'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, January 6th, 2011
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Guests: Rep. Peter Welch, Rep. Rush Holt, Howard Dean
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: That‘s January 6th, 31 days since the Republicans got their deal for the taxes for the rich, Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs? I‘m Keith Olbermann. Goodnight, good luck.
And now to discuss the president‘s third chief of staff—ladies and gentlemen filling in for Rachel—no, it‘s Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I still think of myself as filling in for Rachel Maddow, Keith. So, you could just continue with that.
OLBERMANN: All right. Filling in for Rachel Maddow tonight—here is Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Tada! Thank you very much, Keith.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. It is great to be back.
So, I‘m sure you saw this story over the last few days. It‘s this incredible story. It sort of gripped the nation. A homeless man discovered on the streets of Columbus, Ohio, a man who was down on his luck. He‘s been asking passers-by for any help they can offer and he has an amazing, “hard to believe the voice is coming out of the face” talent. He has an amazing, amazing radio voice. Presumably you have seen this in the past few days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very often, homeless people ask me for spare change on freeway exit ramps. But recently, there‘s been a man with an interesting sign in I-71 in Hudson Street. His handwritten sign says he has the God-given gift of a great voice.
Hey, I want to make you work for your dollar. Say something with that great radio voice.
TED WILLIAMS: When you‘re listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you‘re listening to Magic 98.9. Thank you so much you. God bless you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No matter how many times I see it, I still can‘t believe it. Just incredible, right?
That was posted online by “The Columbus Dispatch” newspaper earlier this week. Since it was, the man in that video, Ted Williams, has become a national sensation. He‘s gotten countless job offers from places like NFL and the Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA team.
And tonight, I‘m very proud to be able to say that Ted Williams has been hired by MSNBC. He will record voice-overs for our new “Lean Forward” ad campaign, which is really cool. Even more cool is the fact that Mr. Williams is going to be interviewed tonight on MSNBC on the show that is right after this one, “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell. And that is quite awesome.
More awesome, though, is that we have been able to engage Mr. Williams today as hired talent here at MSNBC to help Congress—to help the Republicans in Congress with the parts of the United States Constitution they did not want read out loud today, even as the rest of the Constitution was.
Ready? Now from the golden age of radio, ladies and gentlemen, the 18th Amendment—part of the Constitution the new Republican majority ordered not to be read on the House floor today.
Take it away, Ted Williams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: After one year from the ratification of this article, the manufacture or sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors within the importation thereof, into or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territories subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Is hereby prohibited. Thank you, Mr. Williams.
The 18th Amendment of the Constitution banned booze. It was an incredibly stupid thing that our country did. But it was, in fact, part of the Constitution at one point.
Lots of other dumb and evil stuff has been part of the Constitution from time to time. Like, for example, the three-fifths compromise which declared that representation and taxes should be apportioned among the states by a means of counting that excluded Indians altogether and counted all other persons, by which they meant black people, as three-fifths of a person.
Also, there was part of Article IV of the Constitution that required escaped slaves to be returned to their owners, no matter where in the country they had escaped to. The Constitution, admittedly awesome, has totally not awesome, indefensible stuff in it from time to time.
And you can—you can you handle that truth in one of two ways. You could acknowledge that the Constitution has had really crazy stuff in it from time to time, use that as a teaching moment to remember that the Constitution is not the Ten Commandments. The Constitution is a living document that has changed over time in ways both good and bad as the country has gotten older. Or you can be a constitutional fundamentalist and ignore the fact there has been bad stuff in it over time. And when you stage something you‘re calling a reading of the Constitution , you just leave out the parts that you find embarrassing to pronounce out loud.
It should also be noted that another part of Article IV was left out of the reading of the Constitution in Congress today was Article IV, Section 4. Quote, “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a Republican form of government and protect employee of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive, when the legislature cannot be convened, against domestic violence.”
That section was left out of the reading today as well. Now, I don‘t think that is because anybody was embarrassed about section. I don‘t think that was because that section offended some fundamentalist view of the Constitution as perfect and unchanging.
As far as we know, that part of the Constitution was left out of the reading today, at least initially, because—and I quote—“the Constitution was placed in a three-ring binder, and the pages simply stuck together.” So, the member of Congress who was reading Article IV accidentally skipped a bit. See? God‘s trying to tell us something about human fallibility.
Republicans have been in power in the House for roughly 33 hours. And their initial pledges to the American people have turned out to be kind of a mess. There was today‘s attempt to read the Constitution in its entirety, which turned into reading whatever pages didn‘t get stuck together or didn‘t feel awkward to say out loud.
Also, of course, during the campaign, Republicans pledged to cut $100 million worth of government spending in the first year. That promise has now been cast aside as hypothetical. Republicans have now pledged that they won‘t aim higher than $50 billion worth of cuts. Forget that old hundred, they didn‘t mean it.
Also in their Pledge to America was a Republican promise to allow Democrats to offer amendments to legislation. On their first bill out of the gate now that they‘re in charge, Republicans are not going to allow any amendments.
After Republicans won control of the House, they made this pledge apparently from scripted talking points. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART ®, FLORIDA: Open rules will make a triumphant return to the House floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think open rules will make a triumphant return to the House floor.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: A return to open rules in the House, not only a return, a triumphant return. Fast forward to today: quote, “None of the bills that will be brought you to the floor this week will be brought under open rules.” That‘s not very triumphant.
This week, Republicans adopted a new House rule called “cut-as-you-go.” They ruled that any bill that would add to the deficit has to be matched by spending cuts of the same amount. As you probably know, one of the first bills out of the gate for Republicans is a repeal of health reform, a bill that according to the nonpartisan CBO, that would add $230 billion to the deficit. Repealing health reform would add $230 billion to the deficit.
With this new cut-as-you-go rule, what are the Republicans go to cut to make up for that? Nothing. They issued themselves a loophole. So, the first bill they will introduce to repeal health reform doesn‘t have to follow their loudly proclaimed new rule.
Even on the easy stuff, Republicans are having a really difficult time out of the guilty. As one of their first pledges of transparency, Republicans promised to make publicly available, quote, “a list of the names of each member in attendance at a committee hearing or meeting.” So you get to know who‘s in attendance at a committee hearing and who is not in attendance. It seems relatively reasonable.
But then Tuesday night, behind closed doors, Republicans did away with that provision. They‘re not going to do that after all.
But wait, there‘s more—in their Pledge to America, Republicans also promised to require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified. If you want to offer a bill, you have to cite where the Constitution allows you to do what‘s in that bill.
As of today, quote, “None of the three bills that Republicans plan to introduce this week had the constitutional citation.”
The Republican Party has wrapped itself in the Constitution at every turn for political purposes. They have outdone themselves on this matter. It was revealed today that during yesterday‘s big swearing-in of the 112th Congress, two House Republicans were not present inside the chamber. Congressman Pete Sessions and Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
Where were they when everybody else was getting sworn in? They were attending a Mike Fitzpatrick swearing-in party somewhere else in the Capitol.
If you‘re not officially sworn in, you are not an actual member of Congress, so says the Constitution. Despite the fact that they were not technically congressmen because they skipped the swearing in, in favor of going to a party that was about the swearing in, Mr. Sessions and Mr. Fitzpatrick went on to pass votes in the House. Mr. Sessions even presided over a rules committee hearing when he wasn‘t technically a member of Congress.
Why did they think this was OK? Reportedly, and I‘m quoting here, “The pair watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised.”
Raise your hand at the TV.
Dude, you can‘t get sworn in by a TV. You have to be there in person. If you could become a congressman by raising your hand at the TV, everyone who was simultaneously watching C-Span yesterday and reaching for something on a high shelf or waving to a friend would be a congressman right now.
The two not-yet-really congressmen who faked their swearing-in had to be properly sworn in after the fact today. The first 33 hours in power is not going very well for Republicans.
And for the record, this is important—none of these missteps are things that Democrats have done to Republicans. These are self-inflicted things. Republicans carefully laid out all of these rakes on the floor right inside the front door. And they‘ve just been stepping on them one after the other since they got in.
House Republicans still have a really ambitious agenda, including wanting to repeal health reform, Wall Street reform and all these other things they pledged to do.
Since Democrats probably can‘t count on continued Republican rake stepping, at least this much in any one day for too much longer, what‘s the Democratic strategic heading out?
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont, who‘s a former member of the House Rules Committee.
Congressman Welch, thanks very much for your time. It‘s nice to have you here.
REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: It‘s good to be here. And I was in front of the rules committee with Congressman Sessions. And I thought he was a legitimate chairman.
MADDOW: The things that Congressman Fitzpatrick and Congressman Sessions, the things that they voted on when they weren‘t technically members of Congress, do they have to go back and vote on them again? Do they get undone? The things that they introduced, do they have to be made right somehow?
WELCH: Well, you know, the parliamentarian in the rules committee is tying itself in knots trying to figure that out. And some of these things are somewhat silly but correctable. But some of are quite serious.
You know, the Republicans campaigned very effectively and beat us up badly and won a big majority. But whether they can govern effectively and responsibly, we‘re getting off to a bad start. And it‘s hard to having off a lot of confidence.
In some of the promises they made after criticizing us, like having open rules so that we could propose amendments, like having a commitment to paying down the deficit and then having us their first item of business, literally, the first item of business, repealing health care that will increase the deficit by $230 billion, that‘s got me alarmed. And I think it should have a lot of the American people concerned.
MADDOW: Are there any procedural changes they have proposed? I‘m thinking specifically of this proposal that they withdrew actually, that they would want to publish a committee member‘s attendance at various committee hearing and proceedings. Are there specific things they propose that you actually think might make a difference and might make the House run more smoothly? Or do you think these are in the whole essentially symbolic measures that won‘t make a difference?
WELCH: They made a proposal to have open rules. And that actually is fundamentally important and a real opportunity. They criticized us for not having more open rules. And actually, I think they had some legitimate criticisms of us.
But on the health care bill, which is going to involve taking away hard-fought insurance protections for middle class families in this country and for seniors, they are not even going to let myself and 65 colleagues who proposed amendments to let you know—because we can take an up-or-down vote on whether we let insurance companies continue to deny us because we have a pre-existing condition, or whether we‘re going to protect the right of parents to have their kids on their policies until age 26, or whether we‘re going to maintain the law that we have now that you continue to get coverage with no lifetime caps if you have a chronic disease like diabetes or cancer—we should have an opportunity to vote “yes” or “no.”
And when I was in the rules committee, I really suggested to the Republicans, they have people in their district whose kids need that health care coverage, who folks, brothers and sisters, that have pre-existing conditions. Why not each of us raise our hand, vote “yes” or “no” and then we are not only accountable but our constituents know where we stand? And then they can decide whether they agree with us or not in the next election.
So, that‘s a very important reform applied to a very important bill.
Their bill on health care is taking away rights that Americans now have. And we should be held accountable. And people should know where we stand on each of these provisions.
MADDOW: If the Republicans stick to their plan right now on the health care reform bill, which is to allow no amendments even though they have been saying they want their to be an open rule, they want there to be amendments broadly speaking, even if they don‘t want them for this one piece of legislation, if they proceed the way they say they‘re going to—will Democrats have a chance in this process to try to resell the idea of health reform to the American public? Is this a chance to do more communication around the benefits of health reform?
WELCH: It is and we must. You know, the Democrats blew it in explaining to the American people what was in the health care reform and why it was so important. And the Republicans were very successful vilifying Obamacare. It meant a million different bad things to a million different people.
But now that we‘re trying to get specific and we‘re saying and ask them the question: do you think your kids should stay on your policy when they get out of high school and they get an entry-level job with no health care? Do you think that seniors, your mom and dad, who are on Medicare, in trying to take care of themselves, should they have free preventive care? Do you think that somebody who‘s got a pre-existing condition shouldn‘t be able to buy insurance?
But Americans support that. And the Republicans know it. The reason they‘re not having hearings is if they had a hearing, they‘d lose.
So, you know, the campaign is one thing. But when you get to governing, you actually have to acknowledge that the decisions you make have real world consequences for real people, real families all across this country. An d we‘ve got to take on that fight to make the American people know what‘s at stake and what‘s being taken away from them. Needlessly and incidentally, the control goes back to the insurance companies.
MADDOW: Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont, seen as national profile rise recently with his strong criticisms of the Republican and at times with his own party—Congressman Welch, thank you for speaking out. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
WELCH: Thank you.
MADDOW: It is totally unclear what the Republicans right now in D.C. have against their own campaign promises, which they are just pummeling daily. But we have seen the impact in one day of Republican rule in the House. And it be has been interesting. It is equally unclear what it is that Republicans in Washington right now have against school.
But the impact of that aversion shows up when they put folks in charge of specific things. Do you remember Congresswoman Virginia Foxx at all? Do you remember what she‘s famous for? Google her right now and stay tuned.
MADDOW: Unless tax cuts that aren‘t paid for help Americans compete in math and science and technology, the new House of Representatives does not appear to have a solid plan to make sure America competes in the world on those terms anymore.
One more quick Google suggestion for Ralph Hall and science. I would tell you to add the word porn of that Google search but that would soil your computer irreparably. Sanitized results when we return.
MADDOW: It is great to be back at work.
In my time away, I spent time away getting yelled at and hung up on by people who worked at various airlines. I spent a bunch of time in airports, which at this point in America have descended medieval schemes for the infliction of humiliation. I spent a lot of time stuck in traffic in my car. At one point in North Hampton, Massachusetts, while I was sitting surface street traffic that was backed up waiting on to get on to a freeway that was also backed up, I watched a small concrete piece of the underpass that I was under fall off and hit the payment.
And then, today, before coming to work, I spent time in my apartment trying to figure out if my mother-in-law can have high-speed Internet at her house in New Hampshire. The answer is, no, she cannot, because apparently, we can‘t have that in America.
The idea of us falling behind the rest of the world, the countries we compete with on infrastructure and technology—this is not a new problem. This is not even something new for me to be obsessed. But thinking about it over these past couple of weeks did get me thinking about our national ability to deal with this as a challenge—our national ability to teal with science and technology and higher education, whether we are getting better with dealing with those things or whether we are getting worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX ®, NORTH CAROLINA: Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ladies and gentlemen, that is the elected official whom we as a country have just put in charge of higher education in the House of Representatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOXX: Most of the things that have been done by the federal government that are unconstitutional in my opinion have been done for good reasons. They‘re not malevolent reasons but they‘re wrong. We should not be funding education, for example.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, newly named chair of the higher education subcommittee doesn‘t believe the government should fund education. She doesn‘t believe the government should be doing anything about education. And so, therefore, naturally, she has been put in charge of it, for the government, for the part that the Republicans control at least.
One of Ms. Foxx‘s first priorities, she said, is to hold hearings on and try to undo the student loan that passed under the Democrats in last Congress. Student loan reform, the thing that Virginia Foxx appears to want to dismantle, I think is one of the most underappreciated things that got done out of the many underappreciated that got done in the last Congress.
Before student loan reform, private companies were getting subsidies to give out loans, right? The loans were guaranteed by the government anyway. So, think about that for a second. The government is taking on all the risk, they are guaranteeing the loan, and they are providing the money.
And inexplicably, some private company was getting paid, was getting more government money just to hand out the government-guaranteed government loans. They took on zero risk. They provided zero added value and they got paid a guaranteed amount for doing nothing useful. It was a license to print money.
Have you had student loans? I‘ve been swimming up to my neck in student loans for most of my adult life. How much service did you get from these student loan companies that were getting guaranteed taxpayer subsidies to provide loans that were guaranteed by the government anyway? Really?
Student loan reform took that stupid, pointless, expensive middle man out of the system and used the tens of billions of dollars that that saved to ease the deficit and to give more college loans to students. Total no-brainer.
Naturally, Virginia Foxx wants to get rid of it. That‘s who Republicans have put in charge of higher education in the House.
Here‘s who they‘ve put in charge of science.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RALPH HALL ®, TEXAS: My grandchildren get tired of me telling them, hell fire, I can take a Big Chief tablet and say (INAUDIBLE) and figure out anything you all can if you give me enough time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ralph Hall is very charming. He is the oldest member of Congress. He is 87 years old, which is awesome. He‘s just been put in charge of the House Science and Technology Committee.
Awkwardly, because this is awkward even when you‘re not talking about an 87-year-old, but it‘s really awkward when you are. Awkwardly, Ralph Hall is also the porn poison pill guy. Remember when we reported on this?
Presented a bill to math and science research and education last summer, Ralph Hall killed it with what‘s known as a poison pill. A poison pill is where you kill a piece of legislation by attaching something to it that‘s really toxic.
In the case of math and science bill, it was a porn poison bill. Ralph Hall turned a vote for math and science research into a vote for government workers being paid to look at pornography on their work computers.
Eighty-seven-year-old Ralph Hall, who killed science funding in the last Congress with a porn poison pill. Now, Republicans have made him their man in charge of science.
Are we getting better as a country at dealing with our science and technology in education challenges? Or are we getting worse at that?
Joining us now is someone who knows a lot about Congress and a lot about science, congressman and actual rocket scientist, Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey.
Congressman Holt, thank you so much for your time.
REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: First of all, let me ask you about sort of the big question that I‘m asking here. How are we doing in terms of dealing with the challenges of competing in science and tech and education?
HOLT: Yes. Well, I‘m not going to disparage individual members, but there really is a broad problem here in the attitude towards science. It is—too many people are operating in an evidence-free zone, you know? And on so many pieces of legislation that are really on evidence-based subjects, they should be beyond partisanship. But they clearly are not.
People are falling into ideological positions and ideological certitude that is, I think, really damaging. Not on those—not just on those particular issues—we can talk about climate change, we can talk about the oil spill in the Gulf where people were minimizing the effect, but in behavioral science and other things, you know, and on climate change. I just wrote down some of the things that elected members of Congress—some of them very senior said, fraud, scientific data manipulated, lacking scientific evidence, a radical agenda with made-up facts, malarkey, the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.
This is—this is a—really a—it‘s not a skepticism. It‘s a certitude that reflects an anti-science bias.
MADDOW: Congressman Hall who will be chairman of the science and technology committee, he says that he is not a denier of climate change. But he is promising to hold hearings that he says will investigate the evidenced for climate change. What do you expect from those hearings? And do you think it‘s a bad idea?
HOLT: You know, I‘ll just say among those quotes was one from Ralph Hall.
HOLT: You know, and it really is a broader problem. I mean, if we‘re trying to make jobs—and everybody agrees that investment in research to make innovative jobs that last for the long term, you know, it‘s what we need. We‘re not going to build that kind of research-bases job economy disparaging science and ridiculing scientists. There is, I think, a deep problem.
And, you know, polls of whether it‘s Gallup or Pew, show there‘s a real partisan difference. On climate change, 70 percent of people, according to Gallup or according to Pew, who are either agreeing with tea party folks or are self-identified Republicans, doubt that climate change is occurring. So, it‘s a real problem.
MADDOW: What does it mean in practical terms to have the political changes we‘re having on these issues right now in Washington? What happens practically because Ralph Hall is in charge of the science committee or Virginia Foxx is in education? What‘s the impact?
HOLT: Yes. Well, practically, they‘re in charge now. You know, you can kind of live with people who are living in an evidence-free zone if they‘re in the minority. But in the House of Representatives, the majority rules, and there are a lot of people now who are going to be determining legislation.
Whether it‘s trying to repeal—you know, roll back things we‘ve done before, whether it has to do with cleanup in the Gulf or investment in research, not only will they be trying to roll back things, but who knows what sort of hair-brained legislation they will be putting forward?
MADDOW: Congressman Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, who is absolutely not responsible for anything that I said before I went to him in this discussion and who‘s much more civil than I am at all times—
Congressman, thank you very much for your time tonight.
HOLT: Good to be with you, Rachel. And I can‘t imagine that the airlines people hung up on you.
MADDOW: Oh, they so did. I wish I‘d be recording it. But then I‘d be in jail. Thank you, sir.
All right. Earlier today, President Obama named William Daley of Chicago to be his new chief of staff. William Daley, top executive at JPMorgan Chase. William Daley, critic of President Obama‘s efforts at health reform. William Daley, de facto opponent of President Obama‘s financial reforms.
The question is: what‘s in the William Daley decision for the president other than making the left wing mad? And why is Governor Howard Dean so happy about it? Governor Howard Dean can explain for himself in just a moment.
MADDOW: The first time that William Daley was about to be introduced to the nation by a president who was appointing him to a very senior job, the announcement ended with a clatter, a lot of hullabaloo and ruckus and actual falling down. The man fainted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fighting in the D.C. 3, 50 years old, without windows. I won‘t do it again. To those on my Congressional staff, those that are accompany me on these -- is he all right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he‘s fine. He fainted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He was indeed, OK. That was 1996. President Bill Clinton was announcing Bill Daley as the nation‘s next Commerce Secretary and down he went.
Today, President Obama introduced Mr. Daley as the next White House chief-of-staff. Nobody fainted. If you did hear a thump early this afternoon when this choice was being announced, it might have been the president‘s base, liberals across the country banging their heads against the wall as they tried to comprehend this choice.
Bill Daley is, of course, part of the famous Daley family of Chicago. His father was mayor of Chicago for 21 years. His brother is the current mayor and has been since 1989. Last year, in “The New York Times” interview, Mr. Daley said this about President Obama‘s signature policy achievement -- health care reform.
Quote, “They, being President Obama and the Democrats, miscalculated on health care. The election of ‘08 sent a message that after 30 years of center-right governing, we had moved to center left, not left.”
Mr. Daley also opposed the creation of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau. Do you remember when the Chamber of Commerce came out against reforming Wall Street before that whole debate even got started?
Mr. Daley signed on to that for the chamber. As our friend, Ezra Klein, wrote today at “The Washington Post,” Mr. Daley, quote, “led the chamber of commerce‘s effort to loosen the post-Enron regulations on accounting and auditing professions.”
Bill Daley is a former hedge fund manager, a very accomplished business lobbyist and a top executive at J.P. Morgan Chase. Oh, a banker and a lobbyist. Smells like change.
Bill Daley is not a politician himself. He is known for pushing
Democrats toward business interests and toward what was once known as the right and is now called the center.
It is entirely possible that the White House has picked Mr. Daley as the new chief-of-staff in order to simply aggravate liberals and in order to annoy the base. They call it “punching the hippie.”
They don‘t call it “punching the hippie,” but that‘s what I call it, specifically making the left mad in order to make the president himself look more centrist. It is a time-honored tradition for Democrats to purposely punch the hippie, to aggravate their base in order to impress people who will likely never vote for them anyway.
It is just how Democrats rule. But if this isn‘t that, if this is more substantive, if this isn‘t just intended to make liberals bang their heads against the wall, if there is something that Bill Daley brings to the table here that‘s going to help the White House get done what it thinks needs to get done, what is it?
One of the people defending this choice is Howard Dean. He joins us next.
MADDOW: Did you hear about the J.P. Morgan executive President Obama is bringing in to be his next chief-of-staff? J.P. Morgan, not kidding.
Truth be told, it should be noted he ran Al Gore‘s campaign for president in 2000. Not that that worked out in the end, but still, Carter, Mondale, Clinton, Biden -- he‘s worked for all of them, too.
He‘s got a resume and a reputation as an A-list Democrat and as a man who gets things done. But is there a story to tell about Bill Daley that explains his choice to be chief-of-staff as something other than just a deliberate provocation to make the left mad and thereby make the White House look more centrist?
Was Bill Daley picked for a reason other than the Democratic satisfaction of punching the hippie?
Joining us now -- no hippie, but a man who has the respect of a lot of us hippies, Howard Dean, former Democratic Party chairman, former governor of Vermont, and always a very, very welcome guest on the show. Good to see you, Governor. Thanks for joining us.
FMR. GOV. HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So maybe --
DEAN: I think --
MADDOW: Yes. Go for it.
DEAN: Go ahead. Well, I was going to say, you know, I was interested to see earlier today -- Bob Reich also said he thought it was a good choice, and I‘ll tell you why.
I haven‘t talked to the former Secretary of Labor, but I‘ll tell you why we both like Bill Daley -- because we like him. He‘s an honest guy. He‘s straightforward. There‘s no B.S. There‘s no game-playing. He‘s straight ahead.
I know he‘s not a progressive. Having worked for Wall Street makes me a little uncomfortable. I suspect he didn‘t have a lot to do with the chicanery that went on around, you know, the collateralized mortgage obligations and the credit defaults that absolutely got us into such trouble.
But he‘s a business guy. So what? He‘s good at what he does. He‘s straightforward and he‘s respectful. The reason I like him, even though he‘s not a progressive, is because when you sit down with him, you look him in the eye and he looks you in the eye. You have a respectful, working relationship.
I think that‘s really a big deal. The president needs an adult there. We‘ve had a rough two years, a lot of inside-the-beltway nonsense. Bill Daley is not an inside-the-beltway guy.
I know he was Secretary of Commerce. He lives in Chicago. He lives there for a reason. He‘s a Chicago Midwest guy. I think he‘s going to help the president get re-elected by having a no-nonsense White House that gets things done and stop playing political games. That is why I like him.
MADDOW: The difference, though, between what he stands for and how far he stands for it, his style in getting done what he wants to get done seems to me is a pretty big difference -- a pretty big distance.
I mean, health reform and Wall Street reform are arguably the two keystone accomplishments of the president‘s first two years in office. The Republicans are going to campaign from now until 2012 and rolling those things back.
And Mr. Daley is a guy who publicly attacked both of those things. He may have done it in a respectful way, looking somebody in the eye. But it seems like he is not on board with what the administration needs to be doing right now in a substantive manner.
DEAN: Well, you know, I give probably the president a little more slack -
although I‘m sure the president doesn‘t think so -- than some of us on the left, on the progressive end.
I think the president, in his heart of hearts, is a reformer. Don‘t forget the inside-the-beltway wisdom was that the president forced his own staff, which is divided, to go forward with health care.
And I know that we didn‘t really get the kind of bill that we should have had and we could have had. But he was the one that pushed it. I think the president, in his heart, is a reformer.
Bill Daley‘s job is not to be the president. And I‘m sure they‘ve had this conversation. You don‘t hire somebody as your chief-of-staff unless you go over every single one of the differences that you might have.
Bill Daley is a guy who is going to do what the president asks him to do. And he‘s going to have a much better likelihood of getting it done without the messiness that we‘ve seen in the last couple of years.
MADDOW: Do you think that the president‘s agenda, whether as a reformer or whether in terms of his progressive goals, whether his agenda is mostly to get re-elected in 2012 at this point, do you think the president‘s agenda depends on having a really good, positive, constructive relationship with Wall Street or depends on being able to be confrontational with Wall Street?
I think that this may be one of the differences between sort of the Democrats and the left specifically in terms of how the president feeds to position himself against business.
DEAN: First of all, I think the problem is the president also has a communications problem, which I think he‘s in the middle of trying to remedy as well.
There‘s nothing wrong with being against Wall Street. Wall Street did a lot of harm to this country over the last couple of years. There is something wrong with being against the business community.
I don‘t think the president is against the business community, leaving aside the Chamber of Commerce, which is essentially the finance arm of the Republican Party and therefore irrelevant in the debate.
The fact of the matter is that there‘s a lot of businesses that create jobs and we need some jobs right about now. Daley gets that.
I really like the guy a lot. Look, I may be wrong and I may be on this show eating crow six months from now after we have a big fight and, you know, progressives lose or something like that.
I think this guy is a straight forward guy. What you see is what you get. There‘s no B.S. I‘ve never had a conversation -- we have had conversations where I‘ve been to the left of him and we‘ve, you know, had discussions about that.
I‘ve never felt, when I left his office, that he didn‘t understand what I was talking about or that he didn‘t respect me as a person just because we had a disagreement.
That makes a big difference, because a lot of the problems that progressives have with the Obama administration is not over the fundamental policy differences. It‘s the contempt with which progressives were treated by his staff.
And I don‘t think we need that. Don‘t forget, it‘s progressives, those kids that slept on floors for 20 weeks, before the campaign that got this president elected, under 35. We can‘t win without that kind of ardor again.
I think all we need is not a president that makes a sharp left turn. What we need is a president willing to respect his base. And I think Richard Daley(sic) respects other people whether he agrees with them or not. That makes a big difference.
MADDOW: See, I think I‘d be happier being insulted and J.P. Morgan not getting their way. And I‘m worried with J.P. Morgan involved in (INAUDIBLE) --
DEAN: I don‘t think J.P. Morgan is necessarily going to get their way.
Why would they get their way?
MADDOW: Because the Midwest chairman is now going to become White House chief-of-staff?
DEAN: You know, I think that we have barely -- I mean, the financial reform was OK, but it wasn‘t everything that needed to be done.
I think the president is a smart guy. He knows that he can‘t allow Wall Street to put us in the kind of risk that they put us in two years ago. And I don‘t think he‘s going to want to do that.
Look, I know Bill Daley. I think he‘s an honest guy. I may not agree with him. I don‘t think he‘s come to this job so that he can further the interests of J.P. Morgan or anybody else. I really don‘t. I think he‘s got one client now and that‘s the president of the United States.
MADDOW: Former Democratic Party chairman, former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, and a man whose influence can be measured in the fact that people on the left are not just upset about Bill Daley. They are confused about Bill Daley in large part because of your vote of confidence.
DEAN: Let‘s give him a shot. Let‘s give him a chance.
DEAN: I may be wrong, but let‘s give the guy a shot.
MADDOW: I love talking to you about this stuff, Governor. Thanks for joining us.
DEAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. This is the EFV, the e expeditionary fighting vehicle. It is a tank that fights on land and swims -- except it doesn‘t do either very well, and it costs billions of dollars.
Hey, Republican majority in the House, how much did you say you wanted to cut out of the budget again?
MADDOW: About 10 or 15 years ago, office supply companies started marketing a machine they said would do away with the need for lots of other machines. They combined into one thing your printer and your fax machine and your scanner and your copier, remember?
The printer/copier/scanner/fax machine -- one thing, the only one that would do all of those tasks. Everybody (INAUDIBLE) because it seemed like such a reasonable idea and they were so economical.
And then, everybody realized the new all-in-one machine, the printer/copier/scanner/fax, technically might be capable of sort of doing all of those things, but it did none of those things particularly well.
So if your office is like my office, there is probably a beat-down, all-in-one machine clunker stuck somewhere in a corner consigned to do one of the things it was marketed to do, which it does sort of serviceably. And all of its other tasks have been relegated back to machines that can actually do that work even if they just do that one thing.
You can do one thing well or you can do everything poorly. Today, the Pentagon made the announcement that its own printer/copier/scanner/fax, sounds like a good idea but doesn‘t work contraption is finally, finally getting cut off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, I am also announcing my agreement with the recommendation of the Secretary of the Navy and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to cancel the expeditionary fighting vehicle.
The EFV, which costs far more to operate than maintain than its predecessor, would essentially swallow the entire Marine vehicle budget and most of its total procurement budget for the foreseeable future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The expeditionary fighting vehicle is a tank, you know, like a tank, tank. But it is supposed to be a tank that swims. That was the idea. Imagine any problems with that.
When Military initially started working on this thing in 1996, they said their goal was to build a tank boat thing that would run for 70 hours before anything major on it would break down -- 70 hours. That was their goal.
Getting nowhere near that goal, they later reduced the goal from 70 hours without a breakdown to 43 ½ hours without a breakdown.
By 2007, they could still only get the thing to run for four hours without something catastrophically breaking down.
Right now, the goal -- the goal is to get the thing to operate disaster-free for 16-point-something hours. That‘s what it would take for this thing to pass minimal standards at this point -- 16.4 hours. That‘s it. That‘s as long as it would have to run without something really bad happening, something like what‘s been happening, which is the thing leaking or driving itself off course inexplicably.
Even if the thing didn‘t break down though, even if it worked as directed, even if it worked like a charm the way it‘s supposed to work, doesn‘t work. It is the printer/copier/scanner/fax that cannot print, copy, scan or fax problem.
In order to swim, the little contraption that couldn‘t needs to have a flat bottom for buoyancy. This thing is not a catamaran. It is a tank. It needs a flat-bottom to be able to swim.
But having a flat bottom hull is exactly the thing we stopped allowing for any of our land vehicles in our current wars, because you really, really need them to have a V-shaped hull because the V-shaped hull makes the vehicle capable of protecting the people inside it from things exploding outside it when it is driving around.
So because the thing can swim, it really can‘t drive safely on land. Oh, speaking of driving, in order to reach what the Pentagon says is its target speed, this thing needs to be driven on very, very good roads, well-paved areas, because it has really low-ground clearance and it doesn‘t like going over bumps.
This, therefore, limits the Marines to using this vehicle in well-paved places with really good infrastructure, places with good roads that extend right out to the beaches -- very handy if our next war is in Malibu.
The tank boat also requires places that don‘t mind that we are coming, because it is incredibly, incredibly noisy. Do you have any tank that is also a boat is a cool idea in the same way that shark‘s with laser beams on their heads is a cool idea?
Let‘s note for a moment that the Marines have not mounted an opposed amphibious assault of the kind that gives rise for the imagined need for something like this since the autumn of 1950, as in the Truman administration.
This thing has not just been revealed suddenly now as a bad idea. It has been clear that this was a bad idea for a very long time. Originally, they planned to get 1,000 of these vehicles for $9 billion.
So far, they have spent $3 billion and have none of them that work properly. And if the Defense Department doesn‘t put the kibosh on it, the new budget provides another $13 billion to try to get roughly half of the original planned number of them, maybe.
The “it slices, it dices, it juliennes, it prints, it copies, it faxes contraption is a textbook example of military spending with no point, right down to the fact that back in its darkest days, when it could only go four hours without pooping out, the defense contractor who made these things got $60 million in performance bonuses for their work up to that point.
Great job, you guys. It sucks. Here is $60 million in bonuses. So now, Defense Secretary Bob Gates wants to cut it. This is now a test, a great test. Republicans still have to work out amongst themselves whether or not their newfound opposition to spending includes even spending that‘s on military stuff.
And the Republicans said they wanted to cut $100 billion this year before they said it would be maybe more like $50 billion. They explicitly said those cuts would not include any cuts to military spending.
So this is my question? Who is going to be the first idiot to complain about cutting this thing, about cutting this float-in-the-bathtub toaster oven, this food processor, paper-shredding, metal detector, all in one waffle iron nothing doer?
Who is going to be the first member of Congress to complain about cutting this pointless contraption? Because even though it does worse than nothing, it is magic military dollars that can never be cut.
Who is going to complain about this? This is a stupidity test for Congress? Who wants to take this test?
MADDOW: The most awesome news of the night -- the news that Ted Williams, the homeless man with the incredible radio voice, has been hired by MSNBC. He will record voiceovers for our new “Lean Forward” ad campaign.
He will also be interviewed tonight on the show that is right after this one, “The Last Word with Lawrence O‘Donnell,” which starts right now, so stay right where you are.
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