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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 19, 2012

Guests: Robert Reich, Howard Dean, Pat Kelsey, Bob Greenstein

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: I don`t know how John Boehner did this.
But tonight, John Boehner`s Plan B is being attacked by President Obama and
Rush Limbaugh.

And a LAST WORD exclusive, the basketball coach who used his post-game
press conference to talk about something much more important than the game
-- mass murder in America.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Are the fiscal cliff talks stalled
again?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I hope the president
will get serious soon.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have met them at
least half way.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: John Boehner`s so-called Plan B.

BOEHNER: Tomorrow, the House will pass legislation.

JANSING: What`s the strategy with Plan B?

BOEHNER: To make permanent tax relief for nearly every American.

OBAMA: Let`s just think about the logic for a second.

HALL: Make sense of what just happened.

OBAMA: They`re thinking about voting for, raising taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Except for household income above $1 million.

OBAMA: But they`re going to reject spending cuts.

BOEHNER: The president will have a decision to make.

OBAMA: That defies logic.

HALL: This is baffling for so many reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not just baffling. It`s irresponsible.

OBAMA: There`s no explanation for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grover Norquist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grover Norquist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has given his blessing.

OBAMA: That defies logic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People across America thought we were behaving
like adults.

OBAMA: I hope the president will get serious soon.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Stay classy, GOP.

OBAMA: If this past week has done anything, it should just give us
some perspective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama has made the first serious step.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Announcing a task force on guns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Towards new efforts to reduce gun violence.

OBAMA: Violence that we cannot accept as routine.

MITCHELL: President Obama puts Joe Biden in charge of a task force.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: We know what we have to do.

OBAMA: This is not some Washington commission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He supports reinstating a ban on assault
weapons.

BOXER: Weapons of war do not belong on our streets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Limiting high-capacity magazines.

JANSING: The NRA is going to be holding a news conference.

BOXER: There is going to be an announcement made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful
contributions.

BOXER: Those ideas shouldn`t be -- let`s arm the teachers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very hard to determine what they mean.

BOXER: Teachers aren`t law enforcement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have all the information.

OBAMA: This is not some Washington commission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have all the studies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time is of the essence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to do something, the American people
want us to do something.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: It`s hard out there being a Boehner. John Boehner has
gone from refusing to consider any tax rate increase -- any tax rate
increase at all -- to refusing to consider any tax rate increase without
spending cuts attached to it, to now asking his members to pass a tax rate
increase without any spending cuts attached to it.

John Boehner`s Plan B, which he wants to bring to a vote tomorrow, is
simply a tax increase on incomes over a million dollars. Nothing else.
That`s it.

Here was President Obama`s reaction today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If you look at what the speaker has proposed, he has conceded
that income tax rates should go up. Except right now, he only wants to
have them go up for millionaires. If you`re making $900,000, somehow he
thinks that you can`t afford to pay a little more in taxes.

But the principle that rates are need to go up, he has conceded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That proved to Rush Limbaugh that President Obama now has
exactly what he wants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If you look at what the speaker has proposed, he`s conceded
that --

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: There it is, there is the word.

OBAMA: -- income tax rates should go up.

LIMBAUGH: There it is, stop the tape.

That`s what this has all been about. He has wanted the Republicans to
concede tax cuts for the rich caused all of these problems.

Cue that back up to the top. The speaker has conceded income tax
rates should go up. That`s exactly what he wants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh is not the only conservative attacking the
Plan B, conservative political action groups are calling for House
Republicans to mutiny.

From the Heritage Foundation, "Allowing a tax increase to hit a
certain segment of Americans in small business is not a solution -- and
constitute a clear path towards conservatives on their principles.
Heritage Action opposes Plan B and will include it as a key vote on our
legislative score card."

And from the Club for Growth, there is this, "The Club for Growth
urges all House members to vote no on the rule for the so-called Plan B tax
increase. Consideration of the bill is scheduled for later this week. The
vote on the rule will be included in the club`s 2012 congressional score
card."

And from Grover Norquist, the anti-tax superman, what rhetorical
heights did Grover Norquist have to go to, to be heard above the sound of
Rush Limbaugh and the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth, and
their reaction to this increase? What rhetorical flourish was Grover able
to come up with to make his opposition stand out, to make his opposition be
the most important opposition?

Are you sitting down? No, no, no, you have to sit down.

Grover Norquist has come out in support of John Boehner`s tax increase
on incomes over a million dollars. And he has done it by claiming it is
not a tax increase.

"This legislation, popularly known as Plan B, permanently prevents a
tax increase on families making less than a million per year. Considering
this tax bill contains no tax increases of any kind. In fact, it
permanently prevents them. Americans for Tax Reform will not consider a
vote for this measure a violation of the taxpayer protection pledge."

And so, Grover Norquist has officially surrendered. But even with
Grover Norquist supporting him, John Boehner is sounding like a man who has
not yet sold his tax increase to his Republican members.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: Good afternoon, everyone. Republicans continue to work
toward avoiding the fiscal cliff. The president`s offer of $1.3 trillion
in revenues and $850 billion in spending reductions fails to meet the test
that the president promised the American people, a balanced approach. And
I hope that the president will get serious soon about providing and working
with us on a balanced approach.

Tomorrow, the House will pass legislation to make permanent tax relief
for nearly every American, 99.81 percent of the American people. Then the
president will have a decision to make. He can call on Senate Democrats to
pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in
American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Nancy Pelosi rushed to the cameras immediately after John
Boehner to offer this review.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I think what we saw here
earlier was really an act of desperation. It didn`t look like to me a
person who has the votes. Any questions?

REPORTER: Do you have any anticipate losing any Democrats? Do you
anticipate having Democrats vote for the Plan B?

PELOSI: Plan B will not pass as a result of Democratic votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Robert Reich, former labor secretary and a
professor at the University of California-Berkeley. He`s also the author
of "Beyond Outrage."

And Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and DNC chairman.

Now, gentlemen, I think we all agree that Barack Obama is a pretty
smart guy. But I want you to listen to him today trying to figure out the
logic of the John Boehner Plan B. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Let`s just think about the logic for a second. They`re
thinking about voting for raising taxes, at least on folks over a million,
which they say they don`t want to do. But they`re going to reject spending
cuts that they say they do want to do. That defies logic. There is no
explanation for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Professor Reich, you`re very good with logic. Can you
please help the president and me figure out the logic of this?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: There is no logic here,
Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: OK.

REICH: There is a tactical approach that, unfortunately, is going to
fail, because Boehner is not going to get Republicans for this. He`s not
going to get Democrats for this. And we`re going to get closer and closer
to the fiscal cliff.

The only alternative out there is proposed by the president. And
actually, I think going over the cliff is probably better.

O`DONNELL: Governor Dean, the White House has done what it needs to
do on this, issued a veto threat. They said, "If the president were
presented with the House amendment, to the Senate amendment, to H.J. Res.
66, he would veto this legislation."

So now, Governor Dean, John Boehner is asking his members to vote on
something that a president has said he would veto if it ever by some
miracle made it through the Senate, which it wouldn`t. It`s a purely
academic vote that John Boehner is asking for, and it happens to be a tax
increase.

How do you ask Republicans to cast that vote?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Yes, this is silly. It is a waste
of everybody`s time. He is hoping I think, to get credit somehow for the
notion that the Republicans are not the party of millionaires. And this is
not going to work.

This is the kind of stuff that annoys American voters. These guys are
getting paid a fairly decent standard by most voters, and they`re not doing
any work. It just really makes people mad. This is posturing, this is
silly, it doesn`t prove anything.

I actually agree with Bob Reich, I think the most sensible thing is to
go right over the fiscal curve, as you say, you`ll get more deficit
reduction, you`ll get a fair tax system out of it, you`ll finally get some
defense cuts which we haven`t seen. You know, just on the defense cuts for
one second, you know, a couple of weeks ago, they ordered new uniforms for
all the chauffeurs and the military. I think we can probably cut defense.

O`DONNELL: I think we might be able to.

It`s creating -- this situation is creating some interesting dynamics.
Paul Ryan has issued a statement saying he will vote yes on this. It says,
"Chairman Ryan will continue to work to stop tax hikes. Chairman Ryan
believes that Speaker Boehner`s Plan B meets that criteria."

Robert Reich, there is Paul Ryan, every day of his life prior to now
opposed to any form of tax rate increase that has ever been presented to
him. Suddenly now, he is forced to say he is in favor of this one. And he
may find himself tomorrow in a situation where the thing he`s in favor of -
- has been forced to be in favor of is unable to be brought to a vote in
the House if Boehner can`t round up those votes.

REICH: Absolutely. You know, I mean, if you have Grover Norquist and
you have Paul Ryan saying that this is OK for Republicans. It is OK to
raise taxes over a million dollars. It is not OK to raise taxes over
$250,000.

Now, what`s the difference exactly? What`s the principle here? What
are we trying to uncover as the central tenet of Republicanism,
particularly when there is -- absolutely no hint of any spending cut that
they put on the table.

There is nothing there. I mean, there is no principle. I don`t know
how they can say with a straight face to -- not only to Republicans and
independents, but to America -- we have a principled position with regard
to deficit reduction and avoiding the fiscal cliff.

O`DONNELL: Governor Dean, through a different approach, you have
ended up in basic agreement with "The Wall Street Journal" at this point.
They are saying in their approach, just go off the cliff. That is better
than anything Boehner is proposing.

DEAN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And it`s better that anything you`re going to get in the
compromise.

DEAN: Well, here`s -- and I rarely agree with anything on the opinion
pages of "The Wall Street Journal." But here`s where -- I`m a deficit
hawk. And the reason I`m a deficit hawk is, as a progressive, I know that
social programs can only be sustained in the long-term if you have a
balanced budget, which is what Bill Clinton and his folks did.

So if you really want to be serious about this, you got to attack the
deficit. This is the fairest way to attack the deficit of any system I
have seen in terms of taxes, in terms of cuts evenly spread. There are
some bad cuts in there I don`t like as a progressive in human services.

But everybody is going to have some sacrifice. And I think going over
the fiscal cliff is the fairest sacrifice. It`s also coincidentally going
to take the biggest bite out of the deficit, which Wall Street should like.

O`DONNELL: Governor Dean --

REICH: I have a slightly different take on it. I agree with Howard
Dean`s -- you know, the sentiment we need to go over the cliff, it`s the
best alternative out there. But I don`t think that that is final and
permanent solution. Democrats need to be back right away --

DEAN: I agree with that.

REICH: -- with a middle class tax cut, retroactive to January 1st.

O`DONNELL: Right. Robert Reich and Howard Dean, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

REICH: Thanks.

DEAN: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: it really is different this time. President
Obama announced today he will propose new legislation to reduce gun
violence.

And people are standing up around the country to say enough is enough.
We`ll be joined by the basketball coach who used his post-game press
conference to ask President Obama and John Boehner to do something about
this tragic American way of death: mass murder.

And later, is President Obama really considering a cut in Social
Security benefits?

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, what would Ronald Reagan do?
Specifically, what would Reagan do about the bill Senator Dianne Feinstein
plans to introduce banning assault weapons? The answer will surprise
today`s Republicans who claim to worship Ronald Reagan, and know almost
nothing about him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Wayne LaPierre and the blood-drenched lobbyists at the NRA
hate Joe Biden. They just hate him, because 20 years ago when he was
chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden helped push gun
control legislation through the Senate.

What the NRA never mentions is that that gun control legislation was
supported by NRA member and former president, Ronald Reagan. That`s coming
up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: This time, it really is different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an
excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can`t prevent every act of
violence doesn`t mean we can`t steadily reduce the violence, and prevent
the very worst violence. That`s why I have asked the vice president to
lead an effort that includes members of my cabinet, and outside
organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than
January.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Five days after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook
Elementary School left 20 children and six teachers dead, today, President
Obama announced his administration`s plan to pursue massacre-control
legislation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As soon as we get those recommendations, I will be putting
forward very specific proposals. I will be talking about them in my State
of the Union, and we will be working with interested members of Congress to
try to get something done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president described specific measures that he would
support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-
style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of
high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws
requiring background checks before all gun purchases.

I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a
timely manner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The president`s initiative will be led by Vice President Joe
Biden.

In 2008, the National Rifle Association warned that Joe Biden will be
the most anti-gun vice president in American history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The NRA is an organization that has members who are mothers
and fathers. And I would expect that they have been impacted by this, as
well. And hopefully, they`ll do some self reflection.

There is a big chunk of space between what, you know, the Second
Amendment means and having no rules at all. And that space is what Joe is
going to be working on to try to identify where we can find some common
ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and Ari Melber.

Krystal, I`m hoping that there`s one NRA prediction that will come
true, and that is that Joe Biden will be the most anti-gun vice president
in history, which, by the way, there is no competition for. We never had
an anti-vice president.

But let`s I`m going to read you other things the NRA said in 2008
about Joe Biden. "Few in the Senate have as much experience as Joe Biden
in attacking our right to keep and bear arms. Biden has voted for an
actively pushed major anti-gun bills, including those banning semiautomatic
firearms, banning hunting, sporting and self-defense ammunition, banning
magazines holding more than 10 rounds, and imposing a waiting period on
hand gun sales."

Krystal, that sounds like a guy the president should turn to now to
try to get something done?

KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Yes, I was going to say, it
sounds like the president made the right choice there. What a radical, can
you believe those things he supported?

I mean, I think Joe Biden is a very strong choice to head this task
force. I am a little bit concerned about the time frame, though, frankly.
I think we`re seeing polls that show a majority of Americans for the first
time in a long time, supporting stricter gun control, supporting majority,
supporting these basic common sense rules, which actually that has been the
case for a while.

But I`m just concerned that right now is when the pressure and the
heat is on the NRA, is on the Republican members of Congress, is on people
like Joe Manchin, to actually do something. And the longer that we wait to
have a task force and have recommendations and push something forward and
hear in the State of the Union, the less pressure there is going to
continue to be.

Maybe I`m wrong. Maybe this is a mounting wave. But based on what
we`ve seen in past incidents, there is an initial impetus to do something,
and then it sort of dies away and the focus goes elsewhere.

So I think the sooner that they can put those recommendations out, the
better position that we would actually be in.

O`DONNELL: Well, the problem is the calendar here and exactly where
we are in it.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: The Senate is not going to be in session. They have to
get the next Congress sworn in to session. All the new committees have to
take their position. Joe Biden used to run the committee that has to
handle this. That`s why he is going to be in a position to have a great
head start on it.

But when the president says I want to start moving at the end of
January at the latest. That is the earliest, legislatively, you could
possibly move.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: You have to get past inauguration. You have to get out
into the end of the January.

And so, Ari, it will sound like a long time to people, but I don`t see
any calendar alternative to moving on anything -- getting anything started
before the last week of January.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: That`s what was significant about the
president`s remarks today. He laid down a marker of January, as you just
elucidated.

But more importantly, I think, he said I think this is going to be in
the State of the Union. Everybody knows, even if your not a political
junky, the State of the Union is the big speech the president gives. That
and the inaugural address are the only speeches that were really thought of
in the Constitution. And over the years, they have shifted from being a
relatively formalistic sort of procedural type of addresses to being times
when we understand exactly what is on the agenda of the president. And
there is no more important State of the Union than in the first one after a
re-election.

So, to me, what he laid down today was very clearly saying we will not
re lent. We will not let this go by the way of the media news cycle. We
are going to put this front and center in the State of the Union. Put
pressure on both parties.

And I think that`s significant, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I want to watch one question in the press conference today
about this from Jake Tapper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS REPORTER: This is not the first issue, the
first incident, of horrific gun violence of your four years. Where have
you been?

OBAMA: Well, here is where I have been, Jake -- I have been president
of the United States dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great
Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars. I don`t
think I have been on vacation.

And so -- you know, I think all of us have to do some reflection on
how we prioritize what we do here in Washington. And as I said on Sunday,
this should be a wake-up call for all of us to say that if we are not
getting right the need to keep our children safe, then nothing else
matters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, am I the only one who is bothered by the way that
question was asked? The where have you been?

Now, listen, if I was in that room asking questions under pressure, I
would probably phrase things badly all the time. But I`m going to have to
say, I just found it to be -- about the worst possible way you could phrase
it.

We know what the president does for a living and we know what he has
been doing for his time. I think it`s perfectly reasonable to ask why
haven`t you been moved before.

But, Krystal, there was something about the phrasing that really threw
me?

BALL: Was it how obnoxious and self-righteous it was?

O`DONNELL: You know, I don`t -- look, it bothered me. I don`t want
to label it too bad. I know I`m capable of worse --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: So I don`t want to get up on a high horse here. But it
was odd.

BALL: It was odd, and, frankly, I don`t think it was designed to get
information. It was an obnoxious question.

And the real answer is, we tend to blame politicians for all of our
problems, where has the focus been on this issue or that issue? Why aren`t
they talking about this issue or that issue?

It comes from us, they still respond to what the public wants. That`s
why there is a response right now on this issue. So if we want something
to happen -- yes, it`s up to the president to lead. But we have to push
these politicians and the corporations and the NRA and shame them.

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

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

MELBER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the basketball coach who used his post-game
press conference in Ohio to ask John Boehner to do the right things on
guns.

And in the "Rewrite", Republicans don`t like to ask themselves what
would Jesus do? Because so often, in issues involving the poor, they find
themselves opposing what Jesus would do. But why do not they ask, what
would Ronald Reagan do? Because today`s Republicans would discover they
agree with Ronald Reagan on next to nothing -- including gun control.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today, there were four more funerals in Newtown,
Connecticut. More than 300 people attended the funeral of first grade
teacher Vicki Soto, who was murdered protecting her students.

Seven-year-old Daniel Barden wanted to be a fireman when he grew up.
Today, hundreds of firefighters lined up outside the church where his
funeral was held.

Six-year-old Charlotte Bacon was remembered as a bubbly child who
loved animals and the color pink.

Six-Year-old Caroline Previdi also loved pink. And so today at her
memorial service, family and friends wore that color in her honor. Her
obituary read "Caroline loved to draw and dance. Her smile brought
happiness to everyone she touched."

Here is more of what President Obama had to say today about his plan
to reduce gun violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And I`m not going to be able to do it by myself. Ultimately,
if this effort is to succeed, it is going to require the help of the
American people. It is going to require all of you. If we`re going to
change things, it is going to take a wave of Americans, mothers and
fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health
professionals, and yes, gun owners, standing up and saying enough on behalf
of our kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, Americans standing up and saying
enough. In Seminole, Florida, a pawn shop owner decided he could no longer
profit from instruments of death and removed all of the firearms from his
store, telling "the Tampa Bay Times," quote, "conscience wins over making
money."

And last night, as reporters were getting ready to leave a press
conference after the Ohio State-Winthrop University basketball game,
Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had one more thing he wanted to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT KELSEY, COACH WINTHROP UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL TEAM: The last thing
I want to say is I`m really, really lucky because I`m going to get on an
eight-hour bus ride and I`m going to arrive in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
I`m going to walk in my house. I`m going to walk upstairs. I`m going to
walk into two pink rooms, OK, with a five-year-old and a four-year-old
laying in that pink room, with a bunch of teddy bears laying in that room.

And I`m going to give them the biggest hug and the biggest kiss I have
ever given them. And there are 20 families in Newport (sic), Connecticut,
that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody
laying in those beds. And it is tragic.

And I don`t know what needs to be done. I`m not smart enough to know
what needs to be done, OK. I know this country has got issues. Is it a
gun issue? Is it a mental health issue? Or is it a society that has lost
the facts -- the understanding that decent human values are important?

And our leaders -- I didn`t vote for President Obama, OK. But you
know what? He is my president now. He is my leader. I need him to step
up. OK? Mr. Boehner, the speaker of the House, he`s a Xavier guy. He`s a
Cincinnati guy. OK? He needs to step up.

Parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches, everybody needs to step
up. This has to be a time for change. And I know this microphone is
powerful right now because we`re playing the fourth best team in the
country. I am not going to have a microphone like this the rest of my
year, maybe the rest of my life.

And I`m going to be an agent of change with the 13 young men that I
get to coach every day, and two little girls that I get to raise. But
hopefully things start changing, because it is really, really
disappointing.

I`m proud to grow up American. I`m proud to say I`m part of the
greatest country ever. And that has to stay that way. And it will stay
that way if we change, but we have to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now for an exclusive interview, Winthrop
University head basketball coach Pat Kelsey. Coach Kelsey, I`m very glad
to be able to give you a national microphone once again on this subject.
When did you decide that you were going to say that in your press
conference?

KELSEY: You know, I have been asked that question a lot over the last
24 hours. And like all Americans, my world came to a screeching halt on
late Friday morning. We were on our way to Athens, Ohio, up I-77. And our
bus broke down on the side of the highway, which was a whole other story.

And a couple of our players came to the front and said, coach, check
Twitter, there was just another school shooting. And my heart just sunk.
And I`m thinking man, not again. And you`re thinking a high school or
something like that, which is just as bad. Don`t get me wrong.

But when we found out 15, 20 minutes later, when one of my assistant
coaches just said, coach, it is worse than you think. There`s 20 kids dead
and it is a kindergarten class. It is five and six-year-olds. And
everything came to a screeching halt. There was a shot up my spine, I
froze in my tracks.

I couldn`t move. And I got unbelievably emotional. And I think the
entire world -- not only the entire world, but obviously the entire
American public I think had the same sentiments I did. It struck home
especially with me because I have a five and a four-year-old. And four or
five hours prior, I was sitting at the breakfast table with my four and
five year old. And my wife put pancakes in front of them. And they put
their little Hershey kisses in the shape of a smiley face. And they were
drawing pictures for me that I could take on the road during a five-day
road trip, where we had to go play two games, and I wasn`t going to see
them for a while.

They were on their way to school. They were marking off their list on
-- their Christmas countdown to Christmas Eve. And when I sat there, all I
could think about were those 20 families that had those same breakfasts
that morning with their four, five and six-year-olds. And they had the
same pictures drawn for them and the same Hershey kisses and smiley faces
on their pancakes.

And the next time they saw their children, they were identifying their
bodies. And I couldn`t shake it. I couldn`t stop thinking about it. We
had two big-time games to get ready for, Ohio University, which we won and
played very well, and then Ohio State, which we didn`t win but played very
well. But every second, every waking second where we weren`t concentrating
on our game preparation, that is all I could think about.

And when I walked into that press conference, after we played Ohio
State, it struck me the number of people in the room. You know, we`re at
Winthrop in the Big South. We`re not Ohio State. We`re not the Big Ten.
We`re not the fourth best team in the country. Our press conferences have
maybe one camera and one reporter.

But when I walked in, there was 25, 30 people in this room, more
cameras staring at me than maybe I`ll ever have staring at me for the rest
of my life. You know, it struck me as they asked me about the game, and
they said, you know, tell us about stopping Erin Craft (ph) and Deshawn
Thomas (ph, and how did you hold Ohio State to 65 points? I answered the
question, because that is my job.

Then at the very end they asked me if I had anything else. It was
almost divine intervention. I just said yes, you know what? I do have
something else. And I think I recognized the moment and the power of that
microphone. And I said what was on my heart. It was emotional, but it was
on my heart. It was what I was thinking about the last couple of days.

I have been overwhelmed over the last 18 to 20 hours of the hundreds
and hundreds and hundreds of e-mails that I received, and texts, and apps
on Twitter, from people that I never met before, just saying coach, I
really appreciate what you said. You said exactly what I`m thinking.

And I`m not anything great for having said it. I just had the
opportunity and I had that microphone. And I spoke from my heart, an
American citizen, a kid that grew up in what I think is the greatest
country in the history of civilization. And I`m scared out of my mind that
when I`m gone, the society that my little girls are going to live in is not
that same great society that we know.

So I said it in my press conference. You know, I don`t know the
answers. I`m a little bit ashamed to admit. Maybe it is my civic duty to
be more responsible and to do more homework to understand what those issues
are. I`m not there yet.

I just do know that I am just scared that there`s been a major
deterioration in basic core values of what is right and wrong in the fabric
of American society. And I`m not the type that is going to push my
religion on anybody else. But I know one thing, there was somebody that
walked the Earth 2,000 years ago, that set the ultimate example of how to
live and how to treat people and how to lead. And that is who leads me.
And if we follow that example, I think all will be right with the world.

O`DONNELL: Pat Kelsey, I know I`m for this audience tonight. I think
we all strongly believe that you performed your civic duty nobly when you
decided to speak out on this. Thank you very much for joining us tonight,
coach.

KELSEY: Thanks for having me.

Coming up in the Rewrite, what Newt Gingrich says about gun violence
and Ronald Reagan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Reagan used to say it isn`t what
they don`t know that is so frightening. It is what they know that is
wrong.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Ronald Reagan embodied optimism. They
were the keys to Ronald Reagan`s greatness as an American leader.
President Reagan -- Ronald Reagan -- Ronald Reagan -- Reagan/Bush in 1980 -
- Reagan.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: The man we know as Ronald Reagan,
whose sunny optimistic and charisma shined so brightly that it cured the
malaise of the late `70s.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I identify myself as a Reagan
conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is that?

HANNITY: Reagan conservative is simple. Reagan was magical.

GINGRICH: Over three decades have passed since Ronald Reagan was
first elected to the White House. Yet the impact of his leadership is
still evident today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As I have reported in this space before, there is no
Republican who Republicans lie about more than Ronald Reagan. They refer
to Reagan the way the Bible refers to God, as the font of all wisdom. But
Republicans never actually quote Reagan anymore, because they have
Rewritten Republicanism to the point that Reagan wouldn`t recognize his
party, which was, by the way, the second political party that Reagan
belonged to.

The actor Ronald Reagan was a Democrat when he was president of the
labor union representing actors, but he switched to Republican on his way
to becoming president of the United States.

Ronald Reagan didn`t like taxes, but he was willing to raise them when
necessary, which is why he signed the then biggest tax increase in
California history when he was governor, and why he raised taxes 11 times
as president. Yes, 11 times.

There is now no Republican who thinks it is ever necessary to raise
tax rates. Not one Republican is a Reaganite on taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I am a Reaganite. I`m proud to be a Reaganite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: No, you`re not, Newt. Newt Gingrich is the father of the
Republican opposition to all tax increases all the time. All Republicans
are now Gingrichites, not Reaganites, which brings us to the issue of the
day, gun control, background checks, banning assault weapons, all of which
Ronald Reagan supported.

As governor, Reagan signed the California law that established a 15-
day waiting period, and was very proud of the thousands of handgun sales
that were prevented by that waiting period, which allowed authorities to
block sales to some buyers.

Unlike Newt Gingrich, Ronald Reagan had his own close encounter, too
close encounter, with a deranged young man spraying bullets. As President
Reagan left the Washington Hilton one day, shots rang out hitting a
Washington police officer, Thomas Delahante, in the neck. Tim McCarthy, a
Secret Service agent, took a bullet in the chest. The president`s press
secretary, Jim Brady, was shot in the forehead. The bullet passed through
his brain, leaving an exit wound in the back of his head.

In 1991, then former President Reagan told the story of his shooting
in a "New York Times" op ed piece he wrote supporting the Brady Bill, named
after Jim Brady, which imposed a national waiting period for purchasing
handguns.

"I was lucky," wrote President Reagan. "The bullet that hit me
bounced off a rib and lodged in my lung, an inch from my heart. It was a
very close call. Twice they could not find my pulse."

The last time Congress considered an assault weapons ban, former
President Reagan supported it even though it was introduced by Democratic
Senator Diane Feinstein and was opposed by most Republicans. Reagan co-
wrote a letter with former Presidents Carter and Ford to all members of the
House of Representatives, urging them to support, quote, "a ban on the
domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons."

The three former presidents, one Democrat and two Republicans, said,
quote, "this is a matter of vital importance to the public safety."

But most Republicans didn`t think so. In the end, the vote in the
House could not have been closer, 216 in favor, 214 opposed. Two votes.
Two House members said the reason they voted for the bill was Ronald
Reagan. Republican Congressman Scott Klug opposed the assault weapons ban
right up until the day before the vote.

But then he got a handwritten note from President Reagan. "Dear
Scott, as a longtime gun owner and supporter of the right to bear arms, I
too have carefully thought about this issue. I am convinced that the
limitations imposed in this bill are absolutely necessary. I know there is
heavy pressure on you to go the other way. But I strongly urge you to join
me in supporting this bill. It must be passed. Sincerely, Ronald Reagan."

Richard Sweat, a New Hampshire Democratic congressman, said Ronald
Reagan turned his vote to a yes. He was then attacked relentlessly by the
gun lobby and he lost his re-election campaign in 1994.

We know what President Reagan would be saying today if he were still
with us. He would support Diane Feinstein`s bill just like he did in 1994.
The Reaganite position is to support Feinstein`s assault weapons ban. But
self proclaimed Reaganite Newt Gingrich has not been talking about the
assault weapons ban in the aftermath of the killing of children and women
in Newtown, Connecticut.

Newt Gingrich doesn`t blame the easy availability of assault weapons
in this country for the murder of 26 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
He blames this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: An anti-religious secular bureaucracy and secular
judiciary, seeking to drive God out of public life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich was one of the members of Congress who
received that letter in 1994 co-signed by President Reagan, asking him to
vote yes on a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault
weapons. And Newt Gingrich voted no.

There are many words I can think of that accurately describe Newt
Gingrich. And yes, some of them are positive. But when Newt Gingrich
calls himself a Reaganite, there is only one word: liar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I am a Reaganite. I am proud to be a Reaganite. I am a
Reaganite. I am proud to be a Reaganite. I am a Reaganite. I am proud to
be a Reaganite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: One of the things that the president is considering in a
possible deficit reduction deal with John Boehner is a reduction in the
annual cost of living increases in Social Security benefits. Congressman
Jim McDermott says "reducing cost of living adjustments is a Social
Security benefit cut. Any deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare or
Medicaid benefits is unacceptable and I will oppose it."

But there is at least one Democrat in the House ready to support the
president if he does agree to this change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you consider that a benefit cut?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: No, I don`t. I consider it a
strengthening of Social Security, but that is neither here or there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Bob Greenstein, founder and president of
the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And bob, I just want the
audience to know that there is no one in Washington who has advocated for
liberal causes and social policy more strongly and longer than you have.

And I just want to get your take. Give me -- we`re going to run out
of time here, and we`ll continue this conversation on our website. But
give me your two-minute brief on this subject.

BOB GREENSTEIN, PRESIDENT, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES:
Lawrence, this is a complex subject. On the one hand, this alternative way
of measuring inflation is a little bit more accurate, in general. But it
is not clear that it is more accurate for the elderly.

The proposal is to use this new method not only for Social Security,
but for all benefit programs with cost of living adjustments, and for the
tax code. It ultimately raises as much in revenue as it saves from lower
cost of living adjustments.

How much lower? About three tenths of a percentage point a year.
What does that mean? So if you had a thousand dollars a month Social
Security benefit, and there was three percent inflation, instead of going
to 1,030, it would go to 1,027. Three dollars isn`t that much in the first
year. But over the years, it accumulates.

And if you`re low on the income scale, as you get older and older,
this becomes a problem. So where I come out on it is, this is worth
considering, but only -- only under three conditions. Number one, it must
be accompanied by provisions that protect the very old and the poor. The
president has said he is going to try and get those protections if it is in
the final plan. It is unclear how Republicans will react to that.

And the other key thing is this is a reduction, relative to what
people would otherwise get, in benefits. And therefore it`s really only
worth the president considering -- and I think this is his view -- if the
Republicans move substantially on revenues in return. Only worth it if
there is enough revenue in this plan so we really make progress towards the
deficit without skewering things from education, to Medicare, to other
things that are very important for the country.

O`DONNELL: Bob, we`ve run out of time for tonight, but I want you to
come back on the show in the future. We`re going to be discussing this,
I`m sure, several more times. And let`s keep, after we close the show,
let`s keep talking about it on our web site. Bob Greenstein, thanks for
joining me. "THE ED SHOW" is next.

END

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