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Congressman, it looks to me like this may be one of those moments where Democrats grabbed the political high ground, the Republicans got stuck on the low ground, and you won.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D-NY), DCCC CHAIRMAN: Well, it`s not just me that`s smiling. It should be 160 million Americans that we fought for who are smiling because they`re not going to see a smaller paycheck.
Look, you know, this isn`t about whether the Democrats deserve credit or the Republicans. The credit belongs to the American people, who expressed a sense of outrage, Chris. I had my pre-dawn commuter office hours at the Long Island Rail Road this morning, and there was a steady flow of outrage that the Republicans were in this internal war, but those middle class people getting on the train were going to be the victims with a smaller paycheck.
So they deserve the credit for expressing outrage in congressional districts all across America, and they get the win with a paycheck that`s not going to be smaller in January.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is interesting. Here`s a case where it`s the Democrats looking out for a tax cut, but in this case, for the regular people, not for the wealthy. Here`s the president today, late this afternoon, sounding a populist message while he urged House Republicans to pass the Senate agreement, which they finally did just moments ago.
By the way, they`re getting around to do it actually right now. He stood in front of a crowd of people who had written in to the White House specifically to explain what losing the payroll tax break would mean to
them personally. Let`s watch the president and listen.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an issue where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree. How can we not get that done? I mean, has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things, we can`t do it? Enough is enough. The people standing with me today can`t afford any more games. They can`t afford to lose $1,000 because of some ridiculous Washington standoff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How does Boehner, who seems like an old-time Republican -- meaning the kind of Republican that was around, say, 25 years ago, in other words, center right -- he strikes me that way -- how does he deal with the hard right, I`d have to call them fanatical Tea Party types, who -- you should call them the "no deal" as opposed to the New Deal. They don`t want to do anything that means compromise.
How`s he going to deal with the fact he`s sort of bucking them right now?
ISRAEL: Well, look, he has not been able to deal with them thus -- he has not been able to deal with them thus far, and that`s why you have this chronic chaos. Every three months, these Tea Party Republicans are willing to take it to the mat and hurt our economy, and hurt the middle class.
Boehner has a real problem on his hands. Every time -- every day, he`s got this Tea Party caucus, this group of extremists who are offending moderate sensibilities, the sensibilities of those Bucks County
independents that you talk about so much...
ISRAEL: ... and as a result, there has been paralysis in the Republican Party and there`s chronic chaos. And that`s what voters are going to remember.
Let me give you one example. In Arkansas`s first congressional district, you had a congressman, Rick Crawford, on December 20th puts out a press release demanding that Boehner join him in rejecting what he called "this irresponsible payroll tax deal," and on December 22nd, he put out another press release demanding that John Boehner join him in a compromise.
I don`t know how you deal with the entire Republican caucus when you have two Congressman Rick Crawfords.
MATTHEWS: Well, it just looks to me like these people are willing to take a federal paycheck to be representatives and deal in a congressional body, but still they play like they`re carrying placards, like they`re still protesters. They`re actually in the United States government, but they refuse to function in the government.
Let`s look at this. After staying quiet most of the week -- now, here`s a real old dog Republican, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. He released a statement today calling for the House to pass that payroll
Quote, "Leader Reid" -- he`s referring to Democratic leader Harry Reid -- "should appoint conferees on the long-term bill, and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions and allows Congress to work on a solution for" -- boy, is this Senatesqe. (ph)
Anyway, he`s talking there -- let me ask you about looking down the road. I know you have to get Democrats elected to the Congress next November. Will this be an issue come election day, next November, how the Republicans foot-dragged on a tax cut for working people?
ISRAEL: Absolutely. Every election is about, Who are you for? And I believe that if we take back the House -- and I`m telling you, you`ve heard me say it, Chris, we are within range. It`s going to be razor close. If
we take it back, we`re going to look back at these -- the past several weeks as that defining moment that told moderate and independent voters and middle class voters around the country and our base, we`re for them.
Now, here`s the important thing, Chris. This battle is not over. First of all, you know, John Boehner is having a conference call right now. You know, he can have -- he has these conference calls and thinks he`s in good shape, and then the bottom drops out.
But secondly, we have gotten a two-month extension on the payroll tax cut to try and work out our differences for a one-year commitment. And in two months, we`re going to be back to where we were today.
Who are you for? Are you going to ask the middle class to pay for a middle class tax cut? Or are you going to ask the rich to pay a little bit more in order to provide that tax cut to the middle class?
MATTHEWS: Well, Allen West and Joe Walsh, all the real red-hots in the Tea Party movement, will be jumping up and down like jumping beans on that conference call. I`m telling you, it`s going to be the most
unpleasant conference call in history when John Boehner tries to sell it to the red-hots.
Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Steve Israel of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee.
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