The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
Tim Carney, Washington Examiner;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, January 4, 2013
Broadcast: Weekend of January 5-6, 2013
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Cliff Averted.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cliff averted, or at least half a cliff. In the Senate, the vote was 89 to 8. Get this: Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell negotiated the compromise that permitted the Senate vote. The House was tighter, 257 to 167.
Here are some elements: Income tax rates on the wealthy up; individuals who make more than $400,000 per year and couples who make more than $450,000 per year. These Americans will pay nearly 5 percent more in income taxes. Capital gains taxes and dividend taxes up for those same high earners, from a current 15 percent to 20 percent; income tax rates unchanged for everyone else. The rates stay the same -- unchanged.
But middle-class citizens will take a tax hit -- not in income taxes, but higher payroll taxes; Social Security payroll taxes up 2 percent. On average, an extra $1,000 a year will be paid into Social Security by workers who make $50,000 per year. The percentage of U.S. households that will feel the pinch from these higher payroll taxes is 77 percent.
Question: Why did 151 House Republicans vote against this bill? Why did Joe Biden strike a compromise with Mitch McConnell? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: Well, the Republicans voted against it, John, because they made a commitment not to vote for higher taxes, and taxes went up as a result of this bill.
Mitch McConnell, however, he was the one -- the instigator who called Biden because he said, look, far better that we cut a deal which raises taxes on folks making more than $400,000 than have a tax bill that eliminates Bush's tax cuts, taxes go up on 80 percent of the entire country, then Obama comes in on January 1 and says -- proposes a tax cut for everybody that's making less than $250,000.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MR. BUCHANAN: So they took what they feel was a bad deal to prevent a totally ruinous one politically and economically. And I don't fault Boehner or McConnell for doing it. I mean, they may not have negotiated well, getting to the edge of the cliff, but when they got there, I think they made the right call for the party and for the country. And the 300-point rise in the Dow Jones the next day --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- suggests they did the right thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in preventing the greater damage that would occur had they done the opposite.
MR. BUCHANAN: Damage to the country, to the economy and to the party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
ELEANOR CLIFT: I agree that Boehner and McConnell did the right thing, but they had to be dragged to the very edge of the cliff in order to do it. This was a self-created trip wire so that Congress would be forced to act, and they almost tripped it. But at the last minute -- this is a victory for the president, a tactical political victory.
The House Republican caucus is in total disarray. The speaker has really no control over them, which is why McConnell had to step in. And he called on his long friendship with Vice President Biden, who served in the Senate for 35 years before becoming vice president, and he learned some things along the way. And he knows how to negotiate. You find out what's the true bottom line of each side and then you work your way to the middle.
It was a masterful performance by Senator Biden -- Senator Biden -- Senator/Vice President, maybe future President Biden, because he's going to be taken a lot more seriously as a candidate for 2016 after this deal making.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What role did President Obama play in authorizing, if that's the right word, permitting, supporting the Biden negotiation?
MS. CLIFT: Well, after McConnell called Biden and said does anyone down there know how to make a deal, Biden went to the president and got his OK to plunge in here at the last minute. You almost wondered if it was wired this way all along. You kind of knew they were going to save the day at the very last minute. And I must say, I think I and a lot of Americans probably felt a little bit had by all of the drama and the tension. In the end, they did the only thing they really --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- wait a minute.
MS. CLIFT: -- could do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the Obama-Boehner paralysis was a set-up, or it was that way authentically?
MS. CLIFT: No, that's authentic. The president tried to walk down the aisle with Boehner twice, and Boehner couldn't deliver. He cannot control his caucus.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, now --
MS. CLIFT: Whether anybody could is another question.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know what scrambled eggs are.
TIM CARNEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're in the position now of unscrambling all of these eggs, because the viewer has to understand this.
MR. CARNEY: One of the things that Obama did -- well, he dispatched Biden out there --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's his problem? What's Obama's problem right now? What was it going into this?
MR. CARNEY: Well, going into it is that Republicans didn't want tax hikes on the rich. But also Obama wanted this whole raft of special-interest tax credits for wind, for algae energy, for -- NASCAR and Hollywood got tax credits out of this bill.
MS. CLIFT: The college credits and day care.
MR. CARNEY: And Obama pushed -- if you just look at the business ones -- leave aside the individual ones -- there's more money, $70 billion, in business tax credits -- so that's revenue lost -- than he gains in his tax hikes for the rich, which was only $60 billion over one year.
And so Obama had this disparate view, where he wanted to raise taxes on the hike -- on the rich -- but he also wanted to cut taxes on the big business lobby so that he has them on board for future negotiations. And Republicans didn't like either of those, and Obama won both of them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Obama's project was to soften the situation up. Correct?
MR. CARNEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he did it.
MR. CARNEY: He did. And he softened up the business lobby by giving them a whole raft of corporate welfare.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. What'd you think of that?
MR. CARNEY: I think he negotiated --
MR. BUCHANAN: He won, John.
MR. CARNEY: -- better than a lot of people thought he would.
MS. CLIFT: We call that investments.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He bought the support, didn't he?
MR. CARNEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that? I think we have more respect for Obama now, right?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, I wouldn't quite go that far, but I think it's a good try. I think that what happened was the Republican leadership in the Congress really had lost all trust in Obama and the way he negotiated, and they had no personal relationships with him, which is not the case with Joe Biden. So they had somebody at least to negotiate with who understood.
It's not the first time Joe Biden stepped in, and I think he did a first-rate job. And I think it was right for the president to allow him to do it. And Mitch McConnell was right. Who in that place could do a deal? And Biden was the one who could do the deal, and he did the deal. And thank God he did.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, since you're up there, Mort, let me explore this through with you.
Forget the fiscal cliff. Think avalanche. In his column in U.S. News & World Report, Mort Zuckerman drew the curtain back this week on the clear and present dangers of the national debt and future unfunded obligations.
Quote: "Over the last four years, our national debt has grown by more than $5 trillion to over $16 trillion. We have to service that debt. The Federal Reserve is keeping rates historically low, but here's the cost of paying interest on the debt for fiscal 2012: $359 billion plus. What do you get for that? Nothing.
"The greatest fiscal challenge to the U.S. government is not just its annual deficit but its total liability. Our federal balance sheet does not include our unfunded social insurance obligations -- Medicare, Social Security, and the future retirement benefits of federal employees. Only in the small print of the financial statement do you get some idea of the enormous size of the unfunded commitment.
"Today the estimated unfunded total is more than $87 trillion. That's 550 percent of our current GDP," gross domestic product. "And the debt per household is more than 10 times the median family income. Of course, we can go on whistling in the dark until we run into the reality of a crisis we sometimes hear vaguely mentioned, when it is mentioned at all," unquote.
That was an earlier column. Have you had a chance to sleep on this? Do you want to retract any of that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't want to.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's pretty scary stuff.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It is scary stuff. And I think a lot of people who have followed this issue closely share the same view. This is not something that I dreamt up. This is a very serious problem facing this country. And anything could turn it in the wrong way. You never know what kind of an event would, in effect, cause everybody to say we're not going to buy American debt any longer.
Fifty percent of our debt today is held by foreigners. When we came out of World War II, we had zero debt held by foreigners. So we're dependent on the world to continue to buy our debt. And why do we have to sell debt? Because we run huge deficits every year.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: At some point this is going to blow up.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Mort.
MR. CARNEY: The question is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, hold on for a minute.
We have a debt rating. Every nation has a debt rating.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right? What is our debt rating?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: AAA, AA.
MR. BUCHANAN: AA in one of the accounts.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: One of the accounts.
MR. BUCHANAN: The problem, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who puts out those ratings?
MR. BUCHANAN: Moody's.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: There are credit-rating agencies.
MR. BUCHANAN: Moody's is one.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Moody's is one of them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Moody's is one. What about something and Poor? Standard & Poor.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, Standard & Poor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They put it out also?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it not? It's an A-?
MR. BUCHANAN: One of them's a AAA. The other's a AA. John, here is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And we -- we lost some of that rating.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happens if our rating descends further?
MR. CARNEY: When we lost the rating, our borrowing costs did not go up. So this is a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So far. So far.
MR. CARNEY: So you say that we're hitting a wall. I think you're right, but --
MR. BUCHANAN: The Fed is buying all the -- the Fed is buying all the debt. John, here is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let's hear that again.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Fed is buying all the debt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our debt is bought by the Fed?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eighty-five billion dollars a month.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the story on that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Eighty-five billion dollars a month.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Fed buys the debt. They give cash to the government, and that debt goes on the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve Board.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's our --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Our -- that's right. We're buying it, OK, or the federal government. The bank is -- the Federal Reserve Board is (banking ?). This is exactly --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let's get back --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That sounds like gamesmanship.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It is a game on some level, because nobody else would buy that amount of debt. Not anybody in the world will buy that debt. So --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the Chinese buy it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're buying some of it.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, they're diminishing what they're buying, John. Let me get to the crisis.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: The political crisis, on top of the fiscal crisis, is this. Republicans are not going to give Obama one more dime in tax increases, and the Democratic Party of Harry Reid and Pelosi and Obama are not going to cut entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, Pell grants, you name it -- for the simple reason that's what the party is in business for.
That is the crisis you've got here right now in Washington. You've got two very powerful forces, neither of which is moving, as you add a trillion dollars to the deficit and debt every year.
MS. CLIFT: Except that's very oversimplified. First of all, the Republicans cannot hold firm on threatening to take the country into default on a debt crisis.
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think they should.
MS. CLIFT: Well, they're threatening to do that.
MR. BUCHANAN: I know they are.
MS. CLIFT: And the business community is going to come down hard on them. And their allies have traditionally been business.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to demand higher taxes?
MS. CLIFT: So their side -- their side of --
MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to demand the Republicans go for higher taxes?
MS. CLIFT: So their side of the argument is not as strong as it once was. And Democrats are willing to deal on entitlements.
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't believe it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your opinion of --
MS. CLIFT: Well, you can tweak these programs, not cut them and dismantle them, the way Republicans want to do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your intelligent estimate of Boehner?
MR. CARNEY: I think Boehner is a good leader who tries to accomplish the most conservative thing possible. He makes tactical mistakes. His Plan B on the fiscal cliff was a mistake. The way in the end that he handled passing the final fiscal-cliff bill, though, was excellent management of his party. And I think he's safe, and he'll be leader -- speaker as long as he wants to be speaker.
MS. CLIFT: He's safe because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he's been misjudged?
MS. CLIFT: -- nobody else wants the job or can handle the job.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he's been misjudged?
MR. CARNEY: I think he's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, he's far more canny than you think. What's the big thing he's got going for him, the number one thing? He and Obama get along.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) Well, he didn't --
MS. CLIFT: I don't know about that.
MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't get anything out of Obama.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He and Obama can talk together.
MR. BUCHANAN: You ask him whether --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think they both have respect for each other.
MR. BUCHANAN: You ask him --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that?
MS. CLIFT: He's --
MR. BUCHANAN: You ask him whether he trusts Barack Obama right now.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: He's also promised --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't have to ask him that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Because he doesn't.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He doesn't trust him at all.
MR. BUCHANAN: He doesn't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The point is, they get along.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Obama doesn't trust him either.
MR. BUCHANAN: That doesn't make any difference. He can't trust Obama.
MS. CLIFT: Obama can't trust --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The chemistry is right between the two of them.
MR. CARNEY: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: But he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who else can Obama deal with?
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama can't deal with either of them.
MR. CARNEY: He deals with his wife and his kids. That's about it.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's got Biden up there dealing with McConnell.
MS. CLIFT: The --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Boehner's not out of the act.
MS. CLIFT: Boehner is a decent guy. He's a deal maker. But he cannot control his caucus. Therefore, he is not a trustworthy partner. And he has promised his caucus --
MR. BUCHANAN: What has --
MS. CLIFT: -- he will not negotiate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear from Mort on this.
MS. CLIFT: So --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, that is a distortion of what's going on. The fact is, in the negotiations with the president, the Republicans have come to the conclusion that they can't trust his word; that what he does, he puts forward a program, then he elevates the demands that he has, and then he uses it as politics to beat up on them. And I think that is -- there is virtually no trust between them. I've spoken to all the senior Republicans. They all say the exact same thing.
MS. CLIFT: Why don't you try talking to some of the senior Democrats --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I do talk to them.
MS. CLIFT: -- and get the other side --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I do get the other side.
MS. CLIFT: -- because that was a one-sided (review ?) that
you just put forward.
MR. BUCHANAN: President Obama doesn't talk to a lot of those senior Democrats.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Republican Party does not trust Barack Obama. They like Biden and they can cut a deal with Biden. But if you get the president in there -- he sandbagged Boehner twice.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Pat, do you know that --
MS. CLIFT: It's the opposite. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the public debt of the United States in the first term of Barack Obama went up over $4 trillion?
MR. BUCHANAN: Five trillion dollars.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Five trillion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Over five?
MR. BUCHANAN: And it's going up four (trillion dollars) more in the next four years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. So he has to keep that off the table.
MS. CLIFT: No, he doesn't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's bad for Obama.
MS. CLIFT: No, he doesn't.
MR. BUCHANAN: It could be disastrous for Obama and the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I mean historically bad for him. He got his second term.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to -- John, we're running a trillion- dollar deficit every year, and they haven't cut spending at all.
MS. CLIFT: The voters --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How bad is that for Obama to have run up
that kind of a national debt?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's very bad for the country. Therefore, I
assume it's going to be seen as bad for the president. But it is no --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five trillion --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It took us over --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- out of $16 trillion.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It took us over 200 years to develop a
deficit -- a debt of $2 trillion. We did $5 trillion in the last four years.
MS. CLIFT: We have an economy that still needs short-term stimulus.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.
MS. CLIFT: You do have to long-term cut the debt. And the voters --
MS. CLIFT: The voters trust this president to protect their interests, as opposed to the Republicans on Capitol Hill.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got 15 seconds max to close this off. What do you want to say?
MR. CARNEY: I think that nobody can really trust Obama, that he has -- he doesn't get along well with anybody personally. I think he gets along well with his wife and his kids, and that Boehner and McConnell, they don't like having to deal with him. He's prickly, and he doesn't deliver what he says he will.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that's greatly overstated, don't you, that --
MS. CLIFT: The voters get along with Obama. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he doesn't get along with anybody?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, he personally he may be.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me just say that --
MR. BUCHANAN: But you cannot trust him in negotiations. He doesn't like it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you who he trusts.
MS. CLIFT: Boehner couldn't deliver. Boehner cannot deliver.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He trusts the vice president, does he not?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Joe Biden goes up there and knows how to cut a deal. And both of them wanted a deal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, they trust each other.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: McConnell? I don't think they're great friends, but they --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm talking about Biden and Obama.
Issue Two: Repeal Amendment Two?
The Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791, enshrines the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. So says the Roberts Supreme Court in a recent ruling.
The origin of the Second Amendment dates to the first battle of the American Revolution. English troops were on their way to Concord, Massachusetts, where they would seize the colonists' arms and ammunition. In 1775, they were ambushed at Lexington, seven miles from Concord, by the so-called Minutemen.
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, 1791, was drafted by James Madison, who later became our fourth president, and was modeled on existing state precedent.
Quote: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," unquote.
The key concept underlying this article in the Bill of Rights is this: Individual gun ownership is a defense against tyrants, whether a monarch like King George III or a modern dictator like Adolf Hitler. That right, says the Supreme Court, can be subject to reasonable regulation but cannot be done away with altogether.
So to repeal the constitutional right to keep and bear arms requires, obviously, amending the U.S. Constitution, which is an elaborate and costly process -- either a new national constitutional convention or approval of the proposed emendation by two thirds of state legislatures.
Arguments in favor of repealing the Second Amendment include banning private firearm ownership to prevent atrocities like the Newtown murders; entrusting authorities and the rule of law to safeguard our security and liberties instead of armed citizens.
Question: If the U.S. Constitution were being drafted
today, would it be a good idea or a bad idea to exclude the Second Amendment? Tim Carney.
TIM CARNEY: I think we ought to exclude the first part, which adds the ambiguity, and just say "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Taking away guns from Americans would not keep us safer from gun violence. There have been many academic studies about this. There was a Harvard Journal of Policy and Law, something like that. National Academies of Sciences went and looked to try to find, do stricter gun laws have an effect on gun ownership? No. On gun crime? No. Even gun ownership doesn't have a direct effect on --
MS. CLIFT: I'm sure I could match surveys with you, and I think that's kind of a pointless exercise. Nobody is talking about, you know, amending the Second Amendment or repealing it or anything like that. All people in this gun violence debate want to do is to regulate the sale of weapons and maybe ammunition so that people can't go out and mow down 20 first graders in 15 minutes. There's no reason why people should have access to assault weapons.
MR. BUCHANAN: The only --
MS. CLIFT: You don't need -- the sportsmen don't need that. And most sportsmen favor regulation.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor, you've got -- there are 3 million Armalite rifles, those Bushmaster types, out there right now. And people are buying them like hot cakes. Every gun show, the sales are up enormously. Forty-one percent they were up in December over last December, which was a record year.
John, what is coming, though -- Eleanor is correct -- the push is going to come on three things: To grandfather in the assault weapons that are here now; to try to outlaw assault weapons, outlaw magazines that carry more than 11 or 12 bullets --
MS. CLIFT: Well, the sale of assault weapons --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.
MR. BUCHANAN: And also background checks at gun shows.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let me get this in there. With no Second Amendment, Congress could pass a law, as limited as this, banning assault rifles, or as sweeping as prohibiting all private firearm ownership and requiring the surrender of all privately held firearms.
MR. BUCHANAN: You'd have a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There could be no appeal.
MR. BUCHANAN: There would be a revolution in this country. There are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Baloney.
That doesn't mean you can't own one --
MR. BUCHANAN: There are 200 --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but you have to put it in first and then go in and try to --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- 270 million guns in this country right now, John, and they're adding to them at the rate of about 16 million a year.
MR. CARNEY: Assault weapons --
MS. CLIFT: Because you can't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Everything else that has been proposed is filled with loopholes --
MS. CLIFT: Well, because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and it does not solve the problem.
MR. CARNEY: The assault weapon ban is meaningless. The term assault weapon just means scary-looking --
MS. CLIFT: Because you can't fix everything doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what I just proposed doing.
MS. CLIFT: Registering guns --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At least contemplating it.
MS. CLIFT: Right. Licensing people to use them, putting identification on guns like the number on your car vehicle so you can identify who owns them; only the owner can use it. If I lose my iPad, nobody else can use it. But if I had a gun, which I obviously don't, Tim could come in and use it and turn it on whoever he wants. I mean, that's ridiculous.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I am not calling for the suppression of gun ownership by any means.
Issue Three: Christie's Ire.
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R): (From videotape.) Shame on you. Shame on Congress. There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: The House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, let loose a Category 5 slam against the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives this week, and in particular its Republican leader, John Boehner. It was because a disaster aid package was delayed, totaling some $60 billion for the 24 states hit in October by Hurricane Sandy -- no vote.
Governor Christie's state of New Jersey was ravaged by the storm, sustaining $38 billion in damages. Christie said he had been assured the relief vote would happen in the House on Tuesday night. It had already passed the U.S. Senate. But he was informed shortly before midnight that no vote had been taken.
On Wednesday, the governor went ballistic.
GOV. CHRISTIE: (From videotape.) Last night politics was placed before our oaths to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch. If the people of New Jersey feel betrayed today by those who did this in the House last night, then they have good company. I'm with them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the time frame, on Friday afternoon the House passed $9 billion for relief funds. So he appears to be somewhat set on that now. On emergency relief, why did John Boehner kick the can down the road? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I suspect there was some exhaustion there and he didn't want to irritate his tea party members anymore. But there's also a split between North and South in the Republican caucus. Apparently -- according to Larry Sabato at UVa, political scientist, 88 percent of southern Republicans voted against the fiscal-cliff deal. Eighty-eight percent of northern Republicans voted for it.
So a lot of southern Republicans think why should we be bailing out these blue states in the North? And northern Republicans say, hey, we're donor states. We send more money to Washington than we get back, and we've bailed out all you red states. So there was a lot of anger about this. And it was stupid to deny federal aid --
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it wasn't.
MS. CLIFT: -- to the victims of Sandy --
MR. BUCHANAN: Come on.
MS. CLIFT: -- who are still living in shelters and suffer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, let Tim in.
MR. CARNEY: The $60 billion bill that died, that did not just include Sandy stuff. That included fisheries in Alaska and American Samoa. Pago Pago is more than 7,000 miles away from the Jersey shore, and money going there was not necessary to be asking in an emergency.
MS. CLIFT: It hurt the people in New Jersey, and that's the bottom line.
MR. CARNEY: And they right away passed $9 billion for New Jersey, the money going for New Jersey flood relief.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boehner, by the way, had an election as to whether or not he's going to be returned. And he was returned, and I think the difference was two votes.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But secondly, let's get the calendar
straight. Boehner said you can go home. It's Tuesday. And then he called them back -- to be back on Friday. Now, what date was Tuesday? When was New Year's Day?
MR. BUCHANAN: Tuesday.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tuesday.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were in session on Tuesday. He says
why don't you go home --
MR. BUCHANAN: The basic point --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (with ?) your family. And then he left open when he'd call them back.
MR. BUCHANAN: Tim's got the fundamental --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he called them back on Friday.
MR. BUCHANAN: Tim's got the fundamental point, John. There were $17 billion in this bill for community grants and all these other things. Newt Gingrich this morning said on TV two thirds of the money is going to be spent two years or more from now.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a stocking stuffer.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's misleading, because --
MR. BUCHANAN: The point is, they can do --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- the money --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Mort in.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The replacement of what has been destroyed is going to take time to build. OK, you can't --
MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to do it in January, Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not going to be all done.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: There are bridges. There are roads. There are a lot of houses. It takes time to build these things.
MR. BUCHANAN: And it takes time to study what you have to do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want a bottom line here. I want a bottom line before we sign off. So what do you think of the ire of the governor of New Jersey?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's misplaced. I understand --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Misplaced?
MR. BUCHANAN: Misplaced, because --
MS. CLIFT: Completely well placed. Peter King, Republican from New York, also --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, and (away he did ?). (Away he did ?).
What do you think?
MR. CARNEY: Conservatives shouldn't angrily ask for more money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Both he and Andrew Cuomo --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it justified, the ire?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Both Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie were justified in what they said.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Both justified.
Out of time. Bye-bye.
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