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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday May 26th, 2011

Read the transcript from the Thursday 6 p.m. hour

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Guests: Jim McDermott, Bill Press, Pat Buchanan, Jared Bernstein, Joshua

Trevino, Ryan Grim, Lisa Borders, John Nichols

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  I‘m Cenk Uygur.  We have got a great show for you tonight. 

Sarah Palin is coming—uh-oh.  Newt Gingrich might be going.  Uh-oh for him.  And the Republicans are generally standing their ground. 

Well, let‘s start with that one. 

Even though Paul Ryan‘s plan to end Medicare is dragging them over a political cliff, the GOP is still standing right behind him.  Forty Republican senators just voted for his bill yesterday.

And just listen to Dick Cheney. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY ®, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I

worship the ground that Paul Ryan walks on.  I hope he doesn‘t run for president because that would ruin a good man. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Man, that‘s amazing.  He sounds like a schoolgirl with a crush on Justin Bieber.  That was fun.  Man, I‘ve got to hear that again. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: I worship the ground that Paul Ryan walks on.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Oy.  By the way, when you‘re further right wing than Dick Cheney, you might be a little too right wing.  But Cheney is not alone.  Republicans everywhere are doubling down on Paul Ryan and claiming Medicare didn‘t lose him that election in Upstate New York. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER:  The fact is we didn‘t win.  And part of—the small part of the reason we didn‘t win clearly had to do with Medicare.  Well, we have outlined a plan, frankly, that we believe in. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  That‘s great.  I love how he starts.  He‘s like, I‘ve got to be honest with you, we didn‘t win.  Yes, we already knew that.  It‘s not like a big concession.

And then he says Medicare, this is a small part of the reason we didn‘t win.  Really?  OK.  You want to go down that road?  Have at it, Hoss. 

Now, Ryan himself, of course, is telling Republicans not to get all wobbly on him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you say to maybe these weak-kneed Republicans? 

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  Yes.  It‘s not the time to go wobbly.  They‘re going to run these attack ads at us regardless.  This is a time for leaders to be leaders. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  All right.  It looks like Republicans are deluding themselves into thinking what‘s wrong is their sales pitch, but not what they‘re actually selling. 

Listen to Oklahoma Tom Cole.  He says, “If we‘ll just stay with our argument and do a better job developing it, we‘ll be fine.”  Just fine. 

Florida‘s Allen West says, “We need to be stronger in marketing who we are and our message.”  I know, it‘s just marketing.

And Karl Rove himself says, “Republicans need a political war college that schools incumbents and challengers in the best way to explain, defend and attack on the issue of Medicare.”  I thought they had that.  I thought it was called Fox News Channel. 

Anyway, hey, listen, Republicans.  You guys are all right.  Just keep going.  Hit that cliff?  Don‘t worry about that cliff. 

You‘ll be fine—just a little further now.  No (INAUDIBLE).

Well, look, you have got to give the Republicans on one thing.  They do stand their ground, which isn‘t always the case with Democrats. 

So will the Republicans be able to swing public opinion with enough ads bought by millionaires by the time we have those elections in 2012, or will they find themselves over that cliff they seem itching to walk off of?

Let‘s discuss.  Let‘s bring in Congressman Jim McDermott.  He is, of course, a Democrat from the great state of Washington.   He serves on the Ways and Means Committee and is a proud member of the Progressive Caucus. 

Congressman, welcome. 

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON:  Hi, Cenk.  How are you? 

UYGUR:  I‘m awesome. 

So, first question—the  Republicans continue to go down the Paul Ryan path.  Are you happy or unhappy about that? 

MCDERMOTT:  I hope they stick with that all the way up to the election of 2012.  It‘s a losing plan and they knew it.  They had polling—Ryan had polling before he went out on the floor with it, and they went with it anyway because they‘re true believers. 

They simply thought they won the last election in 2010 on the basis of jobs, and then they pivoted and said it‘s all the deficit.  Let‘s cut grandma, throw her under the bus, and the people will elect us in 2012.  It simply is bad politics. 

UYGUR:  But here‘s what I‘m concerned about.  Honestly, I would rather have them run for the hills.  And I know some of them have.  You know, five of the Republican senators voted no—Collins, Snowe, Scott Brown, Murkowski and one other.

OK.  So that‘s good.  I like that, because I don‘t want this policy to pass because I care about the policy more than that, more than anything else.  But if they double down and they got all those ads with all the money that they buy, is there any concern that they might actually be able to swing public opinion? 

MCDERMOTT:  The American people have figured it out and they‘ve decided that the Republicans wants to get rid of Medicare as we know it and give a voucher out to people.  And that‘s not good for grandma and it‘s not good for grandma‘s children or grandma‘s grandchildren. 

And there‘s nothing they can do with advertising that will change the American perception of that.  The Americans have made up their minds on this.  That‘s what New York 26 showed.  That race they lost because people in a Republican district said this is crazy, we don‘t want these guys in here. 

UYGUR:  Congressman, of course the key is for people to fight back.  And Kathy Hochul, in that district, of course did a great job fighting back, and that‘s why she won the election.  But, you know, some are concerned—and I say “some,” let me keep it real—it‘s me—I‘m concerned that the White House is going to do a deal where they say they‘re going to reform Medicare. 

Now, so let‘s get a little bit more realistic here.  What do you consider reform and what are you willing to live with?  And what will you draw the line on as a member of the Progressive Caucus? 

What will you say, hey, you know what?  If you, for example, move up the age where we get Medicare, I‘m out, we‘re not going to do that, where do you drew those lines, Congressman? 

MCDERMOTT:  There are two ways to deal with Medicare.  And I agree with that the costs are a problem just like Paul Ryan does.  His response is put the cost on to grandma, and we‘ll just give her a voucher, and whatever else she needs has to come out of her own pocket. 

My review of reform is you have to start looking at drug companies and at pharmaceutical companies and medical prices and hospital prices.  You have to start looking at the ways you control costs inside the program.  It can be done.  It‘s been done in every industrialized country in the world except the United States.

UYGUR:  So if they try to say, hey, you have to get Medicare at a higher age, are you going to draw the line on that and say you‘re opposed to that? 

MCDERMOTT:  Absolutely, I‘m opposed to that.  The problem is now it ought to be 60, because people are being laid off from jobs, they can‘t find jobs. 

You have more long-term unemployment in this country right now than you‘ve ever had in our history.  And those people are desperate to have the security of having health insurance.  So I think Medicare ought to come down rather than push it up. 

UYGUR:  All right.  That is very clear.

Washington Congressman Jim McDermott, always happy to have you on. 

Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

MCDERMOTT:  See you again. 

UYGUR:  All right. 

Now let‘s bring in a pair of old battle axes—Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press Show” on Sirius Radio, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. 

Do you guys mind that? 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You didn‘t say experienced, Cenk. 

UYGUR:  OK.  Experienced battle axes. 

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR:  Battle axes is cool though.  That‘s fun.  I‘d like to be a battle axe. 

All right, Pat.  I want to start with you tonight. 

Are the Republicans genuine here?  Do they really think that they didn‘t lose the Upstate New York race because of Medicare?  They can‘t believe that, right? 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, they‘re realistic, I think.  I think Medicare was probably the primary reason why they lost that district up there, which is a heavy Republican district.

But I will say this, Cenk—and I think you might agree with me—they are showing some courage and grit not running away from their principles after they have suffered a single defeat.  And while they have suffered a defeat, and this is a problem for them, I think Bill Clinton is the one who is wise on this.  He said, look, simply because Ryan‘s plan might not be the right one, we‘re going to have to do something about Medicare, because Medicare, Social Security, defense and Medicaid, they‘re going to take us down to where this country may have to default.  And if we do in the next two or maybe six years, and Barack Obama is in the wheelhouse, then he is Herbert Hoover and they have forgotten Paul Ryan. 

PRESS:  Hey, Cenk, by the way, it didn‘t take Bill Clinton to say that.  Part of President Obama‘s health care reform plan, which is now the law of the land, reformed the way Medicare is delivered in a way that you don‘t have so much repetition and procedures and docs, which according to the Congressional Budget Office, will pay $200 billion over the next 10 years. 

But let me tell you what this is, Cenk.  This is classic political overreach.  And Pat has seen it.  I‘ve seen Democrats do it and Republicans do it.

They get in office.  There‘s that arrogance of power.  Think ignore the polls, they ignore their consultants.  They‘re determined, they think they‘re right.  And they go and they just simply overreach. 

I think it‘s like political Jonestown.   You know, Paul Ryan mixed the Kool-Aid, John Boehner served it and forced everybody to drink it.

BUCHANAN:  You know, Bill—

UYGUR:  But Pat, you have got to be worried about that, right?

BUCHANAN:  -- this isn‘t Jonestown.

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  This could be the end.

BUCHANAN:  Oh, come on, Cenk.

UYGUR:  I mean, if you look at what happened to the 26th District, I mean—no, but that‘s a heavily-Republican district, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Cenk—

UYGUR:  I mean, if you‘re not concerned about that, I‘m surprised by that. 

BUCHANAN:  Look, they‘ve lost a district, there‘s no doubt about it. 

They have a got problem with this issue.

But let me tell you, the United States of America has a hellish problem.  We have got a deficit that‘s running at 10 percent of the gross national product for the third year in a row.  Barack Obama—the big O‘s budget went up there, voted down 97-0, and here‘s what—let me tell you, if you don‘t address this, and Medicare is part of it, and this country goes down, it‘s the man in the White House that‘s accountable. 

PRESS:  Pat, what are you talking about?  Pat, come on.  What are you talking about?

Joe Biden is leading a group right now which is looking at responsible ways revolving (ph) against the Democrats to balance the budget.  And here‘s the problem.  These phony Republicans up there, they talk fiscal responsibility, and yet, at the same time, they want to continue the subsidies to the oil companies and they want to continue the subsidies stop the wealthiest of Americans in terms of taxes. 

That‘s a total contradiction.  You can‘t have it both ways.  Instead, they‘ll take it out on grandma.

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  Look, we‘ve had that oil subsidy discussion before. 

Obviously, I agree with Bill on this.

I know where you stand, Pat, but let‘s stay on Medicare here.  And I want to see if we can get any kind of agreements. 

Bill, what would you agree is proper reform of Medicare?  What would you be willing to cut?

And then, Pat, you tell me if you‘re willing to go in that direction at all or if you think it‘s right to stay on that Ryan plan. 

So, Bill, you go first. 

PRESS:  Well, I just mentioned, look, having worked in the health care thing last year with a big labor and business group, there are enormous wastes of money in Medicare the way it‘s delivered, the duplication of docs, the duplication of procedures, procedures that are --  

UYGUR:  But that‘s easy, Bill.  Everybody says that.

PRESS:  Wait.  No, no, no.  But do it.  Do it, Cenk.  We talk about it, we don‘t do it.

And the other thing is, built into the health care law again is this panel which Republicans want to get rid of that says if they see too much overbilling, that they can move in on a hospital or move in on a doc and do it.  You need those kind of cost controls in Medicare.  At least start there.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  You know what I‘d do, Cenk?

UYGUR:  Yes, go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Here‘s what I would do.  Look, I was with Ronald Reagan and they put together the Social Security Commission.  I didn‘t like the results of it, but clearly you had to give some here. 

Age is going to have to go up, the benefits are going to have to be pared back.  Then you‘re going to have to get both parties behind the thing and agreed upon, and the leaders, and they‘ve got to come forward. 

I don‘t agree that you can have any change that‘s dramatic because it lends itself to demagoguery, as it did in the 26th District.  But if we—let me tell you this—

UYGUR:  So you think the Ryan plan is a bad idea then.

BUCHANAN:  Here‘s the problem.  Look, when it came out, I said if I were a presidential candidate, I would say Ryan clearly has shown courage here, he‘s worked on this thing, he‘s a guy that you ought to respect, he‘s an intellectual.  But I would not embrace it as a presidential candidate, because you‘ve got 18 months to a presidential campaign, and you don‘t lock yourself into a fixed position when you‘re an outsider, as a candidate, because the party in power does that. 

PRESS:  Cenk, there‘s one other reality here which I think we saw in New York in the 26th.  The political dynamic for 2012 has changed dramatically.  I mean, the House is now in play for Democrats on this issue alone.  This is a battleground.  Every race is going to be run, Ryan plan: are you up or down? 

BUCHANAN:  But you know—

PRESS:  Wait a minute, Pat, just a second. 

Every presidential candidate.  That‘s why some of them are really nervous about that.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you what‘s wrong with the analysis, Bill.  It‘s not going to be the issue for this reason --  

UYGUR:  No, no.

PRESS:  Yes, it is. 

UYGUR:  It‘s already an issue, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  We‘re going to get an agreement—

UYGUR:  Pat, it‘s already an issue.

BUCHANAN:  No, it is an issue, but Cenk --  

UYGUR:  They‘re all going to get asked about it. 

So let‘s show you what Pawlenty said and then you guys can react to it.  Let‘s show you Pawlenty first. 

BUCHANAN:  But Cenk, it‘s a year and a half between now and the election.  Here‘s what‘s going to happen.  Either Biden or the other fellow is going to come up with changes in Medicare which are going to go through, and that‘s going to supersede Ryan. 

That will be the issue.  If they go through, Ryan is—

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  Guys, hold on.  Let‘s look at Pawlenty and then get your reaction.

Go to the clip.

PRESS:  All right.  Let‘s go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PAWLENTY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We‘ll have our own plan, and it will have many similarities to Congressman Ryan‘s plan, but it will have some differences.  And the Medicare part of our plan will have some differences, too.  You‘ll have some similarities also.  But if I can‘t have my own plan—as president I‘ll have my own plan.  If I can‘t have that, and the bill came to my desk, and I had to choose between signing or not, Congressman Ryan‘s plan, of course I would sign it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  All right.  Look, they all get asked, they all get put on the record.

PRESS:  Absolutely.

UYGUR:  But as Pat said, there‘s going to be a different plan probably by the time the election rolls around. 

So, Bill, does this hurt them, people like Pawlenty?  Or do they get beyond it because at some point the White House makes a deal? 

PRESS:  Well, first of all, I deny the premise.  There is—what do you think, this gang is going to get something that—they haven‘t gotten anything done in the last two-and-a-half years.  What makes you think they‘re going to get a plan done in the next 12 months?  They‘re not going to.

This is going to be the issue.  It has already started.  It was the issue in 26.  And every Republican presidential candidate is going to have to answer that question. 

UYGUR:  Last word, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Now, Cenk, now let me tell you.  You‘ve heard Bill. 

Let me tell you, if Barack Obama, president of the United States, does not get some kind of deal which involves the big items, Medicare, defense, all those things, Barack Obama is a failed president.  And Barack Obama alone will be responsible if this country goes over the cliff toward which everybody agrees it is headed.

PRESS:  Yes.  Nice try, Pat.  Nice try.

BUCHANAN:  The economy will be the issue in 2012, not Paul Ryan.

PRESS:  Here we go, Cenk.  You can‘t defend Paul Ryan, so you attack Barack Obama.  That‘s what they‘ve been doing for the last—

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS:  It doesn‘t work.  They‘ve got to take a stand on Paul Ryan.

UYGUR:  Pat, I know you‘re going to agree that part of that package should be big revenue increases, right? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, this is—well, and I‘ll tell you, the whole deal, Cenk, you‘re exactly right. 

UYGUR:  All right.  All right.

BUCHANAN:  Republicans are burned on this thing.  They are burned.  And you watch them back off on any kind of deal as well.  And if there‘s no deal, who‘s on the ballot in November, 2012?  It ain‘t Paul Ryan. 

UYGUR:  Well, he actually is going to be on the ballot in his own race, and he may suffer from that.

PRESS:  Hey, Cenk, I just think we heard Pat agree to getting rid of those tax cuts for the wealthy.  Didn‘t you?  I think I heard him agree to that.

UYGUR:  Well, that‘s what it seemed to be.  But all right—

PRESS:  Good for you, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Hey, Cenk, half of all Americans don‘t pay any income taxes.  Take a look at them for a change. 

UYGUR:  All right.  All right.

PRESS:  Come on, Pat.

UYGUR:  You got that one in, Pat.  All right.

Bill Press and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, thank you both. 

Great as always. 

All right.  Now, when we come back, Speaker Boehner releases his new jobs plan and asks, where are the jobs?  Wait a minute.  Haven‘t we seen that exact speech before?  And his bold new proposal?  Tax cuts. 

Oh, come on, man.  It‘s been 141 days since the GOP took the House. 

You know how many jobs bills that they‘ve introduced so far?  Well, we‘re going to tell you in a little bit. 

And a major blow to Governor Walker today.  Why did a judge rule his anti-union law was illegal? 

And updates on the Republicans getting recalled.  It‘s about to get a lot of fun over there in Wisconsin. 

And more clues that Sarah Palin is actually getting into the race.  Get the bus ready, here she is comes.  But where is she going?  We‘ll try to figure that out. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Democrats just mauled Republicans in the last congressional election on the issue of Medicare.  So they have this great whipping stick to use in 2012, right? 

And of course the Republicans are reeling a little bit.  They‘re standing their ground, but they‘re hurt, dawg.

So what are the Democrats going to do?  Well, they might be poised do what they do best—snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

Today, Vice  President Joe Biden resumed talks aimed at reaching a budget deal before a potential government default this summer.  Now, that makes sense.  And he‘s talking about over $1 trillion in cuts, but other Democratic leaders have said Medicare is on the table in these negotiations. 

Does that make sense?  I‘m not so sure.  Why would you do that?  You have them on the ropes.  Why would you let them off? 

But a lot of Democrats say it‘s OK, because this would be Medicare reform, not Medicare cuts.  Now, is that a real distinction?  And what does it mean? 

Let‘s try to figure that out together.  The guy who is going to help me do that is someone who might be able to shed a lot of light on this.  He‘s Joe Biden‘s former chief economist, Jared Bernstein.  He‘s now a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

Jared, thanks so much for joining us.  Really appreciate it.

JARED BERNSTEIN, SR. FELLOW, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: 

My pleasure, Cenk. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, you‘ve seen that Vice President Biden said that we have got a lot of big-ticket items on the table here.  And other Democrats have said it as well. 

First, is that a good idea, to put Medicare on the table here just as the Democrats have the Republicans on the ropes? 

BERNSTEIN:  Well, the way I hear that—I mean, I‘m not in the room anymore, but the way I hear that, I know the way Joe Biden thinks about Medicare, I know the way President Obama thinks about this issue as a key health care security issue for older persons.  And the idea that you would take that guaranteed benefit away and replace it with a voucher, I guarantee you is anathema to these Democrats, and you will not see that in the negotiations. 

UYGUR:  I know.  I know.  But Jared, that‘s easy. 

No, no.  But that‘s easy, right? 

BERNSTEIN:  Right.

UYGUR:  So I want to get into the details that are hard. 

BERNSTEIN:  Sure.

UYGUR:  I know they‘re not going to say we‘re taking away guaranteed benefits.  Democrats wouldn‘t agree to that.  That‘s simple, right? 

BERNSTEIN:  Correct.

UYGUR:  But when you get into the specifics, for example, they say they want to cut waste and fraud.  Again, that‘s also easy.  Everybody‘s in favor of that.

They say that they want to negotiate with drug companies.  Let‘s pause there for a second. 

I thought the Obama health care bill did not allow us to negotiate with drug companies.  So where is that coming from? 

BERNSTEIN:  Well, look, I mean, one of the things they‘re going to be sitting down and talking about is new ways to control costs in health care spending across the board.  And I think that‘s precisely the kind of distinction you want to make here. 

I mean, there‘s no doubt, Cenk—and you know this as well as I do—that health care spending—and it‘s worse in the private sector than the public—is on an unsustainable course.  So what these negotiators need to do is preserve the guaranteed benefit, and in a balanced way, get under the hood.  And by the way—

UYGUR:  No, no, no, Jared.

BERNSTEIN:  Let me just say, if they can shift to, for example, generic drugs under Medicare, that‘s probably $100 billion in savings. 

UYGUR:  But that‘s what I‘m talking about.  If that‘s Medicaid reform, I‘m in, that‘s lovely.  But can we even do that?  Isn‘t that part of the bill that we are not allowed to negotiate with the drug companies? 

BERNSTEIN:  There has to be new legislation that allows for that kind of negotiation.  So, you know—

UYGUR:  Oh.

BERNSTEIN:  Believe me, there are new ideas out there that can amplify some of these savings without affecting the experience that I think seniors have on Medicare of this very favorable guaranteed benefit program. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Look, if you open that issue back up, I think that‘s terrific.  I think it leads to huge savings for the American people. 

OK, that‘s good reform.  Now let‘s go on to the next set of questions on Medicare, because the Republicans want to, for example, raise the eligibility age and they want to cut benefits. 

Now, is there any chance that the Democrats are going to agree to those last two things? 

BERNSTEIN:  On Medicare?  Yes.  I don‘t think so.  I don‘t think so at all.

Again, I‘m not in the room, but those are precisely the kinds of service delivery benefits that the Democrats want to preserve.  And it‘s the key distinction between, as you well know, between where the Republicans want to take this and where—look, the Republican thing is a big risk shift, a big cost shift from government on to the backs of seniors, and the Democrats are going to do everything they can to present that shift. 

But at the same time, they have to implement reform that gets the costs on a sustainable path.  And there are ways to do that that improve the cost-effectiveness of Medicare, not hurt the consumer side. 

UYGUR:  So, Jared, last thing then.  You‘re saying no actual cuts as far as you know and suspect, not raising the eligibility age. 

Is there anything else that would be on the table in terms of Medicare for the Democrats? 

BERNSTEIN:  Nothing that I know of.  I mean, again, I think the things that I know about, the things that I‘ve heard about—both, by the way, publicly discussed right now—are the kinds of things that help you control costs in the spirit of cost-effectiveness.

So, you know, folks not wasting their money on treatments that don‘t do anything, in fact, may actually be more harmful than good, that‘s the kind of reforms that we need and that‘s the kind that I believe the Democrats will go after. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Jared Bernstein, thank you so much for joining us. 

BERNSTEIN:  My pleasure.

UYGUR:  Former chief economist for Vice President Biden. 

All right.  A great pleasure having you on.  Very informative, actually.  Thank you. 

Now, when we come back, Governor Scott Walker gets rejected today.  That‘s fun.  And Republican governors like Kasich and Christie are falling in the polls.

Newt Gingrich said he lived frugally, so we were wondering why he owed $500,000 to Tiffany‘s.  Well, that story actually just became a little bigger and more important.  It‘s got a twist.  We‘ll explain that. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  And now for our “Con Job of the Day,” we‘ve got a great example of Republicans pretending to speak for the people, while actually doing the bidding of the rich.  You‘re going to love this one.  Last year, former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman helped found a right-wing think tank, American Action Network.  They claimed to be a grass-roots group whose primary goal is to put our center-right ideas into action by engaging the hearts and minds of the American people, and spurring them into active participation in our democracy.  Grass roots, democratic participation, the American people, that all sounds pretty good, right?

Well, the American people voicing their opinions, of course, would be terrific.  You know how many people contributed to American Action Network?  Eleven.  Not 11,000, not 1100, just 11.  You know how much they gave, though?  $2.75 million.  Will you look at that?  It turns out those 11 folks were really rich.  Who could have seen that coming?  The group got two checks for a million dollars, and the smallest donation it received was for $25,000.  Now, what do you think?  Is that grass-roots support for republican ideas?  Or is that rich people just buying our elections?  And what was the result of all that money?  Well, they bought, as like these, to attack Democrats who actually cared about the middle class. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  How can you tell the taxpayers in Congressman Steve Kagan‘s district?  This we‘re not so tough to spot.  Kagan scrip us with the wasteful stimulus.  

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Congressman Martin Heinrich is wall paper Washington with our tax money.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Meet Nancy Pelosi star pew poll.  Washington Insider Chad Causey.  Causey graduated from the Obama/Pelosi team that gave us the wasteful stimulus.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  You get a sense from all that?  The theme is, whatever you do, more tax cuts and not spending on the middle class.  No, we don‘t want that.  Cenk, I wonder why rich people gave this people money?  And by the way, who spent all that money to make sure Republicans win?  Well, it turns out we have no idea, because of new laws, the American Action Network isn‘t required to disclose its donors at all, which is pretty convenient.  The group‘s president claims more donors contributed after the start-up, but of course he wouldn‘t say how many or how much they gave.  Oh, sure, we had plenty of variety.  The third Koch Brother came in and gave us money, and another Koch sister came in and gave us money.  Isn‘t that grassroots?  For the record, we don‘t know if this was the one republican group the Koch Brothers actually did not give money to. 

Now, this guy is claiming to be grass roots groups supported by average Americans, while getting only 11 checks from incredibly wealthy donors is our con job of the day.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Welcome back to the show, everybody.  Joining me now is our Power Panel.  You know, I enjoy it every time.  Of course here to discuss some of the big stories of the day.  With me is Ryan Grim, he‘s senior congressional correspondent for the Huffington Post.  Josh Trevino is the vice president of communications at Texas Public Policy Foundation, Think Tank, he is a conservative.  I don‘t know how he got onto the Power Panel.

(LAUGHTER)

JOSHUA TREVINO, PRESIDENT, TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION:  Hello, Cenk.

UYGUR:  And Lisa Borders.  Hey, Josh.  She is a No Labels Founding leader, hence she has no labels.  She‘s also former president of the Atlanta City Council. 

All right.  First question, for the Power Panel is, Sarah Palin, is she for real?  There are new signs that she‘s inclined to run Palin‘s political action committee announced that she will launch a one nation bus tour of historic sites on Sunday.  Good, she might learn something.  And what better way to kick off a tour at the rolling thunder Memorial Day weekend motorcycle rally in Washington, D.C.  It reminds me when I was a kid, rolling, rolling, rolling thunder. 

All right.  And this comes on top of a new poll that shows her in second place among the GOP candidates.  Here she comes.  Wow, all right, Josh, let me start with you, what do you think?  Is she for real?

TREVINO:  Is she a real candidate?  Yes, I actually do think that she‘s going to run for president in 2012, and this is part of the buildup.  Rolling Thunder by the way is a tremendous fund, not a bad choice for somebody with her appeal in terms of starting a bachelor.  So, yes, so I think this is preparatory to a presidential run on her part. 

UYGUR:  All right.  We do know that, but Josh, you‘ve got to tell us, are you in or are you out?  Do you like Sarah Palin as a candidate?

RYAN GRIM, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  I think there are other candidates that I would probably consider before Sarah Palin.  

UYGUR:  That sounds like a re-endorsement Ryan.  What do you think, does she have a solid chance here?  I mean, she‘s at 15 percent, she‘s at number two right now. 

GRIM:  I mean, if the question is, is she a real candidate in terms of might she run?  Sure, she might run.  Because, you know, she can hop on a bus and drive it up and down the east coast, and she‘ll get the news every night.  She‘ll sell books, she‘ll sell, you know, whatever other merchandise she‘s got on her side, she‘ll keep her name out there.  Sarah Palin inc. rolls on, but is she a real candidate in terms of can checks she gets to the White House?  No, I mean, quite simply she‘s not.  Too many people dislike her too strongly.  The numbers just don‘t add up.  So, in terms of being a real candidate in the sense of, you know, actually being able to win, no, forget about it. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, before we get to you Lisa, I just want to show a clip from Sarah Palin‘s new documentary.  Because she‘s rolling all this stuff out.  It‘s not just a bus tour, she‘s going to play this movie in Iowa, New Hampshire, et cetera.  Let‘s watch a little piece of it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  For the 22nd time, Exxon Mobil had submitted its plan to begin drilling in the Point Thompson Unit, but still had not drilled.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Where I right come from, your word is supposed to be good, but at least if your name is on a sheet of paper, it has to be good.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  The state said, drill it or lose it, Exxon challenged the state, the state rose to the challenge and decided that they would rather litigate than continually allow Exxon to delay development of the Point Thompson field.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, I know this movie is supposed to show her as a hero, but the thing they‘re talking about is when Sarah Palin actually increased the royalty for the Alaskan people and actually like nearly doubled the amount of money that the oil companies have to pay.  Doesn‘t that actually make her progressive?  So, is her big selling point, she‘s a huge progressive?

GRIM:  Well, Cenk, if you want to sell Sarah Palin as a progressive, I wish you God speed with that. 

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

LISA BORDERS, NO LABELS:  Cenk, we have no idea what Sarah Palin is going to do.  It‘s much too early to tell.  It‘s much too early to tell what she‘s going to do.  But more importantly, the American people are really interested in more than just a personality.  We are interested in having people be pragmatic problem-solvers.  We need to do for a presidential candidate.  What we would do for anyone looking for a job.  We need to make sure they have the right skills set do address the challenges that we have.  So, from a No Labels perspective, we want to see people who are interested in working together and getting the job done, true public servants who are really going to be focused on the people‘s business and the country‘s business.  

UYGUR:  Right.  So, I‘m getting a sense she went over 0 for three.  (INAUDIBLE).  So, let‘s try someone else.  The second question for the panel is, how much is Tiffany‘s really going to cost Gingrich?  “The Washington Examiner” reports today that Christy Evans, formerly a top staffer to then-whip Newt Gingrich is a registered lobbyist for Tiffany‘s, the high-end jewelers where Gingrich and his wife enjoy an extraordinary line of credit.  So, of course, a wonderful coincidence for them. 

Now, Josh, in the beginning I thought this was not a big deal, right?  OK, the guy is rich, he bought a lot of jewelry at Tiffany‘s, but now, looks like he‘s got a lobbyist involved and he might have gotten a sweetheart  deal where he didn‘t pay any interest.  Is that a real problem for Gingrich?

TREVINO:  Well, as long as you and everybody else in the media continues to say “might have,” it‘s not really a problem.  That‘s one of the most wrongdoing that it becomes the problem, and I haven‘t seen evidence of that yet.  I think this is a blip in the radar as far as Newt and his campaign go.  

UYGUR:  Is it a real problem?

(CROSSTALK)

TREVINO:  Not right now. 

BORDERS:  I think it‘s an interesting discussion, but with all due respect to Tiffany‘s, and God knows I love everything comes in that little blue box, I would say that most Americans are not interested in jewelry, just focusing on jewelry.  What we‘re really focused on is jobs.  People are very much concerned about their families and how they‘ll going to pay for their mortgage and their cars and milk and bread and diapers.  

GRIM:  And Cenk, as long as we‘re talking about this though, he‘s in trouble.  I mean, even if you say he might have gotten a sweetheart deal or he did get a sweetheart deal, or he didn‘t get a sweetheart deal, we‘re still talking about him having an extraordinary line of credit at a Tiffany‘s when Tiffany‘s employs his former staffer.  I mean, that‘s just not good stuff for him.  But you start of asking, what does this cost him?  And you know, that almost, you know, it can‘t cost him anything if he didn‘t have anything to lose.  And he like Sarah Palin, never had a real chance to win.  So, you know, he‘s also selling a bunch of merchandise.  He‘s also selling a bunch of book.  So, you know, this is actually all good for him.  When you‘re somebody like Palin or Gingrich, no presses bad press.  

TREVINO:  That‘s kind of a mistake to put Newt and Sarah in the same box.  So, they appeal to very different demographics, a very different.

GRIM:  They appeal to consumers.  They‘re not looking for voters, they‘re looking for consumers, people that have credit cards and can go to the Web sites and buy their things.  

TREVINO:  That would be a surprise to the campaigns.  

GRIM:  Here‘s the deal.

BORDERS:  Both of these candidates. 

GRIM:  I mean, if they have any idea what they‘ve done in the past, it shouldn‘t come as a surprise to them. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Well, let‘s move on, guys.  My analysis of that is it didn‘t seem like you guys were thinking that Gingrich was getting any benefit out of that Tiffany‘s deal, that‘s for damn sure. 

All right.  So today, how republican leaders unveil the job agenda.  My question is, is it really a jobs plan?  They would have you believe so, of course.  Look at what they said in their presser today.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO:  We are unveiling a plan for America‘s job creators, both house and Senate Republicans are focused on creating a better environment for private sector job creation.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  We‘ve been focused as a House Republicans since day one, jobs in the economy.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  This will create jobs, this is the republican solution, and I‘m proud to be a part of our house republican plan for America‘s job creators.  

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  I too am proud to endorse the plan to create jobs.  

BOEHNER:  Helping Americans get back to work is our number one priority. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Ryan, they mentioned a lot of jobs in there, but in fact the proposal boils down to lowering taxes again.  Is that really a jobs plan?

GRIM:  Right.  And they also proposed, you know, immense amounts of deregulation, you know, challenging regulations that are on the books.  And interestingly, a cornerstone of their jobs plan involves patent reform, basically allowing corporations to get patents easier.  And it‘s hard to see what that does for a small business.  Small businesses aren‘t usually in the business of applying for patents.  What large corporations do when they can extend the length of their patent is they charge more to consumers and to small businesses to use whatever it is that they have.  And all that does is pull money out of the real economy and send it to the executives.  

TREVINO:  Cenk, am I hearing correctly here though that the small businesses aren‘t involved in patents?  I mean, do you want to stand on that?

GRIM:  Yes.  Once in a while, you‘re going to have a—look at the patents that result in profits?  The number of those that are going to go to small businesses and small inventors, the guy in the garage I think is minuscule. 

TREVINO:  This is economic ignorance.  One of the major engines of Americans.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

BORDERS:  Where is the bipartisan. 

UYGUR:  One at a time.  Guys, guys.  

GRIM:  Cenk, he‘s talking about economic ignorance.  Who do you think is lobbying Congress.

BORDERS:  Where was the approach?  Why didn‘t we do it the right way and have everybody at the table?

UYGUR:  Josh, here‘s what I need you to answer.  Here‘s what I need you to answer. 

TREVINO:  Ask me.  Ask me.

UYGUR:  Haven‘t we done this before?  Didn‘t we do tax cuts under George Bush?  Didn‘t we do deregulations under George Bush?  And what did it lead to?  It leads to about eight million jobs lost because the economic crash.

TREVINO:  I‘m curious to, you know, how long has Barack Obama been in office, Cenk?  Remind me.  I‘m still curious.

(CROSSTALK)

TREVINO:  What‘s the employment unemployment rate?  It‘s around nine percent.

UYGUR:  But, wait a minute, you guys created 10 percent unemployment rate with your tax cuts. 

BORDERS:  We are totally taking our eyes off the ball.  We‘ve got a fiscal crisis in this country and we are taking our eyes completely off the ball, why in effect have we moved off talking about the deficit debt and the debt ceiling.  Everybody is over just talking about the republican answer to job.  

GRIM:  Because we have nearly 10 percent unemployment.  

BORDERS:  Where is the American approach to jobs?

UYGUR:  All right.  Guys, we‘ve got to leave it right there.  

BORDERS:  Where in the world does it need to have one root standing over in the quarter? 

UYGUR:  We‘ve got to leave it right there.  All right. 

TREVINO:  Thank you, Cenk.

UYGUR:  You guys were fired up.  Josh Trevino, Ryan Grim, Lisa Powers, we appreciate it.  Great panel. 

BORDERS:  Thanks for having us, we appreciate it.  

TREVINO:  Thanks, Cenk.  

GRIM:  Thanks.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, when we come back, Governor Scott Walker is feeling the heat in Wisconsin, it‘s just got slap down today, but it‘s not just Walker.  We‘ll show you the absolute disaster that is happening for republican governors across the country.  That‘s next.        

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  I agreed with Rand Paul today, and lived to regret it.  I‘ll tell you that interesting story of bipartisanship gone wrong.  Stay with us.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  The Republicans seemed ascendant in 2010, but now not so much.  They‘re getting rejected in states across the country.  Today, a Wisconsin judge struck down the law taking away collective bargaining for many of the state‘s workers.  While, it‘s not quite time to declare victory, the message has been sent.  People didn‘t like your plan.  And they didn‘t like the way you try to—through.  A new poll finds Governor Scott Walker‘s approval rating is just 43 percent.  Fifty four percent disapprove of the job he‘s doing.  And this week, officials cleared the way for a recall elections of three GOP state senators, including hanky-panky hopper, and hanky-panky Kapanke.  At least the names, last names are—those are the nicknames.  But anyway, one I gave them.  But Republicans are hearing footsteps all across the country.  They‘re like a wide receiver doing a crossing pattern over the middle, and Ray Lewis is just waiting for them.  Right there. 

That‘s not the place you want to be.  In fact, you get hammered.  A New Jersey court has rejected Governor Chris Christie‘s plan to strip away education funding that would give poor kids an opportunity at a better life.  And now he‘s just at 40 percent approval rating, and Republicans think this guy can run for president at 40 percent approval rating.  And in Ohio, Governor John Kasich who went after unions in his state, has seen his approval rating plunge to just 33 percent.  But if you think that‘s bad, wait until you get a load of Florida.  Governor Rick Scott is sitting on a 29 percent approval rating.  Fifty seven percent disapprove of the job that he‘s doing.  That‘s disaster on the top of disaster.  That‘s Ray Lewis hitting you and snapping the helmet off your head.  Not where you want to be. 

All right.  Time now to call in John Nichols, Washington correspondent for “The Nation,” magazine, he‘s been all over the Wisconsin labor dispute from the start.  John, great to have you here.  Let‘s start in Wisconsin.  First, tell me about what the judge did and what you think the relevance might be?

JOHN NICHOLS, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it‘s a pretty relevant development.  Judge Maryann Sumi who‘s one of the more respected juries in the state, has had this case for about two months.  The basic question was whether the law was passed legally.  She ruled today that it was not, that the Wisconsin state Senate as well as the Wisconsin State Assembly, which happened to be controlled by a pair of brothers, both named Fitzgerald, had both acted illegally.  They violated the state‘s open meetings laws which required that citizens be alerted as well as democratic legislators to when this action was going to take and be taken.  That‘s a big deal.  This law is, as of now, null and void.  The ruling will be appealed.  There‘s also the possibility that Republicans in the legislature might try to take the law up again, but the problem is, as you‘ve outlined in the opening here, people are really turning against these Republicans and the Republicans themselves are starting to get a little skittish. 

UYGUR:  Well, let‘s talk about that right, when you expanded out, as we explained it, look at the approval ratings, 29 percent, 38 percent, 40 percent, 43 percent for these republican governors.  That looks horrible.  Now, is it possible that it‘s just a temporary blip and they‘ll go back up, or are they like George W. Bush, once they fall, they can‘t get back up?

NICHOLS:  Well, I think that all of these bad ratings are rooted in policy, not just personality.  I mean, these governors came in based on pretty effective campaigns in 2010.  The problem was, they didn‘t tell people what they were sincerely and seriously going to do.  And as they‘ve started to act as governors, they are become increasingly unpopular.  In a sense, this is a lot like Paul Ryan at the national level.  And Paul Ryan came across very, very well when nobody knew what he was up to.  But when they started to cotton onto his agenda, they turned against not only the agenda, but him.  I think the same thing is happening to these republican governors. 

UYGUR:  It does seems to be the case, and it seems like one of the driving forces is the labor movement, speaking of which AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently said, hey, you know, what?  We‘re not just going to blindly support Democrats, in fact, we might go grassroots, because, look at how well it work on Wisconsin rather than giving money on a nationwide level to Democrats.  Do you think that‘s a good idea?

NICHOLS:  I think it‘s a fabulous idea.  One of the best ideas labors had in a long time.  The fact of the matter is that when you organize at the grass roots, when you build real coalitions that are rooted in your labor unions, that expand into the community, take in folks who aren‘t union members, to push back against this austerity agenda, against this cuts agenda, you build a base of popular support that is not only effective on the ground in your state, but that ultimately feeds up into the federal process.  President Obama‘s reelection won‘t be hurt by money being shifted to the states.  At the end of the day, you get more bang for your buck by organizing on the ground.

UYGUR:  All right.  John Nichols of “The Nation” magazine, thank you for joining us tonight.  We appreciate it. 

NICHOLS:  Great to be with you, Cenk.  Great.

UYGUR:  Now, when we come back, how badly is Washington broken?  Well, there‘s a great example of it today.  That story is next.                

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Look, I want to be clear with you guys.  I‘m a progressive, not a democrat.  Now, why do I tell you that?  Because I don‘t care what team democrat is up to if they‘re not really being progressive?  If they aren‘t, what‘s the point of supporting them?  A great example of that is the patriot act.  I didn‘t like it under Bush, I don‘t like it under Obama.  Not all of it, of course, but the warrantless wiretapping, the national security letters are a disaster.  They take away our rights and they‘re a violation of the fourth amendment.  Now, why would I like that same exact concept just because a democratic president does it?  I literally don‘t understand that.  I don‘t see why all of a sudden, I would change my opinion on it. 

So, Rand Paul today opposed some of those provisions of the patriot act.  While I totally disagree with him on at least 85 percent of the issues, I agree with him on this issue.  So, fantastic, it was a republican fighting for position that I viewed to be progressive, nothing wrong with that, that‘s terrific.  Now, this issue I don‘t think should really be ideological.  We should agree that our constitutional rights should be protected.  We shouldn‘t let the terrorists scare us into taking away our rights.  But both the Bush and Obama administrations have done terrible fear mongering on this issue. 

Look at what a senior administration official sent to the press today.  And see if you can tell the difference between this and a Bush press release.  Quote, “failure to pass this legislation with sufficient time for the president to sign it before it expires at midnight on Thursday, poses a significant risk to U.S. national security.  The bottom line is that if these provisions are allowed to lapse even temporarily, the nation will be less safe.”  And they go on to warn about, quote, “enhanced threats.”  I‘ve seen it all before. 

The same kind of nonsense we had from Bush.  Are there terrorists out there plotting against us?  Of course there are.  The question is, should we give up our freedoms to fight against that?  And I don‘t think we should.  So, if you vote no on that, fantastic.  But you want to know what happened today?  Leadership in both parties agreed to a lot of vote on only one of Senator Paul‘s amendments, the one that would restrict national security officials from examining gun dealer records in their efforts to track terrorists.  No!  That‘s the provision makes sense.  I don‘t want the terrorists to get guns.  So, everything got flipped on its head, and we got loss after loss.  Oh, Washington, what are you going to do with it? 

All right.  Thank you for watching, everybody, “HARDBALL” is up right now. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                            

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