Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 18, 2012

Guests: John Yarmuth, Lee Drutman, Sam Stein, Ezra Klein

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Officials at the National Rifle Association
still don`t know what to say about the massacre of women and children at
the Sandy Hook Elementary School. But today, they announced they will have
a press conference at the end of this week. Meanwhile, the NRA is losing
friends fast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN/TV HOST: There have been 70, 70, episodes
of school shootings in the United States, since 1994.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifty-four percent favor stricter gun control
laws.

LETTERMAN: Are we supposed to be worried about dropping our kids off
at school now?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Let`s go down the path of banning
the assault weapon.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I don`t know anybody that needs
30 rounds and a clip to go hunting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These 30-round clips.

LETTERMAN: Thirty rounds of ammunition.

PELOSI: Assault magazines, we`ve got to call them what they are.

LETTERMAN: I don`t know why, do you need that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen this movie before.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What`s wrong with the congress?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Gun lobbies will say, listen, we`ve
got a scorecard here.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: The NRA pours money into these races.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: They spent $17.6 million in 2012 election
cycle.

DURBIN: You better score an A or we`re going to come and defeat you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long can we sustain that action?

DURBIN: It`s the same mentality that drove the Grover Norquist
pledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s no coincidence that Grover Norquist is also
on the board of the NRA.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are we really prepared
to say that we`re powerless?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do need to change minds in order to change the
situations.

OBAMA: We can`t tolerate this anymore.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: So far Republicans have stayed quiet.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is a difficult
time for Americans.

TODD: We may be closer to a deal on the fiscal cliff.

BOEHNER: Not a time to put Americans through more stress.

HALL: John Boehner proposed his fiscal cliff Plan B.

PELOSI: Pan B.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plan B.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Plan B.

PELOSI: We call it plan befuddled.

HALL: The White House rejected it.

MATTHEWS: Merry Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s part of the strategy.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: There is still real hope for a larger deal.

PELOSI: They`re willing to raise rates. It`s a victory for the
president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But these negotiations are moving pretty
quickly.

TODD: The next 24 hours are everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t have a deal yet.

TODD: They have to get a deal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they need to hold hands and jump. That`s
when you truly have a compromise.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said for the
first time that President Obama would support the assault weapons ban
Senator Diane Feinstein plans to introduce on the first day of the next
Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He is actively supportive
of, for example, Senator Feinstein`s stated intent to revive a piece of
legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban. He supports and
would support legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called gun
show loophole.

And there are other elements of gun law legislation -- gun legislation
that he could support. People have talked about high capacity gun --
ammunition clips, for example. And that is something certainly that he
would be interested in looking at.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Rupert
Murdoch tweeted, "When will the politicians find the courage to ban
automatic weapons?"

Today, the editors of Rupert Murdoch`s conservative newspaper, "The
New York Post" write, "Weapons designed expressly to kill human beings and
then modified, wink, wink, to meet the federal machine gun ban have no
legitimate place in American society. Time to get rid of them."

Here is Republican Joe Scarborough on today`s "MORNING JOE".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Republicans are going to have to
figure out. Do they want to be seen two years or four years from now as
the party of Glocks, the party of Bushmasters, the party of combat-style
military weapons, rapid fire magazine clips? If they want to go around and
debate that for the next four years, good luck.

If we`re having to defend Glocks, 10 mm Glocks, Bushmasters --

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Ridiculous.

SCARBOROUGH: -- assault-styled weapons we will lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here is what they are saying on the cable news network
owned by Rupert Murdoch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: If the feds can tighten up gun laws without
violating constitutional laws, they should do so.

We can tighten up the purchase of guns, and particularly heavy
weapons, like the ARs. We can tighten them up. I would support, for
example, anybody owning the ARr would have to register with the FBI. So
the FBI would have to know who has these weapons. And people are going, we
don`t want to, we believe the government is oppressive, and they`re going
to do this, and it`s a slippery slope. But I think that we have to do
things like that, am I wrong?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I agree with you entirely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, the National Rifle Association finally said
something, issuing a statement, reading, "Out of respect for the families
and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer
and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is
prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never
happens again. The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the
Washington, D.C. area on Friday, December 21."

After the Newtown massacre, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of
Kentucky released this statement: "I have been largely silent on the issue
of gun violence over the past six years, and I am now as sorry for that as
I am for what happened to the families who lost so much in this most
recent, but sadly not isolated tragedy. I will not be silent any longer."

Joining me now, Congressman John Yarmuth.

Congressman Yarmuth, you`ve been in Congress for six years from
Kentucky -- difficult place to be elected from if you`re on the wrong side
of the NRA.

What do you believe the Congress should do now and what are you
prepared to support in Congress?

REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), KENTUCKY: Well, there are many things I`m
prepared to support. The things the president has talked about. The re-
institution of the assault weapons ban, limitation on high capacity
magazines. The -- eliminating the gun show loophole. All of these things
are very common sense things -- actually things that the membership of the
NRA supports, which is ironic.

Most of these things are things that can have an impact, but more
importantly they make a statement to the American people that this is not
acceptable. These weapons, these weapons that are only designed to kill
are not acceptable in American society. And whether or not they actually
stop individual incidents, I don`t know that we can predict that. But
certainly, they make a statement that is important.

And what -- I think what we have seen over the last 48 hours or --
three days, is really extraordinary, the number of attitudes that have
changed. The number of Republicans who have come forward and said in spite
of the fact that they have received money from the NRA, that they are
willing to consider significant limitations on guns and certain common
sense regulations indicates to me that this was a game-changer.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Yarmuth, what would you say to your colleagues
about challenging the NRA, the NRA seems to be no fan of yours at this
point. And you have survived politically.

YARMUTH: Well, I think -- I have called the NRA kind of the Wizard of
Oz. In the electoral process, you can`t really point to many cases in
which the NRA actually made a difference electorally. They do make a
difference within the walls of Congress. They contribute a lot of money to
members of Congress. And they can influence whether legislation ever sees
the light of day or not.

But in terms of actually affecting the electoral outcome, their record
is pretty poor. They just spent $9 million or so trying to defeat
President Obama, unsuccessfully. We saw in California, where Mayor
Bloomberg, working the other side of the street, was able to defeat a
Democratic member of the House because his record of support for the NRA
was too strong.

So I think a lot of the political power of the NRA is pretty illusory.
Some of it goes back to an Abner Mickbuck (ph) campaign that was 40 years
ago in Illinois. The myths are created about how they can influence
elections.

But in fact, when you drill down, the NRA actually doesn`t represent
the attitudes of its members. Seventy-four percent of the NRA membership,
according to one poll supports, actually expanded background checks.

So what is pretty clear is the NRA represents gun manufacturers. They
use their membership to kind of create this mythology of political force,
but in fact, they really don`t elect or defeat people. But they do affect
what happens in Congress.

And I think those -- the armor that they have put up there is about --
is showing a lot of chinks right now.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Yarmuth, thank you for joining us tonight.
And thank you for breaking your silence on this.

YARMUTH: Well, you know -- again, I don`t think I have that much
courageous. All I`ve recognized over the weekend, one of the problems is
we have a tragedy like this. People talk as long as the news cycle lasts.
And then as the news cycle stops, and we stop beating the drums, and that`s
we can`t stop doing.

We need to keep beating the drums. We have to make sure that teachers
and parents and those who understand that we can really take meaningfully
step to reduce gun violence in this country, as long as we keep beating the
drums, we can have an impact. And I think we will.

O`DONNELL: Well, we`re going to help you do that. Thank you,
Congressman.

YARMUTH: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Joy Reid and Reid Melber.

Joy Reid, there is a Kentucky Democrat, the only Kentucky Democrat in
Congress. He won with a 29 percent margin, defying the NRA, even before
tonight -- defying the NRA in Kentucky. They were giving him a failing
grade. They could tell he wasn`t using their talking points even prior to
now.

There is a lesson there. It seems to me, as he was saying, in the
ability to override the NRA when it comes down to the real election for
Congress.

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, Mayor
Michael Bloomberg of New York has been saying that the NRA is really just a
paper tiger. If you look at their record in the just completed election,
you know, they had a less than 1 percent success rate in terms of all the
money in the millions and millions they spent trying to defeat Democrats
starting with the president.

But I think what`s also important, Lawrence, is that you`re starting
to see the benefits of being with the NRA, and sort of not risking them in
opposing an election, are starting to be outweighed by just the sort of
ickiness of being associated with them.

I mean, the NRA doesn`t exactly have a sterling reputation here. They
are the guys who have been trying to clear the way to stop states from
banning armor-piercing, cop killer bullets. To clear the way to stop
states from banning machine guns, to bring back the Dillinger era.

So they`re not actually a friend you want to have right now, I think.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, the -- we have reports that John Boehner told
-- behind closed doors, told the Republicans they`re going to have to have
a discussion about guns. This coming in the same week where John Boehner
says there`s going to be a compromise on tax rates.

Do you think it`s possible that the momentum here, the political
momentum on weapons, weapons and ammunition control will sustain itself to
the point that it has to for the next several weeks to get into January or
February where there could actually be some legislative action that John
Boehner would be a part of?

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: We know it is very difficult to sustain this.
I do think we`re living through a very important social and political
moment. I mean, just watching the lead into THE LAST WORD tonight, you had
a lot of footage, including not the usual suspects, saying it is time for
action.

I think, Lawrence, part of the answer to your question will be what is
the narrative that emerges, because it can`t just be the usual debate. We
know how that looks. I, for one, am not talking about gun control. That`s
not what we`re asking for.

I`m talking about automatic gun control and semiautomatic gun control.
I grew up in a house with a shot gun. We`re not talking about shot guns
and hunting rifles. And to the congressman`s point, it is definitely true
that the NRA`s recent big legislative pushes have been more tilted towards
manufacturers and corporations, not the interests of law abiding citizens
who happen to have a gun or two in the home.

And for evidence I would point you to the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,
the last big push which passed the Senate by 65 votes. It didn`t do
anything for gun owners. It just gave blanket immunity for all the
manufacturers for any future lawsuits related to gun violence. I think, by
the way, that is very bad policy. But whatever you think of it as policy,
it`s not for gun owners.

O`DONNELL: Joy, I was in Newtown, Connecticut, and today flew across
the country. Here I was in Los Angeles, as far away as I could be from
Connecticut in the continental United States.

And I`m greeted today by "The Los Angeles Times" lead headline saying
the police chief of Los Angeles saying this is a new reality. Those are
his words, and that`s why he is going to re-deploy Los Angeles police to
cover every elementary school and middle school in the Los Angeles school
district every day. There will be a uniformed police presence at every
school at some point in every day of the school year.

This is an extraordinary nationwide reaction to what happened in
Connecticut. And I have to say, I am convinced that this is not like any
reaction we`ve seen before to one of these mass murders.

REID: Yes, absolutely, and what a shame, right, to have to live in a
country where you have to have armed police officers protecting your
children. I mean, the one place that your children are supposed to be safe
outside of your home is school. They`re in local areas from their moms and
dads. And the idea that 5 and 6 and 7-year-olds have to walked through a
phalanx of officers or have armed police.

We have seen it in Florida when there were threats to the school that
we`ve had to have police officers in the school. But by the way, those are
trained people who you actually feel comfortable and safe with your kids
being guarded by. You`re not talking about arming teachers, for God`s
sake.

You know, I think this is a better solution. And I`ll say one more
thing about the sort of unprecedented nature -- we`ve done this before.
After the assassinations of President Kennedy and of Bobby -- I`m sorry, of
Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in `68, we did legislation in
response, and I think there`s no reason why we can`t do it again.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and Ari Melber, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

MELBER: Thank you, Lawrence.

REID: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: John Boehner has a plan B for avoiding the
fiscal cliff. And Ezra Klein is here to explain it all.

And in the re-write tonight, the NRA has asked for a couple more days
to figure out what to say about the massacre of women and children in
Newtown, Connecticut. We do know this -- they will not say what is best
for America. They will only say what they think is best for the NRA.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: I have never seen the NRA under the kind of pressure they
are under tonight. They are desperately trying to figure out what they
will say at their press conference on Friday. We`re going to have much
more for you about the NRA, including in tonight`s "Rewrite".

And the fiscal cliff is still approaching, and luckily we have Ezra
Klein to explain the latest, John Boehner`s Plan B. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NRA: We`re about to be victim of a siege against
the Second Amendment in this country, going into Obama`s second term. I
mean, it`s going to be ugly. It`s going to come hard, fast and soon. And
we`re going to have to survive this period of unprecedented danger. And
the best way to survive it is make the NRA stronger than ever, never has
the membership on NRA been more important than right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That, of course, was the National Rifle Association CEO
Wayne LaPierre. That was earlier this month.

Four million Americans are paying dues to the NRA. This election
season alone, the NRA spent at least $18.6 million on pro-gun campaigns and
causes, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Fifty-one percent of the
113th Congress convening in January, received some funding from the NRA`s
political committee at some point in their political careers.

But some of those congressional members, like West Virginia`s Senator
Joe Manchin, have done the unthinkable, and are now speaking in favor of
some gun control.

In a break from its usual silence after mass shootings, the NRA
promised today, quote, "a major news conference" on Friday in response to
the Newtown tragedy.

Also today, Dick`s Sporting Goods announced that it would suspend
selling rifles like the one used to kill the women and children at Sandy
Hook Elementary School. Dick`s Sporting Goods also took down gun displays
from its store in Danbury, Connecticut, its closest store to Newtown.

And the private equity firm Cerberus -- something like that -- Capital
Management announced today that it will sell its company, Freedom Group,
which makes the rifle used in Friday`s shooting.

Joining me now, E.J. Dionne, a "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC
political analyst, and Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the Sunlight
Foundation.

E.J., I want to start with you, because this is one of those
experienced questions. And it`s a matter of kind of gathering the
sensation of all of this.

Some of us have been saying since Monday, anyway, that this time it
feels different. The event itself on Friday felt different. The aftermath
feels different, and the political aftermath feels different.

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I absolutely feel that way. I
mean, I think you can feel it all over the country. You can feel it in
what politicians are saying.

Joe Manchin doesn`t say what he said lightly.

Joe Scarborough, as you pointed out earlier doesn`t say something like
that lightly.

When people`s children are killed, 20 children, I think this reached
people in the country in a way, even where these other awful mass shootings
should have reached us, you know, this just hit us in a different way.

And I think you`re seeing it in the reaction from the NRA, because
they have been unusually silent. They have been if not a paper tiger, a
cardboard tiger. Because you look at a lot of competitive races they spend
money in, they lose.

And in particular, they went after Barack Obama who did absolutely
nothing about guns in his term, and he won. And I think the message is if
the NRA is going to go after you for doing nothing, you may as well do the
light thing.

O`DONNELL: Lee Drutman, you studied the NRA, where does it get the
money it uses in politics? Is that dues money from the members?

LEE DRUTMAN, THE SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION: A lot of it is dues money. I
mean, there are four million dues paying members, I think it is about 750
for a lifetime membership.

So, I mean, the NRA does represent 4 million or so people who are very
intense and passionate about their Second Amendment rights. Now, that`s`
not a majority of the American population.

But what the NRA -- the NRA strength comes from the fact that it has a
very intense, and involved and active membership base who make their voices
heard. They write their congressman, and they make it known that they`re
going to vote on these issues.

And that`s a lot of where their power comes. They didn`t have a great
track record in this past election. But still, the ability to throw around
hundreds of thousands of dollars in a race, that`s something that I think a
lot of members of Congress do fear. And for a long time, and -- even to
this day, there`s been no counterweight to the NRA.

There are so few issues in Washington that are so thoroughly dominated
by a single group. And gun policy is one of those issues.

O`DONNELL: E.J., Stephen Feinberg is the CEO of the Wall Street firm
that now wants to sell that gun company that made the murder weapon used on
Friday. And it turns out, according to Bloomberg News, Stephen Feinberg`s
father lives in Newtown, Connecticut, where this occurred.

And it`s the kind of thing I find so strange, that for somebody like
Stephen Feinberg, who was perfectly happy to own this company that was
churning out these assault weapons, suddenly, because it actually happens
in his family`s neighborhood --

DIONNE: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- suddenly has a different reaction to it. You have to
wonder, what would the Steve Feinberg`s do -- would they be happy to
collect their blood money if this had happened in some other state?

DIONNE: Well, you look at a lot of people reacting to this, who never
had the kind of reaction you and I had, for example to any of these other
shootings. So I guess it doesn`t shock me so much that a guy who owned
this company, suddenly looked up and said oh, my God, I was involved in
this. I think people didn`t think about it as much as they should.

And I also think again, it is a sign that he is sensitive to the way
people are responding to this and probably just wants to get his company as
far away from any connection to this possible event as he can.

O`DONNELL: But I do think it`s noteworthy, E.J., because this is a
new reaction. We have not previously seen the owners of a gun company come
out and say, in effect, this is now too horrifying a business for us to
continue in.

DIONNE: If nobody invested in gun companies, then we might be in
better shape.

But, you know, the other thing, you talk about the NRA`s power. Some
of it comes from the fact that the Senate, for example, is biased toward
rural states. Democrats want to hold those rural seats. A lot of those
folks have voted with the NRA, those are some of the votes that are going
to shift because of this now.

O`DONNELL: Lee Drutman of the Sunlight Foundation and E.J. Dionne of
"The Washington Post" -- thank you both for joining me tonight.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

DRUTMAN: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Ezra Klein and Sam Stein join me on the latest
offers to avoid the fiscal cliff.

And in the "Rewrite", Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, will be
back. He is losing his base now, even "The New York Post," the
conservative newspaper is calling the Second Amendment obsolete. That`s
coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Our hope continues to be to
reach an agreement with the president on a balanced approach that averts
the fiscal cliff. What we have offered meets the definition of balance.
But the president is not there yet. So at the same time that we`re going
to continue to talk with the president, we`re going to also move plan B.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, John Boehner`s plan B.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: We all know that every income tax filed in America is going
to pay higher rates come January first, unless Congress acts. So I believe
it is important that we protect as many American taxpayers as we can. And
our plan B would protect American taxpayers who make a million dollars or
less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: On Thursday of this week, the House is expected to vote on
a plan to extend all the current income tax rates, except for income
exceeding one million dollars, and increase the rate on capital gains and
dividends from 15 percent to 20 percent. The House will also hold a vote
on the Senate passed bill which would extend the current income tax rates
for incomes up to 250,000 dollars.

The White House swiftly rejected Boehner`s plan B today. White House
Press Secretary Jay Carney elaborated on it in his briefing this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is an opportunity on
the table here to achieve 1.2 trillion dollars in additional spending cuts.
It seems like folly to walk away from that opportunity because you don`t
want to ask somebody making 995,000 dollars a year to pay a dime more in
income taxes.

It seems like terrible folly. And I don`t think the American people
would support that. Certainly the president doesn`t believe that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was a bit more blunt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Everybody should understand
Boehner`s proposal will not pass the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But some in John Boehner`s Republican caucus are intent on
keeping their vow to Grover Norquist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Once you cross that line and say like,
some people -- it is OK for some people`s taxes to go up, I think it is a
mistake for the Republican party.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I don`t want to raise taxes on
anybody. And I didn`t come here to raise taxes or increase spending. And
I want to make tax -- low tax rates permanent and spending temporary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But Nancy Pelosi sees a victory just in Boehner`s offering
of a plan B.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: They have proven one thing,
and it`s a victory for the president. They`re willing to raise rates. Now
the question is, are 218 Republicans? That is what it takes to pass a bill
in the House. Are 218 Republicans ready to raise rates? We`ll find out
soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Sam Stein, political editor and a White
House correspondent for the "Huffington Post" and MSNBC contributor, and
Ezra Klein, columnist for the "Washington Post and an MSNBC ANALYST.

Ezra, what is your assessment of the state of play and where the
offers stand at this point?

EZRA KLEIN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Breaking down a little bit, I
mean, they`re close now. And more to the point, they have kind of agreed
on an underlying ratio. So both sides, Republicans and Democrats, agree
now that in the negotiations, they`re looking to get one to one, one to one
tax increases to spending cuts, the fight now is what do you count in that
one to one?

Boehner is saying -- the reason you`re getting different numbers on
the spending side, where the White House says we`ve got 1.2 trillion in
spending cuts, Boehner says you have only got about 800 billion, is Boehner
subtracting any stimulus, and he`s not counting reduced interest payments.

On the other side, the reason plan B has now entered the conversation
is so much of the fiscal cliff -- you have talked about this a lot on the
show. So much of the fiscal cliff is about who has leverage if they don`t
come to a deal. And so far, the president usually has, because either all
the tax cuts expire or a lot of Republicans have said we`ll just pass the
Senate bill, which allows for all the tax cuts over 250,000 dollars to
expire. That is the president`s position.

Boehner is trying to create a reality, a leverage point a little
friendlier to him, by moving that up to one million and hoping it will
split the Democrats. It doesn`t, at this point, appear to be working.

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, isn`t plan B good for the White House? Isn`t
the White House just kind of pretending they`re not crazy about Boehner?
Especially the Boehner part where he says he will bring the Senate -- the
Senate bill to a vote in the House?

SAM STEIN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, yeah, it is good in one
sense, that they will have a number of Republicans voting for a tax hike.
How many Republicans they will get is another question entirely. But let`s
keep in mind, the White House has incentives, as well, to see a deal
passed, a bigger deal. And that is in the form of unemployment insurance.
It is in the form of infrastructure spending. And up until Monday, it was
in the form of an extension of the payroll tax cut.

Those are stimulative measures that the president does want to see,
that a lot of the (inaudible) are necessary in the current state. And so
they have a bind here. And what Boehner is doing, essentially, is calling
the White House`s bluff, because the White House wants a deal for those
measures. And they won`t get one if plan B passes.

O`DONNELL: Ezra, what is the president putting on the table that
surprises you at this stage, if anything?

KLEIN: I am not shocked, because it isn`t that different from what he
put out in the 2011 negotiations with Boehner. It`s maybe just a little
bit to the left of that. But the big headline concession from the
Democrats right now is this thing called chained CPI. And basically
chained CPI, the only thing that folks really need to know about it is it
is a way of cutting Social Security benefits and slightly raising taxes.

But because Democrats and Republicans alike just say, oh, we`re just
changing the measure of inflation, it tends to be a little too complicated
for anybody to explain before they figure out what is going on. But that
is right now the big concession, pretty much every other spending cut in
the bill will be punted over to Congress, where Max Baucus, on the Senate
Finance Committee and Fred Upton on Energy Commerce will have to figure out
how to achieve 500 or so billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts, or maybe
even a little bit more than 500 billion.

O`DONNELL: Sam, there has been debate for 20 years in Washington on
what the accurate measure of inflation is for both changes in tax rates and
government benefits. If they enact this change to that measurement, their
argument will be this is simply a more accurate measurement of what
inflation really is for -- to use for these benefits.

Is there any chance -- is there any chance that this will be seen by
the Democratic side as, in fact, a more accurate measurement, rather than
simply a way to cut benefits?

STEIN: It is a good question. On the one hand, you had Nancy Pelosi
going on MSNBC saying that she probably could muster up the support for
chained CPI in her caucus. So you sense that the political realities favor
the president in this one. And certainly because the Medicare eligibility
age component is not there, it could conceivably make it through the
caucus.

On the other hand, you have people legitimately know that this is a
benefit cut. And a lot of lawmakers campaigned in 2012 promising to put
Social Security to the side and promising never to touch benefits in these
negotiations. And so now they`re going to have to go home and explain to
their constituency, to whom they made these promises, oh, I`m doing this
because of a broader deal.

So it creates two very difficult political realities here.

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein and Ezra Klein, thanks for joining me tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the truth about guns in America, and the lies
of the National Rifle Association. That is in the Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: There is a lot of
different ways this crime could have been committed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the blood-drenched front man for the National
Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, who takes home over a million dollars a
year of the dues money sent in to him by gun owners, like the mother of the
killer of the women and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We don`t
yet know if she was a member of the NRA. Maybe that is something Wayne
LaPierre can tell us on Friday, when the NRA finally makes its long-awaited
statement.

Wayne LaPierre loves to use that line after every gun crime that stuns
the nation. There is a lot of different ways this crime could have been
committed.

But here is what we know: a homicidally crazed man went into an
elementary school on Friday. He got 22 kids. That`s right, 22. And they
are all alive today because it happened in China. And he attacked the
children with a knife, because that was the most deadly weapon he could
possibly get his hands on in his village of Changing (ph).

So no, there are not a lot of different ways that mass murder at Sandy
Hook Elementary School could have been committed. There is only one way,
one way, the way that Wayne LaPierre wants to preserve, mass murder by
firearm, an all-too-common American way of death.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAPIERRE: I think the American public is -- has had their fill of
what happened last night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: No, that was not Wayne LaPierre speaking the day after the
massacre of the children and the women at Sandy Hook Elementary. He has
been in hiding since then. That was Wayne LaPierre the day after this
happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS ANCHOR: "Our current gun culture," Whitlock
wrote, "ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the
ultimate tragedy, and that more convenient store confrontations over loud
music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.
Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to
escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation, rather than
avoiding it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That simple comment by Bob Costas sent Wayne LaPierre
rushing to the microphone to tell the world that the American public has
had their fill, not of gun violence, not of mass murder. The American
public has had their fill of Bob Costas.

Wayne LaPierre is a professional liar. He lies for a living.
Professional liars know when to shut up. They know when their lies won`t
work. So as Wayne LaPierre remains silent and in hiding this week, his
world is changing around him.

Another mass murder, this time of children, has finally forced some
people to change their minds about guns. Some senators and congressmen are
changing their minds. Some former congressmen, like Joe Scarborough, are
changing their minds.

And today, the conservative "New York Post" is to the left of the "New
York Times" on guns. The Post editorial today says "has technology
rendered the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution obsolete? That is,
has the application of modern military design to civilian firearms produced
a class of weapons too dangerous to be in general circulation. We say
yes."

Included in that "we" in the lead editorial is the owner of "the New
York Post," Rupert Murdoch, an Australia by birth who became an American
citizen by choice late in life. Murdoch knows the Australian experience
with mass murder. In 1996, an Australian shooter, spraying bullets from a
semiautomatic weapon, killed 35 people. The Australian prime minister said
then "we do not want the American disease imported into Australia."

He meant, of course, the American disease of mass murder by firearm.
The Australian government then banned assault weapons, tightened licensing
and created buy-back programs for guns. Since then, there have been no gun
massacres in Australia. None.

And here in the United States, children age five to 14 years are 13
times more likely to be killed by a gun than children in other developed
nations. And the more guns your state has, the more likely your children
are to be killed by guns.

In fact, the more guns a state has, the more likely people of all ages
are to be killed by guns. Guns do not increase our safety. They increase
our risk of death by guns. The Harvard School of Public Health finds the
health risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit, that gun
accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns, and that a gun in
the home is a risk factor for intimidation and for killing women in their
homes, as the mother of the shooter in Connecticut so suddenly discovered
on Friday morning.

The Harvard study also found, quote, "there is no credible evidence of
a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the
likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in."

Those are the facts of gun ownership in America, facts that
professional liar Wayne LaPierre does not want you to know. So tonight,
Wayne LaPierre continues to huddle in hiding with his advisers, trying to
come up with what the NRA should say when they make their announcement on
Friday, exactly one week to the day since the massacre of women and
children at Sandy Hook Elementary.

There is no chance, no chance that Wayne LaPierre will choose to say
what is best for the country or our children. He is simply trying to
figure out what is best to say for the preservation of his million-dollar
paycheck and for the longevity of the NRA. He may decide it is time for
the NRA`s sake to follow in John Boehner`s footsteps in the fiscal cliff
negotiations and take a small, compromising step towards insanity, maybe
agree with "the New York Post," and other conservative commentators who
think that the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines should be
restricted, some small step like that.

Or maybe Wayne LaPierre will calculate that it is right for the NRA to
continue to pretend that the Second Amendment, written at a time when the
right to bear a firearm meant the right to bear a musket capable of firing
exactly one bullet at a time, with a very cumbersome reloading process that
would take you about a minute, if you`re good at it -- Wayne LaPierre may
try to continue to pretend that the Founding Fathers who wrote the right to
bear muskets -- muskets --into the Constitution, that those Founding
Fathers intended for us all actually to be able to obtain and bear weapons
of mass murder beyond the wildest contemplating of any of the authors of
the Constitution.

This time it actually is not easy to predict what Wayne LaPierre will
decide what he has to say to preserve his position and to preserve the NRA.
Not easy to predict. Maybe they will think they have to do a word of
compromise.

But we do know this. There is nothing Wayne LaPierre can say now --
there are no words, none, that can wash the blood from his hands.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: There were two more funerals in Connecticut today for
first graders James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos. The heroic principal of
the school, Dawn Hochsprung, was murdered when she tried to protect the
students. NBC`s Savannah Guthrie spoke with one of Dawn Hochsprung`s
daughters and her fiance this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAVANNA GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erica and
Christopher, we have heard amazing stories of heroism. And your mom is
really at the center of that. As we mentioned, she ran toward the gunfire.
She confronted the gunman.

When you heard that, did you think to yourself that is just like the
woman I know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a really hard time not being mad about it.
But that is who she was. You know, she -- she faced every single problem
that she ever had in her life head on. You know, my cousin referred to her
as a bull yesterday. You know, there is no stopping Dawn when she has a
mission. She gets it done. And she gives it everything she has.

GUTHRIE: Christopher, I know you and Erica are engaged. And I have
heard that Dawn treated you basically like you were already a son-in-law.
You must be incredibly proud of her and what she did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, for some reason, Dawn loved me. And it is
my job now to just be there for her daughter. And, I accept that job with
open arms. And I`ll be there for her like in any way possible.

GUTHRIE: And Erica, I understand that your mom used to write you
letters which she called "Just Because" Letters, she wrote you just
because, which is a wonderful thing to do and a great thing to have now.
Can you tell me about those letters?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, I actually have one that I found last
night when I was looking for pictures. This one I think was sent the first
time that I moved out. I went back and forth a couple of times, because I
was a mama`s girl, and always needed her close. But this one is, "today I
stopped and thought what a wonderful daughter I have. And I thought I
would tell you. My dearest Erica, you are and forever will be my sweet
baby girl. You possess a piece of my heart and soul. And I will never be
complete without you. Remember this in your darkest times, you are never
alone. Your mom. Be safe. Be well. Be happy. No one deserves it more."

GUTHRIE: Erica, I`m so glad you have that letter. I know you`ll be
treasuring it. And thank you for coming on and telling us about this
amazing woman. And our best to you. And to you, Christopher, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Dawn Hochsprung`s funeral is tomorrow in Woodbury,
Connecticut.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.

END

<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