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Gentlemen, let`s talk about the first of these fights. Mr. Moran, thank
you for joining us. Tonight the Republicans are engaging in -- I don`t
know whether it`s a wild goose chase, some sign of something, some test of
what, of weakness.
Why are they voting on something that won`t even get to the Senate, will
never get near the president`s desk, and if it ever did, he`d love vetoing
it, this idea of cutting off the tax cuts -- or rather, protecting the tax
cuts of people all the way up to a million a year?
REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: They`re playing some kind of weird political
kabuki dance. I can`t imagine why the speaker is engaged in this kind of
thing on, basically, Christmas Eve. And we`re desperate to come to
solutions, and yet he`s moving further away.
This raises less than half the revenue. I mean, he may annoy part of his
base, but he`s doing nothing for the rest of the country. I just -- I
don`t understand it, frankly, Chris, and even millionaires, who supposedly
would have their taxes increased, actually get a tax cut of $108,500,
according to the Tax Policy Center, because there`s this provision that the
speaker included that protects their exemption from limiting their
deductions for high earners.
It`s a complicated provision called the Pease (ph) provision. Only
millionaires and their accountants are going to understand it. But they do
understand this isn`t going to hurt millionaires, but it does nothing for
the rest of the country and it doesn`t move us -- in fact, it moves us
further away from any kind of reconciliation with the president.
So I think the chances of going over the fiscal cliff were substantially
increased today, Chris.
MORAN: I wouldn`t be at all surprised if we don`t go over the cliff.
MATTHEWS: I know. Now it looks that bad. Gene, the thing is, it protects
the first million anyway from raising taxes back to the Clinton levels.
They get the first million free in terms of tax cuts.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They get the
first million free. As Congressman Moran explained, there`s this other
weird little provision in there that protects them over and above that. I
mean, it`s just -- it`s -- it`s...
MATTHEWS: Well, who`s this bill for?
ROBINSON: It`s not a serious offer.
MATTHEWS: The press isn`t buying it. So who`s it for?
ROBINSON: Well, I think it`s supposed to be for public consumption back
home. I think -- and that members can talk about back home over Christmas.
Look, what seems to have happened is maybe we were close to a deal a few
days ago. Maybe Boehner can`t sell it, can`t sell it to his caucus, and so
he`s retreated to this position that he knows the Democrats are never going
to buy. It`s never going to get...
MATTHEWS: Mr. Moran, take a look at this. The Associated Press reports
today, quote, "Republicans have told senior administration officials that
the Boehner -- that Boehner decided to put forward his plan B" -- this is
what the million-dollar thing is -- "after he concluded he could not get
enough GOP support for the proposal he made to Obama over this past
weekend, according to a senior administration official.
So apparently, Gene`s got it. At least, that`s the way the press is
reading this thing. Boehner`s doing this weird sideshow thing of his with
the million-dollar cutoff because he couldn`t deliver on a million -- or a
trillion and a trillion over 10 years, which looked like a reasonable
proposal that might have gotten somewhere.
MORAN: Well, absolutely. And he`s further antagonizing more and more of
the electorate, Chris. And there are things -- some things that are just
so unfair. Not only does he not provide the "doc fix," which means that
Medicare reimbursement for physicians goes up by 30 percent on January 1st,
but he does things like take away the child care tax credit.
That means that hundreds of thousands of very low-income working mothers
are either going to -- well, they`re going to have to give up their job or
lock their pre-school-age children in their apartment. They desperately
need this little tax credit, and yet he`s taking that away.
And he gives a preferential provision for the estate tax. The cost of the
estate tax provision, which is $388 billion in Speaker Boehner`s proposal,
is equal to the revenue that you would raise by raising the Medicare
retirement age from 65 to 67 for all Medicare enrollees. The numbers are
Why would you take care of 3 1,000ths of a percent of the population at the
expense of what it would -- of paying for it, basically, by raising the
retirement age for all of Medicare?
These things don`t make sense, and people are beginning to realize the
Republican Party is not only not leading, it`s regressing back into, you
know, pre-Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security days.
MATTHEWS: Well, I -- Congressman -- Congressman and Gene, it seems to me
the mathematics, the arithmetic, as Bill Clinton would say, is so
transparent. Forty-seven percent of the country, ironically, voted for
Romney, the Republican -- the Republican candidate. They are protecting
less than 1 percent of the country. So 46 percent of the electorate,
basically, was voting for the interests of less than 1 percent!
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MATTHEWS: OK, Mr. Moran...
MATTHEWS: ... in the cloakroom -- when you guys try to figure out what the
other -- you try to read the offense on the other side, or defense,
whatever it is -- when you`re reading it, what do you see Boehner trying to
do with his -- it seems to me most of the people in his caucus are to his
right. Maybe Cantor is only a little to his right, McCarthy a little, but
the mass of them are Tea Party types. What`s he trying to do?
MORAN: Well, his end game is unfathomable. But I do have -- there`s one
possibility, and that may be to ensure that he gets reelected as speaker of
the House, Chris.
MATTHEWS: But he`s been -- the caucus has voted for him, right?
MORAN: Well, I don`t think it actually -- he doesn`t actually get sworn in
MATTHEWS: No, no. I know.
MORAN: I mean, he`s assumed to be speaker, but he wants to make sure there
will not be a challenge here. You`re absolutely right. I can`t imagine
there is a challenge. So it seems like a far-fetched reason to be going
through all this.
But somehow, he`s trying to appease the right wing of his party. I can`t
imagine that he doesn`t understand how badly this looks not just outside
the Beltway, even within the Beltway. We can`t figure it out.
He knows he has to compromise. He knows if he waits until January to
compromise, the markets are going to crash. They`re going to blame it on
him and the Republicans. He loses further ground.
I mean, it`s -- you can`t go lower than a zero approval rating. We`re in
single digits. It`s only our family and friends that have, you know, any
appreciation for what we`re doing, Chris.
MORAN: So what`s the end game? And we don`t know it. You know, we`re --
we`re -- this certainly -- this is not a fiscal plan that he`s offering
tonight. It`s a political play to appease the right wing not only within
his party but in their constituent bases.
But you know, normally, members would be home with their families for the
holidays. We`re going to be here at least through Saturday, then again on
the 27th, probably every day between Christmas and New Year`s. And what
are we accomplishing? Nothing.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I wonder -- I don`t know what -- Gene and Congressman
Moran, I don`t know what the markets of the world in Hong Kong and all
around the world are going to think of the United States for klutzing it up
again and not passing the deadline that Congress set for itself. Anyway,
MORAN: Well, incidentally, Chris, can I just say, as a member of Defense
Appropriations for 20 years, Chuck Hagel would be a great secretary of
defense. I completely agree with you, my friend.
MATTHEWS: OK. We`re going to get to him later, and I agree with you on
that one. We`ll be right back. (INAUDIBLE) Congressman Jim Moran of
Virginia, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winner from "The Washington
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