THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
June 20, 2013
Guest: Tom Colicchio
ALEX WAGNER, GUEST HOST: John Boehner could not get the farm bill
passed through his House of Representatives. To quote the great Ron
Burgundy, "That really got out of hand fast".
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I didn`t come here
to be speaker because I needed a fancy title and a big office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker John Boehner, yes, he has he power. He
is not a strong speaker.
BOEHNER: I wanted to be speaker so I could do something on behalf of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the farm bill is defeated in the House of
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: What we saw today was a
Democratic leadership in the House that was insistent to undo years and
years of bipartisan work.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), DEMOCRATIC WHIP: Don`t blame Democrats for
the loss today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re trying to blame House Democrats.
HOYER: You didn`t even bring it to the floor because your party
couldn`t come together.
TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Some conservatives are bragging that they
killed the farm bill.
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: How arrogant and (INAUDIBLE).
HOYER: When we were the majority, we got no help on your side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just piled on.
HOYER: We produced 218 votes we didn`t whine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you`re in charge of the House, you need to
know how many votes you have.
BOEHNER: My job is not try to impose my will.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: If he were a woman, they would be
calling him the weakest speaker in history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has nothing to do with policy. This has
everything to do with politics.
HOYER: I tell you with all due respect, Mr. Majority Leader, you
turned it into a partisan bill.
CANTOR: Maybe we`re just going t make it a partisan bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stick it to poor people, dot expect
SHARPTON: Republicans went after benefits for the poor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They hate these government programs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has to do with an ideological agenda.
SHARPTON: They live up to their reputation.
CANTOR: Yes, we have fundamental disagreement for many things.
HOYER: Don`t blame Democrats for the loss today.
CANTOR: It is unfortunate that was the case.
HOYER: We didn`t whine.
BOEHNER: I think this is absolutely crazy.
WAGNER: Earlier this week, we asked the question, John Boehner worst
speaker ever? After the implosion on the House floor today, I think we can
remove the question mark.
Here is what happened: today, most people, including John Boehner and
his leadership team, expected that the house would pass the bipartisan farm
bill. And then to the sound of stunned silence in the chamber John Boehner
lost the vote. Correction, John Boehner got killed on the vote.
The final vote was 195-234 -- 62 Republicans, 62 voted against the
bill, 62 Republicans voted against John Boehner.
Boehner`s leadership team said they had no idea. But John Boehner
allowed a poison pill to be attached to the bill, an amendment that would
make even deeper, more draconian cuts to SNAP food stamp program. It was
an amendment Democrats said was a deal-breaker. The amendment passed with
the support of 58 Republicans who then bailed on the final farm bill.
Let me repeat that: John Boehner and the Republicans traded real
Democratic yes votes on the farm bill so that 58 Republicans could add an
amendment to the bill they then voted to kill. And then Eric Cantor went
to the floor and blamed the Democrats for the loss. And Steny Hoyer, the
leader who counts votes from the Democratic side and is possibly the most
mild-mannered and gentlemanly member of the House, absolutely schooled Eric
Cantor in an epic, three-round, 15 minute smack down.
Here is round one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANTOR: If the gentleman witnesses what just happened on the floor,
there seems to be a decision about a part of his leadership, perhaps
himself, to say, hey, we`re not going to go along with bipartisan work and
success. And maybe we`re just going to make this a partisan issue.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), DEMOCRATIC WHIP: Very frankly I was not
going to mention what happened on the floor today. But the gentleman has
brought it up. The gentleman is correct. The committee passed that a
bipartisan bill. The Democrats voted for that bill.
The problem, of course, is that 62 Republicans voted against the
bill, as it was amended. It`s a draconian amendment that would hurt the
very poorest citizens in our country very badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: In round two, Cantor claimed the Republicans are all about
the social safety net. Hoyer responded by returning to both history and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANTOR: There was never an intention at all for our side to say we
want to take away the safety net of the food stamp program. What we saw
today was a Democratic leadership in the House that was insistent to undo
years and years of bipartisan work on an issue like a farm bill and decide
to make it a partisan issue.
HOYER: Don`t blame Democrats for the loss today. You didn`t bring
up the farm bill when it was reported in a bipartisan basis last year. You
didn`t even bring it to the floor because your party couldn`t come together
to support their chairman`s bill.
Let`s bring that back and have a vote on it. That was reported on a
bipartisan basis. I think it would pass, maybe not because of your votes.
That`s your problem all along. Don`t blame Democrats for the loss of that
We produced 218 votes for almost everything we put on this floor.
Yes, you pushed my button.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: And in round three, a bloodied Eric Cantor stalked back into
his corner of the ring, while Steny Hoyer reminded the America that the
Republican Party is adrift, TKO.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANTOR: I think the minority has been a disappointing player today.
Saying as the minority leadership did today, you disagree with us on that
program? We`re out of here.
HOYER: The majority leader continues to want to blame the Democrats
for his inability, and the Republicans` inability to give a majority vote
to their own bill. You have 234 members, 62 of your members voted against
That`s why it failed. We didn`t whine, very frankly, when we were in
charge when I was the majority leader about we didn`t pass the bill. We
got 218 votes for our bills.
We will take no blame for the failure of the farm bill, none, zero.
As much as you try to stay it you can`t get away from the statistic, 62,
otherwise known as 25 percent of your party voted against a bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-
My friends and colleague, hashtag real talk. That is what happened
on the floor today.
Chris, what happened to John Boehner?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Man, I don`t know, John Boehner is just
having a rough go of it. And here is the problem, the next thing he has to
do -- you have to pass a farm bill. This is like the defense
I mean, I got an e-mail from a Democratic member of Congress today
who said, just for the record, we were able to pass our farm bill when we
were running the majority. Whether or not, there is good stuff or bad
stuff in there, and there`s a lot of bad stuff of every farm bill and
there`s a lot of bad stuff in this farm bill, you got to pass it like the
So, Boehner now -- I mean, here is the fundamental problem, the 62
no-votes was because people thought there was not enough cuts, particularly
on the food stamps, right? I mean, there`s already $20 billion (ph) cut.
So if you`re John Boehner, he`s got a calculation to make, a pre-staging of
the calculation to make in immigration, which is where do I go? Do I try
to bring Republican votes which means cut deeper, or do I try to bring some
Democrats back on board? And I think we`ve seen basically what that means,
this farm bill amazingly probably going to get worse in the next
WAGNER: Well, I still don`t understand the calculations, Melissa.
He -- John Boehner has not voted on a farm bill since 1996. They thought
they had enough votes for it? But he was not sure.
And after the Plan B debacle, why put yourself out there? I mean,
this is already someone who is weaken among members of his own caucus after
the Bush tax cuts deal. And now, I just don`t know how he survives as a
speaker in the future.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Well, it feels to me like the
civil war within the Republican Party is perhaps deeper and more entrenched
than we can see from the outside, and particularly, because we are so
trained, particularly trained over the course of the past decade to think
of the fault lines as primarily partisan, and to think about Democrats and
Republicans as against one another.
But in part of what happened in 2010, of course, we talk about this a
lot. When we talk about the fact there is a greater number of votes, a
pretty substantial higher number of votes for House Democrats and for House
Republicans, but the House Republicans win again in 2012, in part because
of the gerrymandering districts in 2010.
But what that did is create problems for them within the party,
right? It generated the sort of micro-incentives for these folks facing a
midterm election, to keep going farther and farther to the right, more and
more draconian. And it takes away all the incentives that once existed in
the House of Representatives to (INAUDIBLE), right? The reason you had to
pass the farm bill was because -- I mean, that is how the House worked,
right? I give you a little something, you give me a little something.
But now, that whole system has fallen apart.
WAGNER: But if you`re right, Chris, and John Boehner errs on the
side of the draconian, which is to say pandering to the Club to Growth, and
those that are neediest, how do you reconcile that with what comes out of
HAYES: Well, right, then the bet you`re making is make people walk
the plank when it comes back in the conference. I mean, the idea is like
we`ve got to get something past the House. The cuts on SNAP are a little
less than $5 billion over 10 years, a quarter of what they were in the
So, let`s say you ratchet them up or you put in some crazy amendments
about drug testing or other punitive nonsense that is really morally
outrageous, and that gets you enough votes from Republicans, the hope then
is you are strong enough that when you`re really at the end of this
process, when the farm bill really has to pass, that you can make the
members take the vote. But, of course, he has no credibility to do that
because he has not been able.
You play the clip of Nancy Pelosi saying at the beginning of the
show, if you were a woman you would be the weakest speaker. She said that
to me in an interview and it has stuck with me, because it`s like she was
such a bad-ass.
WAGNER: Brass knuckles hanging from the door knob.
HAYES: They got every vote they needed. She had the number in her
head. You would see the complete opposite for John Boehner in terms of
managing his caucus.
WAGNER: I just -- I mean, there`s also -- we play that sound of Eric
Cantor saying we`re not here to shred the social safety net and it`s --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes you are.
WAGNER: The sort of national impression this leaves the country
with, which is, oh, Republicans are actually evil and trying to push back
the cuts and help poor people --
HARRIS-PERRY: Particularly, poor children, hungry poor children.
WAGNER: If it is the Democrats that get blamed because they won`t
swallow the poison pill of cutting back subsidies and food stamps for
children who are living below the federal poverty line, that is not a bad
thing for the Democratic Party.
HARRIS-PERRY: I absolutely agree. This was part of the initial
genius for all of the farm bill. For all of its problems, right, there are
very few places in American politics where we tied the economic interests
of the most vulnerable to a group that was relatively in power, right? So
by putting food stamps and supplemental nutrition in the farm bill, you
create a circumstance where you have to make that safety net available
because it is linked up with farmers and with all of those farm subsidies
that have this huge interest associated with it.
It is in certain ways the textbook public policy 101, here is how you
make sure, even in the conservative circumstances, that poor people will
not be forgotten. And what they are managing to do here is not just shred
the social safety net, but delink those things in a way it is extremely
HAYES: Yes. Let me just say also, I`m glad this -- this farm bill
was terrible. I mean, I`m celebrating, because the $20 billion in cuts to
SNAP was completely unacceptable. It expanded the crop insurance program
which is an absolute boondoggle.
WAGNER: Twenty-six people in the crop insurance program make more
than a million. There is no means testing --
HARRIS-PERRY: No, that`s right.
HAYES: And let me say this. Two amendments got voted down, one, to
cut crop insurance payments to people that make about $250,000. It seems
reasonable. Everyone talks about means testing.
They also voted on an amendment that would stop farm crop insurance
payments, to members of Congress.
HAYES: And one of those members of Congress, we talk about this on
my show tonight, Steven Fincher got over $3 million between 1999 and 2012,
and he is the one who wants to cut food stamps.
WAGNER: He is also the one that said the poor will always be with
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, especially we take any of their social safety
net. We`re sure that they will be with us.
WAGNER: He is ensuring that.
My friends, my colleagues, my fellow enthusiasts for the blood sport
that is the House Republican Caucus, Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Perry,
thank you for joining me tonight.
HAYES: Thank you.
WAGNER: Coming up, where does today`s insurrection in the raucus
caucus lead John Boehner when it comes -- drum roll, please -- immigration
reform? What happens when Marco Rubio bites the Tea Party hand that fed
him? Steve Schmidt and Eugene Robinson join me.
And today`s attempts to rebrand the Republican Party achieves a new
level of despicable.
And later, chef food activist and "Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio
joins me to talk about hunger in America, and why cutting food assistance
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I, Lindsey Graham, say to you, the Hispanic
community, we choose to help you not because we want to, but because
mathematically we feel we have to.
It`s how all historic seismic changes have happened in America, with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: If congressional Republicans can`t pass the farm bill in the
chamber they control, how are they going to pass an immigration bill?
That`s next with Eugene Robinson and Steve Schmidt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: For people who are concerned about
border security, once they see what is in this bill, it`s almost overkill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: That was Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker today, who
along with Senator John Hoeven proposed a border security amendment to the
gang of eight`s immigration bill. This amendment could seal the deal on
immigration reform in the Senate by getting the support of key swing
Specifically, the Hoeven-Corker amendment would require that before
any green cards are granted, a comprehensive southern border security plan
will be installed, adding more cameras, watch towers and other high tech
surveillance to border patrol. Twenty thousand border patrol agents would
be added, doubling the current number, 7,000 more miles of fencing between
the U.S.-Mexico border would be built and the E-Verify system and the
electronic entry/exit system would be implemented.
But all of this is still not enough for some opponents to reform.
Indeed, the far right flank is already calling the amendment just a bunch
of smoke and mirrors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Well, we know on the legislation,
amendment or not, amnesty will occur. That`s the one thing we can be sure
of and it will be first.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: What we saw in 1986 was that amnesty
occurred and yet the border never got secured. And here we are 30 years
later, and instead of 3 million people here illegally, there are some 11
million people here illegally. And this gang of eight bill repeats the
exact same pattern of 1986. And the amendment that has been proposed today
does the same thing.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
WAGNER: Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Steve Schmidt and
Steve, I must go to you first on this, my friend.
"The Wall Street Journal," not known to be a bastion of liberal
thought, this morning, in an editorial writes, "For some Republicans,
border security has become a ruse to kill reform. The border could be
defended by the 10th Mountain Division and claymore anti-personnel mines
and it wouldn`t be secure enough."
I have to ask you, do you think it is true? Do you agree with "The
Wall Street Journal"?
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Look, this has always been
predicated, the border reform bill, that on the one hand, the border would
get secured and returned for a path to legal status for people that are
here illegally. You just saw Ted Cruz make an argument from the right that
unrefuted I think, is absolutely politically lethal to this legislation in
the House of Representatives.
So, Senator Corker and the other proponents of this are going to have
to effectively communicate very aggressively, very directly that their
legislation in fact does secure the border or this will die in the House,
with very serious long-term consequences to the Republican Party going
WAGNER: Eugene, one must ask how much it enough? I mean, I was on
the border. And three men used ropes to jump back and forth over the
border while I was there, OK?
The idea of a secure border is in a certain level, a myth. You`re
never going to prevent everyone from crossing it. That said is, the
migration from Mexico to the U.S. is zero right now.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Exactly.
And, look, the border between the United States and Mexico is
basically the distance like San Diego and Chicago. OK? Now, just imagine
that. And imagine putting some sort of fence that is going to be
impregnable to that distance, it is not going to happen. It is never going
In fact, the border region is culturally a myth. People have been
going back across that border not just for generations, since before this
was a country. So, it is actually absurd.
But Steve is right. I mean, unless the House Republicans can be
somehow convinced that the border is secure in their minds, they`re going
to vote it down. And we`re not going to have immigration reform. That is
WAGNER: I want to talk about John Boehner who we spent some time
talking about in the last segment, but is obviously the key player here.
And given his weakness on the farm bill how can anyone, conservative,
liberal, progressive, whatever, have any confidence that he can rally his
own caucus to get this done?
SCHMIDT: Look, one of the first lessons they teach you at the
speaker of the House school is you don`t bring up votes if you don`t have
enough to pass it, because it undermines your authority. It makes you look
And so, if you look at the drama that played out today on the farm
bill, you look at such a much more contentious issue in immigration reform.
It`s very, very difficult for me to sit here and lay out a scenario how
that gets passed, because this will take some serious is arm-twisting, some
real serious work by the leadership to convince people that are in
gerrymandered districts, that are totally insulated from the middle of the
electorate, that decides presidential elections, for instance, that this is
the right thing to do, both from a policy perspective to end the de facto
amnesty we already have, but also for the long-term political health of the
party that used to get 40-plus percent of the Latino vote, and now it is
trending down into the teens with that vote.
And you simply can`t be a national party if you get less than 20
percent of the Latino going forward.
WAGNER: So, Eugene, where does -- I mean, where does that leave the
Republican Party? I mean, if you have moderates that are completely
powerless and the stage being run amok by people who don`t want to get the
legislation passed or move the ball forward in any way, we don`t have a
ROBINSON: Because we have a party, and we have the Republicans,
And look, I don`t know how to solve that. I mean, they have to fight
this out. Somebody has to impose some order and some discipline and some
logic on the Republican Party. And that is not going to happen this week
or this month. It is going to take some time.
Now, there is a way to get an immigration bill through, of course.
It`s for the Senate to pass a reasonable bill with only 60 votes if they
need it, and then send it to the House, and for John Boehner to allow us
centrally to bring it to the floor and allow a free vote and let Democrats
and a few Republicans pass it. That would get an immigration bill.
But John Boehner says he won`t do it. It would be his last act as
speaker of the House.
WAGNER: We keep saying the last act.
Steve, I want to ask you about Marco Rubio, because we talk about the
future of the GOP. Is Marco Rubio`s future riding on this? And if it
fails, what are the implications for his career and the GOP?
SCHMIDT: Look, I think any type of complicated legislation involves
a lot of back room deal making, a lot of things that take place out of the
public view. So that`s what Marco Rubio`s problem is when you consider as
a presidential aspirant, is that this legislation has put the taint of
Washington, D.C. on him. And if there is one thing for sure in that
looking forward to the next presidential election, the Republican Party is
either going to nominate a governor, or an iconoclastic senator that is
able to stand apart from all the deal-making inside of Washington, D.C.
And you see, that is where Rand Paul is positioning himself. That is
where Ted Cruz is positioning himself. And I don`t think Republican
primary voters, no matter how talented Marco Rubio is, and he is very, very
talented, they`re not going to want somebody who is seen as being in the
back rooms working to cut deals with Chuck Schumer.
And so, he`s gone U.S. Senate on the Tea Party, and I think that has
consequences for him from a positioning perspective, as you look ahead to
the beginning of 2016. I just want to add one more thing, Alex. I mean,
none of this stuff, as Eugene pointed out properly, it gets settled in the
next week or month, this gets sorted over the course of the next
presidential campaign. And we are not fundamentally in a different place
than the Democrats were heading into the `92 election.
It could be Bill Clinton took a reformer to take the taint off the
party and render it electable again in the eyes of the American people.
And I suspect we`re going to have that fight in our party.
WAGNER: Well, I think, Steve, you have the line of the night,
Senator Marco Rubio is in a weakened position because he has gone U.S.
Senate. It is irony of irony, but so true.
Steve Schmidt and Eugene Robinson, thank you both for --
ROBINSON: You elect them to the Senate, and they go U.S. Senate.
WAGNER: Coming up, a Republican congressional staffer thinks people
on food assistance get too much money. Top chef Tom Colicchio is here to
set the record straight.
And the largest pray the gay away organization does the unexpected.
It shuts down and says sorry. Joy Reid and Steve Kornacki join me next.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: In the spotlight tonight, I am deeply sorry.
Those words were written by Allen Chambers on the Web site of Exodus
International, the world`s largest "Pray the Gay Away" church. Chambers
continues, I am sorry that some of you spent years working to the shame and
guilt you felt when your reactions didn`t change. I am profoundly sorry
many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end
their lives. I hope the changes we announced tonight regarding Exodus
International will bring resolution and show that I am serious in both my
regret and my offer of friendship.
That night, at the 38th annual Exodus Freedom conference, Chambers
announced the unanimous decision of the Exodus International board of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN CHAMBERS, PRESIDENT, EXODUS INTERNATIONAL: Exodus international to
shut down 37-year-old ministry for those with same sex attraction marks its
last national conference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Exodus International had more than 200 branches throughout the
U.S. and Canada.
Joining me now, MSNBC Steve Kornacki and Joy Reid.
Steve, this is a fairly incredible thing that happened.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: Yes, you know, I was
not necessarily following Exodus day to day where tweets were kind of came
out in nowhere from here. I mean, maybe this is something that was part of
a dialogue that was a long time coming. But I mean, that name, the Exodus
International, I think, is sort of that iconic name in that kind of line of
work in that field, whatever you call it.
WAGNER: Represents of a line of work as (INAUDIBLE).
KORNACKI: Yes. It really speaks to sort of the trajectory of history, 37-
year-old group. you are going back to mid-1970s. you just think about
where sort of the conversation where the politics of the sort gay rights
were in the mid 1970s. It was a totally complete, fringe thing. And here
we are, in less than 40 years, we`ve gotten to a point where an
organization like that that was once in a lot of ways sort of mainstream
literally has had to shut down.
WAGNER: You know, Joy, we talk about changing attitudes towards gay
marriage and to sexual morals, and we look at this nationally, usually.
But, if you look at just young evangelicals, 44 percent of white
evangelicals millenials favor allowing gays to lesbian people to marry,
compared to only 12 percent of evangelical seniors and 19 percent of
evangelicals, overall. I mean, this is where the future is in terms of
evangelical moves than it is embracing gay marriage.
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. And I think that
this is a very interesting sort of case study in the futility of fighting
modernity. Sort of an object lesson for the bigger evangelical Christian
and Christian movement in the United States. I mean, the reality is,
churches are emptying the ones that are not as modern. And you are not
seeing as many young people gravitating into these churches.
And whether you talking about, you know, very strict Catholicism, really
strict evangelical churches, they`re trying to find new ways to appeal to
families and younger people, to stay alive. And they find as you just
quote on statistics that younger people are more modern on this issue of
gays and lesbians, and they either have to either come to them or watch
them walk away.
WAGNER: And Steve, you were known in this building as Mr. New jersey. And
so, I must ask you a question relating to that moniker, and Jerry Brown,
governor of California, became the first U.S. governor to sign legislation
that bans conversion therapy. There is some hold-up in terms of
implementation, but a similar bill is making its way through the New Jersey
legislature. And we know that Chris Christie has had a semi-fraught
relationship with the subject of gay conversion therapy, says generally,
philosophically, I`m build that restrict parent abilities to make decisions
on how to care for their children. I am a generally skeptic of this bill.
Now, there can always be exceptions to those rules in this bill, maybe one
of them. What do you think he has to do on this?
KORNACKI: Yes. I mean, my expectation is, if I had to bet, on that he is
going to end up signing it. It is a really interesting test though, is it?
I mean, if you look at sort of the politics of this immediate politics that
are great for Christie, he is running for re-election in a blue state in
2013. So, obviously, it helps him sign this. It would hurt him not to
But the broader politics that impedes talking about with Christie are 2016.
And it is sort of the storyline. There is, you know, how far can he sort
of break with what is today a conservative orthodoxy and still be viable
contender in 2016? And I`m really interested to see, you know, gay
marriage has come up in New Jersey, too. And Christie is way of sort of
punting the issue. It is been to say well, you know, I`m fortunate to
marriage, but what I`m really for is a statewide referendum. I want the
people to decide.
And there are sorts of issues that should like, you know, should like
marriage have to put to an upper down majority, vote like that. But, there
is actually that is actually polling pretty well in New Jersey, so he has
managed in sort of finesse the issue of gay marriage in New Jersey that
way. This one you can`t really finesse. So, this one, you have to make a
decision on. And if he does make a decision to sign this bill, it will be
interesting to see if there are national Republicans who make a pay the
price even for that. I mean, if you testes where the Republican Party is
if they moved on it at all.
WAGNER: Well, yes. I mean, once again, it is the test. The ultimate test
of the Republican Party, Joy, between the moderate and people who are
trying to, you know, modernize the party and the rump of hand-fisted polls
as for "Politico" calls them to have Shanghai, the party in the 19 -- some
say 18, it could be the 20th century.
REID: I mean, this is this rage against the dialogue like kind of thing
using with the Republican Party. And look, Chris Christie is testing a
proposition that you can review one of the three legs in the stools of the
Republican Party which is the tea party part where he doesn`t go whole hog
on that. He is willing to embrace President Obama when he is giving money
to the state of New Jersey. He is willing to head, he said, put his state
first ahead of necessary party politics. You can`t reject the Wall Street
part of the party, right? You can`t reject that part because the third
part, and probably the biggest part is the evangelical movement, the new
evangelical part of their party.
Could Chris Christie possibly rebuke two out of the three legs of the stool
the Republican Party and still be viable in 2016? I find it hard to
believe, but I guess we can test the proposition.
WAGNER: If you can play Whackamo with the president on this word war,
surely you can embrace gay marriage.
Anyway, we have o leave it there.
Steve Kornacki and Joy Reid, thank you both for your time tonight.
WAGNER: Coming up, the importance of having food on every table in
America, chef, host and champion of ending hunger, Tom Colicchio joins me
WAGNER: MSNBC is partnering with the National Association of Free Clinics
for another one day free health clinic, this one in New Orleans on July
3rd. Uninsured men and women will receive preventative primary care for
free. Since we told you about it last night we raised another $25,000, but
we still have a long way to go. To find out more, visit the National
Association of Free Clinic`s Web site, nafcclinics.org. And you can also
find a link on our Web site.
Up next, the craziest thing said about slavery all week from a Republican
WAGNER: For yet another week, the American public has been forced to
endure a litany of the inane and damaging comment from mouth of Republican
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: You watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby?
And they have moments that are purposeful, they stroke their face, if
they`re a male maybe, they may have their hand between their legs. They
feel pleasure. Why is it so hard to think they could feel pain?
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: What we are seeking to do is fight
the Kermit Gosnells and the Jog Carpins and to end this practice of late-
term abortion, which is killing these babies, which is harming women. What
we`re saying is science is on our side on this, public opinion is on our
side on this.
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: Part of the problem is we need to go back
into the schools at a very early age and have a class. This is what a
father does. This is what a mom does. And this is what is important from
the standpoint of that union which we call marriage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: But while all of this is going on inside the beltway, one only
needs to go a few miles south of D.C. to find the worst example of what the
current Republican Party stands for, Virginia Republican candidate for
lieutenant governor, E. W. Jackson, the man who called homosexuality a
horrible sin that poisons culture and destroyed families and destroys
societies. The man who thinks gay people have perverted minds, because
they`re frankly very sick people, psychologically, the man who has said
Democrats are like slave masters, who brag about how good their slaves are,
and that planned parenthood has been far more lethal to blacks lives than
the KKK ever was. Yesterday, E.W. top both himself and the rest of his
party with a vial and disdainful speech, one that argued government program
with the track record of reducing poverty have in fact in the mind of E.W.
Jackson been worse for black families than slavery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E.W. JACKSON, CANDIDATE FOR VIRGINIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Now, my great
grandparents, Gabriel and Elisa Jones that were slaves in Orange County,
Virginia. I am a direct descendant of slaves. My grandfather was born
there, to a father and mother who have been slaves. And by the way, their
family was more intact than the black family is today. And I`m telling you
that slavery did not destroy the black family, even though it certainly was
an attack on the black family.
You made it difficult. But I`ll tell you the programs that began in the
`60s, the programs that began to tell women that you don`t need a man in
the home, the government will take care of you. That again to tell men you
don`t need to be in the home, the government will take care of these women
and take care of these children. That is when the black family began to
deteriorate. In 1960s, most black children were raised in two-parent
monogamous families. By now, by this time, we have only 20 percent of
black children being raised in two parents monogamous families or the
married man and women raising those children. It wasn`t slavery that did
that, it was government who did that. Joins us solve problems that only
God can solve, and that only we as human beings can solve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Jackson`s ramblings are in part, a distilled concentrated version
of Mitt Romney`s 47 percent arguments. Both men had filed a version of
extreme conservative libertarianism, one founded on the idea that a
government that helps those that are disadvantaged is a government that
makes those people lazy.
E. W. Jackson`s version as the utterly massage in this notion that families
without a male breadwinner are somehow broken, that there is something is
wrong with them, something need to be corrected. But in the end, E. W.
Jackson ended his ideas about how and why people are poor grossly
mischaracterizes the reality of American struggle -- laziness, not having a
man at home, not being part of a traditional heterosexual union.
This is not why we are struggling. The story of American hardship runs
deep. Chiefly, it is story of systemic failure, industrial decline and
greed. And it has been happening for decades. According to economist
David Cay Johnson, between 1966 and 2011, incomes for the bottom 90 percent
of Americans grew by $59 when adjusted for inflation. For the top 10
percent, that number was more than $116,000. As of 2010, white families on
average earned about $2 for every $1 that black and Hispanic families
earned, a ratio that has remained roughly constant for the last 30 years.
E. W. Jackson embodies a Republican Party whose philosophy is to think
that the problem, not the solution, is an America that full funds its food
stamp program and the America that provides every child with the good
public education, an America where those most at risk, the very young and
very old have access to health care.
E. W. Jackson does not see an America of we the people, he sees one where
it is us versus them. He ignores history, demography, politics and really
reason. We are poor, not they, not them, but we are poor, and we struggle
because the very systems that once made us strong have been weakened. It
is a philosophy that is starkly exposed in the opening words by the latest
book by journalist and author George Packer, "the Unwinding, an inner
history of the New America."
Packer writes, if you were born around 1960 or afterward, you spent your
adult life in the vertigo of the unwinding, you watched structures that
were in place before your birth collapse, like pillars of salt across the
vast, visible landscapes. The farms of the California piedmont, the
factories of the Mahoning Valley, Florida subdivisions, California schools,
and other things harder to see but no less vital in supporting order of
everyday life, change beyond recognition, ways and means in Washington
caucus rooms, taboos on New York trading desk, manners and morals
When the norms that made the old institutions useful began to unwind and
the leader abandoned their post, the Roosevelt republic that have reined
for almost half a century came undone.
WAGNER: The real Paula Deen responded to allegations against her including
using racist language in a new deposition. You can read it on our Web
Up next, the spokesman for Congressman Steve Stockman says his family a
just fine on food stamps even with the budget cuts.
Chef Tom Colicchio joins me next.
WAGNER: Before the farm bill failed today, there was an amendment to that
bill that also failed on a voice vote. Republican congressman, Mike
Conaway, from Texas had proposed an amendment which threatened an across
the board 15 percent cut to the SNAP assistance program, also known as food
stamps, if Congress didn`t pass a farm bill by the September 30th
He was not the only Texan Republican pushing for extreme cuts to a program
that would affect nearly 50 million people. Enter Congressman Steve
Stockman, whose communications director and agricultural policy advisor,
Danny Ferguson brags about being able to live on food stamps for a week
which amounts to $31.50 for the average SNAP recipient.
Ferguson claims he came under that at $27 and 58 cents for the week. He
went on to say I wanted to personally experience the effects of the
proposed cuts to food stamps. I put my money where my mouth is, and the
proposed food stamps are still quite silly. We can cut the proposed
benefits by an additional 12.4 percent and still be able to eat for a week.
The problem is here, of course, Conaway, Stockman and Ferguson don`t have
to live on food stamps year around. The people that actually do tell a
different story, they are struggling. That struggle is one of the topics
tackled in a documentary by my next guest entitled, "a place at the table."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). There are people who are ling on that and
you really can`t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a limited amount of money you will spend it
on the cheapest calories you can get, and that is processed food.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dream is to go to college, but I can`t tell my
kids I`ll make sure you guys eat in two years, I`m struggling to even feed
my kids every day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, that was a bad idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As many as 50 million Americans rely on charitable
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven`t received a pay raise in four years. And what
I used to spend in a month on groceries now gets me two weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Joining me now is executive producer of "a place at the table,"
Tom Colicchio, chef and food activist and judge on Bravo`s "Top Chef."
Tom, thank you for joining us tonight.
TOM COLICCHIO, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, A PLACE AT THE TABLE: Thank you, Alex.
WAGNER: Tom, I want to begin by quoting something you told "Time"
magazine. You said hunger needs to become a voting issue just like the
second amendment is or the deficit is. It is time to start labeling people
who are not on board with fixing this as pro-hunger.
And I wonder, given the conversation in Washington today, in and around
food stumps, the SNAP program and farm bill, do you think we are closer to
COLICCHIO: Well, you know, I hope we`re getting closer. I hope that this
current farm bill sort of enlightens people to realize they need to start
voting around food and food issues. The hunger advocates are just thrilled
that this farm bill didn`t pass. It was literally going to take food out
of the mouth of children, people with disabilities, working families,
seniors. It was just really devastating.
But you know, ironically, it didn`t pass because there were those on the
right that didn`t think it went far enough. And so it didn`t pass for some
of the wrong reasons, but it was a devastating farm bill. And really, we
need to take a look at this and create a new farm bill and one that
supports hungry Americans, consumers, family farms and the environment.
WAGNER: The polarization in and around the topic of food stamps, it is
quite shocking. And as you mention, there is one hand, the Democrats, the
progressives think what was going to be done, the SNAP program was
completely unacceptable less the White House issuing a potential veto. But
like you said, there is another end of the spectrum that thinks these cuts
were not drastic enough. And I want to play a sound bite from Lewis
Gohmert, and let`s take listen to what he thinks about hunger, obesity, and
food in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: We don`t want anyone to go hungry. And
from the amount of obesity in this country, my people were told that don`t
have enough to eat, it does seem like we can have a debate about this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Tom, it is like one of these instances, where do you begin?
Everything you`re saying is wrong. But at the same time, this is an idea
that is held in some conservative circles that people are sort of lazy and
living off government largesse, when in reality getting qualified for food
stamps is in and of itself a trial.
COLICCHIO: Right. You know, nutrition is expensive, calories are cheap.
And if you look at Stockman, says Danny Ferguson, the ingredients that he
bought on his food stamp challenge, pasta, tomato sauce, soda, sweetened
fruit juices, no fruits and vegetables, no high quality proteins things
like rice is a recipe for obesity.
And that is exactly what people with low incomes are faced with. They have
their two dollars to buy the cheapest thing available and the cheapest
thing available happens to be very, very unhealthy food. And the reason
for this is what choose is subsidized. We subsidize corn, wheat, soy,
rice, all this commodity crops that go into making the highly processed,
highly fat, highly sugared foods. And that`s why we have obesity epidemic.
WAGNER: Tom, you mentioned subsidies. That was a huge part of the farm
bill. With this farm bill didn`t pass, do you think we`ll see a farm bill
that doesn`t have the subsidies, and then given the fact that there is
bipartisan support for the subsidies?
COLICCHIO: You know, I`m hoping that a new farm bill comes together and we
can pass something that actually makes sense. And I really believe, if you
look at Louie Gohmert, and Stockman and Conaway, all from Texas, there are
four million people who receive SNAP benefits in Texas. And I hope that
those four million realize that they`re getting shafted by their
representatives and when it is time to vote them out of office. Speak up.
WAGNER: Speak up. Tom Colicchio, you get the last tonight`s "Last Word."
Thank you so much for your time.
COLICCHIO: Thank you, Alex.
WAGNER: I`m Alex Wagner, in Lawrence O`Donnell. And you can catch my
show, "Now," weekdays at noon eastern, right here on MSNBC.
Chris Hayes is up next.
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