tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC November 10, 2012 9:00am-11:00am PST
president obama has named michael morell as the acting cia director. it is not clear who will testify on next week's benghazi attack. many are questioning how many with an impeccable military record could be brought down by an extramarital afare. joining me now jack jacobs. welcome to you, colonel. i know you have known this man for an awfully long time. he was a cadet while you were teaching him at west point. talk about him in general as a man and general. >> very smart kid. spoke very well, always did very well. full of energy. very smart in thought as generals, potential generals should. far, far ahead of what's
happening right now. always thought of consequences, which is something of an irony in the circumstances. and not surprisingly rose very, very quickly up through the ranks. >> which by that description you find shocking this if he's a man who looks at consequences of actions. this is something that took him down not as a result of him trying to cover up an affair but fbi being alert today look into some level of impropriety. >> yeah. my understanding is that the fbi's investigation into what took place on computers there was not necessarily focused on him. they came by the information by accident. >> hang on. i accident? what do you mean by accident? tip off, mining for something? >> looking for something in particular. don't forget, we got lots of government computers. and like any other workplace, people put their personal information and their personal
e-mails on there. maybe they shouldn't but they do. and there's always the potential for compromise, especially in government computers. so we should be shocked if we don't look at our government computers especially those that have confidential information on them and look at them from time to time to make sure they're not being compromised. we get hacking attempts all the time. so we would want the government to look at its own computerers. it's my understanding that this information about general petraeus that they stumbled across it looking for something else all together. >> what's interesting, i was looking through the cia handbook if you will for lack of a better phrase, and there's nothing in there that indicates someone would be expelled from their job as a result of moral compromising or something like that. i mean, it's interesting. certainly the level of national security, potential breaches, that would play into it. but there's nothing that says if you do this you will be expelled from the cia. >> well, i think they may start
sticking something in there now, quite frankly. but you would think that there is some level of action, of performance, of behavior that is taken for granted, particularly among high level officials like general petraeus. and you don't have to tell people not to do something that they're not allowed to do. they may change their minds now and change all the manuals in the government to say look among all the other lousy things you could possibly do, don't rob banks and by the way don't have an affair. you would assume somebody his level of sophistication wouldn't do something like that. but people being people it happens. >> all right, colonel jack jacobs, thank you so much as always. >> you're very welcome. i want to bring in white house reporter for the "washington post" and political reporter for "politico." i want to get your sense on this white house reaction to the petraeus resignation. apparently the president did not know about this until wednesday.
why is that? >> well, that's an interesting question. and a lot of people questioned that timing. because keeping this under wraps until after the election might be something that administration or the president's advisers would want to do. if we're to believe the white house he did find out general petraeus contacted tom donnelan and asked to come to the white house. the president mulled it over for a day and accepted the resignation. a terrible timing. even though it was after the election. but yesterday the president came out with a news conference to get on top of fiscal issues, set his momentum. this broke an hour later and stepped all over it. this is what the white house didn't want. it's going to complicate things next week and beyond. >> david, what's your reading on how people on capitol hill read the timing here? >> there's going to be some skepticism about the timing. i think maybe general petraeus tried to protect the president in releasing this when he did because of the election. but the instant reaction from
capitol hill is really interesting. because peter king of the homeland security committee still wants general petraeus to come up and testify before congress. >> there's no reason he shouldn't or couldn't, right? because your former officials all the time are testifying on capitol hill. >> that's true. that's true. but i think a lot of people on capitol hill held petraeus beyond reproach. i mean, senator diane feinstein even said that she did not think the president should have accepted petraeus' resignation. that an affair was not a disqualification to head the cia. so i think it's going to be interesting now to see if he does testify how he's treated. is he going to be grilled on some of these more personal details? are they going to keep it all on intelligence matters and what went on in libya? i think that's going to be fascinating to watch next week.
>> and do you think he will come and testify on capitol hill? he's scheduled to do this in a week. >> there's going to be a lot of pressure as david said to do that, i think. and i think one thing to keep in mind, this has been a tough year for folks in these sort of high pro fill positions beyond reproach. we had the secret service scandal related sex scandal there. you also had the nominee tonight ambassador to iraq to withdraw his name after e-mails that he had sent to a "wall street journal" reporter with whom he was having an affair were released. that's actually the same congressional committee that had an oversight hearing to the secret service scandal. i think it would be a circus even beyond what's happening with benghazi which is a big enough story in itself. i want to turn to the fiscal cliff right now. next friday congressional leaders will head to the white house, they're going to begin discussing how to avoid going over that fiscal cliff. the president has invited both parties to find solutions that have eluded washington for more than two years now. today new views are emerging on the upcoming negotiations.
in fact i spoke to budget committee member congressman john yarmouth of kentucky and senator bob parker. take a listen. >> the only way we're going to get to a solution by year end is if the president and speaker boehner come to an agreement. because i believe anything they agree to is something that will pass the senate. so it's really the house and the presiden president. >> -- is very remote. i think we're more likely to postpone the spending cuts. i think that would be disastrous for the economy. and i think we're likely to let the tax cuts expire than come back in january and cut the taxes for at least 98% of americans. >> joining me now to map out a timeline, nbc white house correspondent mike viqueira who joins me from right there in the white house. so are you getting a sense of the schedule of these events? >> reporter: the schedule is pretty much up in the air. pretty remarkable that john yarmouth, house democrat from kentucky is basically saying
let's go over the cliff because we're never going to come to an agreement. the trouble is that cliff if we go over it, the congress at budget office itself says over the next course of the year if those tax cuts kick in, more than $1 trillion in new added taxes to the american people. plus that sequester, that automatic cuts to defense and domestic spending about $1 trillion as well. the cbo says that will be 9.1% unemployment. gdp will slow by half a percentage point. it could be another recession. so where have we seen this movie before? there's brinksmanship. heading into the new year, into christmas, the planes are on the tarmac and the president and congress are negotiating. the sticking point is the upper income taxes. those people making $250,000 a year and more. the president campaigned on letting that portion of the tax code expire. he wants to extend the lower taxes for everybody underneath that. but for the top 2%, he campaigned on it. democrats like yarmouth think he
has a mandate. they are going to stick to that. they will not stand behind him if he backs down on that as he did two years ago. we are heading toward a conflict here. it's unclear whether or not it's going to be resolved before the nation heads over that cliff, alex. >> mike viqueira, thank you so much for that. on the heels of mike's report, the president says upper income americans are going to have to pay higher taxes. majority leader boehner essentially says that's a non-starter. is this all just posturing and both have an idea where some sort of compromise lies? does it lie in the figure of $250,000 maybe sliding that scale up like 500,000? tim kaine ran on that. he talked about that. he's been elected. so do you think that's where compromise comes, the figure? >> i think the figure could be compromised. but i would also say watch loopholes. we have a story on politico.com today that outlines how sort of the speaker and the president are sending signals to each
other where they could both claim a win here. closing loopholes, personal loopholes, corporate loopholes, that would raise taxes on some of the wealthy without shifting the rate necessarily. now, i don't know how some of the democrats are going to accept that. but there seems to be some signals that even the speaker has said loopholes. and the president is open to that as well. so i would watch that as an area of compromise. and i also think your point to whether it's 250,000, maybe raising it to 500,000 is also an area where i think the two sides could come together. >> so last year's grand bargain there between speaker boehner and the president, that fell through reportedly because of the tea party types in the gop that essentially held speaker boehner hostage. what should we believe about the situation that's changed? i mean, will the tea party tail wag the gop majority dog so to speak? >> i don't think it's going to be an easy win for speaker
boehner to sort of keep his caucus together in this thing. if he wants to make this kind of compromise, i think the president has invited congressional leaders to meet with him next friday, right before the president leaves on a trip to asia. i think we'll have to watch really closely what kind of posture comes out of that meeting. i think david is right. speaker boehner tried to offer signals about a compromise. president obama says compromise is not a dirty word. press secretary jay carney said right after that though the president would veto any legislation from congress that maintains the bush tax cut for the upper income earners. they put a line in the sand right there. a lot of democrats say you just won an election. play hardball and face them down. i think we're going to be in store for another long christmas season here. >> do you think that's where the president is going to get push back from the democrats in the senate? are they going to insist on raising taxes for the rich? >> i think you're definitely going to have more progressive members of the senate, elizabeth warren come into the senate now. of course that's not until next year. but the composition of the senate is changing.
you also have a lot of moderate members of the senate that are up in red states in 2014 watching them. mary landry in louisiana, mary cahey. if they did that level should be $500,000, a little higher than we'd like. and maybe the president cuts the deal with more moderate democrats in the senate. but it's going to be fascinating, i think, for both sides. it will tell us a lot where the parties have moved as a result of this election. and if they've moved at all. >> do you have a prediction as to whether or not this is going to get done by january 1st or 2nd? >> i think we will get a deal. >> i think so, too. american people want it. i think people in both parties want some sort of deal. they don't want to go over this cliff. >> it will be catastrophic without it. >> well, let's hope you're right, guys. appreciate that. good to see you both. >> thank you, alex. west coast headlines are next with a celebration three days after election day.
also a fascinating assessment of what re-election victory means to president obama from the man who wrote his biography. in office politics, what did the election say about america? you're going it hear from pew hi pew hits r /* /- -- pulit -- a winter wonderland doesn't just happen. it takes some doing. some coordinating. and a trip to the one place with the new ideas that help us pull it all together. from the things that hang and shine... ...to the things that sparkle and jingle. all while saving the things that go in our wallet. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. right now, get an assortment of martha stewart living ornamen,s free when you purchase select artificial trees.
petraeus on their front pages. the seattle times "governor elect jay inches lee let's get to work." and the press telegram in long beach, california has the story "you're fired" with an article on the lakers dismissal of second year coach mike brown. in this week's office politics, the "washington post's" pulitzer prize winning column eugene robinson. we talked about the election night speeches and how president can better reach across the aisle in his second term. i talked to him about his election takeaway. >> the big takeaway from me, this is the america of today. the voters who really turned out and turned out enthusiastically, the electorate was a different electorate from that which the republicans expected. it was the electorate of the new america. more minorities, especially more latinos. women came out. we knew women would come out in large numbers but came out
apparently in of issues that the romney campaign frankly didn't quite get. the obama campaign team understood what the electorate would look like, and the romney team did not. >> it is a divided country ideal logically. there are divisions that are still going to have to be healed. 55 million or so people voted for president obama, 53 million and change voted against him. right? so those 53 million people are going to have to be persuaded. and are going to have to be brought along. but i don't -- wouldn't use the word fractured for the country so much as just an evolving country, a changing country. but it's a different-looking country. it's a different-feeling
country. it's a different-sounding country. we speak more in spanish now than we used to. and i think that creates a lot of anxiety in some people. it's difficult for some people to deal with. but that's the way it is. >> how about mitt romney's concession speech? did it hit the points it needed to? did it do anything to bring those 53 million and change back into the tent happily so? >> i thought it was a very good concession speech. number one, it was brief. and it was gracious. he began by congratulating president obama. he ended by saying he's going to pray for the president and his success. i thought it was a very good and classy way to leave the campaign. and frankly to leave campaigning. because i doubt that mitt romney will work on -- will run for anything again. >> his wife has said as much.
>> exactly. and it was very interesting. president obama in his acceptance speech mentioned governor romney and the fact that he would have further conversations with the governor about ways in which we might work together. now, that could just be nice words, but i kind of hope they do. >> well, you hope they do. because this president has been accused at times of not necessarily going that route and opening the discussion with those who oppose his ideology. so if he talked about learning something from this election, is that one of the things he may have learned? >> i hope so. i hope. so because frankly, he needs to reach out sometimes in a more personal way, in a more human way, to those who really do disagree with him. he doesn't have to give up his values or his ideas, but yes,
establish that sort of connection. especially with the business community. because there's a lot of antipathy toward the president in the business community, whether it's rational or irrational it's there. and in fact, how would you rather do your economic recovery? with the support of the business community or with their opposition? i'd rather have them on my side. and i think the president should go out of his way now that he has won a second term to bring them into the fold. >> we'll have more of our conversation tomorrow at noon. we are going to talk about whether this election handed president obama some political capital and what a fractured gop would mean for the country. republicans reassessing their policy on immigration. will voters believe the second look is genuine? in america today we're running out of a vital resource we need to compete on the global stage.
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atlanta ranks second, minneapolis third. a recent survey shows people are hanging onto their cars longer than of these days. thus the average age of a car on the road is an all-time high of almost 11 years. and the car that's kept the longest, volvo, just over seven years. second on the list by -- jaguar, buick and mitsubishi tie for third at just less than seven years. 707 reporting for duty. >> where the hell have been? >> ebb joying death. >> "sky fall" hitting the u.s. after making boffo bucks overseas and becoming the year's biggest moneymaker in the u.k. it is expected to dominate the weekend box office with a take between 70 and $80 million, good enough to set a new record for bond openings. those are your number ones on "weekends with alex witt." [ male announcer ] in blind taste tests, even ragu users chose prego.
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go to oralb.com for the latest offers. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." at the half hour, a new report out today about who knew what and when in the surprising resignation of cia director david petraeus in which he cited his own marital infidelity. there are mixed reports on when the white house learned that the four-star general had a potentially serious problem, but military officials reported they had some suspicion of infidelity for several years. earlier today i spoke to washington national correspondent greg miller who wrote that article. >> white house officials insist they did not learn about that david p david petraeus had a big problem on his hand until monday. petraeus lays it outside, then president obama accepts the resignation on friday.
if there were any national security implications of this fbi investigation into the e-mail, then that would have required some prior notification to somebody in the white house. if you're a cia director is in a situation that is creating a national security issue, then there's no way that the fbi doesn't let the white house know about that well in advance. >> joining me now for today's strategy talk, former democratic congressman martin frost and former republican congressman tom davis. gentlemen, welcome back. good to see you both. >> thanks. >> thank you. good to be with you. >> mr. frost, how do you read the timing of all this? >> alex, i don't know any of the snds information. i saw general petraeus about two weeks ago in washington, d.c. at the premiere of the new movie "argo" about the cia. but i don't know any of the information behind all this. he is a highly respected general tactician, a highly respected person in the intelligence
community. i think it's a real loss for the country. >> okay. representative davis, david petraeus was as much the republicans' man as he was president obama's, if not more so. does that make this an apolitical issue? i mean if there is such a thing in washington? >> yeah, there's no question he tran senn transcended party lines. tremendous loss to the country. irony here you have the fbi investigating the cia. this is made for movie. but very sad all the way around. >> representative frost, here's something looking ahead. as david petraeus may not be testifying about benghazi next week. however, that investigation will continue. do you have any concerns on how this investigation might evolve for the administration? >> well, the republicans have to be careful. i mean, they're in charge of the house representatives. they'll be in charge of the investigation. they have to be careful not to poe lit size this. it's a legitimate questions about what happened, why the ambassador wasn't better protected. let's find out the truth. but i think making this into a
partisan witch hunt doesn't serve anybody's interest. >> okay. let's move onto the fiscal cliff, gentlemen. and representative davis, we have president obama and speaker boehner. they're both talking fiscal cliff. republicans are doubling down on their refusal to raise taxes. most economists agree, though, there's simply no way to cut the deficit without raising some taxes. does the gop have to change its tune or amend it in some way? >> i don't think you can solve this without getting into entitlements, either, which is where the democrats have been slow to move. everybody is going to have to come to the center. but everybody has a mandate. the speaker is re-elected the house republican majority is re-elected. they lost a few seats. the president's re-elected. he lost three points over the last time. the senate harry reid had the best night of all. they all have mandates. they've got to come together on this. but nobody's going to jam anything down anybody's throat when everybody thinks they have a mandate. i think we have to understand that. so it's going to take a little while. my suspicion is that they will find some offsets immediately to
kick this can down the road a couple months where they can sit down and figure out and maybe do it right. >> do you agree with that? the timing? do you think this will get done, sir, before the deadline, representative frost? or do you think going to kick the can down the road? >> i think what's going to happen, they're going to do a combination of things. the republicans offered some legislation in august setting up what's called fast track procedures for tax reform, segment definite deadlines, waiving some of the procedural things that slow things down in the house and senate. i suspect that will be a central part of the deal. and i think there'll be some offsets in terms of revenue and some additional tax revenue, not a lot, but something not increasing the rates but eliminating some deductions. there'll be something. there'll be a package that will get this on past the deadline. i don't think we're going to go over the cliff. i think that there'll probably be about a six-month period. and the parties better figure this out. because i think the country is about out of patience. they'd better do something before the end of the year.
they can't fall off the cliff. so there'll be a deal. we'll see what the parameters of that are. but look for some sort of fast track procedures to bring tax reform onto the floor of the house and senate sometime in the next six months as a central part of this deal. >> alex, they'll put a bridge. what they'll do is they'll get a bridge. they'll have a bridge to get through. this the big issues have to be kicked down. you don't want them making these decisions just very quickly. that's how we got into this current situation. >> okay. so appreciate that comment relative to the timing. i want to ask you, though, quickly representative davis, almost every republican guest we talk to says this election shows republican party needs to reach out to minority voters and reassess its immigration policy. but would voters buy that as being genuine or just being done for political expediency? >> immigration is a part of it. first of all, this wasn't goldwater. the republicans still hold the house. they got 48% of the vote
nationally. they performed better than four years ago. but among the two fastest-growing groups, young people and hispanics, the mold is starting to harden a little bit and they're having some trouble. they better figure that out. immigration is a piece of that. economic is a piece of that. the republicans are going to have to just i think open up themselves to say come on into our party. be a little more welcoming and make some adjustments in those areas. immigration is a piece of it. it's not the total piece. >> representative frost -- >> alex, i'm just saying it is a major piece. when romney got to the right of newt gingrich and to rick perry on the immigration issue he was in real trouble. republicans have got to figure this out. i'm a democrat. i'm not going to offer them any advice on how they do it but they better figure it out or we're going to be the minority party for long time. >> may i ask you, representative frost, remember back in 2004, president bush said in his first post election press conference that he had won political capital and that he intended to
spend it. with a divided congress this time around, did this president win any capital? >> well, certainly he did. i mean, he got re-elected. he got over 300 electoral votes as you know. we picked up two seats in the senate, picked up seven seats in the house. he has some capital, not unlimited. but i think the president is very serious about wanting to do something about the economy. i think that the republicans, if they are smart, they will find some middle ground. if they don't, are going to be in real trouble. i think the president has capital but only a limited amount. he will spend it hopefully wisely to get a deficit reduction deal passed. but i agree with tom, you don't want this thing done on the fly in the next month and a half. you can do some stopgap measures, but this is too serious and it needs to be done over the next year, perhaps the next six months with both parties participating. >> alex, rather than spending capital i think he needs to be very diplomatic about this, get
people together in the mood where this isn't a us versus them. remember the 2014 elections started on wednesday. we don't want to get into that mode. we want to get some decisions made. and i think getting up there and taking a hard political line is probably not where you want to be. you want to get people in the back room where they can focus on the country for a few months. >> couldn't we have waited for that election talk until monday? >> alex, the key is going to be whether speaker boehner, who i think is a very decent guy, can get the far right wing and the republican caucus in the house to listen, to be reasonable. that's a real challenge for him. i don't envy him in that. but he's got to bring them around. >> that was clearly his challenge last time around, too, when that deal fell through that he had with the president. >> the president's got to be reasonable, too. they both have to come to the middle. >> i think the president will be reasonable. >> i've got to be reasonable. otherwise it's not going to be good with my producer. thanks so much for your time, gentlemen. thank you. president obama and what role is re-election playing in his biography. that is coming up. if you are one of the millions of men
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new developments following tuesday's election in florida disappointing news. republican congressman allen west with democrat patrick murphy currently leading in the district 18 house race, a judge issued a defeat for congressman west friday turning down his request to impound ballots and voting machines. in arizona the former aid to gabby giffords who won a special election seat earlier this year has pulled slightly ahead of his republican opponent. democrat incumbent ron barber says he believes he has the votes to win with absentee and provisional ballots still uncounted. and in california long time republican congressman mary bono mack just conceded late last night losing her seat to her democratic challenger.
in his first post election weekly address, president obama emphasized his plan to extend middle class tax cuts and reduce the deficit. his measured tone today different from an emotional moment that came on the heels of an exhaustive campaign. here's the president thanking his campaign workers. >> because of you guys [ inaudible ] that what i'm doing is important. i'm really proud of that. i'm really proud of you. and what you just did -- [ cheers and applause ] >> joining me now, associate editor of the "washington post" and author of "barack obama the story." david, welcome. thanks for joining me. >> great to be with you, alex. >> i want to first up get your reaction to that tape that we just played of the president tearing up there. is that unexpected given the man that you know from all your exhaustive research and who you
followed? >> well, he doesn't show that sort of emotion very often. but the circumstances explained it completely. i mean, he was very tired. he was emotional from the win. and he was thinking back on his own life. he had just run his last campaign and won it and was thinking -- he was in chicago. that's where it all started for him as a community organizer. and he was looking at young people and thinking about his own journey. and so all of that added up to a fairly rare but very emotional moment for him. >> in a new "washington post" column, you write "since he first thought about being president, a notion that came to him relatively late compared with most politicians, he has wanted to be a great one. when he stepped onto the stage tuesday night he realized he has that chance." does a second term guarantee greatness for him in any way? >> it certainly doesn't guarantee it, no. second terms are often very
troubled. you're a lame duck at some point, and there can always be -- every presidency comes with unexpected events. a campaign is one thing. and then the years that follow present something entirely else. but what it does do is offer them that full opportunity. it's very rare for a one-term president to be considered great. and in president obama's case, the major initiative of his first term would have been vulnerable had he lost the health care reform. now that will go into law. so that's the start. and secondly, i think that he was learning on the job so much in his first term with a relative lack of experience as an administrator, as an executive. and he is someone who learns and grows. so i think that he does have the chance for greatness in his second term. >> there are those who will say, though, he was re-elected. and i actually spoke with eugene robinson i know you know. he said that he believes that the issue of race is not that relevant any longer with his
re-election. and you in fact write that he has a sophisticated understanding of race in america but does not define his presidency in those terms. talk about that. >> well, i think that gene is absolutely right. but had he lost it might have raised that specter again in a way that obama as a person and as a president has not -- has not wanted to make a big deal. he's always thought of himself by far as a president first and as an african-american president second. but nonetheless, he's understanding of the racial realities of america and also of the fact that this time he wouldn't have been re-elected had it not been for the african-american vote. so i think even in that sense you will see a little more action or direct relationship to african-american issues in the second term. >> in your column you also say a colleague asked you about your latest biography. and were you proud of it at some
level. and you write about the book "i just studied his life and tried to figure him out. and in that sense yes, i felt a sense of pride for him. i could see the uncommon arc of his life, what he had overcome, all of the contradictionses that he had tried to resolve, what had burned notice hburned insid what he was aiming at and he just might get there." where do you think he wants to get? where is that point for him? >> he wants to get to a point where he is remembered in history as a great president, not just as the first african-american president. he wants to get to a point where what has happened during the eight years that he's president actually changes the country in a way that history will determine was for the better. and he wants to make his mark in that sense. he's always -- he's not the sort of just wants to survive. he wants to do something grand. and that sometimes gets him in trouble. often during his first term it didn't help him to be that way.
but he's always looking in the longer term. >> may i ask you about the rhythm that you write about as well, that he marches to the beat of his own drummer. and it can be unconventional at times. he may seem slow to pick up on something, but he's methodical once he does, right? >> yeah. you know, there were various times during his first term when his liberal supporters were very frustrated by him thinking why isn't he defining the issues more clearly? why isn't he confronting the republicans more strongly? various times there were frustrations of that sort. and i can use an example, the repeal of don't ask don't tell if his eventual support of gay marriage. there was a lot of anger towards him in the first two years because he promise today make those changes. but he was trying to figure it out and get the military on his side and have the support of the country as he brought them along. and once it happened, that
frustrations of the past sort of evaporate. and i think during this campaign you saw several times where people were wondering what is he doing? especially in that first debate. in that case he simply was not doing well. but he figured that out as well and came out in front. >> all right. well, it's good it speak with you. we certainly enjoy the book. thank you so much for your time. >> thank you, alex. four days after the election, who holds the cards in washington? my conversation with jonathan alter next. [ male announcer ] this is sheldon, whose long dy setting up the news starts with arthritis pain and a choice. take tylenol or take aleve, the #1 recommended pain reliever by orthopedic doctors. just two aleve can keep pain away all day. back to the news. you walk into a conventional mattress store, it's really not about you. we have so much technology in our store to really
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i'm committed to solving our fiscal challenge. >> i think we both understand that trying to find a way to avert the fiscal cliff is important for our country. and i'm hopeful that productive conversations can begin soon so that we can forge an agreement that can pass the congress. joining me now is msnbc political analyst and bloomberg view columnist jonathan alter who's also the author of "the promise." welcome, jonathan, glad you're here. >> hi, alex. >> as we listen to both of the sound bites, it does not sound like the gop is willing to compromise on tax hikes for the very rich. i mean, how much political leverage do republicans have at this point? >> not much. and if they want to wait until after the fiscal cliff, after the first of the year they will have fewer members of the senate and fewer members of the house. they still have control of the house, which lives boehner cards to play. he's the man on the hot seat. he's got to deal with his very conservative republican caucus. but if he can come to an
agreement with president obama -- and remember july of 2011 they were just a hair away from an agreement -- then he can get all those 200 democrats in the house to go along with him. and he doesn't need his entire caucus, just a few of them. so this is doage. the number of ways of getting it done. and the president has the whip hand. the reason being that if january 1nd comes and goes, everybody's taxes go up. and constituents go a little crazy like why are all of our taxes being raised right now. so the president is saying for 98% of you we'll let you continue to pay at the same rate you do now. it's only that top 2% that he argued about so much during the campaign and he does have a mandate to ask people like you and me to pay a little bit more. >> what about the level of compromise that he might be willing to offer in terms of
that number slide? as we've spoken before, tim kaine, he gets elected to the senate, he was talking about the number 500,000 as being that threshold. do you think that's where compromise might come, just in the amount? >> there could be compromise on that. whether it's 1 million, 500,000, 250,000, who above that should pay more. you could also see compromise ironically on a proposal that mitt romney made in the second -- first debate, very vague but nonetheless something that some democrats are quite interested in. which is instead of trying to tackle these very popular tax deductions, like the deduction for charitable giving or for home mortgages, that instead what they would do is cap the percentage of your income that you can deduct. and basically take more out of the hide of the wealthy that way and say, you know what, if you give away half of your income to
charity that doesn't mean you get taxed at half the rate. there's a cap on what you can deduct, which would have the effect of raising taxes on wealthier people without actually raising the top tax rate back to 39.6%. >> if we don't have a resolution by january 1st or 2nd as the absolute deadline is, who do you think is in a better position to blame the other guy? >> well, they'll all just point fingers at each other. but there's not another election for two years. so this is not meaningful. you know, the real question here is whether republicans are going to be willing to stand up to the gr grover nor vifquists of the wor and say in history you have to respect the results of the election and you have to
compromise. in both democratic and republican audiences, romney and obama audiences, the big applause line in the last few weeks of the campaign was when there was talk of bipartisanship an compromise. and any politician in washington, i don't care how right wing they are, who doesn't get that is not going to be around for very much longer. >> okay. well, i'm glad you will be around for awhile as always. thank you very much, jonathan alter. we'll see you again. stick around for this. breaking news for all of you. nbc is now able to make a call for the presidential election in the state of florida and project president barack obama as the winner there. since tuesday florida had three counties still counting absentee ballots. their deadline was noon today. once again, nbc news is now projecting barack obama as the winner in florida. and that brings the total electoral college for the president to 332 while mitt romney finishes the elections with 206. we'll be right back here on "weekends with alex witt." stay with us. if you think running a restaurant is hard,
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good day to all of you. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." it is 1:00 right on the nose here in the east. 10:00 a.m. out west. we're going to get to what's happening right now. once again to reiterate our breaking news. nbc is now able to make a call for the presidential election in the state of florida and project barack obama as the winner there. since tuesday, florida had three counties still counting absentee ballots. their deadline was noon today. so once again, nbc news is now projecting barack obama as the winner in florida. that brings the total electoral college for the president to 332 while mitt romney finishes the election with 206. we're going to bring you more from florida in just a bit. now let's get to some new details about the surprise resignation of cia director david petraeus. the four-star general admitted to an extramarital affair in his resignation letter to the
president. law enforcement officials tell nbc news pet race us's biographer paula broadwell is under fbi investigation for improperly trying to access his e-mail and possibly gaining classified information. meanwhile cia deputy director michael morell will serve as acting director. joining me now senior national correspondent for daily news and the daily beast. welcome, eli. >> thanks for having me. >> may i ask what implications there are as to what exactly paula broadwell was trying to do when she allegedly accessed general petraeus's e-mail? >> paula broadwell has chosen not to talk to the media yet. but what the allegations are is that not only was she having an affair with the director but that she was trying and she had access in some ways to his personal g mail account. that g mail account is not the same as the classified cia e-mail, but it can provide the kinds of details that would be extremely interesting to america's adversaries such as
his travel schedule, rumors about other sort of senior officials in the obama administration, and other personal details of the director's life that really would be a security risk if they got into the hands of say the chinese military or something like that. >> right. eli, at first it appeared that david petraeus resigned as a matter of honor and respect for the cia and his position there. but some are now saying he was trying to get ahead of this fbi investigation. but would that change anything? >> well, the question here becomes was there another news outlet, was there potentially another person who knew of this. who was either using this as blackmail or was prepared to come out with the information and petraeus wanted to get ahead of that. or is this really what it appears sort of coming out this weekend right now, which is that there was an extra marital affair which is bad enough for somebody who has had distinguished military career complicated by the fact he's a cia director and there could
have been concerns about his g mail account or access to kind of classified material that would have been breached in that sort of personal relationship. >> the general view of david petraeus up until yesterday was really as an unassailable military leader. i mean from both sides. was there any indication from your sources that that wasn't the case? i mean, relative to what was happening here? >> well, listen. i think that great men can have great flaws. and his military reputation for the most part will i think remain intact, depending at least how iraq goes. and that will not necessarily depend on this current scandal. but anytime you have somebody of the stature of a david petraeus and with the kind of career and senior government positions he's had in the military and now in the cia, his fall is going to be a major stray. it does not necessarily take away in any way from his success and innovations as a military leader. >> what else it doesn't take away from is his ability to be familiar with the information relative to benghazi.
do you expect that he will appear on capitol hill? i mean, what would prevent him from testifying as scheduled about the benghazi affair? >> right now the word is that he will not be testifying and michael morell, who will be assuming the directorship will testify in his stead. but if david petraeus is out of government -- his congressional testimony would have been vetted in some ways by the white house. this may cust both ways. you may not see him next week in those closed hearings testifying on benghazi but he may find at some other point he is going to come forward and say what he knows or thinks about it at some other point when he's just a private citizen. >> eli lake, thank you. >> thank you. more reaction to the resignation of general petraeus coming up in our next hour. craig melvin will be speaking with new york congressman peter king chairman of the house committee on homeland security.
let's go now to the fiscal cliff. bipartisan talks will begin next friday at the white house. they hope to find compromise on the issue that has divided d.c. for years. nbc correspondent mike viqueira is joining me now live. another good saturday to you, my friend. >> good morning to you, alex. >> is there any common ground between the the parties? do you see any? >> reporter: both sads say they want compromise. but there doesn't seem to be any common ground on the one key issue that is going to hold this thing back and might take us into christmas or past the deadline. that is the tax rate for the wealthy. you remember the president campaigned on letting the bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy. keeping it for the lower 98% of american incomes. but for the wealthy as defined by over $250,000 a year for a couple, the president wants to let that rise. house republican john boehner, the republican speaker of the house, says absolutely not. taxes will not rise. it cannot pass the congress. it cannot pass the house. probably can't pass the senate in his estimation. he's digging in his heels.
he says we can raise revenues, taxes on the wealthy by closing loopholes. that's the appreciate thoach tho take. there's a lot at stake here if we go over that fiscal cliff. it sounds so ominous because it is. a half a trillion dollars in extra taxes for american families over the course of just one year alone. add to that the cuts in defense and domestic spending $1 trillion over ten years and the cbo estimates the unemployment rate will shoot up to 9.1%. we could go back into another recession. some democrats are encouraging the president to stick to his guns. john yarmouth is one of those. >> if you look behind what they're saying, they're not willing to compromise in any way that touches wealthy americans. i'm not at all set on $250,000. i think that is a number that really is probably the wrong number. when i've had conversations with
the white house i don't know why they're stuck on it. it's hard to compromise ideology but you can compromise dollars. >> reporter: key players here, house speaker john boehner, president obama, all of the congressional leadership as you reported, alex, will be here at the white house to sit down for the first time and try to hash this thing through before it's too late. >> i know you'll be watching and covering that for us. thank you so much, mike viqueira. let's bring in our journalist panel now. welcome to both of you. >> good to see you, alex. >> perry, i want to talk about the other big story out of washington with the president saying he's committed to working with congress to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. but he also said this on friday. here it is. i'm sorry. we're going to bring that to you a bit later. i'm just going paraphrase what he said. he said i'm not going to ask students and seniors and middle class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me making over a quarter of a million dollars aren't asked to
pay a dime more in taxes. he's not going to do that. how far do you think the president is ready to go, perry, with a deal with republicans if he's not willing to back down on raising taxes on the wealthiest americans? >> i think he's fairly determined and feels like he has a mandate after the election to press for higher taxes on the wealthy. i think there's room to negotiate here. you saw john boehner this week. he kept saying he was opposed to increases in tax rates. but he wasn't opposed to increases in taxes on the wealthy somehow. closing loop holes. i think there's room here to increase taxes on the wealthy without introducing tax rates. i think you're going to see the two sides negotiate on those grounds and come together. this sort of opening argument this week was boehner saying no taxes, the president saying no i have to have tax increases. they're going to come to some kind of discussion and details and then there probably is room to negotiate as we get closer. >> okay. christina, let's take a listen to house speaker boehner who also spoke on friday. here's what he said. >> everyone wants to get our economy moving again. everyone wants to get more
americans back to work again. raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want. >> christina, is there any sense that some republicans could be willing to break rank and support some kind of tax increase for the wealthiest americans? >> well, there's a couple of el elements at play. one thing is that none of this will be determined public, right? if the president and john boehner were able to get that room and hammer out a deal and just sign it maybe they can get something done. each has a lot of factions to get done. john boehner is in an interesting position given some members of his republican caucus have lost their seats and they're looking at a lame duck. so some of the things you're hearing from capitol hill now are figure out a quick fix, a patch for the end of the year, and then really sit down at the table and try to negotiate on those numbers. that $250,000 number, that's exactly the point. that could definitely slide. and that's an area where you think the white house is
probably a little bit more willing to negotiate. >> what do you think ultimately this is going to come down to, perry? is it going to be who's going to blink first? >> yes. it will come down to who's going to blink first. i don't think the president is going to blink on his insistence that some taxes will go up for the wealthy. i don't think he's going to blink on that. i think he thinks the elections drove him toward a position. he's won that argument. it looks like the republicans are going to have to negotiate along those lines. the key factor as christina was noting as well is those house republicans in particular, the tea party.republicans, they feel they have a mandate not to increase taxes still. they feel like they've won their elections on that ground as well. there's where the question comes in. how much can boehner influence the other republicans in his caucus to appreciate some kind of deal? holding debt ceiling debate they were not willing to compromise until the very end, those house republicans. >> christina, what's your best predictions? do you think a deal will get done before january 1st?
>> nothing impacts people like a threat. the fiscal cliff. that does sort of push people toward action. what's interesting to me is looking at how the white house is trying to motivate its grassroots supporters. they're using the white house e-mail list to tell people they want to keep them involved. the president is appearing with supporters behind him to be able to put sort of a middle class face on this tax fight. so i think you can expect the white house to really engage on this. are going to have to figure something out. of course it will be at the very last minute because this is washington, thus is congress and that's what they do. >> to you, perriry, with florida's vote now in and the president having won the election with the electoral vote at 332 to mitt romney's 206. you look at this and jonathan alter was sitting with me and he said that is a landslide in his categorization of it. does this put the president and also democrats in a much better position for bargaining? like they really have the upper hand? >> ultimately you can only tell
how big your mandate is by what actually happens. we'll see later on how much republicans are willing to compromise. but yes, the election results electoral college-wise were resounding. they're going to make the republicans have challenges winning in 2016. suggest the democrats have a structural advantage in the electoral college. it gives the president who went around the country saying i'm going to raise taxes on the wealthy, giving him a big card to play on there. he says i ran on this issue throughout the campaign. i said it for two years and now i'm going to do it. it does challenge the republicans on this one issue in particular. >> christina, any chance the republicans could overplay their hand with this? >> sure. don't forget the democrats only control one chamber of congress. not even by that big of a margin even though they did perform very well on tuesday night and a little better than expected in a lot of democratic circles. so the president really has to carefully negotiate with the house republicans. that's where the bill is going to probably originate. that's where you'll have to negotiate a deal. then harry reid which is have to be responsible for getting the
democrats to go along with something that will be palatable to enough of the senate republicans. that's why i'm watching immigration reform and the prospects for that. it wasn't totally unexpected the president was going to capture it given the results trickling in over the last few days. the republicans are really trying to get a sense of where they can go on this issue and if they can reclaim an advantage among -- some strength with hispanic voters that george w bush had. >> he did have a little bit certainly by perspective. so good to see you both. thank you. in just a moment we'll further conversation by talking with a house budget committee member who will have a say about the fiscal cliff. meantime you're watching "weekends with alex witt." a winter wonderland doesn't just happen.
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president obama has invited house speaker john boehner and senate majority leader harry reid to the white house next week to avoid the fiscal cliff. january 1st the fiscal cliff could have a big impact on your pocketbook and the economy. the lady whom we've just established is my home to us congresswoman up until now. with a good day to you. before we discuss the fiscal cliff i do want to ask you about david petraeus. you serve on the foreign affairs committee. what do you make of all this? >> well, i think it's just really sad for somebody that has had such an exemplary record to go down and leave in this way, i think it's sad.
but we do have to look at his career as a whole and not the failure of this last incident. >> do you agree with senator diane feinstein that petraeus's resignation was regrettable? or does the fbi investigation at all change that? >> well, i do think it was regrettable. but i also think that it was necessary. and who knows what the outcome of this will be? but with the issue of such importance as national security and whether or not that was compromised, i do think it was necessary. >> okay. from there, ma'am, we're going to go back to the economy. are we going to go over the fiscal cliff? >> you know what, i really don't believe that we will. and i don't believe that we will because the goal of the republican congress last year was to prevent the president from being re-elected. clearly that failed. i think the tone that boehner set in his speech a couple of days ago was very important. but to me there's two key questions. and one is, will his caucus allow him to be the speaker,
meaning will they continue to hold him and the country hostage to the notion that every single republican has to vote the same way? if some of the hard line tea party people are not going to vote for anything no matter what it is, so be it. let the speaker carve out 100 votes or so and make an alliance with the democrats. i think the president put forward a very clear message yesterday, which is continue tax cuts for middle class americans. 98% of the country, 97% of small businesses, that's the way we need to move forward. >> i want to look at california, if we can, and what they passed. because it's almost well you could look at it and say they could just be extrapolated for the whole country. they passed this ballot measure that raises income taxes on those making over $250,000 a year. is that the income level that you're targeting for the federal plan? >> well, absolutely. and california has suffered so greatly. i mean, when i served in the
state legislature our budget went from 110 billion to 83 billion. clearly california could not cut anymore without seriously compromising education. and so at a certain point you have to recognize there's two ways to close a deficit. one is to cut, and one is to bring in revenue. and cutting you just can't do forever. and so the balanced approach that california has demonstrated is definitely the approach of the nation. >> are you surprised that california's passed this, though? because you have to couple that again with another i believe it was a quarter cent tax increase overall just state-wide on everything from 7.25 to 7.5? they both passed. >> right. no, no, no, i'm not surprised at all because of the devastation that the state has felt with cuts, particularly to education. i mean, k-12 education you now have classroom sizes increased, you have teachers that were laid off, you have the classroom year being cut back by potentially one to two weeks.
and so given the state of education and social services in california, i was not surprised that voters would do exactly what they did. and i'm very proud they did it. >> may i ask you to rather further define what you said that, you think we're going to reach some sort of an agreement. but will it be a permanent solution or might it just be a short-term measure like we saw in 2010? >> well, i wouldn't be surprised if it was a combination of both, meaning fit was a short-term measure just so that we don't go over the cliff but that clearly there was a pathway to a long-term measure. and i think that we won't be at such lager heads as happened over the debt ceiling. because i think that my republican colleagues learned. we compromised the fiscal health of our country over the antics that happened with the debt ceiling. and i know that they lost, they lost seats in the senate, they lost seats in the house. they were not able to capture the white house. i think it's really clear. and with the vote in from
florida and the president receiving now 300 -- what is it, 329 electoral votes? i mean, the message from voters in this country is clear. >> all right. democratic congresswoman from southern california, karen bass, my kindred spirit, l.a. girl. thank you so much. >> thank you for having me on. with the 2012 election being the most expensive ever, there were a lot of donor dollars that pretty much went down the drain. consider billionaire gop backer sheldon adelson dropping $53 million on the election and only one of his eight candidates won. that being a republican congressman in nevada. karl rove totally struck out. the night foundation says his two republican super pacs forked out about $175 million and not one of their backed candidates won. ouch! ♪ [ male announcer ] the way it moves. the way it cleans. everything about the oral-b power brush is simply revolutionary.
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thursday, and counting the beans our three big money headlines. joining me now a retail and economy analyst and with a welcome back to you. >> good to see you, alex. >> let's talk about this brand-new survey which show that is consumer confidence is at its highest since july 2007. what's this telling you about the growth of the economy? >> the economists i've spoken to said that the economy is at the slow growth pace. but you wouldn't think it from the look at this consumer sentiment index here. it came in at 84.9. and economists were expecting it to come in at 82.9. some of the reasons why, the consumers are feeling better about the unemployment rate. gasoline prices are starting to come down. home values are starting to rise. so they're feeling better about that. but analysts are saying that because of this fiscal cliff they might start to feel a little bit jittery. i like to look at the consumer expectation index, which really projects out how that consumer is going to feel in six months from now. that came in at 80.8.
the highest point since july of 2007. >> some of those people may eagerly anticipating the holiday sales. >> walmart is capitalizing on all the people that want to get away from their families and go shopping early. they're opening their doors on thanksgiving at 8:00 p.m. so they're going to be able to -- the reason why they're doing that is that they're trying to take away market share from competitors like kohl's and target. they also have a lot of inventory in their shelves. and a lot of these analysts were saying that because of sandy they might have a lot of overinventory. they'll be able to get rid of that. but the prices on some of that stuff, i think there was a 12-cup coffeemaker there priced at $9.94. i could probably use something like that. >> me, too. we can share that. what about the deal with mcdonald's having dropped earnings expectations first time in nine years? what are they doing to fix that? >> mcdonald's actually in addition to having earnings drop in the first time in nine years, sales also plummeted because of the global slowdown. what they're trying to do now,
they have this new menu that came out that really targeted higher prices, new like refined menu with better beef. now they're trying to focus on that dollar menu. they want to go back to that core customer and target that person. >> you know that $12 coffeemaker? it might be good. because the price of coffee has fallen but not in toempls what we pay. what's that about? >> i know you're a fan of starbucks. i am, too. starbucks is not going to drop their prices. wholesale prices have dropped, but because of the reason why is because columbian production is going gang bust ers. but brazilian production in 2012 had 6.6 billion poubds of production of coffee if you could believe it. starbucks, they raised their prices 1% last year and they raised it 17% in 2011. >> all right. but we addicts continue paying. it is what it is. thank you. straight ahead, could the
...saving on your medicare prescriptions is easy. ♪ so you're free to focus on the things that really matter. call humana at 1-800-808-4003. or go to walmart.com for details. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." developing now, nbc news is able to make a call for the presidential election in the state of florida and project president obamas as the winner there. florida had three counties still counting absentee ballots since tuesday. their deadline to turn them all in was noon today. nbc's sand carey sanders why did it take so long? >> i can't believe it's saturday and we're talking about this. but officially florida officials say obama has taken florida with 50% of the vote to romney's
49.1% of the vote. why did it take so long? well, there's a combination of factors. first of all, florida has early voting. now, previously it had been 14 days. but the republican governor rick scott cut it back to eight days. so that meant a lot of people who normally would have gone were unable to go. so if they didn't want to go stand in those ridiculously long lines that they expected were going to come, they chose to at the last minute do absentee ballots which take a lot longer to process. so you had already 2 million plus people on absentee ballots plus now people at the last minute filling out absentee ballots which sort of jammed the system up. then on the actual voting day you saw the overwhelming lines in florida. some people were still voting on tuesday at midnight, well past the close of 7:00 p.m. effectively what this means is that for those floridians their votes don't count. they count officially but they
don't mean much. but in the grand scheme of things here, you can see that florida remains a battle ground state. between the obama campaign and the romney campaign, it was second only to ohio the amount of money spent here, which was $192 million. and when you factor in all the people who actually went to the polls, waited in those lines, didn't go home and actually voted, when you take all that collectively, those campaigns spent about 20 plus dollars per person who voted here. >> oh, my gosh. >> florida will remain a battle ground state as we can see because it's so close. so four years from now you can expect the same amount of money or more will be spent to try to win votes here, alex. >> you know, kerry, when you gave timeline that people were still in line to vote and casting them at midnight, hadn't the election already been officially called by that point? i mean, that really is just insult to injury there. like i mean it's one thing if it's still under way. but it was done. >> yeah. there were voters there who
listening on their iphones or on their android phones who were watching reading results and they said you know what, i'm going to vote anyway. i know this is already done but i want to feel like i am participating. but as i said, effectively every person's vote in florida didn't really matter. so while it counted officially, it didn't count to the grand scheme of things. one thing that is interesting, though, by this tilting just to obama, the obama campaign, the president's campaign, took almost every one of the swing states. the only swing state that he didn't win was north carolina. >> yeah. very good point. all right. thank you so much, kerry sanders as always good to see you. well, let's go from florida now to california where taxpayers are about to take a bigger hit in their paychecks. and the majority of them seem to be happy about it. on tuesday, california voters passed proposition 30. that is the sales and income tax initiative championed by governor jerry brown. the measure raises income taxes for those making over 250,000
per year, and it raises the state sales tax a quarter of a%. joining me now is former california governor gray davis. nice to see you again. >> good to see you, alex. >> let's talk about proposition 30. is this the key to solving california's budget crisis? >> this will go a long ways to help. governor brown and the legislature cut $11 billion out of the budget last year. but i think the public decided that the path to prosperity is not through cuts alone. and they were convinced that there is a direct relationship between education and good jobs and a direct relationship between higher education and keeping innovative companies like apple, google, twitter, facebook, intel, qualcomm, i could go on and on, in our state offering high-paying jobs. so they were willing to tax themselves, i believe, for those reasons. >> i asked this question of representative karen bass who joined me just a few minutes ago there, democrat representative from southern california. and i said, do you think now that the nation should look to california because she says californians got it.
they knew we were in a dire financial crisis in the golden state. they didn't mind. they said we have to fix this. does the president now take that and say, look what they did in california? >> well, there's no question that we're used to starting things out here, alex. sometimes good, sometimes not so good. and i would encourage every state to take a look and see if it makes sense for them. but there's something special in our dna out here. we really believe in education and higher education. we really are proud that silicon valley is here. all the electronics companies were back in chicago after world war ii. but because stanford and berkeley started finding ways to commercialize academic invasion, we have more universities than any other state. that's why people want to come out here. i always say when you're born in the east in new york like i was you want to join a company. in california you want to start a company. >> we flip. i'm an l.a. girl and i'm living here. >> you're still welcome to visit
us. >> oh, and i come often no doubt to see my parents. but let's talk about one of jerry brown's main tactics in getting this tax increase passed. because you mentioned academics which immediately brings to mind the youth vote. they came out in large numbers here. can you explain that tactic? >> yes. very simple. their tuition was going up. big time. it had been going up 7 to 10% a year for the last ten years. some of our state colleges were capped in enrollment which has never happened before. lots of teachers k-12 were fired. so i think there was a combination of self-interest and altruism. without getting too hokey, i mean, i came to california because people found a way to build great universities, roads, they brought the water from the north where it rains down to the south which is semiarid so we could grow in this part of the state. so a lot of people invested money in the future realizing they wouldn't get an immediate benefit but their children and grandchildren would. so i think part of that is, we want to make sure the next generation has a chance to succeed as well. >> among the criticisms that
might come from those who oppose this tax hike will be that the old concept that it's going to hurt businesses. is there a downside that way? >> well, there's no increase on corporate taxes. but i realize some small businesses pay personal income tax. i'm sure some people will leave. but i think others will come. and if you've been out here lately, alex, you can tell that we have the shortest school year in the country. we are 47th in per capita spending on education, meaning only two states spend less. that's not the path to being the fifth largest economy which we were when i was governor. and it's certainly not the path to being the global leader in innovation. so i think people got it and really decided it was in their self-interest to tax themselves. >> now the only thing i would suggest now focusing on would be transportation. i tell you the traffic jams? not so much. >> we've we've still got problems. no question >> yes. all right, well, former california governor gray davis, very good to see you. thank you so much. >> great to see you.
♪ [ male announcer ] life brings obstacles. usaa brings advice. call or visit us online. we're ready to help. it could be yet another reason americans re-elected president obama. a new gallup poll just before the election shows more americans feeling better about their lives than they did about four years ago. about 51% say they are tlooifg. 45% say they are struggling. now when president obama took office more th53% of americans said they were struggling. 42% said they were thriving. big three in today's topics, aftermath who holds the cards and best week worst week. national reporter for the
atlantic molly ball, democratic strategist morris reid and republican strategist and msnbc contributor susan dell perce pe >> molly, you've travel add lot with the ram any campaign. from everything i've read they were shocked at the loss. how did they misread the electorate so much? >> they did think from the polling to just sort of believing their own spin there was this sort of silent majority out there. they really thought that america was a different place than it turned out to be, that the electorate was different than it turned out to be. they didn't believe that all of these particularly minority voters were going to turn out for president obama in the numbers that they did four years ago. they really believed the democrats were much more discouraged and depressed than they turned out to be. and they got the shock of their lives on election night. >> susan, did mitt romney fail the republican party or did the republican party fail mitt romney? by that i mean did they force
him so far right in the primaries it was impossible for him to tack back to the center? >> that's always a candidate's choice as how far they want to go. because they know we're going to have to run on it and they know they'll be challenged on it. so that i believe leave to the candidate. but i also challenge in fact how much this campaign listened to talk radio. i think republicans have to start listening to the people who elect them, not the people who talk about them. so as we move forward we're starting to hear some changes on immigration. and i think we will see a deal on the fiscal cliff. but republicans have to hold strong. that's where they've lost their way, especially in that last election. >> it seems candidates like richard mourdock, today akin were gifts to the democrats. they came essentially from the tea party. how should mainstream republicans deal with this? >> they have to call out folks like that and they have to say what they said was wrong, and they also have to start saying we as a party what we need to say is that it's okay to agree 80% of the time and disagree 20%
of the time like ronald reagan said. the 20% disagreement is okay as long as we're standing strong on the 80%. >> morris on a scale of say 1 to 10, how big of a mandate was this for the president and the democratic party. or could democrats overinterpret the results and overplay their hand? >> listen, there's always a chance of overreaching. but anytime that a president is re-elected to a second term it's very clear that the american people are voting for that president on his given stance. it is very clear about what the president wanted to do in his second term. so i don't know that there's a mandate, but there's a clear message that the congress needs to work with this president who is the leader. >> okay. let's go from there and move onto our next topic, the fiscal cliff and who holds the cards there. the president wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest americans. republicans say they don't want to raise taxes on anyone. so molly, who holds the cards there? who do you think has the better leverage? >> there's a real sense
particularly among democrats that obama holds the cards here because if nothing is done everybody's tax will go up. and so therefore he doesn't actually have to make a deal, although everyone is hoping that both side come together. i get a sense that republicans are a little queasy, that they do realize they don't have as much leverage as they might like. democrats were very cheered by the president's statement yesterday when he came out still sounding like the sort of fired up guy of the campaign pointing out explicitly how much leverage he has and sort of reiterating what his position is on those tax cuts. so for a lot of nervous democrats who weren't sure if they were instead going to see the president who proved to be such a weak negotiator last year on the debt ceiling, they felt like he really came out strong this time. >> but susan, in past situations like this the president has had the upper hand. i mean notwithstanding that which molly was just pointing out. can't president portray the gop as obstructionist if the gop does not want it raise taxes on
the rich how can they appear not to be obstructionist? >> the gop is going to have to compromise. speaker boehner has said that. i think we're just going to hear different word choices. we're going to hear things like closing loop holes and about perhaps maybe changing that from 250,000 to 500,000 as defining wealthy. but republicans want to put this behind them. this congress is up for re-election in 24 months. so they want to get this done as quickly as possible and they will start changing it once they get a deal done they'll say they did tax cuts and they'll leave it to others to try to point out if they raised taxes. >> susan, in terms of what john boehner has said, he's given no indication that he's willing to compromise on raising taxes. i mean, loopholes is different. it's different ways of creating revenue but they are two distinctly different concepts. >> it's about getting revenue. at the end of the day. and they are different concepts. and they are interpreted differently by different types of people. some people say if you close a
loophole you're really raising taxes. republicans have to stand up to that kind of nonsense. that's not the case. and yes, we may see other things happen. he has to right now say he's opposed to it. he's not going to negotiate opp. >> okay. morris, how far do you think democrats are going to let the president go on compromising with that tax rate? that number, $250 thorks, do you think they are going to let them slide on raising taxes on more than $500,000, a million dollars a year? >> well, i think that the president has got flexibility on what he needs to do. it's just a fundamental issue that it cannot be completely one-sided. it has to be a balanced approach. i think if he really wants to do this -- because the pressure is on him, be too, alex. he has to focus on his legacy and get something done. he has to get outside the white house and perhaps bring this message to jacksonville, florida. what he's been effective at is when he takes these issues to the people and keeps the
people -- the press from the people on the republican but there's pressure on this president, too, because he has to deliver in these next four years. >> can you guys give me each one word answers to the prediction, will this happen by january 2nd? morris, you first. >> yes. >> oh, good. you did one word. susan? >> i can't do one word. >> oh, come on. >> they will basically create a bridge but most of the agreement will be done before the 1st. >> okay. molly? >> something may happen but it will only be a band-aid. >> morris, a one-word answer. >> i'm the only one who won. gl with me here. >> i want you all to come back. hear on "weekends with alex witt." i have a cold, and i took nyquil,
this week? >> the best i'm going to say, the guy rights movement. there were, of course, the four different ballot measures that they won on tuesday. but beyond that, there was a lot of stuff done the ballot, less notice, tommy baldwin becoming the first openly gay senator. there was a vote in favor of guy rights decision. so up and down the ballot, there are not a lot of happier people in america, outside of maybe the obama campaign, than the gay rights movement. >> your worst week goes to who? >> republican denial. we found out that the republicans were living in denial and it burst. it was interesting to see the recognition. there's not a lot of holdouts that are saying this isn't
reality. you see the republicans wandering, dazed through this new landscape. >> okay. let's get to morris. i always have to slightly brace myself for his picks, but what are they? >> well, my losers are the big money guys on the republican side who thought they were going to be able to buy the election, the koch brothers, adelson. they were my losers. >> okay. and the best? >> my winners were we the people. i'm here in and people have stood up, we came out and really voted. a lot of people didn't want people to vote this time around with the long lines. i think americans will be very, very proud of themselves that they turned out this election. >> that wasn't so out there. susan, what about yours? >> it again goes to turnout and in this case it goes to the youth vote. this is one group that republicans definitely thought they were not going to turn out
even close to the numbers in 2008 and showed up and there was a consistent voting bloc. and the worst is the hearings coming up and general petraeus. >> i agree with that. thank you, guys. that's a wrap of "weeken"weekenh alex witt". i'll see you here tomorrow at the same time. is simply revolutionary. oral-b power brushes oscillate, rotate and even pulsate to gently loosen and break up that sticky plaque with more brush movements than manual brushes and even up to 50% more than leading sonic technology brushes for a superior clean. oral-b power brushes. go to oralb.com for the latest offers.