'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, June 30, 2011
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
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Guests: Eugene Robinson, Herbert Hodes, Traci Nauser, Lawrence Korb
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: You know, Lawrence, I did not see that today. I
missed the exit. I sort of can‘t believe that wasn‘t an actor. That was -
that was the real --
O‘DONNELL: It happened.
MADDOW: It happened just like that?
O‘DONNELL: Yes. I knew you‘d want to see it.
We have to prove these things. People don‘t believe them if we don‘t prove these things. He‘s gone.
MADDOW: We have to put that into a time capsule and save it for all eternity. Once upon a time, there were people in television who thought of themselves like this. Amazing.
Thank you, Lawrence. I have to go bleach my brain. I‘ll be back in an hour.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us at this hour.
All right. Sometimes huge political change in America happens in Washington.
A game-changing politician is elected to high office. A game-changing politician resigns in disgrace.
A Supreme Court decision changes what‘s possible in America in a material way. A Supreme Court appointment does that same thing.
Landmark legislation makes it federal policy to stop something that citizens had been fighting alone before the government decided to help. A landslide election fundamentally moves the fulcrum, the balance, between the two parties.
Capitol Hill hearings send a chill through the country. Capitol Hill hearings bring a huge heretofore secret scandal to light.
Huge political change in America is quite often a Washington affair. Often enough to be called usually, I‘d say. Usually, though, but not always.
Every once in a while, big American political change comes not from Washington, but from the states—and today is one of those days. In the 1973, the Supreme Court said states could no longer ban abortions. Today, one state just about did anyway.
Just over two years ago, a doctor named George Tiller, who provided abortions in central Kansas, was murdered by an anti-abortion extremist. He shot Dr. Tiller in the head at Dr. Tiller‘s church in Wichita, killed him instantly.
Since then, the late doctor‘s clinic in central Kansas has been closed.
The first doctor who said she would start providing abortion services again in that part of the state—she has been hounded by anti-abortion protesters. They have protested outside her family practice in Wichita. They have protested outside her home. She‘s been targeted by wanted poster style emails, wanted posters calling her a mass murder.
She also got a letter telling her one day there would be a bomb under her car, that the anti-abortion activists would do anything they could to stop her.
So, she has not been able to open a practice providing abortions in Wichita. So, now, there are just three abortion providers left in the whole state—all of them in one corner of the state. Nobody has been able to provide abortion services in Wichita since Dr. George Tiller‘s murder more than two years ago. Dr. Tiller was ultimately stopped from providing abortions by violence, by murder.
But the anti-abortion movement in Kansas tried to stop him in other ways, too. They had been waging a hard-fought battle of paperwork and red tape against Dr. Tiller for years, often involving anti-abortion crusaders within state government.
The most famous case was one that went way too far in legal terms. It
was the inquisition by the state‘s former attorney general, who campaigned
for office by saying he would shut down Dr. Tiller and spent a good time of
good deal of his time as attorney general trying to get hold of women‘s medical records, women who had committed the crime in his eyes of going to see Dr. Tiller for medical help, because he thought getting those medical records would help him figure out how to prosecute Dr. Tiller for something.
That former attorney general is even now facing ethics charges for the way he conducted that inquisition, for the way he went after the medical records of Dr. Tiller‘s patients.
And now, with rabidly anti-abortion Republican Sam Brownback back in the Kansas governor‘s mansion and with big, rabidly anti-abortion Republican majorities in the state legislature, the state of Kansas has stepped up its war on abortion providers. This time, they granted new powers to the state government to shut down Kansas‘ clinics.
Governor Brownback signed a bill last month that says the secretary of the state‘s Health Department and gets to write new rules just for abortion clinics. And then he gets to enforce those rules. And if the state‘s abortion clinics do not meet those new rules, he can shut them down.
So, some rules were written up, rules about the exact size and number of the janitorial closets and the location and numbers of bathrooms and the kind of lighting the clinics had to have, tighter and more specific rules that Kansas even has for full-on hospitals, just for abortion clinics.
The clinics got the rules last Monday, and then inspections to see if they complied with the new rules began on Wednesday, two days later. As of yesterday, the state was saying no clinic had met the new licensing rules.
You don‘t say? Here‘s a list of arbitrary rules about the architecture of the building you work in. Have these all done in 48 hours.
Of course, they didn‘t meet the new rules.
As of this afternoon, all three clinics left in Kansas told us today was the last day of abortion being available in Kansas. They were not scheduling any abortions for tomorrow, because that‘s when Governor Brownback‘s new rules go into effect. None of them had been granted licenses by the Brownback administration. None of them expected to be granted licenses by the time the license rules go into effect tomorrow.
So, Kansas was hours away from becoming the first state in America since Roe versus Wade to ban abortion altogether.
Then, less than an hour before the close of the business day today, the state apparently changed its mind. The state reversing its earlier statement to Planned Parenthood in Overland Park that they would not be licensed to operate as of tomorrow, now telling them that that clinic will be licensed to operate. So, abortion is only almost banned in Kansas.
And if the new law is allowed to stand, there will be one abortion provider left in the state. And that provider will have to abide by a set of rules that frankly were designed to shut it down. Rules that even full-blown hospitals do not have to follow.
And they will also have to contend with this. This has not been reported elsewhere, but these new regulations from the Brownback administration, the ones that only apply to abortion providers, they require that abortion providers not only keep staff member and volunteer records and patient medical records on site, that, of course, is normal, but these new regulations require, and this is important, that, quote, all records shall be available at the facility for review by the secretary of health or the authorized agent of the secretary.
So with these new rules that appear designed to shut down the state‘s clinics, the Brownback administration is also asserting their right to read your medical records. If you have been to an abortion clinic in Kansas, Sam Brownback‘s administration has just declared that they or anyone they designate now has the right to review your medical records.
We consulted with one of the lawyers who is suing the state to see if that was their understanding of these regulations. That lawyer told us that it is.
We also asked the Brownback administration, the Health Department, for clarification on these—this self asserted right to read other people‘s medical records. We have not yet heard back from the Department of Health.
Kansas Republicans have passed what is certainly almost an unconstitutional ban on abortion after 22 weeks. They have defunded Planned Parenthood in their state. They came just within half an hour of banning abortion in the state altogether today.
And in the process of making it as inaccessible as they possibly can, they are apparently picking up the inquisition where it was left off by the man now in the middle of potentially being disbarred for the way he witch hunted medical records from Kansas women.
Joining us now are Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser. They have an OB/GYN practice together in the Kansas City area, where they do provide abortion services. They filed a suit this week to block these new Kansas regulations.
Thank you both very much for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.
DR. TRACI NAUSER, CENTER FOR WOMEN‘S HEALTH: Thank you for having us, Rachel. We‘re very honored.
DR. HERBERT HODES, CENTER FOR WOMEN‘S HEALTH: We‘re honored to be here.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Dr. Hodes, let me start with you. I know you are among the people who have filed suit challenging the constitutionality of these new regulations and the way they are being enforced. In the meantime, are these new regulations shutting you down in terms of providing abortions in Kansas?
HODES: Well, our office will be open tomorrow morning as it has been for over 30 years in this location. We will not be providing abortion services until we hear something about our injunction that was filed to be heard tomorrow afternoon.
MADDOW: Dr. Nauser, is there doubt in your mind that the purpose of these new regulations is to ban abortion in Kansas?
NAUSER: No doubt in my mind whatsoever. I can give you an example. If you are an OB patient of ours, and you are actively having a miscarriage, and it is necessarily for you to have a D&C, I can do that in the office with no change in regulations that we are currently practice based on, the office-base the surgery guidelines.
However, if you come to my office for a pregnancy termination, these new state laws affect that. The procedure is exactly the same. There is nothing different. It‘s what the nomenclature is, an elective abortion or a medically necessary D&C.
So, the patient who comes for her miscarriage and has a D&C, I can let her leave the office 15 to 20 minutes after her surgery when I deem that she is medically stable. However, the abortion patient has to be punished and kept in the office for two hours after her less than three-minute surgery.
Dr. Hodes, I know you have practiced in Kansas for over 30 years. You have performed abortions all of this time.
What is your experience been in the state? How has it changed over the last 30 years? Are you dealing now with something materially different circumstances than you ever had to deal with before?
HODES: Well, absolutely. I first trained at the University of Kansas Medical Center in the early ‘70s. So I was around before Roe versus Wade. I have seen the horrors of illegal abortions. I have done hysterectomies on women who have been perforated, infected.
Fortunately, I have never seen anybody die, but that was an occurrence in the past. There were wards on our service for strictly care of septic abortions.
I told myself when I went into practice I wasn‘t going to ever have to see that again. And I didn‘t. And we practiced abortion care, as well as routine obstetric and gynecology care for over 30 years. And everything was fine, until a couple of weeks ago.
MADDOW: Are you—sorry. Go on, sir. I‘m sorry to interrupt.
HODES: Well, the time line on these regulations is bizarre. Today is June 30th. We first were notified of the language of the restrictions on June 13th. We sent in our application on June 14th because we were ready and we had reviewed what we had on the 13th and had planned for some guidelines, and we submitted our application and everything was fine until the 20th, when we received 30 pages of additional architectural guidelines that were drawn up by the secretary of state—excuse me, the attorney general of the state.
Certainly nothing medical in those, but that caused us to go ahead and file the lawsuit, because they were absolutely bizarre, unattainable, sham restrictions that no one could comply with.
MADDOW: Dr. Nauser, let me ask you. Dr. Hodes is your father. You grew up watching him in his practice, understanding the circumstances under which he was operating this practice. Why did—why did you decide to follow in his footsteps? And what do you think your future is now in Kansas?
NAUSER: I have been dealing with the abortion issues in Kansas since I was a little girl. We had picketers at our house every Sunday. I am immensely proud of my father for what he does.
I‘m sorry I‘m crying.
MADDOW: It‘s OK.
NAUSER: However, he‘s amazing, and I wanted to be able to take care of patients like he does.
MADDOW: Is the mention—you mentioned there the environment in terms of created by the anti-abortion protesters in Kansas. Kansas often has really been the bull‘s-eye in terms of the anti-abortion movement.
Do you feel that the state has taken steps to protect you from the excesses of the extremists, I guess, on the edge of that movement? Obviously, we have seen and we all know too well the violent edge of extremism in that movement.
Do you feel protected by the state? Either of you?
HODES: Of course not. You know that they could care less. We have had to hire our own security firms at times.
Fortunately, our office is located in a large parking area that is private property, so we do not have pickets.
We are not a clinic. We take care of the patient one-on-one. They can have a family member or a loved one or a parent with them if they‘re having a termination.
If they are in the office for a termination for a fetus with abnormalities, it‘s a wanted pregnancy. They don‘t have to be in group counseling with 20 other women. They don‘t have to stay in a mass recovery room with 20 other women. They can recover in the privacy of their own room. No one else knows what they‘re there for.
We have patients that have come to us from all over the Midwest that were referred in by specialists in high risk care. We have patients that have had a termination for an abnormality and then in turn have become our patients.
And there‘s nothing better than delivering a healthy baby for somebody that six months or a year ago, you helped them terminate an abnormal pregnancy. And they come from long distances to continue with our care.
MADDOW: Dr. Herbert Hodes, and Dr. Traci Nauser, father and daughter, both practicing physicians in the Kansas City area who are going to be in court tomorrow trying to keep their practice open given these new punitive measures from the state of Kansas.
I know that it‘s a big deal for you guys to speak publicly to a national audience like this tonight. Thank you for doing it, and thanks for joining us.
HODES: Thanks for having us.
NAUSER: Thank you for having us. We are trying to keep the Kansas legislature and Brownback out of women‘s uteruses and lives. Thank you.
MADDOW: I hear you. Thank you.
We will be right back.
MADDOW: At the moment, the people of the United States (INAUDIBLE) elected representatives cannot agree on anything. Democrats say it‘s Thursday, and Republicans say over my dead body it‘s Thursday. And in that kind of an environment, when the Senate votes 94 to zero on something, on something controversial and important, a vote like that is both weird and important. That‘s next.
MADDOW: Hey, good news for whoever it is that waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed 183 times in one month—if that was you, turns out you‘re off the hook. Soon after 9/11, one of the new things we decided to do as a country was have the CIA start running prisons in secret. Amid reports of deaths in custody and torture in those secret prisons, in 2005, the CIA destroyed video recordings it had made of its prisoners. In 2008, a special prosecutor was appointed to look into the destruction of those videos to see if that was a criminal act. In 2010, the Justice Department decided not to prosecute anyone for destroying those videos.
But they did ask the prosecutor to stay on, to look into allegations of mistreatment of more than 100 prisoners that had been held in secret by the CIA.
Today, the special prosecutor reported that in two of those cases, in the cases of two men who died in CIA custody, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, there is enough evidence to warrant a full criminal investigation. The Department of Justice says it agrees with those findings, and it will begin that criminal investigation.
Nearly a decade after the government put the CIA secretly into the business of holding prisoners offshore, five years after the president of the United States finally admitted to the country that we were doing that, the treatment of two prisoners of the dozens held in that system, just two of them, two who died, will be the subject of a federal criminal investigation. Two will be investigated. The other 99 cases, case closed.
MADDOW: Earlier today, the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, formally invited President Obama to come up to Capitol Hill and talk things over with senators. Come have lunch with us, let‘s talk.
That Mitch McConnell invitation came at around 10:45 Eastern Time this morning. And about an hour and a half later, with the Republican invitation still out, still pending, out came Senate Democrats to call the Republican offer to the president a stunt and to announce that they too had invited the president to come to Capitol Hill to talk, and they were pretty sure that he was going to come up and come up to the Hill not because Republicans had asked him to come up but because they the Democrats had asked him to come up. So there.
This is what it‘s like now. As we hurdle toward debt ceiling limit and the consequences look truly catastrophic if an agreement is not reached to raise that limit and there‘s no way for one party to do that alone, as we hurdle toward that potential catastrophe, the parties are so add each others‘ throats right now that even when they want the same thing to happen, they can‘t even agree on that. They are still furious with each other, and see it as another excuse to fight.
In the midst of this partisanship so extreme that it has become quite literally pointless, today in the United States Senate, there was a vote on one of the most controversial things in American politics and government, and the final tally of that vote in the Senate—look -- 94 to zero. Had six senators not missed that vote, dollars to donuts, I‘m telling you, it would have been 100 to nothing.
This was a show of bipartisan not seen in Washington on any matter since nine days ago, when there was, in fact, a 100 to nothing vote on something, something that was as big a deal, as controversial and, frankly, as unpopular with the public.
Nine days ago, it was the head of the CIA, Leon Panetta, getting unanimously confirmed to become the new head of the Pentagon. Now, today, it was one of the top generals at the Pentagon getting unanimously confirmed to be the new head of the CIA. So, you know, so just swap hats, you guys.
In part, it represents the indistinguishability of the military and the intelligence worlds now. We used to be able to say that the only difference between the CIA and the military was that it was the CIA who did their military operations in secret. But the two are so indistinguishable now that that‘s not even the dividing line.
We got news this week that we‘re now also waging some level of war in Somalia. Oh! In addition to the war in Afghanistan, and the war in Pakistan and the war in Libya and the war in Iraq and the war in Yemen—now, the super secret special ops branch of the military is launching kind of secret drone strikes in Somalia.
What‘s secret, what‘s disclosed, what‘s military, what‘s intelligence, is quite blur blurred. So, sure, CIA guy, you go run the Pentagon. Pentagon guy, you go run the CIA. No big swapping guys different hats, what‘s the difference? Unanimous decision.
Really big story here, though, is the really big gap between the non-controversy in Washington, the lack of political debate about this big picture here, and how unpopular that big picture is in the rest of the country. “The Hill” newspaper released a poll last week showing 72 percent of the American people think we are involved in too many foreign conflicts overseas, a record number of Americans now favor removing the U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Heading into this year, 66 percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq.
And the public, by and large, now opposes U.S. military intervention in Libya as well. And in that sort of environment, we just confirmed a new secretary of defense and a new CIA director in the span of a week and a half with zero dissent.
Not to say that these guys personally embody the problem, but where‘s the debate on this problem? At a time when all anybody wants to talk about in politics is spending and debt and economic priorities—this is sort of the big fiscal elephant in the room. All of these wars that we have waged over the past decade have been expensive. Up to $4 trillion, according toe to a new study that‘s getting a lot of attention this week. That figure takes into account some future costs like care for today‘s veterans, to which we are already obligated.
But mostly, this is what has already been spent, so the longer we stay in Afghanistan, the longer we stay in Iraq, the longer we stay in all of our other wars, the more that $4 trillion figure will keep going up.
Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma gets talked about as one of the serious guys in Washington when it comes to the budget, right? A guy who knows everything about everything when it comes to spending in particular. But listen to the way that even he talks about this problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA: The size of the federal government—most Americans don‘t know this—the Bill Clinton budget in 2001 was $1.850 trillion. We‘re at $3.7 trillion right now, double what we were 10 years ago.
What else do you know other than Google and some of the tech that are twice the size in 10 years? Nobody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I know! I know! Pick me! I mean, it‘s not Google, Senator. But, hey, you know, the Pentagon budget? That doubled in 10 years, plus a lot of other war spending besides.
Are we cool with keeping that up indefinitely?
Today was the last day on the job for outgoing Defense Secretary Bob Gates. There was a big going away ceremony for him today at the Pentagon. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Robert Gates has spent 45 years in government, serving eight presidents. He has served at the highest levels of the CIA and the Pentagon.
And one of the most striking things about his last tour of service was his insistence, his pleading even, that some other part of the government do some of the nation‘s work around the world aside from the U.S. military.
Bob Gates is a Republican. He is sort of a Republican hawk. This is not Bob Kucinich, bless him. This is Bob Gates.
But as defense secretary, he has been talking about how bad it is for the country that the U.S. is always flexing our military muscle and essentially allowing our other muscles to atrophy.
Three months into Obama‘s presidency, three months in, Bob Gates was already lobbying U.S. senators, calling them at home, asking for money not for the Defense Department, not for his own department, but for the State Department.
Democratic Senator Kent Conrad was the recipient of one of those phones calls at home. He said afterwards, quote, “I have never before in my 22 years on the budget committee had the secretary of defense call me to support the budget for the State Department.”
But the insistent lobbying by Bob Gates on behalf of the State Department may have been for naught. As the Pentagon has seen its budget double since 9/11, the State Department has been put on the chopping block again and again, in particular by House Republicans.
And frankly, we don‘t really even argue about it anymore, even when the secretary of state is someone as influential and powerful and respected as Hillary Clinton. Even when the immensely popular secretary of defense, the only guy popular enough to bridge the Bush administration and Obama administration happily, even when he makes the case for a big rethink on these priorities—when it comes to the military, Washington is still a 94 to nothing kind of town. No debate. No politics. Unanimous consent.
Much has been made this year over whether or not this is finally changing, over whether budget hawks in both parties might dare to ever conceivably actually this year cut defense. We keep hearing that‘s possible. Maybe it is. But convince me.
Joining us now is Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Dr. Korb served as an assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. In that position, he administered about 70 percent of the defense budget. He‘s also former director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Dr. Korb, thanks very much for your time tonight.
LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Nice to be with you.
MADDOW: Do you think we are in one of those rare political climates where it may be possible to reprioritize our diversion to military spending?
KORB: Well, I think we are, because the newly elected Republicans recognize that the fence has been really responsible for a lot of the deficit that we‘ve had. If you go back and you take a look in 2001, President Bush said we would eliminate the deficit by 2010. And what has really changed has been the military. The baseline budget, exclusive of war costs, has just about doubled in real terms.
And then, of course, you‘ve had the war costs on top of that. So, that‘s had a big, big role in, you know, getting this deficit. It cost about $1 million for every troop that we have in Afghanistan.
So, I think that people are recognizing that defense has got to be part of this.
And Secretary Gates basically has played a shill game. You give him too much credit. Yes, he said let‘s spend more on the State Department, but he didn‘t want to take any money from defense. Where did he think we were going to get it?
He pretended that he was cutting the defense budget, but he never did. For example, in 2008, when he presented what he thought would be his last budget to Congress, the 2009 budget under the Bush administration, he said by 2012, we‘ll need about $543 billion in the base budget. Know what he asked for this year? $553 billion. This is after he pretended all these cuts.
We‘ve got to make some real cuts now if we‘re going to get this deficit under control.
MADDOW: What kind of leadership do you think it‘s going to be needed and can be expected in order to get something like that done? Republicans obviously are really pounding their chests on fiscal issues. There is a divide in the party, though, on whether fiscal gains can be culled from defense in particular, or whether the party is going to sort of stick with its hawkish instincts of the last decade.
KORB: Well, I think you‘re seeing a return to the traditional Republicans now. Let‘s not forget—Eisenhower cut defense spending by 60 percent in his term in office, Nixon by 30 percent. Reagan in his second term and the first president Bush before the end of the Cold War cut it by another 25 percent.
Traditionally, they have been the ones who have, you know, been very hard on defense, and used defense as a way to balance the budget. And I think you‘re beginning to see that now with people like Jon Huntsman and people like, you know, Mitt Romney talking about, you know, Afghanistan.
And I think President Obama having gotten bin Laden, he can overcome that Democrats weak on defense thing that‘s haunted them for a while.
So, I think you‘ll have those two things coming together now to make some meaningful reductions. And don‘t forget, you had the deficit reduction commission, Erskine Bowles and Senator Simpson talked about cutting $1 trillion over projected levels for the next decade.
MADDOW: In terms of the bin Laden raid, obviously immensely politically consequential. We assumed that it will be consequential in terms of national security concerns. That was a small operation in a country where we don‘t have ground troops, using special operations forces.
How much does the success of that particular operation factor into these budget discussions? Can I have I guess a long—I guess a wide (INAUDIBLE) in terms of the different levels of budget discussions that a raid like that affects?
KORB: Well, for example, the budget for the special operations command, the command that got bin Laden, is about $11 billion in a $700 billion budget. And I think what this shows is you don‘t have to invade, you know, countries, try and overthrow the regimes, transform the societies, to protect our security.
And I think that really is the lesson of getting, you know, bin Laden. Even Secretary Gates has said, you know, any secretary of defense who would recommend that type of operation should have his head examined. I wish he had practiced that before when he was in office, but nonetheless, I think that‘s a good template for going forward.
MADDOW: Lawrence Korb, assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration, now at the Center for American Progress—I always enjoy talking to you about this matter, sir. Thank you very much for your time.
KORB: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Coming up: Charlie Brown and somebody impersonating Charlie Brown at a burlesque show help us to understand what is going on in the biggest fight in Washington right now. We do our best to make it fun.
MADDOW: “The Peanuts” comic strip by the great Charles Schultz is wonderful for a lot of reasons. First, it‘s funny. Second, while being funny, it is also a little melancholy. One of the referring themes is about kids going into analysis, right?
I mean, there‘s a reason that all of the songs and “The Peanut” specials are in a minor key. It‘s a little dark in a good way. Anyway, I love “Peanuts.”
But one of the things that we have to thank “Peanuts” and Charles Schultz for is the all-time most useful comics-based metaphor for something that happens in Washington all the time. It‘s Lucy with the football, right? Charlie Brown thinks that Lucy is going to hold the football for him. Every time she convinces him she would hold the football for him, and every time she pulls it away at the last second.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football is such a familiar American metaphor that it turns up as a skit even in burlesque shows like this one in North Carolina last year. The Lucy and Charlie Brown football metaphor explains exactly what has been going on in Washington between Democrats and Republicans since President Obama got elected.
Por ejemplo, Republicans were for health reform with an individual mandate to buy insurance until Democrats were for it, too, and then Republicans decided they were against it. Hey, who moved the football?
Same thing on cap-and-trade. Republicans proposed cap-and-trade as their own Republican market-based approach to pollution, and Democrats went along with that, and Republicans decided their own idea was toxic. Where‘s the football?
Seven Republican senators co-sponsored legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to bring down the deficit. They wanted it. Their idea. Until President Obama signed onto it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This law failed by seven votes. When seven Republicans who had co-sponsored the bill, had co-sponsored idea, suddenly walked away from their own proposal after I endorsed it.
So they—they make a proposal, they sign onto the bill, I say, “Great, good idea.” I turn around, they are gone. What happened?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now it has happened again. Republicans are bailing out of talks on a deal to keep the U.S. from defaulting on our debt, and they are doing so by rejecting their own proposal. Ezra Klein in the blog “Rortybomb” wrote about this today. We‘ve got links to their post at Maddowblog if you want to see them. They‘re good.
Basically, here‘s the deal. In March, Republican members of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee issued this report: Spend less, owe less, grow the economy. It‘s a Republican thing. It included a pie chart with the Republican prescription for solving the deficit.
They said according to their Republican math, their preferred Republican magic potion for the economy would be 85 percent spending cuts and 15 percent new tax revenue -- 85 to 15, OK? Republican formula, Republican proposal.
Here is what the Democrats offered in return. Their own elixir of 83 percent spending cuts and 17 percent new tax revenue, including from very rich oil companies and corporate tycoons flying around in corporate jets—
So, the counter offer was basically a rounding error off from what they said the Republican wanted in the first place. Republicans are two points away from getting exactly what they demanded, from what they themselves set out as their goal. So, if you‘re that close, you can have a deal, right?
Wrong. Republicans have now decided they do not like the Republican idea now that Democrats said OK to it. Now they want a new deal, the one you see here, in this chart. Never mind their old perfect recipe from three whole months ago. Their new recipe is 100 percent spending cuts, nothing in taxes, no new tax revenue, no, not ever, at least not such March.
Oh, you wanted to play along? I‘m sorry, Charlie Brown.
This latest Republican rejection of Republican ideas comes with consequences that could be very severe. I mean, Republicans are insisting on a deficit deal before they will agree to raise the ceiling on American government debt so we don‘t default on our loans.
Two cartoon characters and a football is just a metaphor. America plunging the world into a global economic meltdown—that is a very melancholy problem.
Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post.”
Gene, thanks very much for being here.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It‘s great to be here, Rachel. But I feel like I should have theme music in a minor key.
MADDOW: I can just give you a yellow shirt with a big squiggle on it.
ROBINSON: I think it would be more like, dah, dah, dah. That‘s kind of what I‘m feeling like right now.
MADDOW: Well—all right. Let me—let me ask you about the Eugene Robinson approach to the big problem, right? In your column on Monday, you said Republicans are right, we shouldn‘t raise taxes in a recession. Democrats are right that we should not cut spending in a recession.
So, what is the Eugene Robinson plan to make everybody get along here?
ROBINSON: Well, not make the economy worse, first of all, because we are trying to get out of a recession. It seems to me insane to make the economy worse, which I think, you know, cutting spending the way the Republicans want to do would make the economy a lot worse. Raising taxes like the Democrats would do might make the economy a little worse.
Who wants to make it any worse? Let‘s not do it now.
What they need to do is agree on some deficit caps down the road, in the out-years, in 2013, the deficit will be capped at X percent of GDP, and in 2014, it will be a slightly smaller percentage, decreasing as time goes.
Now, what that means is that then we‘ll have to have a fight over how you get to that figure. What combination of spending cuts and tax increases will get us to that figure?
But that‘s a fight we need to have, because that‘s really a fight over what kind of government do we want to have, how much do we want to pay for it. And that frankly is not something that‘s going to be decided before August 2nd.
MADDOW: Well, how do you negotiate—even if what you were negotiating for is the type of let‘s fight about it later cap that you‘re describing right now, let‘s not do things that are going to hurt the economy right now, put off the hard fights until later and agree to just do no harm right now, even to come to that kind of an agreement, there has to be big negotiations. And how should the Democrats be negotiating with people who are rejecting their own ideas?
ROBINSON: Well, if you‘re going to negotiate with the person who‘s been pulling the football away for years and years, every single time, then somehow you‘ve got to change the game. And I think you could argue that in his press conference yesterday, President Obama perhaps changed the game, in that he said, you know, we‘re not going to do this anymore. We‘ve met you halfway. We always meet you and then next meet you ¾ of the way and finally capitulated altogether, and we‘re not going to do this way, he says.
We‘re going to stay where we are. We‘re going to point out how ridiculous and dangerous your position is.
And so, I think, now, we‘ll see how that plays, we‘ll see if the president and the party stick with that line, and if indeed this changes the game.
MADDOW: Democrats in the Senate, Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer, have begun to accuse Republicans of not just not getting it, but of getting it and actually trying to sabotage the economy for partisan purposes, trying to essentially sabotage President Obama‘s re-election effort by making sure that there‘s as much economic pain in the country as possible.
Is that a bridge too far, or is that the kind of argument that that‘s going to require a response or some sort of proof to the contrary from the Republicans?
ROBINSON: Well, let me be honest. It has occurred to me that this is a possibility. You know, I think six months ago, if Democrats or progressives had said that, it would have been a bridge too far. It would have sounded shrill. It would have sounded partisan.
In the current context, if the president and the Democrats seemed reasonable but firm, seemed to have met the Republicans more than halfway, seemed to have differed from their proposal by only two percentage points, and Republicans are holding to the sort of maximalist theological position of absolutely no tax revenue increases whatsoever, then I think it becomes the—the nation becomes perhaps more receptive to that sort of idea, and maybe it gets some traction.
MADDOW: OK. That was ready somewhere?
Oh, now I feel like I‘m that kid with the bugs flying around my head all the time.
ROBINSON: I don‘t know how you‘ll be able to go on with the rest of the show, Rachel.
MADDOW: No, I quit. This is it. I‘ve peaked.
Bye, Gene. Thank you.
Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post” and the first member of our regular coterie of guests to have his own theme music. Oh, yes!
All right. The Ed Schultz‘s show comes on right after this show here
on MSNBC. The Reverend Al Sharpton sitting in for Ed Schultz tonight on
“THE ED SHOW.” The rev, I have to say, has been amazing to watch the last
couple of nights. So, I recommend checking it out right after we are
But before that, the best new thing in the world today is really great. And I can‘t say it. And I hope I‘m going to be able to say it by the time we get to the end of the show, because I can‘t say it right now. It‘s there on the teleprompter, but I can‘t say it. Sorry.
MADDOW: One of the things that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has been bragging about on the campaign trail as he runs for president is that he brought Minnesota to the brink of government shutdown. His home state of Minnesota tonight is again on the brink of a government shutdown. State parks and campgrounds in Minnesota have already closed in anticipation of a shutdown that is happening because of a budget standoff between the Democratic governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled legislature.
Republican legislative leaders have been keeping quiet about the state of negotiations. Late today, they did start talking to the press in an effort to try to nudge negotiations forward. Republican legislative leaders telling reporters that both sides are close enough to prevent the Minnesota state government from shutting down on the eve of the Fourth of July long weekend.
The deadline really for shutdown unless they pass a short-term extension is midnight tonight Minnesota time, which should be 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time. We‘ll keep an eye on the negotiations as they continue.
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: The Women‘s World Cup soccer tournament is underway. It is in Germany this year.
The American team looks like they‘re going to do great. The Americans are the top ranked team in the whole world. And in their opening match in the World Cup this week, they beat North Korea two-to-nothing.
Although this is the fourth straight time the U.S. soccer team has beaten North Korea, North Korea still can‘t quite believe it. Their coach explained after the match that the only reason the North Korean women lost is because the whole team was struck by lightning. Nobody knew of this before but he said much of the team was struck by lightning and, quote, “more than five of the team‘s players had to be hospitalized including the goalie.”
How many more than five? I don‘t know. Why wait until after the match to disclose the supposed lightning strike that caused the glorious North Koreans to lose to the Yankee imperialist dogs when they otherwise would have won? I also don‘t know.
But because North Korea is a bizarre, conspiratorial and even occasional surreal, autocratic communist dictatorship full of prison camps, we can speculate as to why the national soccer coach might want a good excuse for losing.
In future, however, we may have better information on which to base our speculation about the world‘s weirdest country because yesterday, “The Associated Press” announced that it will open a real news bureau in North Korea. Poynter.com describing this as “the first permanent text and photo bureau operated by a Western news organization in Pyongyang.”
So, in the future, when state media says that Kim Jong-il got 11 holes in one on his first ever time golfing or double rainbows formed spontaneously to celebrate the dear leader‘s birth or the soccer team only lost because they all got struck by lightning—well, now, we will at least have a second source to check those claims. We will see how long that lasts.
MADDOW: “Best New Thing in the World Today” comes to us courtesy of the Jefferson County, Colorado, sheriff‘s department, which has put up perhaps the all-time greatest “we‘re not kidding” sheriff‘s department press release. Its title is—“There is No Poop fairy.”
It‘s a public service announcement, I guess, for anybody who might have believed there was a poop fairy.
But it‘s not just a PSA. It‘s a whole there is no poop fairy county campaign. According to the ABC affiliate in Denver, starting next week in Jefferson County, people arriving at local parks will be greeted by people in blue t-shirts that says poop fairy on them.
The sheriff‘s department has also distributed his description of the fairy, quote, “The fabled poop fairy has been the stuff of legend. Flying undetected in parks, neighborhoods and schoolyards, she was said to follow close behind dogs and their owners—picking up what the dog left behind, before flying off to the next canine creation.” Get it?
“A widespread belief that she existed seemed to reassure some that cleaning up after one‘s dog was optional.”
The campaign also includes this artist‘s rendering of the poop fairy. You can see she has attractive sanity blond hair, enormous shins, a close pin on her nose, long awkward scooping devices her hands, and curly antenna sticking out of her forehead right above her eyes.
It is possible that there is someone who works in the Jefferson County sheriff‘s department who has been underutilized at their job until now, dissatisfied with the typical days work until he or she was given free rein on designing this poop fairy.
And to the anonymous sheriff‘s department employee, I salute you.
Your work is the “Best New Thing in the World Today.”
Now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW.” Good night.
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