Guests: David Corn, Mark Halperin, Chris Cillizza, Simon Hobbs, John Feehery, Joan Walsh, Melissa Harris-Perry, David Brock
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Well, who stopped the checks?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews up in New York tonight.
Leading off tonight: Blame game. Take this to the bank. Most of the jockeying right now about a possible government shutdown this Friday revolves around who‘s going to get blamed. Democrats and Republicans each say the other wants a shutdown, which should tell that you neither side wants any part of a shutdown.
But ask yourself an easy one. Can Republicans really make the case that the Democrats—you know, the party of big government—wants to shut government down? Really? We have a new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll and a bunch of numbers that tell you who people say they‘re going to punish.
Also, there is something that Paul Ryan didn‘t want to talk about yesterday when he unveiled his big plan to cut $5.8 trillion in government spending. Most of those savings he talked about so courageously are offset by—get this—a $4 trillion cut—offsetting that $5.8 billion cut in spending—in tax cuts, more tax cuts for the corporation and the wealthy. Didn‘t tell you about that one in the big spotlight yesterday, did he.
Is there any wonder Democrats are eager to tether Republicans to a plan, the plan by Ryan, that lowers taxes on the rich while abolishing Medicare? Smart move there.
Plus, why are the Republicans going after Planned Parenthood? Are they out to kill birth control now? Bill Clinton, by the way, has weighed in on this one.
Glenn Beck is out as host at Fox News. Did he jump or was he pushed?
We‘ll hear from Media Matters.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with the paranoid style of American politics. Wait until you hear this one.
Let‘s begin with who gets the blame if the government does shut down this Friday. David Corn‘s Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” and MSNBC political analyst, as well, of course, and John Feehery‘s a great—always a good sport and a Republican strategist.
MATTHEWS: And you‘re going to have to be a good sport tonight because you are on the losing end of this Titanic!
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, please!
MATTHEWS: If there‘s a government shutdown, here‘s what would happen
800,000 federal workers would be furloughed—that means out of pay, off the job—pay for our troops would be halted, IRS refunds to people will be suspended—in other words, the checks won‘t go out—Federal Housing Authority loans, FHA loans, interrupted—that‘s your word, “interrupted,” by the way, if you‘re loan and it‘s interrupted, it‘s stopped for a while—passports would go unprocessed and unemployment benefits might be suspended.
So that‘s a lot of action, David Corn, for the Republicans. Do they really want to kill government? Do they really hate it so much that they‘re willing to take blame for killing it for a while?
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think half of them say yes. I mean, this is the problem that John Boehner‘s having, that I don‘t believe he wants to shut down—he was around in 1996 when it happened and saw Bill Clinton turn it to a political advantage. But I do believe that part of that Tea Party freshman class does want to see a shutdown. They yearn for it. They hanker for it.
And they don‘t care what the numbers are, whether it‘s $40 billion, $50 billion, $60 billion. They actually want to see the government shut down because they hate it that much, and somehow—and they don‘t even care about blaming the president for it. They want to see government killed.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to John Feehery on that because I think you represent the Republican Party, not the Tea Party normally. It seems to me that John Boehner is in his post-nasal drip state right now.
MATTHEWS: He‘s in a lachrymose mood. I look at him almost ready to
go completely wet in the face because he has to defend a group he‘s happy
with, Republicans and party chairs and committee chairs that he‘s worked
with for 10 and 20 years, and these wild people that basically want to do -
I believe you‘re right, David Corn—want to shut down government to make a point, in fact, because they don‘t like government.
FEEHERY: Well, Chris—
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t it true that the Tea Party people don‘t like government, just to be fair?
FEEHERY: I disagree—let me—let me—
MATTHEWS: Well, how about answering my question?
FEEHERY: First of all—
MATTHEWS: Don‘t go Michele Bachmann on me. Is it true—
FEEHERY: Let me—
MATTHEWS: -- that Republicans of the he Tea Party sort really would just like to see less government? They‘d like to see government shut down for a while because they think they can probably live without it.
FEEHERY: Well, it‘s no secret that some members of the Tea Party angling for a government shutdown, but that‘s not the real story. The real story here is that Harry Reid—
MATTHEWS: It‘s good enough for us.
FEEHERY: Well, it‘s actually not accurate. You know, I think that, Chris, everyone will get blamed, both sides get blamed if the government shuts down. I think the president will take the majority of the blame because he‘s in charge.
I would say the person who deserves the majority of the blame, though, is Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, who I think he and Chuck Schumer both think that this helps them politically if the government shuts down and then they can blame the Republicans. I can tell you who does not want a shutdown. That‘s John Boehner because he lived through it. I think that for patriotic reasons, he doesn‘t want a government shutdown, and I think political reasons, he does not want a shutdown. But I do think that—
CORN: But John—
MATTHEWS: We‘ve got a report on that that might challenge what you just said, John Feehery. In all fairness, let‘s get it out. Politico reports today that House Speaker John Boehner, the man you just mentioned, told House Republicans this Monday, a couple days ago, quote, “The Democrats think they benefit from a government shutdown. I agree with them.”
Now, here‘s the problem. What‘s the point of that? Isn‘t that something you‘re worried about, that the speaker of the House you just mentioned does believe, in quiet, in the back room with fellow Republicans, the Democrats win this game if the government shuts down?
FEEHERY: Well, I‘ll tell you what—I was there—I was there in 1995, 1996 --
MATTHEWS: But you weren‘t there Monday.
FEEHERY: I wasn‘t there Monday, but—
MATTHEWS: OK, well, we‘re talking about Monday, John, not the history lesson here. What happened Monday? Why did Boehner say this time around the Tea Party looked like the wild people and they looked like the bad guys? You didn‘t have Tea Party people back in the ‘90s.
FEEHERY: The president—we had kind of Tea Party people back in the 1990s. Let me say that, you know, John Boehner understands the politics of this. He understands also—and there‘s a different cast of characters here in the leadership. They are all saying the same thing, which is, We do not want the government to shut down, which is far different than what happened in 1995 and ‘96, when they said they did want the government to shut down.
CORN: But what they‘re saying—
FEEHERY: This is my point. I believe that the whole—both sides will get the blame. I think this is bad for President Obama, as well.
CORN: But what they‘re saying, John, is if you don‘t really give us more—more than half of what we want, we will see a government shutdown. They asked for $61 billion in cuts. We‘re now up to $33 billion. That‘s over half. They only control one house—
CORN: They only control one house of Congress, John, and they‘re still saying that‘s not good enough—
CORN: Now they‘re arguing over .83 percent of the budget.
FEEHERY: That‘s a different dynamic—
MATTHEWS: OK, one at a time.
FEEHERY: What‘s going to happen here tomorrow is the Republicans are going to pass a continuing resolution that‘s going to include Pentagon spending, and they‘re going to send it to Harry Reid. And then Senator Reid has to make a decision, Am I going to pass this or am I going to get blamed for the government shutdown? And that‘s how this story‘s going to progress.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s the question I have for you, John Feehery. It seems to me the Republicans can see a little causality here, the voters out there. They go—you know, whenever the Republicans come charging into Washington, whether it‘s Newt Gingrich, whoever, or it‘s this guy, the Tea Party people—it‘s not really Boehner, he‘s been here—they way, Wait a minute, then the government gets shut down. They do see the cause of that. They think government shutdown, they think Newt Gingrich.
MATTHEWS: They see government shutdown, they see Republicans come in here in a rage. They don‘t like government, and they‘re shutting it down.
FEEHERY: Well, what happened—
MATTHEWS: -- you think people see that?
FEEHERY: What happened in ‘96, ‘97, ‘98 is we balanced the budget.
We passed Welfare reform and the economy grew!
MATTHEWS: Oh, here we go.
FEEHERY: So I—you know what? If that‘s what happens this time, I‘m all for a small shutdown!
CORN: Under Bill Clinton that was, yes.
FEEHERY: Well, under—under Newt Gingrich, too!
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at “The New York Times”—
FEEHERY: Bill Clinton was just signing those things!
MATTHEWS: Let‘s look at this “New York Times” description of the exchange between the president and the speaker at the White House yesterday. Quote, “According to one person in the room, the president then encouraged Mr. Boehner to figure out how to go to your caucus and declare victory. ‘You‘re already most of the way to where you wanted to go.‘” So the president there is coaching Boehner politically on the fact that Boehner clearly would—he doesn‘t have to coach him, John. You know Boehner would like to be out of the woods right now on this. He looks like he‘s ready to die over this thing. He looks like—remember the Irish guy in “Casino,” with the head in the vise, down in the basement there in the factory?
FEEHERY: But I don‘t think—
MATTHEWS: He‘s a tough Irishman, but we got your head in a vise. It‘s just like that. Boehner‘s got the Tea Party on one side, the president on the other. They‘re both squeezing. And then he‘s got crazy Pence on the top, pushing him on birth control!
CORN: Chris? Chris?
MATTHEWS: I mean, he‘s got so many squeezes on his head, no wonder he‘s juicing!
CORN: But Chris—
FEEHERY: The president said yesterday—the president said yesterday, Why don‘t we act like adults? And the only one who‘s acting like an adult during this whole thing is John Boehner. I think he‘s going to come out looking pretty good! I really do.
MATTHEWS: Did you write that ahead of time, that last line? You wrote that down ahead of time. You couldn‘t be thinking that right now.
MATTHEWS: Nobody thinks like that in this conversation!
CORN: It depends—he looks like an adult—
CORN: -- if he can control—
CORN: -- the kindergarteners in his wild class, the Tea Party folks.
CORN: -- but so all right, he‘s not doing that. He looks like the substitute school teacher—
FEEHERY: He‘s very reasonable, and he‘s—
CORN: -- who‘s being pushed around.
MATTHEWS: OK. And you guys talk at the same time. Let me try it this way. I‘ll talk, you guys listen.
FEEHERY: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: You have a schoolyard fight here, basically. I admit it doesn‘t have a lot of maturity to it. But I look at the president‘s debonair quality the other day—calm, collected, no sweating, no schvitzing—I‘m up in New York—absolutely calm, liking this fight. Then I see cool Boehner. Let‘s get a look at Boehner up here. The face is ready to break out, and it doesn‘t look like into laughter. The guy looks like he‘s under—oh! I feel for the guy! How can you not, Feehery, feel for this guy? Feel for him, not fear for him.
FEEHERY: Well—well, I—
MATTHEWS: Now, my feeling is the guy is in pain. Give him some sympathy. He doesn‘t want to be where he is. Look at him. Do you think that guy wants this fight? Then look at Obama.
FEEHERY: Well, I—
MATTHEWS: He‘s Mr. Charm City! The guy looks great! I‘m sorry, that‘s Baltimore. He looks great!
FEEHERY: I think John Boehner wants to cut spending as much as he—
MATTHEWS: Look at that! Look at that! Look! He looks like he just won the world wrestling championship!
MATTHEWS: Look at this guy! He‘s happy!
FEEHERY: -- going to be very successful.
CORN: John Boehner has already won most of the fight—
CORN: -- yet he‘s not conceding anything else. If he doesn‘t, he‘s going to look like he‘s—
MATTHEWS: Why do you guys always want to shut down the government? John Feehery, what is it about—I mean, some guys always want to shoot spitballs. They tell jokes or whatever. Why do Republicans always come to town and say, Let‘s shut down the government?
FEEHERY: Well, I remember when—in 1990, when George—when Tom Foley shut the government down for a week. I mean, this happens. These are two different parties with two different big philosophies and they‘re coming at it—
FEEHERY: -- and they‘re—and they‘re negotiating. And that‘s what happens.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take a look at the poll—
MATTHEWS: We got a brand-new poll out tonight, guys—
MATTHEWS: -- break this tie. It shows that 68 percent of Democrats think their party‘s leaders should compromise on the budget. Only 25 percent think they should stick to principle (ph). Catch that number, only 7 out of 10 want a compromise, Democrats. Among Republicans, 56 percent are opposed to (INAUDIBLE) forging any compromise.
Why does one party want to deal and the other party doesn‘t want to deal? First David Corn. All by yourself, David Corn. Why does your part of the world want to compromise, at least the center left, and the other party doesn‘t want to compromise at all? What‘s going on?
CORN: I think they‘re being more responsible. I think they‘re realizing that we have divided government right now. The way to deal with divided government is try to come up with compromises, which also—which often means cutting it down the middle, more or less—
MATTHEWS: I agree.
CORN: -- whether you like it or not. That is Obama‘s perspective. A lot of people on the left think he should be fighting more, that he‘s given too much, yet that doesn‘t seem to be—
CORN: -- Boehner‘s perspective right now when he had a good deal.
MATTHEWS: John, same question—
MATTHEWS: -- why does the Democratic Party want to deal and compromise and the Republican Party doesn‘t?
FEEHERY: Well, I—
MATTHEWS: In fact, we checked it had out.
FEEHERY: I think—
MATTHEWS: It‘s the Tea Party people that don‘t want to compromise.
The regular Republicans want to compromise. Your thoughts.
FEEHERY: Well, I think the in the—I think in the Senate, they have a lot of -- 23 Democratic senators up, and they want to be on the right side of the American people, which means they want to cut spending.
FEEHERY: So I think that that‘s why—but the problem is that Harry Reid and the senators have not passed a budget in two years, and they‘ve been completely irresponsible, and they‘re not getting any of the blame, which I think is shocking to me.
MATTHEWS: I do agree with you on that one point. I think—isn‘t he right, David, in this regard? Democrats do feel government does have a spending and a deficit problem and something ought to be done to address it, and they‘re willing to compromise to do it. The Republicans recognize there‘s a problem with the deficit and debt, and we all do, and they‘re not willing to compromise.
CORN: Well, they don‘t seem to be, and the Democrats want to talk about revenue enhancements—
CORN: -- and all sorts of things. The Republicans—
FEEHERY: David, that‘s called tax increases!
CORN: Well, they don‘t believe in giving tax breaks—
CORN: -- the rich while cutting Medicare.
MATTHEWS: John Feehery, you know why you‘re wrong? John, you know why you‘re wrong today? Not you, but your party.
FEEHERY: Why‘s that?
MATTHEWS: If you really want a deal, you won‘t be throwing everything in like the kitchen sink. If Mike Pence really wanted to deal, he wouldn‘t be talking about birth control. If Mike Pence really wanted a deal, he wouldn‘t be talking—the speaker wouldn‘t be talking about, in this case, climate change. They‘re making all kinds of add-ons to this discussion, “riders,” they call it, to make it more—harder a deal to make. If they wanted a deal, they wouldn‘t be putting all this social stuff on.
FEEHERY: Chris, you‘re a man of the house. I understand—you love the House of Representatives as much as I do. The House worked its will and passed its bills, and the fact of the matter is, the Senate has not done anything like that.
FEEHERY: And the Senate—
FEEHERY: -- the right to stand up for what they passed.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
CORN: The Senate‘s ready to make a deal.
MATTHEWS: You know, you‘ve spent all these years since working in the House going to the Michele Bachmann school of argument.
FEEHERY: No! No!
MATTHEWS: It‘s not doing you well.
FEEHERY: That‘s a good discussion.
MATTHEWS: It‘s always changing the subject. You are not hypnotized, but you are dangerously in trouble.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Corn. And thank you, John Feehery.
FEEHERY: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: The budget proposed by Republican congressman Paul Ryan revamps health care for the poor, while cutting taxes for—got this thing? Save money by—well, don‘t—cut the taxes of the rich people and then cut Medicare, or in fact, get rid of it. No wonder Democrats think they can punish Republicans for Ryan‘s plan. That‘s ahead.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll has President Obama inching toward the magic 50 mark again -- 49 percent of those polled said they approve of the job he‘s doing. You know, it‘s amazing. It‘s like a yo-yo. It‘s back up again, though, good for him this week. That‘s a slight gain over where he stood in February.
When asked whether they planned to vote for the president or the Republican candidate next year, President Obama has a 5-point edge, 43 to 38, against nothing. Maybe that‘s who he‘ll run against. And look at this number. republican primary voters prefer Mitt Romney to be their candidate, but Donald Trump is surging. He‘s at 17 percent, good for a second place tie with Mike Huckabee. Good work for Donald Trump.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Republican reviews of Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget proposal yesterday have crept in slowly. The possible presidential candidates offered polite praise and very careful wording. Tim Pawlenty said the Ryan plan is offering “real leadership.” Mitch Daniels called it “the first serious proposal.” Mike Huckabee said “it‘s a start.” Mitt Romney actually said Ryan is “setting the right tone.” And Sarah Palin said “It‘s a good start.” None of them, by the way, said, I agree with it.
White House press secretary Jay Carney was a little more clear. He put out a statement that said, in part, “It cuts taxes for millionaires and special interests while placing a greater burden on seniors who depend on Medicare and life in nursing homes, families struggling with a child who has serious disabilities, workers who have lost their health care coverage and students and their families who rely on Pell grants.” (INAUDIBLE) he said gets hurt, according to Jay Carney at the White House.
Are Republicans really excited to have their leaders talking about getting rid of Medicare and offering tax breaks to corporations? “Time” magazine‘s Mark Halperin‘s sitting right next to me. He‘s MSNBC senior political analyst. And “The Washington Post‘s” Chris Cillizza is an MSNBC political analyst.
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. Chris, you‘re very good at reading things. You‘ve got—you—you scoop us most of the time on getting these direct quotes immediately out of the mouths of people. Before they even begin to talk, you get them out. Have you noticed that none of these gentlemen who are running for president of the United States said, Yes, I agree with Ryan? Not one of them!
CHRIS CILLIZZA, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: One hundred percent, Chris. I love that graphic. That was a wonderful representation of it. Yes, because, look, as we all know on these sorts of things, the devil is in the details. Every one of them said, We need to have a serious conversation about what‘s going on with the budget in this country. President Obama has said that. Every Democrat and Republican in the country has said that.
What no one has said is, Yes, Paul Ryan‘s proposal, specifically as it relates to Medicare, is the one I would back. And the reason for that is not complicated. We know any conversation about Medicare—we know this from years of political analysis—
CILLIZZA: -- any conversation about Medicare gets older folks nervous. Who votes most reliably? Older folks. And that‘s why you‘re not going to see any of these—the Mitt Romneys, the Tim Pawlentys, the Haley Barbours, the Mike Huckabees—they‘re not going to fully embrace this plan because they know the dangers inherit in it.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at this one poll. And I think polls that are not—I don‘t like 6-to-4 polls, Mark. I don‘t know about you. They don‘t mean a whole lot to me. Catch this poll. (INAUDIBLE) government shutdown, it‘s not clear who really will get blamed. Here‘s a great poll. Should Medicare be cut to reduce the federal deficit?
MATTHEWS: Seventy-six percent say no. And by the way, of people over 65 -- just guessing—it‘s probably 90 percent, Mark.
MARK HALPERIN, “TIME” MAGAZINE, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Even
though Ryan‘s plan would keep people currently on Medicare in the system as
MATTHEWS: Yes, because—because they don‘t like having the program they depend on on the road to the trashcan.
HALPERIN: Right. I think there are two things about what‘s going on now that I think are important. One is that we‘re not having the adult conversation that we should be having in the media and in politics because there have to be Medicare cuts if there‘s going to be a balanced budget or anything like (INAUDIBLE)
And two is, we have to talk about what cuts mean because cuts to providers? Is it to doctors and hospitals? Or cuts to beneficiaries or cuts to states? We have to talk about, in Medicare, Medicaid, what those mean.
MATTHEWS: Well, any time you cut something, you cut it. And, by the way, when you say cut defense, the people don‘t say, what are you cutting out exactly?
MATTHEWS: They say, you‘re cutting defense.
MATTHEWS: And they don‘t like it—
MATTHEWS: -- because they know it all adds up to how strong your military is.
If you cut—stop writing checks to people, they are going to stop working, and you are going to stop getting services, stop getting health care.
HALPERIN: There‘s going to have to be significant cuts to lots of people in the country if people are serious about deficit reduction.
The polls show people aren‘t serious about specific—
CILLIZZA: That‘s right.
HALPERIN: -- but they‘re serious about the overall goal. That‘s why we need political leadership to explain to people.
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s—here‘s—here‘s—here‘s Congressman Ryan.
CILLIZZA: And, Chris, Chris—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s watch Congressman Ryan on “Joe”—“Morning Joe.”
Let‘s listen to him today and then we will pick up there, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MORNING JOE”)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We are doing revenue-neutral tax reform, but if you broaden the tax base, get rid of all the loopholes and deductions which distort economic activity, lower tax rates, you make American businesses more competitive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Lower tax rates for business.
Here is a “New York Times”‘ analysis today. “House Republicans say the budge would cut $5.8 trillion from projected spending. It would also slash individual and corporate income taxes by more than $4 trillion, current projections somewhat offsetting the spending cuts and limiting the overall deduction in the deficit.”
So, Chris, the headline last night for most of us on television was the big spending cuts. Now we find out that this all comes with a package. It‘s a blue plate special, which includes huge tax cuts for the rich.
Why would a guy who is ready to inflict pain on grandma at the same time say let‘s give the hot shot on Wall Street a big cut in taxes?
CILLIZZA: Well, Chris, I think—
MATTHEWS: Is that smart politically?
CILLIZZA: I think—I think no is the short answer. But I think Mark‘s got the essence of it, which is any time you try and do something—look, there is a reason we haven‘t reformed Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, because it is really politically hard to do.
Any time you try to propose a comprehensive budget, like Paul Ryan proposed, this is what‘s going to happen. Just to add very quickly to Mark‘s point, you know, “The Washington Post” did a poll last month. They asked, folks, would you be willing to do A, B, C, E, or F to bring down the deficit? Not one of those proposals—and Medicare wasn‘t even in there, but not one of those proposals got majority support, which speaks to Mark‘s point, which is people like the idea of bringing down the debt.
They think the debt is a problem, we don‘t want to put it onto our kids, but they don‘t want to do anything about it. And that is the political rub.
HALPERIN: I can see—
HALPERIN: I can see why Republicans want to reform Medicare. They are responsible to want to do it, maybe not exactly the way Ryan proposes.
What is amazing is Democrats—
MATTHEWS: Well, wouldn‘t they like to get rid of it?
HALPERIN: Democrats continue—no.
MATTHEWS: Oh, of course they would.
HALPERIN: Democrats continue to lose the fight on tax cuts. It is amazing, in the lame-duck session, in the presidential election of 2004. John Kerry couldn‘t do it. Barack Obama couldn‘t do it.
MATTHEWS: So, what‘s new?
HALPERIN: Well, they have got to try to win that fight. They have to have the courage of their convictions to say rich people should pay more taxes in this country.
They can win that debate in theory, but they haven‘t been able to win
it politically in the context of an overall discussion. That should be as
MATTHEWS: OK. I wonder why politicians—
HALPERIN: Ryan should be as vulnerable on that as he is on anything -
MATTHEWS: I think politicians should be willing to pay for what they support in terms of government activity. Do you agree?
MATTHEWS: They should be willing to pay for it. They should be willing to limit the amount of government activity to the amount they are willing to tax.
MATTHEWS: Is that fair? They should limit what they support in spending down to what they are willing to tax.
HALPERIN: And keep it all as low as possible.
MATTHEWS: Right. But that will never happen.
CILLIZZA: But, Chris, the problem with that—
MATTHEWS: -- because the people want those things.
CILLIZZA: Chris, the problem with it is that everybody‘s little program, everybody‘s little program is the most important thing to them in their district. This is the problem we get into. Broadly, it‘s a good idea. Narrowly, everyone finds a—
CILLIZZA: -- this is the most important.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you why I think this is a big issue. Let me tell you why I think the Democrats win this. If you are in your 70s, or 80s, or even 60s, and you have a health problem, you know that your health expenses, when you dare to look at the actual bill, not the co-pay, but you ask the hospital what is this really costing somebody, is so high, that your Social Security won‘t even cover it.
In other words, if every dime you have coming in won‘t cover your health expenses, you know you need help from somebody.
HALPERIN: It‘s a horrible reality, but the current trajectory of the system is such that they won‘t have anything, they won‘t have the current system, because it will be bankrupt.
Democrats now to have to have an alternative. Ryan‘s plan is imperfect. And liberals may not like it, but they must have—
MATTHEWS: Why would the government stop paying the bills of Medicare patients?
HALPERIN: Because we are getting an older population, fewer young workers contributing. We‘re not—
MATTHEWS: That is a Republican argument.
MATTHEWS: I mean, there‘s nothing wrong with it. It is a Republican argument.
HALPERIN: Medicare—and look at the protections of what Medicare and Medicaid are going to cost.
MATTHEWS: The government will provide the health care for seniors it has promised to provide them, or it will be out of business. The people won‘t elect them anymore.
MATTHEWS: And the government that comes along, the president who says I‘m not going to pay the health care costs of seniors, which we promised to do, is in big trouble.
HALPERIN: People who are currently promised the current system will have the current system under what Ryan‘s proposing. And I don‘t think anything will pass that will change Medicare for people currently on it. It is all talking about the future.
Well, the problem we had the other day—and I think I learned something the other day, Chris—is that the reason we have Medicare is because you can‘t make any money insuring the health and success of old people, because the older—
CILLIZZA: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: -- you get, the more expensive you get to keep alive, and that‘s just a fact.
MATTHEWS: That‘s why you can‘t say, oh, we are going to privatize it. What business would want to go into providing health care for people the older they get?
CILLIZZA: Not a profitable one. And that‘s—that‘s—you know, that‘s—Chris, that‘s the—this is the nub of the problem.
But, again, I just keep coming back to the—the rhetoric does not match anything—anything even close to the results.
CILLIZZA: That‘s true for politician and for the public.
MATTHEWS: OK. We are going to get back in there. We have got another fight coming up over Planned Parenthood. The Republicans are not happy with just cutting spending for old people. They want to get rid of birth control help, which baffles me, if you‘re against abortion, why you would get rid of birth control. It doesn‘t make any sense.
Anyway, a lot of it doesn‘t.
Mark Halperin, thank you, Chris Cillizza.
You‘re both much more conservative than I am, I think, tonight.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Michele Bachmann dodges a question—boy, that‘s news—about her tendency to say things that aren‘t true. Wait until you hear how she is taking—well, she is taking off on Obama again. You know, no matter what you ask her, she goes against Obama.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
First up, answer the question, please. This morning, NBC‘s Savannah Guthrie pressed Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on her track record of saying things that are demonstrably false.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you feel the need to be more precise in your statements so that people recognize you are a person of substance?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Well, I am a person of substance. I have a law degree. I have a post-doctorate degree in tax law. My husband and I have started two clinics. We together with other—
GUTHRIE: Do you think you‘ve been a little loose with the facts sometimes?
BACHMANN: We together with other parents started the first charter school in the United States for K-12 students. We—I have a very substantial background.
Yes, it‘s important that we have accuracy, but take a look at President Obama‘s credibility. He‘s the one who said if we pass a trillion-dollar stimulus package, that we wouldn‘t see unemployment go above 8 percent.
GUTHRIE: But Congresswoman—but Congresswoman, I asked about you in some of your statements. So—
BACHMANN: On every level, the president has not had credibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, actually, that was Christine Romans who said it.
Anyway, the latest ideological media training there, you saw it, ignore the question, stick to the attack. Michele Bachmann has got it down cold.
By the way, happy birthday, Congresswoman.
Next up: behind enemy lines. back in 2007, Donald Trump congratulated newly sworn-in Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a written note, saying she was—quote—“the best.”
When confronted with that bit of history, the 2012 contender told Politico—quote—“When I send Nancy a letter, I want her to do a great job for the country, not for her party, OK, honey?”
Could it be that Mr. Trump isn‘t quite the partisan Republican firebrand he is now demonstrably or actually demonstrating himself to be? We will see.
Up next: Republicans are trying to strip funding for Planned Parenthood, funding that goes directly toward cancer screenings and birth control, among other things. Why are Republicans playing politics with women‘s health? Let‘s get that. We are coming to that in a second.
You are watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
SIMON HOBBS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: And good evening. I‘m Simon Hobbs with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks edged mostly higher today in fairly light trading. The Dow Jones industrial average added 32 points. The S&P 500 climbed almost three, and the Nasdaq tacked on eight-and-a-half.
So another relatively quiet day as investors await the start of earnings season next week. Banks led the way higher, as a new quarter got under way, boosted by the prospect of rising interest rates.
Spiking oil prices still having an impact on various industries.
Airlines and chemical companies slipped as oil traded above $108 a barrel.
And on the tech side, Cisco surged on speculation that it may axe its consumer units after, yesterday, the CEO admitted to operational execution errors.
But American Semiconductor plunged more than 40 percent after the wind turbine maker predicted a sharp drop in revenue.
And some overseas news breaking right now at the closing bell. Portugal says it will, after all, ask the E.U. for a financial bailout after months of maneuvers aimed at avoiding just that.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As the battle continues over the budget and a possible government shutdown this weekend, in fact as early as Friday, one issue contained in the budget is a Republican-backed measure that would strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding, money that goes directly toward cancer screenings and birth control, among other things.
So why is the Republican Party going after women‘s rights and health care in this regard?
Joan Walsh, our friend, joins us. She writes for Salon. And Melissa Harris-Perry is a professor at Princeton.
I‘m going to start with Joan.
And I‘m going to be careful here, because—well, here is Republican Mike Pence. Let‘s hear what he has to say.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: Yes.
MATTHEWS: He‘s spearheading this cause. Let him speak for himself. He says he is willing to hold up the whole budget, bring down the whole government over one issue, Planned Parenthood. Listen to him say it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you willing to hold this up entire budget over defunding Planned Parenthood?
REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA: Well—well, of course, I am. I think the American people have begun to learn that the largest abortion provider in the country is also the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X. And they—they want to see that come to an end.
You know, I think there‘s a broad consensus in this country—regardless of where you stand on the subject of abortion, there‘s a broad consensus for decades now opposing public funding of abortion and abortion providers.
We are going to dig in, and we are going to fight for the principle that taxpayers shouldn‘t have to subsidize the largest abortion provider in the country, namely Planned Parenthood of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s get to the clarity here, Joan. The issue here is not funding of abortion, which is outlawed under the Hyde amendment.
MATTHEWS: We have been debating that for years. That‘s where it stands. That‘s what the law is.
WALSH: That‘s the law.
MATTHEWS: Whatever you think of it, that is the law.
He‘s arguing about defunding Planned Parenthood, which I understand to be very helpful to women in terms of health screening, helping them—poor women especially—
MATTHEWS: -- who wouldn‘t normally have a good doctor, who wouldn‘t have the access to birth control. And if you don‘t like abortion—and very few people think it is good to have so many abortions—one way to reduce them is having less unexpected or unwanted pregnancy.
MATTHEWS: And one way to deal with is that is called birth control.
MATTHEWS: And why people are against birth control and against abortion, you ought to be thinking about the serious thing you are concerned with, and not the other part of it, which is birth control.
MATTHEWS: Why do they want to get rid of birth control if they care about abortion? Big question.
WALSH: Because—because they really are trying to muddy the waters, they really are trying to control women‘s lives. They don‘t—they don‘t care about poor women.
And, you know, I know this is not a polite word to use, Chris, but he is lying. And he knows it. Not a dime of federal money goes to Planned Parenthood to fund abortions. Now, they do have a separate operation that performs some abortions, but the bulk of what they do—and that‘s all—all private money. It is in separate buildings. It has separate administration.
It‘s—it‘s practically a different organization. Planned Parenthood gets federal dollars to provide family planning and, as you said, health screening services. And that—that‘s what they are trying to take away, 800,000 breast exams last year, Chris, a million cervical cancer screenings.
Six out of 10 women who go into Planned Parenthood say that that is where they get their primary health care. They get a range of services when they walk in there, not merely birth control services. So, it‘s really unconscionable. And it will increase the number of abortions. That‘s the ironic and sick thing.
MATTHEWS: You know, I look at that, Professor, Professor Harris-Perry and I look at the people who—it‘s always interesting to see who is not on the team. Scott Brown is not on the team that wants to kill Planned Parenthood, Olympia Snowe, a Republican woman senator, Susan Collins, another Republican woman senator, Lisa Murkowski, another Republican.
Well, there is a pattern here, isn‘t there?
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICS AND AFRICAN
AMERICAN STUDIES, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Women Republican senators don‘t like this attack. I always hear good things about Planned Parenthood, and not from people that are necessarily on this side of the pro-choice movement either. But why are they going after this group, the Republicans?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, sure. There‘s a couple of reasons.
One is that by putting this on Planned Parenthood, and particularly by coming down to this sort of final moment and saying, we will hold up the whole thing over the question of defunding Planned Parenthood, it allows, if there is in fact a government shutdown, for the blame to be placed, not on obstructionist Republicans who are making a set of choices that the country simply cannot live with in the long term, but instead to kind of offset that blame on radical feminists who want to give people abortions.
You see, what happens is then the scapegoat—
MATTHEWS: Who is doing that?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, see, that‘s what—that‘s what happens if the government shut downs around the Planned Parenthood question, in other words, the issue of, will you—will you hold the line on this?
If the president and the Democratic Party don‘t hold the line on this, then they recognize that they have a very strong possibility of losing the support of women voters. However, if they do, then—then this sort of group of women who are reproductive rights advocates can be caricaturized as these sort of hard-core feminists who want to give people abortions. And they can be blamed for the shutdown.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, there‘s this way that economic crisis creates moral panic.
And so, the Republican Party is taking advantage of the kind of economic downturn to generate a moral panic that allows for the scapegoating, this—in this case, of women and their supporters who are supportive of reproductive rights.
MATTHEWS: Why—let me ask you this, Joan. You and I are Catholic. Why are people who are against abortion—and I respect all positions on this, believe it to or not—why don‘t they get together and say, you know, all the rallies in the world, all pro-life rallies in the world, maybe very good in terms of intentions are not really stopping abortions or reduce the number, but birth control is?
And whatever you think about abstinence, it has its role. But birth control also has its role, I think most people believe, and if it‘s not there, you‘re going to have a lot more unwanted pregnancies, a lot more abortions. But rallies don‘t stop abortion, birth control does. So, do they want to kill it?
WALSH: You know, there have been so many efforts—
MATTHEWS: Especially among poor people that may not be as organized in terms of using birth control? I look at the statistics here and that‘s the problem. Poor people who don‘t use birth control end up having pregnancies and they have abortions. And that‘s in the numbers, we have been looking at Guttmacher.
WALSH: Well, from—the Guttmacher numbers show that if this goes through, the abortion rate for poor women in particular will double. I can‘t believe that anybody wants that on any side, Chris. And so, you know, there have been a lot of common ground conversations here.
I‘m a huge, huge fan of Frances Kissling who started Catholics for a Free Choice.
WALSH: She has led—she has tried to spearhead and many other—many other great faith leaders have try to do this, a common ground conversation where let‘s fund—let‘s fund contraception, let‘s also fund feeding program, the WIC, Women and Infants Program, so no woman has an abortion because she can‘t afford to have a child. They cannot get Republican support for these kinds of common ground efforts.
So, it‘s hypocrisy. They don‘t—they don‘t care really about
stopping abortion. They just care about interfering in the lives of women
and as Melissa says, making women scapegoat.
But this isn‘t going to work. There‘s a broad-based coalition to fight back. American support contraception, they support Planned Parenthood. We are the mainstream position, they are the crazies.
I know you know Bill Clinton came out with a wonderful statement today.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s hear it. Here‘s Bill Clinton‘s statement today. He doesn‘t make many on this issue.
MATTHEWS: He‘s a former politician. Here he is: “The Republicans‘ elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood will in the end cost more than it saves by ending the ability of millions of American women to receive family planning services, breast and cervical cancer screenings and preventive health care at cost he-efficient Planned Parenthood centers. And the denial of simple birth control and family planning services may well increase the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in our country.”
Professor, there you have it from former President Clinton who rarely issues statements like this. He‘s in this issue. Let‘s look at it. Your thoughts.
What do you mean about—talk about the feminist piece of this. I know you‘re a theoretician about this. I want to know hear what is your theory politically about why a guy like Mike Pence, who everybody thinks is running for governor of Indiana, why is pushing this?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, let me—let me just point out one other thing. You said that birth control stops abortions. But let the me tell you the other thing that we know tracks with the lowering of abortions and the lowering, by the way, of unwed mothers—all kinds of sort of social, moral ills that the Republican Party has an anxiety about and that is when the economy gets better, when people have jobs—when people are in an economic situation where they feel that they can bear the next child.
HARRIS-PERRY: Remember that the majority of women who seek termination services already have at least one child.
HARRIS-PERRY: These are not women who are unwilling to be mothers, who—
HARRIS-PERRY: -- if only they had the baby they would realize how good life is with a baby. No, these are often people often making very difficult economic choices.
So, in fact, what we need to do is to invest in communities and invest also in supporting those who are the poorest so they can make a different set of choices around families. So, why are the Republicans pushing this? Because they believe it energizes their base, because they believe it gives them a space—
MATTHEWS: I got to go to your class someday up there. Invite me up there I want to go to Princeton.
HARRIS-PERRY: You should go.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Melissa Harris-Perry, professor at Princeton. And, Joan Walsh, like me, we didn‘t go to Princeton.
Anyway up next—maybe you did.
Anyway, up next: Glenn Beck is out as a host—well, that‘s sort of tragic news, isn‘t it? Anyway, he‘s quitting. What happened to this guy? Why isn‘t he there? Look at him. He wants to keep this job maybe.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Democrats have the big mow in Wisconsin after winning a key race yesterday, seen as a referendum on union-busting Governor Scott Walker. The race to replace Walker as Milwaukee County executive, the Democratic-leaning candidate trounced the Republican. And in the second race for Supreme Court justice, huge statewide turnout helped the Democrat there again come from out of nowhere, too close to call and likely heading to a recount out there.
Wisconsin will be a key battleground obviously for President Obama next year.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: This president I think has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture. I don‘t know what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. I don‘t know what to say to that kind of talk.
Anyway, welcome back.
That was Glenn Beck on “FOX and Friends”—what an unlikely place to talk like that in July a couple of years ago. Today, we learned that Beck is out at FOX News Channel. He will, quote, “be in transition.” He‘s transitioning himself off his daily show later this year. So, what‘s the last straw? What‘s it all about? What caused this?
Steven Brock is an expert. He‘s founder of Media Matters of America.
David, what was it that caused Roger Ailes, I believe, to play a role, whatever it was, in the dismissal of this character?
DAVID BROCK, MEDIA MATTERS: Well, I think there are basically three things. One is the content of the show. You just saw a clip. You said you didn‘t know what to say to it.
MATTHEWS: What do you say? He calls the president—
MATTHEWS: -- who is probably the most nonracial person we know—
MATTHEWS: -- who has fought against the usual prejudices of this country, to reach a level of—I don‘t know what—absolutely benign attitudes toward the whole situation.
MATTHEWS: And to call him a racist—
BROCK: It‘s race-baiting.
BROCK: It‘s a classic race-baiting. So, you have the content of the show. You have the race-baiting. You have the conspiracy theorizing. As we‘ve talked about in the show, the apocalyptic rhetoric.
MATTHEWS: The United States Army led by the two Bushes has
systemically avoided targeting the new seat of the caliphate -
MATTHEWS: -- the Bushes are working for the caliphate.
BROCK: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s watch it. Here he is Beck on ancient Babylon and the caliphate. Listen to the role he suggests our presidents, both Republicans, hawks, played in not hitting the target of the new caliphate‘s capital. Listen to this insanity. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Iraq is really important especially to the Shiites, especially to the Twelvers, who are in charge of this country right now. Because what is in Iraq? There‘s one place that we told our bombers not to bomb. Does anybody know what it was?
Two wars in Iraq, we said no bombing there. Ancient Babylon. Ancient Babylon. Why? Because the Bible tells us that is the seat of power of a global evil empire.
Well, that‘s also where the 12th Imam from Iran is supposedly going to show up. Everybody on this side wants ancient Babylon for their caliphate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It‘s precious bodily fluids. It‘s right out of Dr. Strangelove. It‘s insane talk to talk about that fact that our most conservative hawkish presidents have deliberately been working with the caliphate to avoid bombing the seat of the new caliphate which they are playing some role in creating.
MATTHEWS: And then he‘s talking about shoot me in the head, shoot him in the head. This lingo is insane.
BROCK: The last piece of this, the conspiracy-theorizing, the last
piece of this is the incitement of violence, calling himself a progressive
hunter, saying he wanted to drive a stake through the heart of progressives
and some of the actual followers of Beck almost carrying out on these threats. So, you have the content part.
Then, I think you have a business aspect of it. The original clip you showed, where he says he has a deep-seated hatred for white people, sparked a major advertising boycott against his show.
MATTHEWS: So, let‘s talk about that and you talked about content.
How about financing? I‘ve heard—I don‘t this from the grapevine. You‘re the expert, that people don‘t want their product identified with that kind of craziness.
BROCK: Right. Well, I think the evidence is clear. He‘s lost more than 300 advertisers since this boycott started—
MATTHEWS: Did you do that?
BROCK: -- in partnership with a group called Color of Change, which is an activist organization. Yes, we provided the advertisers data. Yes.
MATTHEWS: I‘m being serious. Tell me why you played such a hard role
I would agree with everything you did here. But why would you do it?
Just tell us your point of view.
BROCK: Well, because Glenn Beck was particularly dangerous, I think. And to have that presence mainstreamed was almost a unique problem in terms of the discourse. And so, I think this is a victory for civil discourse.
MATTHEWS: It‘s not just right wing talking, is it?
MATTHEWS: It‘s different. How so?
BROCK: Even within the network. Right. It‘s not Bill O‘Reilly. It‘s not Sean Hannity. You‘ve seen some of the really paranoid ravings of almost a mad man. So, it‘s a very different thing. And I think that‘s why advertisers didn‘t want to be associated with this.
MATTHEWS: Why this stuff work on the radio and not television? Because you know Beck will have a future on radio because radio seems to be more intimate, it‘s more niche. Is that it?
BROCK: Well, it‘s definitely more niche, I think the fear mongering works even better on the radio because you‘re drawn closer in. So, I think it‘s—he‘ll have a future on radio. And there‘s some speculation he might have a syndication on television, or something like that. But I think, at the end of the day, his reputation will be remembered as—for what it is, that even FOX had to draw a line, that FOX saw he was a liability, FOX saw he was bad for business.
MATTHEWS: I recognized him years ago when he came out and said there is no climate change. I think he‘s willing to play any game.
MATTHEWS: Any game.
BROCK: Right. He‘s lost 1 million viewers in the last year.
MATTHEWS: Thank you for this. Thanks for coming on. Congratulations on a successful campaign.
BROCK: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You weren‘t alone on that. I was with you and a lot of people. It‘s a good thing to end this.
And, by the way, I think O‘Reilly has a legitimate point of view, and, Sean, I disagree with it. But this isn‘t a point of view. This is crazy.
When we return, “Let me Finish” with why paranoia and conspiracy theories have no place in our politics.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: “Let Me Finish” tonight with the paranoids of American politics.
These are the people that believe the world is conspiring against them. It‘s a fearful, insane world of everyone out there—you know, everyone relentlessly meeting in secret to destroy your world, your hopes, your dreams.
Is there any logic to it? You‘ve got to be kidding me.
It‘s a demented view of the world that holds no logic for the basic reason that fear of the unknown requires no logic. Thinking isn‘t necessary. The fear alone does the work for you.
I give you the trio of conspiracy theories:
One is that the people in power in this country killed Jack Kennedy—you know, the CIA and FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, the vice president, Lyndon Johnson, the Joint Chiefs of Staff—oh, throw in the Dallas police, even the Irish mafia who worked for the late president. They were all in this, all in the plot to send this car down the same street where Lee Harvey Oswald waited a few floors up with his rifle, where he had this job for weeks—long before the motorcade route had been planned. This is a grand conspiracy, the best kind—where everyone is in it together so that they continue—so that they can continue a horribly unpopular war in Vietnam.
You like that one? Well, here‘s another one for you—that the president of the United States blew up the World Trade Center. It was he, George W. Bush, behind all the smoke and mirrors who pushed down that plunger and exploded those buildings—just as those pretend airplanes went in. He did the same with the Pentagon—blew it up. That airplane never even went into the building. Got it?
This is how it went down. Bush and the neocons did it all to get us -
you know, get us into war. Everything was faked by the men in the highest positions in our government, all working together, all keeping the secrets—the one they hatched in those back rooms that you and I aren‘t allowed to enter.
Got one more for you. Some people got together back in the early 1960s. They had this plot to get this mixed-race guy elected president of the United States someday.
So, here‘s what they did: they got him born outside the country so they could lie and say he was born inside the country. They set it up so the local newspapers would announce his birth in some regular American address—like, you know, Honolulu—so that he could be eligible to run someday. Clever, huh?
They got the government of Hawaii to cooperate and create a phony certificate. They got his father to split for Africa when he was 2 years old. They got him scholarships to Columbia and Harvard Law. They got him head of the Harvard Law Review. They got him elected senator from Illinois. Got it all together, these people.
Aren‘t they smart? Loony bins, that‘s where these people belong, in a loony bin, not in Congress, and certainly not running for president—not anywhere, where sane people, honest people are trying to make this country work.
There‘s a place for people that think like this: standing at the New York Port Authority bus terminal—engaged in the animated, excited conversation with nobody.
Why anybody would want to imitate one of these people is beyond me.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
More politics ahead with Cenk Uygur.
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