MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Friday recommended that Republicans “walk out” of talks completely because President Barack Obama’s first budget offer was “loaded with Democratic priorities,” citing an imperfect memory of the way President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) harmoniously “worked together” to reach a deal in 1995.
On Thursday, Republicans aides circulated what they said was the first White House budget offer. It reportedly included $1.6 trillion in taxes, $400 billion in entitlement spending cuts and $200 billion in new stimulus of payroll tax cuts and an efforts to encourage homeowners to refinance. The White House also wants a debt limit increase as part of the deal to avoid the crisis that ended with U.S. credit being downgraded in 2011.
On MSNBC Friday morning, Scarborough said that he would have laughed out loud if he had been in the room when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was making the offer.
“I would have said, ‘We’re all busy people, this is a critical time, if you’re going to come over here and insult us and intentionally try to provoke us, you can do that but I’m going back to work now,’” Scarborough explained. “And I’d walk out.”
“Was it necessary for the president to be so proactive with something even The New York Times said was — quote — ‘loaded with Democratic priorities’ and really gave Republicans nothing?” the conservative MSNBC host wondered. “I think they were awfully reckless yesterday with this first offer.”
“Look at the other side that they’re dealing with,” co-host Mika Brzezinski pointed out. “Look at who they’re dealing with, many of the same people as the last four years. So, what would you do if you knew who you were up against? Would you come out there with something that was incredibly giving from the get-go?”
“My response to [House Speaker] John Boehner would be very simple, just stop talking to them,” Scarborough opined. “Don’t talk to them until they make a serious offer… I’ve got to say that I’m really stunned by what happened yesterday.”
“I can tell you, it’s not a hard ask, it’s a partnership,” he added. “And actually as much as Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich loathed each other at times, they worked together to deal with Republicans like myself on balancing the budget on the first time in a generation, balancing it four years for for the first time since the 1920s, paying down the national debt. And you know what? Newt Gingrich always had to fight us on his right flank and he and Bill Clinton sat in the White House and strategized.”
In fact, the budget negotiations between Clinton and Gingrich were no where near as smooth and cordial as Scarborough remembers. After Clinton passed his 1993 budget (and tax increases) with no Republicans votes, Gingrich led a 1993 effort to impeach the 42nd president of the United States in the House of Representatives. Clinton later was forced to shut down government for a total of 28 days in 1995 and 1996 over drastic cuts to spending on Medicare, education, public health and the environment. In the end, the parties did work together to create four consecutive balanced budgets for the first time since the 1920s. Forcing the government shutdown, however, marked the beginning of the end of Gingrich’s career as Speaker.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein noted on Thursday that the first White House budget proposal was a signal that President Barack Obama would no longer begin negotiations by conceding to Republican demands as he had done so many times during his first term.
“Previously, Obama’s pattern had been to offer plans that roughly tracked where he thought the compromise should end up,” Klein wrote. “Perhaps the key lesson the White House took from the last couple of years is this: Don’t negotiate with yourself. If Republicans want to cut Medicare, let them propose the cuts. If they want to raise revenue through tax reform, let them identify the deductions. If they want deeper cuts in discretionary spending, let them settle on a number. And, above all, if they don’t like the White House’s preferred policies, let them propose their own.”
“The GOP is right: This isn’t a serious proposal. But it’s not evidence that Obama isn’t serious. He’s very serious about not negotiating with himself, and his opening bid proves it.”
Watch this video from MSNBC’s Morning Joe, broadcast Nov. 30, 2012.