'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
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Guests: Rep. Anthony Weiner, Gail Collins
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Lawrence, I have to tell you that I messed up part of my “getting makeup” experience tonight because when you said, if you think it‘s the end of the world, nothing can cheer you up, I snorted really loudly and laugh out loud and had a horrible mascara incident.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST: That‘s why I‘m so cheerful with the show. I know it‘s not the end of the world much.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence. I appreciate it. That was great.
O‘DONNELL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour as well.
Do you remember in the middle of the fight to stop the big union-stripping bill in Wisconsin, right in the middle of that fight I got on the air in this show and said, “Wisconsin, you won”? Here‘s what I meant when I said that.
A state Supreme Court election that nobody outside of the candidates and their families really cared about two months ago has just signaled a 180-degree shift in the political winds in the American Midwest. A month and a half ago, there was a primary in this same Wisconsin Supreme Court election—and a month and a half ago, the incumbent conservative judge who used to be a Republican legislature who was supported by the conservative establishment in Wisconsin, who was associated with Republican Governor Scott Walker, and who Scott Walker said he would vote for, a month and a half ago, that justice finished 30 points ahead of his nearest challenger in that primary. There were four people running, he got a clear plurality. He got 55 percent of the vote. Nobody else got within 30 points of him.
Last night, however, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, it looks like that justice, that conservative judge has been unseated. Judge David Prosser has been edged out by his liberal backed challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg. The difference between them: just 204 votes.
Here‘s JoAnne Kloppenburg tonight declaring victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOANNE KLOPPENBURG, CANDIDATE FOR WISCONSIN STATE SUPREME COURT: We
ran a campaign that was focused on being positive and respectful and winning. And we did win, and we‘re confident that the margin will hold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Although JoAnne Kloppenburg has declared victory, the results so far do show her winning, by how close the results are, you can tell there will probably be a recount here. If there is a recount, it will not only be the first statewide recount in Wisconsin in more than 20 years, but if that recount ends in a court challenge, which frankly they often do—get this: the person who gets to appoint the judge to hear that challenge to the recount, if there is one will be the person who does not speak in this campaign ad, but who is nevertheless the star of this campaign ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: What did David Prosser call one of America‘s most respected judges? He called her a total (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Prosser even threatened to destroy her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The chief justice of the Wisconsin state Supreme Court who Judge David Prosser admits to calling a word that rhymes with rich and saying that he will destroy her. She is the one who will get to pick the judge to oversee any challenges to what probably is the inevitable recount in this Wisconsin race.
JoAnne Kloppenburg not only apparently winning, but even getting close enough to be in striking distance here is an astonishing turn. A month and a half ago, again, in a four-way race, Prosser got 55 percent of the vote;
Kloppenburg was 30 points behind him. Now, with 100 percent of precincts in, she beat him.
And the rest of the results from this first election in the Midwest since the Republican union-stripping adventure, the rest of the results have got to be just as worrying for the Republican Party.
The other high profile race voted on yesterday in Wisconsin was for Milwaukee County executive. This was seen as a race that was also another proxy vote on Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans. One of the candidates was a Republican legislature named Jeff Stone. He voted twice for Governor Walker‘s union-stripping thing.
His Democratic challenger then ran ads against him that looked like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Jeff Stone is running for county executive. And Milwaukee families are concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Stone?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought he was Scott Walker‘s twin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He sounds like more of the same.
NARRATOR: Stone praised Scott Walker as a template for county executive. Worse, Stone even said he stands with Walker‘s unfair plan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘ve got to be kidding me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Stone?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Stone is Scott Walker.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think eight years of Scott Walker is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In that race, the Republican legislator who was nailed in ads like that as being a Scott Walker clone. Not only did that Republican legislator lost that race, he got clobbered. Look this, 61 to 39. It wasn‘t even close. It wasn‘t even close to close.
The single most telling thing about what happened last night in Wisconsin and how much it is freaking Republicans out, the single most telling detail in all of the details that I have read today about these elections, the single most telling detail is what Republican Governor Scott Walker said about those elections publicly. You may recall the great “The New York Daily News” famous front page headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”
Well, all of the Wisconsin newspapers could lead tomorrow with the front page headline, “Walker to state capital: drop dead.”
Staring down this massive electoral backlash to what he has done to Wisconsin, Governor Walker told reporters today, quote, I think it‘s pretty clear that you have two very different worlds in this state. You have a world driven by Madison, and a world driven by everybody else in the state of Wisconsin.
OK, so drop dead second largest city in the state?
But what about the largest city in the state? What about Milwaukee and its vote last night? What about Milwaukee, where the guy associated with you, Governor Walker, just got beat 61 to 39 percent. Scott Walker dismissed that. He dismissed that county executive race as having taken place in what he called a, quote, “dark blue county.”
Who did that dark blue county elect the last time they voted for county executive? They elected a commie, pinko, liberal named Scott Walker. Oh, Scott Walker held that same job in Milwaukee for eight years before he got elected governor.
And the dude who ran for that office this year by saying, “Vote for me, I‘m not Scott Walker,” he just got 61 percent of the vote, and now, he will serve out the final year left in Scott Walker‘s term in that county.
Scott Walker is telling Republicans all over the country who are looking at Wisconsin in horror today, Scott Republican is telling Republicans coast to coast, don‘t worry that Milwaukee vote, for example? Dark blue over there, dark blue—they never elect conservatives, don‘t worry.
Worry. That‘s where Scott Walker‘s career comes from, and that‘s the place that just elected a liberal to replace Scott Walker out of horror with what Scott Walker has done to that state.
The Republican union-stripping adventure in Wisconsin has boomeranged on Republicans in a bad way.
In addition to those big losses last night, Republican state senator recalls are now, of course, steaming ahead. Over in Ohio, it is the same deal. Republicans in Ohio have just pushed through their own dramatically unpopular union-stripping thing. And the political price for having done so is looming there, too.
The policy itself will mostly be put to a referendum on the ballot this fall. The petitions to start that process have now been submitted in Ohio, the signature gathering process is kicking off. A big rally expected this weekend at noon in the state capital in Ohio on Saturday.
What may really be worrying Republicans in Ohio, though, are new efforts to create a process in Ohio, by which statewide officeholders could be recalled. They don‘t have one now, but they want one. What‘s the inspiration? Well, Republican Governor John Kasich has an approval rating of 30 percent after pushing through his union-stripping thing.
One of the Democrats introducing the statewide officeholder recall measure says, quote, “I think people are realizing they made a terrible mistake with this governor.”
As I say, the union-stripping thing is not paying off well for Republican in the states, at least in the short return. Voters hate it, and voters apparently are willing to punish anyone who pushes for this stuff. And it has woken up and unified the Democrats like nothing else.
So, why are Republicans doing it then? What compensates for this huge political cost they are paying? What offsets that cost they are paying?
Well, the people stepping in to fund the other side of the union-stripping referendum in Ohio, for example, it looks like that‘s going to be Americans for Prosperity. That‘s the Koch funded outfit whose Ohio state director told “The Columbus Dispatch” today, quote, excuse me, that she hopes that corporate money will flow into their side of that fight, quote, “from somewhere outside and inside Ohio”—explicitly making a callout for corporate money to keep funding the union-stripping effort in that state.
In Wisconsin, in the electoral proxy war that was the state Supreme Court election, who helped fund the Scott Walker side it? Who helped fund the union-stripping side of it? Who helped fund the guy associated with the Republicans and with the governor? In large part, it was a group called Citizens for a Strong America.
Citizens for a Strong America. Seriously? Who are they?
The Center for Media and Democracy connected the dots on this one. It turns out Citizens for a Strong America, they are a mailbox. They are a mailbox at a UPS store in Wisconsin. Through lots of digging through IRS filings and cross-checking Web site domain names and the like, the Center for Media and Democracy figured out that Citizens for a Strong America is this one guy. This group doesn‘t readily disclose who they are or who funds them, but the only individual human who is found to be associated with this group is this one guy, a guy who works for Americans for Prosperity, the corporate funded Koch brothers group.
Citizens for a Strong America, aka this guy also happens to be headquartered at the same street address as Americans for Prosperity. Tada.
So, why would conservative funders, conservative billionaires, conservative movement figures invest so much in this union-stripping stuff? I mean, think about it. Electorally, it is bad for the Republicans. Electorally, it is really hurting the Republicans who these guys are funding to do it.
So, why spend the millions and millions and millions of dollars they are going to have to spend to offset how unpopular this stuff is. Why is it worth it?
Because this doesn‘t just change a policy—it certainly doesn‘t change a budget. This changes politics itself. This goes beyond funding individual Republicans to win or lose individual Republican fights. It is instead aimed at crippling one side of the political fight in this country, crippling Democrats‘ ability to fight on anything ever again. This is about structurally dismantling the Democratic Party this year and every year from here on out, dismantling the things that allow Democrats to compete in elections, particularly against corporate money.
Whether or not union contracts have any effect on state budgets or not, if you get rid of unions, if you make unions disappear, particularly if you make public sector unions disappear, then the corporate interests that give big money to Republicans in elections, they have no competition. So, Democrats can‘t ever win.
Last year, out of the top 10 outside spending groups in that election, we‘ve seen this before, right? Seven of those groups made their donations to the right. Only three of the 10 made their donations to the left. And all three donating to the left were unions.
If the unions are gone, Republicans run the table. Democrats cannot compete when it comes to big money and elections without the unions. Therefore, the unions must die.
It‘s not just that Republicans hate union rights, we can argue about that, right? But look at the effect. Look at the effect of what they‘re doing to unions—they want to cripple the Democratic Party‘s ability to compete.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD (R-WI), MAJORITY LEADER: If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you‘re going to find is President Obama‘s going to have a much difficult—a much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That‘s how Republicans involved in the union-stripping stuff in the states explain on FOX News the political effect of their destroying the unions.
So, even if it costs some Republicans their jobs in the short run, for the big money guys who have their eye on the long term game, who have their eyes on the horizon, any short term costs for these little state-run politicians, that‘s worth it. Any institution that offers any support for Democrats must be institutionally destroyed, or at the very least stopped from supporting Democrats.
And if you have liked how that is working out with the unions—well, here‘s the newest case in point. Remember FreedomWorks, former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey‘s group FreedomWorks? FreedomWorks was actually founded as a Koch brothers operation called Citizens for a Sound Economy until it broke off in 2004.
Their latest campaign is to get the CEO of an energy company fired. What? Yes. It‘s not even like one of those kooky, hippy energy companies either. It‘s Duke Energy. They are trying to get the head of Duke Energy fired.
Here‘s why: Duke Energy is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is where the Democratic National Convention is going to be held this year. As one of the largest employers I Charlotte, the head of Duke Energy is also co chair of the host committee for the Democratic Convention. So, it‘s a fairly traditional setup. That happens around big conventions.
As host committee chair, the company has offered to extend the Democratic Party a loan should they need it for convention expenses. Does that mean that Duke Energy is a particularly Democratic company?
No, they also lobbied to get the Republican convention to come to Charlotte, too. They‘re a Charlotte company. They are headquartered in Charlotte. They want a big convention in charlotte. It would be good for Charlotte.
But because this particular big convention is the Democratic Party‘s convention, and by supporting that convention, Duke Energy could be construed as vaguely having the temerity to vaguely associate itself with the Democratic Party, FreedomWorks and all of their corporate funders are campaigning now, protests, pickets, petitions, the whole thing, to get the CEO of Duke Energy fired.
If the unions support Democrats, the unions must be destroyed. If any corporation strays, if any corporation strays and does something that can‘t even be construed as supporting Democrats, the CEO of that corporation must be fired. It will be a shot across the bow warning to any other CEO who might even consider such a thing.
This is not just about winning policy. This is about winning the political process. This is about attacking anything that supports Democrats, particularly with money so that the Democratic Party cannot compete with Republicans. And so that Republicans funded by unlimited corporate donations after Citizens United, so that Republicans can run the table.
The Beltway‘s all aflutter right now having this big fake fight about how much Democrats and Republicans are working to avert a government shutdown. I say it is a fake fight because Republicans are clearly not working to avert a government shutdown. They‘re trying to figure out how to get one.
But for all of the barrels being spilled over Republican Part y strategy on Capitol Hill, the real work, the real eyes on the horizon work, the real big picture, big money work of Republican politics is happening in the states and in the corporate funded interest groups. They‘re not just trying to win the short term. They‘re not concerned with the short term viability of individual Republican politicians‘ careers.
They‘re not trying to win the short term. They‘re trying to win the long term. They‘re trying to destroy the ability of the Democratic Party to compete in this upcoming election or in any election in the future.
Everyone is watching the front line fighting. But on one side, the supply lines are getting cut off.
MADDOW: Are you a college dropout? Do you have two DUI convictions? Is your father a big time corporate lobbyist? Then Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has a sweet government job for you, and a five-figure pay raise. That‘s just ahead.
MADDOW: By this time of the night, reporters who work at the White House have usually been given a heads up that it‘s OK to go home for the night. In the news business, it‘s called a lid. And the lid means that nothing more is expected to happen that night, it‘s safe to leave.
That‘s not happening tonight. When President Obama arrived back at the White House tonight, he went straight into a meeting with Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They are discussing the budget. A government shutdown, they say, will happen a little more than 48 hours from now unless a deal of some sort is reached.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York. He sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and he is part of the leadership team in the House.
Congressman Weiner, thanks very much for your time.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Do you think that we end up with a government shutdown?
WEINER: I kind of fear that we do. You know, we‘re kind of this dynamic that we‘re negotiating for different things. When John Boehner went into his caucus yesterday and told them that there might have a shutdown, they all cheered. And, you know, we all think we‘re negotiating towards the same thing, trying to get government to run efficiently as least expensively as possible.
But I really do believe a lot of John Boehner‘s constituents, meaning the Tea Party members of Congress, are kind of rooting for a shutdown. And we had some of their Tea Party constituents out here literally chanting “shut it down” today.
So, I‘m skeptical and I haven‘t seen much sign from Speaker Boehner that he‘s prepared to stand up to those influences in his party. So, I‘m kind of pessimistic this evening.
MADDOW: That dynamic that you were describing, though, is strategically interesting. I mean, Republicans who can get behind microphones keep saying that they do not want a shutdown. But, then, as you say, they go to these rallies of their supporters, and their supporters yell back at them, shut it down, sis-boom-ba, shut down, shut down.
How does it change the negotiation strategy to know that one side is hoping for negotiations to fail?
WEINER: Well, this is—you know, what we‘re describing here is really this weird dynamic in the Republican Party. They have one element of their caucus that is actually unpopular in the American public. You know, most party—most people in America don‘t consider themselves extreme anything, let alone Tea Party people who want to shut down government, who don‘t realize how dangerous that would be to the economy. It‘s complicated.
But this is what, you know, Boehner has paid the big bucks to be speaker for. This is why he‘s third in line to be president is because he‘s supposed to stand up to those elements.
In the middle of everything else, I think completely getting forgotten about this, you know, people in the middle class, and those struggling to make it, people who watch this debate and say, boy oh, boy, I thought these guys pledged when they came to town, they were going to run things better. They were going to run the trains on time a lot better. It certainly hasn‘t worked out that way.
MADDOW: Why do you think that the Republicans in the House introduced the “we want to abolish Medicare” budget on the same week as the confrontation of this supposed shutdown of the government? Do you think they‘re trying to sort of movie the frame to make anything short of abolish Medicare seem moderate by comparison?
WEINER: That‘s one interpretation. The other is, they want to see how far they can push this extreme agenda before many of us start to wake up and realize how far they want to go. Look, to some degree, you know, the little big of leg of the budget that Ryan showed yesterday was, I think to some degree a canary in the coal mines, to see how far they can push this extreme agenda. There are a lot of people here in Washington who really want to see—and you introduced in your first segment, want to see how far they can go to deconstruct the things that many of us take for granted.
And many of your viewers probably say, oh, you know, Medicare, who‘s actually going to get rid of it? These guys want to. And so, that‘s what this is about, how far they can push it. And I think every day a Ryan budget comes out, and some people in your profession say, oh, wasn‘t that courageous of him—you know, it gives them more impetus to try even more tomorrow.
MADDOW: You know, there‘s a fight going in the states and there‘s a fight going on in Washington. In trying to connect what‘s going on in Republican Party politics between the states in Washington, I look at this union-stripping legislation all over the country, wherever Republicans are in power, corporate-funded groups on the right are now even going after the CEO of Duke Energy, because the Democratic convention is in the city where that company is headquartered and they are the host committee.
Do you think that the conservative movement is trying to cut the Democratic Party sources of support, sort of trying to cut Democrat‘s financial supply lines? Is this strategic?
WEINER: Well, I do see that there‘s always been this notification that we on the left and we progressives—you know, we kind of see government as trying to move forward through yards and a cloud of dust. The active governance is kind of, you know, we honor it, we try to do it.
But there is this element that always exists in the Republican hierarchy to see how much they can just destroy the things that get in their way. Sometimes they‘re empowered, sometimes they‘re not. They feel empowerment right now, and they‘re trying to see how much they can do.
And I want to tell you this, a lot of the individual rank-and-file members of this so-called Tea Party movement are being used as pawns by the Koch brothers and by others. You know, this is a part of a very sophisticated effort that transcends the states and here in Washington.
It also goes right to the courts. You know, they‘ve got influence in the Supreme Court, the likes of which I‘ve never seen corporate interests so well-represented. And we‘ve got to be careful, because if we don‘t start arming ourselves now, you know, and start coming into this knife fight carrying library books, we‘re going to realize a lot of the things that many of us take for granted are going to be undermined by these corporate interests.
MADDOW: With the president right now meeting with Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid, when he comes out of that meeting, again, in this context in which the Republican base is clamoring for a shutdown, even though as Republicans say that they really don‘t want that—what are you most hoping to hear from the president? What do you think his best possible role could be in this fight right now?
WEINER: Well, you know, to give the president credit, he has kept a level head and has tried to negotiate the best possible deal possible. But I do think that there has to be a certain level of line drawing here, about what it is that our side is fighting for. You know, they‘re fighting for smaller government, we‘re fighting to protect senior citizens and Medicare and Social Security. They‘re fighting to cut tax rates on the very wealthy. We‘re fighting for fairness in the tax code.
We need him to kind of define these two lines of this argument so when the American people understand what they‘re rooting for in the morning. Look, I trust the president is going to drive a hard bargain here, but up until now, it hasn‘t been a very clear, crisp bargain. And, hopefully, that‘s what—he‘s laying down the law right now at the White House.
MADDOW: Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York—it is always great to have you here on the show. Thanks a lot.
WEINER: Thank you.
MADDOW: One thing that we all agree on, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is in wonderful shape, sensational. The Wisconsin Republican is the mayor of six pack city. I only know this because of all the profiles of him that mention what great physical shape he‘s in. Trust me, I might not personally otherwise notice.
Still, though, the American media love affair with Paul Ryan may be clouding the American public‘s judgment about what exactly Paul Ryan is doing in his job as Republican budget guy. That is ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.
SEN. RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY: Government is not the solution to the problem. Government is the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: If you think that sports are a stupid waste of time and an indulgence, I‘m guessing that your free throw percentage is not all that great. If you believe that all food is pretty much just the same, you think of meals as just nutritive calorie sources that you wish that you didn‘t have to bother with—I‘m going to guess that you are probably not a very good cook.
If you believe that government by definition is a bad thing, that government is the problem, sometimes people put you in charge of it anyway.
In the midst of the huge upset election results in Wisconsin right now, Republican Governor Scott Walker is also dealing with a strange side show cronyism scandal. “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” newspaper, which endorsed Mr. Walker, reports that in addition to hiring and giving a big raise to the 20-something reported mistress of one Republican state senator, Governor Scott Walker also hired the 27-year-old son of a prominent corporate lobbyist. In fact, both the reported mistress and the kid were hired at the same agency, the Department of Regulation and Licensing.
You can imagine how seriously Governor Walker and Wisconsin Republicans take the responsibility of the Department of Regulation. Yes, a room for the mistress and the lobbyist‘s son in that worthless department.
But then, worse, Governor Walker promoted the lobbyist‘s son, giving him a raise to more than $81,000 a year to make the lobbyist‘s son head of environmental and regulatory affairs for the whole state. The young man is 27 years old. His only past jobs have been in Republican Wisconsin politics and working part-time for his dad, the corporate lobbyist in Wisconsin. He is a college dropout and he has two DUI convictions.
The other candidates for that job Scott Walker just gave him were a former state cabinet secretary with a doctorate, two master‘s degrees and eight years direct relevant experience overseeing environmental regulation and cleanup. The other candidate: a chemical engineer who has actually been running that part of the state agency for the past two years.
Both of those other candidates passed over for the two DUIs kid whose dad gave Scott Walker‘s campaign more than $121,000.
Same Scott Walker actually who found a state job and a huge raise for a republican state senator‘s alleged mistress. Same Scott Walker who found an exemption in his union-stripping bill only for the unions that endorsed him in his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAGAN: Government is the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you believe government is inherently a problem, if you ideologically disrespect the whole idea of government, how should we expect you to run a government if you get your hands on one?
MADDOW: This is a graph of unemployment in the United States. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman posted this at his “New York Times” blog today. This starts in the late 140s and goes along charting the ups and downs of the unemployment rate over the years, until we get to where we are right now.
So, here we are at about 9 percent unemployment.
And this is what Congressman Paul Ryan predicts will happen to the unemployment rate in this country if we implement his magical Republican budget. Boink! The red line there. Really?
Paul Krugman adds this helpful economic symbol to the graph too help us understand Paul Ryan‘s projection here. The economic symbol he adds to the graph is a big red question mark.
The unemployment rate Paul Ryan says his magic Republican budget will create is 2.8 percent. Has it ever been 2.8 percent in, say, the last 50 years? No, it has not. But believe, people. Believe.
If the Beltway could stop making out with Paul Ryan for long enough to look at what‘s actually in his budget proposal, they might notice that some of the important numbers in it appear to be made up. For example, that 2.8 percent magic unemployment projection, Paul Ryan got that from the Heritage Foundation.
The Heritage Foundation then scrubbed its Web site to erase that figure once people started asking questions about it and pointing out that it was virtually impossible. The Heritage Foundation says they have rerun part of their model for Mr. Ryan‘s budget to reassess that figure.
The Heritage Foundation is also what Paul Ryan relies on to convince you that cutting taxes for the richest people in America as he would do by 29 percent in his budget, how he would convince you that that would have magical effects.
To understand the kind of magic we‘re talking about, Matt Yglesias today points out that the Heritage Foundation also ran the 2001 Bush tax cuts through their magic making machine. In 2001, here‘s what the Heritage Foundation projected would be the effect of the Bush tax cuts on employment. Look—the Heritage Foundation predicted because of the Bush tax cuts, 1.6 million more Americans would have jobs by this year. This is what they said would happen to employment in America because of the Bush tax cuts. This was their prediction.
Here‘s what actually happened. Boink! One-point-six million more Americans do not have jobs this year. About 1.7 million fewer do.
This is the same magic that Paul Ryan is using in his Republican budget this year. It‘s the Heritage Foundation that told him massively cutting tax revenue would raise tax revenue. Believe!
Mr. Ryan also predicts that within four years, the housing market will be exactly where it was at the height of the housing bubble of 2006. Why? He doesn‘t know. Believe.
He also wants you to believe that his plan to dismantle Medicare is actually a Democratic idea and therefore can‘t be extreme. He calls the killing Medicare part of his proposal the Ryan-Rivlin plan, after Alice Rivlin who worked in the Clinton administration. He wants you to think of her, a Democrat and a lady, when you think about his plan to kill Medicare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN: This path to prosperity builds upon those Rivlin-Ryan plans that we put in here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Rivlin-Ryan—how does Alice Rivlin feel about Paul Ryan
putting her name on this? headline: “Alice Rivlin: I don‘t back the Ryan-
Rivlin plan.” Miss Rivlin telling “Politico,” quote, “We talked fairly
recently and I said, ‘You know, I can‘t support the version that you have
in the budget.‘”
The Congressional Budget Office, which is nonpartisan, which tends to produce actual numbers, they analyzed Paul Ryan‘s budget today. They found that it will actually make the national debt go up over the next 10 years. And by killing Medicare, the elderly in this country would be paying a much larger percentage of their income for health care. Dean Baker today that it would be a majority of their income.
I doubt that actual, numerically-based fact based information will penetrate this smoochy-smoochy love bubble surrounding Paul Ryan right now. He has done a remarkable job of romancing the Beltway media. There‘s this cult of him being brave and bold and doing a very difficult workout every morning.
But what Paul Ryan has just introduced is not a feature on grit versus glamour in today‘s GOP. It is not a pinup. It is not the brave story about a strong boy in a tough environment.
It‘s the official Republican Party budget for 2012, and the numbers in it are so wrong they are occasionally funny. The Beltway media says Paul Ryan should be taken very seriously.
Since this is the official Republican Party budget for 2012, taking him seriously should also include taking seriously his numbers, which in many cases make no sense.
Joining us now is “New York Times” columnist Gail Collins.
Gail, it is nice to see you again. I‘m sorry about the smoochy-smoochy thing.
GAIL COLLINS, NEW YORK TIMES: I like his hair. He‘s got a new part that I think is very good.
MADDOW: He has moved his part.
MADDOW: And realize that we have invited ourselves to be subjected to serious hair analysis by the entire Internet machine.
MADDOW: Damn you, Collins!
Why, with all the attention to Paul Ryan and his budget, why no attention to the numbers? I mean, the biggest numbers, the biggest projections in the budget are laughably weird or wrong. Why no attention?
COLLINS: Well, I think that‘s the whole point of putting it out. I think it‘s great that he put it out. He put it out. And now, everybody gets to add it and subtract it and note the 2 percent unemployment and the housing craziness and everything else. I mean, that‘s the great part about it, and it‘s going to happen.
And nobody likes it. I mean, the people in America are not going to like this budget. I think it‘s great if America gets to decide whether they think this is the plan they want to go forward with.
MADDOW: But the proportion of people who will read or be exposed to the Beltway media take on it, as opposed to actually reading a plan itself, is—there‘s a very large difference between those two numbers. That is a very large ratio. The Beltway media reaction to this is, like, wow, do you know that Paul Ryan does P-90x every morning, he‘s incredibly fit, boyish, and so brave?
I mean, there‘s no—the Beltway reaction to this does not involve any basic assessment of the fundamental proposals in the budget. Is that to be expected? Is that unusual in this case?
COLLINS: Well, everybody always likes it when somebody comes up with their own budget plan that‘s now capable of being masticated and torn apart and ripped into shreds.
MADDOW: That‘s what I want, though. I want the masticating.
COLLINS: Absolutely. Plus, the whole world now knows they want to get rid of Medicare as we know it, and that‘s very important.
MADDOW: Although he‘s changing it to be like he wants to personalize Medicare or something. They‘re starting with the euphemisms very early on this.
COLLINS: They‘re not going to be fooled on this. Medicare goes away as we know it today. There‘s no question about it.
The world‘s going to know that. The people are going to know that. I say go to it, Congressman Ryan. Do this. Show us this thing.
MADDOW: On that issue of Medicare, I asked Congressman Anthony Weiner about this earlier this hour. Do you think it‘s possible that they put out the “I want to kill Medicare” budget the same week as the big showdown over shutting down the government so that the framing has changed? So that anything short of shutting down the—anything short of killing Medicare seems moderate by comparison? So, it makes whatever they come up, even if it‘s horrific, seem not as bad as the Medicare thing?
COLLINS: If they did, it‘s a really bad plan, because people will notice that the government is shut down, they really will. And it will be bad. People won‘t like it. They won‘t be happy about it.
And this entire thing—this all began last—the business about the Democrats being not brave. And, of course, they are being very weenie in many ways, shapes and forms. But last year, the first year of the Obama administration, they stood up and put up a plan for how to fix the deficit by taking care of health care costs. The whole problem, health care costs.
COLLINS: They put it up. And what did the Republicans do? They didn‘t help. They didn‘t do constructive criticism. They ran around saying, “Pull the plug on granny. They‘re trying to kill your grandmother.” They were as completely non-helpful as you could be in the entire world. So—
MADDOW: OK. But then we‘re back to the same question that we are—that I‘m reluctant to bring us because we talk about it every time you‘re here. Which is they‘re not doing what they say they‘re doing? And hypocrisy is boring, right? Everyone is like, oh, yes, somebody is being a hypocrite. Also, sun is rising in east as well.
But if you are a—if you are serious about the deficit, you cannot cut taxes for the richest people in the country by an additional 30 percent on top of leaving the Bush tax cuts intact. That will not get rid of the deficit. And yet, Paul Ryan is lauded coast to coast and on every show as this serious guy who‘s really concerned about the deficit and doing what is serious about it. And there is no connection between what is attributed to him and what he has actually offered.
COLLINS: But, he‘s put it out. So, now, we can discuss it.
He‘s screwed everything up, it‘s a big mess. The numbers are all wrong. He‘s killing Medicare as we know it today.
He‘s doing nothing whatsoever about all the people who aren‘t covered by health insurance right now. He‘s ruining all the attempts to control medical spending. Medical costs are not going to go down at all.
He‘s doing all those terrible things. So, fine, he‘s been brave. He works out in the morning. He‘s got a better part. He put his numbers out, three cheers. And now, let‘s talk about them.
MADDOW: Well, while I have been complaining about nobody masticating, chewing over this budget, we have now just done it.
COLLINS: We did. There you are.
MADDOW: Thank you very much. Gail Collins, “New York Times” columnist—it‘s always a pleasure to have you.
COLLINS: Great to be here.
So, what happens to executives at one of the companies responsible for the largest oil spill in U.S. history? Do they get fired, publicly humiliated, bonuses for their good safety record? Don‘t answer that. Details ahead.
MADDOW: Coming up next: more of this, and ski jumping, and this.
MADDOW: You may be wondering what‘s up with the really loud cow bell. You know who rings cow bells besides cows and Will Ferrell? Ski jumping fans ring cow bells.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: You can hear them ringing the cow bells. This cow bell was sent to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW more than a year ago by the good folks at Women Ski Jumping USA. They sent it as sort of a tactile reminder of their request to have women‘s ski jumping anointed as an official Olympic event.
They failed to get into the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, even after -
even after jumpers a lawsuit in Canada claiming discrimination.
What‘s the case that there was discrimination at work here? Well, it was partly that men have been ski jumping in the Olympics since 1924. Women were ski jumping in international competitions and doing so very well, but they were not allowed to do it at the Olympics.
But it was also that as recently as 2005, the president of the International Ski Federation felt comfortable saying this out loud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIAN-FRANCO KASPER, INTERNATIONAL SKI FEDERATION: Don‘t forget, it‘s like jumping down from two meters, on the ground about 1,000 times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies, from a medical point of view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those delicate lady parts. See, they don‘t like the jumping.
Delicate man parts, they love jumping.
Despite the compelling nature of the “lady parts don‘t like it” argument, today, women ski jumpers got the news they have been hoping for as the International Olympic Committee announced it will include women‘s ski jumping in the 2014 games in Russia. Yay!
Women will only be allowed to jump in one event as opposed to the three that men get. So, not perfect, but it‘s a start. And if the tough slog that got the women ski jumpers this far is anything to go by, they will get parity for those last two events, too. As you well know, for some fevers, the only prescription is, you know—
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Last week, we reported a story that I promised to correct later if we needed to because the story broke on April Fools‘ Day. And it really did seem like the kind of thing that was hard to believe, even when you saw it in print.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Transocean filed paperwork today on April Fools‘ Day informing regulators that they are paying their executives big bonuses for their good safety year in 2010.
2010, the year the Transocean rig blew up and killed 11 people and caused the worst accidental offshore oil spill in the history of the world. This was their safe year.
Look at this. Look at this. This is from the filing.
“Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record.”
As far as we can tell, this is actually real and not a joke. As I say, the “Wall Street Journal” has posted this with a predate on it. It‘s listed as being April 2nd, even though today is April 1st and it‘s already up.
If we find out that this was in fact a joke, I will be very happy about it and I will run the most relieved correction of my natural born life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That story, that unbelievable story about Transocean did turn out to be true. It‘s true.
Congratulations, Transocean executives. Your oil rig was the site of 11 deaths and this last year. On the basis of that record, your company is giving you safety congratulations and safety bonuses.
This is the BP oil disaster. BP was drilling with Transocean‘s rig when this happened. This is Transocean‘s rig on fire.
This is one of those rare stories when you don‘t actually have to say anything to invoke outrage about it. The raw fact of it is so outrageous enough that any commentary, even an adjective seems superfluous. The headline on this was basically the same at “The Wall Street Journal,” which first reported the story as it was at “Daily Kos” on the way far other end of the political spectrum. All of these coast diarists had to write to headline to convey all the necessary outrage here with just the raw fact of it.
Transocean executives get bonuses. That doesn‘t need any hyperbolic help to drop your jaw. Because everybody knows you don‘t reward people cash money when their company just buried 11 workers, right? You don‘t. You wouldn‘t, because you‘re human and you would probably feel very deeply sorry if you were involved in an accident that killed 11 people.
But Transocean is not a human. Transocean is a company, a corporation. Corporations do not have hearts. They have profits. They have interests.
And Transocean, the corporation, calculated this. “Notwithstanding this tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record.” That‘s what the corporation calculated statistically. And they gave their top executives cash safety bonuses because of it.
Transocean is not a human and, therefore, cannot be expected to have human decency. But those executives who benefited from the corporate calculation here, they are humans. And whether it was out of embarrassment, concern over their image or real contrition, real remorse, the executives decided to give the safety bonus money away to the families of the workers who died on the company‘s rig.
CEO Steven Newman explaining, quote, “The executive team made this decision because we believe it is the right thing to do.”
So, those are the Transocean people acting out of embarrassment or maybe even contrition, but at least nodding toward the human decency that creates the capacity to feel shame. Those are the people.
And on the other hand, there‘s the Transocean Corporation, able to sense only the difference between profit and loss. The same way a cat uses its whiskers to walk around a house in the dark. And even as the humans inside Transocean are having their moral experience of this, the corporation they work for is quite literally going about its business.
In the same SEC filing where Transocean revealed these safety bonuses, the company lists accomplishments for this year. That list includes this:
“We recorded the best year in safety performance in our company‘s history, which is a reflection on our commitment to achieving an incident-free environment, all the time, everywhere.”
Really? Transocean, all the time, everywhere?
The section continues: “Consequently, we believe that we are well-positioned to execute on our long-term strategic objectives over the next several years.”
You cannot believe this when this happens, right? But you also cannot blame corporations for thinking like this. It‘s what they do. Corporations pick out objectives and really it‘s one objective, of all corporations to make a profit, right? But then they just do whatever they can to achieve that aim sometimes all the way up until they hit a disaster if regulations are lax enough.
Corporations are different from you and me. You are thinking about strep throat. Your insurance company is thinking about the cheapest, most profitable way to deal with it.
You are thinking, hey, a quick flight to visit grandma. You are thinking a bank is a safe place to put your money. You are thinking, OK, power up the lights.
But the company is thinking, how can we run this place more cheaply, more efficiently? How can we get the most money out of this? How can—how much profit can we mine right up to the threat of calamity? How much profit can we mine right up to the threat of calamity? How much profit can we mine right up to the threat of calamity?
Corporations are not humans and we should not anthropomorphize them and end up thinking that they are. However cuddly or responsible their marketing departments would like us to believe think they are, hey, faces of coal—they are still corporations. They are machines that are designed to maximize profits.
And we should think of them that way. We should not expect them to do what is nice or what is decent. We should expect them to do what is profitable. It doesn‘t take a dark cast about corporate living to understand that.
When what is profitable turns out to be indecent or inhuman, we should not expect shame to work on them. You don‘t have to hate corporations or feel spiteful toward them or resentful of them to understand that our social contract should extend to stopping them from doing some things they would otherwise like to do in the pursuit of profit. To stopping them from doing something that helps them but hurts us.
They will not regulate themselves. It would be unnatural for them to do so. They are not people. For corporations seeking profit regardless of the human cost, it is rational. It‘s business. And watching out for the humans in that equation, that is what governments are for.
Tomorrow night on this show, fingers crossed, we are hoping to bring you an exclusive interview with the head of the government agency that regulates deepwater oil drilling in this country. His name is Michael Bromwich. We will be welcoming him here after weeks of not very flattering coverage of his department on this show.
You will want to see this. I promise. We‘ll see you then.
“THE ED SHOW” starts right now.
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