THE ED SHOW with ED SCHULTZ
August 21, 2012
Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Jared Bernstein, Eugene Robinson
EZRA KLEIN, GUEST HOST: Welcome to THE ED SHOW. I`m Ezra Klein, in
for Ed Schultz tonight. We have an amazing show on tap.
We`ll tell you about the most important part of the Romney/Ryan budget
that people aren`t talking about but they need to. And, by the way, it`s
We`ll also tell you how and why the president is getting outspent and
outraised this campaign and what it could mean this November. We got some
nice graphs on that. You want to see them.
And, of course, there`s Todd Akin. Oh, is there Todd Akin.
As Ed would say, let`s get to work.
Deadlines -- deadlines are exciting in politics. They are just great.
Polls close, budgets are due, petitions are turned in. If you`re a
reporter, you`re waiting there for something to happen. It`s a problem,
it`s my problem.
Deadlines mean something has to happen. It`s great.
But today, we had a truly exciting and unlikely deadline on our hands,
one we didn`t expect even a week ago. By 5:00 p.m. Central Time,
Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, he of the theory that the female
reproductive system include some sort of natural spermicide behind a red
glass case mark to break in case of legitimate rape, needed to declare
whether or not he would drop out of the race for the Senate seat, the one
currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Now, this is really big deal. As my friend Rachel Maddow explained
last night, she hosts "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW," it`s terrific, you should
watch it everyday.
As she explained, if Akin didn`t drop out today, it becomes really
hard for him to drop out. He`s got to get a court order. It`s a total
But today, we heard Akin`s decision which was for many Republicans the
least welcome big "D" decision since LeBron James decided to take his
talents to South Beach.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: Right off the bat, to start things out,
Mike, I want to make things absolutely clear, and that is we`re going to
continue with this race for the U.S. Senate.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KLEIN: For two days, establishment Republicans and Tea Party
conservatives alike have pressured, have begged Akin to please leave the
race. Get out of there. But Akin explains on Mike Huckabee`s radio show
that his comments about legitimate rape and female bodies having ways to,
quote, "shut that whole thing down," will not keep him from seeking higher
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AKIN: I have had a chance now to have run through a primary and the
party people said when you win the primary, we`ll be with you. They were
with us, but then I said one word and one sentence on one day and
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KLEIN: An there`s the rub. Akin is still convinced or is at least
telling us he`s convinced his mistake involved, quote, "one word and one
He echoed this sentiment in a new campaign ad apologizing to voters in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AKIN: Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way.
For that I apologize.
The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold.
I ask for your forgiveness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: The words Todd Akin said were legitimate rape. He says those
words were a mistake. If he had said the right words, none of this would
have happened. Maybe he`s right. If he had phrased this the right way,
not come up with some cockamamie theory about the female reproductive
system, including in check (INAUDIBLE) repeal invaders, we wouldn`t be
having this conversation.
But if we weren`t having this conversation, this conversation would
still be happening. Not the one over Akin`s dumb comment. The one over
the actual policies Akin`s dumb comment was meant to defend, which is why
the most I instructive part of the Mike Huckabee radio show was not, in
fact, the portion Todd Akin on it. It was the guest Mike Huckabee brought
on the program immediately following Todd Akin.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE: I don`t know of anybody who is a more credible spokes
person to talk about the issue of life and the sanctity of human life from
the perspective of one who herself, is the result of a rape, Rebecca
Kiessling joins me now.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KLEIN: Rebecca Kiessling is an antiabortion activist. She speaks
around the country promoting state bans on abortion, using the story of her
own conception which happened during a rape as a linchpin.
Mike Huckabee was campaigning throughout the country last year with
Rebecca Kiessling last year to encourage the passage of state personhood
amendments. On Kiessling`s Web site, she writes, "I strongly urge everyone
to support personhood amendments."
Mike Huckabee was a key note speaker last year. All of this effort is
in aid of defining a person from the moment of conception which would
prevent abortions in virtually all cases ever. This is a major policy
agenda of Mike Huckabee`s Huck PAC, which gives money to candidates and
causes aligned with the pro-life movement. One of those candidates, hey,
Mike Huckabee, the runner up for the presidential nomination in 2008,
is the de facto architect of the keep Todd Akin on the ballot in Missouri
fund, which brings us back to Todd Akin`s, quote/unquote, "mistake".
Akin confirmed that he meant to use a term not legitimate rape but
forcible rape. Now forcible rape was the language, the two specific words
adopted by the House Republicans including Todd Akin and vice presidential
candidate Paul Ryan for H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Fundings for Abortions Act.
Forcible rape would mean for instance that a 13-year-old girl who is
impregnated by a 40-year-old man, a situation which no one believes there
could be a real consent, it would mean that the girl cannot get federal
help in that bill if she needed an abortion because the rape wasn`t
forcible, the exemption didn`t cover her.
Much like the personhood bill, the designation of forcible rape would
narrow the exceptions to any laws barring abortions.
Now, due to an uproar by abortion rights and civil liberties groups,
Republicans agreed to drop the forcible rape language from the legislation.
But the intentions behind the provision still stood.
Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, he knows about a mistake like this
one. The outcry over Virginia`s transvaginal ultrasound law prompted the
governor to dismiss it entirely from the state agenda. So should Bob
McDonnell sympathize with Todd Akin? But maybe he`s angry add him, too.
Today, McDonnell led the Republican Party platform committee as they
adopted the party planks. And just as in 2008, they adopted support for a
human life amendment which would overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortions
under the protections of the 14th Amendment.
Without the Todd Akin flap, this event would have been as pro forma as
it was 2008. Now, everyone is watching it.
See, here`s the thing, if you really believe what these folks say they
believe, what these folks believe, that a fetus is a full human from the
instant of conception, of course, these exemptions don`t make sense. The
fact that there was a rape, as awful as that is, does not mean there can
subsequently be a murder.
And that`s what these laws are about. They`re about making that
exception small as possible, about instituting the foundational premise of
that logic, which is that a fetus is a whole right from the very beginning.
This is why pro-life groups at the Susan B. Antony List and the Family
Research Council have stood by Todd Akin, because he stands by them all the
way. But most Americans, 75 percent, according to Gallup, don`t. They
want exceptions for rape and for incest.
Mitt Romney running for president knows this. He`s always said he
supports those exceptions. And he is still today calling for Todd Akin to
drop out of the race. Said, "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to
step aside and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate
Mitt Romney knows another day has gone by without the discussion of
the economy, knows he`s getting drag entirely off-message. Indeed, today,
Democrats have labeled the human life amendment portion of the GOP platform
the Akin plank. Romney wants this to stop.
But Todd Akin doesn`t want to stop. Todd Akin wants to win. And then
he wants to go to Washington and fight for his ideas, the ones that were
behind his comment.
Joining me now is Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer at
"Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast," and author of the "Means of Reproduction:
Sex, Power, and the Future of the World."
Michelle, it is always great to see you.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEWSWEEK: Hey, you, too.
KLEIN: So, you have done as much work on this, reproductive politics
as anyone. So if you take Akin`s somewhat bizarre comment out of the fold,
if you just get rid of his little odd biology lesson, how in or out of the
Republican or pro-life mainstream are his actual policy ideas?
GOLDBERG: Well, that`s what`s so fascinating. And not just the pro-
life mainstream, I would say the Republican mainstream, right? His ideas
about reproductive biology also have some precedent in the pro-life
movement, including this guy, John Willke, who was a major Romney surrogate
But that aside, this belief there should be no exceptions in cases of
rape and incest, no exceptions really except to save the life of the
mother, has gone in a really short amount of time from being a fringe
position in the Republican Party to being the normative position in the
Mitt Romney was the only one of the presidential contenders or of the
Republican contenders for the nomination who believed that there should be
Of course, his vice presidential candidate, like McCain`s vice
presidential candidate believes there should be no exceptions in cases of
rape and incest. The platform says there should be no exceptions. Many of
the major speakers at the convention believe there should be no exceptions.
This is the Republican Party position. And what`s fascinating is that
people like me who pay close attention to this stuff, have been writing
about it for a while, talking about it for a while, this has awoken many
You mentioned Bob McDonnell, something similar happened --
KLEIN: The governor of Virginia.
GOLDBERG: Right. Something similar happened with the transvaginal
ultrasounds, right? They`ve been happening for a long time. All of a
sudden, somehow, it kind of came to everyone`s attention and people
realized just how crazy things had gotten.
KLEIN: What is happening in the pro life movement of the Republican
Party that has allowed this to break out? As you said, the party platform,
the normative beliefs in the Republican presidential field, these have
become significantly more radical or pure, however you want to put it, in
recent years. What has allowed that to break forward?
GOLDBERG: Well, I think you have a dual radicalization. You have a
radicalization of the Republican Party exemplified by the Tea Party
movement and kind of party establishment leaders losing control of, you
know, they had kind of built up this right wing grassroots and then the
grassroots kind of took over. So you see again and again and again these -
- you know, with the exception of Wisconsin, you constantly see
establishment candidates losing to kind of fiery grassroots insurgents.
You know, Todd Akin -- the Republican Party has never wanted Todd Akin
to be the nominee in the race.
And then, similarly, you had something of a kind of ideological
radicalization in the legal and political arm of the pro-life movement, you
know, with the rise of personhood, which was initially really rejected by
the leaders of the pro-life movement as being counterproductive, you know,
they had before taken on a kind of much more incremental strategy, a new
generation has said, no, we want to go for broke on this.
KLEIN: Michelle Goldberg, this is why you should be reading her
columns for years. It`s very helpful to figure out what is going on.
Coming up, could Todd Akin`s Senate run spoil the GOP`s plans to take
the Senate? It could not be the first time the Tea Party gave Harry Reid a
Stay tuned. You`re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
KLEIN: Coming up, just like the Tea Party candidates of 2010, Todd
Akin`s refusal to drop his bid for Claire McCaskill`s Senate seat could be
a spoiler for the Republican Party. A big one. Howard Fineman will weigh
in on that next.
This election has focused a lot on the future of Medicare, but the
GOP`s program for Medicaid and other programs for the poor are far more
drastic. We`re going to get down to numbers and specifics.
And one area President Obama is heavily trailing his opponent Mitt
Romney, campaign fund-raising, big money. We`ll break down the money and
what it means for both candidates later in the show.
Share you thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter using the #EdShow.
We`ll be right back.
KLEIN: You`ve been paying attention to politics the last couple
years, you might think the Democrats and the Tea Party can`t agree on so
much. Debt, taxes, abortion, whether the president is born in Hawaii and
is a socialist.
But they do have one surprising zone of being just in lock step. Who
the Republican nominee for Senate should be in key competitive races that
might end up deciding who wields the gavel in the upper chamber? That is
where they have decided to compromise.
2010 was a golden opportunity for Republicans to take over Congress.
They had it all mapped out, top to bottom. You take the House, you take
the Senate, and even better, you take out the kingpin in the Senate, you
take out Majority Harry Reid, who was, if you remember, polling terribly in
Now, in January 2010, that was a real and serious opportunity for
Republicans. And then the primaries happened. And the GOP which had
plenty of good choices nominated a bunch of whack-a-loons in key states.
In Colorado, Tea Party favorite Ken Buck beat the GOP establishment
candidate Jane Norton. Buck questioned the constitutionality of Social
Security and said the government should ditch student loan and we should
close down the Department of Education and lost to the Democratic
incumbent, Senator Michael Bennet.
Republicans had the state of Delaware solidly in the R column because
their guy, Mike Castle, a legend in Delaware, was running. Castle, Mr.
Delaware, a popular former governor, a moderate with a record of working
with Democrats and he was projected to stop the Democratic candidate Chris
Coons by double digits.
And then he lost the primary, and he didn`t just lose the primary. He
lost the primary to a perennial joke candidate who later had to publicly
assure voters she was not in fact a witch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O`DONNELL (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: I`m not a witch.
I`m nothing you`ve heard. I`m you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: She`s also not U.S. senator today. Christine O`Donnell
defeated Mike Castle in the Republican primary. The result is one
Republican strategists lamented were straight out of Harry Reid`s dream
journal. On election day, that one sure beat seat for Republicans went to
the Democrats, easy.
Speaking of Harry Reid`s dream journal, in Nevada, the GOP
establishment was pulling for a candidate named Sue Lowden. Polling in May
2010, Sue Lowden had the best chance of beating Harry Reid. And that
survey was taken after Lowden said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUE LOWDEN (R). FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, before we all
started having health care in the olden days, our grandparents, they would
bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say, I`ll paint your house.
They would do -- I mean, that`s the old days of what people would do to get
health care with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: The good old days. The GOP establishment was so desperate to
oust Harry Reid, they want to rally around a woman who advocated bartering
livestock for medical care, chicken for checkups.
But the Tea Party didn`t want Sue Lowden, they wanted Sharron Angle.
They wanted a candidate who hinted at privatizing Social Security and armed
insurrection among other things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: I don`t know that all of
you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me, I don`t know
that. We`re a melting pot in this country.
My grandchildren are evidence of that. I`m evidence of that. I have
been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada state assembly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Have you now? Just another entry in Harry Reid`s dream
The Tea Party wanted Sharron Angle. But here`s the thing, so did
Harry Reid. In fact, Harry Reid`s people ran ads in the primary attacking
Lowden with the express intent of making Angle the nominee.
A third party group run by a former Reid staffer run this ad hitting
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can this doctor take this chicken to a gas
station, to a grocery store?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s a little out of touch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Totally fantasyland.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounds like a joke.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can he pay his mortgage with it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Together, the Democrats and Tea Party were unstoppable. They
got angle and Reid not only won re-election, he remains Senate majority
If those three seats were where Republicans had a winning candidate
before they replaced them with a less winning candidate, if those three
seats had flipped, Mitch McConnell would be majority leader today.
So, you might think Republicans and maybe even the Tea Party would
have learned their lesson. This year should be the year Republicans avenge
their 2010 losses. It`s a great opportunity for them. Democrats are
defending 23 seats compared to the Republicans` 10.
Once again, Democrats and Tea Partiers are working together. In
Missouri, they teamed up to pick, hey, Claire McCaskill`s opponent, Todd
Akin. You remember him.
In the weeks ramping up to the August 7th primary, McCaskill and the
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ran ads giving Akin rave reviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Todd Akin, the crusader against bigger government. Akin
would completely eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy, and
privatize Social Security. Todd`s pro-family agenda would outlaw many
forms of contraception.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: It`s turning out to be a very smart investment on McCaskill`s
part. Meanwhile, in Indiana, Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock took out
the conservative but not yet conservative enough Richard Lugar, a 36-year
veteran of the Senate. Today, Mourdock and the Democratic candidate Joe
Donnelly are neck in neck in what has been expected to be a walk for Lugar
and easy road for Mitch McConnell.
Last week, Nate Silver categorized the fate of the Senate as a toss-up
on his New York`s "FiveThirtyEight" Blog. Fifty Republicans, 49 Democrats,
and one independent, he predicted.
But that was before Todd Akin lit his candidacy aflame, and now this
Tea Party insurgent who owes nothing to the party doesn`t want to leave the
So, all to say if Harry Reid is majority leading come next year, might
owe his friends in the Tea Party a thank you card.
Lets` turn now to Howard Fineman, NBC News political analyst and
editorial director of the "Huffington Post" media group. Howard, it`s good
to see you.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Hi, Ezra.
KLEIN: Why can`t the GOP establishment better control the primaries?
They had a sort of practice run in 2010, tough losses there. You would
have thought by -- that by 2012, they would have figured out how to have
this in hand. It doesn`t seem to have worked out that way.
FINEMAN: It`s just this irritating thing called voting, Ezra. They
try to get rid of it if they could, but it`s still in fashion here in the
United States in some places, including in Missouri. I got to say today
was an amazing spectacle because we were watching and listening to backroom
threats and arm-twisting in public, in real time, as Republicans and
conservatives frantically tried to force Akin out of the race. If you
happened to be listening to Sean Hannity, who is kind of the last line of
defense before the 6:00 Eastern deadline, he didn`t know whether to beg or
Karl Rove, the mastermind of the money, withdrew all his money from
Todd Akin. The titular head of the party, Mitt Romney, soon to be
nominated, said the same thing. Paul Ryan called, although Paul Ryan
apparently stopped short of demanding that his soul mate, Akin, get out of
the race. Four Republican former senators in Missouri said the same thing.
But the problem they`ve got is that Todd Akin is six terms in the
House. He`s got his own independent base. He`s a very hard-line right to
lifer. Straight down the line, as hard as you can get. You know, you
remember how Paul Ryan said nobody is more pro life than me? Well, the
other guy who is no more -- you can`t be more pro life than is Todd Akin.
So, he`s got that national support, and I have to say, I was pretty
impressed with the way he stood up to them all, but he lived in a different
universe from them, Ezra. It`s a different world, and it`s a world within
the Republican Party that the Republican Party created over a couple
I followed this personhood movement, wrote about it in my book. That
started as a fringe theory. It`s now absolutely central to the identity of
the Republican Party. And it`s enshrined in their platform. It could cost
them the Senate.
Nate Silver`s totals are right, but now it could end up flipping by
one vote, which would give it to the Democrats even if Mitt Romney won.
KLEIN: So, I`m actually interested in this because Silver`s analysis,
I also found it persuasive. How hard does the map get without Missouri?
You look at 23 seats being defended by Democrats to 10. You think that
seems like a fairly easy sweep for the Republicans. They only need a
couple of the seats.
But I guess a large number of them are safe. But what is it that
happens that changed the math so dramatically here?
FINEMAN: Well, looking at a couple of the states. I mean, Nate says
and I think he`s probably right that a couple states like Nebraska and
Wisconsin have moved somewhat in the Republican direction. By the way, I
think Wisconsin may have moved somewhat more in the Republican direction.
KLEIN: Where Tommy Thompson beat the Tea Party challenger.
FINEMAN: Right. Tommy Thompson beat the Tea Party challenger. And
also, Paul Ryan is popular in Wisconsin.
But in lot of other places, Democrats have shored up their support.
Things have broken their way in places like Nevada, for example. I think
right now that looks good. Washington state, West Virginia, Connecticut,
Hawaii, Ohio -- all of those are looking pretty solid for the Democrats,
where they have been looking not quite so solid.
So that makes -- that`s another reason why Karl Rove and Mitt Romney
and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were frantic about this. Because it
really could come down to Missouri in the Senate, and the key thing here is
if the Democrats pick up that one additional seat, then it doesn`t matter
if Mitt Romney is elected. Paul Ryan won`t get to cast the deciding vote
to organize the Senate.
KLEIN: Howard Fineman, separating the solid from the not so solid.
Thank you very much.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Ezra.
KLEIN: Up next, what if? What would happen if the world`s population
jumped at the same time, all of them in Rhode Island? We`ve got a
fascinating science experiment/dooms day scenario. It`s coming up.
KLEIN: Welcome back.
OK, I am going to tell you something and I`m asking that when I am
done, you do not immediately all of you steal all of my lunch money all at
once. One of my favorite websites is an internet comic about science and
math. It`s called XKCD. They`ve got a blog called "What If?"
And their blog answer weird what if kinds of questions. For instance,
what if everyone on earth stood as close to each other as they could and
jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant?
Now, scientists tried to test the theory in real life. There was a
world jump day back in 2006. It doesn`t look so coordinated.
An environmental group tried to get everyone to jump in `09, but they
didn`t have the buy-in of 7 billion people or of the ability to move all of
them to one place.
But what if they did? XKCD suggests we magically transport everybody
into one place or imagine what would happen if we did. Everyone crowd into
an area the size of Rhode Island. Actually, fine, XKCD, let`s just make it
Now picture more than seven billion crowded together with a single
purpose in stately Rhode Island at noon, they all jump. Now, physicists
say that would send a pulse of pressure into the Earth`s surface, but the
force dissipates quickly.
You would hear the roar of billions of feet landing across Rhode
Island. The sound might even last several seconds. But that would be
about it. Since the Earth outweighs us by a factor of, oh, 10 trillion,
our jump would push the planet less than an atom`s width, if at all.
Now people have asked and answered this question before. XKCB`s
particular innovation in this physics thought experiment is that they don`t
end the thought experiment there. After all, after jumping, people
probably would look at each other and wonder, why are we all in Rhode
Island? Maybe they start planning the trip back to Dublin or wherever
they`re from. Most don`t speak the same languages as one another.
In fact, now, the entire crowd of seven billion is trying to get out
of Rhode Island all at once. Cell phones get overloaded, become useless.
Even if Rhode Island`s biggest airport got cranked up to 500 percent
capacity for years, wouldn`t make a bit of difference.
Highways totally impassable. XKCB predicts you would be trapped in
the biggest traffic jam in history. That`s probably understating matters.
Electricity would fail. We can`t get fuel. People trying to make their
way to New York or Boston on foot.
But meanwhile, crops all over the world are dying, machines are
rusting. We`re not making much medicine. Grocery stores get looted.
Fresh water disappears in the Rhode Island area. We`re left with
essentially the ruins of an abandoned civilization.
Meanwhile, the Earth`s orbit is totally unaffected. So maybe trying
that out not such a good idea after all.
Still to come, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan insist they`re saving
Medicare. But at what cost? We will look at the drastic cuts their budget
would make to Medicaid. And what does our trash say about the American
economy? You`d be surprised the link between garbage and the GDP. Stay
KLEIN: I got to tell you, when Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan to be his
vice presidential candidate, I was super excited. I mean, way too excited,
because putting Paul Ryan on the ticket meant one thing. It meant budget
talk. And I love talking about budgets.
In particular, I love talking about Paul Ryan`s budget because I have
had to spend more time trying to understand it than any human being really
should have. But I have been disappointed, because since Paul Ryan was
tapped to be Mitt`s number two, since he was tapped to be the Robin to
Romney`s Batman, the executive vice president to Romney`s CEO, we haven`t
gotten a lot of budget talk.
What we have gotten is a lot of meta-Medicare talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So far in the past week, the real news is they
have been talking Medicare.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Paul Ryan has taken the courageous
steps to bring this issue to the forefront.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He really opens up the Medicare debate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Ryan`s Medicare proposal is going to be front
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people are finally relieved that there`s
someone with the political courage to have this discussion. No one has had
the guts to do it until Paul Ryan actually came along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: You know the weird thing about this focus on Medicare? Paul
Ryan`s budget isn`t particularly focused on Medicare. And that`s even
truer for Mitt Romney`s budget, which really isn`t focused on Medicare, at
least in the short term.
In the next decade, Paul Ryan`s most recent budget keeps Medicare cuts
that President Obama passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, and --
looking, looking, that`s pretty much it.
The voucher system you heard about, that happens, but it doesn`t
happen for ten years. So it doesn`t happen until after the hypothetical
Romney/Ryan presidency has hypothetically ended its hypothetical second
term, hypothetically, of course.
As a general rule in politics, if you have two guys from the
Republican party running for president on a platform that says you can`t
cut even a dollar from Medicare for current retirees, but they`re saying
they`ll pass legislation that will completely remake Medicare in a really
unpopular way for the generation of retirees that will come after they
leave us, just trust us. You may not want to assume that policy is a total
But here`s the thing, Ryan says his budget cuts more than five
trillion in the next decade. Less than a trillion of that is coming from
Medicare. Romney says his budget cuts about seven trillion from the budget
over the next decade. And not a dollar, not a dime, not a penny comes from
And neither Romney nor Ryan want to cut Social Security. And both
want to increase spending on defense.
OK, so what does that leave? If you`re not cutting Medicare or Social
Security or defense, you want trillions of dollars of cuts, you have
already taken more than half of the federal budget off the table. But you
know what is mainly left, the big pot of money you can still cut? Programs
for poor people.
So if you look at Ryan`s specific cuts, if you look at where his money
really comes from, a big chunk of it is programs for poor people. In fact,
the Center For Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that more than six of
every 10 dollars Ryan cuts from the federal budget is coming from programs
for the poor.
Take Medicaid. Ryan cuts nearly 1.4 trillion dollars from Medicaid
over the next 10 years. That`s a 34 percent cut, more than a third, to the
program`s expected spending over the next decade. Those cuts, unlike the
cuts to Medicare, are specific and they begin immediately.
Estimates from the nonpartisan Urban Institute suggest that if they
are made, about 30 million people could lose their health insurance. Many
of them, by the way, children.
And Ryan repeals the Affordable Care Act, too. That`s where some of
his Medicaid comes from, but he also knocks all of the subsidies for lower
income Americans to get private health care insurance. So that`s another
15 million or so people who would have had health insurance and are not
So under Ryan`s budget, one of the ways it saves money -- the big way
maybe is about 45 million people would lose health insurance they otherwise
would have gotten or their coverage will become much worse. And for the
poor here, the hits keep coming. Ryan`s budget cuts 134 billion from Food
Stamps, which is enough to kick about eight to 10 million people off of the
program, Food Stamps.
Ryan cuts 166 billion from the portion of the budget that houses our
education training employment and social services. We don`t know exactly
how he would apportion those cuts, but the documents he`s released suggest
a big chunk of them are going to hit Pell Grants.
And you can just keep going with this down the line. Everything we
know, meanwhile, suggests that Mitt Romney`s on the same page as his
running mate. It`s actually important to remember, Romney`s budget is much
more aggressive than Ryan`s. It`s less specific, and so it gets kind of
less attention, but it`s much more aggressive.
Ryan has about 5.3 trillion in cuts over the next decade. Romney is
looking for seven trillion. And he`s not keeping Ryan and Obama`s Medicare
savings, so now he needs almost eight trillion in cuts. And he`s
increasing spending on defense, so it just keeps going up.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, to make
Romney`s numbers add up, you have to assume that by the end of his
presidency, Mitt Romney will have cut every single federal program that is
not Medicare, Social Security or defense, by 57 percent. Every program not
Medicare, Social Security -- not Medicare or Social Security or Defense by
Now, because I live in the real world, I don`t assume he`s going to do
that. I assume Mitt Romney`s budget is a fantasy meant to trick
Republicans who haven`t looked closely at the numbers, and it`s never, ever
going to happen. When Romney does talk spending cuts, he tends to focus,
giving more evidence, on things like Repealing Obamacare, privatizing
Amtrak, cutting arts funding and ending subsidies for Planned Parenthood.
Go to his website under spending cuts. You`ll see what I mean.
Whatever you think of those programs, repealing Obamacare increases
the deficit and the others are rounding errors in the federal budget. But
when Romney gets kind of serious, even though he`s still kind of vague, the
big categories he identifies for cuts, and I`m quoting from his speech in
Detroit, are Medicaid and Food Stamps, housing subsidies and job training.
So that`s the reality of the Ryan/Romney budgets. You turn Medicare
into a voucher program in the future. You spend more on defense now. And
you cut the hell out of programs for the poor to pay for it.
And they need to do this in part because they simply refuse to raise
taxes. If you believe their pledges and their budgets, they would prefer
to cut health care for the poor by trillions of dollars than to raise taxes
on the rich by even a penny. That is their budget. That is what their
And that should be the conversation we`re having. At least it should
be part of it.
Joining me now to have that conversation is Jared Bernstein, former
chief economist and economics adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, now a
senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and an MSNBC
Jared, it`s good to see you and name off your many titles.
JARED BERNSTEIN, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: Thank you,
Ezra. Nice to be here.
KLEIN: You know these numbers better than me. So what I have missed?
What have I have gotten wrong or incomplete?
BERNSTEIN: No, you did a very thorough accounting. The only thing I
would add is that you`re actually a tiny been generous on their tax cut
agenda. It`s not merely that these guys make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
It`s that they double down on them.
If you think of the Bush tax cuts as costing something like four,
maybe 4.3 trillion over 10 years, they`re talking about adding another set
of tax cuts that are equal in magnitude to those.
So this is why we at the center have talked about this as Robinhood in
reverse on steroids. It`s not just that you`re cutting programs for the
poor so deeply, as you just expressed. It really strains credulity. It`s
that, at the same time, you`re cutting the heck out of taxes, particularly
of those at the very high end of the income scale.
It`s quite other worldly.
KLEIN: Every time -- this gets to actually something I really would
like to talk about with you. Every time we talk about the Romney and Ryan
budgets in the press, every time you see a graph showing what they do to
the budget, what is basically embedded in that, what is being assumed every
time you hear about their deficit reduction, is that they take these tax
plans, which above and beyond the Bush tax cuts are trillions of dollars --
I believe Paul Ryan`s is in the four trillion dollar range.
BERNSTEIN: They`re both above four trillion.
KLEIN: They say -- they just tell you they won`t cost any money.
They just tell the Congressional Budget Office, who scores these things,
they won`t cost any money. And they don`t say how. All they say is that
we will cut other parts of the tax code, deductions and loopholes and
exclusions and the like, in order to pay for it.
To pay for Paul Ryan`s tax plan, you would need to cut almost every
tax break in the code out. No more mortgage interest deduction, employer
health care deduction, state and local tax deductions. And this is from a
Republican party that for decades now has refused to pay for taxes.
So I don`t see how you can buy that. I don`t see how you can say
until they name these cuts, which they haven`t, that these tax plans are
deficit neutral. If they`re not, these plans blow up the deficit.
BERNSTEIN: Right. It`s interesting because they have actually, as
you said -- particularly Paul Ryan and particularly regarding programs for
the poor, they have actually been fairly specific on their spending cuts,
at least, again, as it invokes cuts for programs that help economically
They have been extremely vague on how they`re going to offset the
revenue losses from their tax cuts. Now there was an exercise done. And I
know you know about this because you wrote it up very nicely -- by a
nonpartisan group here called the Tax Policy Center.
And they asked the following question, suppose you took all of the
loopholes, all the tax expenditures currently enjoyed by the richest folks
who benefit the most from Ryan and Romney`s tax cuts, and you ended all of
those loopholes, would you, by that kind of experiment, be able to offset
those revenue losses from those tax cuts. And the answer they found is no.
So here it even gets a little worse. Not only would you be living
through all of those cuts you just mentioned on the spending side, but if
you really want to make those tax cuts revenue neutral, you would actually
have to raise taxes on middle and low income households.
KLEIN: And people have gone to the Romney campaign and said, how will
this work, and they just don`t really have an answer. But if they do have
an answer, Jared Bernstein, you`re going to be one of the first people I
ask if it makes sense. Thank you very much.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you, Ezra. Bye-bye.
KLEIN: Coming up, a trashy new economic study -- ha ha, pun -- shows
how our waste is tied to GDP growth. I`ll sift through all of the garbage
-- another pun -- and bring you the numbers next.
KLEIN: You may not know it, but there are fascinating secrets buried
in our garbage, secrets about money, about our economy, about how well our
country is doing.
According to a recent economic study, our trash could be an indication
of how well our economy is doing, how well the global economy, even, is
doing. My colleague at "the Washington Post," Brad Plumber, recently
pointed out a kind of trashy chart from economist Michael McDonough.
McDonough has worked out the trash to GDP indicator. GDP, of course, is
gross domestic product. It`s the amount of goods and services our country
His chart clearly shows that U.S. GDP growth has been tightly
correlated -- it tracks the change in rail cars loads of garbage being
shipped to landfills. In fact, the trash index is an 82.4 percent
statistical correlation with the U.S. economic growth since 2001.
Compare that to 73 percent for lumber loads, 72 percent for petroleum,
and 49 percent for food. In fact, few indicators have been as revealing as
the amount of garbage you produce. As McDonough recently explained to
MarketPlace.org, the reason trash is such a broad based indicator is
because "it`s not tied to a single part of the economy."
It`s people simply throwing things out from the top to the bottom, the
rich to the poor. You build a new building, you have to possibly knock
down the one that was there before. You buy a new couch, you have to put
the old one out in the alley.
If you eat at McDonald`s, you have to throw out your trash afterward.
Or you should. If you`re not, you should. Anyway, you get the point.
Now, let`s turn back to that original trash to GDP chart. As you can
see, the garbage indicator appears to have fallen drastically in the third
quarter of 2012. This could be a sign the U.S. economy is headed for a
pretty rough patch. Or it could mean that trash has become detached from
the economy in recent months. Or -- or it could show that the correlation
in this case is just a load of garbage.
See how we did that?
Coming up, Governor Mitt Romney has a big cash advantage over
President Obama. How much will it matter? "The Washington Post`s" Eugene
Robinson, my colleague, joins me next.
KLEIN: On Monday night, the various campaigns and political
committees and super PACs had to release the latest data on the ungodly
amounts of money they`re raising and spending in this election. The Obama
campaign, looking at the numbers, should be a little worried. Actually
let`s being right thee. Let`s begin with the numbers.
The Obama campaign is 88 million dollars in the bank. The Romney
campaign has 30 million in the bank. That`s obviously a 58 million dollar
advantage for President Obama. Looks good for the president.
But remember, Republicans didn`t know who their nominee was going to
be. So . There were months when Democrats were donating to Obama while
Republicans were donating to the Republican National Campaign. So let`s
broaden it out. The Obama campaign plus the Democratic National Committee
has 123.7 million in the bank. The Romney campaign plus the Republican
National Committee has 185.9 million in the bank.
And that advantage has been increasing for the Republicans month by
month. This chart from our friends over at "The Washington Post" the Fix
blog compares the cash on hand levels for Obama plus the DNC against Romney
plus the RNC in recent months. So we have now moved from a 58 million
dollar advantage on the Obama side to a 62 million dollar advantage for
What`s more, the major Romney affiliated super PACs have tens of
millions more in the bank than the Obama ones. American Crossroads, the
Karl Rove operation, is sitting on a healthy 29 million. Restore Our
Future, 20 million. Not so bad.
Priorities USA, the major Obama affiliated super PAC, the one with
Bill Burton and Harold Ickes, has four million. Not so much money for this
sort of contest. So here`s what we can say with some certainty. Romney is
winning the money race. He`s winning it big time. And he`s pressing that
According to NBC`s First Read, nearly 540 million has been spent in
advertising in this presidential election, with team Romney spending 292
million -- 292, and Team Obama spending 248 million. Again, a 44 million
dollar advantage in actual spending, money that`s gone out for team Romney.
Right now, as we speak, Romney and his allies are outspending the
president and his allies by much more than that, by two to one.
Yet, the funny thing about all that, the polls don`t really seem to be
moving. To explain to us why the polls don`t seem to be moving comes my
friend and colleague Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst and associate
editor and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for great "The Washington Post"
Eugene, it`s good to see you.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Ezra, great to be here.
KLEIN: So despite all of the money that`s been dumped into the
election, a little bit more of it on Romney`s side, President Obama has
sort of kept for months now this fairly durable, persistent lead in the
polls. The latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll gives him a four-
So why isn`t the money mattering more?
ROBINSON: Well, first of all, we`re comparing a whole lot of money to
a whole lot of money plus a lot more. Right? So it`s not like the Obama
campaign is poor. And there`s a certain saturation point. I mean, so many
dollars, so little air time. Here in the Washington, D.C. media market,
which serves Northern Virginia, important region in one of the most
important swing states, you just can`t breathe -- you don`t get any respite
from the political ads.
And there are probably more anti-Obama ads than pro-Obama ads, but
there are plenty of pro-Obama ads. And in fact I think there`s a certain
saturation point. The second factor I think is that Mitt Romney, you know,
the candidacy has yet to catch fire. And the poll numbers really aren`t
moving, as you said.
KLEIN: I think that`s a very good point. And so I try to think about
it this way, that Obama is going to have more money than any presidential
candidate in history. And Mitt Romney is going to have a whole lot more
money than that. Yet, when you think about the election, you`re dealing
primarily, if you talk to the two campaigns, with eight, maybe 10 states,
and a certain number of undecided swing voters within them,, people who
know the president fairly well, are not that engaged.
It`s a lot of money to reach a fairly small number of people. So that
raises the question, I think, is the Obama campaign actually doing a poor
job fund-raising or does it just not matter? Are they right to put their
energy into other things, like, by the way, not that is should totally be
forgotten, being president?
ROBINSON: All else being equal, they would like to have more money,
right? the money is never unimportant. It`s just not decisive, I think,
in this case. Look, I think the Obama campaign will have plenty of money.
And indeed, it has some organizational advantages in many of these swing
states, number of offices, kind of boots on the ground.
The Obama campaign got started a lot earlier. They have their
strategy in Chicago. And I think they`re pleased with the way it`s -- it`s
going on. Now, but that super PAC money, though, I think that can
potentially be decisive, not in the presidential contest, but down ticket.
You imagine Restore Our Future piling into a congressional district at the
last minute with just wheelbarrows of money. That can move the needle.
KLEIN: I completely agree with that. To change the subject to the
Congressional elections, Todd Akin, while we were on the air, Tweeted about
how the, quote, "liberal media is trying to make him drop out." It was
Sean Hannity. Is he the liberal media now?
ROBINSON: The liberal media, Sean Hannity, Mitt Romney, Mitch
McConnell. Did I leave anybody out? Welcome them to the liberal media.
The actual liberal media will, I think I can swear, give him a puppy
and a box of chocolates if he stays in.
KLEIN: Eugene Robinson, he`s got a puppy and a box of chocolates for
Todd Akin if he stays in, thank you very much.
ROBINSON: Thanks, Ezra.
KLEIN: That is THE ED SHOW. I`m Ezra Klein in for Ed Schultz. "THE
RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now, which is very exciting. Good evening,
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