September 22, 2013

I don't know why this nasty piece of work, direct mail scam artist, who taught Republicans how to demonize Democrats at every turn back in the day, deserves a seat at the table discussing the Republicans' latest round of hostage taking in the first place -- but here we are with Newt Gingrich again polluting our airways on ABC with some revisionist history on President Obama and his willingness to compromise with Republicans.

The HuffPo's Jason Linkins summed this up very nicely in part of his weekly liveblog of the Sunday Talking Heads:

Time for roundtabling, with Newt Gingrich, Robert Reich, Jeff Zeleny, and Gwen Ifill.

Gingrich says that the GOP should "get some sleep" because the next few weeks will be, for them, very challenging. But he says that the Congress should not give up the power of the purse. Gingrich wonders if Obama is prepared to compromise at all. "What's he willing to give up?" asks Gingrich, who apparently took the "get some sleep" advice too seriously and missed the part where Obama is ready to give up Chained CPI, and Medicare cuts, and 200 pages of budget cuts, plus the revenues through tax reform and loophole closures plan that Romney/Ryan ran on in 2012. Also, remember that when he could have gotten a repeal of the Bush Tax cuts on people earning above $250,000/year, he relented and limited it to $400,000/year, because he wanted to be a good compromiser and good faith negotiator.

Gingrich is either too ignorant to have noticed this, or he knows it full well and is a cheap demagogue. (I'd say it's the latter.)

Reich says that the issue here, is not the Affordable Care Act, but whether or not one party in Congress should be allowed to hold the economy hostage just because of a law that got passed. "What's next, Social Security?" (Again, Obama is doing what he can to limit the effectiveness of Social Security.) Reich and Gingrich debate the values of this sort of governing.

Never mind that the health care law the Republicans want to threaten to shut down the government over was something that came out of the Heritage Foundation, and that their last presidential candidate managed to get passed in his state. None of that matters now that they've decided it's government run "socialism." President Obama, to a fault, has been willing to extend a hand to Republicans in an attempt to get a budget deal passed to the point that he's angered a lot of us on the left, but Gingrich is never one to let a few facts get in the way of his story telling.

Full transcript below the fold.

KARL: The powerhouse roundtable is coming up, including Newt Gingrich. He was Speaker of the House during the last government shutdown. What does he have to say about this one? That next.


NEWT GINGRICH, FRM. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We’re trying to get to a balanced budget and we’re trying to keep open the government. If the president signs the bills the government will stay open.


KARL: That was House Speaker Newt Gingrich three days before the last government shutdown in 1995.

We’re back with the roundtable including Speaker Gingrich co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” Robert Reich former labor secretary and star of the new movie “Inequality for All,” ABC’s senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny and Gwen Ifill of the PBS Newshour. Welcome to all of you.

So, Speaker Gingrich the Republicans, what are they going to do with this? And what should they do?

GINGRICH: I think they should get plenty of sleep. This is the next three, four, or five weeks are going to be very tense and going to be very challenging.

I mean, all of these people want the House Republicans to surrender. And under the constitutional system, if the House gives up the power of the purse it surrenders.

So Obama goes three times this week for partisan attack speeches and basically says I’m not going to negotiate. I don’t care what you guys do.

This is not a dictatorship. Under our constitution, there should be a period of tension and there should be a compromise on both sides.

Ironically, Obama said on Friday nobody gets 100 percent. Well, what is he willing to give up?

ROBERT REICH, FRM. CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Look, I don’t think with due respect to the speak, that the issue here is anything about — is the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare good or bad, you like it or do you not like it? I think the issue is whether one party in congress is going to be allowed to use the entire system of government as basically blackmail to get its way.

After a law has already passed both Houses of congress, been put into law by the president, signed into law, the constitutionally of that particular law has been undeniably affirmed by the Supreme Court, once you go down the road Newt where you can simply if you don’t like a particular law you can threaten to shut down the government what’s next? Social Security, Medicare, the Fair Labor Standards Act.

GINGRICH: So you would repudiate basically the American system. The American — remember the Democrats lost…

REICH: You are repudiating the American system.

GINGRICH: The Democrats 63 seats in the House immediately after passing Obamacare, so both sides have talking rights. The president can say I won the election, Boehner can say and we won the election. Under our constitutional system, going all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215, the people’s house is allowed to say to the king we ain’t giving you money.

REICH: OK, but sorry, under our constitutional system you’re not allow to risk the entire system of government to get your way.

KARL: But Jeff, there is a reality here.

And we heard it in your piece at the top of your show from John McCain. The Senate is not going to go along with (inaudible) Obamacare.

ZELENY: Right and you hear that again and again and again from Republicans. I talked to Orrin Hatch last week walking through the halls of the Capital. He said, you know what’s happening in the House, they’re unfairly raising the expectations for everyone in the country who wants to, and who does not like the Affordable Care Act–

KARL: The base. The base thinks they can just pull this off.

ZELENY: And they can’t do it. So they’re, so that’s a big worry. So as this moves to the Senate this week, there’s going to be a lot of huffing and puffing, but is Ted Cruz going to be standing along or who’s going to be with him? Senator Rand Paul was in Michigan over the weekend. He bluntly said what seems to be the obvious, you know, we can’t get rid of Obamacare.

You know and even if the government would shut down, the Affordable Care Act continues. Those exchanges still open on October 1, so that’s the underlying point here. The Healthcare Act is here to stay. But all tied to the debt limit, and that’s up for discussion this week.

IFILL: We’re talking about sending messages, some of my least favorite things in Washington. When you do things just to send a message. But both Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are talking filibuster. Which means they get to hold the floor for as long as possible.

It doesn’t mean they get to stop Obamacare. It doesn’t mean they get to do anything but bounce it back to the House and then put yet another dilemma in John Boehner’s lap.

By the way Mr. Speaker, I liked your shirt in that picture.


GINGRICH: Yeah that was a good sweater.

IFILL: That was a sweater? It was a good look.

GINGRICH: That was impressive, it was. I remember that.


GINGRICH: It was a cold winter.

KARL: There’s something bigger here which you didn’t even deal, first of all you controlled the entire Congress–


KARL: And the Republicans were in charge of the Senate too. But this time around, this is really just the warm up. I mean Secretary Rice, the debt ceiling, we’re talking, there’s not been any negotiations whatsoever. The White House says they won’t negotiate on the issue. And we hit the debt ceiling in the middle of October.

REICH: And the last time there was a threat you recall, to actually not pay our debts. Not pay interest on the debts, not repay our creditors. (inaudible) bond system, the United States government was downgraded. That cost American tax payers a huge amount of money–

KARL: We could have another downgrade.

REICH: Again–

KARL: But why is the White House not negotiating on this though?

REICH: Because it should not be negotiable. I mean the principle that you can, there’s a kind of scorched earth, anything goes set of tactics that can be used by one side in a political game. In which the entire government of the United States including the faith in credit of the government of the United States can be thrown into that same game. That’s absurd.

GINGRICH: Well this is historical bologna. We have added something to the debt ceiling–

KARL: Better than pious bologna I believe.


GINGRICH: Wait a second. The fact is since Dwight Eisenhower we have added things to the debt ceiling. Graham Rudman which was a big change in spending was on the debt ceiling. Obama has added things to the debt ceiling. So when the president goes to the business roundtable and says, this is unprecedented and I won’t negotiate, this is not a dictatorship. At some point members of the House are allowed to say, come sit at the table. He doesn’t sit at the table, he goes out and makes partisan attacks–

IFILL: It’s true that the president likes nothing better, it seems to be no more energized than when he gets a moral dudgeon. And that’s true of everybody else in the White House too. But he is not unhappy right now. I don’t think anybody is talking to anybody in the White House who are saying, oh gee it’s a shame the Republicans are fighting among themselves.

ZELENY: It’s the best week he’s probably had in a few weeks after Syria and everything else. Suddenly he has–


KARL: –president and if the economy goes down as a result of this, you know, he’s ultimately (inaudible).

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