agreement, a bigger deal, a grand bargain, whatever you want to call it that solves our deficit problems in a
balanced and responsible way, but with this congress this was obviously a little too much to hope for at this time. it may be we can do it in stages. we're going to solve this problem, instead, in several steps. one thing we can count on with respect to this congress is that if there's even one second left before you have to do what you're supposed to do, they will use that last second. >> well, when all the dust settles, and as we know it is not settled yet, will we be able to say that one side or the other got more of what it wanted? with me now is ezra klein from "the washington post" and "huffington post's" sam stein. a lot of republicans didn't like what they heard from the president today and have complained about it loudly. >> no, they weren't super happy with his somewhat jaunty press conference but they had a more substantive complaint.
in his press conference and this was genuinely important, he said after this deal, even once republicans have voted to increase taxes by about $600 billion over the next decade, if they want to undo the sequester or do further cuts to medicare or social security, those -- that will all have to be part of, as he put it, a balanced package including revenues. he's saying even after this deal, the next deal, which we all expect to happen again because this is a pretty small deal, will have to include revenues as well. this gets to the key thing in these negotiations which is republicans are telling themselves if they agree to do a small tax increase now, they can go to the debt ceiling and then negotiate out an all spending cuts deal. the white house is telling them publicly, if they do a small tax only deal now, come the next deal they will insist of something as high as a 1 to 1 inform spending cuts. >> some are saying the president moved the goalposts. are they right? >> it depends which way he moved
them. at the onset he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue. he's going to end up with something along the lines of $600 billion. yes, he moved the goalposts towards republicans in that respect. you know, the big sticking point right now is what to do with this sequester, and, you know, there's been talks on the hill about delaying it for two or three months. i know democrats are skittish about that idea because it will put it in the heart of the debt ceiling debate and they don't want those two things paired. right now when you're talking about goalposts, i think the key goalpost to look at is how long down the road can they kick the can on this sequestration. >> it doesn't sound like the republicans want to kick it at all. how long can they, ezra? >> what republicans have been insisting on is you have to pay for it. if you're going to move the sequester back, you have to pay for it somehow. what the white house said is if you're going to pay for it, you're going to do so with a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts, not just as republicans want spending cuts. in all of this, and, you know,
we were talking about winners and losers before the break, in all of this everybody is a loser. this shouldn't have been that hard, there should be better spending cuts made in a smarter fashion. at the moment we will have a fairly modest amount of deficit reduction. maybe even none at all. mixed with a fairly bad economic impact from the fiscal cliff. kicking some of the sequester down the road would be a good idea but it's the same disagreements keeping us from doing that that has kept us from getting a bigger deal. >> where we are right now and what we know about this, sam, is it clear whether one side gave more than the other? >> you know, it's just the first chapter of a several-chapter book here because now we're going to have to deal with the debt ceiling fight and republicans have been calculating that they want to extract some concessions from the white house on that. that can't be considered separate from what we're talking about today. of course, we have to do the sequestration and what will happen with those cuts. so it's too early to tell who
wins, who loses. i'll add to ezra, the big losers i guess are us, and me in particular standing out here in the cold on new year's eve over a manufactured crisis. >> there are a lot of us who did not expect to be here at 5:31 eastern time on new year's eve. we shall say that. let me play for you, because there were a lot of people who came out quickly and reacted both sides of the aisle. this is bob corker a little while ago. >> i know the president has fun heckling congress. i think he lost probably numbers of votes with what he did. he didn't lose mine. i'm not that way. i'm going to look at the substance, but it's unfortunate that he doesn't spend as much time working on solving problems as he does with campaigns and pep rallies, but i want to say i'm very disappointed in what the president had to say. >> i'm wondering, ezra, because, look, we all know now that the bigger, tougher issues still
have to be decided. how much ill will is there and when we hear statements like that, how much of that is about playing to constituencies back home and how much of it is really an indication that if we thought there was any hope for the next round to go any better we're kidding ourselves? >> oh, there's so much ill will, so much of it is about playing to constituencies back home, and there's never any hope for the next round to go better than this one. >> that's the worst answer. so depressing. >> i don't mean to be a downer, so when i say this next line i just want to mention i'm not attempting to depress anybody. our government is horrible, horrible at doing its job. there is no reason this should have gone like this, and, yes, president obama gave a kind of jerky press conference today. on the other hand, he moved quite a bit further towards the republicans than they moved towards him, no the to mention in 2011 giving them an over $1 trillion bill that was all spending cuts when they threatened to default on the debt ceiling and didn't allow any tax increases into it. so you've had, i think a
reaction from republicans. i saw speaker boehner tweeting the house has already solved the problem and senate democrats haven't acted. it's a amamazing to see people all upset about this press conference. >> the fight has seemed very bitter at times. but by all indications when they get to the debt ceiling it will be even worse. the president has committed himself to not compromised one iota on the debt ceiling. he said it will be raised and he won't give up anything as a concession. republicans have committed themselves to extracting significant entitlement reforms. you can only imagine the type of rhetoric that's going to happen in their press conferences, in their press statements then. >> my suggestion for both of you gentlemen is don't make plans for valentine's night. i'm just saying. >> you're depressing my wife. >> ezra klein, sam stein, gentlemen, thank you for staying and talking with us. when we come back, reaction from
one of the more outspoken members of congress, steve israel of new york. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. >> we are running out of time. americans are still threatened with a tax hike in just a few hours. i hope we can keep in mind, and i know we will, our single most important goal is to protect middle class families. >> by all means let's complete a deal today so we can go home. let's raise taxes. let's stick it to those rich people-let's not touch spending. >> two people are gathered in a private room trying to negotiate something that has enormous consequences for this country and for our economy. we are where we are because this process was greasily mismanaged up until this point. [ male announcer ] what are happy kids made of? bikes and balloons, wholesome noodles on spoons. a kite, a breeze, a dunk of grilled cheese. catches and throws, and spaghettio's.
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at a time of crisis on new year's eve when at midnight at least certain actions take place or have to be planned to take place, we have the president of the united states go over and have a cheerleading ridiculing of republicans' exercise in speaking to the people of the united states of america. >> republican senator john mccain this afternoon accusing president obama of ridiculing house republicans. as the two sides duked it out over the fiscal deal. let me bring in steve israel of new york. congressman, always good to talk to you. >> how are you? happy new year. >> we have the outlines of a deal but we're hearing a lot of discontent and many of the complaints aimed at the president himself.
is this going to get done? >> well, i'm hopeful that it will get done. it is really -- we're at the point of now or never. let's review. it will get done when republicans are wig lling to compromise. the president a year ago offered a plan that was big, bold, balanced, republicans said no. a week ago the republican speaker put a plan on the floor that said they would only raise taxes for people making over $1 million. his caucus said no to that. at a certain pointed it's hard to negotiate with a skid mark. up to now we have been negotiating with a bunch of skid marks. now it's time for republicans to learn how to take yes for an answer. we have a plan on the table, it's not perfect. we ought to get it done now. >> no vote tonight, but can we expect a vote in the next 24 hours, next couple days? >> look, there will not be votes tonight and that's regrettable because it could have gotten a year ago, six months ago, could
have gotten done a month ago and two weeks ago. it's not going to get done tonight, but i think we are so close that we can get a vote at least on the issue of tax cuts. my own view is the president properly compromised on the issue of the income threshold. >> you're okay with 400 and 450. >> absolutely. 250 does not make you rich in all parts of the country like new york and elsewhere. so for that reason alone, there should be an adjustment. the more pressing reason is that we are willing to compromise. we are at 250. the republicans weren't even at a million. they were for continuing tax cuts for everybody. we're now at 400 and 450. they should at least meet us at that and let's get this thing done and move on to other issues. >> there is this final sticking point on the sequester. the white house says let's put it off, pay for it with new n e revenue. republicans want to pay for it earlier using spending cuts. they have accused the president of moving the goalposts.
how difficult is this going to be to get done? >> well, it's not going to be easy, but right now we have a pressing crisis on middle class families. if we don't act on the tax issue, everybody wakes up tomorrow morning to a tax increase whether you're making $30,000 a year or $300,000 a year or $3 million a year. we are very close to an agreement on that. we haven't exactly demonstrated an ability to solve problems universally. instead of continuing to disagree on issues where we can't solve the problems, let's at least get done what we can solve. what we can solve is the issue of taxes for now and then move onto other issues later. that's what the american people want, they want pragmatism, compromise. we are close. we need help from the house republicans. >> steve israel of new york, thanks so much. >> thanks, chris. >> when we return, the markets were in the dumps last week but they certainly like wad they saw today. what can we expect from wall street and what does this almost deal mean for you? you're watching msnbc, the place for politics.
clearly getting ready for big new year's eve. it's going to be a cold one but the crowds have been gathering around there and a lot further south in manhattan, the stock market anticipating a deal to avert the fiscal cliff reacted positively today. the dow jumping 166 points or 1.3%. the nasdaq surged 2%, 59 points there. this comes after both the dow and nasdaq dropped every day last week reflecting pessimism about a deal being worked out. to talk with us about how the financial markets will react if a deal gets done or doesn't, we have with us jared bernstein, who is the chief economist for vice president biden from 2009 to 2011 and is a senior fellow. good to see you. good evening. >> good evening and happy new year. >> happy new year to you. let me start with what's going on we heard from kristin welker at the top of the house that the vice president, who you know very well, is still working the phones. he has been since he got that call from mitch mcconnell. obviously, they have made some
very good progress. but what's going on right now do you imagine? >> i imagine that they're trying to sell that very good progress to their caucuses. you know, democrats aren't necessarily going to broadly embrace the plan that i understand has come out of their negotiations. for example, it sets the tax threshold at $450,000 as opposed to the kind of $250,000 that i think a lot of democrats, although i heard steve israel earlier offer a different viewpoint, but i think most democrats walking around with that threshold -- >> senator tom harkin learned about it in "the washington post" and he was not happy about that today. >> so that's a good example of the type of call you're talking about. also, the estate tax kind of landed much more on the republican's side of the field than the dem's. >> let me ask you about that because i had chris van hollen on last night, and his view on that was that it was ridiculous, that the idea that people who
had huge estates but maybe were $4 million instead of $5 million would pay less in taxes he thought was crazy, but they did give -- democrats did give and pretty significantly, right? >> exactly. and, you know, i think representative van hollen is really smart about this stuff, and he's right. i mean, you're talking about -- the policy that the democrats wanted, i can go into the parameters if you want, but think of it this way. it would have affected the top 0.3% of wealthy estates, not 3%, 0.3%. now they're switching to a policy that's going to affect maybe the top 0.2%. you're really talking about a very thin, rarified group of very rich people there. so that was an unfortunate thing, but i guess they felt they needed to make that in the trade. it's one of the reasons why you heard i think ezra and sam saying, you know, the republicans really got a lot out of this deal. that said, there's some stuff in there that democrats can feel good about, too. the unemployment extension -- >> credits for college tuition. >> those get extended.
the suspension of the sequester. there's some things that democrats can look towards. >> let me ask you about the big number, $600 billion, and that is a number obviously that the proposal would raise, not either what the president or john boehner had talked about. give us some context for that number. >> you know, you call it a big number, and in washington $600 billion, it's not that big a number when you think about exactly the context in the following sense. the president upon his re-election was talking about revenue increases in the neighborhood of $1 trillion. he then started his negotiations at $1.6 trillion, in my view to then come back down to $1.2 trillion, $1 trillion. you know, $600 billion i think even white house folks would probably say that's folks wouldy that's not enough revenue to get the kind of balanced deal we need to really get the budget deficit where we want it.
we're going to have to go back to that revenue well. and the path back there is not as clear to me as i'd like it to be. >> let me ask you really quickly because i'm out of time. we were watching the stock market really bad last week and a good day this week. we're watching these fights c e coming in the days and weeks and months. >> i think in the near term, the stock market had priced in a solution to the fiscal cliff. if we get a solution, the market is going to perhaps stabilize a little bit. and then when they get a wif of the debt ceiling, it will be up and down again. >> thank you, chris. >> when we come back, it was one of the most dysfunctional congress ever. certainly the most unpopular. you're watching msnbc. the place for politics. this reduced sodium soup says it may help lower cholesterol, how does it work? you just have to eat it as part of your heart healthy diet. step 1. eat the soup.
welcome back to msnbc's special coverage of the breaking news from washington. if you're just joining us, we can report that there will be no vote in the house tonight. there's no bill for the house to vote on. it's still another chapter in the story of the do-nothing 112th congress. over the past few years, the number of bills passed has actually gone down. 460 in the 110th, 383 in the 111th. in this current 112th congress,
just 219 bills. the lowest since they've been keeping records. it is possible we could see no action in the house until john boehner has the speaker's gavel back in hand on thursday. joining me now is ryan grim, eugene robinson. eugene, of those 219 bills, a whole pile of them were things like renaming post offices. jeff flight told me this morning this was a huge embarrassment. where could we go from here? >> i have no idea. it would be nice to go somewhere. but we're nowhere. you know, we talk about gridlock and divided government. and, in the past, there are people who divide a government that's good. when we have this sort of political gridlock, we get things done. that is no longer true.
as a matter of fact, you have to be pessimistic. you see us lurching from cliff to cliff. if you see us getting passed this one, how can you be convinced we're actually passed it. there's going to be a debt ceiling coming up, there's going to be a fight over the sequester, at some point, when that is supposed to kick back in. this is no way to run a railroad. and it's certainly no way to run the united states of america. >> is there any reason to believe, ryan, it will be any different i.? that will be more democrats in the 113th congress? is it going to make any difference? >> the one thing that could make a difference is if president obama actually sticks to his pledge that he's unwilling to negotiate on the debt ceiling. that's what he's been saying consistently for a year and a half now. he said, look, i'm not kidding. they have been negotiating because they've been saying, well, let's put it in this package, let's leave it out of this package.
i think that if he could have gotten it in this deal, he would have taken it and got that fight off. after this deal is struck, the president comes out in january and says to the markets and to the world and to the house republicans, i'm not negotiating over the debt ceiling. the united states is going to pay our debts. you ran up these debts, i ran up these debts, we all ran up these debts. we're going to pay them. we're not going to default on the debt. the constitution requires me to pay our debts. so you can do whatever shenanigans you want with not raising the debt ceiling, but buyers will get paid. auctions will be held. that's the only thing i can see changing the calculous. politically speaking, there is not a base of support for these constant dramas. if he did that -- >> everywhere i go, i don't know about you guys, but everywhere i go, people are asking me about this congress and why they can't get anything done and how if they acted the way this congress
acted, eugene, they would have lost their jobs a long time ago. this is also, by the way, the least popular congress in history. does it not matter? do they not feel it at all? >> public opinion has spoken. approval ratings could hardly be lower for congress. yet, it has not changed behavior. so why should we expect it to change behavior going forward? i agree with ryan to pass a tough stand on the debt ceiling would make a difference. i don't know how the president quite gets there. he has said he doesn't believe the 14th amendment is justification for him to say i'm going to pay the debt and, you know, you guys do whatever you want. so we'd have to find some other basis, i suppose, since he's kind of ruled that out. >> eugene, it's interesting. i don't know if he has personally ruled it out. >> well, that's true.