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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, August 13, 2012

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Guests: Krystal Ball, Steve Kornacki, Ezra Klein, Howard Dean, Bruce Bartlett, Joy Reid, Karen Finney, Sister Simone Campbell

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: And now we know how Paul Ryan`s political
career will end. He`s 85 days away from becoming the next losing vice
presidential candidate who will never be president.


be a part of America`s comeback team. And together, we will unite America
and get this done!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The race to define Paul Ryan.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s everywhere.

MATTHEWS: This weekend`s Romney had with Paul Ryan`s budget.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Will Ryan`s budget drive a wedge in their

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have my budget plan, as
you know, that I have put out.

WAGNER: Budget plan.

ROMNEY: That`s the budget that we`re going to run on.

MATTHEWS: Where is that romance?

WAGNER: Romance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you purposely put a Medicare and budget
proposal that you didn`t write on the ballot?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are concrete details that people will be
able to look at.

RYAN: There`s about 100 pages here of details.

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: It guts Medicare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Change Medicare to essentially a voucher program.

SHARPTON: It guts social program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cuts the Medicaid, food stamps, transit

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what is so controversial.

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: The Medicare conversation, thus
far, has made me want to slam my head into a wall a thousand times.

WAGNER: We`re finding out what Paul Ryan has actually been up to in
the last few years.

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: How many years of tax returns did you turn
over to the campaign?

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Is the tax return issue, is it gone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This tax thing is going to stay --

RYAN: I`m going to release the same amount of years that Governor
Romney has.

TODD: Is it going to come back?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Paul Ryan a better pick than Sarah Palin?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say he`s less -- well, he`s --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, much better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give it a little bit of time for people to really
get a sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s Sarah Palin with gravitas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least he`s believable!

RYAN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one believes Mitt Romney.

ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you don`t run Chris Christie,
Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.


O`DONNELL: It was a rough first day alone on the vice presidential
campaign trail for Medicare`s worst enemy, Paul Ryan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to cut Medicare?!

RYAN: I think it`s --



O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan, who has been falsely praised by Washington
Republicans as a detail man, obviously doesn`t believe that details can
help him now.


REPORTER: Congressman Ryan, what do you think should be done about
the drought problems here?

RYAN: Oh, we`ll get into all these policy things later, Alex. Right
now, I just want to enjoy the fair.

Our job is to strengthen and protect Medicare. That`s what we do.
President Obama, they`re raiding and hopefully rationing Medicare.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney made a futile trip to Florida today, after
decisively losing that state on Saturday by selecting Medicare and Social
Security`s worst enemy as his running mate. The biggest problem Romney had
in Florida today was, as expected, Paul Ryan.


ROMNEY: Well, I can tell you what`s radical and extreme is to spend
$1 trillion more every year than you take in. I`m sure there were places
that my budget is different than his, but we`re on the same page, as I said

The items that we agree on, I think outweigh any differences that may
be -- we haven`t gone through piece by piece, but my plan for Medicare is
very similar to his plan for Medicare. There may be -- we`ll take a look
at the differences.


O`DONNELL: President Obama was in Iowa today, where he welcomed Paul
Ryan, the vice presidential candidate he and Joe Biden were hoping to get a
chance to run against.


opponent, Mr. Romney, chose his run -- as his running mate, the ideological
leader of the Republicans in Congress. He is an articulate spokesman for
Governor Romney`s vision. But the problem is, that vision is one that I
fundamentally disagree with.


O`DONNELL: A new "USA Today"/Gallup poll finds Paul Ryan scores the
lowest initial ratings of any vice presidential pick since George H.W. Bush
picked Dan Quayle. The nationwide survey taken Sunday found 45 percent of
registered voters think Ryan is a fair or poor choice, 39 percent said Ryan
was excellent or pretty good, 16 percent have no opinion.

Joining me now is former chairman of the Democratic National Committee
and Vermont governor, Howard Dean, and MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki and Krystal

Governor Dean, a lot of Democrats are saying, you know, this is the
dream ticket. This is who they wanted on there. I actually don`t think
it`s spin. As much as this is a time for spin, and you were going to get a
spin reaction, no matter what in these situations, I don`t think they`re
kidding. I think this is the ticket that the Democrats want.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, you know, I think you have to
be careful of talk like that, because it sounds like you`re taking things
for granted and you shouldn`t. But Ryan clearly is not going to help in
Florida. And it`s true that if the Democrats win in Florida, then it`s
game over for the Republicans.

So I do think that governor Romney has weakened his position
significantly by picking Paul Ryan. He`s an amiable guy, but his views
really are extreme. They`re extreme on women`s issues. They`re incredibly
extreme on Medicare issues.

We did -- Democracy for America did some polling in six swing
districts, in Colorado and Pennsylvania and a couple of other states. By
three to one, people do not think that Medicare should be a voucher
program, three to one. Even in conservative -- these are swing districts,
in some cases, where our candidate or congressional candidate is down.

So, you know, he`s articulate, he`s attractive, I`m sure he says what
he thinks, which is always an attractive idea, but the problem is what he
thinks is way outside the American mainstream in terms of the social
compact and in terms of women`s rights.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, he has a fake reputation as being a detail guy.
The Ryan plan, in fact, leaves out an awful lot of details. For example,
it says, we`ll lower tax rates, but we will eliminate loopholes. He
doesn`t specify any of those things that he would eliminate.

But today you see him running away from details. How long can he run
away from details on the campaign trail about the Ryan plan?

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: Well, obviously, both of them are going to
continue to get questions about exactly what`s in the plan, exactly which
parts of the plan they`re going to implement, if there is a Romney
presidency. And the problem for Romney, as much as he wants to distance
himself from the Ryan budget, his own budget plan, such as it has been
spelled out, which is not that much, is very much along the same lines as
the Ryan plan, and, of course, he has endorsed the Ryan plan and said if it
came to his desk, he would sign it.

But the Romney architecture is the same. It`s cut taxes for the rich,
raise taxes for the poor and middle class, and pay for it all, also, by
cutting social programs that primarily benefit the poor and the middle
class. So they are exactly ideologically aligned, and Romney`s also
endorsed, and his plan on Medicare voucher plan and Medicaid as block
grants with, the very same idea that Paul Ryan has put forward.

O`DONNELL: Steve, I want you to go way back, all the way back to
before the Paul Ryan vice presidential candidacy. All the way back to
Friday and think about where the campaign was then and think about it when
you listen to what Laura Ingraham, conservative radio talk show host, Laura
Ingraham said about how she felt Romney was doing on Friday, pre-Paul Ryan.
Let`s listen to it.


LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I might be the skunk at the
picnic, but I`m going to say it and I`m going to say it clearly. Romney is
losing. I don`t like to start a Friday show like this, but I feel like I

I don`t pretend to have all the answers, but I know one thing:
conservatism wins. If the election were held today, Mitt Romney would


O`DONNELL: And if the election were held today, Mitt Romney would
lose. But, Steve, that`s where Republicans were. They were depressed.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Absolutely. And that`s how I interpret
this move. I think, I -- there is a large element of panic to it, a large
element of desperation to it. But I wouldn`t say it`s entirely panic and
entirely desperation. If it were all of that, I think Romney would have
gone and picked Chris Christie to be his running mate.

But I think there was something here that was rapport, there`s a
chemistry between Ryan and Romney. Romney generally likes him and they
thinks he can work with him, doesn`t generally think the same about Chris
Christie. So, I think there was that aspect. I think Romney was always
intrigued with him.

But I think if this campaign had been going the way Romney always
believed it would, where you would have unemployed stalled over 8 percent,
you have soaring economic anxiety, he thought that would translate into a
race that would be tied right now or he would be ahead in right. And they
said the pick was made August, when they say they made this pick, they say
the pick was made August 1st, even if you roll the clock all the way back
then. It was still very clear by that point this campaign was not going
where Romney thought it would be. He was consistently running three or
four points behind Obama, and that`s significant, over time.

When that sort of locks in place over two, three, four months, that`s
significant. When your negatives are rising, that`s significant. When
you`re coming off that foreign trip from hell that he had, that`s

BALL: Right.

KORNACKI: I think at that point he looked at it and said, you know
what, Portman, Pawlenty, Thune, somebody like that, they`re not going to
raise two, three four points. Now, we can say, I don`t think Ryan is going
to either, but Ryan is a gamble, there`s nothing else.

Ryan has at least has, you know, the bigger the risk, the bigger the
reward or the bigger punishment. But I think they`re looking at that. We
need something that`s going to shake this up and that`s where this came

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the vice president`s welcome to his new
debating partner in the campaign, Joe Biden.


given definition to the vague commitments that Romney`s been making.
What`s gutsy about giving millionaires another tax break? What`s gutsy --
what`s gutsy about gutting Medicare, Medicaid, education? What`s gutsy?

Ladies and gentlemen, we`ve seen this movie before. And we know how
it ends.


O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, it`s going to be a great debate between Joe
Biden and Paul Ryan.

DEAN: Well, the fundamental problem here is that Romney`s out of the
frying pan into the fire. Before the debate, it was about whether he`d
paid his taxes or not. That`s still going to go on.

Now the debate is about Republican economic policy, which is not so
good for most people, for most of the vast majority of people. So the big
problem -- and I`m a little surprised at this pick, because it wasn`t very
strategic. The big problem is, they need a referendum on whether Barack
Obama has managed the economy well. They now are going to have a
referendum on whether giving tax cuts to people who make $1 million a year
is the right way to manage the economy.

I don`t get it. I truly don`t get it. I do get that they have good
chemistry. I don`t think that`s how you pick a vice president. Jack
Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson didn`t have very good chemistry, but it worked.

And in this case, they may have good chemistry, but they`re going to
have chemistry with about 210 electoral votes by the time we get done.

O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh actually made yet another point. I think
the second one this year.

DEAN: Rush Limbaugh?

O`DONNELL: Yes, he made appoint I agree, governor dean. Let`s listen
to this.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The pick signals that the
decision was made somewhere that we`re going to go head first up against --
we`re not going to skirt it with a traditional campaign. We`re going to
take it straight to them. And we`re going to win or we`re going to lose,
articulating exactly who we are and exactly what we believe and exactly
what our vision for America is. Ryan can do that.


O`DONNELL: Krystal, I think that`s true. They`re going to win or
lose articulating what they really think. I think they`re going to lose
articulating --

DEAN: I do, too.

BALL: I think they`re going to lose. I don`t think they`re going to
articulate what they really think. I think they`re going to try to run
away from the Ryan budget.

O`DONNELL: Well, as close as a politician can. They`re going to
evade and all that, but they`ll try to come closer.

BALL: Yes, but you see them already trying to muddy the waters. I
mean, their big talking point has been -- well, forget about pall Ryan and
Medicare. Let`s talk about the president and all these alleged cuts to
Medicare that he made.

So, obviously, they don`t want to really lay out where they stand and
where the president stands. They want to lie and obfuscate and do the
things that they`ve been doing previously in the campaign.

But Paul Ryan on the ticket makes it harder to do that because as you
saw in Joe Biden`s clip, this is something that Americans understand. It`s
very easy to understand what Paul Ryan stands for and what Mitt Romney
stands for and it`s going to be hard for them to run away from that.

O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, thank you
all for joining me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

DEAN: Thanks for having us on, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney destroyed two things by choosing
Paul Ryan as his running mate. First, he destroyed any chance of the Ryan
plan actually becoming law, even under a Republican presidency. And
second, he destroyed Paul Ryan`s political future.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, the Romney campaign`s plan to change the
subject from tax returns to Paul Ryan has so far failed.



Bill, I would really prefer living wages, but our --

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: So you want a guaranteed wage? Is that what
you want?

CAMPBELL: Well, which one do you want?

O`REILLY: I`m asking you. I`m the interviewer here, Sister.

CAMPBELL: Oh, OK. Sorry.


O`DONNELL: That was one of the leaders of the nuns on the bus, Sister
Simone. She`s just run across the street from the FOX News studio where
she submitted to questions and interruptions from Bill O`Reilly. She will
finish her explanation about what Bill O`Reilly doesn`t understand about
American poverty here on THE LAST WORD.



GROVER NORQUIST: The Paul Ryan budget, we just need the president to
sign this stuff. Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a
pen to become president of the United States.


O`DONNELL: And now, Republicans believe that Grover Norquist is on
the verge of achieving his dream -- a Republican with enough working digits
to take orders from Paul Ryan. But in truth, the Ryan plan is dead --
deader than ever. It is more dead tonight than it has ever been before.

First, Senate Democrats killed the Ryan plan. President Obama would
have killed it if it ever came to him for his signature, and now, Mitt
Romney has killed the possibility of enacting the Ryan plan, even if we
have to suffer a Romney/Ryan administration. But giddy right-wing
Republicans have not caught on. They don`t realize that Mitt Romney has
now done everything he can to kill the Ryan plan.

Rush Limbaugh certainly doesn`t get it.


LIMBAUGH: Ryan`s plan puts you in charge of your Medicare. And
ultimately, your Social Security, although, I don`t want to muddy the
waters with that. Forget -- I don`t want to scare people with that, but
that`s eventually what`s going to happen.


O`DONNELL: But Mitt Romney knows that he has killed any hope of that
happening -- any hope of the Ryan budget plan becoming law.


SCHIEFFER: There`s no question, your campaign has been trying to make
this election a referendum on Barack Obama. Now, some people are saying,
you are making it a referendum on Paul Ryan`s budget plan.

ROMNEY: Well, I have my budget plan, as you know, that I`ve put out,
and that`s the budget plan that we`re going to run on.


O`DONNELL: So Mitt Romney has no intention of running on the Ryan
plan or enacting the Ryan plan. And if he`s president, what better way to
eliminate the possibility of a Ryan plan competing with a Romney plan than
removing Paul Ryan from the Congress and sticking him in an office where he
has to take orders from Mitt Romney.

Joining me now are Ezra Klein, columnist for "the Washington Post,"
and an MSNBC analyst, and Bruce Bartlett, who served as executive director
of the Joint Economic Committee, as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan
White House, and as deputy assistant secretary of the treasury, he is now a
columnist for the "Fiscal Times" and a contributor for "New York Times."

And, Bruce, you also served, in a sense, with Paul Ryan. Tell us
about your work overlap with Paul Ryan.

BRUCE BARTLETT, FISCAL TIMES: Well, it wasn`t so much we worked
together as we have a common person in our lives, which was Jack Kemp, whom
I worked for the in the 1970s. And when I first met Paul Ryan about 20-
some years ago, he was actually an intern for Jack Kemp when he was head of
a group called Empower America. And Paul has long believed and aspired to
really be the Jack Kemp for today.

O`DONNELL: And he`s on his way to that, which was Jack Kemp`s
experience as a losing vice presidential candidate, I think.

But, Bruce, your "Fiscal Times" piece of August 10th -- and I say
this, remember, I`m the guy who said Tim Pawlenty was first going to win
the Republican nomination for president. And when he dropped out, I said,
obviously Tim Pawlenty is going to get the vice presidential nomination, so
I got my record on predictions here.

But your August 10th headline of your "Fiscal Times" column is "Paul
Ryan will not be Mitt Romney`s running mate." What happened here, Bruce?

BARTLETT: Well, the operation was a success, but unfortunately the
patient died. Well, look, I mean, my argument was essentially political,
that it simply makes no sense for Romney to put Ryan on the ticket, if only
because he doesn`t attract a single new vote to Romney that he didn`t
already have. And he brings along a lot of baggage, the Ayn Rand stuff,
the abolish Medicare stuff.

So it just made no sense to me. But I still think that`s right. I
have yet to find a compelling argument for why Romney picked Ryan.

O`DONNELL: Well, I don`t think you`re going to find one from me.

Ezra Klein, let`s get into the Ryan plan, and what his stardom is
based on. What is in the Ryan plan and what is left out of the Ryan plan?

KLEIN: So what is in the Ryan plan at this point is a somewhat
softer, from its initial version, way of moving Medicare over to private
insurance, or retain the option to be a normal Medicare, but you pick from
a bunch of private insurers, too.

O`DONNELL: That`s the latest -- that`s the thing that --

KLEIN: That is the new version. That is Ryan 2.0.

O`DONNELL: That he worked out with Ron Wyden.

KLEIN: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: But that was never voted on or put into legislative
language in any way.

KLEIN: No, no, it is in the latest budget, in the second iteration of
the budget, this year`s budget, that is the version of support that is in
there, to my knowledge.


KLEIN: But the big cut went to Medicaid.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, yes.

KLEIN: So it softened Medicaid`s cut. In the next ten years, nothing
really happens to Medicare. They keep Obama`s cuts.

Medicaid takes $750 billion cut, on top of taken out the $650 billion
you would have gotten from Obamacare, you lose about 30 million people who
had been covered by Medicaid in addition to another 15 million or so who
would have been covered by the Affordable Care Act through private
insurance subsidies.

So right there, you have the Ryan/Romney budget, probably taking about
45 million, 50 million people out of health care insurance.

O`DONNELL: And, Bruce, it establishes the -- the Ryan plan
establishes only two income tax brackets. It`s pretty close to a flat tax.
A 10 percent bracket for singles making under $50,000, couples under
$100,000, and then a 25 percent bracket for everything above that.

And the Ryan argument is, it will be deficit neutral, because he will
eliminate whatever deductions and loopholes need to be eliminated in order
to gain the same revenue in the tax system, but he offers absolutely no
specifics on what would be eliminated in the deduction group.

BARTLETT: That`s exactly right. But in that respect, both Mitt
Romney and Paul Ryan are on the same boat, which is, they are very, very
specific about precisely what huge tax cuts they would enact, especially
for the rich, and -- but have said not one single word about what
deductions or loopholes they would get rid of to pay for those tax cuts.

And as the Brookings Institution has proven, it`s mathematically
impossible to gain enough revenue by getting rid of deductions and
loopholes to pay for that reduction in tax rates for the rich. And, by the
way, the corporate tax rate also comes down to 25 percent in Ryan`s plan.

O`DONNELL: And so, if, for example, you wiped out every deduction
including the home mortgage deduction and then wreaked havoc on the housing
mark in America, which is already in trouble, you still wouldn`t be able to
do what Ryan claims his plan would do in taxation.

And, Ezra, Ryan has this reputation as being a deficit hawk, and the
press just puts it in there, automatically, beside his picture, beside his
name, every single time. And what, exactly, does the Ryan plan do to the

KLEIN: Over time, it brings it down. You don`t get a balanced budget
until about 2030. And by the way, I sort of think this is unfair, because
what you need to know about the Ryan plan, when you hear all these deficit
numbers about how low it goes over time, they went to the Congressional
Budget Office, the people who score this stuff, and they said, assume our
tax plan doesn`t lose any revenue -- assume, our frankly insane level of
cuts to long-term discretionary spending. They bring everything the
government does that is not an entitlement program down to over 4 percent
of GDP by 2050. It`s just ridiculous.

They say, assume that works out, assume everything goes the way we
want it to, even if they didn`t get you the details on how, and that`s how
they get to their current deficit number.

So it does bring the debt down as a percent of GDP over the next
couple of decades. It doesn`t balance until about 2030, 2040, but you`re
dealing with very unusual and unlikely assumptions to get it there.

O`DONNELL: And so, Bruce, the Ryan plan does not bring the budget
into balance during Mitt Romney`s lifetime, or what an actuary would say
his life expectancy is, yet still they say he`s our greatest deficit hawk,
he`s our real fiscal conservative. What happens to fiscal conservatives on
the Republican side that they think it`s OK to just do all of this kind of
budget cutting, tax cutting, and forget about deficits?

BARTLETT: Well, they become obsessed with cutting taxes. I would
like to just add that Paul Ryan voted in favor of the Medicare expansion in
2003, an unfunded, new entitlement program. He basically torpedoed the
Simpson/Bowles commission, by refusing to support it. And he essentially
torpedoed any effort at a long-term budget solution last summer, all
because for one reason, basically -- he refuses to accept the necessity of
raising even one penny of additional taxes to reduce the deficit.

But as Ezra points out, he ordered the CBO to simply assume that
revenues would go up on the basis of nothing.

O`DONNELL: But he did -- and we`re going to discuss this in the next
segment, he did vote for the single craziest tax increase ever proposed in
Congress, a 90 percent income tax on certain income earners. We`re going
to discuss that next. Ezra Klein and Bruce Bartlett, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

BARTLETT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, why running with Mitt Romney is the road to
nowhere for Paul Ryan.

And in the "Rewrite," the one thing the moderators at this year`s
presidential and vice presidential debates must ask.

And later, Sister Simone will join us to explain to me what she was
trying to explain to Bill O`Reilly about poverty in America.



BOB SCHIEFFER (R), CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Now, I understand you`re also
going to run for re-election to your Congressional seat. Are you kind of
hedging your bets here?

RYAN: No, I`m already on the ballot. You can`t even go off the
ballot. So I`ve already filed. Our filing deadline was in June. I`m
already on the ballot, so it has nothing to do with that.


O`DONNELL: So on November 7th, the day after the election, Paul Ryan
will become the next losing vice presidential candidate who will never be
president. The television age has been harshly unforgiving to losing vice
presidential candidates. Many of them have run for president after that,
but none of them have won.

They include Henry Cabot Lodge, William Miller, Edmund Muskie,
Sergeant Shriver, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale, Geraldine Ferraro, Lloyd
Bentsen, Dan Quayle, Jack Kemp, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and who can
forget, Sarah Palin. Even if Paul Ryan is re-elected to his House seat in
November, he will be forced to give up his Budget Committee chairmanship
under the House Republican term limits rules for chairman.

He will also, of course, be blamed within the party for helping to
sink the Republican ticket with his radical plan for repealing and
replacing Medicare. And so he will sit in the House of Representatives
with all of the power of a junior member plotting his run for president in
2016. Or he might reasonably find the power of a junior member so
dispiriting, after having had the power of a chairman, that he resigns from
the House to plot his run for the presidency from the comfort of the only
private sector job he has known, working in the Ryan family business, a
business that has made him rich, the same way Paris Hilton got rich,
through inheritance.

Some of the same pundits who were foolish enough to think that Sarah
Palin was a front-runner for president this time will surely take Ryan`s
presidential candidacy seriously. But he will do no better than Dan
Quayle, Joe Lieberman, and John Edwards did when they ran for president
after being losing vice presidential candidates. And he will watch the
Republican presidential nomination next time go to one of the lucky ones,
one of the lucky Republicans, who was not selected by Mitt Romney to be the
next losing vice presidential candidate who will never be president.

Joining me now, Karen Finney, former DNC communications director and
MSNBC political analyst, and MSNBC contributor, Joy Reid. We now know
enough about Paul Ryan`s future. I think that`s settled. We should talk
about his past a little bit, because I think he`s not as well known as he
should be at this stage for a vice presidential candidate.

First of all, he`s a rich kid, OK? Let`s just get this straight. I
was reading his financial disclosure forms today. I don`t have his tax
returns, so I was reading his financial disclosure forms, House of
Representatives. It`s pages and pages and pages of stock ownership that he
has, that just goes on for 20 pages. And big, big numbers.

And the biggest numbers being things like the Ryan/Hudder Investment
Partnership, these family operations. His great grandfather started a very
successful business paving roads, which is to say government contracts.
His grandfather was also rich through that same system. His father, rich.
Listen, I`m sorry, I speak from the world of those who have inherited
nothing and are going to inherit nothing for the rest -- we think, if you
inherited something, you`re a rich kid. I`m sorry.

I mean, he`s inherited millions. This kid -- only in Romney world is
he not a rich guy.

compared to Romney, he`s kind of a poor kid.

O`DONNELL: Or to Romney`s kids. They`ve get 100 million.

FINNEY: That`s exactly right. What, he`s like the sixth son of the
five Romney boys. Not to mention, though, here you have a guy who after
his father passed actually relied on Social Security survivor benefits to
help pay college. And yet he wants to take that away from other kids who
aren`t rich kids, who didn`t -- don`t have an inheritance to fall back on,
as they try to get to college.

O`DONNELL: Joy, the history of Paul Ryan is that he voted for every
single thing that blew open the budget deficit under George W. Bush. He
voted for the tax cuts, obviously. Then he voted for completely unfunded
provision, the expansion of Medicare prescription drugs. So he built this
deficit, just as much as George W. Bush did.

remind people, John Boehner wept on the floor of the House, begging
Republicans to vote for. And he did vote for it. So, yeah, the guy did --
that he`s a fiscal conservative is actually kind of ridiculous if you look
at his voting record. But I think Paul Ryan, because he`s a rich kid in
part, is the triumph of ideology when you know that the consequences will
never fall on you or yours.

It`s easy to say, people should just get used to over time not having
Medicare and Social Security. They`ll just get used to it. We`ll start it
10 years from now. We`ll phase it in. We`ll phase these programs out.
Because it`s never going to affect you. You`ve got congenital wealth. His
cousins are running the family construction firm he`s still heir too. So
he`s never going to have to suffer the consequences.

I think that`s why he can be a pure ideologue, even when his voting
record completely blows away the idea that he`s a conservative fiscally.

O`DONNELL: And he married rich too. His wife recently inherited
about five million dollars. And speaking of TARP, glad you brought that
up, Paul Ryan voted for the single craziest tax increase in history. In
2009, March of 2009, Charlie Rangel introduces in the House this bill to
put a 90 percent -- a 90 percent income tax on bonuses for any of these
Wall Street guys who get bonuses, who all -- in companies that also
received TARP funds. Paul Ryan found a tax increase he would vote for.

And by the way, unconstitutional. Senate didn`t even bring it up.
Everything about it was crazy. He voted for that tax increase.

FINNEY: But remember, for the Bush budgets, he`d say, it wasn`t his
fault. Now the story is, well, I was a junior member and I had to do what
I was told. And gee, the fact that I`ve been in Washington some 20 years,
that doesn`t make me a creature of Washington. I`m actually a leader in

REID: Two bills passed.

FINNEY: That`s right, two bills passed. So you`ve got to get with
the new program there, Lawrence. There`s some new talking points out

O`DONNELL: Everything he has brought to a vote in the House of
Representatives, none of it has become law, since he`s been chairman. He
passed one little thing about taxation of arrows, literally. He, himself
is an archer, an archery hunter kind of guy.

But there`s a lot more we`re going to learn about him over time. I
think we`re going to see a lot of these detailed studies in the press about
what`s in these financial disclosure forms of his. But I think, as I said
earlier in the show, Rush Limbaugh`s right, isn`t he, Joy, that this really
is as focused a version of the difference in the ideas between the current
Republican party and the Democratic party as you could ask for.

Mitt Romney wasn`t that. Paul Ryan is that.

REID: No, I think you`re absolutely right. This is Mitt Romney
completely buying the blue plate special of the right, right? And of the
part of the right that believes, because most of them are rich, that we can
wean America off of the social safety net, that we can get rid of it solely
over time, as long as we don`t affect the current elderly, because they
need them to vote for them.

That`s what Mitt Romney has decided to embrace. I think it was
probably the boldest sort of pick he could have made, just because
everybody else is boring. But other than that, I think it`s looking to be
not a good thing for him.

FINNEY: But consider the message, though. What they`re saying is,
it`s not going to go into effect for 10 years, and then we`re going to make
it better. You`re OK for now, then we`ll make it better. Whereas Obama
says, you know what, why don`t we just make it better now? How about that?

O`DONNELL: We know it`s bad for current Medicare beneficiaries --

FINNEY: But we`re not going to touch it.

REID: And Romney will fix it.

FINNEY: We can`t tell you how, but trust us.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and Karen Finney, you guys just keep going. I`ll
just read this prompter thing I have over here.

The one question that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do not want to be
asked in the debates is the one question that the debate moderators
absolutely must ask. And that is next in the Rewrite.

And later, one of the leaders of the Nuns on a Bus, Sister Simone,
joins me to talk about Paul Ryan and Bill O`Reilly.


O`DONNELL: Job one for Mitt Romney`s running mate is to make
questions about candidates` tax returns disappear. Let`s see how he`s


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many years of tax returns did you turn over to
the campaign?

RYAN: Well, it was a very exhaustive vetting process. It`s a
confidential vetting process, so there were several years. But I`m going
to release the same amount of years that Governor Romney has. But I got to
tell you, Bob --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how many was that?

RYAN: Two. He`s -- I`m going to be releasing two, which is what he`s


O`DONNELL: Well, OK. That was his first interview, his very first
interview. But, surely, the political media is going to get tired of this
tax return thing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many years of tax returns did you provide to
the Romney campaign?

the exact number, George, But I -- you know, it was over several years, I

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several years. So more than two?

PAWLENTY: Well, we don`t get into the details of the vetting process,
but I gave them a bunch of tax returns. I don`t remember the exact number
of years.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Before we leave the subject of the
vet, can you tell us how many years of tax returns you submitted?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. But thanks for asking.


O`DONNELL: That`s right. Republicans are betting that Mitt Romney`s
choice of Paul Ryan will save them all from answering questions about their
tax returns. But that can happen only if the presidential debate and vice
presidential debate moderators go along with the Republican strategy.
There is very little chance of Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan submitting to
anymore interviews outside of the safety of Fox News.

They have obviously made the calculation that they can seal themselves
off from legitimate media inquiry and just hope they get through the
debates without any of them asking a question about tax returns. Most
debate moderators prefer to ask high-minded policy questions instead of
seemingly small questions about individual tax returns.

But this year, we have a presidential candidate who has broken with
precedent and refused to release his tax returns. And he happens to be the
richest presidential candidate in history. And he has said, publicly, that
he will not release his tax returns, because he believes there is
politically damaging information about him in his tax returns.


ROMNEY: Our Democrat friends take what`s there, twist it, distort it,
dishonestly use it in attack ads. I just don`t want to give them more
material than is required.


O`DONNELL: And so tonight, the only people standing between Mitt
Romney and his quest to win the White House without answering questions
about his tax returns are the debate moderators. They will have plenty of
time to ask policy questions. And they will each have time to ask the
candidates who are hiding their tax returns a simple question: why?

Governor Romney, given the fact that you found it perfectly reasonable
to release 23 years of your tax returns to the McCain campaign four years
ago when they were considering you for the vice presidential nomination,
and given the fact that you demanded to see several years of Paul Ryan`s
tax returns to evaluate his fitness to serve as vice president, why
shouldn`t voters be able to see your tax returns and Paul Ryan`s tax
returns to make the same judgment you did about candidates` fitness to

Congressman Ryan, you found it perfectly reasonable to show your tax
returns to the Romney campaign. Why won`t you let American voters know
what`s in those tax returns?

We know that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will give evasive answers to
those questions. But that is not a reason not to ask those questions.
They will also give evasive answers to most of the moderators` policy
questions. But knowing the candidates will be evasive about policy will
not stop these moderators from asking them about policy.

You might want to take a minute right now to tell the debate
moderators you want them to ask Romney/Ryan why they are hiding their tax



BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Tell me what you want --

I want is money in the pockets of hard-working people that are living below
the poverty level.

O`REILLY: OK, so if they can`t earn it, you want to give it to them,
to a certain extent.

CAMPBELL: My point is that people are earning it. The other
challenge we face, is that for every job opening right now, there are four
applicants. So I believe, one, we have to deal with the debt by raising
taxes. We can`t afford the Bush-era tax cuts.

O`REILLY: But, wait, if you raise taxes, what if that makes the
economy worse.

CAMPBELL: Oh, it won`t. It won`t.

O`REILLY: But it has in the past.

CAMPBELL: Excuse me. It won`t.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, fresh off her attempt to explain poverty
in America to Bill O`Reilly, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of
the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

Sister Simone, Bill O`Reilly throws out that old idea of, oh, if you
raise taxes, it will make the economy worse. He apparently slept through
the 1990s, where we raised taxes. Bill Clinton actually did the biggest
tax increase in history in 1993. And the economic growth in that decade
was just astronomical.

CAMPBELL: Well, that`s certainly true. He also lived through a
number of other lessons, I believe. One is that people should make a
living wage. They should be able to support their families with what they
earn. And also, the very real concept that families deserve to eat, to
have housing. And in our richest nation on Earth, we`re not bankrupt. We
can afford this, if we`re responsible.

O`DONNELL: Sister, I`m guessing that one of the O`Reilly unstated
agenda items tonight was to have you on to kind of, I don`t know, chip away
at your aura, as it were, because you have directly opposed the Paul Ryan
Budget. And the Fox News job is to get Paul Ryan elected to the vice
presidency. And they certainly don`t want you or anyone else standing in
the way of that.

What is it that Paul Ryan doesn`t understand about budgeting, that you
would like him to understand?

CAMPBELL: Well, there`s several things he doesn`t understand. One is
that we have a faithful budget that put together by the Jewish, Christian,
and Muslim community here in D.C., which says that we need reasonable
revenue for responsible programs.

And in 55 pages, we set out a fair amount of detail about it. The
other piece that he doesn`t understand, as a Catholic, which really saddens
me, is the fact that we are community, that we are in this together. We
need to have each other`s backs. Only wealthy people can ever begin to
pretend that they can live in a gated community all by themselves, and not
be reliant on everyone else.

In the places where we visited on our fabulous bus trip, we were in
low-income communities everywhere, where we saw amazing community built,
where people know how to share, where their lives are better because they
know each other, and where they can engage in service to the community, and
in that way, create a better life for their families.

Paul Ryan doesn`t have a clue about that. We would really love to
show both he and Governor Romney the reality of hard-working folks at the
margins of our society, making a difference.

O`DONNELL: Well, sister, Paul Ryan has said that -- I`m just -- he
said the reason he got involved in public service -- I`m reading something
he said, word for word, if he had to give credit to one thinker, one
person, it would be Ayn Rand, who was very much someone opposed to any of
the kinds of treatment of the poor that Jesus Christ, another political
philosopher, who was available as an influence to Paul Ryan, as possibly
even the single most important influence to him, that he rejected the
teachings of Jesus Christ over the teachings of Ayn Rand.

CAMPBELL: Right. One of the things that`s concerning to me is that a
year and a half ago, I believe it was, that he said all these things about
Ayn Rand. And now he`s saying many of the same things about Catholic
social teaching, without acknowledging the difference between the very
basic philosophies. And as a Catholic myself, I look to Jesus` work to be
at the margins with people who suffer.

But the other piece that gets missed is Catholic social teaching talks
about the positive role of government. And it`s the positive role of
government to offset the excesses of any culture. And in our nation, I
believe the excess of culture that needs to be offset is excessive
individualism. Paul Ryan seems to think only that the responsibility of
the individual should extend rugged individualism and not counter it with
the rest of Catholic social teaching.

O`DONNELL: Well, of course, being the politician that he is this
year, he very conveniently dropped his devotion to Ayn Rand. He said, I
reject her philosophy. It`s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human
interactions down to mere contracts.

But that`s the politician talking. Sister Simone Campbell, thank you
very much for joining me tonight and getting tonight`s LAST WORD.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.



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