Guests: Chris Hayes, Howard Fineman, Stan Greenberg, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Debbie Wasserman Schultz
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
How snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The Republicans again hint at filibustering tax cuts for the middle class.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We think most Americans think it‘s a bad idea to be raising taxes on anybody in the middle of a recession.
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OLBERMANN: Even the rich? You might be wrong about that.
The House Democratic Caucus meets to decide whether to force the Republicans to reveal their toeing to the rich by forcing Republicans to vote against the middle class tax cuts.
Our special guests: caucus chairman, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, and the pollster who addressed the caucus, Stan Greenberg.
Republican racism mea culpa. Last year, Florida GOP chair, Jim Greer, led the charge—calling the president‘s speech to school kids, quote, “indoctrination.”
Now, Mr. Greer with an extraordinary admission: “I found that many within the GOP have racist views, and I apologize to the president for my opposition to his speech last year and my efforts to placate the extremists who dominate our party today.”
Who writes economic policy for that party? FOX‘s ad man.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The “Scoreboard” contract is: “No new taxes, no new bureaucrats, cut spending, repeal Obamacare.” Would you be in favor of those?
REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN: Absolutely. And we—not only would I be in favor of these things, we will be in favor of those things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our guest: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Delaware debacle. You might be in trouble if on primary day your former campaign manager comes out against you.
You might be in trouble if a conservative heavyweight blasts you like this:
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CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The Palin endorsement I think is destructive and capricious.
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OLBERMANN: And what‘s wrong with this picture? Everything. “Worst Persons,” her, the team, the players, the league, reporters in locker rooms, and giving her network media passes when their last reporter showed up in a wedding dress and proposed to the quarterback at the Super Bowl.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t see any problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
With control of both houses of Congress hanging in the balance, Democrats are hungry for something with which to motivate their voters and get out and vote. There is one issue on the table between now and November that holds the potential to fire up those Democratic voters.
But in our fifth story tonight: the Democrats have not yet decided whether to make it an issue by bringing to it a vote in the House before Election Day. The issue: Republicans are refusing to pass Obama‘s proposed tax cuts for the middle class unless Democrats agree to pass Republican tax cuts for incomes over a quarter million.
Tonight, House Democrats met to discuss whether bringing the battle to a vote benefits or hurts them at the ballot box. What they decide could very well determine whether the next Congress is gaveled into order by Speaker Pelosi or by Speaker Boehner.
At that meeting tonight was Congressman Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee standing by to join us and brief us on that meeting. Also at the meeting, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who briefed Democrats on what his polling says about the issue, also standing by to join us with what he said.
The argument for voting on this similar to the political argument for today‘s vote in the Senate on tax breaks for small businesses. Senate Democrats got two Republicans to break their party‘s filibuster to give small businesses $12 billion in tax breaks and create a $30 billion fund that will leverage as much as $300 billion in small business lending, which means Senate Democrats can now argue that Republicans tried to block small business tax cuts in the middle of a recession.
The argument against voting on the middle class tax cuts now? Some Democratic strategists reportedly are telling members of Congress that even saying the word “taxes” helps Republicans. That‘s it.
But some Republicans seem to understand the prospect of them blocking tax cuts for 98 percent of the country on behalf of the richest 2 percent a month before Election Day—they understand how that might not be a good thing.
House Republican leader, John Boehner, Sunday said, of course, he would vote for the Obama middle class tax cuts if those were the only tax cuts he could still get. Today, his counterpart in the Senate tried to claim, falsely, that most Americans agree with him, but Congress should extend tax cuts for everybody. And he refused to say whether he, like Boehner, would support the Obama middle class tax cuts if those interest only ones he can get.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I‘m not going to answer any of the hypotheticals. That is my position as we go into this debate.
And if the other side thinks this is a great debate to have six weeks before the election, to start looking at the politics of it, I assume they want to have the debate now before the election, even though this could be dealt with after the election. The reason they want to have it now, they think it‘s a good political debate for them.
We‘re happy to have this debate. We think most Americans think it‘s a bad idea to be raising taxes on anybody in the middle of a recession.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Most Americans think it‘s a bad idea to be raising taxes on anybody in the middle of a recession.
“The Plum Line” blog found a half dozen polls showing just the opposite. Most Americans support letting at least the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire. Pew Research, 57 percent. “National Journal,” 56 percent. Gallup, 59 percent. CNN, 69 percent. CBS, 56 percent. “Newsweek,” 52 percent.
We asked Senator McConnell‘s office today to supply a single poll showing majority support for extending Bush‘s tax cuts for the rich. No reply.
Republican tax-cutting guru, Grover Norquist, told the newspaper “The Hill” that Republicans would fall into a political trap if they blocked Obama‘s middle class tax cuts.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich telling WVOC radio, quote, “Why would you vote against a tax cut for millions of Americans just before an election just so the liberal Democrats could then attack you?”
Even before Mr. Boehner, some Republicans showed signs that they don‘t know how to proceed. If Democrats make them choose between tax cuts for 98 percent of America or tax cuts for no one.
Senator Chuck Grassley to the “A.P.,” quote, “It‘s kind of a conundrum. I‘m not sure I can answer your question.”
Congressman Dave Camp, quote, “I‘ll probably vote for it.”
Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas to “Politico” yesterday, quote, “Out there in theoretical land might there be something that we vote on that is half a loaf? I suppose so.”
Joining us back in actual land, as promised, Stan Greenberg, Democratic pollster, chairman and CEO of Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner, who also, we should note, does polling for NBC News.
Great thanks for joining us tonight, sir.
STAN GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: NPR. That‘s OK. And “L.A.
OLBERMANN: Very good. We‘ll get the whole roster out there.
Give us your assessment of that—of the caucus tonight and what you told them and how much they listened.
GREENBERG: Well, this issue is obviously, you know, taken very, very seriously. I actually came over here. The caucus was supposed to be over. But it was still going on, discussing this, you know, subject with, you know, a lot of support for addressing this. I don‘t want to talk about what members said in the caucus. That‘s—you know, that‘s for them to raise.
I can talk about, you know, the polling that we did and what I said, which was essentially this is an issue in which about 38 percent of the country supports the Republican position to extend these tax cuts, which is 10 points below the vote that Republicans are getting right now. So, this is an issue that drags them down. It‘s an issue that helps Democrats. It is an issue I believe Democrats want.
It creates a framework of choice, and it defines the two parties. And I would say a defining issue. Democrats need that, both to build turnout. But more than, you know, to create a, you know, a real choice, not a phony choice. I mean, this is a real issue. There‘s real money involved and Democrats have the advantage.
OLBERMANN: Forty-nine days to go. Is that time enough to brand these things the Obama tax cuts? And did any Democrats still think that they would lose if Republicans are out there blocking, quote/unquote, “the Obama tax cuts”?
GREENBERG: Yes. Again, I can‘t speak for the—you know, for the members and the caucus. But, you know, there‘s—you know, clearly there‘s, you know, strong support for extending middle class tax cuts. I don‘t know, you know, what they‘re actually the other piece of it.
But I think people, you know, understand just as the voters, I think are so clearly, you know, expressing, you know, that there is a difference between the parties reflected in this issue. You know, sometimes, you know, you have spin. This is not spin. You know, this is real policy.
If you don‘t do this, there‘s $700 billion that you‘re not going to do for a deficit or investment for jobs. It‘s $700 billion you‘re going to take out some place else. You know, this is a—you know, it‘s a real choice.
And what our poll shows, you know, not just that voters agree with the Democrats. You know, they shift their vote after hearing the arguments. You know, we get a five-point, you know, shift in favor of, you know, towards the Democrats, you know, after the tax debate.
People often think if it‘s a tax debate, it‘s not good for Democrats. You know, I always get that. I get it from other pollsters. I get it from elected officials.
A tax debate is good for the Democrats. People want the priorities the Democrats bring to taxes. We—Barack Obama ran on it and won it. Bill Clinton won on raising taxes on the wealthy and won on it. Ross Perot wanted to do it as well.
So, you know, Democrats should want a tax debate, particularly the kind of choices that are faced on this extension of the Bush tax cut.
OLBERMANN: Does it—does it help to actually brand it with the president‘s name? Is there any indication of that?
GREENBERG: You know, it‘s—look, the president has an overall, you know, approval rating low to mid-40s. You know, it varies, you know, by district. But this is—you know, it‘s not an election about the president. You know, it‘s fine to bring, you know, the president into it. Obviously, it depends on the, you know, on the district.
But it‘s not about the president. I mean, his tax cuts could come into play because we listen closely to, you know, Mitch McConnell. He‘s talking about repealing those and, you know, opposing their extensions. So, he‘s talking about raising taxes on the working poor, a lot of middle class people. And so, you know, Obama‘s name is certainly going to become prominent, you know, if that‘s what you‘re talking about doing.
The Bush tax cut, you know, represent trickle-down economics. That‘s what resonates in our poll. That‘s the strongest message, you know? This says Republicans believe in trickle-down economics. You, you know, help the people at the top. That‘s going to help everybody else.
People don‘t believe in that. They don‘t want to go back to that.
OLBERMANN: Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who also does polling for NBC News, NPR and “The L.A. Times”—got it all that time. Great thanks for your time tonight.
GREENBERG: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The message, not surprisingly given the polls we rattled off earlier. A tax debate is good for the Democrats, that this issue cutting taxes for 98 percent of the country, an Obama tax cut if you will, while letting Bush tax cuts for the rich expire is a political winner for the Democrats with the majority of Americans solidly behind it.
We‘re going to go back to the Hill now with Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, fresh from that very same meeting with the Democratic Caucus. And the congressman is hooked up.
And we appreciate you rushing out to do this for us tonight, sir.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD), DCCC CHAIR: Good to be with you Keith.
OLBERMANN: Grover Norquist, as we quoted him before you arrive, thinks Republicans could be very well falling into a Democratic trap on this exact issue. Have your members decided to spring that trap?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, as you know, Keith, Mr. Boehner, the Republican leader, made it clear from his remarks the other day that he recognizes that the American people will not stand for the idea that 98 percent of the American people‘s tax cuts are going to be held hostage to get in a big break for the top 2 percent, a break which we know adds $700 billion to the deficit and will slow down long-term economic growth.
So, this is a very clear and defining issue. Stan Greenberg talked about that. And I think it does let people know throughout the country, you know, whose side are you on.
And when you‘ve got Mitch McConnell coming out and saying, you know what, 98 percent of the American people, their tax relief has to wait until we do something for the top 2 percent, even though it puts it on our national credit card, and we all are going to be paying years and years for those tax cuts for the very wealthy—you know, that‘s an issue that clearly defines the candidates and the parties.
OLBERMANN: Congressman, wouldn‘t calling these tax cuts what they actually are, the Obama middle class tax cuts and then forcing Republicans to go out there and vote against them in a month before the election, or even in the Senate filibuster against them. Would that not be manna from political heaven for the Democrats, especially the way the midterms are shaping up 49 days out?
VAN HOLLEN: Look, Keith, I do think it‘s worth a fight. I do think it‘s worth a vote. You know, as to whether we start in the House or the Senate, that‘s obviously something that we have to figure out. But there is no doubt about it.
With Mitch McConnell saying he intends to block middle class tax relief, it‘s a fight we want to have. I think we should put them to the test.
I should also add, you know, this whole argument they make about needing to protect small businesses is absolutely bogus. We now know that the nonpartisan, you know, Joint Tax Committee has said only 2 percent of small businesses fall into that category where they would be affected at all.
And what we‘re learning—and this is an important point—that those 2 percent, they include a lot of big hedge funds. They include some of the “Fortune” 100 companies. They include Bechtel Corporation, a major construction firm that does a lot of contracts with the federal government. And the reason is that under the definitions of small businesses, it includes all S corporations. It doesn‘t—it‘s not your mom and pops that they‘re talking about.
Among those 2 percent are small businesses they‘re talking about, it‘s actually a lot of big lobbying firms in Washington, hedge funds on Wall Street, and some bigger corporations.
So, we should put to rest this notion that they‘re out there protecting the small business guy. And we all know that after two Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, what happened? We actually lost 630,000 private sector jobs in the economy eight years later.
So, this notion that you somehow need it for job growth and economic growth has been proven—it‘s been proven false by the history of the last eight years. What we do know is that in the long-term doing this and adding $700 billion to the deficit will hurt job growth and slow down the economy.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Greenberg just told us, and one would presume he told the caucus that the middle class tax fight versus the tax cuts for the rich is one that the Democrats can win and can explain and that the voting public is ready to hear that argument. You told “Plum Line” today that it‘s a good issue for your party.
Was there pushback to any degree at this caucus meeting today by Democrats who don‘t—who don‘t buy into this argument still?
VAN HOLLEN: Look, Keith, we are now having our members come back to Washington from all over the country. And so, we‘re going to have a discussion. But there is no doubt that the overwhelming view was that set forth by the president, which is that it‘s important to move forward on this issue.
You know, the Republicans set this ticking time bomb. I mean, when they passed these tax cuts way back, they said we‘re going to have them expire at the end of this year. What we‘re saying is: let‘s make sure that the middle class gets a continuation of a tax cut, but we can‘t afford it for the top 2 percent. And the notion that it‘s somehow necessary for job growth is just proven wrong.
And number two, their whole approach is betrayed by the fact that they were over in the Senate filibustering the small business lending bill. You know, finally, we got Voinovich, Senator Voinovich broke loose. But they‘re against that. They come out against the president‘s proposals for direct tax relief to small businesses which really would help the economy.
So, I think what we‘re seeing here is a very clear contrast as we go into this election. And, you know, the Republican leader, John Boehner, knows that they‘re vulnerable on this issue, and he knows the American people are not going to stand for the idea of let‘s hold back tax relief for the overwhelming majority of Americans so that we can help the folks at the top—including as I said, some of these “Fortune” 100 companies. And that‘s why he said what he said the other day, because he realized at the end of the day, it‘s untenable to take that position.
OLBERMANN: One last finding from Mr. Greenberg‘s data, which showed that running on this tax message would improve Democratic polling from a seven-point deficit right now to a two-point deficit—that sounds like exactly the kind of tonic the Democrats need both in terms of the enthusiasm gap and the “get out the vote” project. Is anybody balking at that, or do those ideas sound good to the members of the caucus?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think that the main idea that sounds good, Keith, is the notion that we need to provide tax relief for middle income America, that we need to move forward because it all expires at the end of the year, and we need to make sure that that relief is there for 98 percent of the American people. And that we address our long-term budget deficit.
There is an agreement with Stan about what his numbers are showing because when you talk to your friends and talk to neighbors around the country, they‘re telling our members, you know what? Number one we got to get our budget deficit under control. And why should our children and grandchildren be paying the bill to provide this tax break for the folks at the very top, including the “Fortune” 100 companies and the hedge funds and the lobbying firms when in fact we got to get our deficit under control to move our economy forward?
So, I think that‘s why you‘re seeing this steady migration, including the statement from John Boehner about the importance of moving forward on this.
OLBERMANN: So, with all that as preamble, are you going to take this to the floor? Is this going to be a vote in the House and put the Republicans on the spot before the election?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think there will be a vote in the Congress. Again, this is something that‘s under discussion. I think there will be a vote in the Congress whether the Senate goes first or the House goes first. That‘s the kind of thing that needs to be resolved.
And in the Senate, you know, we know that Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, has said that he is going to stand in the way of middle class tax relief. He is going to stand in the way of 98 percent of the American people getting a tax break, even at this very tough time.
So, we‘ll have to see how it plays out. But, to your answer, I think it‘s important to move forward on a vote in the Congress. The sequencing of that is something to be determined.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—great thanks for rushing over and joining us tonight. We appreciate it very much.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: There it is. I think there will be a vote in the Congress, Senate or House undecided.
Just when you begin to think you might be getting a little paranoid about the GOP, something like this other thing happens. A year ago, he was the chairman of the Florida Republican Party. A year ago, he was dismissing the president‘s speech to school kids as indoctrination and liberal lies.
Now, the same man is admitting there is racism inside the GOP, and he is sorry he enabled it. His story—next.
OLBERMANN: Who would say many within the GOP have racist views? Who would talk about efforts to placate the extremists who dominate the Republican Party? The man who was a year ago chairman of the Florida Republican Party—Chris Hayes on Jim Greer.
So, we‘re all paranoid about FOX, when the Republican whiz kid on the economy is accepting financial platforms proposed by FOX hosts on the air?
On her big day in Delaware, her former campaign manager records a robocall against her.
And in “Worsts”: now, we know why BP agreed so readily to the $20 billion fund. His plan to use it to outlast those who could go bankrupt before they get to sue BP—ahead.
OLBERMANN: Today, President Obama delivered his second annual back-to-school speech. You know, indoctrinating of the children of America as was charged one year ago.
But this time—in our fourth story—the right-wing hysterics have been silent, except for one who has now apologize to the president. And his blame the extremists who dominate our party today.
Former Florida GOP chair, Jim Greer, was ousted from his chairmanship who has been indicted on six felony accounts because he allegedly funneled money from the state‘s party revenues.
That man with that credibility caveat has issued this statement: “In the year since I issued a prepared statement regarding President Obama speaking to the nation‘s school children, have I learned a great deal about the party I so deeply loved and served. Unfortunately, I found many within the GOP have racist views, and I apologize to the president and for my opposition to his speech last year and my efforts to placate the extremists who dominate our party today. My children and I look forward to the president‘s speech.”
Here is part of Mr. Greer‘s five-paragraph diatribe from one year ago. “As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that tax dollars are being used to spread President Obama‘s socialist ideology. The idea that school children will be forced to watch the president justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, et cetera.”
We can stop right there. You got the idea.
Of course, the president didn‘t do anything like that. He talked instead about the importance of staying in school and working hard. And he told school kids that they could write their own destiny.
Today‘s speech at the Masterman School in Philadelphia cued to the same things. And while the speech will be shown in classrooms across the nation, just like last year, this time, there is no longer a plea for parents to pull their kids out of school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You‘ve got to show up to school on time. You‘ve got to pay attention in your class.
You‘ve got to do your homework. You‘ve got to study for exams. You‘ve got to stay out of trouble. You‘ve got to instill a sense of excellence in everything that you do.
That kind of discipline, that kind of drive, that kind of hard work is absolutely essential for success.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: One more thing, Mr. Greer amplified his reference to racism in a text message to the newspaper, “The Palm Beach Post.” “No names, but committee consists of people who fought me on outreach, and I had to discipline state members who promoted racist comments which I was also fought on too.”
Let‘s bring in the Washington editor of “The Nation,” MSNBC contributor, Chris Hayes.
Chris, good evening.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, this from Mr. Greer is more startling than what he said a year ago about indoctrination. Because of his other troubles of his, do we have to take it with a grain of salt?
HAYES: Yes. I mean, I think there‘s a certain degree of consider the source here. He is in hot water. He is extremely angry and feels betrayed by sort of the GOP establishment, which has cut him loose as soon as these charges surfaced. So, I think there‘s part of that.
But I think what it does reveal is just how disingenuous and trumped up so many of these invented scandals are. I mean, I was going back through Google today. I was trying to even recall them because they‘ll sort of appear and capture everyone‘s attention that kick the ball, we all chase after it, and I‘m guilty of it as well, and then they‘re gone.
And I was remembering, you know, there was a week where all we talked about czars, was the president pointing too many czars. It was totally invented. No one talks about it anymore because it wasn‘t actually meant, I think, to leverage any kind of substantive policy argument comment, it was simply a distraction, it was something that kind of kick up dust.
And, obviously, the complaints about the speech last year are the same way.
OLBERMANN: And, by the way, in terms of GOP figures who criticize and then are thrown under the bus, I just was thinking of Paul O‘Neill and Scott McClellan just there in the side.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Greer‘s statement and this text message, they‘re asserting racism within the party. He did not make a direct cause and effect link between that and the indoctrination hysteria of last year. But is the implication as clear as it seems?
HAYES: Yes. I mean, I think he‘s saying that—I thought—I thought the most interesting part of that message for him was saying appeasing the extremists within my own party. And I think—the fact of the matter is, you know, it‘s very difficult to get a sort of quantitative sense of, you know, how hardcore or large that kind of extremist fringe is. But the fact is, it‘s dominant right now. It‘s the center of gravity.
And I think what you see is that every politician in the GOP feels right now that those are the people they need to speak to, particularly in primary season, but just generally. And so, you have someone like Rick Perry talking about secession or people spouting off about socialist indoctrination. You have Newt Gingrich saying insane things. All of this is done because the audience presumably is the most extremist and zealous and sort of ideologically rigid reactionary element of the coalition.
OLBERMANN: And you don‘t need facts for them. You just need fresh excuses for them. Is that basically that gist of it? It‘s why you‘re not hearing Tim Pawlenty—supposedly a mainstream Republican—apologizing for his crap in this last year?
HAYES: Right. Because, I mean, that‘s—Pawlenty is a perfect example. I mean, did Pawlenty really think this was socialist indoctrination? Did he think it was some sort of illegitimate use of taxpayer dollars? I mean, I really actually have a hard time sometimes disaggregating what I think is disingenuous, sort of outraged theater and what of it is that the people really got kind of gotten delusional. They‘ve gotten like wrapped up in the fever of the Tea Party generally.
But I think most of it is pretty cynical and disingenuous. And I think that particularly people that are angling their way towards an ultimate primary nomination 2012 in the presidency, that‘s—that‘s where they‘re casting everything that they‘re saying right now.
OLBERMANN: And we now know after hearing George Voinovich, being the whistle-blower last week, complaining about the party messaging, blocking good legislation on small businesses, that it takes either retirement or indictment for Republicans to come clean?
HAYES: Yes. I thought it was so interesting today. I mean, the two votes they got—they got two votes to get the small business tax cuts bill through. And they were both from Republicans that aren‘t running from reelection. I mean, I think that‘s very revealing.
And I think that‘s basically been, you know, either you‘re in this little beachhead of moderate Republicans in the Northeast, or you‘re retiring. Those are the only ways to vote with the Democrats or with the president, no matter what the actual substantive agenda is.
And I think from the beginning, you know, we‘ll see wisely or not—I mean, certainly terribly for the country, but I think wisely politically. The idea is that you just say no.
OLBERMANN: Nobody retires from the GOP family.
MSNBC contributor, Chris Hayes of “The Nation”—thank you, Chris.
Good to talk to you.
HAYES: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: There was another Republican whistle-blower today. This one telling the truth about the woman whose campaign she once managed, Delaware Tea Party Senate hopeful, Christine O‘Donnell. Or she‘s known around here Christine “When I think about you I don‘t touch myself” O‘Donnell.
OLBERMANN: A Fox commentator literally writing Republican economic policy for the GOP‘s go-to guy on the economy in the House on the air. That‘s next. First, the sanity break and the Tweet of the day from Lincoln Park. “Middle class girl gets tax cut, eats more meat. Rich girl gets tax cut, makes dress with meat.” Thank you. And thank you for writing Lady Gaga‘s next song for her. Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Singapore. Talk about going out in style; welcome to the cutting edge of urn storage. For the bargain price of 22,000 dollars, your ashes can collect dust in history and luxury. Of course, with such nice surroundings, the regular monks singing at the ceremony just won‘t do. Everything is run by an iPhone. There is an app for that, a death app. I knew he was planning that. The system utilizes a 1.5 million dollar light and sound system. Of course, it would not be complete without a laser light show. Or as the old saying goes, ashes to ashes, lasers are awesome.
In the Internets, you see a man getting his car washed. Looks like he missed a spot on the windshield. Better get out and get that. And boom goes the dynamite. The man escaped unharmed. Not a little soapy. Just not sure if he thought the machine was done or he just wanted suicide doors. Either way, its the worst thing to happen to a car wash since Lenny Dykstra.
Given the fact that it‘s been on the air three years and it still has such poor ratings, it has yet to officially reveal any of them, you wouldn‘t think the Fox Business channel had a lot of sway; except it is now writing fiscal policy for the GOP live on the air. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz next.
OLBERMANN: The good news is the Republicans actually have plans for the economy. The bad news is they copied them down as they were dictated by a guy on Fox. Our third story, as Roger Ailes once sent George W. Bush a list of instructions for his presidency, now his minions at his little-watched business channel have given the chief House GOP guy on the economy his orders live on TV.
Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz joins me in a moment. The self-proclaimed youngish gun of the GOP, meanwhile, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin making an appearance on the Fox Business Network program “America‘s Nightly Scoreboard.” “Scoreboard” for them ratings believed to be 21,000 viewers nationwide.
Host David Asman serving as a yes man to Ryan‘s talking points. After Ryan brushed off Minority Leader Boehner‘s assertion that Republicans are willing to compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy, Asman had a proposal for the congressman, a right wing agenda called the “Scoreboard Contract,” surprisingly similar to Newt Gingrich‘s 1994 Contract on America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID ASMAN, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK ANCHOR: You have a very clear choice: one ideology or the other, limited government or more government.
REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN: That‘s right. We have a choice of two futures in this country. Let‘s get on with making that choice.
ASMAN: By the way, “Scoreboard” has our its list—our own contract, if you will. The “Scoreboard” contract is no new taxes, no new bureaucrats, cut spending, repeal Obama-care. Would you be in favor of those?
RYAN: Absolutely. Not only would I be in favor of these things, we will be in favor of those things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You tell them, Asman. Meanwhile, Fox prime time viewers will be treated to some involuntary enlightenment this evening. Fox News finally agreed to run a Media Matters ad detailing the million dollar donation parent company News Corp gave to the Republican Governors Association. The donation received one mention on the self-declared news network. The ad had to be tweaked multiple times before Fox deemed it suitable, and is scheduled to air on the program opposite this news hour, most like sandwiched between the ad for Goldline and the other ad for Goldline.
Joining me now, as promised, the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, representing the Florida 20th, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Congresswoman, thanks again for your time tonight.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The last point first. If I am a Fox viewer, my reaction to the Media Matters ad would be so, what is wrong with giving money to oppose Democratic candidates? Does the ad change anything?
SCHULTZ: I guess what it changes—I don‘t know if the ad changes anything. But what seems to have changed is at least Fox now seems to be being transparent about being an arm of the Republican party. I mean, as someone who is an occasional guest on that network, I have often struggled to find the neutrality in the interviewers‘ questions. And at least now they‘re letting it all hang out there.
OLBERMANN: They‘re fair and balanced. They have conservatives and Republicans.
SCHULTZ: And Tea Party.
OLBERMANN: One of your House colleagues, Mr. Ryan, essentially was signing policy pledges put forward by a supposed news organization. Is this new or have Republicans actively been taking policy from Fox and Congressman Ryan just happened to do it in front of TV cameras?
SCHULTZ: All kidding aside, it‘s actually really disturbing. Any news network, even one with a particular slant, should at least represent themselves as being neutral. And any politician, any candidate, anyone being interviewed on a network should feel like they have a fair shake, Republicans and Democrats.
And on Fox, when that host made it clear that they have an agenda, that they‘re trying to get members of Congress to sign on to publicly on the air—they‘re making contributions to Republican organizations, it‘s just unbelievably outrageous that they continue to represent themselves as a neutral television network, news organization. And—but at the same time, they‘re transparently advocating for support and success of Republican candidates for office.
OLBERMANN: Let me revert to the lead story tonight. You may have heard of Congressman Van Hollen before talking about whether or not to force the Republicans to vote against the middle class tax cuts, while trying to preserve their tax cuts for the rich. His answer to us was he expects there‘s will be a vote in Congress. He is not sure if it will go to the House first or the Senate would take the lead on this.
I guess the question is—it‘s a two-partner, which is A, why on Earth would Democrats not want to see that vote happen? And B, are you going to call the middle class tax cuts Obama tax cuts to differentiate them?
SCHULTZ: Well, we do want to see them happen. And we want to see them happen sooner rather than later. We want to make sure that of any of the Bush tax cuts that are made permanent, the ones that focus on the middle class and working families are the ones we want to make sure are reenacted. The ones that focus on the wealthiest two percent of Americans, that would add 700 billion dollars to the deficit, should be allowed to expire because they don‘t do anything to turn the economy around.
Most wealthy Americans simply invest in the stock market, sit on their money. And working families put that money back out into the economy.
OLBERMANN: DNC Vice Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as always, thanks for your time.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Disorder in Delaware, as her ex-campaign manager campaigns against her, and accuses her of not paying her staff and living off her campaign contributions.
When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, an exclusive flashback; before Ms. O‘Donnell entered the domain of politics, she talked about being master of your domain. Unrelated among Rachel‘s special guests tonight is me.
And in worsts, you‘ve all heard the story. Now hear who is at fault?
The answer is everybody.
OLBERMANN: Nothing like having your former campaign manager come out against you on election day. Christine O‘Donnell and the Tea Party, that‘s next. First, get out your pitchforks and torches. Time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Inez Sainz, sports reporter at the Mexican network TV Azteca who covered the New York Jets practice on Saturday. She shares the bronze with everybody in the world. That‘s right. I said everybody in the world. Don‘t cross me. I‘m in a bad mood.
The Jets coaches ordered that throwing and running plays during practice be directed towards her. Their players acted inappropriately towards her in their locker room. National TV has given her more coverage than BP Gulf disaster, just so they could show more pictures of her. Various women‘s media groups have thrown their weight behind her, even as she undermines every hard working woman sports reporter who knows the game.
She was dressed unprofessionally to cover a sporting event. And trust me, the bar for professionally at a sporting even is only about an eighth of an inch off the ground. She has done this before at a Super Bowl media day. So the team‘s media office should have known what was likely to happen. Even if she hadn‘t, it was TV Azteca, which sent another reporter to the 2008 Super Bowl, a different Inez who showed up in a wedding dress and proposed to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and jumped in this guy‘s arms.
Why do the National Football League and its teams keep giving this network credentials? You have to keep Super Bowl media day and team locker rooms open for stunt reporting? You can‘t say fine, here are the credentials. No wedding dresses or provocative outfits. And that goes for the men too.
And ultimately, what the hell are reporters doing in locker rooms anyway?
The runner up tonight, Bill-O. ABC has an excerpt from his new book “Pinheads and Patriots,” which is not to be confused with my new book “Pitchforks and Torches.” His book has a picture of him above the word “pinhead.” He takes shot at two major conservative figures above him in the food chain. Reading, “my colleague Glenn Beck thinks that the 44th president of the United States is a subversive, a man bent on changing America into some kind of socialist nanny state that might, God help us, actually resemble France. Rush Limbaugh and many other conservative radio commentators believe pretty much the same thing, that the president is a force for pernicious change. I am not so sure this scorched Earth strategy aimed at the president is good for the country. I favor a more surgical approach.”
Hold on there, sparky. If you‘re going to insult Lonesome Rhodes Beck and Tokyo Rose Limbaugh, I‘m afraid I‘m going to have to ask you to step outside.
But our winner, the new chief executive of BP, Bob Dudley. Dudley and BP‘s partners in Deepwater Horizon, Transocean and Halliburton, now claim that the benefits in the 400 -- or the plaintiffs, rather, in the 400 or so lawsuits filed thus far can‘t sue them yet. BP‘s court filings say the fishermen, seafood processors, hotel owners, restaurateur, oyster farmers and the like must first apply for relief to the official BP compensation fund, that they must play that game of bureaucratic red tape before they can begin to sue.
Even the lawyers for those suing are suggesting that the courts wait until next March to decide which test cases should proceed to trial and which should not. That‘s moving too fast for BP. And now we know why BP agreed to that 20 billion dollar fund, because it buys them time for the public to forget, for the remaining oil to dissipate, for them to potentially lose internal memos and e-mails and text messages and other evidence of their culpability, and especially time for the victims to run out of money with which to pay their lawyers.
Bob Dudley of BP—never did figure out what the P really stands for, but the B is clearly for bastards—today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: As poll closing times in New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin approach, those in five other voting venues have already closed, particularly in Delaware, where in our number one story, approximately 40,000 Republican primary voters have already determined if there will be new Tea Party adventures for old Christine O‘Donnell. She has been increasing her lead as the vote totals have been coming in. We‘ll update you throughout the night.
Former TV pundit—pund-it—who has not held a steady job in years voting today in Wilmington. Her moderate opponent, Congressman Mike Castle, the state‘s lone representative in the House of Representatives, also voting in Wilmington. Delaware‘s Republican party today working the phones on Castle‘s behalf, robo calling voters with testimonial from a woman who said she was the 2008 campaign manager for O‘Donnell‘s failed bid to unseat Joe Biden. Kirsten Murray calling Christine O‘Donnell a complete fraud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTEN MURRAY, FORMER O‘DONNELL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: This is her third Senate race in five years. As O‘Donnell‘s manager, I found out that she was living on campaign donations, using them for rent and personal expenses, while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt. She wasn‘t concerned about conservative causes. O‘Donnell just wanted to make a buck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: After voting today, Miss O‘Donnell was upbeat and vowed to repair her relationship with the Republican party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN DELEWARE: Come tomorrow, should things go the way they appear, I would like to extend an olive branch to the Republican party because there is a lot of work to do. We have a winning message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Today in Washington, John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called O‘Donnell‘s chances of beating a Democrat come November a, quote, serious issue. He called Delaware‘s seat a linchpin to taking back the Senate. And asked if they would pull their money out of in the event of an O‘Donnell victory, Cornyn said his committee would have to have a pow-wow about it.
Meanwhile, the Fox News self-voted all stars split on Christine O‘Donnell. Sarah Palin endorsed the Tea Party favorite after meeting her at Glenn Beck‘s 8/28 magic goose rally. This morning on radio, Beck, who rarely endorses candidates, said of the Delaware race, quote, I would vote for what‘s her face. Thank you.
On the Castle side, Charles Krauthammer complaining last night that Ms. Palin‘s endorsement of Ms. O‘Donnell was capricious, destructive and irresponsible. His Fox News colleague, “Weekly Standard” boss Bill Kristol, invoked Lloyd Benson and Dan Quayle to scoff at O‘Donnell-Palin comparisons. Quoting Kristol, “I know Sarah Palin. I respect Sarah Palin. And with all due respect, Christine O‘Donnell is no Sarah Palin.”
Just to clarify, he meant that as an insult. Joining me now, Howard Fineman, “Newsweek” magazine senior Washington correspondent, political columnist and MSNBC political analyst. We‘ve got to keep you clear, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: Yes, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Mitch McConnell on this network today said he would support either candidate that comes out of Delaware. Will Republicans spend money in Delaware if Christine O‘Donnell is that candidate?
FINEMAN: Yes, they‘ll have to, Keith. I was there this afternoon. I was at a polling place in an elementary school in Newark, Delaware, and—trying to talk to voters as they came out of the polls. And I found it pretty evenly split in what was a pretty establishment-oriented neighborhood. Pretty evenly split between Castle and O‘Donnell, which I think is now reflected in the results that you see.
She came out of nowhere. And I think that the Republicans knowing the numbers in the Senate, wanting that seat, will grit their teeth and support her down the line.
OLBERMANN: The endorsement of O‘Donnell by Palin, was she going kind of rogue on the “Weekly Standard” people, who essentially put her on the map in the first place?
FINEMAN: To some extent yes. But, you know, in the case of Bill Kristol, be careful what you wish for, what you help create. Sarah Palin‘s a force out there. Jim DeMint is a force out there. He also endorsed O‘Donnell, the senator from South Carolina. You know, this is energy at the Republican grassroots that Republicans can‘t contain, because it‘s more conservative than it is specifically Republican.
OLBERMANN: The assumption was going into this there was no way this woman, fairly poorly funded and with a dubious track record, to say the least, would give Congressman Castle much problem whatsoever. The assumption following a victory by her in a primary would be that she couldn‘t possibly give the Democratic nominee, Mr. Coons, much trouble. Is that as bad an assumption as the first one seems to have been?
FINEMAN: I think so, judging by my own track record. I said a few weeks ago that she was likely to be one step too far, too much baggage, too many concerns over her personal finances and so forth, which are all out there and which Mike Castle, Mr. Nice Guy in Delaware politics, used as ammunition in a very, very hard-hitting attack. But it could be, if these results hold up tonight, Keith, that Mike Castle went out of character, and in so doing undermined his own chances of staving this off, because a lot of voters I talked to, several of them, especially women—and women are a big part of the equation here for Christine O‘Donnell, Sarah Palin for that matter. The women said they were upset at Mike Castle attacking her.
So, in the end, he faced a Hobson‘s choice and it might have backfired on him.
OLBERMANN: What was the choice in New Hampshire? What has gone on in New Hampshire?
FINEMAN: Well, in New Hampshire you have a fascinating situation where Sarah Palin endorsed the woman candidate, Kelly Ayotte, but the “Manchester Union Leader” and Jim DeMint went with the local guy from Manchester. I‘m going to have to read his name because I don‘t know it by heart, Ovide Lamontagne. The “Union Leader” has tremendous clout in New Hampshire. And they went with Lamontagne. And they backed him all the way. And they and DeMint are probably going to take her down tonight.
OLBERMANN: “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, as always, great thanks.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, that‘s September 14th for now. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And now to discuss tonight‘s primaries and why a certain Tea Party favorite‘s past is about to catch up with her in living color on MSNBC, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel. Who are your special guests tonight?
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