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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guests: Rep. Jared Polis, Howard Dean, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Jan

Schakowsky, Howard Fineman

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST:  Well, Jon Huntsman finally announced his campaign for vice president today.  And tomorrow, President Obama will finally announce his decision on Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Loud protests continuing on both sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will marriage equality happen in New York?

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  A tense waiting game.

O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Marriage equality is still run vote away in New York state, and the president is still evolving.

(on camera):  I can‘t believe he‘s not for it.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISOR:  I‘m not climbing into the president‘s head here.

O‘DONNELL:  I do believe that as a politician, there‘s a calculation.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  All about hope and change and hope and change.

REPORTER:  Not support their right to marry?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  He‘s been very clear about how that position is evolving.

O‘DONNELL (voice-over):  President Obama is ready to tell the nation his next step in Afghanistan.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST:  Obama‘s war -- 

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS:  Plan for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  Tomorrow, now we know 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

JANSING:  “The L.A. Times” is reporting he‘ll bring hope about 10,000 military personnel.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  This will not be the end of the combat operations.

DYLAN RATIGAN, MSNBC HOST:  For those playing along in the game of proportionality, that is a tiny fraction.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST:  Fifty-six percent of people say they want the troops taken out of Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can‘t run for re-election without having definitively drawn down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They want to call it with a withdrawal.  I call it an insult.

O‘DONNELL:  The Huntsman elusion that he is a moderate.

MITCHELL:  Who is—

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS:  Jon Huntsman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve heard people saying all morning he‘s positioning himself as a moderate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He‘s seen as a moderate.

TODD:  He is against gay marriage but favors civil unions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A moderate, which is a kiss of death in a Republican primary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s really not that different from than anybody else in the field.

O‘DONNELL:  The other Huntsman elusion: that he can win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This event lacks of pop today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Twenty-two percent of respondents say they will not vote for a Mormon.

TODD:  He‘s rich, he‘s Mormon, and he‘s not Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman can‘t win the South. 

It‘s a simple, plain fact.

O‘DONNELL:  And can candidate Gingrich afford the flight to Vegas for the next debate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I mean, how much longer can this poor man hang on for?

HALL:  Two key members of the Gingrich campaign has jumped ship.

CILLIZZA:  This is why governing is hard.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  Good evening from New York.

Tomorrow night, at this hour, President Obama will announce plans for a partial withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan.  The White House has yet to reveal the size and pace of that withdrawal, though administration officials tell “Politico,” “Whatever the pace, all 33,000 forces that were part of the surge would be gone by the end of 2012.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARNEY:  As you know, we ramped up in a surge the number of forces in Afghanistan.  And we are at that peak point, and the president identified in December of 2009 that—made the commitment that forces would begin to drawdown in July of 2011.  He is keeping that commitment.  And that‘s what he will announce tomorrow evening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  The president will make his televised announcement to an audience whose majority for the first time favors removing troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.  According to a Pew Poll out today, 56 percent of Americans favor immediate withdrawal.  That‘s the highest ever.  Thirty-nine percent say, keep troops in Afghanistan until the situation has stabilized.

The president‘s position has not caught up with the majority of Americans who favor immediate withdrawals from Afghanistan, or the majority of Americans who now favor marriage equality.  Last month, Gallup found 53 percent in favor of marriage equality.

On Thursday night, in Manhattan, the president will be asking for campaign help from marriage equality supporters when he appears at a $1,250 per plate fundraiser with the gay community.  It will be the first time a sitting president has held a fund-raising event with the LGBT community.  The event prompted a reporter from “The Washington Blade,” a gay issues newspaper, to ask this question to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Isn‘t the president selling this audience short by saying he supports them and wants the money for his reelection campaign, but also saying at the same time he does not support their right to marry?

CARNEY:  Chris, I think you know that this president is very supportive of and strong on LBGT rights and his record is significant with regard to that.  He‘s been very clear about his position on gay marriage.  He‘s been very clear about how that position is evolving.

I don‘t have any new announcement to make.  But I think you know his record and he‘s proud of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Joining me now, Colorado Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, who was the first freshman congressman elected to the House of Representatives, as an openly gay man.

Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Congressman.

REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO:  It‘s a pleasure to be on.

O‘DONNELL:  Congressman, we‘re in a continuing dialogue on this show about the president‘s position with his supporters in the 2008 election.  And last week, there erupted a rift with the gay community as personified by the comments of Dan Choi at the Netroots Nation convention.  We had Dan on the show.

But I want you to listen now to what Lieutenant Dan Choi had to say on this program on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN CHOI, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST:  If this president wants to get the volunteers that he had in 2008, I would ask him to go to the universities and ask the kids, the new first time voters, 28 to 23, 24 years old, ask them what they think about marriage and the rights of gay people to live equally.  And I think if he did come out and say, yes, I believe gay people were equal, you would have a lot of volunteers.  I would be out there.

But, as of right now—no, I don‘t think I should endorse a president that does not endorse my full personhood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Congressman, as someone who is going to be running for reelection on a ticket with President Obama at the top of that ticket, how would you respond to Lieutenant Dan Choi?

POLIS:  Well, you know, Dan‘s a friend and he‘s certainly played a constructive role in bringing attention to ending “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”  But, you know, President Obama has been the best president we‘ve had on equality issues.

And like so many American, like many of our own uncles and aunts and grandparents, he‘s going through a journey on this issue.  It involves issues of faith, issues of tradition.  And I‘m confident he‘ll wind up in the right place, just like I‘m confident America will wind up in the right place.

But it‘s a process to get there and we need to honor that.

O‘DONNELL:  Do you think he‘ll wind up in the right place in his second term after he‘s past the reelection bar?

POLIS:  Well, you know, again, this is—he made a courageous

decision not to appeal the decision on DOMA, on the Defense of Marriage

Act.  So, I mean, he‘s basically made the statement that the federal

government is simply shouldn‘t be defending a law that‘s blatantly

unconstitutional.  I mean, that was very few precedence in that decisions -

instructions to the attorney general.

           

And that took a lot of courage for him to do that.  It took a lot of courage to get out front ending “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” for him to sign a hate crimes law fully inclusive of our community.

So, he‘s doing everything he can.

Now, he has a Congress that we can‘t get any equality bills out of right now.  And we need to turn that around.  But he‘s going to work with us.  And I think he‘s going to do whatever he can on the executive side, and I think just like many Americans will get there on marriage equality, so will President Obama.

And you know what?  Taken a little bit of time with it only increases his moral authority with the American people to help change minds on this issue.

O‘DONNELL:  I want you to listen to what David Axelrod said on the program last night defending the president on these points.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST:  We‘ve made historic progress on this issue, Lawrence.  And it may not be progress to the satisfaction of everyone, but we‘ve certainly made progress moving in the right direction.  I think history is moving in a direction here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Historic click progress, but it may not be progress to the satisfaction of everyone.  There seems to be a real dissatisfaction out there.

The patience that you are willing to demonstrate on this doesn‘t seem to be shared in some of the groups that energetically supported the president, volunteered, got out there, had the campaign signs, and, you know, pushed out the vote.

Do you think that enthusiasm among volunteers because they‘re being asked to demonstrate what for them is too much patience—do you think a possible lack of enthusiasm going to the president‘s reelection campaign is going to be a problem for him?

POLIS:  Well, you know, the president is going to have an opponent and the opponent is going to have positions on gay rights issues.  He likely will have an opponent that supports enshrining in the Constitution discrimination, saying that our marriages can‘t be recognized even in the states that have them.  He will likely have an opponent that wants to turn back the clock on ending “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”

So, these are issues we continue to move forward on with this courageous decision not the defend DOMA.  In contrast to inserting discrimination into our Constitution as the majority of the Republican feel in the last debate, so say they actually support it.  So, there are strong contrasts here.

It doesn‘t mean that we should just be patient on anything.  No, of course, we speak out.  Of course, we should say we need to move forward in the march to equality.  And as Dan Choi said, the young people will drive that, 21 year olds, 23 year olds, for whom, regardless of their party affiliation, R, U, or D, they‘re very pro-equality.  They have gay and lesbian friends and gay and lesbian family members.

We will win this battle.  We shouldn‘t take it for granted.  We should continue to push.

But President Obama is the best president we‘ve had on equality issues.  And I‘m confident he‘ll be even better in the second term.

O‘DONNELL:  Congressman Polis, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

POLIS:  My pleasure.

O‘DONNELL:  Joining me now is former governor and presidential candidate, Howard Dean.

Governor Dean, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN:  Lawrence, thanks for having me on. 

I appreciate it.

O‘DONNELL:  Governor, you‘ve been in that ultra-political position of running the Democratic Party among other things.  I think we all know that there are things that are just not safe to say politically.  And I‘ve watched the Democratic Party change its tune on a bunch of things over time.

I don‘t believe that everyone in the Democratic Party who says they‘re in favor of the death penalty really is.  But I do believe they made that calculation that it must be said in order to be elected.

It feels to me like where we are on marriage equality is in that zone, where it just feels to me that if you‘re running for president, just like last time, 2008, none of the leading Democrats with any chance at the nomination said they were in favor of marriage equality.  I think because they just don‘t think they can.  It‘s just like the death penalty for them.  They have to say something to get passed the election.

Is that where this is and we‘re not going to really hear President Obama say what he really thinks about this until he‘s re-elected?

DEAN:  Well, of course, we don‘t know what President Obama does think about it.  What he says is he‘s in an evolutionary phase and he has said before that he believes in civil unions.

So, look, the important thing is equal rights for everybody.  And the truth is that civil unions and marriage are the same except for one word and of the very big “and” is DOMA.  The president has said that we need to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act.

What the Defense of Marriage Act does is essentially abnegate the Commerce Clause and deny equal rights.  It‘s not just the marriage problem.  It is an equal rights problem.  It‘s an inherence problem, it‘s a health care problem, it‘s a work discrimination problem.

The federal government has no business backing discrimination against anybody.

So, I don‘t think the president wants to discriminate against people either.  I do think that you‘re right about this kind of sophistry and the dancing around.  But there is a way to very clear that equal rights under the law for every single American is something that you believe in.  And I think you can do that without putting your head in the chopping block election-wise.

O‘DONNELL:  Governor, what are you hoping to hear from the president tomorrow night on Afghanistan?

DEAN:  What I‘m hoping to hear is that we‘re going to have a significant troop withdrawal on the way to phasing all the troops out as he is, I believe, about to do in Iraq.

It looks to me like we‘re pretty likely to get a complete troop withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year.  That would be huge.  Iraq has become essentially a satellite of Iran.

It‘s pretty much most of the things that I was afraid might happen when we went in have happened.  And none of them are very good, except getting rid of Saddam Hussein, but we stayed there for a long time and spent trillions of dollars getting rid of him.  That was a pretty high price to pay.

So, I‘m hoping that we‘re now going to begin the drawdown, the serious drawdown of troops from Afghanistan.

O‘DONNELL:  You don‘t want to think of war decisions being made politically, but they are made if a political environment.  With the killing of Osama bin Laden, now with a poll saying a very clear, meaningful majority of Americans want an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan—is it now within the White House easier for them to politically see their way to a withdrawal from Afghanistan, a more complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, if it tactically meets their standards, also?

DEAN:  I think it is, first of all, Lawrence.  And, secondly, I think this is a matter of doing it by the facts, not by politics.  I supported President Obama when he added troops in Afghanistan.  Many in my party did not.

The reason I did is I thought there was a fairly low chance that we‘re going to win, but I really believed that we needed to do what we could to preserve the status of women under the law in a more sane, humane way.

Now, the president of Afghanistan has become increasingly corrupt, increasingly anti-American.  His family is likely involved in narcotics dealing.  There‘s been embezzling from the central bank.

And the final straw was when the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, came out and said that he believed that not only were women not equal, he questioned the notion of women‘s education, equal rights under the law, some of the marriage things that we view as barbaric and rightfully so.

And in that case, why are we there?  Why are we there supporting what we did in Vietnam, which was to corrupt people running the place—in this case, a corrupt family running the place.  That is not America‘s role in the world and it‘s not likely that the presence of American troops is going to make things any better.  So, I think we ought to get out.

O‘DONNELL:  Governor Dean, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

DEAN:  Thank you.

O‘DONNELL:  The president‘s address to the nation is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern.  We‘ll have live coverage of the speech.  And Rachel Maddow will join me for complete analysis of the president‘s plan for the war in Afghanistan tomorrow night at this hour.

Up next: ethics on Capitol Hill.  Today, a conservative group said if Anthony Weiner is gone, why is Senator David Vitter still around?  We‘ll talk ethics with Senate Ethics Committee chairwoman, Senator Barbara Boxer, and we‘ll also find out what happened to her jobs bill today in the Senate.

And later, breaking news tonight, about Newt Gingrich, his Tiffany‘s problem has gone from bad to much worse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Four years after David Vitter‘s prostitution scandal made headlines, a Christian conservative group is exposing Republican hypocrisy and calling on the senator to resign.  This as Citizens for the Responsibility and Ethics in Washington levels bribery charges against him.  Senator Barbara Boxer joins me next.

And later, the hypocrisy of Michele Bachmann—she says she‘s against Obamacare because it‘s socialism, but she actually supports a pure form of socialism.  And we‘ve got the letter to prove it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  As Anthony Weiner‘s resignation from the House of Representatives became official today, a new call came for Senator David Vitter to follow Weiner‘s lead and resign.  Christian conservative group Family Policy Network sent a letter to the Louisiana senator, saying his resignation was long overdue.

“There are a lot of people that I think are committing out right hypocrisy and are forced to do so as long as he remains in office.  I don‘t think the senator should put those folks in the untenable position of having to pragmatically defend his presence in the Senate,” said the group‘s president, Joe Glover.

Family Policy Network is not the only group going after Senator Vitter now.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, filed a complaint today with the Senate Ethics Committee against Vitter over allegations that he attempted to bribe the Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar.  The complaint claims on May 23rd, Senator Vitter sent a letter to Salazar saying he would block any efforts to raise the secretary‘s salary if the secretary did not increase the number of permits for deep-water exploratory permits.

Senator Vitter has not commented on either matter, but made his voice heard in several votes on the Senate floor today, including a vote against a jobs bill brought to the floor today by Senator Barbara Boxer.

Joining me now from California, Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works.

Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Senator.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA:  Thank you so much, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Senator, let‘s go to the vote on the Senate floor, first of all, today.

BOXER:  Sure.

O‘DONNELL:  You‘ve got a jobs bill to the floor, which is hard for some people, I think, to believe when there‘s all this talk about scandal and all the other distractions that the government is facing, as well as the duties you have as an ethics committee chair.  But you did get a jobs bill to the Senate floor.  What happened?

BOXER:  Well, this would interest you, Lawrence.  I‘ve been around here a while.  I think people know I served in the House for 10 years.  Now, I‘m in my fourth term in the United States Senate.

And I‘ve never seen a situation like this, where everyone says they‘re for jobs and yet the Republicans are killing every jobs bill that they can.  That we‘re bringing to the Senate.

They really, in my view, started with when they took very little action on the FAA bill, the Federal Aviation Administration.  They say now they‘re working on it, but it‘s, I‘m a confrere—as you know, the conference is key.  We haven‘t had one meeting of that.  That‘s 260,000 jobs.

Then we had the small business bill Senator Landrieu brought to the floor, with bipartisan support from her committee.  It‘s been in place, I think Warren Redman (ph) wrote that particular program.  They filibustered that to death.

Then I come forward.  The leader said to me, Leader Reid, “Do you have a bill that came out from good support from Republicans?”  I said, “I have a great bill, the EDA, the Economic Development Administration, it would be a million jobs over five years.  For every dollar on federal spending it attracts several dollars.  Let‘s go.”

We go down to the floor and, all of a sudden, there‘s 100 amendments, on the prairie chicken, on ethanol, you name it.

Bottom line: they killed it today.  It‘s really—I‘ve never seen anything quite like it.  And you have to ask yourself why—either they don‘t care about jobs or they care more about politics and want to bring the Democrats down by saying, well, they can‘t get a bill through the Senate floor.

I leave it up to you.  You‘re the one who‘s going to comment on this.

O‘DONNELL:  Senator, do you think that Republicans have the feeling that with all the Anthony Weiner talk and all the distracting talk that has nothing to actually do with governing, that they can cast votes like this and they really won‘t be noticed?  That you won‘t be able to exploit these politically?

BOXER:  That‘s a really good point.  But, you know, I think we‘re going to make sure people understand.  And I started with a series of speeches about this, and the leaders are going to go forward with this.  We‘re going to have a jobs agenda.

And, you know, maybe the folks missed the first, second, and third, you know, issue that came to the floor on this.  But once we‘ve done four and five and six and seven jobs bills, I‘m working on the highway bill.

And, Lawrence, you remember that, because you were here.  You worked on many of those bills.  The finance committee works along with the committee on environment and public works.  We get a highway bill, we put people to work, construction workers -- 2 million of them unemployed.  We‘re ready to go.

And you know, people are going to see what‘s happening here.  They‘ve got to wake up.  This is—and I know there‘s lots of other things to talk about.  There will be scandal on this side of the aisle and that side of the aisle.

At the end of the day to me, the biggest scandal is not doing something about jobs.  And, yes, this deficit which the Democrats know how to take care of that.  We did it with Bill Clinton.  We were the only party in the last 43 years to balance the budget, create a surplus, 23 million jobs.

A trillion dollars if we end the war, both wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, over the next 10 years.  A trillion dollar it is we don‘t do tax breaks to millionaires.  A trillion dollars if we go after tax evaders.

That‘s $3 trillion.  You didn‘t have to cut Medicare.  You can still invest in education.

Lawrence, we can do this.  But we have to be on the level with one another.  We have to work together.

O‘DONNELL:  Senator, I want to get an ethics question before you go.  I know you have the job that no senator wants, chairman of the ethics committee.  But we watched you masterfully handle in a completely bipartisan way the Senator Ensign investigation, which led to his abrupt resignation.

I‘m not going to ask you about the complaint that‘s been filed with your committee today about Senator Vitter because I won‘t waste the time.  I know you can‘t comment on a complaint filed with the committee.

But can you explain to viewers, because everybody out there is wondering—how does Anthony Weiner end up being in effect forced to resign, forced to leave the House of Representatives and Senator Vitter is still in the United States Senate and the ethics committee did not even investigate the Senator Vitter‘s possible involvement in prostitution?

BOXER:  OK.  Well, just taking it away from a particular person, because I don‘t want to talk about a particular individual.

Let me just tell your viewers this.  Under the Constitution, no one can force anyone to resign.  It is up to that individual to make that decision.  That is a fact.

Now, you can expel someone if the ethics committee finds that they have violated their oath of office, if they were corrupt, if they brought shame upon the Senate.  But that takes, as you know, an investigation.  So, that‘s how it works.  The individual makes a decision whether they want to resign.  And the Senate and the House Ethics Committee can force someone to resign after a pretty lengthy investigation.

O‘DONNELL:  Senator Barbara Boxer, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BOXER:  Thank you so much.

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, the crack in the Republican wall against tax increases is getting bigger.  Now, even Eric Cantor says he is for raising some revenues.  I‘ll talk with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky about why cutting tax loopholes isn‘t enough.  Why we need more.

And breaking news about Newt Gingrich—on the same day he loses his fund-raising team, new details emerge about his financial relationship with Tiffany‘s.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  In tonight‘s spotlight, sane tax policy.  It scored a big victory last week when 33 Senate Republicans voted for Republican Senator Tom Coburn‘s amendment that would end six billion dollars a year in tax credits to the ethanol industry.  In doing so, they bravely violated a pledge never to raise taxes, in any form, including never eliminating any tax deductions, any tax credits, or any kind of tax loophole at all. 

Here‘s what Senator Coburn told me on this program a week ago. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA:  We‘re going to fix the country.  And some of that‘s going to be revenue increases.  That‘s the only way you‘re going to build a compromise and get it signed by this president.  I understand that. 

Everybody else—the fact is most people won‘t admit it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  And yesterday, House Majority Leader Eric cantor, the representative for the House Republicans in the bipartisan deficit reduction negotiations, stuck a toe in these waters saying, “we are not opposed to revenues.  We are just opposed to tax increases.” 

Joining me now is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.  She is the House Democrats chief deputy whip and serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee.  She also served on the president‘s fiscal commission.  Thank you very much for joining me tonight, congresswoman. 

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O‘DONNELL:  Now I want us both to do a translation of Eric Cantor for the audience.  It sounds weird to them for him to say we are not opposed to revenue, we are just opposed to tax increases.  The way I‘m reading it is he‘s not opposed to increased tax revenue.  He‘s just opposed to raising tax rates. 

Is that what you think you‘re hearing from Eric Cantor? 

           

SCHAKOWSKY:  It sounds to me like those things that we call tax expenditures, those tax breaks that mostly go to the wealthiest Americans and add up to about 1.1 trillion dollars a year, that maybe some of those can be on the table. 

But I‘m happy to call even raising taxes revenues.  I‘ll use whatever

language he would like.  But the point is that we cannot cut our way out of

you know, we can‘t make the middle class pay more by cutting benefits that go to them. 

           

That‘s all they want to do.  And I‘m glad to hear that he‘s saying that revenue is OK. 

O‘DONNELL:  Now—and this isn‘t revolutionary thinking for Republicans.  Ronald Reagan did this.  He raised taxes, both as governor and as president, at moments where it was clear we needed more revenue.  When I hear these Republicans allowing for the notion that we need more revenue, it feels to me like there may be an increasing crack in this wall where there might be a place for you to start to negotiate. 

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, you know, I‘ve introduced my bill, which you‘ve talked about, the Fairness in Taxation Act; 81 percent of Americans think it would be the best thing to do in terms of reducing the debt, getting our house in order, to tax millionaires and billionaires.  Their proposals all go against the grain of ordinary Americans. 

Maybe they‘re starting to read the polls or maybe they‘re starting to hear it at their town hall meetings when they go home, that the choices that the Republicans have put on the table are totally unacceptable to Americans who have this gut sense that others are being bailed out, others are doing just fine, and the middle class is going—is disappearing and the American dream is going down the drain. 

I hope there is that crack in the wall that, finally, they‘re doing something that I think would be much more consistent, where Americans want them to go. 

O‘DONNELL:  I really hope that your bill can come to a vote in the Senate or the House, just to get recorded votes in both parties on this.  Let‘s take a look at the tax brackets you would create.  I always found Democrats are way too timid when it comes to the top end of the tax bracket.  It‘s stuck now at 35.  And it was pushed up to 39 when President Clinton was there, and rich people and the economy thrived with that rate. 

But you would go higher for the astronomically high incomes.  You would go to a new bracket of 45 over a million dollars.  And then I think, quite sensibly, realizing that incomes skyrocket above that, a 10 million dollar bracket would go up to one point to 46; a 20 million dollar bracket would be 47 percent.  And for over 100 million dollars—we have incomes in this country over 100 million dollars—that would have its own tax rate of 48 percent. 

And then a tax bracket for over a billion dollars, which we do need in this country, of 49 percent for income over a billion dollars.  I don‘t know anyone out there who, if they could earn another billion dollars, would say, no, no, no, I don‘t want it, if I can only have half of it, if I can only have 51 percent of the billion dollars. 

SCHAKOWSKY:  You know what? 

O‘DONNELL:  Go ahead. 

SCHAKOWSKY:  That‘s a tax bracket that‘s still lower than the highest tax bracket under Ronald Reagan.  So clearly people who bring in a billion dollars a year could certainly afford that.  And I think we should call on their patriotism. 

One hundred and fifty millionaires and above have signed on in support of my legislation.  They‘re really saying, for the sake of our country, I‘m more than happy to pay more. 

O‘DONNELL:  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, thank you very much for your bill and thanks for explaining it to us and joining us tonight. 

SCHAKOWSKY:  Thank you so much, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, the breaking news tonight on the Newt Gingrich campaign.  His problems with Tiffany‘s are getting much, much worse tonight. 

And Michele Bachmann says she‘s against socialism, even though we have written evidence, a letter from her, where she supports pure socialism, agricultural socialism.  Bachmann‘s hypocrisy gets her in the Rewrite tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Time for tonight‘s Rewrite.  The Republican candidates for president are trying to outdo themselves with anti-government rhetoric.  Mild-mannered former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is most likely to win the honor of losing to President Obama in the general election, has actually made the most libertarian anti-government statement of anyone running, including the actual libertarian Ron Paul, and the Tea Party virtual libertarian Michele Bachmann. 

Pawlenty said, if you can find a good service, a good or a service, on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn‘t need to be doing it.  In other words, if the private sector is doing something, the federal government doesn‘t need to be doing it at all. 

This is as close to a pure capitalism statement as you can get.  But Pawlenty was the governor of a state that thrives on handouts from the federal government, cash handouts to farmers, from the Department of Agriculture, and of course, the ethanol tax credit. 

There is no sector of our economy more rife with socialism than the agriculture sector.  But supporters of farm socialism like Pawlenty and Minnesota‘s Michele Bachmann have no idea how much they actually like socialism, because they‘ve never paused over what socialism actually is and how much their political careers depend on it. 

Michele Bachmann, as has been pointed out in this space before, has a family farm that has received over a quarter of million dollars in direct cash from the federal government.  That is, of course, in addition to her federal salary of 174,000 dollars for her real full-time job as a member of Congress. 

Thanks to Sam Stein at the “Huffington Post” today, we now have yet another example of Bachmann political dependence, career dependence on socialism.  The “Huffington Post” obtained a letter Bachmann wrote on October 5th, 2009, to the Obama administration secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, thanking him for government intervention in the pork industry. 

That‘s right, government intervention in the market.  She wrote, “your efforts to stabilize prices through direct government purchasing of pork and dairy products are very much welcomed.” 

Yes.  This is the same woman who said this about the Democrats‘ health care reform bill. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  -- of socialism, this bill.  This is the crown jewel of socialism, this bill.  This is the crown jewel of socialism, this bill. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, there were some socialistic elements to the Obama health care reform bill.  But it was not nearly—not nearly as socialistic as the Agriculture Department‘s intervention in the pork industry, its control of the price of pork. 

The Agricultural Department is a permanent participant in the pork market for purely socialistic reasons.  If the pork industry doesn‘t like what‘s happening to the price of pork, it gets members of Congress, like Bachmann, to urge the government to intervene in the market and drive up the price of pork. 

That is exactly what she was thinking and what she was thanking the socialistic secretary of agriculture for doing.  In fact, Bachmann wants nothing but pure socialism coming out of the Agriculture Department every day to make life easier for the agri-businesses in her congressional district. 

Free market preacher Michele Bachmann goes all socialistic when it comes to the price of pork and the pork industry.  Now, I for one believe Michele Bachmann would pass a lie detector saying that the federal government‘s control of the pork market is not socialistic, because, like everyone who rants against socialism in this country, she doesn‘t know what socialism is. 

As I‘ve pointed out here before, we have good socialism and bad socialism.  And the socialism that Michele Bachmann openly advocates is very, very bad socialism.  It is worst kind of socialism.  It is intervention in the market simply because the government doesn‘t like the price that the market would find through free market forces. 

Even Sean Hannity, who is normally at least as confused about socialism as Michele Bachmann is, doesn‘t like this particular piece of socialism.  Before Hannity knew Bachmann was involved in this socialistic scandal, he wrote a note on his blog opposing it, beginning with the very Hannity line, “your tax dollars are being used to buy a lot of pork.  And I mean literally,” exclamation point. 

I‘ve never thought our politics would allow me to say this.  And I have no expectation of ever being able to say it again.  But on Michele Bachmann‘s pork socialism, I agree with Sean Hannity. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Breaking news.  Newt Gingrich‘s Tiffany‘s habit is much worse than we thought.  Chris Cillizza in “the Washington Post” is reporting tonight that Gingrich had a second line of credit at the jeweler for as much as one million dollars.  That‘s in addition to the 500,000 dollar line of credit that was already reported. 

A Gingrich spokesman said the account has a zero balance and the account has been closed.  The news comes a month after disclosure forms for the Gingrich‘s wife Callista showed they had a half a million dollar credit line at Tiffany‘s in 2005 and 2006. 

Meanwhile today, with the Statue of Liberty behind him, Jon Huntsman announced his campaign for Republican nomination for vice president.  Like all vice presidential candidates, he was careful to not offend anyone and not actually say anything, no matter how many words he strung together. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN ®, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT:  What we now need is leadership that trusts in our strength, leadership that doesn‘t promise Washington has all of the solutions to our problems, but, rather, looks to local solutions from our cities, towns, and states. 

Leadership that knows we need more than hope.  Leadership that knows we need answers. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, editorial director of the “Huffington Post” media group.  Howard, thanks for joining me tonight.

HOWARD FINEMAN, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Hi, Lawrence. 

O‘DONNELL:  You‘ve working hard for us tonight reporting on the Gingrich implosion.  What‘s the latest?  What have you found?  What‘s the left of this campaign? 

FINEMAN:  Not much.  As you also know, I‘m sure, his two big fund-raising employees decided to quit.  And Rich Galen, who is a friend of Newt‘s and former press secretary, said in his view, it‘s possible that the two stories are related, i.e. that the fund-raisers felt they couldn‘t go on at a time when there was yet another demonstration from Tiffany‘s that Newt could borrow all the money he needed to run for president. 

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, fund raising is a really tough job in a campaign.  It‘s not something I‘d ever want to work on, because you‘re kind of banging up against brick walls all the time.  This kind of information gives people reason not to contribute, which makes the thing virtually impossible. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  And of course, they‘re all—most people around Newt who never had any contact with Newt, were looking for reasons not to give to begin with.  OK?  So another story like the one Chris popped tonight about the million dollar line of credit, the word is that that was percolating through what‘s left of the Newt Gingrich camp earlier today, and that could well have something to do with why his two fund-raising people quit. 

He‘s got virtually nothing left of his campaign at all. 

O‘DONNELL:  We don‘t have financial reports indicating how much the Gingrich campaign—how much money they might have on hand.  But with your fund-raisers quitting, they‘ve got to be close to penniless around now. 

FINEMAN:  I think there‘s probably a debt that they‘re looking at right now, which is one reason why the whole rest of the—one of many reasons why the whole rest of the staff quit the other week.  Because as much as they might have liked Newt and believed in him or gotten tired of him, they would like to be paid regardless.  And some of them are probably worried they weren‘t going to be. 

It‘s really an extraordinary thing, one misstep after another.  How he makes it through to succeed in debates, let alone to the first caucuses in Iowa, I don‘t know. 

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.  The next one is July 10th in Las Vegas.  Can he afford the airfare? 

FINEMAN:  He might have to walk.  But he might want to go, because Mitt Romney is not going to be there.  Mitt Romney said today he wouldn‘t go, because Mitt Romney‘s strategy is to hide as much as possible between now and New Hampshire. 

O‘DONNELL:  Jon Huntsman announced what I believe is his candidate for vice president—candidacy for vice president.  I tried to stay awake, Howard, through the entire thing.  But it was tough listening to that speech. 

FINEMAN:  Well, you had the Statue of Liberty behind you, because that was an evocation, of course, of Ronald Reagan‘s famous kickoff in 1980.  Except for the padding in the shoulders of the suit, there wasn‘t much similarity. 

You know, one interesting thing, though, is that Jon—you alluded earlier in the show, Lawrence, to the fact that there‘s some sort of small cracks in the no new tax orthodoxy of the Republican party.  It‘s interesting that Huntsman has said, no, he will not sign the famous Grover Norquist no new taxes pledge. 

Mitt Romney, always a step behind and step out of phase, is going to sign it.  And your man for presidential candidate on the Republican side, Tim Pawlenty, is undecided as to whether to sign it or not.  That‘s really kind of interesting, and shows that there‘s a slight bit of loss of gripping power in the anti-tax movement on the Republican side.  It‘s very interesting. 

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, that is a very, very surprising development.  Just to clarify, I am picking Tim Pawlenty to win the Republican nomination so that he will get the honor of being beaten very badly by President Barack Obama in his re-election campaign.  I am not expecting a Pawlenty presidency. 

FINEMAN:  Just so we‘re clear. 

O‘DONNELL:  Howard Fineman of the “Huffington Post” and MSNBC, thank you very much for joining us. 

And a quick reminder to watch this space tomorrow night for complete live coverage and analysis of the president‘s speech at 8:00 p.m., his speech on Afghanistan and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is up next.  Good evening, Rachel. 

END   

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