updated 9/20/2013 11:23:16 AM ET 2013-09-20T15:23:16

September 19, 2013

Guest: A.B. Stoddard, Nia-Malika Henderson, Ron Shaich, Debbie Stabenow,
Carl Sciortino, Jr., Carl Sciortino, Sr

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Flirting with disaster.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. The march to Armageddon advanced
another mile today as Speaker John Boehner buckled to the party right and
signed on to kill President Obama`s Affordable Care Act in its crib. It
must die, he now agrees, if the government of the United States itself is
to live.

Well, this decision or acquiescence or surrender by Boehner came today
as a bugle charge as they right wing leads the majority House Republicans
into the valley of death, a U.S. government robbed in the first instance of
its ability to function, in the second, set to become an international

Scarier still is the word from the Republican voters themselves, two
thirds of whom, A, want the debt bill defeated, and B, know that it will
cause great harm to the economy. They know what the right is pushing will
hurt the country and are still dead set on doing it.

Have we reached a point where one of the country`s two major political
parties are so angry at the man in the White House, they are ready to bring
down the house just to see Barack Obama lying in the debris?

John Feehery`s a Republican strategist and Howard Fineman is with the

Democrats on the Hill are out in full force, of course, warning the
public about the calamities of a government shutdown or even worse, a
government default. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called
the "defund Obama care" contingent of the GOP a bunch of anarchists.

And today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had this warning about
the perils of a default.


government is one bad thing. But you shut it down, you open it up again.
Not lifting the debt limit is unleashing a torrent, a river of no return.
It is beyond cataclysmic.


MATTHEWS: But here`s the scary thing. As I said, Republicans out
there in the country who are polled don`t care. According to a new
"Washington Post"/ABC News poll, only 25 percent of Republicans want to
raise the debt ceiling. Nearly two thirds of Republican say the better
option is to default on the debt.

And get this. The Republicans out there fully understand the
consequences of a default -- 66 percent of Republicans acknowledge that a
default would cause serious harm to the economy. They just don`t seem to
care, or whatever.

Let me go to John Feehery on this. This is the reality that Speaker
Boehner confronts. Not only does he have to deal with the very hard-core,
maybe 40, Republicans on the very hard right, he`s got a Republican Party
base out there that`s saying, Go ahead, default. We know it`s going to
hurt the economy, but damn it.

It`s fascinating. How does Boehner deal with this?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, very carefully. I think
that you`re going to see this ping-pong, where they send this ill over with
the defund on the CR. The Senate will have to come back. Ted Cruz has to
decide whether he`s going to filibuster and how that works out. Harry
Reid`s got to come up with the votes to ping it back to the House, whatever
it`s going to include. And then you`re going to reach an agreement somehow
on spending levels on the CR.

And you know, Chris, I worked in the House in the 1990s. Republicans
back then were not very excited about increasing the debt limit back then
back then, either. This has always been a very difficult vote. They got
to find a way to get the votes here. I don`t know how they`re going to do
it, but...

MATTHEWS: But what does -- what does Boehner do, the speaker of the
House, if he has to choose between rejecting the conservatives` call to
kill "Obama Care," the affordable health care act, or not funding the
federal government? How does he deal with that one or the other situation?
It isn`t about cutting spending, it`s about getting rid of one big
milestone accomplishment of this president.

FEEHERY: Well, what you do is you kind of walk through the process.
You give members of the House a vote, which they`re going to get tomorrow.
They`re going to vote to defund "Obama care." You send it over to the
Senate. The Senate will probably reject that. And then they send it back
over to the House.

And then you have to reach some sort of accommodation on the spending
levels, which I think is the real issue here. It`s not necessarily whether
you`re going to defund "Obama care," which is not going to happen, by the
way, but how you reach the significant levels of spending in the government
for the short-term CR.

I think that, you know, you just have to kind of work through this
process, and that`s what Boehner is doing.

MATTHEWS: Does that conform to your reporting, Howard, that there
actually would be a willingness on the part of the majority of the
Republicans, a significant majority that basically say, OK, we tried it
once, we`re going to move on and not try to kill "Obama care"?

Well, that`ll be the moment of truth, Chris. And actually, we`re reporting
today in the HuffingtonPost there`s a lot of resentment amongst House
Republicans, you know, the hard-core Tea Party Republicans, against Ted
Cruz right now because Senator Ted Cruz seemed to say not long ago that he
didn`t expect the Senate to be able to do anything about killing "Obama
care," sort of gave up before the fight. At least that`s how it was

And that may provide an opening for John Boehner to come back and say,
Look, they`re not really serious on the other side. You guys had your
vote. Let`s go ahead and pass something. At least, that`s, I think, the
game plan that Boehner has right now.

It`s clear to me that Boehner`s real sympathies lie with the
leadership, meaning the president and Harry Reid and so forth. I think,
ultimately, Boehner wants to move ahead. I think Boehner probably, even
despite what he said today about killing "Obama care," et cetera, et
cetera, knows it`s a lost battle -- really, it`s a lost battle -- and that
he`s got to move ahead.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to John Feehery on this, reading the leadership
over there. Is it possible, in doing what he has to do -- I think the way
we`re talking about the way this is developing without any help from the
Senate, without any help from the president, he`s in the corner over there.

Being in the corner, does that protect him from a move to dump him?

FEEHERY: I don`t think there`s going to be a move to dump him. He`s
got plenty of votes in the California to survive any kind of a coup.
There`s not going to be a coup against John Boehner.

Howard is absolutely right. With what Ted Cruz did today, basically
giving up and saying, Go ahead House, you`re the kamikazes, shut the
government down, a lot of people on the right in the House said, This is
crazy, I`m not going to follow Ted Cruz into a political grave.

So I do think you`re going to see this process where Boehner`s going
to let them have a vote. It`s going to the Senate. It`s going to come
back from the Senate, and they`re going to reach an agreement on the
spending levels. That`s my prediction.

MATTHEWS: Well, earlier today, Speaker Boehner criticized President
Obama for insisting that he won`t negotiate over the debt ceiling. But
listen carefully to what Boehner wants from the president. It`s not the
death of "Obama care." Listen to the wording of Boehner here.


presidents refer to their bipartisan efforts to reduce the deficit as
achievements. The president sees this, quote, unquote, as "extortion." So
while the president is happy to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, he won`t
engage with the Congress on a plan that deals with the deficits that
threaten our economy.

Well, let me just be clear here. A debt limit increase without any
reforms to lower our deficit just isn`t going to cut it.


MATTHEWS: John Feehery, you heard it there, "without any reforms."
His standard is not, You got to kill "Obama care" to get a debt ceiling
through -- I`m sorry -- debt ceiling through, or in fact, a continuing
resolution, the CR, as you`ve been calling it. But something.

FEEHERY: Well, John Boehner`s absolutely right. There`s a long
history of...

MATTHEWS: But that`s a significant statement there. He`s saying this
isn`t all about killing "Obama care."

FEEHERY: Well, yes, I don`t disagree with that. I think it`s
significant. But I also think it`s consistent. Boehner -- we got a deal
last year on the debt limit that decreased spending. You know, you have to
kind of within the context of raising -- that`s why you have a debt limit,
so you confront the real spending problems that you have, the real deficit
problems you have. And that`s why you have this whole fight to begin with.

And if you don`t do anything on it, what`s the point of having this
discussion at all? We`ve got to confront our debt. There`s a long history
of confronting our debt when we reach a debt limit. And I think it`s all -
- for the president to say that he`s going to negotiate with Putin and not
negotiate with House Republicans...


FEEHERY: ... that`s not a -- that`s not a smart strategy.

MATTHEWS: OK. Howard, there was an old trick that Tip O`Neill, my
old boss, used to do, which was he would always shout and yell at the guy
he`s about to agree with, so the other guy would feel good.


MATTHEWS: So here you have -- here you have Boehner trashing the
president while when he`s planning to basically align with him by the end.
But he has to do -- cover it with artillery.

My bigger question to you is, the Republican Party at the grass roots
level -- we talked about that poll. I`m not sure that the conservative
Republicans are off base with their party. The party`s really angry,
really doesn`t like "Obama care," doesn`t like Obama, period, himself. And
to trash the economy a little bit in order to scorch this guy, at least in
a polling sense, seems to appeal to the Republican people, voters out
there. Look at the results of that poll.

FINEMAN: Well, I don`t think there`s any doubt about that, Chris.
And I`ve attended a couple of interesting meetings over the last couple
weeks of the grass roots, or the Tea -- the sort of conservative heart of
the party. And one was in New York, where they were sort of listening to
up and coming young Republican politicians. And another one was a rally of
Rand Paul`s group called Young Americans for Leadership, kids basically.

And yes, there is -- the default setting is an anger at government, a
distrust of government, a desire to take it down. And they`re in a
different generation and different a context from when Ronald Reagan began
this conversation a generation ago, government was a default setting.
Among the young people and among middle class voters who are squeezed -- if
you look at the recent statistics on, basically, the stagnation of
household income -- there`s a higher tax burden upon middle class people.
And they`re not making more money.


FINEMAN: And there`s an argument as to which way you go there. Do
you go for more government benefits? Do you expand Medicaid? Do you
expand health care? Or do you -- you know, that`s one way to go. Or do
you try to cut taxes on the middle class? And that`s the argument here.
So there are legitimate reasons for the anger...


FINEMAN: ... at the grass roots.

MATTHEWS: I think people want to cash out.

FINEMAN: But this debate -- but the Republicans are not being honest
because over the years, they voted for as much spending, if not more, than
the Democrats have over the last decade-and-a-half.

MATTHEWS: Let`s...

FINEMAN: That`s the part they don`t want to tell their own grass

MATTHEWS: There`s Karl Rove. I want John to respond to you and also
to Karl Rove. Here`s what he said today in "The Wall Street Journal."
Like any -- many establishment Republicans, he`s desperately trying to
persuade the far right to abandon their kamikaze mission to defund the
affordable health -- act -- health care.

In an op-ed in today`s "Wall Street Journal," Rove warned of the
fallout of a government shutdown. Here`s what he said. "A shutdown now
would have much worse fallout than the one in 1995. Back then, 7 of the
government`s 13 appropriations bills had been signed into law already,
including the two that funded the military, so most of the government was
untouched by the shutdown. But this time, no appropriation bills have been
signed into law, so no discretionary spending is in place for any part of
the federal government. Washington won`t be able to pay military families
or any other federal employee."

And the conservative "Wall Street Journal" editorial board the other
day, on Tuesday, offered this stinging rebuke of the party`s ideology.
"The Republican Party backbenchers are heading into another box canyon now.
It`s something else entirely to sabotage any plan with a chance of
succeeding and pretend to have leverage that exists only in the world town
hall applause lines and fund-raising letters. The kamikazes could end up
ensuring the return of all-Democratic rule."

John Feehery, that`s a danger posed out there by "The Wall Street
Journal" editorial page, which is pretty hard right usually, and of course,
backed up today by Karl Rove. This is dangerous territory. Don`t be
bringing down the government. Don`t be causing the government to become a

FEEHERY: Let me say, I think that we can survive a government
shutdown for a couple days. That`s not that big of a deal. It`s stupid
politically. Defaulting on our debt is catastrophic. It`s stupidly
catastrophic. And so I think that there`s two things there.

And I think that the Republicans -- the conservatives have kind of
taken their eye off the ball. Yes, "Obama care" is bad, but you know,
they`ve lost the focus on the real spending that we`ve got to do. Now,
"Obama care" is part of that, but we`ve got a bigger entitlement problem
that we`ve got to deal with.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

FEEHERY: And they`ve kind of taken their...

FINEMAN: We all do.

FEEHERY: They`ve taken their focus off the ball by focusing on
something that`s absolutely unachievable, which is the president`s not
going to repeal his own act. He`s just not going to do it.

MATTHEWS: Well said, John Feehery. I agree with you on everything
tonight, pretty much. Howard, here`s the toughest question in the world,
the nut you have to crack. Does any conservative congressperson from a
conservative district have anything to fear by a government default? Even
at that bad -- as bad as -- I agree with John it will be bad and terrible
for the country. Does anybody lose their seat over that?

FINEMAN: Yes, possibly, on the margins of not deep red but maybe
lighter shades of red, absolutely because...

MATTHEWS: Suburban people.

FINEMAN: It can happen. It can definitely happen. If the default
happens, if the debt ceiling is not raised, all bets are off. Yes, the Fed
can continue printing money, but you know, and you know -- but the full
faith and credit of the United States will be under question. The big Wall
Street banks will keep buying, but the rest of the world -- the rest of the
world won`t necessarily keep buying what the paper -- the paper that the
Fed is putting out.

FEEHERY: If there is a default -- if there is a default, we lose the
House of Representatives. I don`t think there`s any doubt about it.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a strong statement. That was what I was
looking for, and you`ve just given it to me. John Feehery said that.
Anyway, thank you, John, and thank you, Howard. This is something I think
is a bipartisan recognition by a lot of people who have to be the grownups
now, that something has to be done at the end of this argument. Next
couple weeks, fine, argue about this. And then something`s got to be done.

Coming up, a revoltin` development. Senator Ted Cruz is happy to let
House Republicans be the human shield for his kamikaze mission to defund
the Affordable Care Act, and a lot of Republicans have decided they`ve had
just enough of their bomb-throwing colleague from Texas.

Also, 47 million Americans rely on food stamps right now, and now
House Republicans have voted to cut $39 billion out of the program. That
would knock millions off the rolls and reduce their benefits.

Plus, remember that charming ad we showed you earlier this week by a
candidate for Ed Markey`s old seat up in Massachusetts?


And I`ll never forget that conversation with my dad...


CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: ... where I had to come out and tell him...

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Wait for this.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: ... that I was a Massachusetts liberal.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: And he`s proud of it!


MATTHEWS: Tea Party father and Massachusetts liberal son join us
later in the show.

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with a way to end up settling this war of
nerves over whether to shut down the U.S. government.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: The conviction of former House majority leader Tom DeLay
has been overturned. DeLay was convicted of money laundering back in 2010
and sentenced to three years in prison. But an appeals court ruled today
that former court -- the lower court`s decision was legally insufficient.

The conviction stemmed from charges DeLay tried to improperly
influence elections in Texas by allegedly steering corporate money to
political candidates in violation of the law. DeLay appealed that
conviction, and today he won acquittal.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There seems to be a revolt of
sorts in the Republican Party against firebrand Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Cruz has been fanning the flames of a government shutdown over the
Affordable Care Act and actively taunting Republicans not to back down.

Well, yesterday, he became a target himself of fellow Republicans when
he essentially conceded the absurdity of trying to shut down the government
over something that will never happen.

In a statement, he said, quote, "Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip
the defund language from the continuing resolution. And right now, he
likely has the votes to do so. At that point, House Republicans must stand
firm, hold their ground and continue to listen to the American people."

Well, the reaction came quickly to that statement, and very publicly.
Congressman Sean Duffy tweeted, quote, "House agrees to send CR to Senate
that defunds `Obama care.` Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Mike Lee refuse to
fight. They wave the white flag and surrender."

Congressman Tim Griffin tweeted, "So far, Senate Republicans are good
at getting Facebook likes and town halls, not much else. Do something."

And here`s what Senator Bob Corker said -- of Tennessee -- quote, "I
didn`t go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count. The defunding box
canyon is a tactic that will fail and weaken our position."

And those are just the comments of people on the Hill they did on the
record. Imagine the off-the-record stuff.

Well, today Ted Cruz, seemed to backtrack a little, saying he would do
whatever he could to stop the president`s health care reform law from being
funded. Let`s hear the latest from Ted Cruz.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I will do everything necessary and anything
possible to defund "Obama care."


CRUZ: Yes. And anything else, any procedural means necessary.


MATTHEWS: What a self-satisfied person.

Anyway, however, in the same statement, he again put the burden on
House Republicans. Let`s watch.


CRUZ: As soon as the House passes this into law, it`s going to be in
Harry Reid`s court. And he may well be able to hold his 54 Democrats to
not listen to the American people.

But if that happens, then it`s going to go back to the House of
Representatives. And I`ll tell you this. If and when we win this fight,
it is going to be because House Republicans have stood up and showed the
courage that they are showing right now, that they continue to stand up.
The House is the one branch of government that Republicans have a majority.


MATTHEWS: Well, Nia-Malika Henderson is the host of the Washington
Post TV`s "On Background," and A.B. Stoddard`s a columnist at "The Hill."

Let me -- A.B., you start with this thing. I think I don`t -- I guess
I don`t like Cruz in a way. I don`t know the guy. And he`s a new guy on
the Hill. Fair enough. But his -- his manner is indictive. Everybody on
the other side is evil. He`s quite willing to bring down the government
Samson-like in the temple. He has no problem with bringing all the columns
down if it kills the enemies he doesn`t like.

He`s humorless. I don`t know what his interest in politics is, except
to destroy. He has McCarthy, Joe McCarthy aspects in the way he impugns
the records and reputations of people he doesn`t like, tying them in with
the Iranians or anything else he can pull off.

Something about the guy looks like -- I don`t know. What is it? What
is the force that he unleashes? Because it`s not the usual left vs. right
or right vs. -- it`s not about philosophy, it`s not about believing in
things. A lot of people believe in what he believes in. It`s the total
destructive tactic of the guy.

Your thoughts? What`s it about?

began the movement, the defunder movement and started calling back in
August people like John Boehner -- House Speaker John Boehner in the
establishment who were counseling against anything that would shut the
government down, he was calling them the surrender caucus.

Even before this came up, Ted Cruz was really building up bad feelings
in the Senate, where he`s only just arrived, as you know, in January. He
got into -- he came as a new outsider and he doesn`t want to become one of
the old crusty institutional sellout establishment Republicans in the

You know, he`s already in a public fight with John McCain, who called
him a wacko bird. He is -- when you talk to Republican senators privately,
Republican senators, there is no love lost for Senator Ted Cruz. And
that`s great for Senator Cruz. He is building his brand. He`s building
his donor list. He`s in it for himself.


MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, voted against Caroline Kennedy for ambassador
to Japan. I had a sense he will go all the way. He voted against Kerry.
I could see it.

STODDARD: I don`t know -- I don`t know what he`s going to do. But
what he has done, Chris, in the last 36 hours where he actually finally
admitted it might take another election to overturn or defund Obamacare
after he spent -- went on the Heritage Action-funded -- foundation-funded
tour, really stoking this and getting everybody excited about it, making
the grassroots Republicans believe that it was possible, and now coming
back and saying it`s really the onus on the House of Representatives, has
made people really angry.

And he -- again, I don`t think he cares. But he has really...


MATTHEWS: What`s his game plan? What`s his endgame? What`s he want
to be, president? Can he be president by Republican right-wing lights, if
he was born in Canada, by their lights?


STODDARD: I don`t know if he gets out of the primary process.


MATTHEWS: With those right-wing people.

Let me go back to Nia-Malika.

They held against Barack Obama that he was born in Kenya to an
American mother. They said that was enough to deny him the presidency, to
make him illegitimate. Why wouldn`t they say the same thing about this
guy? It`s the same thing they accused Obama -- and erroneously him of. In
this case, it`s true. He was born over -- he was born in another country.

How come he thinks he can be president so easily if his own right-
wing, the birther types have been denying that kind of person the chance to
be president?

POST": And Ted Cruz, in the way that Ted Cruz behaves, that sort of
signature Ted Cruz, he has since renounced his Canadian citizenship.

So, I don`t think that will be an issue.


MATTHEWS: Why is it an issue with the birthers then?

HENDERSON: Well, I think we know why it`s an issue with the birthers.


HENDERSON: Because it`s Obama and they want to use anything to sort
of delegitimatize President Obama.

But Ted Cruz is one of them. I mean, if you look at who has the ear
of the grassroots, it is Ted Cruz. You saw him down in Iowa. He has a
certain charisma, almost like a televangelist.


HENDERSON: And I do agree that he can come across as humorless. But
I think to those fighting mad Tea Party folks, he very much resonates. He
has a strategy. It has worked impeccably. He has made Marco Rubio pretty


MATTHEWS: Explain it to me. Where is this Oliver Cromwell thing of
his come from? Where`s this sense of I`m here to burn away the corruption?
Where did it come from, Cuba? Where does he inherit from?


MATTHEWS: Usually, there`s a reason for people to be totally far out
like this, their parents or something.

HENDERSON: I mean, possibly. But that is what the country -- parts
of the country are calling for, right, a total sort of...


MATTHEWS: A.B., do you know -- can you figure out this guy`s
intellectual, philosophical roots, where they come from?

Where does this virulent hatred came from?

STODDARD: I really want -- no, I don`t think it`s because he was in a
debate club.


HENDERSON: At Princeton, right?

STODDARD: No. I think that Nia is correct. There`s a real thirst
out there among the grassroots on the right for someone who will just start
fighting because they think what the establishment Republicans have done
for so long hasn`t worked.

HENDERSON: That`s right.

STODDARD: I actually spoke, Chris, to a Republican in Philadelphia
this morning who said to my face, we have to have this fight. The time has
come. This is our last chance to stop Obamacare.

I mean, people really love his message. The problem is, he`s teased
them into thinking it was possible. And only yesterday he admitted that it

MATTHEWS: Well, congratulations on finding the Republican in
Philadelphia. Thank you.



MATTHEWS: There`s only 15 percent that voted for Romney.

Anyway, thank you, A.B. Stoddard.

Thank you, Nia-Malika Henderson.

We will be right back. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell admitted they have no plan B if the House
doesn`t avoid a government shutdown. Of course, this raised a lot of
questions like, since when do they have a plan A?




FALLON: That -- do have a plan A?



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to the "Sideshow."

That was Jimmy Fallon on the looming government shutdown.

As top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, New York`s Louise
Slaughter, knows, a divided GOP makes avoiding a shutdown that much harder.
Her office came out with this Netflix spoof yesterday featuring John
Boehner. The tagline is actually "Partisanship, Brinkmanship, and
Extremism Threaten to Topple the GOP`s House of Cards."

Sounds like must-see TV.

Next up, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine won the National Press Club`s
Centennial Spelling Bee in Washington last night. The 90-minute-long
spelling contest pitted journalists against lawmakers in an intense and
sometimes confusing showdown. For example, here`s a word that stumped
Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly.






CONNOLLY: I`m sorry. I cannot hear you.


CONNOLLY: Hydranger?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am from Boston.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hydrangea. It`s a kind of flower, yes. Perhaps -
- yes.

CONNOLLY: Oh, the hydranger.





CONNOLLY: Let`s see, H-Y-D-R-A-N-G-E-R, hydranger.







MATTHEWS: And, finally, wait until you see this weird new campaign ad
against the Affordable Care Act. It was released today by a conservative
group called Generation Opportunity.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. I see you chose to sign up for Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It`s actually my first time here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, here we are then. Change into a gown and
the doctor will see you soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Can you swing and over, scoot on down,
and try to make yourself comfortable. OK. Let`s have a look.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the Republican point of view, I guess.

Anyway, House Republicans want to drastically cut funding for food
stamps, too, at a time when millions rely on food stamps to eat.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


La Cruz. And here`s what`s happening.

Pope Francis is urging the Catholic Church to focus less on abortion,
contraception and gay marriage. In an interview, he said pastors should
instead emphasize compassion. Flooding victims in Colorado are now being
allowed back in their homes to salvage what they can. At least seven
people died in the flooding; 200 are still unaccounted for.

And the Navy Yard reopened for business today, but the building where
12 people were shot and killed remained closed.

I`m Veronica De La Cruz. Let`s get you back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

House Republicans -- and only Republicans -- just voted to drastically
cut federal spending on food stamps. Not one Democrat voted for the
measure. The vote comes at precisely the time more Americans, nearly 14
percent of U.S. households, according to the Census, rely on them. That`s
up 5 percentage points since 2008.

And the independent Congressional Budget Office estimates that this
GOP proposal would result in nearly four million people losing their food
stamps next year. Funding for food stamps used to be considered as part of
the larger farm bill. But this year, for the first time in 40 years, House
Majority Leader Eric Cantor split it out for separate consideration and

Here`s who qualifies for food stamps, by the way, a house -- a family
of four with up to $30,000 in annual income, but no more than $2,000
basically in cash, such as a bank account. And the average assistance a
person receives in food stamps is $133 a month. That`s about $4.50 a day.

House Republicans` position here is, we can cut it.

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is chairwoman of the Agriculture,
Nutrition and Forestry Committee, which put forward the Senate`s farm bill.
Ron Shaich is the founder of the Panera Bread restaurant chain. That`s
quite an operation. And in an effort to bring attention to the plight of
the hungry, he`s living on $4.50 a day for food himself, approximately what
a person gets in food stamp income, actually food stamp food.

Anyway, let`s go the senator first of all.

Senator, what`s Eric Cantor up to, and why did Republicans want to be
such a cartoon of themselves, not only looking out for the top 1 percent,
but getting the bottom of the 47 percent in the action?

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well, Chris, first of all, thank
you for focusing on this and for Ron doing what he`s doing.

This is nothing but a partisan, mean-spirited effort, frankly, not
only to attack poor children and families, but to tank the whole farm bill.
Those of us who care about supporting farmers and conservation and jobs and
nutrition understand what Eric Cantor is all about.

It`s just one more time trying to stop us from doing anything. And as
you mentioned, I think it`s important to emphasize 85 percent of the people
who get federal assistance for food are either children, children with
their parents, senior citizens, or people with disabilities, like our
veterans, included with our veterans.

And so we`re talking about 85 percent being in that category, and of
the other 15 percent, these are folks that are trying to piece it together
coming out of the worst recession.

MATTHEWS: Sure. It`s not exactly a bragging right either when you
have to go in the store and use food stamps.


MATTHEWS: But added to that sometimes indignity, although it
shouldn`t be, but people are hard up, in bad shape. They may have lost
their job, lost their home.


MATTHEWS: They`re relying on this.

It just seems like Eric`s real name should be Ebenezer.


MATTHEWS: I mean, I do -- let me ask you, without getting too
personal here. When people come to you from the conservative side and yell
at you, do you ever get people complaining about food stamps?


MATTHEWS: In Michigan, you don`t?

STABENOW: You know what? In Michigan, where we have had people that
never thought in their wildest dreams they`d need food help, they have paid
taxes all their lives, they`re -- they`re mortified that they need help.

But they need a little bit of help. These are folks -- the new folks
coming onto food assistance in the last several years are on for 10 months
or less. So it`s temporary help. And here`s the other good news. We
actually are reducing the number of people on food assistance the right

The Congressional Budget Office says 14 million people -- fewer people
will be on food assistance over the next 10 years than there are now
because of jobs. It`s real simple, more jobs...


MATTHEWS: And we have had a tough five years, too.


MATTHEWS: We have had a tough five years.

STABENOW: Yes, exactly.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to our other guest, Mr. Shaich.

Mr. Shaich, thank you very much for joining us, Ron Shaich, who runs
Panera foods, a great chain of restaurants.


MATTHEWS: And you have done very well, I guess, financially, and you
decided to see what it`s like at the other end.

What was it like? What is it like to live on $4.5 a week -- a day,

SHAICH: Well, you know, Chris, this is something that we have been
working on for a very long time.

It isn`t the SNAP Challenge. We have had these cafes of shared
responsibility. We give $100 million to $150 million in donations. And it
became very clear to us that this is a real issue; 48 million Americans are
going to bed without enough food.

And I decided at a personal level that I wanted to give awareness to
that problem. I wanted to give voice to that problem. And I also wanted
to feel it personally as a retail -- as a guy who`s run a public company
for 29 years, the way we built our company is listening to the customer and
listening to...

MATTHEWS: What do you miss? What do you miss eating on $4.50 a day?
What do you miss?

SHAICH: Well, you know what I discovered?

You know, I -- we all take food for granted. I need lunch, I get
lunch. I need dinner, I get dinner. Here, food dominates my life. In
this week that I have been doing it, I`m all worried, am I going to have
enough food? What`s going to happen?

If I -- I got in a little tiff with my wife. She put too much pasta
in the pasta she was making for me. And I was really worried I wasn`t
going to have enough for the week. I have made one meal. I have had
chickpea stew for four days. The reality is, food dominates your life.

And you begin to be unable to operate. I have had -- and I think
that, quite frankly, the most interesting part to me is not what I learned
about me, but it was the letters I got.

You know, the senator spoke to it. Yesterday I was speaking to a
veteran who had basically hit a wall, couldn`t move on, wasn`t able to eat,
and was able to live through some of the NGO program.

MATTHEWS: Let me let you say something that I think people need to
hear. I hear from our producers here that when people come to your stores,
your restaurants around the country and they go in, if they make a case to
somebody there, an authority behind the counter that they can`t afford to
eat there.

What`s the reaction? What`s your standard of behavior there?

SHAICH: Well, as a rule, we`re not giving away food. I mean, we
would not be able to stay a $4 billion public company very long doing that.

We have created cafes. We have now five of them we`re serving a
million people a year in cafes of shared responsibility. There are no set
prices in those cafes. We have one in St. Louis, one in Detroit, one in
Chicago, one in Portland, Oregon, and one in Boston. They are in the
cities. They`re in places where people can access them.

And the whole purpose is to give these cafes to the community and let
the community take care of each other. We built it, we paid for it, the
community takes care of it.

We say to people if you got a few extra bucks in your pocket, pay it
forward and leave more to take care of people. If you have a little bit
less, feel free to leave a little bit less. And if you have nothing, leave
nothing. We`ll ask you to volunteer to help clean the tables.

And, Chris, here`s the amazing thing. People thought we were nuts
when we were doing it. The reality is that these are working. People are
-- have stepped up. We will serve a million people in these cafes.

Americans are fundamentally good people. They will understand. They
will take care of each other.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back -- congratulations on what you`re doing. I
think it`s great the private sector is doing this.

Let me go back to Senator Stabenow, who is a great senator. Let me
ask you this whole issue of food stamps and the iconography of it. What
did you make of it when Newt Gingrich called the president the food stamp

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well, you know, I mean, we all
know what the codes are for that, Chris.


STABENOW: And you talk about that all the time.

I mean, I think what Ron is speaking to is the best about us. It`s
our higher angels. It`s the values we`ve had as Americans of reaching out
to help somebody whether it`s a poor child. Half of the people we`re
talking about on assistance are children. And the rest of the folks, you
know, as I mentioned -- I mean, you know, need some temporary help that the
folks that are seniors that we ought to be respecting in their older years
living only on Social Security and need a little bit of help, put food on
the table, or people with disabilities.

I mean, what they`re doing in the House are going to our worst nature,
trying to pit people against each other. We`ve seen this story before.
Pitting everybody against each other instead of looking at the reality
which is food costs are coming down, 14 million people coming off of food
assistance, because the economy`s improving.

If they want to help us get more people off of food assistance, stop
the sequester, help create jobs, instead of demonizing hungry children and

MATTHEWS: Yes, they like to say that people use the food stamps to
buy booze, to buy gin or vodka. I heard those charges.

Anyway, thank you --

SHAICH: Chris, if I could throw something in here.


SHAICH: The real question is what kind of society we want? That`s
the challenge each of us business people, each of us as individuals have to
really take into.

MATTHEWS: You`re a great role model, Ron Shaich. Thank you very
much, from Panera.

SHAICH: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on tonight.

And Senator Stabenow, thank you so much for coming on as always.

STABENOW: My pleasure.

MATTHEWS: Up next, early in the week, we showed you the campaign ad
in Massachusetts featuring the liberal coming out to his Tea Party father.
It`s funny. It`s a play on words, of course, coming out. But it`s great

They`re both joining us here now coming up in a minute. The father
Tea Party fella and liberal son not quite an apple from the tree there, I

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Caroline Kennedy was on Capitol Hill today for a
confirmation hearing to be the next ambassador to Japan. Kennedy testified
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that if confirmed, she would
follow the example set by her father.


CAROLINE KENNEDY: This appointment has a special significance, as we
commemorate the 50th anniversary of my father`s presidency. I`m conscious
of my responsibility to uphold the ideals that he represented -- a deep
commitment to public service, a more just America, and a more peaceful


MATTHEWS: Kennedy faced gentle questioning on today`s hearing,
signaling an easy path to confirmation.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Everyone`s gushing over that clever campaign ad by Massachusetts State
Rep. Carl Sciortino who`s running in a crowded primary campaign for Senator
Ed Markey`s vacant House seat. Sciortino, who`s openly gay, tells voters
about coming out to his Tea Party father politically. He came out as a
Massachusetts liberal.

Let`s look.


and I`ll never forget that conversation with my dad.


CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Where I had to come out and tell him --

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Wait for this.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: -- that I was a Massachusetts liberal.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: And he`s proud of it.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Dad`s in the Tea Party.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Damn right.

It was bad enough him taking on the big banks and the corporations in
the legislature.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: They weren`t paying the fair share paying their
fair way in taxes.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: And he wrote the buffer zone law.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: To protect women entering abortion clinics from

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: It`s gone all the way to the Supreme Court. I
was kind of proud of that.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: But here`s the one that drives him crazy.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: He wants to go to Congress, take out the NRA,
and the Tea Party.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: I won`t give up on an assault weapons ban.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Or universal background checks, or banning high-
capacity magazines.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: There are some things you don`t stop fighting

Also the right to choose, equal pay for women, and equal rights, for -
- well, everybody.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: He`s been like this for 35 years.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: It`s why I approve this message.

And I still love you, dad.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Me too, son.


MATTHEWS: Well, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee quickly
endorsed Sciortino, in addition to several progressive lawmakers on Capitol
Hill. They did the same.

Carl and his father join me right now.

Mr. Sciortino, Sr. and Jr., did you guys watch a lot of "All in the
Family" growing up? It looks like you`re Archie and the other guy is
Meathead. Is this fight has resonance, sir? The older Sciortino, please.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Yes, I used to watch it. We`ve had our
disagreements, but we get along quite well.

MATTHEWS: When did he -- let`s forget the agenda, or what do you call
it, the orientation thing. That`s boring for my purposes.

Tell me about the political part. When did you first notice when you
were reading the paper at night, that this kid who you helped to create was
totally not an apple from the tree. When did you realize that?

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: I started it noticing it actually when he went
to Tufts University, he came home on a weekend and he started picking out
some posters in his bedroom. And I said, oh, he`s being indoctrinated up
in the liberal heaven up Medford, Massachusetts.

MATTHEWS: So you were paying to the tuition so he could go against
you, right?

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Well, he painted a lot of it on his own. My son
is very creative when it came to getting grants and money funding.

MATTHEWS: Good for him.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: He`s very good at that.

MATTHEWS: Let me talk to the young man.

Here you`re in your early 30s, in a crowded field. Markey won in the
high 20 percentage-wise, right? This is a wide field.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Yes, that`s right.

MATTHEWS: You could win this thing like a snap. You`re going to win?

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Yes, we are, actually. I`ve been running this
race since February and things have taken off this week. I think we`re
around 200,000 views right now on YouTube. We have people flooding to
carlforcongress.com to volunteer and donate through the ad. It`s really
taken off and I`ve been running in this race for a year, but I`ve been in
the legislature for nine years, working on some really tough progressive
fights and really proud of the work I`ve been able to do and we get to
fight over the years for all these things that I work. But we still love
each other and get along because of it -- or in spite of it.

MATTHEWS: Massachusetts is, by the way, Carl Jr., Massachusetts is
not as liberal as everybody says it is. I know that. I`ve watched the
south, I`ve watched the fans behave -- I know how they behave. They`re
much more middle-of-the-road than the usual sort of run-of-the-mill
Americans and a bunch of lefties.

If you are on the left, are you to the left of the average person out
there, but you`re going to sell them on other issues? How you going to do
this? I assume the people of your district are somewhere between you and
your father, I would guess. Most people.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Well, that is -- that is probably true. But,
you know, this is a very solidly Democratic district, a very progressive
district, frankly.

And people are really clamoring for strong, progressive leadership.
People that don`t back down from the top fights, like increase in the
minimum wage, and closing corporate tax loopholes, things I`ve done in the
legislature and women`s right to choose. These are core issues in my
district and I think we`re well-positioned to win this, frankly, because my
value as a progressive in the district and our campaign is in a strong
position. And my dad is helping tell the story of me as a progressive
fighter by our own fights.

MATTHEWS: Well, Mr. Carl Sr., who`s close to me in age, I can
understand. All these years, you`ve been putting up a liberal Teddy
Kennedy, before, Jack Kennedy, all these people to your left up there all
these years, including Kerry and Markey and all the rest of them.

How come you haven`t headed off or slunk off to New Hampshire by now?
Which seems to me what a lot of people do.


CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: I`ll be very honest with you. I`ve been a
Republican all my life. My father is also Republican. But I have to tell
you a little secret, as long as you won`t tell so-and-so next to me. I did
vote for President Kennedy.


CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: The only time I did vote for a Democrat.

But my son, even though we have different viewpoints, but he`s very
honest and a very hard worker and a very compassionate person. So, I love
him very much and I do support him. I can`t vote for him, but I do love

MATTHEWS: But you`ll vote for him in the general, if he makes it that
far, won`t you?

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Yes, I would. He is my son.


MATTHEWS: By the way, my mom never told my father she voted for
Kennedy. So, you`re not the only guy who kept a secret. I guess I wish
you luck, Carl Jr. I like the ad.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s very American and connects with a lot of
people, actually across party lines. I think you`ve found something here.
People love good families, you know? And you`ve obviously got a great one.
Thanks so much for coming on.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: We need people to fight for progressive values
and also get along with people on the other side of the aisle --


MATTHEWS: This is not a commercial. This is a commercial. OK.
Appreciate that.

Carl Sciortino Jr., Carl Sciortino Sr. -- I think the senior guy and I
could agree on some things, too.

When we return, let me finish with how this game of chicken in
Washington might end.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

Anyone with a brain must be wondering how this game of chicken down in
Washington is going to end.

After the right-wing in the House gets the Republican majority vote to
insist on the death of Obamacare, after the Senate rejects it, what then?

And what happens when the deadline of October 1 comes and goes without
the government being funded? What happens then?

And what happens as the days pass and no deal is struck between the
Republican House led by Speaker John Boehner and President Obama?

When does the day and the hour arrive when both sides have made their
points -- the Republicans` anger of Obamacare, the Democrats` resistance to
killing it? What then? How do the two sides agree to put up the truce
flag and let the republic, our republic, to continue?

I remember one method my old boss Tip O`Neill used when he was Speaker
of the House. He sent word to President Reagan that if the president wrote
a letter to the Democrats in the House asking them to vote for the debt
ceiling bill, O`Neill would encourage those Democrats to vote for it.
Reagan accepted the deal. The Democrats got the requested letters, and the
debt ceiling fight was resolved.

The time will come when both sides in this fight will have made their
points. I`m hoping when that day and hour arrives, they will look back to
how true political grown-ups worked things out.

By the way, my book on O`Neill and Reagan will be out by then. I
sincerely hope it helps.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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