tv The Reid Report MSNBC November 5, 2014 11:00am-12:01pm PST
we'll go to the white house east room where president obama holds his first news conference since losing the big election last night. you might call that an election massacre last night as the president is being seen as general custer. we're on the ground now with the backstory on both of those events this hour with nbc news white house correspondent kristin welker and msnbc senior reporter perry bacon. perry, let's go to you. this guy must be the stud of the walk today, mcconnell. he not only wins his seat where he was somewhat in jeopardy, all that democratic money spent against him, with a very attractive young opponent. now he's coming in with, what, 3, 54 senators. a decent majority. he doesn't want the system to be in perpetual conflict. ma wha can we expect from him today, more of that positivism? >> reporter: i do think you'll
hear some of that. he did an interview with "time" magazine that was published today. one thing mcconnell did is laid out areas where he and the president could work together. he named two of them. he talked about international trade agreements first. he talked about comprehensive tax reform second. he said he thought those issues could have bipartisan majorities in congress and be signed by the president over these next two years. at the same time, he also laid out an area i thought would be a confrontati confrontation. he talked repeatedly about trying to repeal the individual mandate. that's the key part of the health care law. president obama will never agree to that. that's an area where you can see a lot of fights in the budget bills over that. so, mcconnell has been both conciliatory and both very feisty. i think you'll hear both sides of that when he speaks today. he decided to have the event today at mcconnell center in louisville. this is a bit of a victory lap. he's at the mcconnell center in the auditorium. this is a big day for him. he dreamed of being majority
leader his whole life and now he made it. >> sounds like they're going to a peace treaty meeting when they're both bringing knives. his knife is going after obamacare, number one achievement of this president in the history books. this president is coming to the so-called peace meeting with doing major bill on immigration, which sir coupk circumvent's co role on immigration. >> reporter: mcconnell said he wants to make deals. before mcconnell spoke last night, rand paul spoke. his vision for the majority party is to send bill after bill to obama and dare him to veto them. you have to think about whatever mcconnell says is not the only word on how the republican majority works. in fact, it may not be the most important word. we have to hear what the ted cruzes and rand pauls want to do. >> you're ruining my morning
anyway. perry bacon. let's go to the white house, kristin welker. the president made a lot of calls last night. is this a preview -- i was impressed by the president's ground game last night, calling all those people to thank. even if it was just a minute or two. they'll never forget he called when they won. i hope he called the losers, too. did he? >> reporter: i think that's right. i don't know if he called the losers, chris -- >> well, they're the ones he should call. >> reporter: he did make over 20 phone calls. so, it certainly is significant. worth noting, he called mcconnell and left a message. i just checked a few minutes ago, still no word positive whether the two have actually connected. i don't know if we'll have a huge kum-bi-ya moment. there's a lot of pressure on both these leaders to get something done. i'm told president obama's message is going to be exactly that, he's ready to get to work, ready to reach across the aisle. you heard perry talk about some areas of agreement. i've been talking to sources at the white house here and on capitol hill who say they are
identifying some of those areas, trade being one of them, as perry mentioned. also infrastructure. possibly the minimum wage. it's hard to see anything significant getting done on the minimum wage, but i know both sides are looking at that as a possible area of compromise. but sources on capitol hill, democratic sources, saying the president has to do more than just pick up the phone like he did last night. certainly they are giving him credit for doing that. of course, he's invited members from both sides of the aisle to the white house on friday. they say that's got to continue. that he's got to stay engaged. there's also a fair amount of concern about executive actions. they say he can't issue a number of executive actions, particularly in the near term, because that would essentially create a huge standoff. you talk about immigration reform. if he does issue a huge sweeping executive order on immigration reform, that could be an incredibly pitched battle. i was told just this morning that he has no plans to change course on that. he is still planning to move fward with immigration reform.
having said that, he's likely going to get some questions about immigration reform when we hear him in just about 50 minutes from now. chris? >> do they know at the white house that the public basically turned the government over to the republicans last night? >> reporter: well, look, i think they were prepared to lose the senate. don't think they were prepared for the loss to be this large. in fact, no one was prepared, chris. either the white house or republicans, who i was speaking with. they thought republicans would possibly take the senate, but they didn't think the wins would be so great. i think they're still absorbing the magnitude of the loss. having said
that, i'm also told the chief of staff, chief mcdonagh has been preparing for this. he's been drawing up a strategy to deal with this exact scenario in which republicans would be -- >> thanks. we're going to senator mcconnell in louisville. >> i would like to introduce dr. ramsey, who's the president of university, who is here. jim, thank you for joining us today.
and you may recognize these youngsters over here. they're in a scholarship program at i worked on at the university together for the last 20 years. good to see you. the best and brightest program for the students inside kentucky. not nonresidents. ten each year. they're here today to witness what we may talk about. so, let me just make a couple of observations. i think with the voters were saying yesterday was a couple of things. number one, they're obviously not satisfied with the direction of the administration. but at the same time i heard a lot of discussion about dysfunction in washington. i think there are a lot of people who believe that just because you have divide government, that doesn't mean you don't accomplish anything. earlier today i got a call from the president, also from senator
reid and the speaker, and ted cruz, too. which i thought you'd be interested in. all of them who have the few we ought to see what areas of agreement there are and see if we can make some progress for the country. i always like to remind people that divided government's not unusual in this country. we've had it frequently. i think maybe even more often than not since world war ii, when the american people choose divided government, i don't think it means they don't want us to do anything. i think it means they want us to look for areas of agreement. reagan never had the house in eight years. clinton didn't have the house or senate for six of his eight years. i can think of at least four fairly significant things done. reagan and tip o'neill saved social security for a generation. did the last comprehensive tax reform. we need to do that again.
bill clinton and the republicans did well for reform. and actually balanced the budget for three years in a row. so, i think we ought to start with the view that maybe there were some things we can agree on to make progress for the country. from an institutional point of view, the senate needs to be fixed. i made a speech back in january, not widely covered. probably shouldn't have been widely covered, but a lot of people inside the senate paid a lot of attention to it. the senate in the last few years basically doesn't do anything. we don't even vote. senator begich, who may have been defeated yesterday, had the handicap of trying to explain to the people of alaska why in six years he hasn't had a roll call vote on the floor on an amendment. the first thing i need to do is to get the senate back to normal. that means working more. i don't think we've had any votes on friday, in anybody's memory. it means opening the senate up
so that amendments are permitted on both sides. and it means occasionally burning the midnight oil in order to reach a conclusion. i can remember the way we used to get bills finished was for the majority leader to announce on monday we were taking up a particular bill and you were going to finish it. finish it thursday night, friday morning or saturday, but you have to mean it. and it's amazing what happened around midnight on thursday. people who were very aggressive on tuesday morning were awfully anxious to leave friday morning. and amendments would go away and bills would pass. another thing, sounds astonishing to all of you, the committees need to be relevant again. if a bill comes out of committee on a bipartisan basis, that means you've got both democrats and republicans, who are interested in seeing it pass. so, there's a bipartisan st
constituency for moving forward. now, having said that, there are differences. and we will certainly be voting on things as well that we think the administration is not fond of. they seem to have had no interest, for example in doing anything serious on the energy front. we haven't had an energy bill in seven years. when you say energy these day, people think of the keystone pipeline, but that's only part of it. we need to embrace the energy revolution that's going on in our country, promote it. it's hugely advantageous to america. not only in the area of energy independence, but employment. i moo i mean, the employment figures connected with keystone are stunning, if wekd we would just get going. certainly there are going to be areas of disagreement, but that's not unusual going back to the founding of the country. with that, let me just throw it
open. >> reporter: senator mcconnell, can you tell us based on what the message of the voters was, many say they. to see gridlock end. what can you do? and can you
assure the american people that gridlock can end under your leadership? >> well, the senate was the problem. not the house. the house passed over 300 pieces of legislation. many of them on a bipartisan basis and nothing was done with them in the senate. the american people have changed the senate. so, i think we have an obligation to change the behavior of the senate and to begin to function again. that doesn't garn tooen tee the president is going to agree with everything we do but we're going back to work and pass legislation. i've been called by three promise nept democr prominent democrats since last night. prominent democrats. they're anxious to be relevant again. you know, they're anxious for committee work to be respected. they're anxious to be able to offer amendments on the floor of the senate and actually get votes.
so, yeah, that's the way you get rid of gridlock. doesn't guarantee you have a presidential signature on absolutely everything. presidents do have a right to veto, something the president hasn't had to do. i think he's vetoed two little bills in six years. the first two years he loved everything he got. the last four years the current majority made sure he didn't get anything he didn't like. that's how you cure gridlock. jeff? >> reporter: after all this gridlock, how can the american people believe you, believe -- >> well, we have to demonstrate it. i'm sorry. >> reporter: what are a couple specific examples of things you think you can work with this president on? >> trade agreements. the president and i were just talking about that right before i came over here. most of his party is unenthusiastic about international trade. we think it's good for america. and, so i've got a lot of members who believe that international trade agreements are a winner for america. and the president and i
discussed that right before i came over here. and i think he's interested in moving forward. i said, send us trade agreements. we're anxious to take a look at them. the president's indicated he's interested in doing tax reform. we all know, having the highest korment tax rate in the industrialized world is a job exporter. all this job about job exportation. what's exporting jobs is having the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. he's interested in that yash is and we are, too. those are two significant areas of potential agreement. >> reporter: he wants to work with you or do you believe that he will be pulled by his own party to -- >> look, there's only one democrat who counts, the president. let me illustrate the point. when joe biden and i negotiated the fiscal cliff deal at the end of 2012, the thing i wanted the most, that i thought would be the most important for kentucky, was a $5 million per person
estate tax exemption. a lot of people who have family farms and small businesses look like they're worth a lot of money, but they really aren't. and if you're lucky enough to have children who want to continue the farm or continue the small business, you can't get it down to them, you could not in the past because of the estate tax exemption. a $5 million exemption index or inflation permanent law would save 99% of the small businesses and farms in my state have having to be sold. the leader of the democrats in the house made it quite clear to me that if that was in the final deal, house democrats wouldn't vote for it. i thanked her. it was in the final deal and only 15 house democrats voted against it and only 3 senate democrats. the point i'm making is the democrat who counts is the president united states perform democrats in congress will agree to -- that was a perfect example of exactly what i'm talking
about. so, and, you know, we were very much inclined to support president obama as well. this is not unusual. when you have the white house, the most important member of your party is the person in the white house. so, we'll see whether we can work with the president. i hope so. that's what he says. and we'll find out. >> reporter: thank you. senator mcconnell, except for the few deals you worked out, mainly with vice president biden, congressional republicans don't have a good track record of working things out. can you explain how you think a united congress will -- [ inaudible ] >> i'm not sure he's going to sign everything, but we're going to function. we are. we're going to pass legislation, some of it he may not like, but we're going to function.
this gridlock and dysfunction can be ended. it can be ended by having a senate that actually -- excuse me, that actually works. >> reporter: might be fruitful as opposed to the way it's been so far? >> well, i mean, the veto pen is a pretty big thing. you know, the president of the united states can deliver the members of his party to vote for a deal that he makes or he can veto legislation. he's a player. that's the way our system works. >> reporter: yesterday you were talking before you came out on the stage for your victory speech, senator paul said they would send bill after bill to the president until he's weary. what other powers of the tools can you use to reform or reduce or slow down -- >> well, it's no secret that every one of my members thinks that obamacare was a huge legislative mistake. it has fouled up the health
insurance market. put states in deep hole in terms of the medicaid expansion. if i had the ability, karl, obviously, i'd get rid of it. obviously, it's also true he's still there. so, we'll be discussing how to go forward on this issue when we get back. i will say this for sure, there are pieces of it that are deeply, deeply unpopular with the american people. the medical device tax, which is exported enormous number of jobs, the loss of the 40-hour work week, big, big mistake. that ought to be restored. the individual mandate. people hate it. so, i think we will be addressing that issue in a variety of different ways. >> reporter: senator mcconnell, regardless of what happens in the last few races, you'll still
be short 60 votes in the senate. you have a pretty ideological diverse conference including a number of blue state republicans up for re-election in 2016. how realistic -- reality check for your base, how far you can go in pushing a conservative agenda? >> well, we'll find out. i mean, what you state is a statement of the obvious, that it takes 60 votes to do a lot of things in the senate but there are a lot of things we can do with 51 votes. a budget is an extremely important thing. the president does not sign the budget. that determines how much we're going to spend. i think it's within our ability, within our power to pass more appropriation bills to fund the government. there's no secret that i and most of my members think that the bureaucratic strangulation of our economy is a real -- is a huge factor in the slow growth that we've experienced after the deep recession of 2008. so, i think it's reasonable to
assume that we will use the power of the purse to try to push back against this overactive bureaucracy. of course, we have a huge example of that here in this state with the war on coal. not authorized by congress. cap and trade couldn't get the votes to pass when our friends on the other side own the place. when they had huge majorities in the house and senate, they couldn't pass cap and trade. the president tried to do it anyway. i think there's widespread opposition to that. you could look for us to go after those kind of things through the -- through the spending prolcess, which i thin is our best tool in our governmental system. >> reporter: due process, too? >> we'll see how we do. paul? >> reporter: in the debt ceiling fight afterwards, you told me it was a hostage not worth shooting but it was a hostage worth holding for some ransom. the debt ceiling is coming up some time this spring, this summer. are we going to have another brinkmanship moment there or are
those sorts of crises going to end? >> let me make it clear. there will be no government shutdowns and no default on the national debt. >> reporter: as part of the debt ceiling -- >> reporter: one of the issues you mentioned in terms of working with the president on, we expect he will move forward with some sort of action on -- executive action. what will the republican response be and would you -- [ inaudible ] >> let me say, i think the president choosing to do a lot of things unilaterally on immigration would be a big mistake. it's an issue that most of my members want to address. legislatively. and it's like waving a red flag in front of a bull to say, if you guys don't do what i want, i'm going to do it on my own. and the president's done that on obamacare. he's done it on immigration and threatening to do it again. i hope he won't do that because i do think it poisons the well.
for the opportunity to address a very important domestic issue. [ inaudible ] >> i wouldn't do that to you. >> reporter: you obviously have worked with the president for a number of years now. you've had communication with him, sometimes cordial, sometimes not so cordial. what do you sense having talked to him today about his -- what he's going to do? everyone talks about you mentioning tip o'neill and reagan. that was sort of a wonderful camelot moment, i guess, in this country with bipartisanship. can that be achieved with you, the republicans and president? >> the relationship between myself and the president have always been cordial. there's not a personality problem here or anything like that. i think my attitude at this point is trust but verify. let's see. the american people have spoken. they've given us divided government.
the question for both the president and for the speaker and myself and our members is, what are you going to do with it? and i've already said, i want to first look for areas of -- that we can agree on. there probably are some. that's what we're going to be talking about in the next -- in the next few weeks. >> reporter: senator, you said -- did you basically say you promise there won't be a government shutdown. >> yeah, we're not going to be shutting down the government or defaulting on the national debt. >> reporter: has the president invited you to come to the white house? >> we're going to a lunch friday, that i think you're already aware of. you are-h a question? >> reporter: do you have any concern about those members of your conference who might want to run for president, like to step outside your leadership, how will you handle them? >> look, i know a lot of people who want to run for president. what i tell them all is, the best day you'll have will be the day before you announce.
it is short of being in combat and being shot at with real bullets. there isn't anything harder than running for president, unless it's running for re-election if you're one of the leaders of one of the parties of the senate. look, i have no problems with people's ambitions. i serve in a body with a bunch of class presidents. they're all ambitious or they wouldn't be where they are. a lot of folks with sharp elbows and big egos. look, i -- i am not troubled by ambition. and i think we can accommodate that and still make progress for the country. >> reporter: even if it thwarts your own goals? >> you're asking me a whole lot of hypotheticals that i'm not willing to indulge in. >> reporter: i wanted to ask, it's been suggested that republican senate would bring the nomination process to a
grinding halt. one, will it? how do you expect to handle the presidents nominations? many important ones still lingering? two, what are your thoughts of rolling back the nuclear option? >> we'll address the second issue. i've said to my members employing back to 2013 when the trigger was pulled and rules of the senate was broken, that's something we'll address if we're given the majority, and we have been given the majority and we will address it. [ inaudible ] >> no, i'm going to discuss that with our colleagues. it's i a big issue. largely lost on the general public, but the most significant thing about what the majority leader decided to do was to break the rules of the senate, which requires 67 votes to change the rules of the senate, by over ruling the parliamentary and said, you cannot do that with 51. it was a huge, huge mistake, in my view.
it is hard to unring a bell. you know, they've now established a precedent. it's a big issue and a big discussion that we're going to have in the coming months. jeff? >> reporter: how was your call with senator cruz? >> he just called to congratulate me, was impressed by the margin. i was pretty happy about it myself. we had a good, friendly conversation. yeah? i'm sorry? >> reporter: do you believe that he will be, and some of the other republicans who running for president, will make it more difficult for you to have a responsible governing majority thaw mentioned? >> we've got all kinds of people in a 50 -- a hope, 54-member senate. we'll see where we are at the end of the voting. >> reporter: we have different -- >> you can talk to him. it was a very cordial conversation. i appreciated the call. [ inaudible ]
>> he called to congratulate me on my election. no, i've not talked to him about that. he's a pretty independent guy. i think he'll probably announce today what he's going to do. >> reporter: you said the dpovt would not default. would you insist on cuts to correspond with any debt ceiling increase that john boehner has in the past? >> we have the opportunity now to pass the budget, which has to do with how much you're going to spend. i think we have other mechanic niches that were unavailable to us. with the previous configuration of the government. and i think that's a pretty important tool. paul? >> reporter: you talked about your phone call with harry reid. you haven't had the most acrimoak r acrimonious relationship. you've had the most -- >> we've had spirited debates on
the floor of the senate about the way the place is being run. but we don't have an acrimonious relationship permanently. now, what's your question? he called to -- obviously having been a leader in a tough race himself, he called actually to compliment me on what a skillful campaign we ran. he obviously paid very close attention to it. and as many of us have discussed before, that's been the new paradigm since daschle was defeated. harry said, you know, he had followed it very closely. and complimented me on a campaign well run. >> reporter: will you return the favor to him in 2016? [ laughter ]
>> look, i'm not -- i didn't get involved the last time he was up and i don't intend to be involved this time. >> reporter: foreign policy, can you -- can you talk a little about foreign policy and what your objectives will be as senate majority leader? >> well, i think the immediate concern in the health area is obviously the ebola kritsz. and what, if anything, the administration feels they need further on the financial side. with regard to the authorization to help the syrian rebels, as you know, we insisted on that terminating at the end of this year so we could have a new discussion with the administration about sort of where the administration sees the battle against isis. and so i think that's one of the things the president mentioned today is going to be on his agenda at our luncheon friday,
sort of where we are and what recommendations he may have to make about the way forward. [ inaudible ] >> oh, you can bet on that. yeah. >> reporter: can you talk about how much of a window you see yourself having to pass big legislation next year? how willing are you to use the reconciliation tool -- >> david, i think that's -- we've got to finish this year's session first. by the way, harry reid is still the majority leader. and i think the immediate discussion we're going to be having is what should we try to wrap up during the lame duck? i mean, there are a number of thi things that have been sort of put off -- [ inaudible ] >> reporter: handled as far as the senate? >> say that again. >> reporter: expires in december. >> we've been talking about whether to do a cr, we'll be talking about whether to do the tax extender package. there are a number of things that have sort of stacked up.
i mean, i -- i think i've said it before, i'll say it again. the senate hasn't been doing anything. so, there's a whole lot of unfinished business. sitting there, some of which it might be advantageous to get out of the way. the democrats may want to do it and we may want to do it in order to clear off some of the necessary work that's just simply been undone in the dysfunctional senate. >> reporter: do you foresee any attempts to roll back those reforms? >> what? [ inaudible ] >> the banking committee is certainly going to be taking a look at dodd/frank. i've called it frequently obamacare for banks. the big guys are doing just fine under dodd/frank. the community bankers are struggling. i do think the banking committee will want to take a look at how much damage it's done to the little guys who had nothing whatsoever to do with the meltdown in 2008. i'd be surprised that the
banking committee isn't going to look at it. they may send something our way. >> reporter: senator, you said you were surprised that president obama did not shift more towards center. does he have a responsibility after last night to do that now? did you communicate that with him on the phone call? >> i hope that's what he does because you can't do anything without a presidential signature. several of you have mentioned it. i mean, the veto pen is a pretty powerful tool. and i think both reagan and clinton are good examples of accepting the government you have rather than fantasizing about the government you wish you had. in other words, they dealt with what they had. reagan never had the house. clinton didn't have the house or senate for six of the eight years. so, you know, the president's really got a choice. i think because of the strength of the veto pen, he could probably stay on the current course he's on. you know, just vetoing any effort we made to push back
against what he's doing and having the people who work for him do his bidding. or he could say, let's see if there's some areas of agreement. and i mentioned a couple that i think are pretty big and important issues that i think we have potential areas of agreeme agreement. trade and tax reform. so, we'll see. >> reporter: you're asking the president to move towards the middle. are you ready to meet him there? if so, how do you prevent conservative members from yanking you back? >> i'm pretty familiar with our conference, including the new members coming in. the vast majority of them don't feel they were sent to washington to just fight all the time. and as i've said repeatedly here, divide government is not the reason to do nothing. in fact, divided government frequently has been pretty productive. and i think the vast majority of my members would rather make
progress on things that they think the country needs to be dealt with than not. but in our system, the president is the most important player because of all the -- the obvious constitutional advantage he has. and so it would require his complicity to do that. and he's been protected from having to do that the last four years by the dysfunctional senate, which doesn't pass anything, doesn't send him anything that he doesn't like. now he's going to have a congress that's going to be more challenging for him. but the choice is really his. and i'm hoping that he will decide to move to the center. >> reporter: senator rand paul -- >> reporter: last night ted cruz declined to say if he would support you for majority leader. i wondered if he spoke to you --
>> let me make a prediction for you. in a week i'll be elected as senate majority leader. >>
we have "usa today's" susan paige and two-time governor ed rendell from pennsylvania, nbc political analyst, jonathan capehart, also an msnbc contributor and presidential historian douglas brinkley, also michael steele sitting here. i can't ignore you. let's go to governor rendell who's been in politics. if you take on tax reform, one side says nine, the other side says seven, you agree on eight. it's not impossible to deal if you want to deal -- why wouldn't the president want to lower rates by plugging loopholes on both the corporate side and
individual? reagan and tip got it down to 28%. >> the big question is which loopholes? can you fend off lobbyists? it will take a united front to fend off lobbyists. thirdly, do you reduce the rate and plug loopholes in a neutral sense, which republicans want, or do you take some of that money and either invest it in growth or invest it in reducing the debt? >> can you throw the republicans that one and say -- or, actually, take from them that extra revenue and use it for infrastructure and then throw in some free trade for the republicans who want the free trade? i mean, there's a lot of things to trade with here. >> absolutely. there's no question there's maneuverability and this is the time to do it. i mean, you're right. there are so many things seven and nine, decide on eight. energy bill, we'll do the keystone pipeline and also make the production tax credit extend
for six or seven years for extended renewables. there's room to go. >> let's ask susan. who will win here, worker bees who want to get something done or the whacko birds, to use a phrase of john mccain? those who want to be joe mccarthy or worse -- can't get worst -- bring their shotguns to the senate floor, wave it around, and go back and run for president, or do you want to be people -- it sounds like mitch mcconnell having won a tough election knows he's in his 70s. my experience is when guys -- women will be there soon -- once you hit your 70s, there's no b.s. you're in your final act. >> i have never seen mitch mcconnell so relaxed, so in command, so at ease, so willing to talk to reporters. he's not been a guy known to be accessible to reporters. this is ms. moment. he's not in the whacko bird category. he wants to legislate to get
things done where deals can be cut. he's giving president obama an opening. it's no accident that his news conference comes 50 minutes before president obama is scheduled to do his own news conference. will president obama pick up on the themes that mitch mcconnell laid out? mitch mcconnell didn't say they were going to roll over. they'll take votes on appealing the individual mandate for affordable care act. that's something president obama will definitely veto. he said there's things we can get done. let's do that. >> it seems there's a mixed bag of let's see and no deal. i mean, let's deal -- obviously, they can deal on things involving taxes and trade. they're negotiable. it's not negotiable to kick the hell out -- the foundation of obamacare out from under the president. you can't do medical device tax removal. you can't do getting rid of the individual mandate. that destroys the guy's lone legacy. >> right. talk about poisoning the well. but what i took from snore mcconnell's press conference
there was, he was very magazine nan mou magnanamous. this is the loosest i've ever seen him. i found it interesting several times during the press conference he lauded the president. the president is the most important player in our democracy. he used that structure, that phrase, that sentence, several times during his 20-plus or so minute press conference. so, you're not -- it's sort of remember when, i think it was after the republicans took the house, president clinton said, i'm still relevant. president obama doesn't have to do that because the incoming senate majority leader already says he's relevant. so, he's signaling, i think, a willingness to work with the president, but also sending a signal to his caucus, both in the senate but also in the house, that he's going to hold firm on those things that they care about and try to see what, if anything, he can do to get those things done with this
president. >> i think everybody -- most people in journalism who cover this, who watch it from the good seats, which we're lucky to have, would like to see action taken. they know the country is totally spinning around. almost scared. almost scared of the inactivity. by the way, last night it would have been nice if alison lundergan grimes had congratulated mitch mcconnell for having beaten her. i do respect maturity in politics. have i to say this, mitch mcconnell ran a tough campaign. he said very good things about her last night. >> he did. and he was very -- i mean, to start at that magnanamous moment and he's continued it into this press conference. what struck me was at the beginning when he was going to who he's talked to and who he called him, who was noticeably present in that list, ted cruz. he also recognizes he has to deal with his right flank
because that right flank has become reinforced in the senate. not the house. this is going to be an interesting -- >> what pacifier can he jam in their mouth? you have to shut up ted cruz. he's out for blood. >> that's going to be an interesting challenge because of the litany of things susan and jonathan have talked about as comprisable points -- >> he doesn't want to do that. >> he's not down for that so this is where mcconnell starts off, you know, we can do that, but then it becomes very gritty in the middle. >> you know, doug brinkley, my friend, you remember the period not as a person but as an history historian, when eisenhower had to deal with joe mccarthy, very much a predecessor of this guy, ted cruz, he was sort of able to beat him out because of indirection. the hidden hand president. at some point doesn't mcconnell have to say, you know what, buddy, ted cruz, you really don't belong here, like they did to ackerman, you don't belong
here, buddy. when is that moment going to come? >> it may have just happened. he signaled out cruz and talked about big ego. mcconnell made a good point, no government shutdowns under my watch. which was really a jab at ted cruz. i think you might have seen that happening already. mitch mcconnell coming on very strong and coming on in claiming control over a party, you know, herdi ining all of the cats. eisenhower in 1958, that midterm, ike lost -- the republicans lost a net 48 people to congress and 13 senators. in many ways this midterm reminds me of '58 the question is what can the president get done with congress? after that it will be all 2016 presidential politics. >> that was in the middle of a bad recession. this time people just weren't happy generally. we'll be back with the panel.
everybody stay with us. a few minutes from now the president is expected. this is going to be a big one. they got it all dressed up for his news conference in the east room where we have the big events. he has to talk about the wave last night. he may have to talk about the fact he's no longer calling the shots.
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other side effects include dry mouth and constipation. nothing can reverse copd. spiriva helps me breathe better. sfx: blowing sound. does breathing with copd... ...weigh you down? don't wait ask your doctor about spiriva handihaler. welcome back. in just a few minutes, president obama is going to address the country and address the results of last night's 2014 midterms which have given the republican party real control. not just of the senate, which was expected but over whelg control of the house of representatives which we all know controls spending, controls taxes, controls trade. the house ways and means committee is everything. we expect to hear from the president how he plans to move forward on his goals that he's been laying out over the last two years. let's go to -- let's go to kristin welker at the white house. is this going to be a proffer from the president to mitch
mcconnell, the new senate leader to deal? is he going to lay out ideas or just jemgenerally? >> reporter: i think so. i think he'll hear like mcconnell striking a conciliatory deal. finding common ground on corporate tax deals and trade. that's been a part of the conversation from behind the scenes for the past several days, chris. the largest questions revolve around the president's health care law. i'm being told that's absolutely a no-good. any changes to his health care law on any level he's prepared to veto. as we continue to discuss, immigration reform, if the president continues to move forward with an executive action on immigration reform, that's essentially going to be a declaration of war. one republican lawmaker telling me, look, what we want to do is pass some measures in a piecemeal fashion, so i think you'll see republicans revive that effort. you'll recall, chris, that's something the house wanted to do after the senate passed that
bibipartisan immigration reform. will they revive an effort to get something done in a piecemeal fashion? that's a big question. also the question of strategy. is the president going to be -- want issue shawler executive actions? you'll recall that was a big part of the maneuvering here over the past several months. lawmakers, democrats say that that would not be the right way to move forward, that that would essentially only create more gridlock. there's going to be a lot of pressure on both sides, chris, to have something to show for this beyond just trade and corporate tax reform. i think that the message from americans last night is that they are fed up with the gridlock. they want to see real things get done here in washington. so, there's going to be a lot of pressure to go beyond these two things that you're hearing both sides float today. >> thanks. let's go to susan on that. do you think the president realizes what the other side is ready to do, if he goes ahead with an eo, executive order, on immigration? millions of people giving them basically green cards. >> i think the president is in a
real box on that one. i think the white house is fully aware that's going to be, as kristin said, a declaration of war. i don't think there's any way he can avoid doing it. he's already put it off. he made a commitment to doing it. he's drawn a line in the sand and promised to issue the executive order. a lot of hispanics across the country are counting on it. that's going to be, i think, the first big test if we, in fact, have a moment where the two sides are willing to work together or two more years of the grinding gridlock that has become so familiar over the last four years. >> i want to bring somebody else in here to talk about this. let me bring in governor rendell. it seems if all you do is give basic amnesty to people here illegally, or without documents, if you want to put it that way, you're not dealing with the long-term problem of people coming here without permission, basically, from our government. you're not fixing the problem at all. you're saying, we'll have the problem of illegal immigration. as a band-aid, i'll help the
people here. it doesn't seem like a solution, mob of a problem. politically, you may have to do it. >> i think he has to do it. if i was the president, i would do it and i would say, i'm instituting this policy by executive order, but the executive order's going to sunset on august 31st of 2015. it's my hope the congress will act and send me a comprehensive bill that will allow me to let this executive order go out of operation. but if they don't, i reserve the right to extend it. i think that's the right tone. >> jonathan, what do you think of that? you have his job basically putting together all these policy implications and consequences. they all affect each other. >> uh-huh. >> and if he does -- if he goes one way and says, i'm the lone ranger, i'm going to do the right thing, hell or high water, that's the message to editorial writers and everyone else, this guy isn't ready to do business. >> no matter what the president does, he's going to enrage people on the other side who hate what he's done.
if he signs the executive order, republicans will be enraged. if he doesn't sign the executive order, immigration activists in the democratic party base will be enraged. and a piece i just wrote i said, if he's going to make folks mad, he might as well do it in the service of helping people. you know, one thing to add onto what governor rendell said, i would say i agree with what the governor said, i wouldn't say there is a sunset. i would tell the president to sign it and remind congress his executive order is temporary. the next president can come in and wipe that executive order out of the way. what congress needs to do is pass an immigration -- a comprehensive immigration reform bill. it's not like they haven't done it. the senate did so on an overwhelming bipartisan basis last year and it went to the house where it died. if congress doesn't want president obama to sign an executive order or if congress doesn't like president obama signing an executive order, it
has the power in its hands to do something legislatively that would make the president's executive order moot. >> michael, why doesn't the republican party support this senate bill? it's a tough bill. it doesn't just give amnesty away. sure, it has a path to citizenship but a rigorous one, an onerous one. it says you have to have the i.d. card, e-verify system. no more jobs in this country if you're here illegally. >> after listening to this conversation, my sweet spot is the senate bill. and i think what you'll see in that meeting on friday, on this subject of immigration, the president and mitch mcconnell will look at that bill as the starting spot, because for both of those gentlemen, that executive order route is no good. it does not work. it creates -- you talk about empowering a ted cruz when you're trying to get him back inside the tent. you talk about enraging the base of the democratic party after a
drubbing like they took last night. this piece of legislation has to start with what's already on the table. and you get that, and as you noted, it didn't fly because the house didn't play. this is an opportunity for speaker boehner and majority leader mcconnell to get the house in order and bring them to that conversation, otherwise it's armageddon. >> let me talk to doug brinkley about it. is the president better of having a legacy having gotten through a real immigration bill that has teeth, that stays on the law books, that's real, enforced, proudly enforced because it's a fair bill or is he better being the abraham lincoln have basically signing an emancipation proclamation? what do you think his instincts are to do? >> good question. i think instinct is if he can get a deal with congress, it get it. it will only be about three months and we'll know. if not, he signed that executive order and be known as the one person willing to do some kind of immigration reform of this
era. i think you're going to see barack obama as the executive power president. you'll see a lot of veto going on. and i think he'll sign all sorts of executive orders on things like national monuments and the environment. bill clinton and babbitt did one assist the clock winds down. meaning, the idea that you're going to have this new president obama/mitch mcconnell dance where it's a new mini great society coming our way in the next few months, just doesn't seem very likely. there's a quick window to do that corporate tax reform and a few other pieces and then that window will dry up. >> susan, last question before we have the president. do you think he's going to do something to restructure the white house? watching chief mcdonagh, chief of staff, they're walking in. is that going to be the leadership team, president's command team, for the rest of the duration here? is that it? >> no. i think the white house does intend to bring in new advisers, fresh faces. that doesn't necessarily mean he
dumps the people around him who he's trusted and relied on. i think we're looking to see some changes in the white house staff and possibly on the national security area. and that's, of course, reflects the fact there have been some stumbles there. also just the gruelling nature of these jobs. not surprising that you might want to have some fresh people come in for the final two years. >> aren't you amazed at some -- i will use the word advisely -- twerp can make fun of the secretary of state and compare him to sandra bullock's character in "gravity" and being unconnected to the white house? the worst thing you can say about a secretary of state is he or she doesn't represent the president 100%. somebody had the audacity to put out that statement. what is going on where these kids in the white house think they can talk like that and they do get away with it? what side is the president on, the secretary of state or, again, a twerp on the nsc staff? >> who, by the way, is speaking anonymously --
>> but they know where they're talking from. they say white house staff. it's on background but tied to the institution. that's what i can't understand. >> i agree. i do think there could be -- there ought to be more respect. >> yeah. >> just generally. i mean, within the administration, between republicans and democrats. we would all be served well if we treated each other and they treated each other with a little more respect. >> governor rendell, what do you make of -- do you sense there is a chain of command in this white house that is a grown-up presidential chain of command where people are accountable and respectful up to the top? >> yeah, i think so. i think the president's got to set a tone starting with him, starting with his press conference today, but he's got to make sure it permeates down. chris, you are so right about disrespecting john kerry. john kerry is a great american. he ran for president. he's busting his hump as secretary of state. i don't believe that's true. >> why do they do that? you're a republican, take your
shots because they're deserved here. why does this white house act like it's the kiddy -- >> i think there is no reinforcing measurement inside the organization. it is insular up to the president. and everything else is kind of free-flowing. so when this frustration builds up because they didn't get their way on something, they go in in and talk. >> why are they made at the secretary of state who has to go head-to-head with the toughest guy in the world, netanyahu, it's a tough fight. we don't have the same interests all the time. >> that's someone's agenda. whether internally inside the west wing or the state department or outside of it. that's what that's all about. and it should stop because it's undermining -- >> let's come back to structure. two white house methods of getting things done, eisenhower chain of command, sherman adams, nixon used that and spokes of the wheel. a very bright president like kennedy or johnson who could reach out at all middle levels and talk to everybody. a very vibrant executive. what's the role model this president follows, if any?
>> i just don't think any. he's a bit of a lone operator. i think the president makes up his own mind and he's very unflappable, very stubborn. that's why on something like the obamacare, you know, reform now with some doing -- that won't happen. the idea he's going to suddenly throw the environmentalists away to cut a deal on the keystone pipeline isn't going to happen. this is a fire wall president who's kind of dug in but he's never developed a staff in the white house he works with great fluidness with. i think john podesta has done a good job but he's going off with hillary clinton soon. >> but he created a czar one day and he sort of -- he sort of knocked him off the next day. here's the president of the united states to give us the real news. >> good after, everybody. have a seat. today i had a chance to speak with john boehner and congratulated mitch mcconnell on becoming the next senate
majority leader. i told them both i look forward to finishing up this congress's agenda and working together to advance america's business. i appreciated leader mcconnell's words last night about the prospect of working together to deliver for the american people. on friday i look forward to hosting the entire republican and democratic leadership at the white house to chart a new course forward. obviously, republicans had a good night. and they deserve credit for running good campaigns. beyond, that i'll leave it to all of you and the professional pundits to pick through yesterday's results. what stands out to me, though, is that the american people sent a message. one that they've sent for several elections now. they expect the people they elect to work as hard as they do. they expect us to focus on their ambitions and not ours. they want us to get the job done.
all of us in both parties have a responsibility to address that sentiment. still, as president, i have a unique responsibility to try and make this town work. so, to everyone who voted, i want you to know i hear you. to the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, i hear you, too. all of us have to give more americans a reason to feel like the ground is stable beneath their feet, that the future is secure, that there's a path for young people to succeed, and that folks here in washington are concerned about them. so, i plan on spending every moment of the next two-plus years doing my job the best i can. to keep this country safe and make sure more americans share in its prosperity. this country's made real progress since the crisis six years ago. the fact is more americans are working. unemployment has come down.
more americans have health insurance, manufacturing has grown. our deficits have shrunk. our dependence on foreign oil is down, as are gas prices. our graduation rates are up. our businesses aren't just creating jobs at the fastest pace since the 1990s, our economy is outpacing most of the world. but we just got to keep at it until every american feels the gains of a growing economy where it matters most, and that's in their own lives. obviously, much of that will take action from congress. i'm eager to work with the next congress to make the next two years as productive as possible. i'm committed to making sure that i measure ideas, not by whether they are from democrats or republicans, but whether they work for the american people. that's not to say that we won't disagree over some issues we're