While Joe Scarborough is away, talking points go awry. So on Morning Joe today, in response to Paul Ryan announcing that he doesn’t concede to reality regarding the meaning of his lost election, even S. E. Cupp admitted Democrats are probably going to get what they want on tax cuts and Jon Heilemann reminded everyone that the President does have a mandate to let the Bush tax cuts to expire. And, unbelievably, David Gregory said if there’s a mandate it’s for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the President has a framework for the budget.
Transcript from MSNBC (with modifications for grammar and clarity).
They start off with a clip of Paul Ryan from an NBC interview that aired last night and this morning that started the discussion about whether or not there is a mandate to let the Bush tax cuts expire.
PAUL RYAN: Whether the people intended or not, we’ve got divided government.
JONATHAN KARL: You don’t think there’s a mandate here.
PAUL RYAN: I don’t because then they would have put Nancy Pelosi in charge of the House of Representatives. See, I think these ideas that we talked about, I think they’re popular ideas. This was a very close election. And unfortunately, divided government didn’t work very well the last two years. We’re going to have to make sure it works in the next two years. That means, I think, that both parties have to talk to each other.
(In reality, the House lost more seats to Democrats than they should have and the Republican seats they maintained were due in part to 2010 jerrymandering. Also, since Romney hid Ryan for the last leg of the campaign after his budget got battered, reason does not dictate that Ryan is dealing well with reality in his belief that his “ideas” were well received.)
JONATHAN KARL: But could you see yourself supporting a plan that raises tax rates on the top 2%?
PAUL RYAN: I’m not for raising tax rates. I do not support raising tax rates.
JONATHAN KARL: Period.
PAUL RYAN: Yeah, I’ve been saying that my entire career.
Asked where Congressman Ryan is coming from, “Does he not hear the country when it comes to the bush tax cuts?”, the Morning Joe panel weighs in, sans Joe Scarborough:
S.E. CUPP: Look, the problem is that this whole thing is a dog and pony show. It’s a dog and pony show from start to finish. Democrats are not going to agree to any package that doesn’t raise rates. And I think if you’re going to make it a dog and pony show, at least make it a believable one. The president should be meeting with Club for Growth and Heritage and all kinds of people to make it look like he’s actually considering a balanced approach. He’s not.
(Note to Republicans: “Balanced approach” does not mean meeting with corporate stooges and meeting them half way to crazy town. We tried that already under Bush – it’s how we got here.)
And Republicans, for their side, don’t need to pretend that they’re going to be soft on this. They’re not going to be soft on any of this. So I think we’re all sort of watching the show.
In the end, Democrats have the leverage. They have the distinct advantage. And they’re probably going to get what they want.
DAVID GREGORY: I think there is a framework, and I actually agree with Heilemann, if there’s a mandate, it is for tax increases and the president is clear on that. Here’s where I think the president’s going to operate differently. Up until now and especially in the grand bargain negotiations that failed, he was working an inside game, a very inside game, and it didn’t work. I think now he needs much more of an outside game.
He’s just off a campaign, which he won. He’s won re-election.
CHUCK TODD: And the president is — I’ll tell you, they are adamant that they are going to decouple the Bush tax cuts temporarily for next year and that rates are going to go up on those making over $250,000. They believe that’s a mandate that they got. They believe there’s no reason for them to back off on that. They’ll put plenty of other things on the table, but that to them is a, you know, no-compromise position on that front.
Well, there you go. There’s no more room for crazy when even S.E. Cupp and David Gregory say you have a mandate. Just to be clear, it’s not just that the President campaigned on this very idea and won by rather large numbers. It’s also that exit polls show that Americans support letting the rich pay a bit more in taxes while we dig our way out of the Bush recession.
It looks as though poor Paul Ryan hasn’t faced reality yet, and not even his own hometown voting for Obama over his ticket made a dent in the high regard in which he holds his own “ideas”. Ryan never did do the math, but you can rest assured it — as all of his “monetary policy” is — was based on a monologue by a fictional character in a novel written for adolescent boys.
Apparently unimpressed, America shrugged. Paul Ryan is courting dangerously Palinesque waters of irrelevance if he continues down the path of denying reality.
Meanwhile, the President is already doing a better job of shaping the narrative this time around than he did in the first three years of his presidency. He’s out ahead of this one, and his surrogates have made it clear that the mandate exists and he’s not backing down.