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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  January 27, 2013 2:00pm-3:00pm EST

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to clean 50% more than a broom. t's a difference you can feel. swiffer gives cleaning a whole new meaning. and now swiffer wet and dry refills are available with the fresh scent of gain. from nbc news in washington, the world's longest-running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. good sunday morning. as the president begins his second term, will the white house and republican leaders figure out how to balance the budget, or will they lurch from showdown from showdown? and how will the economy respond to what is or is not accomplished here in washington? my exclusive guest this morning will have something to say about all of this. house budget chairman and the republican party's 2012 vice presidential nominee paul ryan here for his first live interview since the election. chairman, welcome back to "meet the press." >> great to be back with you. >> let's talk about this top priority of the budget battle. it will really mark the beginning of the president's second term. the debt ceiling has been raised, at least temporarily, but there are still big decisions to be made.
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you specifically said in the last few days that your priority is to make a big down payment on the debt. a debt crisis that you see in this country. >> that's right. >> what do you specifically require? what's the priority? what has the president got to do in your point of view? >> i'll just explain what the speaker said when we passed that bill. our goal is to get cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balancing the budget in a decade. we think the senate ought to offer a budget. they haven't passed a budget in four years, even though we have a law that says we need a budget every year. we haven't seen any solutions offered by the president on how to get the budget balanced, pay down the debt, and no budget in four years. we need to figure out how to grow the economy, how to get opportunity. and if we have a debt crisis like they had in europe, everybody gets hurt. that's what we want to avoid. >> last week, senator schumer said, we'll do a budget.
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>> great. finally. it's been four years. >> but this is what he said has to be in it. >> you're going to need more revenue as well as more cuts to get the deficit down. i've talked to leader reid. budget chair murray. we're going to do a budget this year, and it's going to have revenues in it. and our republican colleagues better get used to that. >> so this is still a fight between how much spending cuts and how much taxes. the president got his -- >> well, simpson-bowles said let's get rid of the high tax rates. the president doesn't seem to be in favor of that mpt you had $1 trillion in tax increases with obama care. he just got new tax increases at the beginning of this month. and now they are calling for even more tax increases, and they are not calling to cut spending. they are calling for spending increases. so basically what they're saying is, they want americans to pay
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more so washington can spend more. that's not going to help the economy, and that is not going to close the gap and balance the budget. the reason we want to balance the budget is not to make the numbers add up. we think that's necessary for growth and opportunity. we think it's necessary to make sure that our kids don't get this debt that they won't be able to handle if we keep going down the path we are on. >> but there are certainly those in the white house who would take issue with what you said or might even say to use your own criticism that's a straw man argument. they were prepared to cut additional spending to be part of a bigger agreement that republicans weren't able to agree to. there is more room for spending cuts. it's a matter of how you do it. >> i'm not so sure about that. as you know the president was insisting on more stimulus spending during the fiscal cliff negotiations. he didn't get that. they haven't put out a plan. the reason we wanted the debt limit extended was to showcase our budget. we will put a budget up that says here is our plan for economic growth and balancing the budget, entitlement reform which is necessary to save medicare from bankruptcy and get
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this debt under control. the president hasn't offered any of those kinds of plans in public. they tried to do back room deals, but those seem to fall apart. we want to debate it in public to contrast these visions. >> i want to keep up with some terms you're using here. you say the president wants to raise tax rates. a lot of the democrats i talked to and even the white house said they are willing to do tax reform where there could be additional revenue. are you opposed to any additional revenue that could come from tax reform? >> we offered that back in the fiscal cliff negotiations. the president got his additional revenues. that's behind us. those higher revenues occurred, and now we need to focus on getting spending down. >> here is the leverage question. senator schumer said we didn't just get our revenues. we got some. there has to be more that are part of it. the president will say that. so as you are -- >> are we for more revenue? no, we are not. >> even if it's from tax reform? >> if you keep raising revenues, you're not going to get different tax reform.
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i know you didn't want a chart, but i'm kind of a chart guy. this green line shows you historic taxes. the blue line is tax increases. the red line, where spending is going. spending is the problem. revenues aren't the problem. if you keep chasing higher spending with higher revenues as they're calling for, you're going to hurt economic growth. you'll never catch up. you'll shut down the economy and you won't get the budget down. >> when you were campaigning in virginia, a state you wanted to carry but didn't, you said, look, these sequestration cuts, these automatic spending cuts that are put in place because republicans and democrats can't agree, so you have to have this sword that comes down, you said we're not going to let those happen. those will not happen, those automatic spending cuts. well, now we have a new deadline coming up in a couple of months that says there's going to be more automatic spending cuts, the same ones that were in place before. >> that's right. >> are you going to let those happen? >> if mitt romney and i won the
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election, they would not have happened because we would have gone and worked with democrats and republicans in congress to put the budget on a path to balance and saved defense. i think the sequester is going to happen because that $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, we can't lose those spending cuts. and don't for get one other thing. i wrote legislation and passed it in the house twice to replace those sequesters with cuts in other areas of government. we have shown how to protect defense spending by cutting spending in other areas. in our budget last year, we did take money out of defense. just not nearly as much as the president seems to want to. but we think the sequesters will happen because the democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others and offered no alternatives. >> is this worth shutting the government down over? >> no one is talking about shutting the government down. >> well, it's a piece of the leverage that conservatives have. you didn't want to fight over the debt ceiling because you thought you can't do that, you have to pay the government's bills. do you think this fight over
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priority is worth shutting the government down? >> we're not interested in shutting the government down. what happens on march 1 is spending goes down automatically. march 27 is when the moment you're talking about, the continuing resolution expires. we are more than happy to keep spending at those levels going on into the future while we debate how to balance the budget, grow the economy, create economic opportunity. that's the kind of debate the country deserves. by the way, if we keep going down this path, we will have a debt crisis. it's not an if question. it's a when question. this isn't a republican or democrat thing. it's a math thing. we have to get serious with this problem if we want to save people from the problems that result from a debt crisis. >> let me challenge you from a critic further on the left. a lot of the centrist economists may disagree with you in some areas but agree about the impending debt crisis. some on the left disagree, calls you a deficit scold and worse than that. but the point is you're being
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alarmist about the deficit and its relationship to how the economy performs and grows. here's what he wrote in his column on friday. it was in fact a good thing that the deficit was allowed to rise as the economy slumped. with private spending plunging as the housing bubble popped, the willingness of the government to keep spending was one of the main reasons we didn't experience a full replay of the great depression. and the balance now between austerity, which he believes you call for, and appropriate investment on the part of the government is still a great tension. >> we can debate that. it's clear that doesn't work. we're not preaching austerity. we are preaching growth and opportunity. what we are saying is if you get our fiscal ship fixed, you preempt austerity. here's what a debt crisis is. it's what they have in europe, which is austerity. you cut the safety net immediately. cut retirement benefits for people already retired.
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slow down the economy, and young people don't have job. that's the austerity that comes with a debt crisis. if you keep stacking up trillion dollar deficits, it's bringing us to that moment. our goal is to prevent and preempt austerity to get back to growth. >> the question i have is who's really with? you a lot of the business community, natural allies, have kind of come around to the president's way of thinking saying, look, you know, get more revenues if you want them. raise tax rates if you need them. just get something done. silicon valley, a lot of the innovators in the country, big job creators, big idea people, not natural allies of your way of thinking. so that's the question. who's really with you? >> i don't know if i agree with that. they believe we should have tax reform. we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. we are taxing our small businesses at rates higher than corporations. when we tax our job creators more than our foreign competitors tax theirs, they win. we lose.
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>> he's not really for that. >> he says so, but he has yet to put out a vision or agreement to make good on these promises. we hear the rhetoric but never see the results. and more importantly, businesses know we have to close this deficit. businesses know we can't keep spending money we just don't have. businesses budget. washington hasn't had a budget for four years. the president and his party have been in charge of washington during this time. they have not budgeted for four years. and businesses know that you can't operate an enterprise, let alone the federal government, without budgeting. >> let me have you respond to this other argument about entitlements, about the role of government. and the president really launched it as part of his inaugural address when he said this. >> we recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm. the commitments we make to each other through medicare and medicaid and social security,
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these things do not sap our nation. they strengthen us. they do not make us a nation of takers. they free us to take the risk that make this country great. >> now that line of attack, didn't mention you by name, but certainly mentions you in substance, went back to a number of comments that you made about the makers versus takers. here's one back in september of 2011. >> right now, according to the tax foundation, between 60% and 70% of americans get more benefits from the federal government than they pay to the government. so we have a net majority of takers versus makers. >> if you keep the context going, my point in making that statistic is it's not as these statistics lead you to believe. we don't want a dependency culture. we want a safety net to get people on their feet. americans want the american dream.
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the point i make citing that statistic is it's not as it seems. people want the american dream. they want lives of opportunity. they want to reach their potential. and so our concern in this country is with the idea that more and more able-bodied people are becoming dependent upon the government than upon themselves for their livelihoods. we want to make sure we don't continue that trend. and when you take a look at those statistics, it's not as bad as those statistics say. people want lives of upper mobility. people want to chart their own course. they want to reach their potential. and our policies should be geared toward doing that. so no one is suggesting that medicare and social security makes you a taker. these are people like my mom, who worked hard, paid her taxes, and now is collecting the benefit that she paid for. no one is suggesting that people like my mom is a taker. >> but you're citing figures that of course include entitlement reforms like social security. >> when these statistics get cited, it leads you to think that america is gone, that we're becoming too much of a dependent culture. my point has always been, that's not the whole picture.
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>> here is the criticism against you. and it was written about in the new york magazine blog this week, which goes to whether you want to expand the base of the party. here's what he writes. obama is arguing that misfortune can strike americans in all forms. a disability, a storm, illness, or merely outliving our savings. we have some obligation to each other. ryan's budget imposes savage cuts to food stamps, children's health insurance, and other mitigations of suffering for the least fortunate. and ryan also voted against relief for victims of hurricane sandy. by ryan's definition, if the government is rebuilding your destroyed home, you're a taker too. >> look, this is a straw man argument. the president said earlier that we had suspicions about medicare and taking care of the elderly and feeding poor children. when he sets up these straw men, to affix views to adversaries
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that they don't have, to win the argument by default, it's not an honest debate. we want to have a safety net. a safety net that's there for the vulnerable, poor, for people who cannot help themselves. but we don't want to have a culture in this country that encouraging more dependency that saps and drains people of their ability to make the most of their lives. >> which part of the culture today is doing that? is part of this culture that you even benefited from after your father died. >> absolutely. >> so which part of the safety net culture is sapping america's opportunity right now? >> this is the point we keep making with benefits like food stamps, for example. the benefits that he talks about, the changes we made, all we're saying is you actually have to be eligible for the program to receive it. we need to target it so that people that actually need them. if our reforms on food stamps went through, they would have grown by 260% over the last decade instead of 270%. when you call such reforms savage, that i think does a disservice to the quality of the debate we need to have. what we're trying to achieve is a system where you have that safety net to help people who cannot help themselves, but you
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have an opportunity of society, education reform, economic growth, so that people can get on their feet and make the most of their lives and reach their potential. and that's what we're worried about losing in this country. >> one more on the budget. then a couple of other things. do you think there's a failure to get to know each other in washington, really get to know each other? you haven't had much contact with the president over the last couple of years. somebody pointed out to me something i thought was smart, which was solving the problem on the budget is not complicated. winning politically and solving the problem, that's hard. and that's what both sides seem to be locked into trying to do. >> well, i don't think that the president thinks we actually have a fiscal crisis. he's been reportedly saying to our leaders that we don't have a spending problem. we have a health care problem. that leads me to conclude he just thinks we ought to have more government-run health care and rationing. i don't think that's going to work. so there are a lot of democrats that are good friends of mine who agree with us on how to do medicare reform. on the need to do entitlement reform, tax reform with lower
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rates for faster economic growth. the problem is the leaders of that party don't seem to want to come to agreement with this. so my concern is the president may be more focused on political ends, you know, in 2014, versus actually moving to the middle. when you saw his speech, say, at the inauguration, it leads us to conclude that he's not looking to moderate. he's not looking to move to the middle. he is looking to go further to the left, and he wants to fight us every step of the way politically. and i don't think that's good for anybody in this country. >> it's reminiscent, isn't it, of a lot of republican leaders after his first inauguration getting together and trying to make him a one-term president? >> no. i see it as we have big problems we need to fix. we want to be a part of that solution. whether people like it or not or intend it or not, we more or less had the status quo election. we have a divided government. we have to make it work. when we see our country living far beyond its means, when we see our nation destroying our children's future by saddling them with a debt they can't handle, we have to do something about that. when we see families struggling in this economy, we have to do
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things to grow this economy. and the things that are coming out of washington right now don't do that. and that's why we're offering solutions. that's why we were showing with our budget here's how to grow the economy. here's how you save your kids from a debt-laden future. here's how you save medicare. this is the kind of debate, the honest debate, that we need to have versus impugning people's motives. >> what did you learn from your run for the vice presidency and being mitt romney's running mate? what did you take away as a republican as you look to the future? >> it was a great experience. i feel that i benefited tremendously from that. my family got to see a lot of the country. we got to see countless people who just feel so passionate about their country. the other thing i learn was mitt romney would have been one heck of a great president. he is a very good man. the big regret i have is we didn't win the election and weren't able to put the reforms we think are right for the country in place. and now we're going to have to use this tool of divided government to try and make it work. >> what do you think the party should learn from the loss? >> obviously, we have to expand our appeal.
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we have to expand our appeal to more people and show how we'll take the country's founding principles and apply them to the problems of the day, solutions to fix our problems. we have to show our ideas are better at fighting poverty, better at solving health care, how our ideas are better at solving problems that people experience in their daily lives. and that's a challenge we have to rise to. and i think we're up for it. >> on a couple of issues in specific areas, immigration is one, what's it going to take to get conservatives to rally around an idea that illegal immigrants who are here now can stay without having to first leave, which is something you propose, and get a pathway to citizenship? do you think that conservatives can rally around that idea and ultimately get reform passed? >> yeah. i think there's a balance between respecting the rule of law and adhering to the reality of the day. and i think marco rubio probably touched on it. i support and agree with the principles he laid out as far as earned legalization. making sure people don't cut in line but fixing the problem.
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we did reform in '86 and again in '96. it's a system that's broken that needs fixing. and many of us who have been involved in this issue over the years. immigration is a good thing. we're here because immigration. that's what america is. it's a melting pot. we think this is good. we need to make sure it works. i think there are republicans and democrats, many of us are talking to each other, that can come together with a good solution to make sure that this problem is fixed. once and for all. and i think those rubio principles do a really good job of adhering to the founding principles, respecting the rule of law, and respecting those who came here for a better life. >> and do you see that getting done this year? >> i do. that's one of the areas where i feel that i think the president has a big speech coming up. the question that many of us are asking, republicans and democrats, is he looking to play politics or does he want to solve the problem? we don't know the answer to that yet. but i do know there are a lot of democrats in congress who once and for all want to fix this mess, broken immigration system,
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and many of us agree with that. hopefully we can actually get this done. >> on gun control legislation, are there any new regulations that you could support? >> well, i think the question of whether or not a criminal is getting a gun is a question we need to look at. that's what the background check issue is all about. and i think we need to look into making sure there aren't big loopholes where a person can illegally purchase a firearm. but i also think we need to look beyond recycling failed policies of the past. you and i are the same age, same age kids, same number of kids. it's our worst nightmare something like this happening. let's go beyond the debate and go deeper. what's our policy on mental illness? what's going on in our culture that produces this kind of thing? we need to have that kind of discussion and debate, and i hope we don't just skip past that and bring out political ideas that recycle failed policies of the past. >> you seem to see a lot of division here. you think the president in some
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ways is trying to finish off the republican party. so i don't hear you as saying anything about more comprehensive reforms in the way you think is necessary and you blame the president for that and his mindset. >> i decided to not comment between the election and the inauguration because i wanted to see what kind of president we were looking at here, what kind of path and trajectory he was putting his administration on. and all of the statements and all of the comments lead me to believe that he's thinking more of a political conquest than political compromise. and that's my concern. and this is why we're going to have to have a big debate this spring on how to balance the budget. about how to save us from a debt crisis. about how to grow the economy. and i think there are issues, like immigration reform, where there are democrats and republicans who want to come together to fix the problem. the question is will the president frustrate that or facilitate that. and i don't know the answer to that question. >> it was interesting on the day of the inauguration, brian williams and others and i were talking, and we noticed some video during the luncheon, and one of the things that caught
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our eye was a great moment here. you have your back to us. but there you are with secretary clinton and president clinton. and that's just one of those moments where you say, gosh, what were they talking about? any advice there? >> talking about personal health. we both lost our dads when we were young, and we were talking. i got concussions when i was young, and hillary was telling me about hers. we were just kind of chumming it up. look, if we had a clinton presidency, if we had erskine bowles, i think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now. that's not the kind of presidency we're dealing with right now. >> and you don't blame conservatives, particularly in the house, for thwarting that effort? >> both parties -- forget about just the recent past. both parties got us in the mess we are in, this fiscal crisis. republicans and democrats. and it will take both parties to solve this problem. that's the kind of leadership we need today. >> how do you think about 2016 and a presidential run? >> i don't. >> you're not thinking about it now? >> i think it's just premature. i've got an important job to do. i represent wisconsin.
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i'm chairman of the budget committee at the time we have a fiscal crisis. i think i can do my job by focusing on that right now rather than focusing on distant things. >> but you'll take a serious look at it? >> i'll decide later about that. right now i'm focused on this. >> chairman, thank you very much as always. appreciate it. >> thank you. coming up here, what did we learn from president obama's inaugural address? about his vision for the kate and how he plans to govern in the second term. plus, the secretary of state hillary clinton exits the stage, and vice president biden's profile expands. joining me former senator and now incoming president of the heritage foundation, former senator jim demint income. president of the naacp jim jealous. nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. plus, nbc news special correspondent ted koppel. >> "meet the press" is brought to you by the boeing company. we're sitting on a bunch of shale gas. there's natural gas under my town.
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the president's nominee to run the state department, senator john kerry, faced questions before the senate foreign relations committee this week. during his opening remarks, he was interrupted by an anti-war protester, which triggered this personal reply. >> when i first came to washington to testify, i obviously was testifying as part of a group of people who came here to have their voices heard. and that is above all what this place is about. >> nearly 42 years ago, it was kerry who aimed to have his voice heard when he first appeared on capitol hill not as a politician but as a protester. the year, 1971. he was part of an anti-war group testifying before that very committee. but it was days before on this program where kerry gave the country its first look at a future leader. and it's this morning's "meet the press" moment. >> we are down here to demand that those who call themselves the most committed of all in this country, namely the senators and congressmen, who have been talking peace for the past few years, that these men exercise their responsibility
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granted them by the constitution of this country to end this war. >> as kerry prepares for his new assignment, he faces some critical challenges as the president's foreign policy opens a new chapter. it's among the topics we will tackle with our political roundtable up next after this break. you can prevent gas with beano meltaways,
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we're back with our roundtable. president and ceo of naacp ben jealous. incoming president of the heritage foundation, former senator jim demint. nbc news special correspondent for rock center ted koppel. nbc's own ted koppel. and associate editor for "the washington post," bob woodward. and nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. welcome to all of you. a lot to get to. and as we react to paul ryan this morning, i want to show some of the headlines from the president's inaugural address. obama offers a liberal vision. we must act. charles krauthammer wrote this in "the washington post" and it caught my attention on friday and i want to put on the screen. his mission is to redeem and resurrect a 50-year pre-reagan liberal ascendency. accordingly, his address is his historical marker, the reagan of the left. if he succeeds in the next four years, he would have earned the
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title. and i so that, bob, because of what paul ryan said that i thought was so notable, is that he believes this president is more interested in political conquest than political compromise. that is the backdrop for a second term. >> and ryan is an important figure in this in many ways. and i think you agree. he's quite likely the future of the republican party. but if you go back three years ago, president obama himself publicly said that the ryan proposal on medicare was serious and legitimate. the president is playing -- and not the republicans aren't. they play a lot of politics. but the president is playing politics too. when i talked to the president six months ago about medicare, he said the spending trajectory is untenable. and so he knows there needs to be a fix in this area. and what's the shame in all of this is that they can't kind of sit down and work it out,
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because, you know, if you were the negotiator up at camp david, you'd be able to do it. >> well, one of the problems is they're not at camp david. they are not sitting down together. but the state of the union i think should not be viewed as -- rather the inaugural address should not be viewed as a state of the union speech. this is not the place where he was laying it out. i'm told by white house officials that he put on the table for medicare is still on the table. he wants to negotiate it. and i think paul ryan will be leading the republican side on where they go on this. there are going to be serious negotiations. they have to get down to it. i think where the liberal or progressive mission was from the inaugural speech was on human rights, on dr. king's legacy, on gay rights. that was profoundly moving and important. that's where he sees his legacy. >> but that's not going to drive legislation as much. ted koppel, the big issues of the day are the ones we've been fighting for the last several years. how much taxes, how much in
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spending cuts, and this role of government. >> david, i think the president recognizes the obvious, that is he's got eight to 12 months to do things, and the time for being coy is long over. he laid it out. and he laid it out without any ambiguity. i think he's going to push. he's going to push hard. and push immediately. >> jim demint, former senator, where do you see your party pushing? where should they push? how do they balance conservative principles with a real desire on the part of the public to see compromise and achievement? >> paul ryan was talking about one of the most important moral issues of our time. the fact that we are stealing from our children and putting so much debt on them that their lives, their opportunities, are going to be greatly diminished. and what he said about balancing our budget or putting our country on at least a path to balance our budget in 10 years is a complete contrast with what president obama is talking about. before we get into all the political labels and the
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specifics, it's clear the president plans to keep spending and borrowing and putting more debt on our children. so america has a perfect contrast between the directions that they want to go. we know -- >> but we just had an election, senator with two different directions, and america chose. that's what paul ryan said last year. the country will choose what happens in 2013. and they did. so are we past the point of two different visions in choosing? >> i don't think the country has chosen that. in fact, we see almost in the majority of states now where a conservative, bold visionary governors are implementing the ideas that work. and that's what conservatism really is. whether it's cutting taxes or freedom in the workplace or education choice, what we want to do is what we need to do for the american people is show them the successes and which ideas work. we can show where president obama's ideas go. we can look in history, at countries that failed. at europe today.
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we can look at his home state of illinois. the tax and spend and big government approach has always failed. so our job as conservatives is to make sure americans know that. and we need to show it with real people and real faces. >> but a lot of this we have to remind ourselves is about economic growth. what makes the economy grow, what gets people back to work, and what role does washington play in that? >> we know how to get out of tough times. we got out of the great depression by investing in what we wanted to be as a country, by investing in jobs rather than focusing on our fears. you know, i would push back and say that the big issues of this day also include marriage equality. they include comprehensive immigration reform. and right now when you look at joblessness in this country, you know, the country is back to pretty much where it was when this president started. white people in this country are doing a bit better. black folks are doing a full point worse. so with this president having
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said to us we need to invest in strategies to lift all boats, now that some boats are clearly more stuck, the question is will congress join him in getting those boats unstuck too. >> well, but the question, ted koppel, as well is where the president tries to seek a way forward. he doesn't think much of republicans in terms of their approach or being able to deal with them. but he can also confuse the opposition a little bit if he would take the reins and say, look, we have to do big spending cuts and here's why. it's helpful for the solvency of the country, even if he has to push back against some democrats. >> look, david, i'm going to defer to some of the others here who spend more time covering domestic policy. i think this president is going to end up facing some of the biggest foreign policy crises that we have had in many years. and i know you want to get to that later. so let me hold my piece there. >> well, look, this can be worked out if you look at the plans, and they seem very
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abstract when paul ryan and president obama talk about them. they are just saying, let's fix a little bit on the entitlement front, and they're not saying let's start tomorrow cutting. they're saying let's start in five years or ten years. it is all doable and fixable. and then this gets to the engine of the economy. and if you fix that, if you stabilize the debt in some reasonable way, we're going to have growth. the unemployment rate should come down. and president obama is exactly right. focusing on the people at the lower end here. you fix and help the people at the lower end by getting the economy going again. you're exactly right. and the psychologically for the business community, for democrats and republicans, it's so important that there be some
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consensus. you get paul ryan here with his charts, and it looks like the world is going to end at some point. and you need to get everyone onboard to the idea, no, the world is not going to end. >> andrea, i was on capitol hill this weekend. you get a sense that a lot of the gun legislation is not going to be successful. immigration reform is moving at pace. they are having very constructive conversations, republicans and democrats together. the entitlement piece is going to be hard, whether the president wants to go very far on medicare. he has liberals saying don't do it, don't raise the retirement age. so how do these pieces come together here in the next three, four, five months? >> that is exactly the question. when he even suggested raising that retirement age from 65 to 67, decades from now actually, and not affecting current retirees, the whole liberal base exploded against him. the aarp went to war against him. so he has to decide whether to take that. even the budget negotiators , the gang of six, said that was a nonstarter.
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on immigration, you see these negotiations with lindsey graham and mccain and rubio on the republican side. and durbin and schumer and others on the democratic side. they are really making progress. the president is giving a speech on tuesday with outlines. the question now is, is he going to send legislation up? that is still to be determined. and he just met with the hispanic caucus and with the senators in the last couple of days. the other thing is guns. and despite all of the hints from the white house that they are not backing off of the assault weapon ban, most people i have been talking to in recent days, inside the white house and out, agree that that is really going to be the biggest lift. but if they can get the magazines and the background checks and something on mental health, they think there is something that can be done there. >> senator demint, part of the calculation for republicans is where do they push, where do they fight. what battles do they pick? this is part of the self-examination of the party. bobby jindal spoke out, was
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outspoken on thursday, talking to republicans. here's part of what he said. >> we've got to stop being the stupid party. i'm serious. it's time for a new republican party that talks like adults. it's time for us to articulate our plans and vision for america in real terms. it's no secret we had a number of republicans that damaged the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. we've had enough of that. >> he is arguing about some getting in the way. colin powell talking about the republican party. how do you view that? >> i talked to governor jindal yesterday. we are on the same page. he knows that spending more than we're bringing in is a moral argument that we need to connect with the american people. and not just in numbers. but we need to help people see that what we're doing here in washington, the politicians are the real takers because they are taking the future away. every paycheck is going to be worth less. and the future of our children with the debt on their head
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means that the opportunities that they could have are going to be diminished. >> that's not quite what he was speaking of there. what he's talking about is how the brand positions itself. >> one of the reasons i left congress is because i don't believe that politicians are going to solve our problems unless the american people force them to. they're going to keep spending and borrowing in washington. they're going to keep implementing policies, as ben just said, that hurt minorities. they are worse off. and we can go to detroit and philadelphia and chicago where these liberal progressive policies have been in place for decades, and you see latinos and african-americans in failing schools, with high unemployment. what we're going to do, and i know what governor jindal is going to do along with a lot of other governors, is show the success stories where the right ideas are implemented. and we're going to show the failures in detroit and philadelphia and l.a. >> ben, comment before we go to break. >> you know, there are places where we can clearly work together. criminal justice reform is one of them.
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but the real question for the gop is whether they are willing to give up on the gasoline that has been the old dixiecrat rhetoric for the past 40 years. and when he talked about those bizarre and insulting comments, that's what he's talking about. playing to the cheap seats again and again. they need to stop. they need to say, look, we have an old brand, the grand old party, the party of lincoln, the party of people who united this country again and again. let's be that. and let's stop trying to be these dixiecrats. it just doesn't work for anybody. >> senator, do you regret some of the comments about abortion in this last cycle, about rape, about what colin powell thought were failed racist comments from the party? >> well, david, the fact that we are losing over 3,000 unborn children a day is an important issue. but republicans or conservatives should not engage in a debate about exceptions for abortions when the other side will not even agree that we have real people, real human beings.
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we need to fight the battle where it should be fought. life is important. we know from all of the new technology and improved sonograms that we do have a baby. and it's important that we fight for that. but instead of just offering my opinion on some hypothetical debate about exceptions for abortions, we need to move it back and particularly work with the states that are fighting for just the personhood of the child. if we can start there, i think america will move with us. >> all right. a little different about the question than rhetoric and how to reach voters. but i want to come back and talk about foreign policy. hillary clinton in the hot seat this week talking about benghazi. and the threat that is ahead that she warned about, that as ted koppel suggests could occupy a lot of the president's time. we'll get to that with our roundtable after this. all stations come over to mission a for a final go. no go call. this is for real this time. we are on step seven point two one two.
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with all due respect, the fact is we had four dead americans. was it because of a protest or guys out for a walk one night who decided to go kill some americans? what difference at this point does it make? it is our job to figure out what happened, and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. >> a combative section of the hearing on benghazi on capitol hill this week. we're back with more of the roundtable. ted koppel, wider than just the benghazi investigation and the questions are about a region that's in ferment, in revolution in certain parts, where there are a lot of threats facing the united states. and it's not getting a lot of attention thus far from the administration. certainly from the president's inaugural address. and there are real fears in the region that iran particularly is going to be on the edge of causing problems for the u.s. >> i think, david, as i suggested before, that we're
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entering one of the most dangerous periods this country has ever known. a, it's not over in afghanistan. b, to the degree that al qaeda has moved over into pakistan, that's a country that has over 100 nuclear weapons. syria, which is an ongoing problem. the suggestion constantly seems to be that we need to come in on the side of the rebels. there are at least 1,000 al qaeda members in syria today fighting on the side of the rebels. if the chemical weapons fall into their hands, big problems. you mentioned iran. remember now, and it may even have been on this program, i think that netanyahu suggested that come spring, come early summer, if the iranians still have not pulled back from building a nuclear weapon, the israelis may attack. the iranians would respond against the united states.
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and they have the capacity to do it with cyber war. >> i think it's even bigger and more troubling than that. it isn't just the middle east and that region. look at north korea. announcing that they are going to target the united states. they have nuclear weapons, unlike iran at this point. you look at what happened in algeria and mali. the egypt problem is not solved. i actually had one of the experts tell me recently that the next book i ought to do is this whole sweep of foreign policy, and the working title of the book would be "meltdown." >> andrea, i want you to respond to something. hillary clinton when she was not talking about benghazi issued a warning for her successor, which i gather she also wanted to make sure was heard inside the white house, when she talked about the region. in this case, north africa, the
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al qaeda presence bigger than benghazi. this is what she said. >> let me underscore the importance of the united states continuing to lead in the middle east, in north africa, and around the world. when america is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. extremism takes root. our interests suffer. our security at home is threatened. >> i think she is trying to warn the administration and the world that we cannot retreat from this engagement here. and right now, overnight, we've seen that the u.s. is doing refueling of french fighters in mali, which is very troublesome to some. it is a much more aggressive posture. but the uk has taken all of their nationals out of somalia overnight. this area of north africa as bob and ted were just saying is the most dangerous perhaps in the world, aside from pakistan and
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afghanistan which are nuclear armed against each other. and pakistan and india nuclear armed against each other and what's happening in afghanistan as we retreat and the effect on that and north korea. so they have to really not just look at immigration and guns and the budget as the next challenges here. >> have we figured out, senator, what the balance is between invasions, nation building, a huge commitment on the part of the united states in this part of the world, and turning our eye away from governments that could be illegitimate or failed states that invite either, you know, terrorists or authoritarian regimes to take root? >> well, there's not a lot of patience for the requirements of understanding here in washington. what secretary clinton said reflected a deep problem, not just in foreign policy but domestic policy, when she said what difference does it make? it's the same type of thing we see on all policies. it's an unwillingness to really bore down and understand the root causes of failures and successes. and that's why i think we see
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our foreign policy going in a lot of directions. it doesn't seem to be coherent. it sends signals of weakness. we don't understand what north korea really is doing right now. it is not just to provoke us, but it's a product demonstration for iran and other countries that want to see if these things work. we know north korea wants to sell them. so i think there is a perception of american weakness. but our problem here is the failure to really understand what is motivating these other countries and how we can affect -- >> but the conversation hasn't really been about that. at least not that we as the voters see. what we see is people in washington kind of picking on each other, focusing on personalities, who know what when. voters really want to know what's happening out there and what are you going to do. >> ted, that's my point. do we have a real policy approach that is somewhere in between a projection of american power and just leaving the region? >> the answer is yes.
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i don't think, ben, that it means that we necessarily have a strategy, but we have new tactics. we have moved away from the big unit operations, divisions, tanks, and are moving more in the direction of special operations, cia, drones, civilian contractors, cyber warfare. this is what you're going to see happening. but we're also playing whack-a-mole with al qaeda. and i think one of the greatest mistakes that the president has made is in leaving america with a sense that somehow al qaeda has been dealt with, the war in afghanistan is over, the war in iraq is over. the fact of the matter is we've got major problems, and al qaeda is one of them. >> i want to get to a political note. on "60 minutes" tonight, an interview with the president and hillary clinton. >> the main thing is i just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you, because
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i think hillary will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we've had. it has been a great collaboration over the last four years. i'm going to miss her. >> a few years ago, it would have been seen as improbable because we had that very long, hard primary campaign. look, in politics and in democracy, sometimes you win elections, sometimes you lose elections. and i worked very hard, but i lost. and then president obama asked me to be secretary of state. and i said yes. and why did he ask me and why did i say yes? because we both love our country. >> andrea, is he passing the baton? >> you can imagine the joe biden camp and what they said to that. unprecedented in an interview that president obama has never done an interview with anyone other than his wife, and here he is doing it with the secretary of state. i have talked to a lot of democrats who say that if she decides, and she hasn't decided, but if she decides and she is completely positioned to run, she clears the field.
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there's no one else. not comeau, not joe biden, no one can take her on. because after eight years of president obama, who could come in and as a woman and as a non-obama person originally, be enough of an outsider to challenge a republican. >> this is a real powerful historic mandate. >> yeah. >> but don't wipe joe biden off the slate. he has been a vital part of the obama administration on foreign affairs and on domestic affairs. he's the one who goes and makes the secret deals with mcconnell. >> that's right. >> he is the go-to -- >> bob, i'm saying what democratic leaders are saying. i'm just quoting what they say, that she has -- >> plenty of time for 2016. it's over for us this morning. thank you all very much. we'll come back with our final moment in just a minute. ♪ [ multiple sounds making melodic tune ]
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thanks to our roundtable this morning. before we go, quick programming note. you can watch this week's press pass conversation with vice president and director for foreign policy at the brookings institute, martin indyk, on some of the big bets president obama is making during his second term in foreign policy. that's on we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."


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