tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC December 31, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
that motivation now turns to not only coming out to vote, but to get registered. >> that's right. >> is there going to be an off-year effort like 2013? should the democrats go down the road of making sure voter registration is taking place and not in the 11th hour? >> yes, absolutely, ed there is an african proverb that one should never build their shield on the battlefield. well, it is shield-building time for democrats. absolutely we certainly plan to do that right here in the state of ohio. well need folks who understand that when it comes to elections, ed, our party affiliation should be placed on the side of the road. and there is only one affiliation that we should worry about, and that is the party of the rt. that is the right thing. >> nina turner, great to have you with us tonight. senator, you have done a marvelous job for your state. we don't have a top five or top ten of favorite guests on the "the ed show," but i guarantee i would put you in the top five. >> thank you. thank you, ed. >> that is "the ed show." i'm ed schultz. the rachel maddow show starts right now. have a happy and blessed new
year. hello, i'm milissa rehberger. welcome to msnbc's continuing coverage of the breaking news on capitol hill. a senior democratic source just told nbc news that there may be a vote in the senate later this evening. the house has adjourned for the evening and is not expected to vote on any deal tonight. democrats are holding a meeting in just a few minutes, and vice president biden, who has played a critical roll in getting the talks moving will attend. senator tom coburn of oklahoma talked to cnbc's larry kudlow earlier tonight and explained why there seems to be a sudden momentum to get something accomplished in the senate. >> let me ask you, sir. do you think tonight there will be a senate vote on some kind of deal? >> well, i think there should be very late tonight or early in the a.m., even if this gets enacted in the next couple day, it's all going to be retroactive to january 1st. but the very point of it is when you have a deal of this nature
you need to get it passed before you start having all the interest groups start finding out everything they think is wrong with it and giving people excuses not to support it. >> of course, no plan can go into effect without being passed in the house there is a concern that house republicans might stall that process. here is kansas republican tim huelskamp on cnn earlier tonight. >> near as we can tell it increases taxes on certain americans and it would probably increase spending as well. and there might be a debt ceiling part of that as well. and it doesn't anything about entitlement reform, which is the problem. i think it would probably be the typical washington deal. but i can't vote for something that is not a solution. and, again, on all fronts, though, i do believe it's going to cost american jobs. >> vice president biden began participating in negotiations at the request of senate minority leader mitch mcconnell yesterday, and helped forge a deal on taxes. the proposed deal worked out earlier today is said to raise
$600 billion in revenue over the next decade through new tax increases on the wealthiest americans. the bush era tax rates would be extended for all single americans, with income below $400,000, and couples with income below $450,000. all income above those levels would be taxed at a clinton era top tax rate of 39.6%. and capital gains taxes above those amounts would also be increased up to 20% up from 15%. the deal is also said to include a permanent fix for the alternative minimum tax, and extends unemployment insurance for another year for two million americans. there is some grumbling about the proposed deal from labor. in the last hour, richard trumka of the afl-cio tweeted the following -- we can't set the stage for further destabilizing hostage-taking from -- in the form of another debt ceiling crisis and another sequester crisis. joining me now from capitol hill by phone is nbc's kelly
o'donnell. kelly, tell what's the latest is that you're hearing on this deal. >> this is a major breaking development, milissa. we have learned from multiple sources who have been directly involved in negotiations that they have reach and agreement in principle between the white house and senate leaders. of course, this will still need to be voted on by members in both the senate and house. but this is a very significant breakthrough three hours before the fiscal cliff deadline. what i am told is that there is still the possibility that democrats when they meet with the police department may express some of their concerns. but expectation is that the vice president will be here in about ten minutes to meet with democrats to lay out the plan. this has been negotiated between the republican leader mitch mcconnell, the president's representative has been joe biden, and there have been key staffers involved. as you know, it has taken a long time to reach this, but they have stherltd concerettled thei
taxes. related to delaying the automatic spending cuts for two months, and there will be many details in it that we will learn. but the key here is an agreement has been reached. it still must be voted on. there is some distance to go. but this is a very significant breakthrough just through hours before the fiscal cliff deadline. >> kelly, can you take us through some of the most specific sticking points that they were argue over? >> once they got through the major hurdle of resolving new toongs incomes above $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples, that was a very significant compromise for both parties. the president moved up from the level he had campaigned on of having new taxes at $250,000, and republicans for the first time in a couple of decades will acknowledge that they will raise taxes on some of the wealthier americans. that was a big breakthrough. then there became a new set of issues that developed, especially today dealing with how to reduce the deficit with spending cuts. one of the big concerns that
lawmakers have is the impact of these across-the-board spending cuts due to kick in at midnight tonight, that will affect many federal agencies and the military. and the concern is that would cost jobs, it would limit programs, and would have a harmful effect on the economy. so to delay that has a cost that further adds to the deficit. so they have been trying to find ways to offset that cost. to bring in new revenue through these new taxes, to protect the current tax rates for the majority of americans. so anyone who earns less than 400,000 dollars as an individual will have the same tax rates as they do now. other sorts of tax provisions like the 2% payroll tax will stay in effect. and for those people who have been out of work the longest and have been depending on unemployment benefits, those will continue as a part of this deal. it is complicated. it has very significant impact on the economy, on people's pocketbooks, and there has been sharp political divide for a very long time. that's the subject of the
campaign on many levels, it will be a subject of campaigns for many of these members of congress in the future when they are up for reelection. but this represents a significant breakthrough after so much difficulty. much of the credit will probably go to mitch mcconnell and vice president joe biden. and along with their key advisers and senior staffers being able to bridge this divide, with considerable outside pressure knowing that fiscal cliff is supposed to take effect at midnight. again, it still must be voted on. a deal does not make law. it's just a first step. but it's a very meaningful breakthrough. >> kelly o'donnell, thank you so much. kristen welker is at the white house. she joins us live now. kristen, what is the word coming from the white house right now with the vice president on his way over to capitol hill to speak there in just a few minutes now? >> well, the white house not yet commenting on this deal that is coming to fruition. but they have confirmed that the vice president is heading over to the hill. and they have been saying all night that he is prepared to go over to the hill once
negotiations reach this stage. so he is essentially going there to put the final stamp on this deal that kelly is reporting about, to sell it to the members of the caucus. as you mentioned, milissa, at the top of the broadcast, there has been some dissent among l.a. labor leaders. richard trumka tweeting that democrats should hold off on approving this deal. he says it's not good enough in part because the tax rates are on those who are making $400,000 or more, $450,000 or more if they're couples, and not on those who make $250,000 or more. that is the level that president obama campaigned on. he said folks who make $250,000 or more should pay more in taxes. richard trumka expressing concern tonight that this will ultimately wind up taking a larger cut into spending than democrats will be comfortable with. so that is some of the criticism on the left. i imagine vice president biden have l have to answer some questions about that when he heads over to the hill. but as kelly mentioned, he has
been one of the key negotiators in this entire process. remember, on saturday, milissa, these negotiations had all but stalled. and that is the point at which minority leader mcconnell picked up the phone, called biden, asked him to engage in these negotiations. he did. he is of course a veteran of the senate. few people understand how the inner works of the senate work as well as vice president biden. so he gotten gauged in these negotiations, really helped them to move forward. remember, he also has a very strong work relationship with mitch mcconnell. the two served together for about 23 years on this senate. so the two of them together really moved these negotiations forward. and of course all day long today the president majority leader reid also playing a significant role once they had gotten over that initial hump that they seemed to be stuck on on saturday. so, again, vice president biden heading to the hill. just three hours until we head over the fiscal cliff. the large concern here is the impact that going over the cliff
would have on the economy. now economists say look, it's not going to be a windfall on wednesday. it's not going to be a complete disaster all at once. but what could happen is that the markets could begin to respond on wednesday. they're closed of course tomorrow for the holiday. and then over time, the average american could wind up paying about $2,000 more in their taxes. and if we went over the cliff and stayed over the cliff for a significant amount of time, the economy could eventually begin to dip back into recession. and that is really the big concern here. you've heard president obama talk about those concerns when he has held some of these public campaign events. he held one today to pressure congress to act. he has talked about the fact that this is a really about americans and the economy and preventing the economic recovery from being harmed. milissa? >> kristen, there concern at all in the white house that if this does go up to vote, perhaps in the senate tonight, the house tomorrow, is there concern at the white house that it may not pass if there are going to be too many holdouts? >> absolutely. i think that they're going to be holding their breaths on both
sides of pennsylvania avenue until this passes through both chambers. these negotiations are so fragile. however, they have come to this agreement, to this deal. so i think there is confidence, at least, heading into this sort of final round that this is a strong proposal that will be able to make its way through both chambers. but it's ant important point, milissa. we're just talking about the senate right now. what is going to happen in the house. the house is going to reconvene tomorrow at noon. the question is will house speaker john boehner bring this to a vote. the politics of this are such that there will be a considerable amount of pressure on house republicans to bring this to a vote, in large part if it does pass through the senate. so we'll have to see. those are some big ifs. but things are moving forward. and again, to underscore kelly's point, this is a very large development. >> it will be a new year's eve to remember for sure. lots of nail biting, kristen. thank you so much. kristen welker and kelly o'donnell there for us.
we're going to continue our breaking coverage and the last-minute breakthrough when we come back. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. it's not for colds. it's not for pain. it's just for sleep. because sleep is a beautiful thing™. ♪ zzzquil™. the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil®. by showing you the apartment building where the fire was. when things like this happen, i think you find a new perspective on life. red cross put us in a hotel so we were able to stay together. we're strong and if we overcame that or if we can overcome that... we can overcome anything. [ sniffles ] ♪ big time taste should fit in a little time cup.
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you can actually use! how illuminating. what's in your wallet? let me guess, am i on the naughty list again? ho ho ho! welcome back. i'm milissa rehberger, and this is continuing coverage of breaking news from capitol hill where a deal has apparently been reached on the senate on the fiscal cliff issue. well also understand that the vice president has just arrived on capitol hill to speak to
senators who are waiting out this new year's eve night there, eating pizza on new year's eve, which will be one for the record books. nbc's miviqueira is on capitol hill. the senate carriage entrance. he is going to speak. he is now speaking to a closed door meeting of the senate democratic caucus. what is his mission here? essentially sell the deal that he has struck largely between these two men, the vice president joe biden of course in capacity the president of the senate and mitch mcconnell. they have been on the phone working things out after an impasse breakdown friday night after harry reid and mitch mcconnell essentially broke off negotiations. mcconnell at this point reached out to biden, and the upshot is what you've been reporting. the emerging details of this deal that have been trickling out all day. now, if joe biden is able to get democratic senators to sign on
or at least, milissa, and that is an important point, to allow this vote to go forward without objecting to this expedited process that we're seeing here in the senate, and not a moment too soon, as you know, then a vote could conceivably happen some time tonight before midnight, or early into tomorrow morning. because essentially what has happened is the house of representatives has said they are not likely to vote on any product in the wee hours of the morning. in any event, it would not be approved by congress until after midnight until we have technically gone over the cliff, though the impact would be minimal if any impact were felt at all because this bill has built in retroactive provisions. in other words, those tax cuts would be effective as of midnight tonight. you mentioned the outlines of the deal that those parameters, $400,000 and $450,000 for singles and couple s filing jointly respectively. everybody else making less than that will not see their tax
raised. if you make more than that they're going to 39.6%, only for that income above those thresholds there are a number of other provision here is that democrats have fought for, an extension of unemployment insurance first and foremost, milissa. >> all right, mike viqueira, stand by. we're going to kristen welker at the white house. >> i can tell you that president obama called majority leader reid and also pelosi over at the house, and they both agreed with this deal that we have been discussing throughout the night, this deal that would allow tax cuts to expire on those making $400,000 or more and $450,000 or more for couples, as well as extend unemployment insurance benefits. and it would stave off the sequester for two months through a combination of tax cuts -- or tax hikes i should say, those tax hikes that i just mentioned, as well as spending cuts. so those are the broad
parameters of the deal. and again, president obama tonight calling harry reid, nancy pelosi to make sure that they both signed off on this deal, which they have. so now we have the vice president who is just arriving at the hill. he is going to sit down with the democratic caucus, sell this deal to the caucus, answer their questions, answer their concerns. but, again, the broad outlines of the deal have been agreed upon by all the major players who are involved in this. of course, vice president biden has been playing a critical role in these negotiations, really the entire time. but especially since saturday when leader mcconnell reached out to him and asked him to get more engaged, which he did. and that is really when we saw this ball move forward. and now it appears inching closer by the hour to the end game. so, again, president obama reaching out to key leaders on the hill, making sure that they agree with this deal. and it appears at this hour that
they do. and vice president biden now going to sell to it the caucus. milissa? >> all right, kristen welker, stand by for us, if you please. let's go to nbc's chuck todd. chuck, considering that the house left for the night, what was the senate's incentive for staying and hammering out this deal? >> well, they want a deal. and mitch mcconnell is the one who really wanted a deal because mitch mcconnell made the political calculation that the best leverage that the democrats and the white house had over them in this ongoing budget battle -- and let's remember, that's what we are in the middle of. and we haven't gotten rid of that. this ongoing battle of shaping the federal budget, who pays for deficit reduction, that the tax issue wasn't solved, that that would be a bigger sledgehammer against the republicans. so mcconnell was incentivized to do a deal, and so were all the senate republicans. that's why you saw such an effort in the last two day,
particularly on mitch mcconnell to try and hammer out some sort of deal. the president wants a deal. he doesn't want to go over the cliff. now there are a bunch of other democrats that do. but the president didn't want to do it because he wants to be able to take this. he thinks that having a straight-up fight when debt ceiling expires in two months, and priorities about how to handle the deficit reduction and all these other things, that they will have a stronger leg to stand on, that they don't have to worry about dealing with taxes, that that's out of the way, and perhaps they can get a better deal, get a better way of deal deficit reduction. and more importantly, potentially start working on other priorities. i can tell you the reality. the reality is this deal simply delays what is going to be an even i would argue steeper fiscal crisis coming in march. the delayed sequester combined with government funding completely runs out.
well could have a budget government shutdown showdown in march, and the debt ceiling all expiring basically in the same three to four-week period. it's going to make what has happened in the last 48 seem small and petty. >> so given what you just said, this deal looming tonight, perhaps even voting in the senate tonight, who wins? who loses? who is somewhere in between? >> look, i don't think anybody is winning here. i think that the white house and senate republicans feel as if they've dodged a political bullet, that it's not a complete victory, although the white house certainly feels as if they have republicans helping them raise tax. if you had told them you were going to get that a year ago, two years ago, heck, 20 years ago, they would have said what are you smoking? the fact of the matter is the white house feels like they're winning. simply they've got republicans helping them raise taxes on the
wealthiest say 1.4% when all is said and done. but senate republicans feel like they've got this, that they basically took their medicine from the november elections, and now can move on to having new sort of renewed fight about the budget in spending and deficits going forward. by the way, one thing to watch for in the senate vote tonight, or tomorrow morning more likely. and that is what is the number, and what is the makeup of it. how many democrats are lost? there are going to be ten liberals that vote no. but will it be 20 liberals that vote against this deal? how many senate republicans are going to vote for this deal? 30? 35? or is it less than 30? is it somewhere where 70 to 80 total u.s. senators bless this deal and vote for it, then it will pass the house there won't be any problems getting this through the house tomorrow afternoon. if, however, this thing barely squeaks by and it's at 60 or 61,
then i would not be betting the farm that the house will pass this deal 24 hours from now. >> all right. chuck todd and everyone else, please stand by. we will be back in a moment with continuing coverage of the apparent deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. you are watching msnbc, the place for politics. sometimes what we suffer from is bigger than we think ... like the flu. with aches, fever and chills- the flu's a really big deal. so why treat it like it's a little cold? there's something that works differently
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well, we appear to have a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. a democratic source says a deal was reached just minutes ago. democrats in the senate are meeting right now on capitol hill with vice president joe biden who helped move these takes long. and there is word that there may be a vote in the senate this evening, possibly before midnight. we'll see. we will be back in just a moment with continuing coverage of the fiscal cliff talks. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. ♪
senate tonight. chuck, before the break you were talking about the possibility, even likelihood that there will be holdouts on both sides of the aisle who don't like this deal, and perhaps may not even pass in the house, the senate, or both. what is the likelihood of that really, do you think? >> oh, i think it's going to pass in the senate. that's not going to be the issue. the issue is what is the level of numbers that are going to be. and, you know, is it going to be 30 republicans that bless this deal in the senate. think about it now there is 47 republicans. so will more than half of the republican conference end up supporting this deal? if that's the case, then boehner and the house republican leaders have no choice but to basically bring this to the floor untouched and let it go with a mix of probably, probably a majority of democratic votes. now, we know that every bit of this negotiation that biden was going through in the last 24 hours, everything he would agree to he would make sure that harry
reid and nancy pelosi, the senate democratic and house democratic leaders could live with what he was doing. he didn't do anything -- nothing that he is presenting to them is a surprise. they knew everything that they were playing with. they're not happy about certain things. they're not crazy, for instance, about how that they basically set up what i was describing earl year, which was this perhaps the super-duper fiscal cliff of march when we have the government, the entire government could shut down if funding isn't approved, continued for the next year, plus the sequester expiring yet again, plus the debt ceiling, all of that coming due at the same time. so if it makes it seem small. but they're blessing everything here. so you're going to get a majority of democrats supporting it in the senate and a majority of republicans supporting it in the house. the question is what is the number of republicans that go on. by the way, there is almost no chance they can vote before
midnight tonight. just logistically, they have to write the bill. they have to do some the physical things that are just -- and they have to sign at least a certain amount of time to debate the bill, let people speak about it, et cetera. the earliest we're going to see a vote is probably 2:00 or three income the morning there is a chance 245 the senate will say you know what? we're going to come back at 10:00 in the morning. so i'm just preparing folks for that if they're wondering what is going to happen first, the ball dropping in times square or washington dropping the ball on their own, if you will. pun was intended there, by the way. but if the vote is big in the senate, then it will pass the house without a problem. but if it's small, then you can see all sorts of -- the house is a much more idealogically divided place. and, you know, nothing is guaranteed in that house. >> what role does reelection play for certain members who will end up voting for or
against this deal? as far as trying to please their base, there may be members in there who feel that this is a good deal. it's a compromise that they could live with, but their voters can't. >> what is funny is nobody worried about general election reelection, is worried about voting for this bill. the only people thinking about how to vote on this bill and worried about voting on it if they're kind of for it, worried about voting for it if they're kind of against it are those that are worried about primary challengers. there are more of them -- the more of them that are worried about it coming from the republicans right now. but there are a certain number on the democrats that could be of concern. the head of the afl-cio, not an insignificant democratic special interest group came out tonight against this deal. the heritage foundation came out tonight, heritage, you know, and said they are going to score this vote. they're recommending a no vote. that means any republican, if they wanted to have a perfect score from heritage, not going to get it.
it's a vote for this deal. so here you have a leading democratic special interest group and a leading republican special interest group who are not powerful in general elections, but are powerful in primary coming out against this deal. so that is the sort of calculation that these guys have met. anybody worried about losing in a november election in the mid terms? they're actually more likely to support this bill. but there aren't many of those guys and gals left. >> all right. chuck todd, stay with us if you can. let's go to nbc's john harwood who has been covering the story for a very long time for us. bring your view, john, if you will, of this deal as we understand it. >> milissa, i think the deal is going to pass the senate. i think speaker boehner will allow to it come to a vote in the house. i think it will pass the house and go to the president for his signature. i just spoke to one participant in the negotiations who said we hate this was a democrat saying we hate this.
but i still i think it's better than nothing. and that suggests you hit the sweet spot. if you have the president's party hating it, conservatives in the republican party hating it, but thinking it's better than the alternative, that's how you bridge a gap between two parties that are very far apart. democrats ultimately gave in on the issue of the estate tax, which was settled on terms that some democrats resisted. but you had conservative democrats who are up for election in 2014 who wanted to -- who wanted to cooperate with the republican party position on that. democrats also gave on the length of the delay of the across-the-board budget cuts that nobody wants to happen and are scheduled to take effect in january with no shutoff. those are going to be shut off, but only for two months. and i think it's a very difficult bargain there are a lot of things in this deal for people on both sides not to
like. but it's probably enough in it for them to like that it's going to pass and become law and ultimately have us avoid the fiscal cliff, at least avoid it after we go over for a couple of hours. >> what is that saying that you know you've done something right if everybody is mad at you. >> exactly. >> we just saw pictures of the vice president just a few moments ago walking into capitol hill. what do you think he is talking about behind closed doors? what do you think his general message is? >> i think what vice president biden is doing is trying to sell this deal to democrats. president obama was also trying to do that earlier today when he came out and spoke to a group of middle class families and started emphasizing all of the things that he got in the bill -- extension of some of the tax credits for education, for clean energy that he got in the stimulus package, his administration, when he said that we are going to seek more revenue, when the big discussion of spending cuts ripens in the
next couple of months before the debt ceiling that was an important signal to democrats that you may not like what i got in this deal. you may think we're not getting enough tax revenue from affluent americans, but i'm going to go after more when we talk about cutting spending on issues of the major entitlement programs, including medicare and social security. he was trying to buck up democrats who are not happy with this deal. and i think vice president biden is doing that right at this moment with senate democrats. >> well, the vice president is certainly getting the lion's share, you know, of credit maybe. but certainly attention surrounding this issue. take us through the relationship between him and minority leader mitch mcconnell who personally requested his participation in these negotiations. >> there are big political differences between the two, but they served together for a very long time. vice president biden had been there for several years before mitch mcconnell came to town.
but they served together for more than 20 years. and vice president biden is somebody who gets along well with people from the other side. big philosophical differences. part of this has to do with mitch mcconnell wanting to take the toughest decisions to the higher level. it's part of the dynamics of the end stage of negotiations. the circle of people who can be involved gets narrower and narrower. when you get vice president biden as opposed to senate leader reid, you're getting one step closer to the president of the united states. and that's the ultimate place where a deal is going to be blessed by the party of the president. and that's what mitch mcconnell was doing. and it seems to have been successful. and i think the white house and republicans both having encountered the prospect that they would fail on something so important that would hurt the republican party more than democrats, but also hurt the president because of the
potential for turmoil and markets and consumer confidence in the reputation of the united states around the world, i think they came to a point where they had to close the deal, and joe biden was the guy who could do it. >> what would you say to the average american taxpayer who is watching this tonight who may be a little fuzzy on what this really means to them? >> what i would say to the average american taxpayer is that your tax rates are not going to go up. the average american who makes well south of $100,000 a year is not going to be paying any more money as a result of this deal. and what the administration's argument will be is that some of the most important tax breaks like for college tuition were protected in this deal. even if the amount of revenue raised was not adequate to what the president had asked for, what he campaigned on, and what
democrats had insisted in the negotiations. but the argument the president has been making is that unless we get more revenue from people who make a lot of money and who are thriving in this economy, people who are not thriving in this economy are going to be hurt by the ways in which government will have to be cut without that revenue. and the president is going to try to reassure those people. he has been trying to do that throughout the course of his campaign and since the election. he is going to make the case that i have protected you from bearing an undue portion of the burdens for resolving the american deficit crisis over the long-term. he is not done with that job, but this is a first step and one where the president is going to make the argument that we succeeded in getting people who are doing very, very well in this economy to pay a little bit more. >> thank you, john harwood and chuck todd. whether we be back in a moment with breaking news and an apparent deal to avoid the
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talking about, this agreement reached between the vice president and the republican leader in the senate, mitch mcconnell. what has been happening is their top advisers and their most trusted experts on their staffs have been hammering this out, really, into the wee hours of last night, again early this morning, and then through the day. they had a significant breakthrough earlier with an agreement on taxes. so the news there is that anyone who earns under $400,000 a year as an individual, your taxes stay the same. anyone above that level will see an increase going back to the bill clinton era rates. so that's about 39.6%. on other kinds of tax issues, they've made a change now so that the alternative minimum tax, which affects many people, that that would save a number of middle class people from being affected by that. also, some changes to the estate tax. so if there is an inheritance in your family, or if there is passing on of a family farm or a business, that will be key for people there. those are things republicans
wanted very much. and to some degree, some democrats too. but the key thing for democrats was to try to preserve elements like unemployment benefits for those who have been out of work the longest. that stays in here there are other kind of tax credits that will affect more middle income people. but some of the pushback we've been hearing from democrats, and a lot of it has been coming from democrats is a concern that they had hoped that those tax rates would kick in at the level the president had campaigned on, $250,000. so the president had compromised. republicans also compromised. they had not wanted any new taxes. but there is some pushback there. there has also been some concern among democrats that i talk with that these new tax rates are considered permanent in the agreement that has been reached, meaning they don't expire in a period of years like the rates that brought us to this point in the first place. but some of the benefits that they are happy about like that extension of unemployment benefits is limited. it is capped for a period of time. so it's the kind of deal or perhaps agreement is the better
term here, because it's not really a done deal until everyone in congress gets to vote. but there is this sense that both sides could have done better. now in the republican side, the chief complaint is that this doesn't do enough to address the deficit. so when you have some things that are pleasing both parties and some serious things that are really a problem for members in both parties, then you have the makings of a compromise. so this has taken a great deal of work. the vice president has come here now within just a couple of hours of the fiscal cliff deadline. the key for joe biden is to sell this agreement to fellow democrats who will be critical in getting it passed, not only in the senate, but also having influence in the house. because the house may be a much tougher go in terms of those tax increases. you may have some of the most conservative republicans in the house who will oppose that when does the voting happen? we don't have a set schedule yet. but certainly senators have been telling me all evening they would like to try to vote some time before they go to bed
tonight, whether that beats the midnight deadline or not remains to be seen. the house has gone home for tonight. they did not expect there would be an opportunity to vote. they'll be back on new year's day. so the cliff that everyone has talked about, the deadline, what happens? any agreement that can be resolved, whether it's a vote tonight and it rolls into the next couple days, if they can make this stick, there is a way to make everything retroactive. so people's taxes will stay the same unless you're in that high earning income. you'll get your paycheck if you are getting benefits as an unemployed person for the long-term that won't be interrupted. all those sorts of things. there has been so much buildup to this. and as you know, milissa, this was a deal created by congress to compel congress to try to deal with the long-term deficit. that doesn't really happen to much of a degree in this deal. and that's been a big complaint from both the president and republicans who wanted to achieve something bigger, something grander to deal with
the long-term deficit. but what it does do is prevent those sweeping tax increases, and it will also put on hold the across-the-board spending cuts that were also due to happen at midnight. and there was great concern about that, because it is the type of spending cut that, again, was meant to force congress to act, but those cuts would have been very arbitrary and would have potentially helped tip the country back into another recession. so that's why they so wanted to avoid that. but at the same time, those cuts produce deficit reduction. it's been a complicated, long negotiation. there has been a lot of emotion on the line, a lot of strong political feelings that have been at odds. as you know, there have been a change of players. this began with the president and speaker boehner negotiating that fell apart. then it fell to the top leaders in senate, mitch mcconnell and the democratic majority leader
put a call in to his old friend, joe biden, help us out, sort it out. joe biden, if he had remained a united states senator he would have been the most senior democrat in the senate. so he knows how this place works, and he has demonstrated a relationship and trust with people across the aisle that has helped put this together. there will be unsung heroes, if you will, in terms of staffers who have worked to hard to make it work. now, there will be members of both parties who don't like it, members giving both sides some credit. however, late in the day, reaching a deal in some principle. but it is a step, far from being over. votes will still matter, votes will be tough to come by. and selling this to the parties and the public is a big part of what happens next, melissa? >> well, kelly, we know that vice president joe biden is on capitol hill, speaking to the
democrats right now. and as you mentioned, there are democrats, members of his own party that are holding out, as well. what do you think he is saying to them right now in hopes of swaying them to vote for this? >> reporter: well, i can't get in the mind of joe biden. but i guess it will be likely some of the arguments he makes from talking to democrats. he will try to say they have made a deal that is a significant move from where republicans want it to be. and that is an advantage for democrats, meaning, some of the first agreements to do tax increases in a generation, a big win for the president. he will also say that things like maintaining the estate tax, while that will still protect a lot of people, the rate will go up. they will call that a win. he will certainly talk about the benefits to people who are on the lower end of the economic scale, like unemployment benefits. like some of the education credits and things that are in there. he will be making a pitch that the country needs a deal and the democrats will be responsible in
both the senate and the house to deliver a deal. and that is how he will try to persuade his fellow democrats. melissa? >> thank you, kelly o'donnell, we'll be back with more on the fiscal cliff negotiations, when we return. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. [ sniffs ] [ sneezes ] [ sniffles ] [ female announcer ] for everything your face has to face. face it with puffs facial tissues. puffs has air-fluffed pillows for 40% more cushiony thickness. face every day with puffs softness.
welcome back to msnbc's breaking news coverage of the fiscal cliff deal that is being struck on capitol hill. i am being joined now on the phone by krystal ball, co-host of msnbc's "the cycle." thank you for taking time out of your new year's eve, this is big news. how do you think progressives will react to it? >> you know, i think it will be a mixed bag, and happy new year's to you. just how we want to spend it. i think it is going to be a
mixed bag, you know, speaking for myself i actually think this is an okay deal. of course there is disappointment about elevating the tax rate from 250, to 400, singles, couples, i think that is disappointing to a lot of liberals and progressives. but there is also an extension to progressives, a cap on high income earners. so there are things for liberals to hang on to. i have to be honest with you, getting republicans, if this actually happened, getting the republicans to agree to any sort of tax hike really is a big deal and is sort of unprecedented. so we should keep that in mind. i am sure that labor groups who have been very firm, the aflcio, in particular, said they are going to oppose any deal that didn't elevate taxes on anyone over 250, they would oppose those deals. the fact that it has buy-in from
the president, joe biden, nancy pelosi and harry reid, i think will help to bring a lot of people on board who may be skeptical about this. >> do you have any sort of a dollar figure about the difference in revenue that they're talking about? if they have been able to hold out and keep the tax hike for people who make 250 or more, instead of 400, 450 or more? i mean, how much money are we talking about? >> it is not a huge difference, and honestly, even raising taxes on everybody over 250 was i think, $800 billion over ten years. so even that was not a huge amount of new revenue. it was -- in a lot of ways it is more of the principle of if we're going to be asking people to sacrifice, we can't just be asking the poor and middle class to sacrifice again. and the fact that basically, everyone said the payroll tax cut extension is you know, that is ending.
that is a big hit to the middle class. so we want to make sure that people at the upper end of the pay scale are paying their fair share, as well. >> i guess it should come as no surprise that special interest groups are already jumping into the dialogue, just as we hear that a deal has been reached. do we expect to hear a whole lot more from them and others? and how much of a voice do they really have in all of this? >> well, we definitely will be hearing more that freshmewe'll hearing more, from them. and we'll have a conversation about the cuts, opposing major cuts there, particularly to entitlement programs. and look, the aflcio, and other groups that were a big part of the president's election and who have a lot of man power behind them and can raise a lot of voices to support their caus