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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is Democratic United States Senator from
California Barbara Boxer, who wrote in today`s Politico that Speaker Boehner should look at Tip O`Neill`s speakership for guidance on navigating the coming tax deadlines. What -- we`re looking there at a picture, Senator, of Tip O`Neill and Reagan on -- signing the bill...


MATTHEWS: ... on Social Security reform.

You spoke about an earlier issue in your piece today about how they got
together in `82, the year before.

BOXER: That`s right. And that was the year I was elected, so I came into the House of Representatives in 1983. But there was such a feeling of camaraderie,
because about half of the Democrats and half the Republicans came together.
And guess what the problem was? Raging deficits, not enough revenues and
we needed to cut some spending, too.

And we needed to make sure that people got their unemployment benefits.
Tip O`Neill realized that he was speaker of the House, not speaker of the
Democrats. And he had that magic. And the magic to him was 218 votes.
And that`s what I wish John Boehner would do, because if he took a page out
of Tip O`Neill`s book, we will be off this fiscal cliff. And I compliment Congressman Cole for his courage in saying, you know, the president`s given
us 98 percent, essentially, of what we want. Let`s take it and we`ll argue
over the millionaires and the billionaires later.

MATTHEWS: You know, you`re probably one of the really key leading progressives in the United States Senate. I`ve watched your heroic campaigns every six years. I`m always in wander of your ability to stick to your principles and yet keep winning big in the biggest state. How is this going over, this view that you`re taking now, which we`re all in this together to some extent? It`s got to be a 60/40, or something like that, deal. How is that going over with your colleagues in the Senate?

BOXER: Honestly, I really think everybody on my side of the aisle -- I haven`t talked to much to my colleagues, my Republican friends, because they`re under a lot of pressure and I`m not going to put more pressure on them.

But I think among the Democrats, Chris, what we understand is there`s two
things causing this fiscal cliff. Just two things: they`re very important things.

One is the Bush tax cuts are expiring. We want to make sure they stay the
same for 98 percent of the people and just those over $250,000 will go back
to the Clinton rates. And we had the greatest prosperity under Bill Clinton. And everybody knows that -- 23 million jobs, balanced budgets, all the rest. It`s not going to hurt anything.

The second thing, the automatic spending cuts. So my view is we can climb down that cliff by doing what the president says on taxes, bringing home the money from the wars, and stopping those automatic cuts. We`re off the cliff.


BOXER: And then we get together with goodwill, right in January with the new Senate and the new House, and we hammer out the long-range solutions to all this.

MATTHEWS: I want to you listen to something that your colleague, Patty Murray, from Washington state said on Alex Wagner`s show "NOW", about this
fiscal cliff and her attitude towards it. I want to you react to it.

BOXER: Sure.


SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: It`s not a good idea to go over the
fiscal cliff. No one wants to see that happen. It is a bad idea. But a worse idea is to accept a compromise that allows the wealthy Americans to continue to not pay their fair share because the result of that will be middle class families will bear the entire burden of the challenges that this country faces. And that`s not fair or responsible.


MATTHEWS: How do we do it? How does this country manage to get a decently
fair deal in time to beat this cliff, avoid it?

BOXER: Tom Cole said it all. Take what the president has offered right now. Make sure that 98 percent of the people aren`t affected by any tax increases. That`s how we get it started.

And Patty is absolutely right. We`ve got all these problems facing us and this is the way to do it. A bad deal would be saying to the millionaires and billionaires, you know, you`re going to get a big tax break. That`s what the elections was about. We held an election. It isn`t as if this was a sidebar issue, Chris. This was a main issue.


BOXER: So, we can fix this. We can stop the sequester right now. We can make sure that 98 percent of the people don`t pay one penny more in their taxes.

And we get off that fiscal cliff and we`re on to the New Year. And the markets will be happy. And the people will smile.

And I think Tom Cole, again -- I mean, maybe I`m hurting him by saying this, he had a lot of courage. And I hope that others will follow his lead.

MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, Senator Barbara Boxer of California. I do believe the whole world is watching us. Not just our money markets.


MATTHEWS: I think they`re watching us all over the world to see if we can be grown-ups about this thing.

BOXER: No doubt.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much for coming on always.



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