ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
September 20, 2013
Guest: John Yarmuth, Jim Cooper, Debbie Stabenow, Kayla Williams, Ben
Domenech, David Weigel, Heather Boushey
EZRA KLEIN, GUEST HOST: Good evening from Washington. I`m Ezra
Klein, in for the uncanny Chris Hayes.
Tonight on ALL IN:
The absolute train wreck that has become the 113th Congress on track
to be the worst performing, maybe the worst behaving, definitely the least
productive in history.
Also tonight, there is one huge problem with the Republican plan to
stop Obamacare. It won`t actually stop Obamacare. And I`ll tell you why
the plan might make it a little bit stronger.
Plus, putting faces on some of the people who will feel the pain of
Republican cuts to food stamps.
Those stories are all ahead.
But we begin tonight, we begin where we have to begin with the big
news out of the House of Representatives where Republicans just passed a
bill to fund the government. It also defunds Obamacare. That means, in
effect, it`s a bill to shut down the federal government because neither the
Senate nor the president are ever going to pass it.
So, here`s the thing --
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And so, our message
to the United States Senate is real simple. The American people don`t want
the government shutdown and they don`t want Obamacare. The House has
listened to the American people.
Now, it`s time for the United Senate to listen to them as well.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Now, we`re calling on
Senate Democrats to do the same thing. And I want to know where Senator
Pryor stands on protecting the middle class --
CANTOR: -- from the consequences of this horrific bill.
How about Kay Hagan in North Carolina?
CANTOR: Does she understand the consequences that Obamacare is having
in her state?
CANTOR: What about Mary Landrieu of Louisiana?
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: So much good that we can do. This
Republican Congress wants to stop the country, to deny the people the
chance to see a doctor. How many times are we going to do this?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), DEMOCRATIC LEADER: It is a wolf in wolf`s
clothing. The underlying bill to shut down government, the CR, is reason
enough to object to it. And you know what that`s about? That`s simply
about putting their friends, the insurance companies, back in charge of
medical decisions for your families. Either you don`t know what you are
doing or this is one of the most intentional acts of brutality that you
have cooked up with stiff competition for that honor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this vote, the yeas are 230 and nays are 189.
The joint resolution has passed. Without objection, the motion to
reconsider is laid on the table.
KLEIN: Speaker John Boehner does not want to shut down the
government. He has spent the last couple of months trying, begging his
members, to figure out a way around passing a bill to defund Obamacare and
shut down the federal government. He would have been open to one that
didn`t mention Obamacare at all. He would have been open to one that
actually tried to put one on the floor that just held another vote on
defunding Obamacare. It was Senate Democrats who say no and we just move
on with our lives.
He did not want this. He does not want Republicans to shut the
government down and make everybody hate them. But as often happens these
days, House Republicans did not listen to John Boehner and so John Boehner,
rather than fight his members, spent this morning passing a funding bill
that defunded Obamacare.
And with a straight face -- amazingly, a straight face -- Speaker
Boehner said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: We have a victory today for the American people. Also a
victory for common sense.
BOEHNER: Senator Baucus said it right several months ago when he said
this law is a train wreck and it is a train wreck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Yes, great victory that I think is a huge strategic error and
fought for months to keep from happening, that kind of victory.
Let`s talk about train wrecks for a minute. Obamacare begins open
enrollment on October 1st, so soon. It begins actually delivering health
insurance on January 1st. Whether it`s a train wreck remains to be seen.
It hasn`t even started yet.
But here`s what we can say. Under the leadership of John Boehner, the
113th Congress and the House of Representatives in particular is a complete
and total train wreck.
Begin with the simplest question, what have they done on behalf of the
American people? The Senate managed to pass comprehensive immigration
reform with broad bipartisan support. That`s a big deal. The House`s
effort has completely fallen apart.
The Senate passed a farm bill. The House failed at that, and has been
breaking their farm bill into little pieces and trying to pass it one at a
The Senate at long last passed a budget and move to go to conference
with the House, for the two chambers could bring their budget together,
come to a budget compromise for the country. The House passed a budget and
refused to go to that conference with the Senate, because it was scared of
what might happen.
The list just goes on.
Gun control was a total flop.
The appropriations process has completely broken down. We almost went
over the fiscal cliff when John Boehner`s plan B failed. Do you remember
Sequestration which Boehner once called devastating is now the law of
the land and will be for the foreseeable future.
The Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, cannot pursue the policies it
thinks make sense because it is scared. Ben Bernanke just said this the
other day, that Congress will drive the economy into a ditch, so the Fed
needs to support the economy more than they would like to, because they`re
worried Congress will screw so bad.
I`m not just choosing examples at random here. The data tells the
So far, the 113th Congress has passed 36 public laws. Now, its not
done. It`s just so far.
But for comparison, the 112th Congress, the least productive Congress
since we begun keeping records, passed 283 public laws. At this rate, the
113th Congress is on track to be by far the least productive Congress on
record, by far.
Boehner however, to be fair to him, says he rejects those metrics. He
said, "We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to
be judged on how many laws we repeal." Good conservative comment.
So, how many laws has John Boehner repealed? None. He tried to
repeal Obamacare a bunch of times, but Obamacare remains the law of the
land. He hasn`t managed or even really made a serious attempt to repeal
any other major laws, laws not gone after Medicare or Social Security or
But perhaps the American people just enjoy this kind of gridlock.
Perhaps they hate congressional productivity. They love the status quo.
They think things are going so great in this country right now, nothing
Congress could possibly do to make it better. Perhaps they want nothing
done and nothing undone.
If that is the case, then they have a funny way of rewarding success.
According to Gallup, Americans have never had less confidence in
Congress than they do right now. Heck of a job, guys.
In fact, as unpopular as Obamacare is, Congress is even more unpopular
and it is getting worse. There was today`s debacle, where Boehner buckled
to conservatives in his conference. But more disturbing, part of his
strategy to avoid a government shutdown is to convince his members they
should hold their fire for what he calls, quote, "a whale of a fight" -- a
whale of a fight -- over raising the debt ceiling.
That moves the conflict to a more dangerous theatre, one that could
result in a complete global financial crisis.
For all the press Senator Ted Cruz gets, his threat of a shutdown is
far less irresponsible than Boehner`s threat of a default. This isn`t all
Boehner`s fault. Of course, he`s dealing with a fractious conference.
He`s getting outflanked by media savvy hard line conservatives. He`s
facing real challenges to his leadership.
But some of it is Boehner`s fault. Many of his members don`t trust
him. He refuses to level to Republicans ant what`s possible for them to
Boehner refused to go around them by cutting deals with the Democrats
on issues where there could with agreement. Like immigration, or on the
continuing resolution, the government funding bill.
He`s promoting a debt ceiling fight that could have disastrous
consequences and Speaker Boehner is ultimately the guy in charge. He`s a
guy in charge of the worst performing congresses` in history. If he is
looking for a train wreck to fix, he might be getting closer to home.
Joining me now is Congressman John Yarmuth, Democrat from Kentucky and
a member of the House Budget Committee, and Congressman Jim Cooper,
Democrat from Tennessee.
Congressman Yarmuth, I want to begin with you here. There will be --
do you think there will be a shutdown?
REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), KENTUCKY: I`ve been saying for weeks that I
thought there would be a shutdown. By the way, I was ready to walk out
when you started talking about Congress` popularity. Oh, my gosh, why do
you even want us on?
YARMUTH: But, no, I`ve been saying for weeks, I think there will be.
Unless Speaker Boehner realizes and commits himself to being the speaker of
the House for the entire country, not just for the Republican Party, and
now trying to pass everything with only Republican votes, we`re never
going to get to a place where the House will pass something that the Senate
will accept and the president will sign.
That`s just the absolute facts of the situation and it really doesn`t
matter what the issue is. He has to have Democratic support in the House.
He has to be willing to pass legislature with a smaller number of
Republicans than 218, and then do something that not only works, but can
pass both houses and signed by the president.
And so far, he hasn`t been willing to do that. Except in a couple of
instances, and he needs to go back and visit the Sandy relief bill and some
other things that have been done where he allowed things to go to the floor
with less than a majority of his own conference.
KLEIN: Congressman Cooper, I`m curious if you agree on one, if there
will be a government shutdown. A cell burning thought, but two, if there
is, or if there`s not, the thing that scares me is the idea that we would
not pay our bills, so we`d have debt ceiling breach, because that would be
a financial crisis and Speaker Boehner has said he will demand significant
concessions on Obamacare to try to raise the debt ceiling.
So, one, do you think there will be a shutdown and two, do you think
there`ll be a debt ceiling breach?
REP. JIM COOPER (D), TENNESSEE: I hope and pray there won`t be a debt
-- a shutdown of government. But we`re getting closer than we probably
have in history, at least since Gingrich shut down the government in the
This is a real tragedy for America and I hope your viewers understand,
this isn`t regular political bickering. This is genuinely dangerous for
America because it risks long-term damage to our country, damage that we
could not undo. So, it`s a little bit like Boehner`s playing with dynamite
right now with government shutdown, but he`s thinking of playing with
nitroglycerin, on defaulting on America`s debt. Both will be tragic to our
country. And he`s got to be stopped.
KLEIN: Congressman Yarmuth, one of the things that I think is
interested about this is that Boehner didn`t want it. Boehner did not want
this bill to go forward. It`s not the approach he wanted to take. The 200
Democrats in the House don`t want it.
There are not many, it seems in the House, who want this approach.
So, you said it earlier that Speaker Boehner needs to work with Democrats
to get things passed, but the thing that seems surprising is that he
doesn`t seem to have the unanimity from his members. He doesn`t seem to be
able to do go to them and say, look, you have to trust me, strategically
doing this kind of approach. Shutting down the government is just not a
YARMUTH: Right. Well, politics of America, certainly on the
Republican side, has become very entrepreneurial. This is individual
members out for themselves dealing with their own districts. And, you
know, people over the last few days have said, well, this is about 40
ideologues wagging the dog being the tail wagging the dog.
It`s really not. It`s 40 ideologues and about 140 other Republicans
who are afraid of being replaced by people like 40 ideologues. And that`s
the dynamic Speaker Boehner`s working with.
Again, there are 50, 60, maybe at most Republicans who are very
thoughtful, reasonable people who are willing to compromise, willing to
understand that government is about the possible and not idealism all the
And that`s what Speaker Boehner has to do. He`s not been willing to
crack the whip saying, look, if you want this committee assignment, if you
want funding, if you want me to come to your district, you`ve got to play
ball and you`ve got to do something that works for the country.
Nancy Pelosi would never ever have allowed this kind of rancor in her
own caucus to disrupt the business of the country and --
KLEIN: I often wonder what Nancy Pelosi is thinking. I often wonder
what this votes to them, what Nancy Pelosi is thinking.
But Congressman Cooper, one thing I wanted to ask is that, one thing
that is being missed here in this whole discussion about Obamacare is that
this continuing resolution represents essentially the entrenchment of
sequestration and keeps it as those levels, doesn`t try to move beyond
them. Can you say a word about what this represents on simple level of
funding the government, putting Obamacare aside?
COOPER: Sequestration is like a stupidest diet in the world and why
we`re still on it, it really doesn`t make sense. We`ve got to stop it
because it`s crippling our military, it`s crippling many other important
parts of government. These cuts are irrational.
So, we at least need flexibility. And, ideally, we need to remove the
cuts in a sensible way and have more sensible budgeting.
But as John and you have pointed out, now that the Senate has finally
passed the budget, the House refuses to even talk to the Senate about
having a real budget for America, because it`s not enough to have a budget
for the Senate or budget for the House, we have to have a budget for
America. They`ve refused to do that.
So, this is such a crisis that even "The Wall Street Journal", a
reliable Republican organ, has said this week that they`re acting like
kamikaze pilots. They`re like cowboys, you know, going out of box canyon.
This is crazy stuff and this is stuff that`s going to do real damage
to America. As you said, it`s even putting fear in the heart of Ben
Bernanke, the Fed chairman. We`ve got to have better management for
America, because this is reaching the crisis point.
KLEIN: Congressman John Yarmuth and Congressman Jim Cooper, thank you
very much for being here tonight.
COOPER: Thank you.
YARMUTH: My pleasure.
KLEIN: And with me now is Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat from
Michigan and a member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Senator, it`s good to see you.
STABENOW: It`s good to be back with you.
KLEIN: You heard that and sitting from your lofty perch in the U.S.
Senate, where you`ve been able to get comparatively a little bit more done,
how does it look to you? What`s going to happen when this continuing
resolution comes into your chamber?
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well, I share the concern of my
House colleagues, particularly this week rather than it getting better,
it`s really gotten worse. It really is about a group of folks who are
anarchists, who really just want to shut our government down.
And, you know, we look at global economy where everybody else is
trying to be like America. Have a middle class like us. Outcompete us on
And instead of moving forward with everybody working together to
continue to improve on the economy and grow the middle class, they`re
taking us backwards, way back. And, in fact, they`re running towards a
third world country while everybody else in the world is trying to be like
And so, it`s a waste of time. It`s a waste of money. I don`t blame
people for being sick and tired of it.
And in the Senate, I have to say, we have seen something different
happening, as you have mentioned -- immigration, a farm bill. You know, if
they want to cut spending, pass a farm bill, $24 billion in deficit
reduction added by the way, to about $2.5 trillion and deficit reduction.
We have already put in place over the next 10 years.
So when they talk about we should do something about the deficit,
we`re already doing something about the deficit, and if they would work
with us and stop this crazy sequester and focus on out-innovating and out-
educating in a global economy, we could do even more.
KLEIN: Well, it`s also worth nothing, if you just repeal Obamacare,
which is the ultimate aim here, that also increases the deficit by
trillions over decades.
STABENOW: No question.
KLEIN: But Senator Ted Cruz, one of the things happening here, a lot
of pressure, too, coming from your chamber, forcing the Boehner to do this,
Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Rand Paul, really led the
defund or shutdown fight and Cruz has said that he`s going to filibuster
this one when it comes to the Senate. They`re going to try to do what Rand
Paul did on the drone and go to the floor of the Senate and speak for days
or many, many hours about what a terrible bill this is, what a terrible
bill Obamacare is.
Are Senate Democrats prepared for that? Or are they prepared to
STABENOW: They filibuster all the time. Filibustering is not a new
thing. I mean, they filibuster everything.
KLEIN: But they rarely actually talk.
STABENOW: Well, that`s true. And if they decide to do that, then it
will be up to us to close debate and we will need 60 votes.
We do have colleagues that have spoken out. Responsible Republicans
in the Senate who have said this is crazy and we`re going to count on them
to join us, because think about for a minute, this whole issue on repealing
health care reform when you think about the fact over -- they want to stop
over 30 million people from being about to get health care. They want to
stop women who are pregnant from having access to maternity care.
Starting in January for the first time ever, you`re going to be able
to know that essential health care benefit includes prenatal care and
maternity care. This is not some radical thing. They`re talking about
taking away the opportunity for small businesses to be able to have lower
costs through competition and people to have access to health care and
that`s a fight worth having.
KLEIN: Senator Debbie Stabenow, thank you so much for being here
STABENOW: My pleasure.
KLEIN: What`s the real reason Republicans want Obamacare to fail? I
will tell you, coming up.
KLEIN: Who exactly were Republicans taking food from yesterday when
they voted to slash almost $40 billion from the food stamp program? The
answer might actually surprise you. It will definitely surprise them.
We`ll be right back.
KLEIN: There`s a kind of a cold logic, a real reason behind the
willingness some conservatives have to risk everything to stop Obamacare.
But the logic isn`t based on what you usually hear. It`s not the notion
that Obamacare will fail.
After all, if the logic`s going to be a total debacle, Republicans
would let it take effect. Ride the catastrophe, it`s a huge victories in
the 2014 midterms, come back, use their massive majorities to repeal it,
but they don`t want to do that.
Because the GOP`s fear is not that the law will fail. It`s that the
law will succeed, that once Obamacare starts delivering health insurance to
millions of Americans, it will become effectively impossible to repeal.
This is the last chance, because people will like it.
That`s what`s happened in every other country that has introduced a
national health care system. It`s what happened with Medicare and with
Medicaid and Social Security. It`s why the right needs to sop it before it
But the irony of this strategy, of the defund Obamacare strategy is
that shutting down or defunding the federal government doesn`t stop
Obamacare. It might even help it.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service put it very bluntly in
a July report saying, quote, "It appears that substantial Affordable Care
Act implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations."
There are a few reasons for this. First thing, if there is a
shutdown, disruption in funding, it only hits one part of money. It hits
so-called discretionary money. That`s the part of the budget that is
decided upon new each year by Congress. But Obamacare`s main function,
they`re not even that part of the budget. They`re in a more permanent part
So, for example, the money for tax credits in Medicaid expansion, that
money is completely ineffective. It arrives on schedule. The state and
federal exchanges, they still operate. The individual mandate would still
be in place.
A lot of lost funding wouldn`t be affected, and of the lost funding
that is affected, it could be backfield by the Obama administration moving
money from these kind of mandatory pots into these other pieces. And even
beyond that, the White House, they could simply argue that a lot of the
crucial positions fall into the bucket of essential personnel who are
protected during the government shutdown. So, they wouldn`t even get lit
So, it wouldn`t be ideal. Implementation would move forward and it
actually could get worse for Republicans from there.
Obamacare is first year. It`s just going to be full of glitches and
hiccups and mistakes and misfires. Things are going to go wrong. Big
things even. That`s just true for every big and complicated law.
When John Boehner was first made minority leader in 2006, he went on
"FOX News Sunday." He was asked about the implementation of Medicare Part
D, which he and his colleagues just passed, a law enacted by Republicans.
He said, quote, "The implementation of the Medicare plan has been
Now, the expectation for Obamacare, Republicans are going to be able
to take advantage of those inevitable early problems with the law. They`ll
use them to argue the bill is terrible, that Obama is awful, that Americans
need to elect them in midterms and maybe they`ll win a few more seats in
2014 because of it.
But if the early implementation is happening during an extended
government shutdown, caused by Republicans, Republicans might well get
blamed for the glitches as the media and voters asked, wouldn`t the law
work more smoothly if the GOP hadn`t turned out the lights on the
government that was supposed to be putting it into place?
Moreover, if the Republicans get blamed for an annoying and unpopular
government shutdown, not to mention for some of the problems because of it,
that might blunt the gains in they likely make in 2014 midterms and, of
course, more Democrats in Congress, means more protection for Obamacare
So, a government shutdown won`t stop Obamacare from being implemented.
But it might mean Republicans get blamed for some of the problems of
implementation and it might mean they lose the ability to benefit
politically from the inevitable hitches in the rollout.
The conservatives who won`t yield against Obamacare think they`re
really fighting the fight here. They might ultimately prove to be among
the law`s very best friends.
KLEIN: The reality is who is actually on food stamps and why John
Boehner is even more responsible than Ted Cruz, in this whole House mess.
Those stories are ahead.
But first, I want to show you the awesomest things on the Internet
today. We begin with the latest video from a phenom, six years in the
making. This is B-Girl Terra. She is 6 years old, from the U.K. and she
is way cooler than you, or at least way cooler than me.
Now, I could tell you she has millions of views on YouTube, and she`s
part of a dance team with her 9-year-old sister, or that she schooled her
competition in the break dancing battle in Paris, or toured as a
professional dance crew.
I could tell you how quickly is way late for the B-Girl Terra party,
have missed her killer videos until now. An d I could tell you all that,
but wouldn`t you rather just watch her bust out those moves? Good Lord,
that is quite a headspin.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, toys will be old
outdated toys. 1980s brought us classic action figures like He-Man and the
Transformers. But the me decade also laid his fair share of duds. The Web
site, I09 (ph) has compiled a list of 15 toy lines from the `80s that are
never going to compete to your nostalgic affection.
Like the Rock Lords, a spin off from the already lame Gobots toyline
or the Food Fighters, a collection a paramilitary refrigerator items like
sergeant scoop and private pizza.
Also, the Barnyard Commandos, less said about them, the better. And,
oh, yes, these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police academy.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: This is Joe. Numb Skull`s robbing the bank.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each sold separately.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: Coming (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Total shocker kids weren`t clambering for a Steve Guttenberg
And then, there is this -- something called a moon dreamer. Please
join me in welcoming it to your nightmares.
The third awesomest thing on the internet today, the television
crossover everyone demanded. If you`ve been watching "Sesame Street," and
thinking "That is a good show." But, it could really use a little more
"Game of Thrones." "You are in luck weird person." That is "Game Of
Thrones" Peter Dinklage singing about a game of "Simon Says."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Whatever Simon says.
PETER DINKLAGE, CAST OF "GAME OF THRONES" SERIES: And, now were saved
where people use my name. They just say Simon says and that`s the cue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Co-star Lena Headey also showed up on a recent episode.
"Sesame Street" has always been pretty hip. Richard Pryor reciting the
alphabet way back in the day, but the current guest roster for the show is
really growing. Star Trek John Cho is playing around with the Muppets this
week as was Oscar winner Charlize Theron, who supported some fairy wings.
Even the new superman was on hand.
So, if your kids are tuning in, it is fair to say, they are probably
more up on the culture than you are. They may not be as cool as big girl
Tara, of course, but still pretty cool. You can find all the links for
tonight`s click 3 on our website, allinwithchris.com, and we will be right
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST OF "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" SHOW: Why isn`t
a person who has been unemployed for more than three months, who doesn`t
have a kid, who is living in poverty, right? -- meets the income
requirement has been unemployed for more than three months, which is the
current requirement, in a very high unemployment year, why should that
person not get a $100 a month from the government --
MATTIE DUPPLER, DIRECTOR OF BUDGET AND REGULATORY POLICY AT AMERICANS
FOR TAX REFORM: What this bill does that says maybe the dead person
shouldn`t get the $100 a month. The lottery winner shouldn`t get a hundred
bucks a month, that person --
SAM SEDER, HOST OF MAJORITY REPORT: So, wait a second. That is not -
- You need to throw off 4 million people to get rid of those two people
that you are talking about because --
DUPPLER: They`re the dead people. Those are the people you are
getting rid off --
SEDER: Dead people are not actually cashing those checks. There is 1
percent fraud in the program --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: That was Chris speaking -- I can`t believe these things, man.
That was Chris speaking last night with Sam Seder and Mattie Duppler about
the house`s food stamp vote. If you`re going to believe the rhetoric out
there from some conservatives, food stamps are for the entitled, fraudulent
possibly dead moochers trying to rip off the government.
And, thus, they got a $40 billion cut in the house bill yesterday.
The reality is quite different. Food stamps play just a huge role in
helping actual living Americans out of poverty. The program keeps about 4
million people above the poverty line on its own, prevents millions more
from sinking deeper into poverty.
47 million people are actually on the line. That is 15 percent of the
population -- 15, are getting help from food stamps each month. According
to the EOSTA, children and teenagers make up almost half of that number --
Children and teenagers, about 10 percent are seniors. And, the average
benefit is only about $133 a month.
To quality, you could only have earnings 30 percent higher than the
federal poverty level. Make living about $30,000 for a family of four this
year -- $30,000 for a family of four. But, those are, by the way, not
lottery winners. But, none of those has stopped house republicans from
voting yesterday. They just slashed almost $40 billion from the food stamp
program over the next decade.
It is a vote that doesn`t hurt shady lottery winners or fictional
welfare queens or the dead. But, kids and the elderly, the disabled, low
wage workers and actually members of our military. A post on a blog called
a "Sterling Road" made rounds today. It`s title. My name is Jason. I`m a
35-year-old white male combat veteran and I`m on food stamps.
The author Jason Carroll served in Afghanistan and he has worked his
entire life. He says he is now on food stamps because it is what is
keeping him from going hungry. And, he is not alone. Military families
redeem about $100 million a year in food aid. And, this girl explains a
working poor off to get wrongly stigmatized for needing assistance.
Millions of people in poverty fall into three categories. He writes,
you can call them the lucky category. Since conservatives seem to think
people on welfare hit some sort of jackpot. Those living paycheck to
paycheck. They are just a little bit lucky. And, those having
unemployment check to unemployment check, they are a little luckier. But,
those living second of the month to second of the month, that is the food
stamp group, they have hit the jackpot.
The second of the month being the time when funds get electronically
deposited on to the EBT card, at least in New York. For those who have
never been fortunate enough to hit the $175 a month power ball.
Joining me now is former U.S. Sergeant Kayla Williams, a Truman
National Security Project fellow, author of the book, "Love my Rifle More
Than You: Young and Female In The U.S. Army." Kayla you have been on food
KAYLA WILLIAMS, TRUMAN NATIONAL SECURITY PROJECT FELLOW: Yes, I was
on food stamps off and on when I was a kid. My mom was like so many
others, who take advantage of the benefit. A single mom and we fell on
financial hard times and it kept me from going to bed hungry.
KLEIN: Did you find -- Did you guys find when you are in food stamps
that the allotment was lavish, that it created a real --
KLEIN: -- huge food budget?
WILLIAMS: No. It definitely didn`t. It was supplemented by some
lovely government cheese as well. Not that most tasteful thing, at least
when I was getting government cheese as a soldier. Sometimes it had
jalapeno flavored cheese, so that was an exciting step up, but -- it was
definitely not a lavish benefit and it was something that was something to
be ashamed of and that stigma I think is another thing that`s really
It seems as if the republicans want that shame and stigma, but is that
something we want to do to children, to make them ashamed of their parents?
That doesn`t seem like good family values to me.
KLEIN: One interesting wrinkle in all this is that in the Bush
Administration was a real supportive of the program. I believe they were
part of moving it towards on EBT cards, so they are not food stamps --
KLEIN: -- they called it SNAP and instead of getting this very
recognizable sort of voucher, you actually have what looks like a credit
WILLIAMS: Which is great.
KLEIN: -- And, that has been very helpful. And, there is actually
now a pushback. I mean republican has just gone way, way, way too far.
What do you think about some of that transition away from that stigma? How
do you think that affects folks?
WILLIAMS: I think that, that is a good thing especially you have for
example, military personnel and guarded reserve personnel who are having a
harder time keeping their jobs between deployments, employer discrimination
and these are people that we want to hold up as heroes in our society.
Do we want to make them feel ashamed and stigmatized for needing a
little extra helping hand? No, we don`t. Our veterans were on fixed
income. If they`re having trouble, it is going to the commissary. We
don`t need to make them feel ashamed of needing a little extra helping
These are people who served honorably and with pride. But, anybody,
any kid doesn`t need to have that stigma of feeling as if there`s something
wrong with them. And, I think it is definitely a step in the right
direction to try to decrease that and to bring that back today is to move
in a wrong direction.
KLEIN: Has there been a sharp rise in use of food stamp use in the
military after 9/11 due to the frequency of the deployments in the ongoing
WILLIAMS: Not necessarily among active duty personnel. They`ve
gotten pretty significant pay increases over that time. But, use of SNAP
benefits on commissaries have gone up and people who can use commissaries
include not only active duty personnel, but also retirees and again, guard
and reserve personnel.
KLEIN: And, one thing I was wondering when I see this is when you
actually get into these debates, you have a $40 billion cut in house of
representatives yesterday. One you don`t hear from is veterans lobbyist,
which are fairly powerful in the house, but don`t seem to engage that much
on these issues. I am curious if you have any thoughts as to why?
WILLIAMS: I don`t. But, I`m trying to change that, why I`m here
speaking with you right now.
KLEIN: And, where do you think this goes from now? So, the senate
probably is going to pick it up. But, there has been an ongoing effort in
politics due to this. Do you think that the changing folk is impressions
of who is on food stamps as your colleague did today, as you are doing. Do
you think that is part of this political battle?
WILIAMS: I hope that it will be. I hope that more people like me,
who have been on food assistance at some point in their lives will come
forward and say you`re talking about people like me. You`re saying that
kids like I was should go to bed hungry. Is that the kind of country we
If you don`t believe that`s the kind of country that we should be,
then you need to call your elected representatives and let them know that
this is not the type of place where we let children go to the hungry
KLEIN: Kayla Williams, thank you very much for being here tonight.
WILLIAMS: Thanks for having me.
KLEIN: Coming up. I will tell you why a very small part of me, in
fact sometimes, a very big part of me, feels sorry for John Boehner.
KLEIN: There has been a lot of talk about the irresponsibility of
Texas Senator Ted Cruz in pushing to shut down the government if the Obama
Administration doesn`t agree to defund Obama Care. So many talks even on
this network, even some of it by me. That is an irresponsible thing to do
and maybe kind of counterproductive and maybe going to be a huge disaster
for his party and possibly the country.
But, during all that, the line on speaker John Boehner is that he is
the adult in the room. He knows better. He is trying to do the
responsible things, failing maybe, but at least trying. But, part of the
way Boehner is trying to get out of this shutdown is by telling his
members, "You don`t want to waste your time shutting down the government.
What you want to do is hold your fire until the Obama Administration, less
they delay Obama Care for a year -- for a year. You won`t raise the debt
That is John Boehner`s plan. No government shutdown right now, but a
huge debt ceiling fight very soon. By the way, President Obama called John
Boehner tonight to just say "I`m still not going to negotiate with you."
But, that is Boehner`s plan. And, that is the more irresponsible plan than
what Ted Cruz has cooked up at this point.
You shut down the federal government. It is bad thing. It is a bad
for the economy. It is bad for people who rely on government services. It
is just bad. But, it will be fine once you reopen. You reach the debt
ceiling and you cause a global financial panic and it won`t be fine when
you start paying your bills again. Ask anybody who has ever to faulted on
credit card debt. That doesn`t just go away.
Look, Boehner`s got a hard job. His members don`t listen to him. His
position is not that safe. He just picked up a primary challenger the
other day. But, he also makes his job harder and he makes it more
dangerous. And, the question is why, which why and the question is how
does he get out of it?
Joining me now, Ben Domenech publisher of The Federalist -- The New
Federalist, a web magazine and senior fellow at The Heartland Institute;
Conservative Think Tank, David Weigel, MSNBC Contributor and political
reporter for Slate, and Heather Boushey, Chief Economist at the Center For
American Progress Of Progressive Think Tank. Thank you all for being here.
And, Ben I want to talk to you because -- so, there are two kinds of
beats here. Boehner`s, somebody`s got a shutdown and then he is amping up
the debt ceiling talk. So, when you speak to folks in the conservative
movement or speak to house republicans, what do they see as the likely
resolution here? What is the kind of the good vision of the future? Is
there a vision of the future?
BEN DOMENECH, THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE FELLOW: The good vision of the
future? Well, I think that -- that you have laid this out in a way that is
very responsible, which is essentially to say that all of this talk all
along that somehow Ted Cruz was this crazy man for willing to fight on the
government shutdown and Boehner was this voice of seriousness for willing
to fight on these debt ceiling, neither is really the case.
Both are points of inflection. Both are points of leverage that the
Republican Party is seeking to find in order to force President Obama to
come to the negotiating table, which he has been enormously reluctant to
do. Particularly --
KLEIN: Wasn`t it Boehner, who said at the beginning of this congress
after fiscal, no more negotiations wean him and President Obama?
DOMENECH: Exactly. Exactly.
KLEIN: Does that happen?
DOMENECH: But -- Yes. I think it did. But, I think that -- I think
that what you`re seeing now essentially is enormous pressure being brought
within his own caucus for Boehner to take on something that is viewed as an
extremely important and serious piece of legislation that`s going to be Ted
Cruz says around forever if we don`t stop it at this juncture.
Unfortunately, I think that this creates a scenario where you have to
engage in an even more serious level of brinkman ship in order to force the
president to do anything. Because from the republicans perspective on
Capitol Hill, that`s the only thing that will make the president listen.
KLEIN: But -- there`s no scenario in which the president undoes his
legislation after winning the vote. That`s the thing that`s weird. It is
a complete up ending of the roles of politics. You lose the elections, you
need to regain power and you`re not the folks in charge. You can`t just
blow up the capitol because you don`t like that.
DAVID WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, there`s really not a
strategy that you`re missing. I mean there might be --
KLEIN: I`m sorry to hear that, actually.
WEIGEL: -- there might be a box that are very, very low in the
ground, knowing one person has the key to. But, after this vote today, I
asked members coming out of the Rah-Rah meeting, they even play colostrums,
what do you think the senate should do?
Should they filibuster a motion to proceed? Should they try to block
the amendment? And, the answer I kept hearing, "Well, I`m not really an
expert on senate procedure. I mean the members of the house who have been
asked to go to walk these plans, some of them cynically. I mean Peter King
who voted for this today has said e did it in order to basically, you know,
throw dirt and take it to her face.
They don`t really have a plan. It is just -- give them some credit.
They do really believe that the country will become a socialist dystopia if
Obama Care passes. They are desperate. They just don`t really have a plan
for how this will undo Obama Care. They have been convinced by each other
by the base really -- by all the optimist groups who has spent the entire
summer saying this because -- hence, they could do nothing else. But, they
don`t have a plan what Nancy Pelosi --
KLEIN: I give them that credit --
KLEIN: -- But, Heather, you actually watch the economy and where as
we might become a socialist dystopia if Obama Care goes forward. What
happens if the debt ceiling actually gets breached? Should we go through
an extended series of real economic turbulence here.
HEATHER BOUSHEY, CHIEF ECONOMIST AT AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, you
know, I think we are already starting to see the beginning of the crazy
season, where again we are where we were. You know, we have a mini time
over the past few years discussing how far over the brink -- close to the
brink, should we take the U.S. economy. Last time we had this conversation
about not raising the debt ceiling, and it got really close. We saw the
American debt downgraded for the first time.
You know, we are still in a situation where although we are three
years into an economic recovery, it has not been a recovery for American
families in so many ways. We see incomes that are stagnant. We have --
you know nine million people who should be at work today, who aren`t. And,
this is not going to help any of those actual problems. I mean it`s a bit
of a sort of smoke and mirrors like let`s talk about the you know Obama
care as though that were the critical -- most critical issue facing
American workers and their families when in fact, it is because congress
has not acted. We`ve got this poor economy.
KLEIN: Ben, I`ll let you get on this when we come back.
KLEIN: If you were wondering where Chris Hayes is. Worried about
this imposter in his chair. Do not worry. You will be able to see him on
television tonight. He is going to be on real time with Bill Maher being
glamorous on HBO at 10:00 P.M. Eastern. And, this show will be right back.
KLEIN: We are back and I am here with Ben Domenech, Dave Weigel and
Heather Boushey. And, Ben, when we are on break you wanted to get in on
Obama Care and the economy.
DOMENECH: Yes. I think the pushback that I would have from what
Heather said is that I think from the perspective of house republicans,
they do think that Obama Care is one of the most significant effects on the
economy right now. And, I think that largely the American people actually
agree with them on that kind if you look at the polling.
But, I would also make another point that about the nature of debt
ceiling fights versus shutdown fights. There were about ten shutdowns of
the government over the course of the Carter and Reagan Administrations.
They lasted about a week to ten days or something like that on average.
There was one significant debt ceiling fight that I think is very
comparable to this and it was -- It actually came after Watergate when Ted
Kennedy and Walter Mondale went up and had a debt ceiling fight over
campaign finance reform and other political reforms in the wake of
I would compare that very much to what we`re seeing right now. One
party that views this as an ex-essential threat, an issue that has to be
handled right now and another party that is very dedicated to pushing back
against this and saying, "Look, we just got to move on from this ."
KLEIN: But, see, here`s the way it`s not comparable, right? Which is
as Ted Kennedy and Mondale were in an ascended political position, right?
They are talking about after Watergate --
KLEIN: -- when democrats winning and take elections. You`re also
talking about a mixed political party, period, right?
KLEIN: So, you have a lot of bipartisan support on that particular
fight. And, that seems to me to be what`s different here. What, I find
striking is not the desire to repeal Obama Care. I`m not surprised either
by republicans fighting on the debt ceiling after they won the 2010
There was an argument there that if only the presidency would have
been up, they would have won it. But, they did not win the last election.
They do not have the mandate for this kind of hostage taking this time.
WEIGEL: No, they just convinced themselves that because Obama Care is
unpopular, they`re going to win. The public will eventually blame Barack
Obama and not them for what happens. Since, I think have heard not just
Ted Cruz, but a lot of activists saying, that has been pretty well
internalized, that has been repeated when Republicans -- when John Boehner
talks about the default -- the possibility of default, he preemptively
blames it on Barack Obama. It is because Barack Obama will come to the
Again, I wish I had a great insight as to how they`re going to
convince the American people that this is the case. They`ve just convinced
at least enough of themselves and enough of the base that they believe
this. And -- no, they don`t really have a plan for selling that beyond the
people they already sold it to. This is the problem that comes up again
and again. They don`t really have to answer to any voters, especially in
the house, beyond conservative voters who already believe this.
DOMENECH: Dave, I would suggest that their definition of a win is
different. It`s along the line of what we saw with Rand Paul going down to
the Florida with filibuster on drones. His win was not achieving something
legislatively. It was changing the conversation.
WEIGEL: Ted Cruz this week said when asked if he would filibuster the
debt limit, he was asked -- he said, "I`ll do anything it takes to
filibuster the continuing resolution." -- To filibuster debt limit, he
wouldn`t say yes. So, there might be they convince themselves of this,
then there`s a point.
KLEIN: But, Boehner has stood up on the debt limit and he said, "I
will make sure we get a one-year delay on Obama Care" and he certainly
something. And, today, the president called him and said, "Just to remind
you. I will not negotiate." It was a brief call they described this. "I
am just not going to negotiate with you."
And, that is a thing, right? I mean if what Ben is saying is true,
that`s fine. If they just want to filibuster on the floor, and get some
media attention then we keep the government open and pay our bills, that`s
one thing. But, if they don`t, that`s a whole other, Heather.
BOUSHEY: It is totally whole other. I mean it seems to me that they
are afraid that Obama Care is going to go into effect, right? I mean once
it does and once people can buy insurance on exchanges and once people
start to get their preexisting conditions covered, all of this is a good
But, you know, whether or not the republicans are so afraid of this
being a good thing that people actually start liking once they start
getting it, how far they`re willing to push the U.S. economy is -- I mean
that`s the question on the table. But, this is not -- this is
unequivocally not good and in fact, we heard on Wednesday that Chairman
Bernanke said that it was federal fiscal policy that is a continuing
restraint on economic growth and a source of risk for the economy. So, I
mean, we know that what`s going on right now is actually, it`s affecting
macro economic policymaking and it`s not good for jobs and income.
KLEIN: Ben, I think that`s actually a key point. There`s this idea
out there that the thin republicans are afraid of is that it will fail.
But, it often seems they`re afraid it would succeed. If it was failing,
they could just win in 2014 and repeal it.
DOMENECH: I think that it is not so much that it will fail as that
you are going to end up dealing with the situation in 2017, where you have
x million number of people on this new entitlement. Whether it succeeds or
not, I think you are going to end up with that situation as it is
implemented. Now, if the administration has slowly scaled back its
estimates for how many people you are actually going to see.
But, whether you are dealing with 10 million or 20 million, whether
you dealing with a sizable Medicaid population or sizable population on the
exchange, there is going to be people locked into that money and that means
it`s more difficult to roll back. So, I think that that is why Ted Cruz
has been so definitive and saying, "This is the moment. This is the line.
We have to stop them here." I am not quite assured about that, but I do
think that he believes it and I think that Boehner to a degree believes it
KLEIN: Ben Domenech from the Heartland Institute, Dave Weigel from
Slate and Heather Boushey from The Center for American Progress. Thank you
very much all for being here on a Friday night.
KLEIN: That is "All In" for this evening. Chris will be back on
Monday. Hubris selling the Iraq war as Rachel Maddow starts right now.
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