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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  March 23, 2013 9:00am-11:00am PDT

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prego?! but i've been buying ragu for years. [ thinking ] i wonder what other questionable choices i've made? [ club scene music ] [ sigh of relief ] [ male announcer ] choose taste. choose prego. good day, everyone. i'm alex witt. it is high noon here in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west. some big stories developing this hour. the president heading home right now from the middle east. some positive reviews on his trip but did it further the cause of middle east peace or stopping iran's nukes? signs of the sequester. in a matter of days key changes could be made at an airport near you. might it lead to dangerous skies? it's a bird, it's a plane, no, actually, it's neither but it is something that caught the eye of thousands. office politics. chris hayes explains why nobody wants to own one particular thing in washington. welcome to weekends with alex witt. it's a day of drama both
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overseas and in our nation's capital. first overseas. right now the president is on his way back to the u.s. after his four-day trip to the middle east. today he wrapped up his tour of jordan by visiting the fabled city of petra. peter alexander has the latest. good afternoon, peter. >> reporter: alex, good day to you from here in ahmmman. he punctuated his visit just about four days by looking at this region's past. he was visiting, touring the celebrated archaeological site in jordan known as petra. you may have seen it in "indiana jones and the last crusade." president wanted to see it for himself. he added this to the itinerary. yesterday sandstorms delayed him getting here to jordan and wind and weather had no impact on his travel today. the real reason for him coming to this country to meet with king abdullah who is america's top arab ally certainly in this region was because of the
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refugees, the flood of ref. >> is coming into jordan because of the civil war, the crisis just across the border in neighboring syria. according to the king, about 460,000 refugees have come to this country. there's one camp in the north that has more than 100,000 people in it. he says, the king does, that it's roughly the fifth largest is he it the country. that's why the president pledged another $200 million in additional aid, and mr. obama also pushed back at some criticisms of why the u.s. has not intervened militarily in syria. take a listen. >> you know, i think it's fair to say that the united states often finds itself in a situation where if it goes in militarily it's criticized, and if it doesn't go in militarily, then people say why aren't you doing something militarily? and, you know, my response at this stage is to make sure that what we do contributes to bringing an end to the bloodshed
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as quickly as possible. >> reporter: the president should be back in the u.s. just shy of midnight tonight, but while mr. obama heads home, secretary of state john kerry is remaining in the region. he has a pair of meetings today, one of them with the palestinian president mahmoud abbas. that's taking place in jordan. another one that will take place over dinner with the prime minister, benjamin netanyahu of israel. just another signal of just how important this issue is to the administration as they're showing once again their commitment to try to revive these peace talks. alex? >> all right, peter, thank you so much. here at home the senate passed its first budget in four years, this during an all-night session. the nonbinding blueprint passed by a near party line vote. before its passage the senate spent several hours taking up dozens of amendments. >> average voteorama, 35 amendments. we've done 70, twice as many. doing this has been a herculean feat. >> i know everyone is exhausted and you may not feel it at the
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moment, but this is one of the senate's finest days in recent years and i commend everyone who has participated in this extraordinary debate. >> some of the amendments had nothing to do with the budget or fiscal policy, but party operatives on both sides are keeping score of last night's votes for potential campaign fodder in 2014. joining me now political reporter for "u.s. news & world report" lauren fox and white house reporter for "the washington post" david nakamura. david, the white house really lowered expectations. did anything happen to exceed those expectations? what's your read on it? >> alex, i think the news that came out yesterday that the president helped broker some thawing of relations between ja israel and turkey over an incident that happened three years ago was a bit of a surprise. it is something that the administration could be happy with because both of those countries border syria. they don't want any other unpredictable relations to get in the way of how they're going to try to contain the syrian
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conflict. i think on the broader question most people were paying attention to, the israeli/palestine conflict, the administration about lived up to the expectations they set. the president moved closer to israel, re-established ties to prime minister netanyahu but the administration didn't come with any agenda to restart the talks, the peace talks. peter mentioned that secretary kerry will remain there i think to keep continuing to try to find a way that they haven't to get those talks going again. >> did we hear about iran in terms of getting a better sense on whether military action from either israel or the u.s. could happen? >> you know, going into this trip, prime minister netanyahu and president obama had a bit of a strained relationship, and i think what this did was the president made it very clear that israel is open and able to defend itself however it sees fit, and so when it comes to iran and it comes to the nuclear program there, the president left the door open when it comes to what israel may do and what the u.s. may do when it comes to
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maybe targeted military interventions when it comes to the nuclear program there. >> let's look at what happened, this voteorama. david, the senate was charging through about 70 amendments overnight. it finally passed its first budget in four years. it came about like 5:00 in the morning. how significant is that and in terms of timing without taking us to the very last minute? >> well, alex, as you know, this congress they tend to do that, but i think it's important not just symbolically that the senate passed a budget for the first time in four years but also what it's doing is staking out the democratic position for the upcoming battle over the next round of negotiations on the debt ceiling, which i think both republicans in the house and the democrats in the senate and the white house are going to say, you know, again try to find -- could they reach a grand bargain, any kind of bargain not only to raise the debt ceiling but bring down the deficit long term. the democrat budget, of course, talks about a big tax hike over ten years of about $1 trillion. republicans say they're not going to do that. they want to roll back obama
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care. these are the two outside extreme positions. that's where we're at now. going forward can they come together and find some middle ground? >> weigh in on that, lauren. is there really a chance for reconciling these two extreme budgets? >> i think david kind of nailed it here. when it comes to the budgets, they're just a little bit too far, but this budget process isn't a waste of time. i think it's promising that they went through regular order. this is something that the senate hasn't done. they haven't passed a budget this a long time. i think what we'll see is this may open the door to pass some appropriations bilts for 2014 and this could put us on the road for a long-term deficit reduction deal. these are just opening gothss here. >> david, as i look at your article, it focuses on immigration reform and how it's making its way through the senate. where do things stand right now? >> alex, there's a gang of eight, four republicans, four democrats that have been working on this bill. they've made great progress in some areas, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are currently here. they had hoped to leave for the easter break that starts today
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for the next two weeks with the staff writing the bill but there's been a last-minute holdup with the change ber of commerce and the labor union dispute over wages that might be paid to future immigrants who come for lower end jobs. so both sides there are really locked in an impasse and this could hold up the bill a little bit. people i talked to yesterday though in the senate say they do expect that to be resolved one way or another and they will probably roll out that immigration bill, a comprehensive bill in early april. >> okay. lauren, today's weekly address from the president, he urges congress to vote on tougher gun control measures. here is part of that. >> we've made progress over the last three months, but we're not there yet. and in the weeks ahead, i hope members of congress will join me in finishing the job. for our communities and most importantly for our kids. >> and i appreciate your latest article and its title "what the heck happened in colorado" in which you focus on the new gun control in that state. what's the reaction been to that
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and what are gun rights advocates saying? >> it's important to remember that colorado has been a conservative state for a long time, and it's been moving blue. and i think what we're seeing is some companies there, mag pole which is a company that produces high could passity magazines. they're moving out of the state. they're very upset. gun rights groups are feeling threatened here, and i think they're definitely going to be targeting some of these state and local races of people who were supportive of this ban. but what we're also seeing is gun rights -- gun control groups are finally feeling like steps have been taken in their state. this is the state where two major gun violence instances have happened. and people are really shooken up and i think that they're looking at this as a positive move forward and hoping that congress follows their lead. >> okay, lauren fox and david nakamura, good to see you both. thanks. we're going to talk about the senate's gun bill with connecticut senator richard bloomen that will. we'll ask by harry reid had to
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drop the assault weapons ban from the measure. in vatican city today, pope francis went to castel gandolfo to meet with his predecessor. during this meeting they prayed together, they had a private 45-minute conversation followed by lunch, but this could be the first and only time in history at current and former pope meet after a transfer of leadership. lots of prayers across this country today with different stakes and millions of players. $320 million is on the line. it is the jackpot in the latest powerball drawing. it's a near record and on wednesday an extra $60 million was added to the jockp jackpot. nobody won. so your odds of winning 1 in 175 million. you better pray harder. that's all i'm saying there. take a quick look at the top left-hand corner of your screen. that's a meteor flying over the
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skies of maryland traveling at a speed of 10 miles a second. it was larger than the size of most meteors which is why a security camera was able to capture in and why people in 12 states reportedly saw it. to weather now. spring looks like winter in parts of this country today. check out denver. blizzard conditions during a world cup qualifying sommer match between the usa and costa rica. the u.s. managed to hang on and win 1-0. that weather though heading east now. nbc meteorologist dylan dreyer, you have some explaining to do with the rest of the forecast because we're not liking this so much. >> i want to ask you, you're the skier, you love winter, are you sick of it? >> so, i'm so over it. so the over it. juneau, that's what i'm hearing from a lot of winter fans. everybody is over it. this is the time of year you get those warmer days, you get that spring fever, and it is spring and it's not feeling like it. temperatures are remaining below average. denver will be 35 degrees below normal. it's 19 degrees there right now.
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we've already had more than 6 inches reported in denver and the snow is still coming down. on the east side of this system, we have the potential for severe storms, especially later on tonight across mississippi. we could end up with some tornadoes down that way, but it is all about the snow, especially back through the plains in the denver area through kansas and nebraska. this is all going to move eastward over the course of the weekend. because of that, we have winter storm watches and warnings and advisories in effect all through the middle of the country, and look at the estimated snowfall totals. we could see up to a foot of snow near denver. also kansas city could end up with about 6 to 12 inches. parts of central indiana and ohio could end up with close to a foot of snow. and even in new york city, we're not going to see a lot but we could see an inch of snow by monday. this is not an i-95 corridor storm. this is going to be mostly inland, especially inland maryland and west virginia where we could end up with, again, 6 to 12 inches of snow for this late season storm.
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alex? >> okay. that's all i have to say to that. thanks, my friend. in west coast headlines, a painting worth millions that's been hanging in a hotel bar disappears. plus, what does the headline, he had us at shalom, have to do with the president's middle east trip? ahead. [ mom ] 3 days into school break and they're already bored. hmm, we need a new game. ♪ that'll save the day. ♪ so will bounty select-a-size. it's the smaller powerful sheet. the only one with trap + lock technology.
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now to headlines making news out west. from "the seattle times" boeing announces the layoffs of about 800 machinists and says it's not a signal of a down cycle. the company says the cuts are the result of reduced needs to build the 787 dreamliner and 7 747-a jumbo jet. from the columbian, a state house hearing was held on a bill that would tax brand names and trademarks of marijuana. they're expected to hit the
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market when recreational marijuana becomes legal at the end of the year. the san francisco chronicle reports a painting of the pied piper of hamlin that's been hanging in san francisco's palace hotel bar for 103 years has been removed. it is an original work of noted american painter maxfield parish. it was taken down yesterday because the hotel's owners say it's too valuable. the hotel says the paint something worth up to about $5 million so it will be sold now at auction. right now president obama is en route back home to washington and already before he touches down on american soil, the appraisal game begins. how did he do in his first trip to israel? it seems he won plenty of style points. in today's "washington post" dana milbank writes obama didn't accomplish uch of substance, no obvious progress towards talks, no new ground on deterring iran's nuclear program or syria's chemical weapons, but the israelis who had been suspicious of obama's commitment to the jewish state were
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delighted by the attention. he had us at shalom was the headline in on an analysis in the jerusalem post. frf tel aviv nbc news correspondent martin fletcher. good day to you both. >> nice to be with you. >> dennis, i will begin with you. was this style over substance and style does matter a lot here, right? especially with israel. >> well, i think sometimes style and substance become one and the same. the fact is the president had a major objective in this trip and that objective was to build credibility with the israeli public. by doing that, that would begin to create greater political space for him on issued like iran, on issues like the peace question. if you don't have that connection, if you don't have that credibility, the ability to move on those issues becomes profoundly difficult. so i think what he did was achieve a fundamental objective number one, and number two, there was a substantive achievement. that substantive achievement was a reconciliation between turkey
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and israel. something the administration has been working on for the last three years. that came directly as a result of this trip and so i think this was not only an achievement of style, it was also an achievement of substance. >> and so that means successful in terms of israel and substance and style, but not so for the palestinians, martin, who felt somewhat snubbed at times. what happened there? >> well, you're right, alex, they did. as dennis said, it was about establishing credibility with israel to move forward, but to move forward it takes two, and did he not succeed in establishing credibility with the other side, with the palestinians. they were frustrated i think is the bottom line. before he came among the people, there was mainly indifference, almost hostility and he didn't do much to change that. the palestinians were pointing out, for instance, that president obama visited the graves of the founder of modern zionism but he walked past the grave of yasser arafat.
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they need change on the ground. there were many fine words. the speech that president obama gave in jerusalem to the students said many fine things about the need to make peace with the palestinians, but the people on the west bank, let alone gaza, but we're talking about the people on the west bank mainly, they have a very hard daily existence. what they're looking for is change. one other thing that several palestinians mentioned to me today, they're talking about 153,000 palestinian civil servants rarely get their salaries on time. when they do, they get half the money. they point out, he's just -- america has just given $200 million to the jordanians to help syrian refugees, what about us? i think there's a major credibility gap. the charm offensive with the israelis worked, did not work with the palestinians. >> dennis, your assessment. did things just stay status quo given the way palestinians viewed this president prior to the trip? did things get worse? you know this administration very well. is it concerned about alienating the palestinians?
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>> well, obviously peace pri requires being able to move with both sides. i think in this particular case, if you don't establish a basis with the israelis, the ability to do much at all, particularly when frequently it's the israelis who are having to give the tangible things, is pretty limited. the fact is there have been efforts with the palestinians, and i think also the conversation that the president had with mahmoud abbas in private was probably something that i think will help to create a basis. you do have the secretary of state meeting today with mahmoud abbas in amman. i think you have to look at it in terms of the private dimension. one of the significant things about this trip was that precisely because the expectations were low, it allowed the president to go and to see each leader without either leader expecting he was going to be asked to do something very hard, which inevitably puts each leader in a defensive crouch. given the environment, the ability to have serious discussion that is could lay a basis for moving forward i think
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may well have been done in this trip and we'll see what comes now in the aftermath of the secretary of state. the measure of the trip won't be what happens this week or next, it's going to be what happens over the next couple months. >> yeah. guys, to both of you, the president said during the press conference with king abdullah, that the u.s. is in a no-win situation in syria. it's criticized when it takes military action. it's krit siced for not taking military action. so what then are the options on the table, martin? >> well, the americans are insisting they need to act within the international community. it can't be up to the united states always to send in troops, and i don't really think that people in the region are expecting that, but there needs to be some kind of effort made to enable -- my feeling is a clear winner in syria. we're all talking about the emphasis is on helping the resistance against president assad reach victory. obama keeps saying it's not matter of if but when president assad leaves. that's not really so sure.
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looking at the what's happening on the ground, the breakup of syria is more likely rather than a clear victory of one side winning or losing and president assad leaving the country altogether. so it's really a matter of the next step. what happens after whatever happens in syria. the threat is to the region. the countries on the borders of syria. turkey has its problems. jordan could well have its problems very soon. lebanon. so it's a very -- it's a situation that's very volatile. syria has been imploding and the fear, of course, is that it will explode. america's options -- what it needs to do is help the region formulate some kind of way of dealing with the problem inside syria. american troops on the ground very unlikely, but, of course, there are already special forces, american special forces, british special forces, and i believe french special forces inside jordan training the resistance against president assad. so there is something going on, but hopefully -- i don't want to assume because there won't be american boots on the ground.
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>> do you concur with that? >> i do concur. when we take a step back, this is one of the situations we have moral reasons to try to do more and we have the reasons martin was saying. we have very tangible interests. this is a conflict where the las vegas rules don't apply. what is in syria is not going to stay in syria. you're going to see a conflict that radiates out. so the humanitarian disaster, which is really of unbelievable proportions right now, is something we have to try to address on the one hand. on the other hand, i think we're going to have to also look for ways that you contain this conflict. i think the question of assad's survivability is one that is a question of timing. he can stay -- he is likely to survive for some period longer. the longer it takes, the worse it is for syria. the fact is syria is moving increasingly towards a disintegration, and that's not in anybody's interest. so the real question is going to be, a, how do we do more to
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affect the balance of forces among the opposition so those who emerge are committed to a syria that's intact that's not nonsectarian. how do we do more to provide assistance to all those who are displaced from syria who are probably 10% of the population not to mention the 1.2 million who are refugees on the outside and, three, how do we do more to try to contain this so it doesn't destabilize the neighborhood. >> tough questions you're posing for which there are pretty tough answers. thank you very much, gentlemen. dennis, martin, gooed to see you. so where does america rank on the list of countries most welcoming to visitors? do we have a mower? no. a trimmer? on the list of countries most welcoming to visitors? 're on a . we're not ready for spring. well let's get you ready. very nice. you see these various colors. we got workshops every saturday. yes, maybe a little bit over here. this spring, take on more lawn for less. not bad for our first spring. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot.
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spends like cash. feels like membership. a new gallup poll shows more than a half a billion people across the globe want to move to a new land and the leading destination, the united states. that tops today's number ones. about 140 million people desire to make america their home. the united kingdom is the second most popular choice.
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canada is third. you won't find iceland on that list but the frosty island nation tops an international list of the world's most welcoming company. it comes from a world economic forum report based on attitudes boo foreign visitors. new zealand and morocco are the second and third most welcoming. the least h venezuela, bolivia and russia. the u.s. is 102nd. mark zuckerberg is a welcome sight to see for so many in the work wide. to first ladies of fashion. jordan's queen is the best dressed of them all. michelle obama comes in sixth receiving high praise for fashion sense that's easy on the eyes and wallets. those are your number ones.
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welcome become. time for headlines at the half. in cyprus a measure has residents outraged. they are considering charging a 1% tax on all bank deposits or 20% to 25% tax on deposits larger than $25,000. north korea says recent military drills by the u.s. and south korea constitute serious provocation calling them, quote, war reversal and an open challenge to north korea's warnings. two days ago they threatened to attack military bases in japan and guam. and a roof collapse at a coal mine left one miner death and another injured. right now senators are in recess after burning the candle at both ends right up to the predawn hours today voting on 70 bills, including a $3.7 trillion budget for next year.
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their first budget in four years. not included was a gun control bill. majority leader harry reid has announced he will introduce that bill when they reconvene after easter. it will be largely focused on background checks. joining me now is democrat senator from connecticut richard blumenthal and with a good day to you before we get to this gun control bill, i have to ask you have you even slept yet? >> no. we were going until 5:30 this morning and then i caught a plane here to hartford, but the good news is we have a budget from the senate, and i hope that will create some momentum going into this really historic opportunity to pass gun violence measures and the budget was bipartisan in the end, and i hope also the gun measures will be as well. >> that will take getting it through the house ultimately. what are the chances of that? >> more difficult than the senate, but we are absolutely determined and resolute, and, you know, alex, what's different now is i think newtown was
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really a call to action. and so there's some common sense, common ground measures requiring background checks for all sales of firearms. right now many are not covered because they're done privately at gun shows and so forth. also, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines and, of course, school safety measures are very important. and right at the top has to be the ban on illegal trafficking and straw purchases, which are responsible for many of the guns that kill people on the streets of hartford where i am or in washington or all around the country. >> but, senator, the bill does not include an assault weapons ban. we have talked about this this week. we know the vice president was saying that he and the president are going to continue to fight for it. the president again called this morning for assault weapons ban in his weekly address. so what can be done on that front at this point if anything. >> here is what can be done. and it will be done. we're going to offer an
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amendment. i'm helping to lead it along with senator dianne feinstein who has been a long-time advocate, and we have very good support from the white house and from other advocates of gun safety across the country. so there will be an amendment that will include this measure to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. remember that the shooter in newtown and tucson and many of these other horrific, tragic massacres was able to use clips that had 30 or more rounds and thereby increase the killing. there will be an amendment. there may be a couple or more amendments, and they will deal not only with that measure but also mental health and other kinds of common sense, common ground measures. >> senator harry reid, yes, he is the senate majority leader, but given the political calculations he has to think about, what are they because he is from a swing state, if you want to call it that with nevada. >> i think we share a commitment
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to the strongest possible bill coming out of the senate and then going into the house, and building momentum for that bill when it is approved by the senate, that's really a shared commitment, and obviously we face relentless and ruthless opposition from the nra and it's allies that have been such stau staunch opponents of anything. their scorched earth policy is do nothing, absolutely nothing, from the government. even to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by a thorough background check. so we're going to face opposition, no question about it, but we're determined and resolute. >> which ones of these amendments that you talk about, an assault weapons man amendment, amendment dealing with the mental health issues, which realistically has a chance of passing? >> they all have a chance of passing, and we're not surrendering or abandoning any of them. the bill will include a ban on
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illegal trafficking and straw purchasing, which is critical to law enforcement people. they'll tell you police on the streets or state police, our law enforcement at the federal level, illegal trafficking is a scourge. and, of course, background checks are absolutely critical because right now the law prohibits sales to convicted criminals, drug addicts, seriously mentally ill and domestic abusers but can't enforce that provision if private sales are exempted. so close that loophole. and then, of course, school safety will be in the bill as well. and the amendment on the floor will be on assault weapons. clearly the core bill will have those three first provisions and then there will be an amendment to add others. >> all right. well, senator richard blumenthal, my hat is off to you. you're a good man for staying awake and coming on the air. i tell you, i thought i don't think he's going to make it and you proved me wrong. i'm very glad for that and for your company. thank you so much. >> thank you, alex.
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>> in today's office politics, chris hayes gives us a preview of his yet to be name prime time show that remeres next month. i asked him about the effects and origins of sequestration. >> i see it as a kind of legacy inheritance from an old electorate. what i mean by that is the 2010 electorate that elected republican house of representatives was a much more conservative, a much older in terms of demographically and much whiter electorate than the 2008 or the 2012 electorate. that was the high point of anti-obama backlash. >> tea party. >> the tea party. that produced a house of representatives and it produced state legislats lislature that gerrymanders to lock in a quau si permanent republican majority in the house. in 2012 republicans lost a million more votes in the house than democrats and maintained a fairly significant majority. so what has happened is the
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moment in which the public was most plausibly behind a program of austerity and cuts and inl posed pain, which is what this is about, has passed. and yet it is carried forward through this kind of trick of the budget control act, the debt ceiling deal, and all these straitjackets that have been put onto the process so that we are now two years later, even though there's not public support for it in any deep sense, it has been repudiated at the ballot box by a fairly significant majority, house, senate, and the presidential election, we have inherited this terrible policy which is going to cause needless pain and suffering. >> but it's like they've taken a machete to it across the board as oppose toed the many democrats who say, look, we know we need to make cuts in places. why not wield more of a scalpel to do it? what prevents them from doing that? >> there was this kind of weird politicalcle clati clalculation
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that the republicans tried to hand the president the scalpel back when the deadline was approaching and the president rejected it because he doesn't want to own the cuts. one of the things to understand about the politics is the republicans want cuts but they don't want to own them, and their biggest political goal is to produce cuts in the most popular programs, which are of course medicare and social security, that are the work of president barack obama as opposed to the republican caucus. >> can you give us a preview of what we're going to expect on this 8:00 show? have if you figured it out? >> i was just standing by a whiteboard in my new executive producer's office. we are going to take the spirit of what we've done and condense it and streamline it and peg it more tightly to the day's news and that will be the show. which means it will necessarily be different than up and i'm extremely excited that steve kornacki will be joining me on the weekends and he's just a
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fantastic person and he's really smart and has incredible -- >> everybody likes him. >> he's got this wonderful generosity about him and also just an incredible -- he's a really good reporter. he's great. he's great. what we did on up, obviously we had two hours, we weren't that pegged to the daily news cycle. we're going to have one hour, more pegged to that day's news but a lot of things happen in a day. >> does that bottle go with you? >> yeah, this will probably come with me. i think it's going to be a more appropriate acue treement of a desk of a prime time host. >> you don't want to be drinking on the weekends. >> you don't want to be tipping sunday morning at 10:00, but at 9:30 having just come out of a prime time show and change out of the suit, it's a perfectly acceptable little treat to give one's self. >> how much is that going to last? >> i don't want to say that on camera. >> got you back there, chris. anyway, tomorrow at 12:30, eastern, chris and i get into the differences between capitol hill and the majority of
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americans when it comes to positions on gun control. plus, how his new work schedule is going to change his home schedule. three years ago today, obama care became law and republicans are still trying to kill it. what are the chances they can pull that off? irtually all your important legal matters in just minutes. protect your family... and launch your dreams. at we put the law on your side. for tapping into areams. wealth of experience. for access to one of the top wealth management firms in the country. for a team of financial professionals who provide customized solutions. for all of your wealth management and retirement goals, discover how pnc wealth management can help you achieve. visit to find out more. [ bop ] [ bop ]
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today marks the third anniversary of the signing of president obama's landmark health care reform law, but despite a supreme court ruling, some republicans are still trying to kill it. and writing budgets dependent on its appeal. joining me for strategy talk is msnbc political analyst karen finney and tony fratto, former white house deputy press secretary under president george bush. good to see you. >> hi, alex. >> karen, three years later, what is the status of the health
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care law? >> well, the status is that it has partially begun to be implemented. i think we're seeing in places where it's been implemented, i was reading a piece in kentucky, looking at how it's starting to not just change people's lives but under some of the rules like the 80/20 meaning that 80% of the money has got to be spent on actual care or you get some money back, that's already taken into effect. that's already working. people with pre-existing conditions, children with pre-existing conditions, that's already starting to work. lots of things are already starting to have a real impact on people's health care. at the same time we know that as you pointed out, there are many who are still trying to fight it either by trying to repeal it, which is not going to happen, or what we've seen at the state level are some of these efforts either to say they're not going to take the medicaid money, the expansion of medicaid, or to try to, you know, sort of deny or hinky around with the exchanges to try to make that roll out which will come later a little
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harder and that's really critical to the program. >> so tony, let's take a listen to congresswoman michele bachmann on the house floor this week. here it is. >> let's repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. let's not do that. let's love people. let's care about people. let's repeal it now while we can. >> i think it goes without saying that the law is not actually going to kill anyone but facts aside, is anything gained by still fighting this, tony? >> well, look, you're not going to hear me agreeing with some of the weird things that michele bachmann says, and i think that just about everyone out there understands that obama care is not going to be repealed, but the idea that there's some, you know, outlier view among republicans to deal with obama care i think, you know, stands in the face of the fact that, you know, every public opinion
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poll out there still show asthma jort of americans still do not support the law. there are some elements of the law that people do agree with and that are popular, but overall a majority of republicans, a majority of voters overall don't support it, number one. number two is that we're getting spending surprises, and this is one of the things that there was a vote last night in the voteorama on the budget where even a lot of democrats supported one of the tax provisions in the law. so the expenditures for obama care are not proving to be very popular either. >> here is part of the problem though, tony, that i have with this, and that is, you know, we can agree that michele bachmann is just, you know, who knows what she's going to say next. >> yeah. >> what bothers me is the debate between republicans and democrats is not about how do we make this better. but the fact we're wasting time talking about repealing it when that is not going to happen. you know, for example, the health care exchanges. there are a number of governors who are just basically trying to
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brush that off as a way to make that process harder and jam up the system when instead why not work with the hhs to try to make sure that the exchange system in your state actually serves the people in your state? and part of the problem i think with knowledge about -- one of the things that the polls show is there's a lot of misinformation which is people like a lot of the provisions. there's still a lot of misgivings because there's been so much mispftion information and because there's this talk of repealing something that's not going to be repealed. >> there are voters who do want it repealed. two points on this, karen. i'm so glad you mentioned exchanges. i'm actually a supporter of exchanging. i'm a markets guy, exchanges are markets. i think there are smarter ways to do it and ways to i am prove it. some of these efforts though, you know, the efforts to, you know, put these bills up to repeal it and lots of other amendments having to do with obama care, i think they're actually really necessary for
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the process of getting to compromise and some really sound reform. you need to have outlets for some of these outlier views on how to deal with legislation so that you can then go back to your citizens and say, look, we tried to repeal it, but we didn't have the votes for that and that's not going to happen. so the second best option is to try this kind of fix and it gives you the room to compromise. that's why the fact that we have not done budgets for the past three years has been damaging for the process to get to really sensible compromises on a lot of legislation. that's what i would love to see going forward. >> well, look, i think here is the thing. we have had the continuing resolution which in effect has been a budget. we have a budget now. thanks to that marathon, you know, session last night, but on the last piece of this, i mean, remember that part of the reason to do this is not just -- there are important moral reasons to make sure that people have access to health care, but from an economic standpoint, we know that the costs of health care is a huge problem in terms of its percentage to gdp as you know well, but also from a personal
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economic standpoint. i mean, we know that health care costs are crippling americans and we're never going to get to a stronger economy if we don't reign that rein that in. i feel like on the right i've heard we're going to repeal it, the supreme court wouldn't let us repeal it, but we're still going to try to talk about repealing. that sound like a way that says we have a lot of problems with the legislation but we know it's the law of the land so how do we make it better? >> so here is the deal. i'm going to have to wrap you guys up here but you are the most interesting two to eavesdrop on. i got to tell you. karen finney and tony fratto. good conversation. thank you for bringing it. >> thanks. a new alarming report says the u.s. better get ready for more katrina-sized hurricanes. where and why next. also, we want to hear from you. head over to facebook and like us to keep the conversation going. [ female announcer ] switch to swiffer sweeper, and you'll dump your old broom. but don't worry, he'll find someone else. ♪ who's that lady?
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a new report with an unsettling read.
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it says we could have as manies a up to seven times hurricane-sized hurricanes. they're likely to become more common with only half the level of warning projected currently. carl davenport joins me from washington, d.c. we have the climatologists constantly warning us about the dire effects of global warming. what make this is unique? >> what's interesting about this report is it talks specifically about the number of extreme hurricanes. it says that there is a very strong link that global temperature is a very strong predictor of number of hurricanes and it says that an average global temperature of increase of one degree celsius can multiply the number of extreme hurricanes, katrina-type hurricanes, two to seven times. one degree temperature increase, two to seven times as many more hurricanes, and right now the data shows that over the next century we're likely to see a temperature increase of one to
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two degrees. so that's a huge multiplier in terms of number of hurricanes. that's what really stands out about this study. >> my director is going to throw up what the authors went on to say, but bottom line scientists gently tend to shy away from citing climate change. why the disconnect between the two assessments? >> alex, as the data stack up, we're actually seeing scientists becoming more confident about asserting the link between climate change and extreme weather. and in this case with these scientists, the specific link that they drew was between climate change and what's called hurricane surge. and in that particular phenomenon, there's actually a very strong link. what hurricane surge is is when you've got global warming and you've got rising sea level, just an inch or two higher sea level, then you get an increase
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in the amount of water that gets scooped up by a storm and flooded over the land. that's the hurricane surge, and in that case, you know, the rising sea level is very clear, and that's caused by climate change, and so that's an area where scientists are much more comfortable saying, no, the link is clear. we're here to say it. when we have these strong storms and these strong storm surges that the link is clear and i think we're going to see more of that. >> okay. we'll have you back again. thanks so much. >> great. good to be here. one move that may put flying safety at risk. that grandma was the one? when her sister dumped me. oh dad, you remember my friend alex? yeah. the one that had the work done... [ male announcer ] sometimes being too transparent can be a bad thing. this looks good! [ male announcer ] but not with the oscar mayer deli fresh clear pack. it's what you see is what you get food. no they don't. hey son. have fun tonight. ♪
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yes. yes i did. what's in your wallet? that's 3 moves, 5 jobs, 2 newborns. it's no wonder i'm getting gray. but kate -- still looks like...kate. with nice'n easy, all they see is you -- in one simple step, nice'n easy with colorblend technology, gives expert highlights and lowlights. for color that's perfectly true to you. i don't know all her secrets, but i do know kate's more beautiful now, than the day i married her. with the expert highlights and lowlights of nice 'n easy, all they see is you. up next, budget blueprint. early today the senate okays a plan to raise a trillion dollars in new taxes, but are senators protecting the social safety net? papal past and present. a lunch date with history. and power play. millions seeking millions. the nation's sixth largest
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lottery jackpot up for grabs. welcome to weekends with alex witt. it's just past 1:00 p.m. in the east, 10:00 a.m. out west. here is what's happening out there. at this hour the president is on his way going to the u.s. today he wrapped up his tour of jordan by visiting petra after meeting with king abdullah. one major topic of discussion, the civil war going on in nearby syria. >> i am very concerned about syria becoming an enclave for extremism because extremists thrive in chaos. they thrive in failed states. they thrive in power vacuums. >> well, new today, senate democrats pushed through their first budget in four years after a long night of considering amendments. the nonbinding blueprint totals $3.4 trillion and it calls for nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the next decade while protecting safety net programs. the plan also proposes to reverse automatic spending cuts that are beginning to hit both
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the pentagon and domestic programs. and joining me now, senator bob casey, democrat of pennsylvania, a member of the foreign relations and finance committees, and senator casey, a big huge thanks for being here despite this all-nighter you pulled in the senate that wrapped you up like 5:00 a.m. or something? >> we did. thanks, alex. good to be with you. >> i'm glad you're here. thanks. let's begin with the president's trip, sir, because did he satisfy critics really from both the palestinian and israeli sides? can anyone satisfy both sides? >> well, it's difficult to say what the critics will surmise after this trip, but i think he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish, which was to first and foremost to indicate again and to reiterate the unshakeable bond between israel and the united states. i think it was a very strong signal not only to the israeli people but also the region and especially iran that our government is not going to allow
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iran to have nuclear weapons capability. secondly, i think the development that we heard about just before the president left israel, that he was able to bring israel and turkey back together again. there's still a lot of work to be done but at least brought their leaders together to reconcile some of their differences. that's very important for security in the region, for a lot of reasons which we could talk about. and then thirdly i think the focus on syria is critically important. one note, alex, i think is especially important, the taxpayers should hear about, is the iron dome program, the missile defense system that israel put in place that our taxpayers helped pay for is working, and as we've seen a demonstration of that earlier this year and late last year. so i think it was a good trip overall for him and for the country. >> well, interestingly, sir, here is what he said to a mix of college students in what seemed
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to hit home. let's take a listen to this. >> neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. [ applause ] just as israelis built a state in the their homeland, palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land. >> so peace talks. do you think this trip laid ni groundwork for resuming those and going towards a two-state solution? >> well, alex, i think it helped, but this is still a ways off i think, but the main point that i think we have to emphasize, both the administration and the united states congress, we have spoken with one voice as it relates to iran's nuclear program. that's a substantial progress from just a couple years ago. but the second part of this really is we've got to say to the palestinians that you've got to come to the table without preconditions. sit down at the table with the israelis and begin to work
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things out. don't keep putting preconditions or impediments that prevent you or allow you to refuse to go to the table. if they do that, certainly the administration and our government can help, but the palestinians have to get to the table without putting preconditions in front of them. >> you mentioned iran. to that question, sir, is it your sense that the u.s. and israel are truly on the same page about a possible military strike to take out iranian nuclear sites? >> well, alex, i think that there's no question that -- and this is based upon evidence that i have seen, number one, that the intelligence sharing between our two governments has never been better. the security relationship has never been stronger. so there's no question that of that kind of sharing and cooperation and kind of unity of focus is there. but in terms of an exact time line, in terms of any plan or
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determinations the israeli government has made, i can't speak to that. but i think the intelligence sharing is good, and that's important not only because we want to make sure we have a lot of sharing. we want the israelis to know we stand with them, that we'll back them up, we'll have their back as the president has said and that's why i think this unanimity in congress is so important. >> let's talk quickly about the budget. first one the senate passed in four years. no republicans though voted for this senate measure. in fact, four democrats voted against it. mark pryor of kansas, kay hagan, north carolina, mark begich, alaska, max baucus, montana, all are red state democrats. they're up for re-election in 2014. so given that, is a budget compromise unlikely? >> well, alex, i think we're a ways off from that, but this is really the opening rounds. if this were a baseball game,
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we'd still be in the first inning. but it is important that we did this because contrary to popular belief, it's not the budget, it's the budget resolution and as you said in your opening, it's nonbinding, but it does kind of set the table for what senate democrats have put on the table, a balanced plan. has a lot of cutting and has revenue so we can invest in priorities and it focuses on job creation. but republicans in the house have their version, and now you have two starkly different approaches, but that's how you have to start the discussion. so i think it's important we did this. it was a lot of work to get to this point, but we are still in the very early stages of this. >> do you think the american public has an appetite for $1 trillion in tax increases over the next decade? >> well, i think most americans know that when you're confronting what we're confronting, which is at least two big problems. one is a an economy which is growing and moving but not
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creating jobs fast enough, that you have to invest in strategies to create jobs, number one. and number two, we have a debt problem which is substantial and growing unless we deal with it. the only way you can do that is to have the kind of balance that we had, frankly, at the end of president clinton's two terms in office where you had a balance between the investment of the revenues you're putting into the system and, secondly, that you had the spending levels which we have to bring down to get to that level. so that kind of balance is the only way to go. we have to do two things very well, create jobs and move the economy forward, that's first. that's first priority. and, second, make agreements that will lead to spending cuts over the next ten years and have those cuts go into effect in a couple of years, not right away. that's why we deal with the sequestration in our budget so we can take that, reverse that, and not have the adverse impact
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that we're already beginning to see. >> senator bob casey, improse sif, sir, given your all-nighter. i applaud you. really good. i don't know how you could stay awake and sound great and make good sense so thank you so much. frustration and anger in chicago after the city announces plans to close more than 50 public schools. principals, teachers, families all finding out at the last minute whether or not their schools are on the closing list. the closings represent about 13% of the schools and affect 30,000 kids. school officials say they face a projected $1 billion deficit next year so they say the move would now save $560 million over the next decade. but the chicago teachers union president doesn't believe those figures. >> the actual amount of money this will cost, especially if it's done correctly, which god forbid they have never done anything correctly before in terms of school closings, this will cost almost $1 billion itself. so i don't believe any of this.
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rahm emanuel doesn't know the truth if it would slap him on the face. >> from chicago to detroit now, another city in financial crisis as sequestration enters its third week. michigan's head start program could be next on the shopping block. nbc's chief education correspondent rehema ellis is joining me this afternoon from detroit and rehema, with a long distance hello to you, my friend, for many students in detroit there are problems with this education system which are now magnified by the statewide economic troubles. you kn i know you were talking about this issue with the governor. >> we were, and we're going to talk about it all with students when we have a town hall meeting here just a little while from now that everybody can watch online on education but the governor says that they have no choice but to make some changes here because of the dire situation that they're in as far as their budget is concerned. the changes have been controversial. but when you think about it, just this one quick statistic,
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27% of african-american students who are in the 11th grade and only 62% of white students in the 11th grade are reading at or above proficiency. and the governor says they have got to do better than that. just listen. >> if you can help kids in those early years, what a difference. if they can make sure they're reading in third grade at the right level, they're prepared for success in many respects but part of what i would say, it's not about one segment, and that's one thing of the discussion i want to get out to everyone here. it's about p-20s. we need a p-20 system of education which is prenatal through life long learning. >> they have an emergency financial manager who is in control of the detroit public schools. many controversial things have been done such as shutting down schools, consolidating them. it's gotten a lot of people angry, but they are starting to see some progress in the right direction and that is student achievement is going up. the attendance is getting better, and the graduation rates are getting better.
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is it great? not at all. it's a long road. they know they have that ahead of them and they have a lot of work to do yet but they think this is the beginning. we talked about it here yesterday and we're going to talk about it again today with some students as well as some teachers in a teacher town hall we're going to have later on today. al alex? >> based on what you heard yesterday in this town hall, what's a top takeaway for you? was there something that you took away and said if this could happen, things could definitely be on the right track? >> it's very difficult, alex, because, again, everything is so controversial. one of the biggest things that's going on here that is a takeaway for me is that there are just not enough students to fill all of the schools that they currently have operating in the city of detroit and a lot of cities across this country. so it becomes a very emotional thing for many parents and community leaders to say which school will they close? one of them has to be closed because if you have a school that is half empty, it's not
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financially feasible for a city and a state that's in financial difficulty to keep the schools open. somehow or another they have to convince people about the best practice and it has not been easy and that's what a lot of people are arguing about. the governor has taken some very, very tough measures in order to bring about some financial security in the city as well as in the state. >> yeah. >> alex? >> i tell you they need to look no further than to their neighboring chicago. 54 schools being closed. this is timely, happening right now. it's gone over like a lead balloon. i know you have heard the repercussions in detroit. rehema, thank you. we'll look to see what you talk about with the children, the students i should say, later on today. thank you. dozens of air-traffic control towers will close in two weeks because of sequester. do travelers need to worry about their safety? that's ahead. ♪ i don't wanna be right [ record scratch ] what?! it's not bad for you. it just tastes that way.
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senate democrats have a budget today after a so-called all-nighter voteorama. it's the first budget they have passed in four years and the senate spent several hours taking up dozens of amendments. >> average voteorama, 35 amendments. we've done 70, twice as many. doing this has been a herculean feat. >> i know everyone is exhausted and you may not feel it at the moment, but this is one of the senate's finest days in recent years, and i commend everyone who has participated in this extraordinary debate. >> joining me now washington bureau chief from usa today susan page and political editor for the grio perry bacon, jr. i talked to a couple senators and i felt like they are rock stars for staying up. in terms of the significance of this move by the senate and the passage of this budget, susan,
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explain that. >> well, it's significant because it's been so long since the senate managed to pass a budget. i mean, it's a nonbinding kind of blueprint for spending but the senate hasn't passed one since 2009. now we have a senate version of what a budget should look like. th and a house version. they could hardly be more different. the house version would repeal obama care. it's not like there's much common ground between them but at least there's a starting point for the budget debate we will hear in the summer. >> okay. so, perry, given what susan has outlined, what's the realistic chance of these bills being reconciled? >> there's almost no chance these bills themselves will be reconciled. the republican version includes repealing obama care which is not going to happen. the democratic version includes $1 trillion in tax increases which they know is not going to happen either. i think this is an important part of the process. if you're going to have this
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grand bargain where the parties agree to something down the line, the republicans in particular wanted to have this budget passed where they said here are our absolute demands and then they will compromise on those later. right now it's important for both parties to lay out their grand visions to say to their bases, here is what we push for, here is what we fought for. >> if these two bills can't be reconciled, compromise likely or is this all then somewhat of a charade? >> well, you usually are safe on the side that there won't be any compromise and it will just all implode. on the other hand, there is a lot of talk about whether there could be a kind of grand bargain where democrats accept some entitlement reforms and republicans accept some tax hikes and there are some powerful forces that want that to happen, including president obama who, you know, it would be an achievement on his part if that worked out and the public dissatisfaction with the way washington never seems to work, it would help address that.
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i think it is possible that with this debate over -- especially with this debate over the debt ceiling that we're now expecting to come in august, that there will be some kind of grand bargain. we've seen over and over again how hard it's been to get to a deal. >> yeah. perry, i want to ask you about the kentucky senate race because there's been so much buzz around ashley judd potentially running there. now there's talk about kentucky secretary of state allison grimes and you're a louisville native, if i recall correctly. >> i am. >> i would love your read on what's going on here. could either one of these women beat mitch mcconnell? >> i have been talking to people down there from both parties. two dynamics going on. there was a lot of buzz about ashley judd in november, december, and even now, but a lot of the democrats in kentucky think she's too liberal for that state and they're pushing allison grimes who is secretary of state there. they view her as more electable. the other thing that's interesting is mitch mcconnell not beloved among all republicans there either. his approval rating among republicans not great and there's some talk of a tea party challenger to him.
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you could end up with a situation where ashley judd and mitch mcconnell are challengers. >> how about, susan, with former president bill clinton. he's the ultimate politician, right? he's getting involved. what is his role here as he meets with both judd and grimes? >> he says -- there are sources close to him who say he's met with both, encouraged both, would back either one. he does have a long history with allison grimes' father who is a leading figure in democratic politics in kentucky, and that would i think be a big boost. she's just 34 years old. she won the secretary of state race last time. she clearly has some bigger ambitions in the state and i think they're holding out the bont if she ran a tough race against mitch mcconnell and one in which she would face a barrage of negative ads against her, but bill clinton and hillary clinton would be there for her. you know, that could be a real boost for her name recognition for battles later on even if she failed to unseat the senate's top republican. >> that's true. it would be a pretty big booster
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there. how about the mcconnell camp? how are they reacting? >> mcconnell camp pretty confident so far. my understanding is they'd prefer to have judd run. they think they can link judd to president obama. president obama lost in kentucky by 23 points and ashley judd has been a pretty big obama advocate. they think they can run ads that say judd equals obama and win that state. mcconnell people are worried particularly if grimes runs. his approval rating is only about 37% which means there's a lot of room, 60% of voters or so are open to someone different running there. so if grimes or judd ran a really good campaign, they could beat mcconnell. one thing to note is the week after the presidential election, mcconnell was holding fund-raisers already. he's been very wary of a challenger. he's trying to make sure to court the tea party part of the republican party. he's giving speeches at cpac, he's been very active. he's raised something like $7 million. >> perry, susan, great to see
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to the finest comforts above. we're not simply saluting history... we're making it. power ball fever is catching fire across the country. michelle franzen is here with that. >> the jackpot now a third of a billion dollars. and while the odds of winning are extremely low, everywhere you look hopes are high. ♪ i want money, lots and lots of money ♪ >> reporter: people from coast to coast are dreaming this morning about instantly striking it rich. >> i want to quit. >> next number up 14. >> reporter: no one hit the powerball jackpot on wednesday. now up to a whopping $320 million. that's the gdp of this republic.
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you can buy your own baseball team like the oakland a's or if baseball is not your thing, how about purchasing tiger woods' yacht 16 times over. yes, he has a yacht. whatever is on your list, all those dollar signs have people rushing to snap up tickets in the 42 states, the district of columbia, and u.s. virgin islands where the powerball is played. >> if i won, i'd buy an apartment. i'd buy an agent. i would buy -- take care of my parents. >> just family, my kids, children, loved ones. but that's about it. >> reporter: but you may not want to get your hopes up too high. your chances of winning 1 in 175 million. or the same odds as getting struck by lightning more than 17,000 times in your lifetime. you even have a better chance of becoming president of the united states. those odds 1 in 10 million.
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even so, someone has to win eventually. so maybe, just maybe, it will be you. >> and this jackpot would be the sixth highest in history. just this past november two lucky winners split $587 million in the powerball. tonight's drawing, alex, of course, held at 10:59 eastern time. if no one wins, the jackpot will roll over again for the 13th time and i'm off to get my ticket. >> that cracked me up, you're more likely to become president than you are to win this thing. thank you very much, michelle. why this day will go down in the history books. coming up. want younger lookings that say wow? with olay, here's how. new regenerist eye and lash duo. the cream smooths the look of lids... softens the look of lines. the serum instantly thickens the look of lashes. see wow! eyes in just one week with olay.
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help them shave off $637 million from their budget. joining us via skype is tom casey. tom is a retired american airlines pilot and flight instructor. so, tom, let's talk about safety in the skies. could this compromise that? >> well, there's so many unintended consequences about this. safety is one consideration. but delays are another consideration. it plays into safety. holding patterns are going to be more -- we're going to see more holding patterns. they will be unexpected so planes will have to carry more fuel. the cockpit, the pilot will have to make more decisions with respect to continuing to hold or maybe making a diversion if he can't get a slots to land at the airports. at the airports like danbury airport, which is seven miles from where i'm sitting, the tower is going to close so you will be in a see and avoid situation. the pilots have to exercise their own judgment and evolve radio procedures to make it a safer operation. >> you know, tom, driving into work this morning i was listening to the local news and
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we have i think four airports in connecticut that are closing down, but they said that the pilots are going to have to coordinate amongst themselves on a radio frequency landings and takeoffs. i mean, come on, that just seems to really pose huge safety problems. >> well, pilots are very -- they're aware and trained in see and avoid operations because a lot of airports are uncontrolled. people don't realize that. not every airport has a control tower. let me make an analogy to make it more visceral to people. you hear a lot of glib comments from people like glofer norquist for the tea party republicans in congress with respect to the uselessness of government but here we see government really functioning for the good of the people and the safety of the people. if somehow congressional negligence ended up taking es passes away from everybody who drives you wouldn't feel it in the less populated areas but you would certainly feel it around the country. you would find a 10% reduction
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in e-zpasss would have an exponential domino xekt. the consequences are unknown at this point. >> i think the way you described it there, i think you can pretty much guarantee delays, delays, delays, tom casey. thank you very much for weighing in. appreciate that. >> my pleasure. this day will be remembered throughout history. why? well, this incredible i am imagine you're about to see on your screen because there you see pope francis and his predecessor, former pope benedict xvi embracing each other during a unique meeting this morning at castel gandolfo. it could be the first and only time in history that a current and former pope gather after a transfer of leadership. claudio is in vatican city. what do we know about what happened at that meeting this morning and can you explain to the view whose don't know why this is so rare? >> reporter: well, alex, as far as meetings go it doesn't get more historic than this one. as soon as we saw the two popes together, we knew that this was one of a kind. they were both dressed in white,
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of course. the only difference being with pope francis was wearing a little sash and a little cape there. pope benedict xvi, walked to the helipad with his cane looking very frail and they embraced in a long embrace. it was one of the first moving moments of this historic meeting because after that they went into the summer residence went into the private chapel to pray together. pope benedict xvi offered to pope francis the stool reserved for popes to pray in front of the alter and pope francis said, no, we are brothers and we are going to pray together. so they did. they kneeled together on the same stool in a very symbolic moment. then they went into the library and pope francis save pope benedict xvi a small icon of our lady of humility.
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expressing his gratitude for the eight years of his papacy. they went on into an informal lunch and then he flew back to the vatican with the same helicopter. i must say, to the great disappointment of the hundreds of people that gathered in castle gone doll foe ho-- castl began dgone doll foe for the poe up and humming, speed boarding and bottle service. morgan brennan is joining me with a breakdown of all of it. with a hello to you, we'll get the good news with the housing market up first. tell us about that. . >> i think it's safe to say not only have we hit a bottom but we are pushing full speed ahead on a recovery in housing. obviously this is manifesting differently in different local markets across the u.s. but recent rosy reports from national association of realtors. the sales pace of previously owned homes in february is up past three-year highs right now,
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and we're looking at an annualized pace of about 5 million sales per year. so we're getting back to some of that normal rate of sales. and actually home prices are up about 12% versus this time last year. the median sales price, this is all really great news. the one thing to take a look at here is inventory levels. those are down by about 20% across the board, across the u.s. in the hottest markets we're seeing inventory levels for homes down by 40%, 50%, 60% versus last year. so buyers that are looking to jump in for the spring season should be aware they're going to see bidding wars and competition. >> sounds like that. people who fly light, preferential treatment coming their way. what's that about? >> american airlines is test driving a pardon the pun pilot program right now that is going to incentivize people who don't bring carry-ons onto the plane to board early. so they're test driving this in four airports right now, d.c., baltimore, austin, and ft. lauderdale. and they're hoping that this will actually make the boarding
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process easier. thing to remember is if you are flying coach and you don't go for the carry-on and you check your bag, you're still going to have to pay a fee. that is big boon for airlines. it's billions of dollars a year in fees. >> how about new look for pepsi. >> they're unveiling a new 20 ounce soda bottle. this is first time they've done this in about 17 years. this is part of a larger branding campaign that we're seeing from them. that includes endorsement deal with beyonce. they have seen soda sales down about 4% last year. so this is part of their drive to bring consumers back to soda products. >> okay. we'll see if it works. forbes magazine's morgan brennan. a little more coffee, alex. it's all good. thank you very much. an all-nighter on capitol hill. is it a sign of things to come? ] research suggests cell health plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day men's 50+. [ bop ] [ bop ]
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all this comes a mere four years after a sex scandal ousted him from the state's highest office. joining me via skype from hilton head, gina smith, lead political reporter from the island packet. has the state of south carolina forgiven mark sanford for running off with his argentinean girlfriend and hiking the appalachian trail? >> that remains to be seen. we think of south carolina as the bible belt. that certainly is true. it would not have been possible if he were running for statewide office. sanford is lucky this is a custom fit low country congressional district for him that runs along the state's coast. what you have is a lot of transplants. a lot of retirees. people who aren't from south carolina and are a little more forgiving when it comes to social issues. so he's got the upper hand. >> upper hand, gina, but do you think name recognition has helped him a lot here? because do his stances appeal so
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much to the voters that he's now the front-runner for this seat? >> absolutely. the name i.d. he came in with everybody -- i think his name i.d. is something like 98%, 99% in the state. everybody knows who he is. and the other advantage that he had, alex, is all the republicans are singing off the same songbook. it's a lot of talk about, you know, debt reduction, limited government, limited spending, and mark sanford owns that issue. that is his reputation in south carolina. it was true when he did two terms in the governor's office. it was true for three terms in congress. so voters, they're hearing the same message again and again from a lot of the republican candidates, but really that is mark sanford's message, that he owns it. he's the face they see when they're talking about that kind of stuff. >> if he gets through the republican republican runoff he has. he's going to face elizabeth colbert bush, the sister of stephen colbert.
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so what's conventional wiss cdo there? does she have a chance? >> this district is definitely red. it heavily favored mitt romney in the presidential race. the state legislature which is controlled by republicans, they have drawn this district for a republican to be able to win it. so it would be very, very difficult for any democrat to secure a win here. that being said though, if anybody can do it, i think elizabeth colbert bush has the best chance. she's well-funded. she's doing well on the campaign trail. she has her famous brother who is helping her out which is getting her a lot of media attention. and perhaps most importantly she's a woman. she's going to be able to go head to head with mark sanford and throw a lot of these personal failings in his face and perhaps get a following among women voters that a man simply could not do. >> going to be interesting. that's for sure. gina smith, we'll be talking with you again.
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thank you. >> thanks. it is time for the big three and today's topics, what went right, happy anniversary, and best week, worst week. let's bring in the panel, susan del percio, morris reed, and contributor for "newsweek" and the daily beast, patricia murphy. we have a winning trio here. thanks for playing, everybody. patricia, i will begin with you. here is what the budget bill's sponsor, senator patty murray, said after the vote. well, it is clear that the policies, values, and priorities of the senate budget are very different than those articulated in the house budget, i know the american people are expecting us to work together to end the gridlock and find common ground, and i plan to continue doing exactly that. so the murray budget has a trillion dollars in tax increases. the ryan budget has no tax increases. that's just one area. i mean, so common ground, how much is there patricia? >> well, there is a little
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common ground and these days in washington that is really saying something. first of all, the senate passed a budget. that has not happened in four years. it has been literally impossible to do and the senate did it. they squeaked by doing it but they did do it. the senate agreed on some small things. they agreed to biannual budgeting. they actually took apart a piece of the obama health care bill. there was some small individual pieces even of bipartisan agreement. that's the good news. the bad news is that when you compare what the senate has done with what the house has done, we're looking at about a $5 trillion difference in those two budgets. it is really difficult to see how they're going to get to a place of agreement on a huge spread like that. this is not a group of people that's good at splitting the difference. the house gets rid of the obama health care bill entirely. the senate, as you said, has a trillion dollars in tax increases. i don't really know where they find the middle ground in there but at least they have a budget to work with and that is at least progress these days. >> okay. fro gres is agree, but susan, republicans who have been clamoring for senate democrats
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to at least propose a budget, zero republicans voted for it. is it all an exercise in futility. >> four democrats voted against it, too. so they've had four years and harry reid still don't get all his members to vote for a budget. but that being said, it's not surprising. we saw the same thing in the house. but it does lend itself to hopefully moving towards a grand bargain. if we see this voteorama we did in the senate last night and we've seen the senate -- the congress also putting up small bills, they're not looking to do anything big, we're going to have problems. but if they could come together on a grand bargain where they vote on everything as a package, there is a chance. >> so morris, is there a way to reconcile these two bills? >> first of all, we don't do grand things in the house and senate anymore. >> we have to try though. we have to hope. >> we need to change the people if we want grand things to happen. i think there is some opportunity to tweak things but the fact that the republicans are trying to relegislate this whole obama care thing that's already been decided in the
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courts and everywhere else is dead on arrival. they will try to find some middle ground but if it comes down to if paul ryan thinks he can get rid of obama care then this thing is going nowhere. i think the house is going to have to give a little bit and the senate will have to give a little bit as well, but certainly something is going to get done this time. >> patricia as we move to our next topic with you, happy anniversary. we're three years in obama care as of today. so where do things stand? >> this is a huge, massive bill that's starting to have pieces pulled apart from it and we've seen the senate again just pulled apart a piece of the funding mechanism. we see a number of governors opting out of the exchanges. there is no federal funding to implement those state exchanges and the senate has not funded it. there are a number of hurdles just to get through to the january 1st implementation of the individual mandate and i think that's when we're going to have the big test. do people's insurance premiums go up. what do americans do when they start to pay fines for not having insurance. are the exchanges set up so they
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could get insurance if they wanted to? i would say the bill has been passed, it's been upheld by the supreme court, but will it be implemented? i think it is a little too early to say that. it's got a number of hurdles to cross before we get there. >> susan, i'm curious. let's take a listen to how some republicans have been reacting to this recently. >> let's repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. let's not do that. let's love people. let's care about people. let's repeal it now while we can. >> are you saying as part of your budget, you would repeal -- assume the repeal of obama care? >> yes. >> well, that's not gonna happen. >> well, we believe it should. that's the point. that is another thing budgeting is about. >> it is probably not going to kill people, as michele bachmann was suggesting.
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>> i wish someone would cover her mic and not let her go on. >> why are republicans pushing to repeal obama care? >> i wish i understood it. it is the law of the land. patricia tapped into something earlier, people in a bipartisan way, are taking apart obama care. saw on the eve of the anniversary of obama care, the senate, by 79-20 override the 2.3 tax increase on medical devices. now, granted, it was an amendment to a non-binding senate budget resolution but hopefully, they will have the courage to do that again p the fact is if there are tax increases for obama care both sides want to get rid of. >> here is a something though, a handful of republican governors. they come to embrace the crucial programs, medicaid expansion. that includes florida governor rick scott, ohio governor john kasich, arizona governor jan brewer.
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but these same governors then reject the exchanges. so, are they just trying to have it both ways? >> of course they are trying to have it both ways. they are politician. nothing wrong going on with the obama care bill. tough tweak legislation. legislations are not perfect. you take a little of this, a little of that. you massage things. things sort of play itself out. i think we will have a more perfect bill. sort of like our constitution, wasn't a perfect document, we have added things to make it better. this is what is happening with obama care, make it better. you will have some time to perfect this thing. do you see governors playing politics because, of course, they want to do medicaid, worried about the voters, don't want to do exchanges it is not funded yet f it is funded, i think this is an opportunity for the private sector to step in and play a role in these front-end exchanges where ultimately it is going to happen. i predict that the health care situation will be much like our 401(k) system ultimately and people will have to take more
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responsibility personally. next up, the best and worst of the week. color, and design. showing up where we least expect it and taking inspiration from our wildest dreams. because bold doesn't see the world in fixtures and faucets, it re-imagines. coloring our lives in ways only bold can do. it's no wonder the world can't wait to see what bold does next.
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we are back with the big three for their best and worst of the week. we got to blister through this, craig melvin there and he wants to get going. susan, begin with you first. your best and worst? >> best week, hillary clinton with one brief statement coming out for gay marriage. she basically knocked everyone else's ability to do any fundraising with the hope of running for 2016 on the democratic side and said she very well may be in it. the worst week, i believe is harry reid. with four years, he couldn't come up with a budget to get every senate member there. also on the assault weapon ban, this was an important piece of legislation and he really should have let people vote on it. >> morris, your turn. >> hillary clinton running for president. hmm. i wonder where i heard that from before p worst week for me is the cyprus banking system, terrible situation. scary. >> for sure. >>ed good week is obama. a great job with the turkey/israel thing.
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>> a great job in his speech, too i loved that thing. patricia, yours? >> my winner, patty murray, chairman of the senate budget committee. after four years, she finally did it wasn't pretty she did it. my loser, mitt romney for his $5,000 a head confab in park city this summer. it's over. you lost. go paint some dogs with george bush. >> thank you much. appreciate it that is a wrap of ""weekends with alex witt,"" craig's next. clients are always learning more to make their money do more. (ann) to help me plan my next move, i take scottrade's free, in-branch seminars... plus, their live webinars. i use daily market commentary to improve my strategy. and my local scottrade office guides my learning every step of the way. because they know i don't trade like everybody.


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