'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Sam Stein
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: There`s a new president in town.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Compromise by necessity. That phase is behind
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new President Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Game on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A more direct campaign mode.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Draw a line this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is doubling down on it. He`s saying
you want to accuse me of class warfare, bring it on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The more combative tone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he should have done three years ago.
TODD: As Dan Pfeiffer said, the phase that we saw in the summer is
That phase is behind us.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Democrats seem to have his back.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The president is on the right side
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It`s not class warfare to fight for
the middle class.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the president has done is very shrewd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a progressive.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Is his show of strong leadership too
little, too late?
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: At least this gives him a fighting
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) say the plan might be good politics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bright lines that divide Republicans and
BASHIR: America has never been more divided than it is today.
JANSING: Raises taxes on the wealthiest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taxes on millionaires and billionaires.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-two thousand millionaires were paying less
than 15 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really sets up a big fight. Another fight.
BASHIR: Circle the wagons quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the big story today is gridlock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t think it`s right to raise taxes on middle
BASHIR: Forty-six million Americans are living below the poverty
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of touch with how really people, ordinary
BASHIR: The battle is over. And the middle classes have lost.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, "HARDBALL" HOST: Let the campaign begin.
O`DONNELL: We`re in a battle for the hearts and minds of America --
so said President Obama to supporters at a fund-raising event last night in
New York City. The president told Democratic donors that, quote, "The
stakes are enormous."
And he finally acknowledged what his base has known since John Boehner
was sworn in as speaker of the House in January. "We have not had a
willing partner over the last nine months. What we`ve seen is some
irreconcilable differences. Let`s put it that way. A fundamentally
different vision about where America needs to go and the speech that I gave
at the joint session described a vision that is fundamentally different
from the one that`s offered by the other side."
The president`s appearance at the fund-raiser came at the end of a day
that began with his appearance in the Rose Garden, announcing his long term
deficit reduction plan that includes tax revenue increases on the highest
income earners and closing corporate tax loopholes.
The president obviously found the Republicans` response to his speech
earlier in the day so weak and empty that the president thought he could
repeat it to his audience last night. The president said, "You`re already
hearing the moans and groans from the other side about how we are engaging
in class warfare and were being too populist and this and that and the
other -- all the usual scripts."
If you think you`re seeing something different now, a new tone from
President Obama, a new confrontational strategy in dealing with
congressional Republicans, you are not wrong.
Today`s "New York Times" quotes White House communications director
Dan Pfeiffer saying, "It is fair to say we`ve entered a new phase. The
popular narrative is that we sought compromise in a quixotic quest for
independent votes. We sought out compromise because a failure to get
funding of the government last spring and then an extension of the debt
ceiling would have been very bad for the economy and for the country. We
were in a position of legislative compromise by necessity. That phase is
The mythical class warfare that Republicans imagine has broken out
simply because the president has suggested that millionaires should pay a
higher tax rates -- higher tax rate than their assistants has a new
defector. The rich already lost their superhero, Warren Buffett, to the
other side. Indeed, the president named his notion of tax fairness, the
"Buffett Rule" after billionaire Buffett famously revealed he paid a lower
tax rate than many of his middle class employees.
Billionaire Mark Cuban wrote on his blog, "While some people might
find it distasteful to pay taxes, I don`t. I find it patriotic. I`m not
saying the government`s use of tax money is the most efficient use of our
hard-earned capital. It obviously is not.
In a perfect world, there would be a better option. We don`t live in
a perfect world. We don`t live in a perfect time. We live in a time where
the government plays a big role in an effort to help lead us out of this
great recession. That`s reality."
Today, Republicans shifted their rhetoric from class warfare to trying
to portray the president as a quitter at the game of government. Boehner`s
spokesman Brendan Buck said, "Divided government is difficult and at times
ugly, but with 9.1 percent unemployment and more than a year until the next
election, I don`t think Americans are going to approve of the president
taking his ball and going home."
Joining me now is Congressman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who served
on the president`s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
Thank you for joining me tonight.
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Has the president taken his ball and gone home? Is that a
SCHAKOWSKY: No, it`s just amazing they would say that after being
obstructionists, of saying no, no, no, to absolutely everything that he has
done. Every time that he`s reached out to them. They`re smart, however,
really I think to drop this idea of class warfare because actually what the
president is trying to do is stop the war on the middle class that has been
waged for decades now, and has benefited their constituents. That is the
Republican-favored constituents, the wealthiest.
But, of course, the president has not taken the ball and gone home.
In fact, what he`s saying to them is now, if you want to really do
something, these are some of the terms that I have laid out. And I`ll tell
you, Lawrence, my constituents are thrilled.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Eric Cantor walking out on the president was not
characterized as taking his ball and going home, but here they are doing
this. It seems to me that there`s not yet any specificity on how the
Buffett Rule would be written into law. How you could write it so that a
situation wouldn`t occur again where Warren Buffett, a billionaire, would
be paying a lower income tax rate than middle class employees who work for
How would you write that into law?
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, first of all the president has said that those tax
cuts for the wealthiest Americans absolutely are not going to be renewed,
but I certainly introduced my own proposal, The Fairness and Taxation Act,
that would raise the rates for the highest earners starting at $1 million
and ratcheting up to $1 billion.
I hope the supercommittee, at least the Democrats, will put that
actually into legislative terms on how we can make sure that no millionaire
pays a lower rate than a plumber or a schoolteacher or his secretary, or as
Warren Buffett has said, the woman that cleans his house.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I don`t -- personally, I don`t see any other way to
write this other than just a set of new tax brackets that address the
Buffett level of income. I mean, you certainly couldn`t write a law that
somehow, your tax return is dependent on what your employees` tax returns
are. It`s just going to be some new higher bracket in the billionaire
range as you`ve written and in the multimillionaire range.
SCHAKOWSKY: Although getting rid of the carried interest which allows
hedge fund managers like John Paulson who made $5 billion last year, and
paid mostly at a 15 percent rate, that`s got to be out the door. That`s
So, I think there are a number of different ways that we can address
this. But most Americans absolutely agree with this notion, and for the
Republicans to say -- well, we shouldn`t go after these wealthy people and
calling it class warfare, just doesn`t sell.
O`DONNELL: How does it feel to be watching the argument come your
way? Here you were proposing new higher brackets when everybody thought --
oh, listen, you can`t do that, don`t even think about it, don`t even dream
about trying to get something other than the top bracket at around
$250,000. When you first proposed this, I remember having you on the show,
and you were a very lonely voice.
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I think what the president looked at and hopefully
most legislators, including the Republicans look at, is what the American
people were saying. I saw a poll and it simply said that 81 percent of
Americans think that the best way to reduce our debt and our deficit is to
tax millionaires and billionaires more.
The American people have spoken out on these questions. If we just
have the courage to follow what they`re saying, I think that we`re going to
develop some very good policies. We`re going to have some iconic battles
right now. Whether or not we`re really going to focus on the president`s
jobs proposals, whether we`re going to protect Social Security and
Medicare, whether we`re going to wind down these wars and whether we`re
going to have fair taxes in this country.
These really are about the heart and soul of our nation.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Schakowsky, the president is saying that he
has irreconcilable differences, just fundamental differences in world view
with the Republicans in the House of Representatives. At the same time,
he`s saying we cannot wait until after the next election next year to do
something about jobs in America. He at the same moment is saying we`ve got
to pass the jobs bill.
How can you pass the jobs bill with irreconcilable differences with
Republicans in the House?
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, the Republicans have in the past stated their
irreconcilable differences and demanded that Democrats move their way.
They made these threats over the debt ceiling and made demands that, you
know, they were not about to back up on.
I think now that the president is saying, look, these are the terms,
it`s supported by Americans, we need to get this job done now. Hopefully -
- because I think if the Republicans don`t move, it`s at their peril in the
next election. And the president, I think, is absolutely sincere in
wanting to deal with this before next November.
O`DONNELL: Representative Jan Schakowsky, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.
SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Sam Stein, political reporter for "The
Thanks for joining me tonight, Sam.
SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: Sam, this is a new tone. This is -- you`ve been covering
the White House. Everyone recognized right away yesterday that we haven`t
seen this before.
STEIN: Yes. And I think, Pfeiffer`s quote, Dan Pfeiffer, the
communications director, his quote gets at the dynamic in the White House
which is they felt very captive, sort of imprisoned by the debt ceiling
debate. They thought the president`s advisers told them, in fact, that
between the 2010 elections and 2012 elections, that was the one thing that
could really trip them up. And they obviously didn`t want the treasury to
default on its loans.
Now that that`s behind them, they don`t feel quite so imprisoned
anymore. They feel like they could navigate the budget battles on the
assertive. And you see that when the president instead of sort of
preemptively compromising or conceding points on whether it`s Social
Security or Medicare eligibility age. He`s actually saying to the speaker,
you have to come to me if you want to get those reforms.
O`DONNELL: And it seems to me they reached a point strategically
where they just said to themselves in the White House, what have we got to
We have approached them in a compromising way in the past. We`ve
tried to design proposals that would have some attracting points to
Republicans at the outset. We`ve gotten nowhere with that. It`s never
What`s the alternative? One of the alternatives is actually putting
out the plan that you really would like to pass.
STEIN: Sure. And let`s not kid ourselves. They`re not going to pass
this plan. They`re going to move off of it.
But this is a starting point of the negotiations. Go back to August
when it was just the president and House Speaker Boehner. You got the
sense that Obama desperately wanted the House speaker to take that grand
bargain which included raising eligibility age of Medicare, which included
reforming payment structure of Social Security, in part because we need a
vehicle to get the debt ceiling raised.
Nowadays, when you`re looking at the supercommittee and its
legislations there`s a different tone to this. Now, it`s Obama saying to
Boehner, if you want to get the things I dangled in front of you last
August, you`re going to have to give me something. And there`s nothing
that they can lose, because he knows that Boehner can`t go back to the
caucus and say, all right. Let`s trigger default. Let`s let massive
defense cuts happen.
He knows Boehner is in a bind here. And the expectation is the House
Republican caucus is going to actually have to meet them on revenues.
O`DONNELL: So, the thing that`s at their backs, that is going to
force them into some kind of conversation is that very harsh trigger that`s
already built into law?
STEIN: Yes. That is a very harsh trigger for both sides. Obviously,
it includes a ton of defense cuts that the defense industry warned against,
that Obama`s own defense secretary warned against. It includes hundreds of
billions of dollars in Medicare cuts and additional spending cuts that
neither side really wants to see pulled.
Now, there are some chatter on the hill as to whether the charter for
the supercommittee can be amended. Triggers are meant to not be pulled.
You also remember, you have a year until they`re actually pulled. The
supercommittee is supposed to report out and have a report by the end of
December. That said, the triggers aren`t pulled until the turn of 2013.
So, there`s a way to get around it.
But the expectation from everyone that I talk to inside the
administration and outside of it, as well as on the Hill, is that this is
going to compel the sides to go to the table. The key thing that Obama did
was he said he would veto a plan that the supercommittee proposed that had
Medicare cuts but didn`t have revenues. So, he set a marker in there
that`s there`s got to be revenues if he wants to seriously tackle
entitlement reforms. That is -- going forward, that`s going to be critical
to see how long he`ll stick to the veto threat.
O`DONNELL: So, Sam, you would say that the veto threat was actually
targeted at the supercommittee?
STEIN: Yes, because keep many mind, there was two days before Speaker
Boehner gave a speech where he insisted revenues couldn`t be on the table.
This was a direct response to that and it said to the supercommittee
members -- listen, there`s two people in this dance. You can listen to the
House speaker, but if you send me something that doesn`t have revenues but
it cuts Medicare, I`m sending it right back and I`ll risk the triggers.
So, yes, I think it`s targeted to the members on the supercommittee
and let them know that this isn`t just a congressional exercise. This is
an executive branch exercise as well.
O`DONNELL: Well, it also raises the possibility of would the
supercommittee be willing to put out a plan that would be in essence
steering toward a veto, basically challenging the president, you know, will
you actually veto this? Because the supercommittee`s work product, if it
gut gets out, is procedurally protective. It can crash relatively easily.
STEIN: And I think there`s a general consensus on the Hill that the
supercommittee wants their product to move fast. They don`t want it to
linger out there for a year, during which time -- we think we`re having a
lobbying battle right now with the supercommittee. If it hangs out there
for a while, that lobbying is going to intensify.
Keep in mind: there`s also -- it`s not entirely certain that it would
pass the Senate if it didn`t have revenue increases. I know that Democrats
are prone to capitulation in that chamber.
STEIN: However, Harry Reid has insisted that revenue has to be part
of the component and he does still have more than 50 votes. So, that is
another consideration they have to take.
O`DONNELL: Sam Stein of "The Huffington Post" -- thank you very much
for joining me tonight.
STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, it took less than a week for Massachusetts
voters to get to know Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. She is now ahead
of Scott Brown in a new poll. A look at that race is coming up.
Also, a LAST WORD exclusive: Emmy host and "Glee" star Jane Lynch
joins me to talk about the similarities between Sue Sylvester and Michele
And Ralph Nader won`t be the challenger, but he wants someone to
primary President Barack Obama. Ralph Nader joins me live in an exclusive
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Elizabeth Warren declared she was running for
Scott Brown`s Senate seat last Wednesday. She`s now beating him in a head
to head poll.
And Jane Lynch is going to join me for an exclusive interview about
how Sue Sylvester is channeling Michele Bachmann.
And Bill O`Reilly last night talked himself back into the "Rewrite" --
O`DONNELL: Newly announced U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is
off to a strong start in her campaign to unseat Republican Scott Brown in
Massachusetts. A new poll finds voters now put Warren ahead of Brown, 46
percent to 44 percent, in a survey done this weekend, just days after she
entered the race. It represents a dramatic shift from three months ago
when Warren ran 15 points behind Brown in the same poll.
Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, senior
political editor of "The Huffington Post."
Thanks for joining me tonight, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Howard, this is big news out of my home state of
Massachusetts. An incumbent is not supposed to poll like that. It`s
within a statistical tie. And because we`re matching the same survey of
three months ago, you`re seeing movement in that same polling methodology,
very, very much in Elizabeth Warren`s favor.
This is a very fast start for her.
FINEMAN: I don`t think there`s any doubt about it. In talking to
Republicans today, they didn`t really dispute the poll. They said, you
know, she`s had a lot of attention, a lot of publicity.
And I think Democrats are very, very pleased with the launch, with the
fact that she did a listening tour first. That she made her announcement
in a good way. That she worked very hard going to tea stops early in the
morning and working her way through the day with media appearances and so
She`s more of a natural at it than I think people thought she might
O`DONNELL: You know, when we saw Ted Kennedy`s seat go to a
Republican, go to Scott Brown, many of us thought this was a very bad omen
for the Democrats in what would be a midterm election coming up. It turned
out to be exactly that. It`s turned out to be the message that said it`s
going to go very badly for the Democrats.
If Elizabeth Warren can make this kind of gain, this kind of yardage
this quickly, and if she continues to poll strongly, is there going to be a
lesson read from Massachusetts for Democrats nationally?
FINEMAN: Well, it could be, because what the president has to worry
about and what the Democrats generally have to worry about, Lawrence, is
their base won`t be excited, that the base of the party won`t turn out,
that there`s something missing in the rhetoric of the president and
Democratic leaders about jobs, about the plight of the middle class and so
on. If Elizabeth Warren can make that sale up in Massachusetts, then I
think that will be a guide post.
Now, keep in mind, the primary -- even the primary is still a year
away, Lawrence. There`s a lot to happen here. But the fact that Scott
Brown is really in such a weak position, in what after all is primarily a
Democratic state, shows that the Democrats have a shot -- now -- at
Now, look, the Democrats heading into the Senate races next year, you
know, are facing the very real prospect of losing the Senate. However, the
one place where they have a really, really good shot at a takeaway, taking
away a Republican seat is in Massachusetts. And these early polls give
them hope that they will be able to do that.
O`DONNELL: Howard, the Warren surge, if he can call it that, and if
it continues, if we get to watch this, seems to have some lessons in it. I
mean, what is Elizabeth Warren known for? She is known for government
regulation. She is the pro-regulation candidate.
Republicans are saying everything, you know, that`s wrong in our
economy is about regulation. It seems to me that if she is going to run
strong in that state, which is capable of voting for a Republican, it`s
shown that it is, then there is a kind of policy lesson for where Democrats
should go, which seems to coincide with where President Obama is going in
his recent messages about, you know, in effect not trying to do some sort
of compromise business with the House of Representatives, the Republicans,
but going straight where he thinks he should go.
FINEMAN: Well, Lawrence, if she makes the election about regulation,
per se, she`ll lose. But if she does what the president is now finally
trying to do, which is to connect up his vision of government with the idea
of producing jobs for the middle class and fairness in the economic system
overall, then she`s got a chance.
Now, Scott Brown thinks he protected himself in the Senate by voting
in favor of the Wall Street reform bill -- the bill that was co-authored by
Congressman Barney Frank of Boston. But I don`t think that`s going to be
any real protection for Scott Brown, and Scott Brown is going to be in an
odd situation of trying to cite the praise of Barack Obama who did praise
Scott Brown after that vote in order to try to survive up there.
So, if Elizabeth Warren can draw on her roots, which by the way, go
back to sort of middle class, lower middle class, childhood in Oklahoma
City, a woman who worked her way up the ladder. She wasn`t born at Harvard
as she said the other day, she wasn`t born a Harvard law professor.
If she could connect to the middle class in Boston, if she can connect
to what we used to call Reagan Democrats, on the notion that the Democrats
really have their interests at heart, in terms of jobs, in terms of dealing
with Wall Street, the big banks, the big economic forces, raid against the
interest of the middle class -- then she`ll not only have a chance to win
but she`ll be able to articulate, help articulate a message for the
Democratic Party as a whole.
O`DONNELL: Howard, you know, my point about regulation was that she`s
identified with regulation -- I`m not suggesting that she would run on "I
will be the regulator," but it`s not hurting her.
O`DONNELL: This thing is supposed to tie her up in knots, according
to Republican theory. It`s not hurting her at all, as she goes forward in
FINEMAN: Well, I think that`s because she started out right away
saying, it`s not about, you know, the processes of government. It`s about
trying to create a level playing field and fairness in the economic
marketplace and jobs for average people. I mean, if she can drive that
message, then she`s got a chance to win that race and be instructive -- as
Massachusetts often is, as you know well know, Lawrence, for the rest of
the Democratic Party.
O`DONNELL: It looks like Democrats have a new star.
MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman -- thank you very much for
joining us tonight.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a LAST WORD exclusive: Emmy Award-winning
actress Jane Lynch is here to talk politics and "Glee."
And Bill O`Reilly says President Obama just might get him to quit FOX
News. That`s in the "Rewrite."
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Spotlight, Ralph Nader and other liberal
leaders are looking for a slate of six Democrats to challenge President
Obama in a primary. In a letter to elected officials, civic leaders and
academics in the progressive community, Nader and the other signatories
argue a Democratic primary challenge, quote, "would allow for robust and
exciting discussion and debate during the primary season, while posing
little risk to the president other than to encourage him to take more
progressive stands. Certainly President Obama will not be pleased to face
a list of primary challengers, but the comfort of the incumbent is far less
important than the vitality and strength of his party`s progressive ideas
"President Obama should emerge from the primary a stronger candidate
as a result."
In reaction to Nader`s new idea, former Democratic Senator Russ
Feingold said, "I strongly disagree with Ralph Nader. As I`ve said many
times before, I believe that re-electing President Obama is an absolute
imperative for our economy, our judicial system, for progressives and for
Joining me now, five time presidential candidate and consumer advocate
Ralph Nader. Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Ralph.
RALPH NADER, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Ralph, why aren`t you running, yourself? And why do you
want a slate of six challengers to the president?
NADER: Well, first, it`s a two-party dictatorship. Third parties
really don`t have much of a chance. They get blacked out from the
presidential debates, blocked out by the media. I ran three times
officially and have documented in many ways, with litigation and articles
and books by others, that we have to have electoral form, have a more
competitive democracy and give more choice to the voters.
As far as the slate`s concerned, a slate by definition is not a
challenge to his nomination. It`s a challenge to his conscience, a
challenge to his backbone. It`s a challenge to have the Democratic
primaries be other than a series of Air Force trips around the country,
where President Obama`s responding to the crazed, plutocratic Republicans
and their juvenile, monetized minds.
It`s an attempt to basically broaden the issues in the election for
all the millions of workers who are stuck in a stagnant minimum wage, for
the millions of workers who want to form trade unions against
globalization, and they`re not allowed to, for cracking down on corporate
crime and the corporate crime wave with adequate budget, for stopping
illegal wars overseas, for having single payer health insurance, another
There are all kinds of environmental issues, public reforms, civil
rights, all kinds of issues which are never going to be discussed. They`ll
be completely off the table, blacked out in a one-man primary. And if
something is not discussed, as Patrick Moynihan, our common friend, once
said -- if you don`t discuss something, you can`t ever expect it to be
In other words, the entire liberal progressive agenda will be off the
table. They won`t be on C-Span. They won`t be on the media. They won`t
be interacting with people at the grassroots.
For what reason? For what reason? The liberals intellegencia has got
to introspect more. They`re pretty comfortable. They have good jobs, good
pensions, good health insurance. They don`t speak for tens of millions of
Americans who want these gripping issues of the corporate domination of our
country, the corporate domination of our government, the corporate state
that Franklin Delano Roosevelt called fascism in a formal address to the
Congress in 1938.
They want to discuss whether the people are going to be in charge or
whether the corporations are going to continue to run this country into the
ground and ship its jobs and industries to fascist and communist
dictatorships overseas who know how to keep their 80 cents an hour workers
in their place.
O`DONNELL: Ralph, your letter is quite long. I`ve read it in its
entirety. Your list of signatories is also long. It includes Jonathan
Cozell (ph), Cornell West, former Senator Abourezk and many others. And in
the letter, in the details of it, it`s very clear that you are not trying
to unseat President Obama.
There are many passages in there that assure that, of course, he will
be renominated. But I want to read to you some of the questions we got
today from Twitter, where people are asking me to ask you these questions.
Here`s one from TalkingToaster2. He said, "ask Nader when he will stop
helping get Republicans elected."
Ralph, that`s what people think you`re doing.
NADER: They ought to think a little deeper. Nobody has criticized
more profoundly in detail, across 50 states, the Republican party`s
indentured status to corporatism, it`s repudiation of some of its best
conservative instincts, going back many years, which now we would call
progressive positions in some areas, and supporting progressive candidates
around the country.
You see, Twitter, by definition, means you don`t think beyond 140 some
characters. We have to start getting serious in this country. We have to
start having fundamental elections on fundamental issues of power.
We got to talk about a speculation tax on Wall Street, which can raise
300 billion dollars on speculation, instead of burdening working folks with
the taxes. We have to talk about a carbon tax. We got to talk about
We got to talk about reorganizing the labor force so it has a
collective voice, instead of being split asunder and abandoned by
corporations born in the USA, profited on the backs of American workers,
going to Washington and bailed out by American taxpayers, saved by the U.S.
Marines when they get in trouble overseas.
What`s their response to the American worker? Is it gratitude? No.
It`s, we`re getting the hell out of here with your jobs and industries, to
these communist and fascist regimes. We want the issues of shift of power,
of democratic resurgence, small D, before the people of this country. And
break up that debate commission, which is nothing but a corporation created
by the two parties to make sure that other voices are not heard.
I don`t understand why it`s even controversial. It`s just fundamental
free speech in action. And we have to push this very hard, Lawrence,
because otherwise all next year, you will never hear all the major issues
that liberals and progressives believe in. Many of them are majoritarian
issues which I have mentioned.
You will never get on C-Span anything but the Republican line, with
Obama being defensively responding to them, as he has been for three years.
In other words, they, with their corporate masters, pull Obama to their
side. Who`s going to pull Obama to the majority of the American people,
the working family side?
O`DONNELL: Ralph, we have got to go. We are going to hear about
those issues on this program in the next year. We`re going to have you
back to talk about them some more. But I want you to take a look tonight,
if you get a chance, if someone can show them to you, some of these
questions that came in on Twitter. Some of them are pretty good for that
140 character limit.
NADER: I will but. But I wish people would log into
SinglePayerAction.org and read the full letter, then feedback to the e-
O`DONNELL: OK. Ralph, thank you very, very much for joining me
NADER: Thank you so much, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Last night, Bill O`Reilly revealed how President Obama can
get him to quick Fox News. That`s next in the Rewrite.
Later, Jane Lynch joins me to talk "Glee," politics and the repeal of
Don`t Ask, Don`t Tel. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Rewrite. Bill O`Reilly may have
figured out a way to get rid of Bill O`Reilly.
Oh, looks like we showed you some Ralph Nader there instead of Bill
O`Reilly. Here`s what O`Reilly said last night on his program: "if Barack
Obama begins taxing me more than 50 percent, which is very possible, I
don`t know how much longer I`m going to do this."
OK. First of all, Barack Obama doesn`t tax anyone. The power to tax
resides exclusively with the Congress. So O`Reilly is lying, of course,
when he says that tax rates are up to Barack Obama.
Now, it`s true that the president would like to see O`Reilly pay more
taxes. The president would like the top tax bracket, the O`Reilly bracket,
increased from 35 to 39.6 percent. So what O`Reilly should have said is if
the Congress, including the Republican House of Representatives, decides to
raise my tax bracket to 39.6 percent, I don`t know how much longer I`m
going to do this.
But O`Reilly has to lie about everything in that statement in order to
make it credible to his audience, whose gullibility he has precisely
calculated in the lies he`s loaded into that sentence. He knows --
O`Reilly knows his audience doesn`t know that tax rates are not up to the
president. And he knows his audience doesn`t know that no one is proposing
an income tax rate of 50 percent.
And he knows his audience doesn`t know that Bill O`Reilly very happily
started doing "the O`Reilly Factor" and became a multimillionaire when the
top tax bracket was 39.6 percent, the bracket he is so fearful of now.
So O`Reilly has actually already proven what he would do if the top
tax bracket goes back up to where it was under President Clinton, 39.6
percent. O`Reilly would do "The O`Reilly Factor" every night and get
richer and richer and richer.
Beleaguered taxpayer Bill O`Reilly now makes at least 10 million
dollars a year from Fox News. He makes millions more in book royalties,
speaking fees and selling mugs on his website. So O`Reilly`s accountants
are probably trying to keep track of much, much more than 10 million a
year. I don`t know, 20 million a year, 30 million. I don`t know. It`s
O`Reilly`s claim that "Factor" could be taxed out of existence is
based on the Republican article of faith that O`Reilly annunciated this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: If you tax achievement, some of the
achievers are going to pack it in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: This is, of course, not true and has never been true.
When our top tax rate was over 90 percent, the rich got richer and none of
the achievers packed it in. And in the Clinton years, when the top tax
bracket was 4.5 percentage points higher than it is now, the rich got much
richer, including Bill O`Reilly.
And none of the achievers, including Bill O`Reilly, packed it in.
What O`Reilly was trying to tell his audience last night was that if the
federal government allows him to take home only 6.1 million dollars from
his Fox News paycheck, instead of 6.5 million dollars from his Fox News
paycheck, he might just walk and hand the "Factor" over to Bernie Goldberg
or Dick Morris.
He`s telling his audience that six million in take home pay might not
be enough for him to go to work. Now, in fact, O`Reilly doesn`t actually
pay 35 percent of his income in federal taxes. No one does. Everyone in
that bracket, the top tax bracket, has deductions that bring their
effective rates to something lower than 35 percent.
So the numbers I`m using here to estimate O`Reilly`s take home pay are
very, very conservative. Remember, I`m only talking about his Fox News
income, which might be only half of his income. Bill O`Reilly is the
highest paid player in cable news. And no matter how much he complains
about how unbearable his life would be if his Fox News take home pay ever
dropped closer to the unthinkably low six million, I`m afraid you`re never
going to get rid of Bill O`Reilly with a tax increase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you get me some coffee?
JANE LYNCH, ACTRESS: You`re hilarious. I`m not a secretary. I`m the
host of the Emmys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Emmys? What you should be doing is learning
how to type and firing the guy who gave you that man`s haircut.
LYNCH: A lot has changed since 1965. In fact, women can marry other
women. Hey, Becky.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women with other women? Men must hate that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does that mean women don`t have to sleep with
men anymore to make it to the top?
LYNCH: No, you still have to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Emmy Awards host Jane Lynch on Sunday. She won
an Emmy last year for her performance as Coach Sue Sylvester in "Glee" and
was nominated for that same role again this year. Here`s a look at what
Sue Sylvester will be up to in "Glee`s" third season.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNCH: Starting today, I will no longer be going after the glee club.
Frankly, I have bigger fish to fry. I`m running for the United States
House of Representatives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, what did you say?
LYNCH: In the last year of her life, Jean faced ballooning health
care loss and cuts to her disability payments. The Sue Sylvestre American
Liberty Party thinks that`s a load of fooey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me, the Emmy award winning Emmy host Jane Lynch.
Jane, thank you very much for coming in.
LYNCH: Happy to be here.
O`DONNELL: Happy accidents. You have had more happy accidents than
anyone -- since we first met years ago in West Hollywood -- in that bar in
O`DONNELL: It was actually at an Elward (ph) party, one of those
Sunday night Elward screening parties that Eileen Shaken (ph) -- your pal,
Eileen Shaken`s table. You have had more happy accidents than anyone I
LYNCH: Actually, we met when you were doing the "West Wing." I had a
tiny, tiny, tiny part. I remember meeting you. I would forgive you if you
didn`t remember meeting me.
O`DONNELL: I accept your forgiveness.
LYNCH: Yes, a lot has happened. It`s been a full four, five years.
It`s been crazy.
O`DONNELL: It`s -- now, Sue Sylvester`s candidacy for the House of
O`DONNELL: I`m getting echoes here. I`m getting -- you insist that
it`s not a Tea Party character. She`s doing something else. She`s going
her own way?
LYNCH: I really don`t -- whatever serves Sue Sylvester is what the
Sue Sylvester American Liberty Party will be. Right now, where we stand
now -- we`re shooting episode four -- I`m anti-arts and I`m preparing the
country, as I should, for our Chinese overlords.
O`DONNELL: It`s kind of a self-centered --
O`DONNELL: -- party, selfish.
LYNCH: Yes, narcissistic one might even say.
O`DONNELL: I want to take a look, she -- Sue Sylvester does some
local TV bits that don`t necessarily appear in the show, but are available
online. I want to take a look at a recent one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNCH: I got a bee in my bonnet, Western Ohio. You know what I`ve
had it up to here with? Sneaky gays. Gone are the days of Oscar Wilde,
Liberace, homosexuals so flaming they could be seen from space.
Why nowadays, sneaky gays are everywhere, at the church, at the mall,
picking up their meticulously dressed, fastidious children from daycare.
Why you could be sitting next to a sneaky gay right now and you`d never
even know it.
That just don`t sit right with one Sue Sylvester. I got nothing
against gays. Just ask my sassy intern, Tyler. He has to live in my tool
shed because I deny him health care as I consider gayness a pre-existing
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK. Now, you guys are -- what you`re doing there is --
it`s what you think Michele Bachmann wants --
LYNCH: would say.
O`DONNELL: What she wants to say and her handlers are going, no,
LYNCH: Ed Rollins is gone now. So we`ll have to see what happens and
what she says. She might have a Michele corner not unlike that. Yes.
O`DONNELL: The -- this campaign she`s running, I mean, you probably
don`t yet know whether it`s a successful campaign.
LYNCH: No. I don`t know yet.
O`DONNELL: The writers are in charge of that.
LYNCH: I don`t think they know.
O`DONNELL: You show up, do the lines.
O`DONNELL: Right. But it is a comment on where we are politically
right now, in that the distance between what she just said and reality of
what you`re watching --
O`DONNELL: -- in Republican presidential primary and Tea Party
politics, it isn`t that big a gap.
LYNCH: There really isn`t. It makes it less funny, because it`s
actually very, very real. There are people who think that. I guess, you
know, Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan and Brad Fulchuck (ph) want to kind of
put it out there in the light of day and say, this is what some people
O`DONNELL: By the way, speaking of this sneaky gays concept of Sue`s,
no more as of today in the American military.
LYNCH: That`s right. Yes, it`s a great day. I would have loved for
it to happen a long time ago. But it happened today. I`m thrilled.
O`DONNELL: Your life has spanned all those references that Sue made
there, from Liberace to --
LYNCH: Not Oscar Wilde.
O`DONNELL: Right. The elimination of Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell -- first
of all, the imposition of Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell by Bill Clinton at what
they thought was some kind of compromise at the time. What became a hated
law, Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell, was thought to be a semi-liberal compromise on
gays in the military.
LYNCH: Right. It was. I remember when Clinton was elected. He said
the next day, with the stroke of a presidential pen, I will get rid of the
no gays in the military. And he didn`t. He instituted this instead. And
it ended up being pretty -- I mean, it made things worse. There were witch
hunts out there for some of these guys and girls.
O`DONNELL: I asked for viewers to give me some help with questions
today on Twitter. I think actually one just came in. There`s this one
from Billy Thon (ph). It`s a really interesting question. She has a
seven-year-old grandson who says that when she -- when the grandson hears
your voice, just hears your voice on the radio, says, that`s Sue Sylvester.
Did you ever think that Sue Sylvester`s voice would become a household
sound that a seven-year-old would know?
LYNCH: Absolutely not. And I love how kids love Sue Sylvester
because she`s very, very, very, very mean. But they are tickled and
delighted with her. I couldn`t be more flattered.
O`DONNELL: I think they know that down deep, somewhere in Sue
LYNCH: She`ll fight for them. She`ll protect them.
O`DONNELL: If she`s on your side --
LYNCH: You don`t want her against you. She`s the worst enemy. When
she`s for you, you have a no better advocate.
O`DONNELL: We have to sell some books. The book is "Happy
Accidents." Jane, thank you very, very, very for finding time for us on
Emmy week, of all weeks, to get in here.
LYNCH: For you, nothing.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much.
LYNCH: Yes, thank you.
O`DONNELL: Jane Lynch gets "THE LAST WORD."
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next.
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