MSNBC's Mike Barnicle Oddly Tries to Suggest Sen. Ron Johnson Should Talk Compromise on Debt Like It's a Home Loan

MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle perpetuated the liberal line of Republican obstinacy over the debt ceiling on Tuesday's Morning Joe using a poor analogy to home buying. "Did you ever compromise or negotiate on the price with the then owner of the home?" asked Barnicle.


The Wisconsin Senator responded by noting that Republicans actually are willing to come to the table. "I'm happy to work with anybody who's serious about fixing the problem," said Johnson. "But the fact of the matter that the President comes to the table three week before - about a month before the deadline, and insists on raising taxes, and let's face it, he couldn't raise taxes when his party was in total control of the government."

Johnson could have also pointed out that the home buying analogy is useless; the debt ceiling debate is an argument among borrowers, not an argument between buyer and seller.

Barnicle continued to press Johnson on his refusal to agree to tax hikes: "Let's talk about raising taxes then." Johnson pointed out that Democrats have not come forth with any meaningful proposals. "I'm happy to close loopholes. Show me the real loopholes, show me the real deal as opposed to legitimate business expenses, because that's what they're normally talking about."

Barnicle then tried to play the class warfare card by throwing hedge funds and capital gains tax rates in Johnson's face. "Hedge funds - lot of money. Billions of dollars. You get taxed capital gains rate, 15%. Why not tax it as income?" asked Barnicle. Johnson again had to return to the point that the Democrats have not proposed any serious solutions. "Has the President proposed that? Is it on a piece of paper?" asked Johnson.

Johnson then explained why the process was moving as slowly as it has been:

"First of all we haven't passed a budget in the United States Senate in two years. The Democrats are in total control of the Senate. I don't have a whole lot of power in the Senate to be proposing these things that don't even get brought up. The House actually did pass a budget. The Democrats simply refuse to put their plan on the table because they don't want to have the American people see what their plan is. Their plan primarily is to raise taxes.  

I'm willing to eliminate loopholes. I think most of my Republican colleagues are willing to eliminate loopholes. Show us what they are. They aren't willing to show us. They just demagogue the issue. They talk about this, you know, $3 worth of spending for every dollar increase in taxes. What $3 in spending cuts? It's smoke and mirrors, there are going to be spending cuts that are going to occur 12 years in the future, that's not a serious plan."

A transcript of the exchange, which aired at 7:47 am on Tuesday's Morning Joe, follows.

MSNBC
MORNING JOE
07/19/2011

7:47 am EDT

MIKE BARNICLE: Senator, did you remember when you first bought your home? Senator? Do you remember buying your first home?

SEN RON JOHNSON: Sure, sure I do, Mike.

BARNICLE: Did you ever compromise or negotiate on the price with the then owner of the home?

JOHNSON: See, Mike, I'm happy to work with anybody who's serious about fixing the problem. But the fact of the matter that the President comes to the table three week before - about a month before the deadline, and insists on raising taxes, and let's face it, he couldn't raise taxes when his party was in total control of the government. Now he's - so again, I'm willing to work with anybody who's going to negotiate in good faith.

BARNICLE: Let's talk about raising taxes then.

JOHNSON: Let's talk about closing loopholes. I'm happy to close loopholes. Show me the real loopholes, show me the real deal as opposed to legitimate business expenses, because that's what they're normally talking about.

BARNICLE: How about this one?

JOHNSON: That's what they're talking about.

BARNICLE: How about this one, Senator, and take this back to main street in Oshkosh and ask the people you encounter in main street in Oshkosh. Hedge funds. Hedge funds - lot of money. Billions of dollars. You get taxed capital gains rate, 15%. Why not tax it as income?

JOHNSON: Mike, Mike, has the President proposed that? Is it on a piece of paper?

BARNICLE: Why don't you?

JOHNSON: Can I take a look at it?

BARNICLE: Why don't you propose it?

JOHNSON: Because, you know, first of all we haven't passed a budget in the United States Senate in two years. The Democrats are in total control of the Senate. I don't have a whole lot of power in the Senate to be proposing these things that don't even get brought up. The House actually did pass a budget. The Democrats simply refuse to put their plan on the table because they don't want to have the American people see what their plan is. Their plan primarily is to raise taxes. But, again, I'm willing to work with anybody. I'm willing to negotiate. I'm willing to eliminate loopholes. I think most of my Republican colleagues are willing to eliminate loopholes. Show us what they are. They aren't willing to show us. They just demagogue the issue. They talk about this, you know, $3 worth of spending for every dollar increase in taxes. What $3 in spending cuts? It's smoke and mirrors, there are going to be spending cuts that are going to occur 12 years in the future, that's not a serious plan. Show us a serious plan. Do this in sort of the regular order. You know, to think, to think, to think that we can actually, you know, prepare a budget and negotiate a budget, a $3.7 trillion a year budget behind closed doors with a few folks doing it? It is absurd. It's silly, it's crazy.