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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, March 22, 2010

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Barney Frank, Jan Schakowsky, Chris Hayes>

HOST:  Keith, good evening.  And I can‘t tell you how

good it is to see you in that chair and to have you back.  It‘s great to

see you.


MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next


We begin tonight here in Little Rock, Arkansas, 893 miles southwest

of Washington, D.C.—a long way both geographically and politically from

our nation‘s capital.  But I can tell you that what happened last night in

D.C. shook the proverbial ground even here on the banks of the Arkansas


This morning, I spoke at an event at the Clinton School of Public

Service here in Little Rock, and before I took the stage, before I was even

being introduced, Skip Rutherford, the dean of the school, said to the

crowd that what had happened on Capitol Hill last night was an historic


What followed—to everybody‘s surprise—was the entire room at

9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, roughly 1,000 people in Arkansas leaping to

their feet and giving a thunderous, hollering, cheering, sustained,

standing ovation that went on and on and on.  Not for any person, it‘s

definitely not for me.  It was for health reform passing the House -- 1,000

people, all ages, all ethnicities; a very diverse group.  And I thought—

does your senator know you feel this way?

After decades of trying and failing, President Obama and Democrats

achieved last night what has eluded a great many that came before them. 

There is still work to be done, of course.  The Senate still has to pass

the fixes to the bill that the House passed last night.  That bill that

passed last night arrived at the White House just a few hours ago.  The

president intends to sign that bill tomorrow during a late-morning signing

ceremony at the Department of the Interior.

That bill will then become law—even as it awaits a package of

fixes to the bill.  A package that has already passed the House that is

expected to pass the Senate by next week.

Last week, we speculated about when this bill‘s key elements would

go into effect.  Now, we have the actual bill.  We have the actual

language.  Now we know.

The minute that President Obama signs that bill tomorrow, you can

start the clock on a whole list of benefits that come with it.  You can

start the clock.  The minute President Obama signs health reform into law

tomorrow, small businesses will begin to get relief from what has been an

unpredictable and yet ever-increasing financial burden of providing

coverage to their employees.  Small businesses can start applying for tax

credits to buy health insurance for their employees.

Are you a senior citizen?  Well, the minute President Obama signs

that bill tomorrow, you will start getting help paying for your

prescription drugs.  That dreaded donut hole that forces way too many

seniors to pay way too high out-of-pocket costs for their prescriptions—

that dreaded donut hole will finally begin to close.  For seniors who

already hit the donut hole in their drug coverage in 2010, $250 rebate

checks will be on the way to you.

The minute President Obama signs that bill tomorrow, Americans who

have been deemed uninsurable because of preexisting conditions, they will

finally start getting a path toward health coverage.  High-risk pools will

be set up for them to purchase the insurance they could never get before. 

As of June 21st, 90 days after the bill is signed, those high-risk pools

will be up and running.

The next date to mark down on your calendar -- 90 days after that—

is September 23rd.  As of September 23rd, it will no longer be legal in

this country for insurance companies to deny kids coverage because of a

preexisting condition.  As of September 23rd, insurance companies will be

prohibited from dropping you when you get sick.  No more rescissions.

As of September 23rd, insurance companies can no longer impose life-

time limits on your benefits.  And if you have children, they can stay on

your insurance until the age of 26.

All of that will happen in just six months.

But wait, there‘s more.  As of the next calendar year, as of this

forthcoming January 1st, insurance companies will be required to spend 80

percent to 85 percent of what they take in from you on premiums on actual

medical care.  If they don‘t, they will owe you the difference in the form

of a rebate.  That same day, Medicare patients will start receiving free

preventive care services, no co-payments, free preventive care.

Then, after all that, in 2014, it will no longer be legal for

insurance companies in this country to deny anyone coverage based on

preexisting conditions.  Those who don‘t have coverage can buy some in the

health insurance exchanges that will be fully operational.  With lifetime

limits on benefits already a thing of the past, in 2014, insurance

companies will not be able to impose annual limits on your benefits,


All of those things that I just mentioned, everything there, that

whole list—Republicans now say they want to repeal.  That‘s what they‘re

saying they want to run on now.  They want to run on a total repeal of that

list of things I just described.

The gavel had barrel dropped on the vote last night and Republican

members of Congress were already rushing outside to announce their repeal



REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA:  Starting tomorrow, we‘re bringing the

repeal of this legislation and getting it filed, and we start a discharge

petition, and every Republican will sign it and some of the Democrats will. 

And those that don‘t, you‘ll know who you need to be looking at in



MADDOW:  That was Republican Congressman Steve king of Iowa.  He was

joined last night by fellow repealer, Republican Congresswoman Michele



REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  We‘re going to get every

Republican to sign it and anybody else.  If we get 218 signatures, Nancy

Pelosi is forced to bring the repeal bill to the floor for a vote.



MADDOW:  True to her word, today, Michele Bachmann introduced this -

a one-page bill calling for the total repeal of the Patient Protection

and Affordable Care Act, a bill to reinstate the denial of health insurance

for people with preexisting conditions, a bill to reinstate insurance

companies‘ right to drop you when you get sick, even though you‘ve been

paying your premiums, a bill to reinstate the Medicare donut hole.


Seniors, start cutting those pills in half again.  Republicans think

you‘re not paying enough for your drugs.

And, hey, you 22-year-old on your parents‘ insurance, because of

these reforms—Republicans are campaigning to get you kicked off that


This isn‘t just the Michele Bachmann and Steve King wing of the

Republican Party.  Republicans right now having just lost this major fight

have taken it on as a mainstream campaign point to try to repeal these

insurance reforms I just described.

Republican Senator Jim DeMint is saying, quote, “This bill is

unconstitutional and it cannot be fixed.  It must be repealed.”

2012 Republican presidential hopeful and supposedly mainstream

Republican, Mitt Romney, is saying, quote, “The act should be repealed. 

That campaign begins today.”

The Republican Party‘s most recent presidential standard bearer,

John McCain, said this—


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  The American people are very angry

and they don‘t like it, and they‘re going to—and we‘re going to try to

repeal this.


MADDOW:  Senator McCain followed up that pledge with an e-mail to

his supporters that said, quote, “I believe we must repeal this bill

immediately.  If you agree, please open up your wallets.”  Right next to

Mr. McCain‘s ostensibly principled pledge to repeal health reform is a big

green “contribute” button.  He says, quote, “I‘m working to repeal the

bill.  Your immediate donation of $25 or more will enable me to continue


Are Republicans really going to repeal health reform?  It appears

they would love to.  Nobody actually thinks they‘ll be able to, but will

they be able to raise money off the idea of it, at least?  Oh, yes.  Yes. 

Yes, they can.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of

Massachusetts.  He is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Mr. Chairman, I know it has been a very long few days for you. 

Thank you so much for joining us tonight.


I‘m glad to do it, Rachel.  It‘s an important time for the country.

MADDOW:  President Obama is going to sign this bill tomorrow.  But,

of course, the Senate still needs to pass the fixes to the bill that the

House passed last night.  Do you expect any stumbling blocks in that effort


FRANK:  None that can‘t be overcome.  I think I know the Democratic

senators are determined to do it.

The Republicans are making a very novel argument, namely that

majority rule is totalitarian.  It‘s really quite extraordinary.  You know,

for most American history, the filibuster was used very rarely, almost

always wrongfully to try and block civil rights.  But over the last years,

it started to be this new rule that you need 60 votes to pass something.

What they‘re talking about doing here in the Senate is adopting the

principle of majority rule.  How that becomes totalitarian is baffling to

me.  The need for them to try and talk about repeal, I think you made it

clear with that really very impressive list of benefits.  I have to say,

sitting here, listening to you, Rachel, when you were saying, “Wait,

there‘s more,” and you talk about all these things, I thought I voted for a

set of Ginsu knifes.  I thought you‘re going to throw those in right after

the donut hole.

But the fact is that once the American people experience this bill,

once they see that if they like the health care they have now, it will make

no difference to them.  Those of us, including me, who are on Medicare,

we‘re not going to see any change in the bill unless we hit the donut hole.

People with a good health care plan from their employer or somewhere else,

unless they watch TV or read the paper, they will know what happened.

On the other hand, people with preexisting condition—now, let‘s

be very clear—what that means is health insurance companies will no

longer be able to say you‘re too sick to get health insurance, which is

what that means.

There will be restrictions on what the health insurance companies

who do.  And we ought to be very clear, what Republicans are saying is:

please leave your hands off the health insurance companies.  They have an

interesting choice of victims.  Last week, the Republican leader, John

Boehner, went to the American bankers, those poor believing souls and said,

“I‘m going to protect you from these middle punk staffers, the people who

work on Capitol Hill.”

So, essentially, people ought to understand what they‘re talking

about is protecting the health insurance companies from a set of rules that

they don‘t want to live by.

MADDOW:  It‘s incredible.

We got new some reporting just in the past hour, just a few moments

ago on “COUNTDOWN,” Lawrence O‘Donnell reported that the Senate

parliamentarian struck down the first Republican effort to go after the

reconciliation bill on procedural terms.  Republicans were hoping that the

parliamentarian would say that the reconciliation bill was somehow

improper.  Lawrence O‘Donnell again reporting that that effort by the

Republicans has failed.

FRANK:  Yes.  By the way, let me explain what it was.


FRANK:  The reconciliation procedure, which is majority rule, can‘t

be used to change Social Security.  They argued because this would affect

the economy.  And when you affect the economy or affect Social Security

revenues, that that affects Social Security.  Of course, that‘s a classic

case of an argument that proves too much.  It would mean that nothing could

ever be done by majority rule.

They are now about, I‘m sure, to attack the parliamentarian who was

very honest and very straightforward guy.  And, of course, one of the

discouraging things here has been not only that they are wrong, I believe,

on the substance, but that‘s a legitimate debate.  But you‘ve seen these

thuggish tactics that have been employed with encouragement from some, not

all obviously, Republican leaders.

And that‘s a very disappointing, undermining the --  I used to say,

Rachel, you know, in Massachusetts, they just passed a very good bill

unanimous, Democrats and Republicans, to try and prevent junior high school

kids and high school kids from being bullied from the name-calling, et

cetera.  And that‘s going on in a lot of places in the country.  We have

suicides from young people who have been bullied.

What do they see if they watched television over the weekend? 

Adults doing the same kind of bullying and Republican leaders are cheering

on the bullies.

MADDOW:  Congressman Frank, you were—you were the subject, you

were the object, I guess, of a little bit of that bullying.  “Politico”

reported over the weekend that when you arrived at the House chamber,

somebody yelled a homophobic slur at you.

FRANK:  More than one.  Yes.  My partner Jim and I were walking from

it was a nice day.  We were walking from the one House office building

to another.  There was a great deal of shouting, you know, waving of fists

and signs, and people sort of getting very close and yelling, and a number

of the comments were homophobic.


MADDOW:  Did you feel personally threatened?  Or what was your

reaction to that experience?

FRANK:  Really sadness.  That, because, look, you know, as Jim said,

we‘re kind of adults and, you know, this—I haven‘t got a lot of respect

for these people, to be honest.  So, who cares what they say to me.

But you do have to think about it, I‘m serious about this—this

bullying in junior high and high school, it‘s a big problem.  Again, every

Democrat and every Republican in Massachusetts legislature voted for the

anti-bullying bill.  What occurs to me is, there are kids all over the

country watching this, not as a game, but as real life, and watching

respectable, so-called politicians, cheering them on.  And that was just

discouraging that at this point in our history, we couldn‘t have a rational

debate but these kinds of thug tactics were being used.

MADDOW:  Well, Mr. Chairman, I‘m not in the position for apologizing

for anybody else, but to the extent that I can, I‘m sorry that happened to


FRANK:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  All right.  Democratic—

FRANK:  And I‘ll take a set of knifes.

MADDOW:  You know, they slice, dice and jewel yam (ph).

FRANK:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Congressman.  I really appreciate it.

Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts is, of course,

the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.  He has been

incredibly busy and working incredibly long hours these last few days, as

so members of the House, which makes us particularly grateful that he

joined us tonight.

OK.  Last night, Bart Stupak, the Michigan congressman, who did his

best to hijack health reform in the attempt to turn it into anti-abortion

vehicle—Bart Stupak, in the end, turned around and voted for health

reform.  What Bart Stupak wanted, what Bart Stupak got, and where it all

leaves reproductive rights—you might be surprised to hear it.  Coming up



MADDOW:  Bart Stupak of Michigan tried to hijack health reform to

make abortion unavailable to most American women.  He got everyone in

Washington to know his name.  But did he get anything more than that?  How

it all shook out in terms of actual rights of real people to do things

other than be Bart Stupak on TV.  Coming up next.


MADDOW:  In the end, Congressman Bart Stupak was among the 219 House

Democrats who voted for the Senate‘s version of health reform last night. 

He did not get included in that legislation, the so-called Stupak amendment

the rollback of abortion rights he did managed to slide into the

original House bill last year.


The bill that passed last night did not include the Stupak

amendment, but did, of course, include the Senate bill language on

abortion, which is a very specifically-written ban on federal funding for

abortion.  That‘s all Congressman Stupak ever claimed that he wanted.  But

he‘s been either not telling the truth about the anti-abortion Senate bill

language or actively ignoring that language ever since it came into


But just because Mr. Stupak did not win on this issue doesn‘t mean

he walked away empty-handed.  He did get something out of this month‘s long

“I‘ll hold health reform hostage” anti-abortion stunt.  Actually, he got

two things out of this.  Neither one is what he said he wanted in the first


First, Bart Stupak got famous.  Publicly leading the effort to

derail the single biggest most ambitious policy priority of his own party

helped get Bart Stupak on TV a lot.  Woo!

And by holding health reform hostage by threatening to vote against

it, along with what turned out to be seven of his colleagues, not

apparently the dozen he wants claim run a list in his shirt pocket,

Congressman Stupak did not just get all the attention he appeared to be so

desperately craving, Congressman Stupak also got an anti-abortion

consolation prize—maybe?


REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN:  The president has announced he will

be signing an executive order to re-enforce that principle and that deep

belief that we all stood on—no public funding for abortion.


MADDOW:  Congressman Stupak, in other words, agreed to vote for the

Senate‘s version of health reform which explicitly bans federal funding of

abortion on the sole condition that the president signed an executive order

saying that the Senate bill bans federal funding of abortion.

The executive order in question affirms that the health reform bill,

quote, “maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions” which ban federal

funding of abortion, “and extends those restrictions to the newly-created

health insurance exchanges.”

Again, the Senate bill was consistent with the Hyde Amendment.  It

already banned federal funding for abortions.  So, in terms of policy, in

terms of a practical impact, Bart Stupak‘s “make himself famous” abortion

stunt accomplished nothing.

But the Stupak stunt is not without political consequences. 

President Obama is, of course, pro-choice.  He‘s on the record opposing the

Hyde Amendment back in 2007.  His campaign told “HR Reality Check”

unequivocally that then-senator and candidate Obama did not support the

Hyde Amendment.  He did not support the Hyde Amendment restrictions on

federal funding for abortion.

Now, as president, Mr. Obama just agreed to sign an executive order

ensuring that the Hyde Amendment abortion restrictions are maintained and

possibly expanded.

So, any pro-choice progressives out there who thought they might

have had help in getting the Hyde Amendment overturned during this

presidency should probably consider themselves officially out of luck.

Bart Stupak, of course, should consider himself to be someone who

still hasn‘t disclosed who subsidizes his rent for all those years that he

lived at the C Street house in Washington.

Joining us is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois. 

She‘s a member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, thank you so much for coming back on the

show.  I know it‘s been a tiring few days for you.


but tiring.  You‘re right.  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  What does this executive order mean in practical terms? 

Does this further restrict the access to abortion in this country?

SCHAKOWSKY:  Not any more than the Hyde Amendment does or current

law does or that the Senate bill does.  It‘s kind of—not everybody

listens to, Rachel, when you clearly explain that public funding was not in

the bill.  So, this is like taking a highlighter and underscoring the

language that was already in the bill.

And, look, the Pro-Choice Caucus never liked the Hyde Amendment.  We

still want to address that, and we still certainly want to change the

Nelson language, which is the abortion language that‘s in the Senate bill.

But it does not further restrict a woman‘s access to abortion. 

There are some mechanical things that still need to be dealt with.  The

two-check issue, I think there are ways that it can be handled where it‘s

not burdensome.  But as far as the actual provisions of restrictions,

they‘re not pass current law.

MADDOW:  Are you disappointed that this does appear to contradict

candidate Obama‘s statement about how he felt about the Hyde Amendment when

he was running for office in 2007?  As you say, it doesn‘t make things

practically worse, but it does imply that he‘s not going to be an ally on

withdrawing the Hyde Amendment if that had been the Pro-Choice Caucus‘s


SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, I think there are a bunch of things that we could

do.  I have heard that even those who define themselves as pro-life are

interested in doing some things like adding a fetal anomaly to one of the

reasons why perhaps an abortion might be considered legal.  You know, right

now, it‘s rape, incest, and the possible death of a mother.

So, there are ways that I believe that we can expand the provisions

under the Hyde Amendment to give more access.  We needed to do this to get

the votes.  But let me just read to you, it says, “The president has said

from the start that this health insurance reform should not be the forum to

upset longstanding precedent.  The health care legislation and this

executive order are consistent with this principle.”

So, I think the president actually went out of his way to make sure

that he was not codifying Hyde.  I know that Bart used that language on the

floor.  He said that this codifies Hyde—it does not.  Codify

specifically means put in statutory language, and it doesn‘t do that.

This is still part of the regulations.  And there‘s still absolutely

room for the Pro-Choice Caucus to move ahead.

MADDOW:  I don‘t like to get too caught up in the process and in

protocol and in manners in Washington.  I think we tend—we in the press

tend to read too much into that.

But with that caveat, I do want to ask you, if the White House

consulted with you and with the Pro-Choice Caucus about what it was doing,

or if it just worked this out with Congressman Stupak and the other anti-

choice members, the reason I‘m asking, of course, is I think the people who

are pro-choice in this country are wondering if pro-choice members of

Congress are getting disrespected by the White House, if they are getting

the kind of access that their numbers would indicate that they should.

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, you‘re right about the numbers, by the way.  That

if the Stupak language had been in the bill, we think about 50-plus members

would have absolutely said “no” to health care reform.

So, they did have to listen to us, and what they did yesterday—it

seems 1 million years ago—yesterday morning, was to put in our hands at

the very same time that Bart Stupak saw the language, the proposed language

that the White House had for the executive order.  So, we were in one room

with a lawyer from the White House.  They were in another room with a

lawyer from the White House discussing what the language was.

So, they didn‘t see it before.  There was no negotiation with the

White House before.  We each saw that language.

Diane DeGette who is the chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, she‘s an

attorney, and so, we certainly had the firepower on our side as well.  And

while we did recommend some slight changes, none of those changes were a

deal-breaker, and we felt that, at the end of the day, getting the votes to

pass this incredibly comprehensive and historic bill—you went over all

the wonderful things that it does—was worth it, but by no means stopping

the pro-choice members from our strategizing to move forward.

MADDOW:  Congressman Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, a strong

supporter, not only of choice but of—but of health reform. 

Congratulations to you for what you‘ve been able to do in your House.

SCHAKOWSKY:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  And thanks very much for staying up and talking to us.  I

really appreciate it.

SCHAKOWSKY:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So, hey, health reform passed.  That sentence is apparently

a cue to some people in this country to start throwing bricks through

windows.  There‘s some ugly stuff that has happened as health reform passed

the House and in response apparently to health reform passing the House.

You probably will not have heard all of what we are about to report. 

Please do stay with us.  We‘ll be right back.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  This weekend, as health reform chugged slowly into

the station after 60, 70, 100 years of debate, some folks in the country

decided that debate is not for them. 

They decided they preferred to make their views known by

demonstrations of force, threats of force and intimidation.  Bricks were

thrown through the windows and glass stores of two Democratic offices in

western New York states, including on Friday, the district office of

Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter in Niagara Falls , and over the

weekend, the Democratic Party headquarters in Rochester, New York. 

No one was injured in either attack.  The damage to the

congresswoman‘s office is estimated at a few hundred dollars.  A similar

incident took place in Arizona, at about 2:40 a.m.  Last night, just a few

hours after staff had left for the night after the vote, an alarm went off

at the Tucson office of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. 

Police has thrown part of the office‘s front door and the glass panel

alongside it smashed in.  A spokesperson for the congresswoman said it was

unclear if the glass had been shot out with a pellet gun perhaps or if it

had been kicked or smashed with an object.  No one has claimed

responsibility for any of those attacks. 

Meanwhile, inside the House of Representatives, things got pretty ugly

as well. 


REP. BART STUPAK (D-MI):  Those who are shouting out are out of order. 



MADDOW:  Did you hear that?  Baby killer?  That did not come from a

protestor or someone in the gallery.  That was someone on the House floor. 

It was a member of the United States Congress.  And for a while today, we

did not know who it was. 

But if Congressman “You Lie” Joe Wilson taught us anything, it‘s that

you can‘t shriek like an affronted toddler on the House floor while the

cameras are running and not eventually get found out. 

And so after a period of brave, brave anonymity last night and early

today, the slanderer in brief ultimately had to out himself.  He is

Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer of Texas.  Mr. Neugebauer admitted

today that it was he who screamed “baby killer” during last night‘s health

reform debate. 

But Randy Neugebauer also says when he screamed “baby killer” at

Congressman Bart Stupak, he didn‘t actually mean to imply that Bart Stupak

is a baby killer - no, no, why would you get that impression?  What he says

he meant was that health reform is a baby killer. 

The Congressman apologized for the timing and tone of his comment. 

Timing and tone were the least of the problems with some of the behavior by

anti-health reform protestors outside the U.S. Capitol Building this


For example, I don‘t know what is good timing or what‘s a more

appropriate tone for threatening to stop health reform using guns.  The

sign from this weekend‘s protest at the Capitol reads, “Warning: If Brown,”

meaning Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, “can‘t stop it, a Browning can.” 

And in case you don‘t know, the Browning is a brand of gun.  There‘s a

handy photo or picture of a gun on the sign to make the threat explicit to

even the illiterate.  When Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis

arrived at the Capitol on Saturday, an anti-health reform protestor

reportedly shouted a racial epithet at him, one too vile to be repeated on


Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver also spat on by anti-health reform

protestor after being called the same epithet.  His office says the

Congressman elected to not press charges after Capitol police detained and

handcuffed the man who spat at him and took that man to the Capitol Police

police station. 

And as you heard me discuss earlier, when Congressman Barney Frank

arrived at the Capitol on Saturday, a “” reporter heard anti-

health reform protestors shouting a homophobic slur at the Congressman. 

It should be noted that despite the charm offensive from the anti-

health reform protestors who were cheered on by House Republicans this

weekend, House Democrats chose on Sunday to march through the protestors on

their way into the Capitol Building. 

According to “The Hill” newspaper, the decision was made at the last

minute at the end of a Democratic caucus meeting at a nearby office

building.  Led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the group walked arm in arm,

right up the Capitol steps, right through them, un-intimidated to go do

their jobs. 


MADDOW:  Health reform has passed.  President Obama will sign it tomorrow. 

It will be law.  What‘s not done is reconciliation, the 153 pages of fixes

to the Senate version of health reform.  Senate debate on that begins

tomorrow some time after the president signs the overall bill into law. 

That leaves Republicans one more chance to dig themselves even deeper

in against health reform, sort of.  Actually, the only thing left for

Republicans to all vote against now is this comparatively small

reconciliation bill to make health reform better. 

This is the bill that does things like taking the Nebraska gets

special treatment provision out of the legislation.  You know, the

cornhusker kickback - that‘s the thing Republicans are opposing now. 

They are opposing taking the special treatment for Nebraska cornhusker

kickback thing out of the bill, which is going to make it a little harder

for those same Republicans to rail against health reform because of its

sleazy backroom deals.

Since when they got a chance to vote to take those deals out of the

bill, they instead all voted to keep them in.  It‘s a little like hosting a

keg party to celebrate that you‘ve quit drinking. 

As final passage of the bill gets closer and more inevitable,

conservative Democratic strategy against reform is also getting wacky.  As

you know, I‘m in Arkansas today where Sen. Blanche Lincoln has released a

statement on health reform, quote, unquote, “I am pleased that the House

approved the Senate Health Insurance Reform Bill that I helped craft.  Even

with its imperfections, this bill represents the most morally and fiscally

responsible approach to health reform.” 

So more than just a yes vote, Sen. Lincoln is now taking credit for

the Senate bill.  And she‘s also now pledging to vote against it becoming

law, saying, quote, “The reconciliation package devised by the House

employs a legislative process that wasn‘t subject to the same transparency

and thorough debate that we used in the Senate.  I cannot support this


So Blanche Lincoln voted for the bill in December and will now vote

against it becoming law, not on its merits but because of a process

concern, thus casting a vote both for health reform and against health


Which means that of the population that cares one way or another about

health care, Blanche Lincoln has provided exactly zero percent of those

people with a reason to vote for her.  Tada. 

Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation.” 

Chris, it‘s nice to see you.  Thanks for joining us. 



MADDOW:  Do Senate Republicans have any chance of derailing the bill, given

what we‘ve heard about the meeting with the parliamentarian and everything

else we know about the process at this point? 

HAYES:  I think no.  I mean, today, they took their kind of procedural shot

and they tried to rule some things out of order vis-a-vis budget

reconciliation.  They were shot down the part by the parliamentarian.  The

next steps are all amendments they want to propose. 

And basically, I think, as long as - you know, remember, the

amendments, because it‘s the Senate, they‘d have to pass by - they‘d have

to get 60 votes.  And so as long as Reid can hold together, you know, 51 or

even 50 Democratic senators, if that‘s what he needs to get rid of those

amendments, there‘s not a whole lot they can do. 

MADDOW:  How long do you expect the overall process to take?  One of the

things Republicans have talked about is just trying to make the process

take an interminably long time in the hopes they win by wearing the other

side down. 

HAYES:  So my understanding, and again, this is like pretty - this gets

pretty esoteric.  But my understanding is there‘s a 20-hour clock that

started running either - starts tonight or starts tomorrow for the

amendment proposing period. 

The people on the Senate that I‘ve talked to seem to think it‘s going

to happen Friday or Saturday and not extend much beyond that, given -

unless there‘s some surprise.  Unless Republicans, you know, come up with

some brilliant plan to win over Democratic votes on an amendment.  But I

think Friday or Saturday is the time frame. 

MADDOW:  OK.  On the issue of Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson also today saying

that he would vote against reconciliation, which is remarkable because Ben

Nelson is blamed for the cornhusker kickback, so now explicitly vote

against taking it out of the bill while (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  Do you

understand the political logic behind what -


MADDOW:  Say, Blanche Lincoln is doing?  No, no.

HAYES:  Sorry, I didn‘t mean to cut you off, but no.  No, I don‘t.  You

know, like you said, what you‘ve alienated everyone.  It makes no sense. 

And you know, it‘s going to be a polarized electorate, I think, in the

fall, largely. 

And there‘s just going to be no way you are going to be able to go to

anyone and say, “Hey, remember that there was this super-obscure process

whereby after Scott Brown got elected, they sent it back and there was this

reconciliation side car?  Remember the side car?  Well, I voted against the

side car.” 

I mean, you know, how are you going to explain that in ads?  No one‘s

going to care about that.  It‘s going to be the totality of the bill that‘s

going to either stand up or fall.  That‘s going to be the thing.  That‘s

going to be slugged out in ads and in the campaign.  And the notion that

you could hedge your bet on the downside by taking the no-vote here seems

really, really dubious to me. 

MADDOW:  “The Nation‘s” Chris Hayes, always, always cutting right to the

chase.  Always a pleasure to have you on the show, Chris.  Thank you. 

HAYES:  Thank you, Rachel.  Enjoy Little Rock. 

MADDOW:  I couldn‘t help but.  Thank you.  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN” - big

news.  Keith is back.  And Keith is back with a special comment about the

opposite of the better angels of our nature that had been on display during

this fight particularly over the weekend.  You do not want to miss it.

First on this show, how health reform is proving to be a clarifying

moment against all the odds.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  The big difference between right and left.  The reason there are

two major political parties in this country.  A very welcome clarifying

moment, coming up next. 




this afternoon, however difficult the moment -


KING:  However frustrating the hour, it will not be long -


KING:  Because truth crushed to earth will rise again.

CROWD:  Yes, sir.

KING:  How long?  Not long.


KING:  Because no lie can live forever.

CROWD:  Yes, sir.

KING:  How long? Not long,

CROWD:  All right.

KING:  Because you shall reap what you sow.

CROWD:  Yes, sir.

KING:  How long?  How long? Not long.

CROWD:  Not long.

KING:  Truth forever on the scaffold, ruling forever on the throne.

CROWD:  Yes, sir.

KING:  Yet that scaffold sways the future.


KING:  And behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadow, keeping

watch above his own.  How long?  Not long, because the arc of the moral

universe is long, but it bends toward justice.


KING:  How long?  Not long. 


KING:  Because mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.


KING:  He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are



CROWD:  Yes.

KING:  He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword.


KING:  His truth is marching on.


KING:  He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat. 


KING:  He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat.


KING:  Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer him.  Be jubilant my feet.  Our God

is marching on.

CROWD:  Yes.

KING:  Glory, hallelujah.  Yes, sir.  Glory, hallelujah.  Glory,


CROWD:  All right.


KING:  Glory, hallelujah.  Glory, hallelujah.  His truth is marching on.



MADDOW:  That was 45 years ago today, “The arc of the moral universe is

long but it bends toward justice.”  When it goes to the wide shot at the

end of that, you can see where Martin Luther King was standing when he made

that speech, right?  He was on the steps of the State Capitol in Alabama -

Montgomery, Alabama. 

The Selma to Montgomery civil rights march of 1965 is remembered for

what happened when they first tried it.  When activists first tried to

march from Selma to Montgomery, they did not make it. 

A young man named John Lewis, now Congressman John Lewis was among

those beaten nearly to death by Alabama state troopers on the Edmund Pettus

Bridge in Selma.  That was bloody Sunday.  That was the first try to get to


Then, the marchers tried again two days later.  They still did not

make it.  And then they tried yet again, a third time.  And on the third

try, they did it, a 54-mile march to Montgomery. 

And in Montgomery Martin Luther King gave the “how long, not long”

speech, “the arc of the moral universe speech” on the steps of the state

capitol and that was 45 years ago today. 

Yesterday, in “The Washington Post,” that paper‘s big picture “what

does this all mean” article on what‘s happening in American politics right

now included this statement, putting our political fights now against the

legacy of civil rights. 

“Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Obama and the

Democrats will regret their decision to push for comprehensive health care

reform calling the bill, quote, ‘The most radical social experiment in

modern times.‘” 

“Gingrich said, quote, ‘They will have destroyed their party much as

Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years with the

enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.‘” 

Yes, Democrats, you don‘t want to make another big mistake like you

did with civil rights.  You sure regret supporting civil rights, don‘t you,

the way that worked out? 

Mr. Gingrich later clarified to the “Washington Post” that what he

says - he meant was that LBJ was right to sign major civil rights

legislations.  LBJ just shouldn‘t have supported things likes bussing or

otherwise not have gotten so far ahead of the country on civil rights. 

I would not have expected it, but the fight over health reform now is

turning out to be clarifying.  Health reform is not civil rights.  This is

not a desegregation order.  This is not a voting rights bill.  It‘s not the

same thing. 

But this is government trying to take a major step to remedy something

that is wrong in the country.  And we haven‘t done that in a long time. 

Taxes have been cut and raised.  Wars have been ended and started. 

Standards and rules have been imposed, and they have been repealed. 

But when is the last time we took on head on a longstanding

intractable problem that is hard to fix that was not going to fix itself? 

Actually, doing health reform is a demonstration that government is not

just for show.  Government is for fixing problems. 

We have a government, not just to give people shiny political

celebrity high-profile jobs so they can win popularity contests against

other people who want shiny political high-profile jobs. 

We have a government to work on problems that we have as a people, as

a country, problems that aren‘t working themselves out intrapersonally or

in the marketplace.  Government is for something.  We have one for a


And so that‘s why you‘re hearing people now talk about this passage of

health reform in the same breath as civil rights, as social security, as

Medicare.  Nancy Pelosi used the same comically oversized giant gavel this

weekend that was used in 1965 when Medicare was established, not because

what‘s happening now is Medicare.  It‘s not.  Not with single payer off the

table and not even a public option, it‘s not.

But it is a call back to the time when Medicare was created. 

Incidentally, Medicare created the same year as the civil rights speech we

led this off with, a time when Democrats behaved in a way that made clear

that they thought government could do something. 

And the Ronald Reagans of the world, the conservatives, though that

government really shouldn‘t.  Ronald Reagan, you‘ll recall, campaigned

against Medicare, calling it socialized medicine saying it would be the

beginning of the end of freedom in this country. 



you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow and behind

it will become other federal programs that will invade every area of

freedom as we have known it in this country. 


MADDOW:  It‘s clarifying, right?  Some people thought Medicare was a good

idea.  Some people thought it was the end of America.  We are back to that

clarity of conflict again. 

Supporters of health reform think that the reason we elect people to

government is so that they can take on the big challenges like our

disastrous lack of a health care system. 

The Republican budget map they have put forward as an alternative to

President Obama‘s agenda, on the other hand, would repeal Medicare over

time.  It would repeal social security over time, privatizing it.  And

they‘re against health reform, universally.

Not a single Republican vote is expected it for it now.  It‘s

clarifying, right?  Newt Gingrich, who would like to run for president for

the Republican Party in 2012, looks back on the legacy of government doing

stuff all the way back to civil rights and suggests there‘s something to

regret in that legacy. 

All the most principled Republicans and conservatives I have ever

known say that they relish the prospect of a big ideas debate in this

country.  They relish the chance to give Americans a choice between their

vision of politics and the liberal vision of politics. 

Through all the name-calling and vituperation and proxy war of this

health reform fight, we are finally getting down to that clear choice.  Do

you want a government that does something, or don‘t you? 

When you look back at the legacy of government doing stuff, of

establishing Medicare and social security, and government protection of

civil rights, do you regret that?  Or do you think that‘s not regrettable,

that the government did right when it did those things? 

Republicans are banking on the American people regretting that legacy. 

Democrats are banking on the American people thinking we got those big

things right and we can get other big things right, too.  It‘s a big

choice.  It‘s never been clearer in my lifetime.  Hell no, you can‘t.  Or

yes, we can. 


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH):  Hell, no.  You can‘t. 



MADDOW:  Either we can and we should, or we can‘t and we shouldn‘t.  The

debate has never been more clear.  So are you ready?  Set.  Talk



MADDOW:  So Kent is in New York City.  I‘m in Arkansas.  and between here

and there, a lot of people are wrong.  Kent, I understand you‘ve been


KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, a little bit, Rachel.  Hindsight is

20/20, which is handy when talking about all those conservatives who

predicted health reform would never happen.  Tonight‘s special, crow.  Bon



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  It would be good for the country if it


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA):  Nancy Pelosi doesn‘t have the votes in the House

right now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This bill funds abortion. 

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R-GA):  14,000 people are losing their health insurance

every day, not because of the cost of health insurance.  They‘re losing it

because they lost their jobs. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It funds illegals. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Pelosi health care insurance bill will destroy America. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It steals liberty. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think if they do pass it, the American people are

never going to get over it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s unconstitutional. 

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R-SC):  It would be his waterloo. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It kicks off lawsuits. 

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN):  This is the crown jewel of socialism, this


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It spends trillions of dollars. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a 40-60 shot. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s irresponsible. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Forty percent they pass it; 60 they don‘t. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a theft of liberty. 

REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R-NC):  We have more to fear from the potential of that

bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘re keenly aware of the fact that comprehensive

health care reform is not going to get passed. 

DEMINT:  It will break him. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re not just getting single-payer care.  We‘re

getting full-on Russian gulag. 

DAVID GREGORY, NBC ANCHOR:  You think the plan is dead? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it is. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Soviet-style gulag health care. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And it‘s wrong. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The American people are telling us, please don‘t pass

this bill. 


MADDOW:  All this says to me, Kent, is that those guys think that the

gulags were way more awesome than they were. 

JONES:  Yes.  Yes, exactly.  I was wondering what the crown jewel of

socialism is.  Sound a bit like a monarchy to me.  I don‘t get it. 

MADDOW:  Crown jewels.  Isn‘t that -


JONES:  It‘s the crown jewel. 

MADDOW:  Yes, it‘s like saying having czars is very communist. 

JONES:  Czars are bad. 

MADDOW:  Czars, communists - do you guys know what happened?  It was in the


JONES:  Very confusing. 

MADDOW:  All right.  Kent, thank you very much.  I‘m going to have some

celebratory barbecue in your name while I‘m here. 

JONES:  Please do.  Please do. 

MADDOW:  All right.  That‘s just about does it for us tonight.  We will see

you again tomorrow night back in New York City.  Until then, you can E-mail


You can read our new blog, which we‘re very proud of,

“”  “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann - with the actual

Keith Olbermann - starts right now.  Please have a great night.




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