'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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Guests: Karen Finney, Gene Sperling, Candace Gingrich-Jones
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening. And thanks for joining us tonight
from Washington, Gingrich, where everybody thinks the center of the action,
center of gravity in this town is the big building you see behind me, the
United States Capitol.
And if the center of gravity in this town isn`t there, most the people
think it`s the White House, right?
But on most days, what is at least in competition for the center of
gravity in Washington, Gingrich, for the center of the Washington, D.C.
universe, is this place -- K Street where the lobbyists here in Washington
have their offices. If the press is the fourth estate, K Street is kind of
the fifth estate.
Today, this is what K Street looked like -- hundreds, perhaps a
thousand protesters swarming K Street and essentially managing to shut it
down. These are 99 percenter protesters, some aligned with the Occupy D.C.
movement, some aligned with the labor movement.
They descended on K Street today as part of this week`s "Take Back the
Capitol" protest. They marched on some of the biggest K Street lobbying
firms. And all about a dozen people were arrested at that action. That
was the scene on K Street earlier today.
As day turned to night, however, the scene was a little bit different.
Tonight, the man of the hour in Republican politics was toasted at a
$1,000-a-plate K Street fund-raiser hosted by and expected to be populated
almost entirely by D.C. lobbyists. With all the most recent polls showing
Newt Gingrich either far out ahead or in the state where Romney is holding
on, Gingrich rising fast.
With the most recent alternative to Mr. Romney, Herman Cain now
completely out of the race, with less than a month to go before voting in
the Iowa caucuses. On a night like this in Washington, the Republican
field is starting to appear settled. The front-runner position may yet
change. Mr. Romney may yet come back. Somebody else may yet have a late
surge. Mr. Gingrich may yet fall apart.
But with this little time left before the voting starts, we know
effectively what role each of the Republican candidates has had in the
primary process. Not just what they offer as a presidential choice for
Republican voters but what purpose they serve for us as a whole country
watching the Republican Party trying to make this internal decision about
who that party wants to nominate for president.
Among these primary candidates, we now know what everybody`s role is,
what everybody is here for. And in most cases, it`s sort of surprising.
It`s not what you have thought when the campaign first started. Mitt
Romney is the only real non-surprise in the group. Mitt Romney is and has
always been the establishment candidate, the obvious next choice, the guy
who came in second last time.
And he`s been the establishment guy to the nth degree. Mr. Romney now
literally has locked up support from 10 percent of the billionaires in this
But against Mr. Romney, who would have thought that Jon Huntsman`s
role in this campaign would have been not really to attract any support
from basically any voters anywhere, but rather to be the guy in the race
who runs the most effective ads against Mitt Romney?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is very conflicted. He is drawn in two
different directions. Very powerfully, if he`s with an audience, he wants
to identify with and satisfy that audience and will say what he thinks they
want to hear.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I was an independent
during the time of Reagan/Bush. I`m not going to return to Reagan/Bush.
The right course is the one championed by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago and by
John McCain and Sarah Palin today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That has turned out to be Jon Huntsman`s role in this race.
Not to win it, or really even contest it, but to devastate Mitt Romney in
ads like this. That has been the Huntsman surprise this year.
Similarly, there`s Ron Paul. His role in the campaign this year has
not been to galvanize the youth vote, at least so far, or to popularize the
gold standard or any of his other Ron Paul stuff. Instead, Ron Paul has
turned out to be the guy this year who runs really effective ads against
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything that Gingrich railed against when he
was in the House, he went the other way when he got paid to go the other
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s demonstrating himself to be the very essence
of the Washington insiders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s about serial hypocrisy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ron Paul`s turning out to be the institutional memory guy.
He`s here to remind everybody what Newt Gingrich has been like all these
decades in Washington as a politician.
Rick Perry has turned out to be the guy who`s here to humble the
common wisdom, here`s to humble the common wisdom of the Beltway media. On
paper, Rick Perry was supposed to be winning this race now. He was the
game changer the media predicted would turn this race upside-down.
Honestly, I also thought that he would turn the race upside-down.
In reality, Rick Perry is now polling at 7 percent nationally and 9
percent in Iowa, where he`s trying really hard. Rick Perry has
Michele Bachmann has also turned out to be a bit of a surprise. Ms.
Bachmann is not in the race this year it turns out to represent the kooky
fringe of the conservative movement like a lot of people thought she would.
Michele Bachmann is here instead to give the rest of the country useful,
practical information about crazy stuff the Republican base believes.
Things they believe because they`ve heard it from the conservative media,
which it turns out Michele Bachmann channels as if she were a tuning fork.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s reports
that have come out that Cuba has been working with another terrorist
organization called Hezbollah. And Hezbollah is potentially looking at
wanting to be a part of missile sites in Iran and, of course, when you`re
90 miles offshore from Florida, you don`t want to entertain the prospect of
hosting bases or sites where Hezbollah can have training camps or perhaps
have missile sites or weapon sites in Cuba. This would be foolish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When Michele Bachmann says she`s worried about Hezbollah in
Cuba, turns out it`s not just comic relief. She is playing a useful role
here. She`s giving the country fair warning that the Republican base is
actually worried about something they have made up about Hezbollah in Cuba.
Thank you for letting me know.
Rick Santorum also has a role in this year`s race. His role is -- oh,
I`m sorry, that was actually my own typo. Rick Santorum does not have a
role. He`s just Rick Santorum.
Finally there`s Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich started off as the
grumpy profiteering also ran Gingrich scam artist guy with all the offices
on K Street.
But as a late surging front-runner now, Mr. Gingrich has turned to
play a really useful role in the race. Not just for Republican voters
trying to make a decision about who to vote for for president, but for the
whole country trying to understand Republican politics right now by
watching this Republican presidential race.
Newt Gingrich I think is the Jonathan Swift character in the race.
He`s the "eat the poor" candidate. It was 1729 when Irish satirist
Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay called "A Modest Proposal" -- about
how the wealthy should deal with the way too many poor people among them.
Jonathan Swift wrote, quote, "I think it`s agreed by all parties, that
this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs or at the
heels of their mothers and frequently of their fathers, is in the present
deplorable state of kingdom, a very great additional grievance. And
therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making
the children sound and useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so
well of the public to have his statue set up for a preserver of the
In other words, it would be good for the country to find a use for all
the poor kids underfoot and in the way. What is the best use of the poor?
Jonathan Swift went on to offer his own solution. He said, quote, "I
have been assured that a young, healthy child well nursed is at a year old
a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted,
baked or boiled; and I make no doubt it will equally serve in a Fricasle or
We got to find some useful purpose for the poor.
But Jonathan Swift in 1279 suggested eating poor children. He
suggested it in order to shock people into thinking about the poor in some
way other than their utility or disutility to the rest of society.
Newt Gingrich is not suggesting eating poor children. He`s suggesting
that we get rid of child labor laws. Take kids out of the classroom and
put them to work as janitors, because that would be useful.
The difference is that Jonathan Swift was a satirist. Jonathan Swift
Mr. Gingrich is not kidding. And he has been not kidding about this
stuff for a long time. In Congress in the 1990s, he argued that the
federal government should take children away from mothers on welfare. The
federal government should take kids away from the moms and ship the kids to
orphanages. Poor women should lose their children for the crime of being
Reporter Tim Murphy reminding us about Newt Gingrich`s scammy
education enterprise in the 1990s called Earning by Learning. It was
supposedly a summer reading program offering kids 2 bucks for every book
"The point of the story," Mr. Murphy wrote, "is that private
initiatives often succeed where government programs fail. Earning by
Learning was a lean, mean private machine."
Quote, "The overhead is entirely voluntary," Mr. Gingrich said of the
program in 1995. The only money goes to the kids. So, if you have $1,000
at 2 bucks a book, you can pay for 500 books. Whereas in the welfare state
model if you have $1,000, you pay $850 of that for the bureaucracy."
The only problem is that when "The Wall Street Journal" looked into
Mr. Gingrich`s program that year in 1995, they found that 90 percent of the
money raised, 90 percent of the $20,000 raised in the past year, had gone
to a man named Mel Steely and two other professors. Mel Steely was a
former Gingrich staffer who was at the time working on the authorized
biography of the House speaker. So at least that guy was earning.
Tim Murphy also notes today another instance where Mr. Gingrich was
caught transferring money for a scholarship program he had set up for inner
city students, a scholarship known as the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity Fund.
Mr. Gingrich was caught transferring money from that fund to his own
political action committee.
Newt Gingrich is getting people to donate money under that guise of it
going to poor people and then essentially taking that money for his
political action committee and for his official biographer. Now that he`s
running for president, going after poor people, specifically going after
poor kids has become a centerpiece of his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In very poor
neighborhoods, you have to literally reestablish the dignity of work.
I will tell you, personally, I believe the kids could mop the floor
and clean out the bathroom and get paid for it and it would be OK.
They`d be dramatically less expensive than unionized janitors. And
you`d begin to reestablish the dignity of work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And they`re delicious
Make poor kids work as janitors. Mr. Gingrich now trying to appear
more compassionate about this by making clear while it would be OK for poor
kids to be put to work cleaning toilets, he does not want them working in
coal mines. That would be cruel. So, there`s that.
Mr. Gingrich also said this week that he would make the main theme of
his campaign in a general election against Barack Obama an attack on food
stamps. Mr. Gingrich today calling President Obama, quote, "the finest
food stamp president in American history." That`s a charge that Mr.
Gingrich has decided to level in knowledge of the fact that this president
was, in fact, raised by a mom who at one point was on food stamps while she
was racing him.
In case it wasn`t clear yet that the whole compassionate conservatism
thing was dead, Newt Gingrich is here to remind us all that the whole
compassionate conservatism thing is dead.
It is useful to have Mr. Gingrich playing this role, articulating this
viewpoint in this race. It`s a return to Reagan era attacks on welfare
queens, right? It`s "eat the poor" time.
Everybody`s got a role to play in this Republican campaign, except for
Rick Santorum, of course. Everybody`s got a role to play. And Newt
Gingrich`s role as front-runner is that he`s a bit of a clarifying tonic,
for the whole country trying to understand the difference between the two
parties on the most important issue of the election and the most important
issue in the country which is, of course, pain -- economic pain.
The worst income inequality we have seen in generations.
Joining us now is Karen Finney. She`s a former DNC communications
director, columnist for "The Hill" and an MSNBC political analyst.
Karen, it`s good to see you.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to see you.
MADDOW: You haven`t been on the show before, so you don`t now how
long I talk for. I should have warned you.
FINNEY: But I`ve watched. So, I knew. I settled in.
MADDOW: You knew to settle in. Oh, I can take off my seat belt.
It`s going to be a while.
Newt Gingrich appears to have fully embraced this idea of going after
poor kids, specifically not just poor people but poor kids. That seems to
me to be a sort of dangerous general election platform to run on.
Do you think it might work in the Republican primary?
FINNEY: I sure hope it doesn`t work. Did you notice how, though, the
way he was sort of trying to back up a little bit from that was the
proposal he came up with none other than Donald Trump? That`s who you go
to do make up for saying --
MADDOW: Well, poor kids could work for Donald Trump, too.
FINNEY: Indeed. Scrubbing the toilets, why not? Hey, why not?
Yes, I can`t imagine that works because I do think that people like to
think of themselves as more kindhearted than to think that children should
be scrubbing toilets. The problem, though, Newt`s whole -- the problem of
this candidacy, this is the new Newt, right? This isn`t the old Newt, the
guy who was the only speaker in the United States to have been admonished
for, oh, what, using college courses for political purposes.
You know, he`s the guy -- he`s this outsider and been doing all these
good works and he`s calm and reformed and he`s found God, right? That`s
the whole premise.
The thing about the comments he made is that`s the old Newt. That`s
the true, vindictive person who`s in there. I think it`s just a matter of
time before we see more of that come to the surface.
MADDOW: I think we think of old Newt, the so-called bad Newt as a
person who`s vindictive against his political enemies, as a person who was
sharp tongued in a way that sometimes didn`t serve him well against people
who were his political equals.
But this is actually picking as a scapegoat -- kids. And he -- after
doing it -- he hasn`t backed off of it so much as he keeps explaining it.
And he does get applause for it at Republican events.
So, I guess the broader question is whether or not -- not so much what
this says about him but what this says about the tenor of the country. Is
-- are we at a point that people are ready for a scapegoat?
FINNEY: Well, sure. I mean, we`ve seen in polls for some time now --
I mean, there`s a sense -- initially when the economic downturn started,
right, people were taking some responsibility, maybe it was a mortgage I
couldn`t afford. Now, people are sick of that. It`s, OK, whose fault is
FINNEY: Is it Congress is broken? Is it your fault because you`re
irresponsible? And you`re right in that it goes back to the idea of the
welfare queen in that it goes to this idea that people are irresponsible.
And he was even trying to say, well, it`s not the kids` fault that they`re
MADDOW: Poor people don`t know the value of work.
FINNEY: They have nobody to teach them. My goodness.
The one thing I say, though, about this new/old Newt, he`s a
vindictive guy but he`s a guy who lets his ego get out of control. He`s an
ideas guy who lets his ideas kind of get away from him. That was part of
the problem when he was speaker.
And remember, his own people took him out because of that, because
they were so concerned he had become such a liability and he was so
volatile, because he would say crazy things like I remember that whole boys
town episode. And all of his caucus was like, oh my God, you know, what
are we doing with this guy?
MADDOW: Limited government that takes children away from people
because they`re poor.
FINNEY: It does remind people that, you know, he`s still got that
stuff in there and still could implode in a general election.
MADDOW: As a former communications director for the Democratic Party,
if you were sitting at DNC headquarters tonight, would Newt Gingrich --
would you be enthusiastic about the prospect of running against Newt
Gingrich this year? Would you be happier with a Gingrich candidacy than
Mitt Romney candidacy?
FINNEY: I think I would. Although I will tell you, I`m wondering if
Newt`s other role in this primary, is if Newt is to Mitt as Hillary was to
Obama. In that, I mean, if Mitt Romney is going to take on Newt Gingrich
and emerge victorious in this primary, he`s going to have to up his game in
a way that he really hasn`t thus far.
MADDOW: He has been campaigning harder since Gingrich has been ahead.
FINNEY: And he`s going to have to be smarter and better and, you
know, more in control of his emotions. He can`t, you know, pop off at FOX
News, for example, who`s your ultimate ally.
So I wonder if that`s part of Newt`s role.
The prospect of running against Newt would be wonderful. I mean,
there`s so much we haven`t even -- you don`t even have to talk about the
three marriages before there`s so much other good stuff on him and how he`s
abused his power, his influence.
You know, pay for -- money for access. There`s plenty of good stuff
there that he can use and fill -- 365 days of just fun times.
MADDOW: Maybe we can have the election season extended.
FINNEY: How about that?
MADDOW: Karen Finney, former DNC communications director, columnist
for "The Hill," MSNBC political analyst and first-time guest here. It`s
really nice to see you here.
FINNEY: Good to see you. Good to be on.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. According to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former
House Speaker Newt Gingrich is awesome. On the basis of that alone, we
would desperately like to have Mr. Gingrich on the show and have extended
While we`re still waiting for him to get back to us, we are extremely
excited tonight on this show to welcome his sister. Candace Gingrich is
the interview tonight. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: The director of the president`s National Economic Council
joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: McConnell, Boehner, Romney,
Gingrich all say they favor extension of the payroll tax cut. They have a
funny way of showing it.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We`re going to stay here as long
as it takes to get this p done. We prefer to negotiate and come up with a
bipartisan agreement that includes the tax break for the middle class.
But if they won`t agree to that, we will stay here until Christmas and
even to New Year`s to get it done.
There`s some talk that Speaker Boehner next Wednesday will throw us
some kind of proposal and go home. Don`t go home, Speaker Boehner, because
we`re going to be here and you`ll be embarrassed before the American
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: When it gets to be Christmastime in Washington, sooner or
later, we get down to the part where everybody threatens that they`re going
to work through Christmas. Today, we got that threat from Senate
Democrats. And according to them, we got that threat from the president as
well. Majority Leader Harry Reid saying President Obama will not join his
family in Hawaii as long as his tax cut extension remains unresolved over
On the one hand, this is an old story. Does the president get to take
Christmas off? Or does the president and does Congress have to stay here
in Washington because of a fight about taxes? On the one hand, that`s an
On the other hand, though, this year this is not a very old story.
This year, it`s sort of a weird story, because what Democrats are fighting
to do this year is cut taxes. And what Republicans are fighting to do this
year is effectively raise taxes.
Leading congressional Republicans like Arizona Senator Jon Kyl say
they are frankly not all that psyched to extend a tax cut for working
people. It`s the payroll tax cut that comes out of your paycheck.
If you`re one of the poor saps who is not a monopoly zillionaire and
who therefore has no other source of income beside your paycheck.
The Republicans here in Washington are off-message on this issue by
their own account. They want to be seen as the party that is for lowering
taxes, not for raising them. So in a series of rather rollicking campaign-
style appearances recently, President Obama has tried to turn up the heat
on Republicans for that, turning up the heat on Republicans for only
wanting to lower taxes when it`s rich people`s taxes.
The president painting the Republicans as prioritizing the interests
of the rich over the interests of everybody else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know many Republicans
have sworn an oath never to raise taxes as long as they live. How could it
be that the only time there`s a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on
middle class families? How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-
end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and yet barely lift a finger to
prevent taxes going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help?
The market will take care of everything, they tell us. If we just cut
more regulations and cut more taxes, especially for the wealthy, our
economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and
losers, but if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will
eventually trickle down to everybody else.
It`s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it`s one that speaks to
our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government.
That`s in America`s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker.
But here`s the problem: it doesn`t work. It has never worked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president going after the core of how Republicans think
about the economy and talk about the economy -- the president doing it in
the very, very deep red state of Kansas this week. That`s the politics of
And politics of the matter goes hand in hand right now with an
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For the first time in history, the reforms that we passed put
in place a consumer watchdog who is charged with protecting everyday
Americans from being taken advantage of by mortgage lenders or payday
lenders or debt collectors.
And the man we nominated for the post, Richard Cordray, is a former
attorney general of Ohio who has the support of most attorney generals,
both Democrat and Republican, throughout the country. Nobody claims he`s
But the Republicans in the Senate refuse to confirm him for the job.
They refuse to let him do his job. Why? Does anybody here think that the
problem that led to our financial crisis was too much oversight of mortgage
lenders or debt collectors? Of course not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That vote on Richard Cordray, on the man who would be the
head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, that vote is
scheduled for tomorrow here in Washington. Republicans are expected to
The president`s top economic adviser joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Consumers deserve to have someone whose job it is to look out
for them. And I intend to make sure they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Gene Sperling, director of the National
Economic Council and assistant to President Obama for economic policy.
Director Sperling, thank you for being here.
GENE SPERLING, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Thanks for
MADDOW: This most recent fight over the Cordray nomination has been
covered to suggest -- in such a way that suggests that Republicans in the
Senate are not so much opposed to him as the nominee. They`re opposed to
anybody running this agency at all.
Would anybody have a chance? Or is the problem with agency, itself,
SPERLING: Well, I think people have had a hard time marshalling any
criticisms against him. As you know, even Republican attorney generals
have supported him. He has a tremendous record as attorney general of
So, I think this is really a philosophical debate the Republicans are
having. And it`s so wrongheaded in terms of the lessons we`ve just
learned. If there`s one thing we should have learned from this financial
crisis is you do not want to have financial supervision where a whole host
of institutions that are dealing with average people have a hole where they
don`t have supervision.
That`s exactly what they`re doing. The way the law was created is
that our new consumer watchdog cannot regulate so-called nonbank
institutions -- meaning payday lenders, credit institutions, debt
collectors. They cannot regulate or supervise any of them until there is a
So every day they hold this up, even while small community banks are
playing by the rules, you`ve got a so-called installment lenders preying on
the families of veterans, charging them, seriously, 300 percent interest
rates over a year. And we cannot do anything about it simply because they
refuse to put any director in the place.
MADDOW: The agency has been doing some work even in the absence of a
director. New credit card agreements are being piloted to make things
easier for people to understand, so you understand the interest rates and
late fees you`re signing up for when you sign up for a credit card.
What else can they do if they don`t get a director anytime soon?
SPERLING: Well, they can regulate certain institutions and can
regulate banks and they are doing excellent things. For example, making it
more transparent and clear what`s on your credit card, what the fees are.
Those are positive things they`re doing.
But remember, part of the reason we had the entire financial crisis
was that there turned out to be a whole group of, quote, "nonbank
institutions" that were out there manipulating consumers on all sorts -- in
all sorts of ways. And they were completely not subject to supervision or
regulation. So to now, in this environment, recreate that, so that you can
have a payday lender, somebody who`s not a bank, taking advantage of
veterans` families, of typical Americans in an assortment of ways and
there`s nothing we can do about it is literally recreating exactly what was
one of the fundamental holes in our system that led to our financial crisis
and to a lot of pain for millions of families.
MADDOW: One of the reasons that Americans know about this Consumer
Financial Protection Agency is not just because the administration spent a
long time talking about it, but because it was championed by Elizabeth
Warren, a very high profile progressive now running for Senate in
Massachusetts. One of the things Republicans have proposed is rather than
having a director of the agency, there`d be a council of five people that
would be running it.
What`s behind that idea and what you think of it?
SPERLING: That seems like a way simply to stall, block, delay.
This is the law. You know, today, a Republican attorney general from
Utah came to the White House and had a very crisp message to his own party,
which is if you don`t line the law, change it.
But we have a law. It just passed. It went through our democratic
process. It is designed to prevent the types of financial manipulation and
abuse of ordinary Americans and it is being held up by not having a
This director is subject to a lot of supervision and review by -- as
much as any agency had. We decided -- Congress decided to pass a law, to
have a director and they refused to put them in.
And every day that happens, every day that happens, there are
thousands of Americans who are going to be taken advantage of simply
because they will not implement this law that was just passed last year.
MADDOW: You described the fight over this consumer agency, as being -
- at its root, a philosophical difference between the parties about whether
or not this sort of protection exists.
SPERLING: That`s the kind interpretation. There`s no question what
else is going on. There`s an intense lobbying effort going on.
That was one of the things the president spoke very powerfully to in
Kansas, which is that -- you know, that there`s a trust deficit with our
financial institutions. We believe very strongly they should be going the
extra mile to embrace these reforms, to help close that trust deficit. Not
spending money on lobbyists here, trying to stall or undo the reforms.
So I can`t tell you exactly why the Republicans are doing what they`re
doing in stalling and delaying somebody who has such a high and strong
reputation, Richard Cordray. I can tell you what the impact is. And the
impact is terrible.
And, again, you know, we`ve seen this with veterans` families as well
as ordinary families. People have set up these so-called installment
loans. People are vulnerable situations. They`re come to a new town, a
new base, and what happens? They get a loan.
And I`m -- this is serious. These loans are often at a rate over a
year that would average about 300 percent to 400 percent. That`s what we
let continue to happen every day that we don`t confirm Cordray and put him
in as a director of our new consumer watchdog.
MADDOW: One of the things the president raised in that speech in
Kansas was the behavior of banks toward homeowners right now, even this far
into the crisis, and even after they were bailed out -- even after TARP.
The president is saying that the administration wants to continue to
pressure banks to essentially give homeowners a break, to give them more
time, to give them more flexibility, to try to stay in their houses instead
of being foreclosed on.
Do you regret, or is there regret within the administration that that
sort of pressure wasn`t made a condition of the bailout? That banks
weren`t forced into essentially making more favorable arrangements with the
real American families that were hurt by their behavior, as a condition of
being bailed out by the government?
SPERLING: Well, I think, we were dealing with the situation in a time
of enormous crisis. You know, in the first quarter when President Obama
came in, our country had been losing growth at 8 percent. Stock market was
under 6,400. We had a crisis situation to stabilize the banks.
But I think through the financial reform we`ve put in place, we can
make a big difference. And we are doing things every day to try to get
banks to do a better job in helping ordinary families.
You know, I`ll give you an example. Earlier this year, we put forward
successfully a measure to say if you`ve been unemployed up to 12 months,
you can have forbearance. It doesn`t mean you get a gift. It just means
for 12 months you don`t have to pay your mortgage while you`re unemployed
looking for a job. And then that amount just gets shifted on to your
Now, for a family who finds their job, unemployed family where they
find their job in the eighth month as opposed to the four months, that can
mean the difference in whether they lose their house or not. Now, that`s
an example of something we were able to do. But we only through our
administrative action can effect 10 percent, 15 percent of the loans in
Why not have other banks just step up and say, we want to be part of
that? We put forward a new foreclosure -- we put forward a new refinancing
proposal that calls for swifter refinancing that could save $3,000 a year
for many families. Could make a big difference between whether people can
stay in their house or stay out of their house. We`re putting forward
servicing golden rule standards of what`s the best way to deal with people.
We should have an ethic throughout the country that anyone who can
stay in their home has a chance to.
And finally, there`s no question there have been enormous amounts of
terrible abuses in the servicing, on the foreclosure. And, again, we think
what the banks should do is embrace remedying those issues, not fight, not
resist. That`s what the president was trying to push in Kansas.
MADDOW: When I see people out occupying foreclosed homes and trying
to stop evictions and stop foreclosures right now, I think about you and I
think about your job and how important the leverage and the bully pulpit of
the White House is right now at a real moment of moral crisis over this
So, thank you for doing the hard job you do and thanks for talking to
us. Appreciate it.
SPERLING: Thanks for having us.
MADDOW: Thanks. Nice to see you, Mr. Sperling.
All right. Gene Sperling is the director of the National Economic
Council and he`s, of course, assistant to the president for economic
All right. Candace Gingrich will be here to talk about her brother,
Newt Gingrich. We got a lot more just ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We learned something fascinating this week about Republican
presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich. It turns out that`s not his name.
Newt Gingrich not actually his name.
Let us set the way back machine to 1995 when the country was just
getting to know him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARION ALEXANDER, GINGRICH FAMILY FRIEND: The house behind me is
where Newt Gingrich lived during his early years.
REPORTER: I have to ask you, because in Washington we always
pronounce the last name Gingrich and you`ve been saying Gingrich. What`s
ALEXANDER: Well, it seems like, when he was growing up here, his
father`s name was Gingrich. Of course his name was Gingrich. It seems
like when he went to the South, it became Gingrich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thanks to Dylan Buyers (ph) of Politico.com for unearthing
the C-Span nugget from 1995. We reached out to the Gingrich campaign to
verify whether the family friend was right about his last name and we`ve
been saying it wrong. We got the following reply, quote, "Sorry can`t be
It`s nice they replied even if they couldn`t help. We did, however,
thereafter, get some help on the Gingrich/"Gingrick" thing, from somebody
who knows. It`s his sister, Candace, who joins us for the interview, next.
MADDOW: Last night on CNBC, Newt Gingrich said that he is the reason
Mitt Romney is a rich guy. Mitt Romney ought to say thank you to Newt
Gingrich for making him rich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: You can make an argument that I helped Mitt Romney get to
be rich because I helped pass the legislation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- from Bain Capital.
GINGRICH: He should be thanking me because I did the macroeconomic
things necessary to make his career possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I made you, Mitt Romney. You should thank me. Newt Gingrich
talks like this. This is way he describes himself and describes himself a
In January of 1994, "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" published an
interview with the eight-term congressman titled, quote, "Gingrich to Save
Mr. Gingrich told the paper, "People like me are what stand between us
and Auschwitz." Mr. Gingrich went on, quote, "I see evil around me every
day." Quote, "We are at the edge of losing this civilization." Quoting
from somewhat agog "Atlanta Journal Constitution" at the time, quote, "Like
many of the larger-than-life figures this former history professor has
studied and admired, Mr. Gingrich says his destiny is to save modern
After proclaiming to "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" his important
role in keeping America free of Nazi concentration camps and holding
together civilization and whatnot, he went on to lead his party in a huge
lopsided victory in that year`s midterm elections and to become speaker of
the House in 1995.
When he was eventually reprimanded as speaker by the House Ethics
Committee, one of the things the committee released in their report on him,
was a note in Mr. Gingrich`s handwriting that read in part, "Gingrich --
primary mission. Advocate of civilization. Definer of civilization.
Teacher of the rules of civilization." And, "leader, possibly, of the
Possibly. Don`t sell yourself short.
When Mr. Gingrich decided to get into the 2012 presidential race, he
told the "Associated Press" in May, quote, "It`s going to take a while for
the news media to realize you`re covering something that happens once or
twice in a century."
More recently, he said of his campaign comeback, quote, "This is like
watching Sam Walton or Ray Kroc develop Wal-Mart and McDonald`s."
This is how he talks about himself, all the time. It`s how he
explains when things are going well. It`s how he explains when things are
not going well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I`m
such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a
very unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I`m trying to do.
I helped Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp developed supply side economics. I
helped lead the effort to defeat communism in the Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Duh! And that is why we don`t have a communist Congress
anymore. That`s why Mitt Romney is rich.
Newt Gingrich as a congressman, as speaker of the House and now as a
candidate for president has nothing but wonderful things to say about Newt
Gingrich. Just running for president, itself, just thinking you have what
it takes to be in charge of the country means you probably think a lot
about yourself and your capabilities. They all do.
But Mr. Gingrich seems to really think a lot of himself.
So, tonight, we are joined for the interview by a specific type of
Newt Gingrich expert -- his half sister Candace Gingrich-Jones who`s a gay
rights advocate. And she has publicly clashed with her brother politically
over the years. She`s the associate director of youth and campus outreach
for the Human Rights Campaign foundation which works to advance gay rights.
Candace, thanks for being here.
CANDACE GINGRICH-JONES, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: Happy to be here.
Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Nice to have you here.
I wonder listening to those quotes from your brother talking about
himself, I`m obviously making the point that he thinks of himself in grand
sweeping historic terms and that`s important to understanding him. Do you
-- when you hear that, do you feel affectionate about that? Is there a
side of him as a family member that makes sense about that than what makes
sense to us knows him as a politician?
GINGRICH-JONES: Well, yes and no. You know, we did not grow up
together. So, as far as, like, you know, what makes him tick or what
molded him, I don`t know.
But he is running for president, takes some amount of ego to do such a
thing and he`s never put himself out there as anything but someone who
wanted to, quote-unquote, "save the country." His reasons for thinking the
country needs saving, most people disagree about, but that is who he is.
MADDOW: Did you -- did you foresee this? Did you think at any point
that he`d be the front-runner for the Republican nomination? Did you think
it would be happening at this point in his life?
GINGRICH-JONES: Well, he`s definitely kind of person who when he puts
his mind to something will do everything in his power to make it happen. I
can`t say that if you would ask even a month ago if I thought he would be a
frontrunner, that I would think so.
You know, slow and steady wins the race and he didn`t let some of the
things that crushed other people`s campaigns early on get to him.
When he was, I think, the best-known politician in the countries who
name wasn`t Bill Clinton, when he was speaker of the House and such a high-
profile speaker of the House, you did not hesitate to take public stands
against him when he did things that you disagreed with, particularly on gay
I always wondered if that hurt your relationship if that -- how that
affected you moving forward just in terms of your personal relationship?
GINGRICH-JONES: No, not at all. I mean, I think we`ve always been
mutually respectful of each other and our abilities and, you know, desires
to change the world. You know, I think what it does harm is just that when
there are family times together, you know, to really focus on the family
aspect of it and, you know, remember that at the end of the day, we are a
family and that`s important.
The -- you know, the catch is that, you know, when we leave the dinner
table or leave the Christmas gathering, you know, he and Callista still
have way more rights than my wife, Rebecca, and I do.
MADDOW: Well, he did make a political point of saying on "Meet the
Press" at one point that if you ever got married, that he would not go to
the marriage, he would not go to the ceremony. I understand that that`s
the case that he didn`t go.
You invited him?
GINGRICH-JONES: He was invited. Yes. Yes, absolutely we invited he
and Callista. They happen to be on some other continent on the day of the
actual ceremony. So --
MADDOW: Yes, is that hurtful or --
GINGRICH-JONES: Well, we still got a gift.
MADDOW: Was it from Tiffany`s?
GINGRICH-JONES: I`m not at liberty to say.
MADDOW: Very discreet. Well done.
Rick Perry today started trying to salvage his desperately flailing
campaign, particularly in Iowa, by running very explicitly anti-gay ads
saying the reason he should be elected president is because it`s wrong that
the country repealed "don`t ask, don`t tell" and because the recent moves
by the Obama administration on tying gay rights and foreign aid, those are
wrong and they are insults to religious people in this country.
I think that`s -- I`m less interested in Rick Perry`s opinion on those
matters than I am in the fact that he thinks that is a way to get ahead.
If push came to shove, do you think that we should expect from Mr.
Gingrich, as a front-runner, that he would really push the gay issue if he
had to do it?
GINGRICH-JONES: I wouldn`t put it past any of the GOP presidential
candidates. It has historically been one of the things that -- a tactic
that`s used. You know, LGBT Americans and their lives and kind of how we
should be treated or how we should be accepted or --
MADDOW: But having a gay sister doesn`t affect a politician`s
willingness to do that?
GINGRICH-JONES: You know, I -- I don`t know the answer to that. Like
I think that if he is a politician and saying these things because he`s
politician, but he doesn`t believe them, or if he does believe them, I
don`t know if I like either of those answers very much, you know? I know
at the end of the day, he is wrong. He is on definitely the wrong side of
history when it comes to those issues and it is those positions that, you
know, the Human Rights Campaign and myself are going to work really, really
hard to make sure that President Obama is re-elected next year, no matter
who the Republican candidate is.
MADDOW: So, if your brother wins the Republican nomination, you will
not be supporting his candidacy?
GINGRICH-JONES: No, and I don`t think he has any misconception that I
MADDOW: If he calls you and tries to lobby you for your vote, please,
can I be in the room?
GINGRICH-JONES: I`ll see what I can do.
MADDOW: All right. Also, Gingrich or Gingrich?
MADDOW: All right. That will be what it is from here on out.
Candace Gingrich-Jones, associate director of youth and campus outreach for
Human Rights Campaign foundation and the sister of Newt Gingrich -- thank
you very much for joining us tonight. Nice of you to come talk us. I know
you don`t have to do it.
GINGRICH-JONES: No, thank you for having me. It was an honor.
MADDOW: Nice to meet you.
GINGRICH-JONES: You, too.
MADDOW: All right. We will be right back.
MADDOW: Meanwhile, elsewhere in politics, Rod Blagojevich, Democratic
former governor of Illinois, was sentenced today to 14 years in federal
prison being found guilty on 17 felony corruption charges. Blagojevich was
impeached and removed from office in 2009, but in criminal court, among
other bleeping outrages, the governor was convicted of trying to sell an
appointment to the United States Senate seat that was vacated when then-
Senator Barack Obama became President Obama.
Mr. Blagojevich is the fourth Illinois governor, the fourth one, to
get sent to prison in the last 40 years.
And also, meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration`s decision to
make Plan B available over the counter without a prescription has been
blocked by the secretary of health and human service, by Kathleen Sebelius.
Plan B is an emergency contraception you take after sex to reduce the
chance of pregnancy. Plan B is available now over the counter to women
over the age of 17, but if you are younger than that you need a
Since you really ought to take this within a day or two, having to get
a prescription for this effectively means you can`t really use it
effectively at all.
The FDA wanted to change that. They say all reputable studies and
experts agree that it is safe for plan b to be available over-the-counter
to anyone, but the Obama administration has blocked that recommendation
And meanwhile, meanwhile, you remember yesterday, we reported that the
State Department had opened a new fake or rather online embassy in Iran?
We do not have an actual physical embassy in Tehran because -- well, for
obvious reasons. But yesterday, as we reported on this show, the State
Department launched a new English and Farsi language Web site so Iranians
could get information about U.S. policies and about traveling to the United
States, all the sorts of things that an embassy normally does when it
exists in bricks and mortar. We were just going to do it online.
So finding out about the online embassy, that was yesterday. Launched
yesterday. Today, that new virtual U.S. embassy Web site was blocked
inside Iran. Shocker. Still though at least we are trying to.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow from back
home in New York City.
Now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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