Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, July 2, 2012

Read the transcript to the Monday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: Jonathan Krohn, Julian Epstein, Paul Campos

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The Supreme Court ruling on the individual
mandate created a penalty for the Romney campaign. Or is it a tax?


spoken. This law is a tax.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is a tax a tax?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH: When is a tax not a tax?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Sometimes a tax isn`t a tax, but a penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it constitutes a tax.


MCCONNELL: It`s a tax.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s a penalty that comes under
the tax code.




WAGNER: Teams Obama and Romney have finally found something to agree

FEHRNSTROM: It was a penalty.

THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Romney`s senior adviser, Eric
Fehrnstrom --



BASHIR: Mr. Etch-a-sketch himself --

WAGNER: Says it`s a penalty, not a tax.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Were you guys calling it a tax or penalty?

FEHRNSTROM: It was a penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of Mitt Romney`s own people --

FEHRNSTROM: It was a penalty.

BASHIR: Undercutting Republican`s whole argument.

FEHRNSTROM: It was a penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re in a bind.

BASHIR: What is their strategy?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: There`s this big split between the
congressional Republicans and this guy called Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If it were a tax, it would
be called a tax.

MCCONNELL: The chief justice has made it clear, it`s a tax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new report takes us inside the inner workings
of the Supreme Court`s health care ruling.

SMERCONISH: Chief Justice Roberts --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief Justice John Roberts.

SMERCONISH: -- initially planned to strike down the mandate, but
switched his vote.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: How could you? I trusted you.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: The chief justice had to contort
logic and reason to come up with this ruling.

MCCONNELL: We`ve passed plenty of laws around here that the court
finds constitutional.

COLBERT: Where`s the man who said unlimited corporate money was
speech? Where`s the man who voted against equal pay for women? I don`t
even know who you are anymore!


O`DONNELL: Today, Mitt Romney and Republicans couldn`t agree on
whether the individual mandate includes a tax or a penalty, and whether
Mitt Romney should fire campaign senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom.

After the Supreme Court announced their ruling on Thursday,
Republicans found their new line of attack.


MCCONNELL: The Supreme Court, which has the final say, says it is a

Since the court said it was a tax.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: It`s not even Obamacare, it`s Obama
tax. This is a tax.


O`DONNELL: Chris Wallace asked Republican Senate Leader Mitch
McConnell the obvious question.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: If the Obama mandate is a tax on the middle
class, isn`t the Romney mandate a tax on the middle class?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think Governor Romney will have to speak for
himself about what was done in Massachusetts.


O`DONNELL: And so, with Mitt Romney, as usual, unavailable for
questions from reporters, the task of answering the question Mitch
McConnell left for the Romney campaign fell to the Obama campaign`s
delight, the etch-a-sketch guy.


FEHRNSTROM: The governor believes that what we put in place in
Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the court`s ruling that
the mandate was a tax. But, again --

TODD: So he agrees with the president -- but he agrees with the
president that it is not -- and he believes that you shouldn`t call the
mandate -- the tax penalty, a tax, you should call it a penalty or a fee or
a fine?

FEHRNSTROM: That`s correct.


O`DONNELL: Thank you, Chuck Todd.

That prompted this reaction from FOX News.


ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS: My problem is this: we`re out here fighting,
the conservatives are fighting to call it what it is, a tax, and then Mitt
Romney`s guy, Eric Fehrnstrom, comes out today and says, it`s not a tax --

ERIC PERINO, FOX NEWS: The mandate is not a tax.

BOLLING: What in the world are you -- you know what, Eric, do us all
a favor. Take a vacation. Come back November 7th, after the election,
because it`s a tax!


O`DONNELL: Eric Fehrnstrom`s incompetence must have come as less of
a surprise to Eric Bolling`s owner. Rupert Murdoch tweeted on Sunday,
"Mitt Romney last week, tough Obama Chicago pros will be hard to beat
unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful."

Joining me no are some real pros: the co-hosts of MSNBC`s "THE
CYCLE," Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki.

So, Eric Fehrnstrom has been with Romney for a long time. He`s in
the earlier Romney campaigns and served him I think as governor was on the
staff. I think that`s who Rupert`s talking about.

KRYSTAL BALL, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: It seems likely, given the way
things have happened. I wonder who Rupert`s talking about, that guy. Yes.

I mean, of course the irony here -- I had a friend in town this
weekend from Canada, who doesn`t follow the American political system
closely. And when I explained to him that Mitt Romney had imposed the
exact same health care law in Massachusetts that he`s now railing against
across the country, he founded just the most absurdly insane thing.

And this particular situation where he`s having to talk about, OK,
it`s not a tax, it`s penalty, because this is what I did in Massachusetts,
and I campaigned on the fact that I didn`t raise taxes in Massachusetts
points out the absurdity, not only with the health care issue, but he also
raised, in one year alone, over $500 million in user fees that he claims
weren`t taxes. So if this is a tax, aren`t those taxes as well?

O`DONNELL: Steve, Eric Fehrnstrom`s a professional. He did not go
on television with Chuck Todd this morning without confirming with every
strategist in the campaign, this is what we`re going to call it. We`re
going to call it a penalty. They knew Chuck was going to ask that

He went on that show to send out the message -- this is the Romney
campaign position. And they knew, didn`t they, that this was going to be
tough for Republicans to hear.

STEVE KORNACKI, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: Well, sure. And they`re in
basically an impossible situation there, because if they don`t say that,
they are saying that Mitt Romney imposed the exact same tax on
Massachusetts that Barack Obama supposedly imposed on the country.

But, you know, I have heard the theory proposed, I forgot where I
first heard it, but that the 2012 election is the 2004 election in reverse.
This time, the Democrat is in the White House, the Republicans have the
flip-flopping rich guy from Massachusetts as their nominee.

BALL: Right.

KORNACKI: And I look at this, and I see a real parallel here when it
comes to health care to what John Kerry and the Democrats went through in
2004 with the Iraq war. And you remember, you know, Kerry was haunted
because, (a), he had voted for the war in the first place, and (b), he had
that infamous, you know, for it before he was against it line on the
supplemental funding.

And throughout the entire fall campaign, Kerry was pressing the
message that, hey, look, you know, things are getting worse in Iraq, we
really need to rethink this, you know, we really rethink our strategy
there. And Bush always had that line he could throw back at him: you voted
for this thing. You wanted this war as much as I did.

And I`m seeing that same potential when it comes to health care in
the fall. Romney can throw everything he wants, the Republicans can throw
everything they want at Obama, and Obama can look at Romney and said, same
program, same tax, your state. Where`d you think I got the idea from?

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s listen to what a Romney endorser, Rick
Santorum, said about this today.


RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: This is so important, yet
Mitt Romney agreed with Barack Obama on every single thing that he did.
Why would we put someone up who is uniquely -- pick any other Republican in
the country! He is the worst Republican, in the country, to put up against
Barack Obama.


O`DONNELL: The graphic scene ruined my joke. I said he said that
today, and then we were going to reveal, of course, that was back in March.

But the man has a point. If you were trying to find the single worst
person to have the Republican nomination on the day that the United States
Supreme Court says this is a tax, Romney would be that guy, right? About
the worst.

BALL: Well, let me introduce you to Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.

O`DONNEL: I don`t know, Herman? You know what, I would like to hear
Herman Cain`s answer. Is it a tax or a penalty?

BALL: Is it a tax? It might involve apples and oranges.

KORNACKI: And the number nine would be in there.


BALL: It would be colorful.

But, clearly, Mitt Romney has a problem with this issue. And
actually, I think his problem may be overshadowed by the fact that the
campaign`s attack ads aren`t actually as effective as the super PAC attack
ads. And they`re all going to be on message with this being a tax, and
quote/unquote, "the worst largest tax in middle class history," which is,
of course, a lie.

But they`re all going to be on the page with that. There`s a new
study showing that their ads are actually more effective.

So, in some ways, I think they`re going to be able to cover for this
bungled Romney response.

O`DONNELL: And, let`s listen to what Eric Fehrnstrom said in
response to Rupert Murdoch`s comments about the campaign staff.


FEHRNSTROM: We`re very happy with the team that we have. We`re
happy with the state of the race. I can`t respond to every tweet that Mr.
Murdoch sends out, but we like the way things are right now.


O`DONNELL: He loves the way things are right now.


O`DONNELL: Loves them. He`s got that penalty to deal with, and now,
he`s got Rupert Murdoch to deal with.

What is Rupert up to here?

KORNACKI: Well, you know, I was saying to Krystal before the show,
it`s interesting, because we all know --

O`DONNELL: Don`t say anything to Krystal before the show. Save it.


KORNACKI: We were discussing whether before the show -- we will now


KORNACKI: We all know where Rupert Murdoch is coming from. We all
know where his sort of media empire is coming from, a very conservative
Republican. But it was striking to me to see him basically admit,
outright, that he wants Mitt Romney to win the election.

I thought that was kind of striking. I always thought there was a
little more nuance there. You know, the papers will always come out and
editorialize for the Republican side, we know what FOX News is. But to see
him come out and say that, I thought was interesting.

But, you know, the question of Fehrnstrom and his long-term future in
the campaign -- the one thing is this: this the Friday, the next jobless
report comes out. And we know the Romney campaign, it is all out
basically, they want that number as high as possible, heading into

And I`ve got to say, if it`s bad news this Friday in terms of where
the economy`s going, you know, we will now be talking about Eric Fehrnstrom

O`DONNELL: Let`s dwell on some bad news for Romney for the moment.
Let`s listen to Mitt Romney talking about the mandate in 2006 and 2008.


ROMNEY: For those that have higher incomes, we expect them to have
health insurance. And if they don`t, we`re going to withhold their tax
refund or put in place other penalties to assure that everybody comes in
the system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tax penalties in Massachusetts.


ROMNEY: Well, look, if people can afford to buy it, either buy the
insurance or pay your own way. Don`t be free riders.


O`DONNELL: So, yes, they`re tax penalties. He kind of nodded
agreement to that.

BALL: Yes. Well, and he does such an eloquent job too of describing
the mandate. I mean, I don`t know why we didn`t take some messaging
lessons from him.

And that`s exactly what it is. You can`t have people free riding on
the system. We`re paying for them anyway, so you have to get them in
through the mandate.

And the fact of the matter is, in Massachusetts, which, of course, is
the model for this nationwide, less than 1 percent of people ended up
paying the penalty, tax, whatever you want to call it.

O`DONNELL: Steve, it seems both campaigns want the, is it a penalty
or is it a tax, discussion to go away.

I mean, it presents a minor problem for the Obama campaign, which is
they don`t want to dwell on this much longer either. They have to kind of
enjoy where Romney is, but it`s not like they`re going to be the
prosecutors here.

KORNACKI: No. But I mean, in this case, you have the media is going
to play a big role in that.

O`DONNELL: I am. I`m the prosecutor here.

KORNACKI: How often is it that you have one of the defining issues
of the campaign, you have one party`s nominee is basically completely at
odds with the rest of his party? So at a certain level, the Obama campaign
doesn`t need to worry about this.

I`m really struck. Look back at those clips from 2006 and 2008. The
whole Romney for president thing started with -- we have the masters of
health care. That`s going to be our big selling point. He was only
governor for a term, he didn`t run for re-election, but did this one big

And he showed in a bipartisan way with Ted Kennedy that he could do
this. And, look at this, six years later, because Obama became president,
said, yes, we can learn from that, and now it`s suddenly poison in the
Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, you can see them every
day. What is that, 3:00 p.m.?

BALL: Three p.m., 12:00 on the West Coast.

O`DONNELL: "THE CYCLE." But you don`t use any of the material that
you use on this show, right?

BALL: Of course.

O`DONNELL: Nothing -- you come on here, it`s all fresh.

KORNACKI: Every show`s a new one.

O`DONNELL: No one heard anything like that this afternoon?

BALL: Of course not.

O`DONNELL: All right. Thank you very much for joining me tonight.

Coming up, a shocking new report by David Corn at "Mother Jones" that
says that Mitt Romney was an abortion profiteer.

And remember that 14-year-old kid who wowed conservatives at the CPAC
conference a few years ago? Well, he`s getting ready to go to college and
he`s not a conservative anymore. Jonathan Krohn gets tonight`s LAST WORD.


O`DONNELL: In the most underreported part of the Supreme Court
ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Republican governors are now empowered
to deny health care coverage to maybe 8 million people. How the Supreme
Court rewrote the affordable care act is coming up in tonight`s "Rewrite."

And David Corn is here with his stunning report in "Mother Jones" on
how Mitt Romney actually invested -- invested in the business of abortion.
That`s coming up.



the media from publishing a steady stream of rumors and fifth-hand
accounts. My favorite among press pieces, wisely observed, at the Supreme
Court, those who know don`t talk. And those who talk, don`t know.


O`DONNELL: That was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a
speech to the American Constitution Society on June 15th. But the rules
about discretion at the Supreme Court might have changed since then.

Here is the headline-making report from CBS News reporter, Jan
Crawford, on "Face the Nation," about Chief Justice John Roberts switching
his vote on the case involving President Obama`s health care.


JAN CRAWFORD, CBS: I am told by two sources with specific knowledge
of the course deliberations that Roberts initially sided with the
conservatives in this case, and was prepared to strike down the heart of
this law, the so-called individual mandate. Of course, it requires all
Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty.

But Roberts, I`m told by my sources, changed hi views, decided to
instead join with the liberals. And he withstood, I`m told by my sources,
a month-long desperate campaign by the conservative justices to bring him
back to the fold. And that campaign was led, ironically, by Justice
Anthony Kennedy.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now are: Julian Epstein, a Democratic
strategist, and a former Democratic chief counsel to the House Judiciary
Committee; and Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado-
Boulder, and a contributor for "Salon".

Professor Campos, I was just told before we came on that you may be
able to add to our knowledge of this with some breaking news information of
your own from a source close to the drafting of this opinion.

Tell us what you`ve learned and how it is different from or adds to
that CBS report.

PAUL CAMPOS, LAW PROFESSOR: Yes, Lawrence. I`ve been speaking with
someone who was involved in the drafting of the opinions, who wasn`t
willing to divulge that information up until now, when this person has
become very angry about the Jan Crawford report on CBS.

And this person wishes to emphasize that, in fact, there are serious
inaccuracies in that report, particularly the claim that the joint dissent
was drafted after Chief Justice Roberts defected on the question of the
individual mandate. In fact, the first 48 pages of the 65-pages of the
joint dissent were really the majority opinion. Only the last 17 pages of
that joint dissent were added on, essentially, for the most part, after
Chief Justice Roberts changed his vote.

You can tell this from internal evidence as well, if you look at
Justice Ginsberg`s opinion on, you know, on page 35, she says that the
chief justice fails to explain why the individual mandate threatens to
constitutional order, and then on page 15 of the joint dissent, it says,
Justice Ginsberg claims that we fail to explain how the individual mandate
threatens the constitutional order.

But, in fact, we do explain it.


CAMPOS: It`s clear at that point that, Justice Ginsberg is writing a
straight-out dissent to the majority opinion authored by Chief Justice
Roberts. Only later in the process did that become the joint dissent, and
Justice Ginsberg`s clerks, you know, changed her opinion, so that it would
be addressing the chief justice`s arguments in the court`s opinion.

But the joint dissenters didn`t bother to clean up their opinions to
cover the tracks of the fact that, in fact, what we were really dealing,
originally, was the majority opinion of the court, offered by Chief Justice
Roberts. Which, again, I want to emphasize, the first 48 pages does not
mention the opinion of the court. The dissent for the first 48 pages does
not mention the opinion of the court. Only in the tacked on section at the
end does it mention the opinion of the court, because for the first 48
pages, it was the opinion of the court.

O`DONNELL: So, Professor Campos, just to clarify here, the
distinction you seem to be drawing with the CBS report is that the Roberts`
defection occurred much later, that there wasn`t the opportunity of a month
of Anthony Kennedy lobbying Roberts.

CAMPOS: I`m not completely clear to what the precise timing was.
What my source is very clear on is that most of that opinion was, in fact,
Chief Justice Roberts` opinion for the court. Most of that was now the
joint dissent.

And the part of the report that claims that the joint dissenters
wrote this opinion after the fact, which just simply doesn`t mention the
chief justice`s arguments at all, until the tacked on section at the end,
having to do with Medicaid, that`s just a completely inaccurate description
of what happened in the course of the court`s deliberations and votes.

And in fact, Chief Justice Roberts did write in sum, ended up writing
both the majority and the dissent in this case.

O`DONNELL: Julian Epstein, your reaction to what we`re learning from
inside the court.

a great deal of respect for Paul, and I think that it`s going to get
confusing your viewers, because there are, in fact, three majority opinions
and three dissenting opinions.

O`DONNELL: OK, go ahead. Make it more complicated. Go ahead.

EPSTEIN: Well, I`ll try to make it more simple. I think this is a
theory about Justice Roberts changing his opinion at the last minute that`s
being put out by the clerks for the conservative justices and it`s a very
unwise move for them, because I think it will alienate Roberts.

But I think it`s implausible. Let me tell you why I think it`s
implausible. First of all, Chief Justice Roberts is not as temperamental
as that, to change his mind on something so important the last minute.

Secondly, as we`ve all said, Chief Justice Roberts was going to
author the majority opinion. And the idea that he had Scalia offering the
majority opinion and jumped at the last minute just doesn`t seem to hold
water. Third, if you read justice -- the Chief Justice Roberts` opinion on
the IRS penalty, he makes it clear that he thinks the conservative view on
the IRS penalty is absurd.

And in fact, his opinion is very close to your piece last Tuesday,
Lawrence, on the IRS penalty being in the tax laws extensively in this
country, as we talked about the other night. You have tax penalties if you
don`t get married, you have tax penalties if you don`t get a child, you
have tax benefits if you get a home, you have tax benefits if you get an
education. And Chief Justice Roberts pointed out this is very common in
the tax code.

It seems utterly implausible that he would have had an opposite
opinion almost days earlier and that he would have shown a total disrespect
-- he really dissed the conservative point of view on the IRS penalty.

And I think Paul`s done some very good forensics on this. But the
problem I think, Paul, is that when you have this back and forth between
Scalia and referring to Ginsburg as the dissenting position, you know,
Scalia wrote the majority -- essentially had the majority view when it came
to the Commerce Clause. When you talk about Scalia saying that the
question on the tax didn`t need to be addressed -- the direct tax issue
didn`t need to be addressed because that would imply that the majority
opinion felt that the tax provision was unconstitutional -- I think your
forensics on that are incorrect as well, because, really, what I think the
position of the court there is that you don`t have to get to the direct tax
question, because this isn`t a direct tax. This is a penalty.

So I think the forensics that you`ve done are very good, but I think
they could be interpreted many, many different ways. The idea of Roberts
changing his mind on this IRS penalty at the last minute, when there is
such enormous precedent for it in the law, I think it`s utterly

O`DONNELL: Paul, just to be clear. Your information is coming from
a source inside the Supreme Court.

CAMPOS: That`s right. And I do want to emphasize that the real
debate here is not about the IRS penalty, but about what the -- what
Roberts` role was in the composition of what is now the joint dissent,
especially in regard to the individual mandate.

And my sources indicate that until very late in the process, Justice
Roberts was going to go along with the notion that the individual mandate
was unconstitutional, vis-a-vis, the Commerce Clause, was not going to bail
it out through this tax claim. He -- now, of course, I don`t know
precisely when he changed his mind in regard to that question. But, in
fact, what we now see as the joint -- what is now the joint dissent was
until fairly late in the process the majority opinion of the court,
authored by Justice Roberts in significant part.

Now, there are certainly parts of it that he did not author and that
he would not agree. That`s quite true. But I think that the Crawford
report is just incorrect on the claim that the dissent was drafted after
Justice Roberts --

EPSTEIN: And I agree the Crawford report was incorrect, but let me
just --

O`DONNELL: Julian, I`m sorry, we`ve really got to go. I have a
feeling this story is going to continue. I think we`re going to be having,
maybe, another leak or two from the court.

EPSTEIN: Give it a weak and it will be debunked.

O`DONNELL: OK. Paul Campos and Julian Epstein, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

Coming up, David Corn`s report in "Mother Jones" shows that Mitt
Romney invested in a company that was attacked by abortion opponents for
profiteering in the abortion business. David Corn is next.



MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: You will always have the music, will always
have that voice that we all fell in love with. She inspired us all. We`ll
always have my friend, Ms. Whitney Houston.


O`DONNELL: That was Mariah Carey at the BET Awards last night, which
will be re-broadcast this week. The most important and moving tribute to
Whitney Houston last night was from her 78-year-old mother, Cissy Houston.



O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Mitt Romney`s new abortion problem,
and this one could be worse for abortion opponents than he was for it
before he was against it.

David Corn`s investigative reporting in Mother Jones shows that Mitt Romney
signed a $75 million investment in a company called Stericycle, which
disposes of medical waste, including fetuses from abortion. That would
make Mitt Romney an abortion profiteer in the eyes of abortion opponents.

Romney successful evaded questions about this the during the presidential
campaign, because he claimed to have retired from Bain Capital after Bain
made the investment in Stericycle.

But nine months after Romney supposedly retired from Bain Capital, he was
listed as both an active participant in the investment in Stericycle and
had, quote, "share voting and dispositive power" over the investment.

Joining me now, the man who wrote today`s investigative piece for mother
Jones, David Corn. He is also an MSNBC political analyst and also Karen
Finney, former DNC communications director and MSNBC political analyst.

David, Romney was able to get around this during the campaign, just because
of these dates about exactly when he left Bain and the Republicans, his
Republican opponents didn`t look much beyond that.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes. That`s one of the big
questions. There are two key parts to this article, and thank you for
promoting it, as you have.

One is just the investment itself. He was part of a partnership, $75
million in this company. Years later, after they sold and made about $49
million off their investment, Romney and his partners, abortion foes
targeted it for the company`s role in the disposal of aborted fetuses.

So at the time, it wasn`t a big issue. But, you know, one can wonder what
he was looking for in terms of investments.

But the other issue here is, as you noted in your introduction, he was
listed as being an active participant in this deal, and being in charge of
several Bain funds or properties or entities, months after his campaign
says he left Bain and had nothing to do with Bain`s internal business.

This is important because, again and again and again, stories come up about
Bain deals, such as "the Washington Post" piece about outsourcing, just a
few days ago, and the campaign or Bain`s responses that Romney had left the
company by that point in time, thereby trying to absolve him of involvement
in these sort of deals that would look bad for a political candidate.

But in this deal, and in other deals too, it turns out, there were SEC
records and other indications that he was more active than he has claimed
to be. So there`s a whole little wishy-washy mystery here to what Romney
was doing at Bain after he supposedly left.

O`DONNELL: And Karen Finney, no matter when Romney left Bain, the question
of when he derived income from some of these schemes could span many, many,
many years, which is one of the reasons why you`d love to take a detailed
look at Romney tax returns, that would show up exactly where he got his
income, over the relevant years, and how much of his income was from

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that`s exactly right. And as
David points out in his reporting, in addition to those questions, there
are new questions that seem to be raised in the responses that the Romney -
- from the Romney campaign to David`s piece, that raise questions about how
-- what did he know and when did he know it? Which are always the classic
questions that get people in trouble.

And, again, you know, this plays into a couple of narratives that are
deadly for Mitt Romney. Number one, that he will say or do anything to get
elected. Number two, what is he hiding in the tax records and why won`t he
come clean and honest and forthcoming? But number three, in the context of
this campaign, Lawrence, as we`ve talking about on your show, we got a --
you know, reporters who are covering Mitt Romney have got to press these

These are very important questions, as David pointed out, both around
Stericycle specifically, and around Mitt Romney`s relationship to Bain and
to a number of deals after the period of which he is claiming that he no
longer had an association with the company.

O`DONNELL: I want to read a posting on an anti-abortion Web site about
just how much they hate this company, Stericycle. They say Stericycle and
other corporations like it must be stopped from furthering the abortion
holocaust in our nation and around the world. The campaign to stop
Stericycle is committed to aggressively pursuing Stericycle, along with its
officers, service providers, and investors, that would be Mitt Romney,
until they end their collaboration with the abortion industry. Join us in
the fight against this goliath.

David, I`ve lost track of when Mitt Romney was in favor of abortion and
when he became against it. When he invested in Stericycle had he become an
abortion opponent yet?

CORN: Not yet, at least not publicly, as far as I`m aware of.

But there are two key points here. One is, he invested in what he invested
in, not to create jobs, not to promote family values, but to make money for
himself and his fellow investors. And that`s the point that the president
has been very good at making again and again and again. He wasn`t in it to
further public or communal interests. He was in for the money.

And the second thing is, Mitt Romney signed the papers for this deal. I
have another deal that happened two years later. He`s listed in SEC
records as part of the management committee for Bain. Now, Bain says he
was just merely a signatory, because it was very hard to separate him from
the ownership in a private equity firm, because you know what, it`s

But that aside, we see indications again and again that he had deeper
involvement, or that he had some involvement, at least not no involvement,
in what Bain was doing after February 1999, when he says he left and
retired to go work on the Olympics.

So these are issues that are going to have to be resolved. They can be
resolved by looking at the tax returns in part, and by going to some of
these other deals, and it just doesn`t -- again, it`s very fishy.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Karen, quickly.

FINNEY: Well, I was just going to say, as David points out, it`s not just
the tax returns, but the nature of his awareness in what these companies
were doing and what their interactions were in addition to the tax

CORN: And was he making tens of millions of dollars off this? Did he know
what was happening?

O`DONNELL: David, we`ve got to break it there. David, before you go to
bed tonight, can you find out how much Stericycle is making from Romney
care in Massachusetts? Surely they have contracts in Massachusetts that
are basically funded by Romney care.

Stay up a little later tonight, David. Thank you both very much for
joining me tonight. Thank you.

Coming up, how the Supreme Court really did rewrite the affordable care
act. They really did. And how Republicans will now be able to deny
coverage to millions of people, thanks to the Supreme Court. That in the

And later, the 14-year-old author of "Defying Conservatism," who was once
the darling of FOX News will make his debut here on "the Last Word", now
that he is no longer a conservative.


O`DONNELL: In a "Last Word" exclusive, the teenager who was once the
darling of FOX News and conservatives everywhere will join me to explain
why he`s decided he`s no longer a conservative.

We`ll hear why he made that decision, tonight, when he gets "the Last


O`DONNELL: In the "rewrite" tonight, the most underreported, in a way, the
most important part of the Supreme Court`s decision on the affordable care
act. It is the most important part of the decision because it affects the
most people.

Most people who will get health care coverage under the law will get it
from a good old-fashioned expansion of Medicaid. I say "old-fashioned"
because we have expanded coverage many times under Medicaid over the years.
The Medicaid expansion in the affordable care act has always been
completely ignored by the press, even though it is the single biggest
component of the law.

And that is the part of the law that the Supreme Court rewrote. The court
switched the expansion of Medicaid from being mandatory in all states to
being optional in all states. That leaves us, in the media, with a very
big job to do. It is a job we hate to do, because it involves actual
research and reporting, all of which, all of which has to occur outside of
Washington, D.C.

But, it can be done by phone. We now have to ask each of the 50 governors
if they will veto or sign a bill expanding Medicaid coverage in their
states. We also, then, have to check with each of the 50 legislatures on
whether they will pass a bill expanding Medicaid in their states, in
effect, accepting the optional offer of expanded Medicaid in the affordable
care act.

Now that you`ve heard the political media`s homework assignment, you can
understand why no one is doing it. No one is making those phone calls to
all 50 states. And so I am, tonight, inviting the national media and the
local media in all 50 states to put this question to governors and
legislative leaders around the country, so that we can fill out a map
showing exactly how much health care coverage with was lost in the United
States Supreme Court.

How bad a hit to the affordable care act take in the Supreme Court? It may
turn out that more people will lose coverage because of the Medicaid
rewrite than would have lost coverage if the individual mandate had been
thrown out.

Think progress led the way today on how to cover this story. They posted
this map, which shows only 16 states in light blue that they think will
implement the Medicaid expansion. And they show ten states that they say
definitely won`t implement the Medicaid expansion, and the rest of the
states they call undecided.

Those ten states, supposedly refusing to implement the Medicaid expansion,
would be denying Obama care coverage to 3.5 million people. That`s more
than 10 percent of all of the people projected to be covered by the
affordable care act. It would take the total covered under Medicaid from
17 million down to 13.5 million.

But the Medicaid total could go much, much lower than that. Remember,
these 26 states brought this case all the way to the United States Supreme
Court, so that they would not have to implement the Medicaid provision. So
why would any of these 26 states who won that point in the Supreme Court go
ahead and implement something they fought against and won?

If all these states who won this point in the Supreme Court refused to
expand Medicaid, that would deny Obama care coverage to 8.2 million people.
That is approximately half of the people the affordable care act was
designed to cover under the Medicaid provision. That is why the handsomest
man in American politics said this to Bill Maher on Friday night.


concerns me on this, in sober honesty, in reflects on a decision, is the
Medicaid provision, which allows states to now opt out. There are 26 red
states that precipitated this lawsuit in the first place in this decision.
This is a major issue, even in some Democratic states.


O`DONNELL: Even in some democratic states. That was the lieutenant
governor of California talking there, and he has doubts that some
Democratic states will implement the Medicaid provision. I have doubts
that his state will implement the Medicaid provision.

The lieutenant governor of California could have said, right there on Bill
Maher`s show, of course California will implement it. But he didn`t say
that. And he was wrong about the 26 states who brought the case to the
Supreme Court being red states. Two of them, two of those states, have
Democratic governors and Democratic legislatures.

Only 13 states have Democratic legislatures and Democratic governors. The
expansion of Medicaid will have to be passed by legislatures and signed by
governors and two, two of these 13 democratic states are among the 26 that
tried to get the entire affordable care act ruled unconstitutional.

So the real implementation prospects for the Medicaid provision could be
quite grim. Washington Democrats have absolutely no strategy for getting
the states to accept their new Medicaid option. The reason Washington
Democrats made that provision mandatory is that they did not believe that
most states or enough states would implement the new Medicaid option.

So now, Washington Democrats who didn`t trust the states to do this on
their own are just pretending that the states will now do this on their
own, now that they have the option.

The truth is, we don`t know what the states are going to do, and we need
more people working on this question than just the people at think
progress. If eight million people or more just lost health insurance
coverage in the United States Supreme Court, maybe somebody ought to tell
them that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember the Republican debates we had this year? They
applauded for the idea of letting a sick man without insurance die. Herman
Cain got cheers for saying he`d electrify the border fence. They booed a
gay man serving his country in the military. No wonder 14-year-old boys
can do your act. You act exactly like 14-year-old boys. There`s no
ideology here. It`s just about being a (bleep).


O`DONNELL: The most famous 14-year-old boy to thrill Republican
conservatives was Jonathan Krohn, who spoke to CPAC in 2009.


JONATHAN KROHN, FORMER CONSERVATIVE: In the book, I define conservatism,
as I believe it is fit, upon four categories of principle. Respect for the
constitution, respect for life, less government, and personal


O`DONNELL: Needless to say, young Jonathan got rave reviews.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could be the next Sean Hannity and the future of the
GOP, but he can`t even vote until 2016!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political prodigy and proud conservative, Jonathan

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At age 14, he`s 14 years old, he`s one of the GOP`s u
up-and-comers, named one of the most influential people of 2009 by "Time"
magazine. He is also author of "Define Conservatism." He`s 14 years old!


O`DONNELL: But that was then. And now Jonathan Krohn is 17 years old and
he has, to say the least, matured. He likes "the Daily Show," he reads
"the New Yorker," he`ll a freshman at New York University this year, and he
will be very comfortable to live in a state where same-sex marriage is

Joining me now for his first post-conservative TV interview is Jonathan
Krohn, author of "Define Conservatism."

Jonathan, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

I have to tell you, I`ll never forget seeing your video at CPAC a few years
ago, and I thought, wow, that kid is really bright, really smart, he`s very
poised in front of a microphone. But I just thought, it made me feel a
little bit bad that a kid that young had his thinking all locked in on
everything. And it turns out your thinking wasn`t so locked in.

KROHN: Yes. I mean, I`ve really changed. I think that, for me, politics
isn`t really being about being a part of an ideology or being a part of a
party. It`s about just being yourself and what you think is right.

I don`t think I had all the answers then. I don`t think I have all the
answers now. I don`t think anybody has all the answers at any point in
their life. I just feel that it was really naive of me to think I knew
everything then and not open my mind to the possibilities of other things
being correct.

O`DONNELL: Well, I`ve got to tell you, every 14-year-old I`ve known seems
to think that they think they know everything. And it is true that by the
time you`re headed to freshman year in college, you realize, whoa, this
university has a lot of stuff that I don`t know.

And so, I`m glad you`re entering NYU with exactly the right kind of open
mind. And this is not to say that you`ve moved over to becoming a liberal,
is it?

KROHN: No, I mean, I have a lot more left-leaning ideas than right-leaning
ideas, I guess, now. But I just don`t want to be boxed in. I mean, maybe
it`s just having what I call label phobia. I don`t want to be labeled as
anything, and maybe I`ll get over that and call myself something at some

But I just don`t want to be called anything. Sure, I have more left-
leaning ideas now, and I`ve talked about that recently. But I don`t want
to be called this ideology or that ideology. I just want to be able to
talk about any ideas. And I don`t think I`ve got it all figured out, so
why box myself in now.

O`DONNELL: Right. And your development, and this started with slipping
away from what you call the social conservative ideas.

KROHN: Yes. I mean, that`s really where it started. I mean, part of what
happened was after the second book came out, when I was about 14, I really
started reading philosophy, you know, and I`ve mentioned that, you know,
Hegel, Schopenhauer, Niche, and then I started getting into people like
Kinky Chalmers and a lot of people.

But, I really gave myself a breather from politics and let myself get away
from that in order to just see what I believe now. And when I revisited
everything else, I realized, you know, I don`t really agree with everything
I wrote then. So I should just move on. And the first thing to go was my
social conservative ideas, because they seemed to regimental and so
structured and that was the most dogmatic part about it. I was the most
dogmatic part of it.

And I don`t like being so -- in such a place that`s so -- it`s so -- it
suppresses me, and it really just makes me feel like I have to agree with
this or I`m not a part of anything or I`m a bad person and I don`t want to
be a part of that.

I rather just have my building to have my opinion on any issue I want. And
so, I laugh and started having more socially liberal positions after that.

Jonathan, if we were not running out of time, which we are, I have to end
to end the interview right now because you have already cited more
philosophers that you have read than I have read. And so, you are now
officially, I`m out that you are out of my debt. You are way over my head.

Jonathan Krohn, welcome to New York when you get here.


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2012 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET

Sponsored links

Resource guide