'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, October 12th, 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
October 12, 2013
Guest: Todd Zwillich, MJ Lee, Leonard Lance, Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Bill
Pascrell, Lawrence O`Donnell
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: A talk of a deal is in the air, but
Senate and House Republicans may not even be talking to each other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: At the start of this Saturday morning, we find ourselves
questioning the status quo, that Barack Obama and the Democrats found the
formula to end the cycle of crazy and U.S. legislative process. We`re
going to talk about that in just a minute.
Also, eight Democratic members of Congress got themselves arrested
this week in an effort to change the conversation in Washington away from
the shutdown. We`ll be joined by one of them.
And has Cory Booker done enough to stop his recent polling slide? The
election is days away. The final debate was this weekend. It was kind of
And finally, we`ll be shaking things up in this week`s edition of
America`s favorite, fastest-growing abbreviated made for cable current
events quiz show. Get ready to meet "Up Against the Clock`s" first ever
But first, we begin with the latest down in Washington. In a quick
check of the Merriam Webster dictionary shows us that the verb to
compromise has more than one definition. One of them is to give up
something you want in order to reach an agreement. The idea here being
that both sides generally give up something in order to come to a mutual
agreement or it isn`t really compromising and don`t get everything you want
nor to do ever really expect to.
And by the same token, some offers are non-starters. They were just
never going to happened. The other definition of compromise, another
definition compromise is to expose something to risk or danger, to leave
something compromised, to put yourself in a compromising position. You`ve
heard that one before. And that, yes, brings us to the third definition
which is to leave something damaged or weakened as a result.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, on what is now day 12 of the
federal government shutdown, the big question is which definition of
compromise is actually in play here. Is agreement on the verge of being
reached? Or should we be looking to the definitions that involve danger,
leaving things damaged and weakened for our clues?
Exactly who or what is in danger or how might they or it be damaged or
weakened? Well, that is precisely what we`re here this morning to discuss.
How optimistic you should feel depends entirely on whom you ask.
Republican senators met with President Obama at the White House yesterday
to discuss the government shutdown. One of them, Mike Johanns of Nebraska,
said he`s more optimistic now than he has been in the past two weeks. He`s
even predicting that a plan being put forward by House Republicans will
kind of morph into a Senate plan in the next few days.
Maybe that has happened. "The Washington Post" is reporting overnight
that Senate Republicans are pressing House Republicans to adopt a blueprint
that would reopen the government and fund it for six months, but also raise
the debt ceiling through January 31st of next year. The key here, under
this plan, the Senate and the House would have until then to reach a long-
term agreement on the budget.
If they succeed in doing that, the debt ceiling would automatically be
raised again at the end of next January, avoiding another one of these
showdowns, but if they fail to agree between now and then, another showdown
could potentially loom. The plan would also delay for two years the
implementation of the medical device tax that would fund Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: We`d negotiate it. If we`d
done this a couple weeks ago, we wouldn`t be where we are today. I think
you`ll see something come out of the House in the next 24 hours to reopen
the entire government that will have changes to Obamacare that will not
destroy the program but will make it better.
I think you will see an effort by the House raise the debt ceiling not
for a year but for a period of time. I hope the president will accept
these gestures from the House and we`ll get this behind us in the next 48
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: What seems clear right now, about the only thing that seems
clear right now is that the Republicans are feeling a new urgency to try to
find a way to get this resolved. The impetus is clear. This is from the
latest NBC news/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 53 percent of Americans have a
negative view of the Republican Party.
That`s the worst rating for either party in the nearly 25-year history
of this poll. And the generic ballot for 2014, Democrats now lead
Republicans by eight points, 47 to 39 percent on the question of which
party should control Congress. That is the largest lead since 2009. There
are other polls just like this that have come out in the last 72 hours, and
clearly, they`ve unnerved a lot of Republicans.
What is far from clear, though, is what that sudden urgency
Republicans are feeling that some Republicans, at least, are feeling will
translate it to. Will they put together a package that will actually meet
the terms that President Obama has presented or they just end up making the
same kind of farfetched demands that got us into this situation in the
If you`re the Democrats what do you do right now? Maybe the
Republicans will offer you a short-term fix if you really want to put
yourself in the position of having to do this all over again six weeks from
now. Can you say no to that? The Democrats have leverage here. If so,
how will they use it?
To talk about all this, I want to bring in MJ Lee, financial services
reporter with Politico.com, Todd Zwillich, he`s a Washington a
correspondent for public radio internationals, "The Takeaway," NYC, MSNBC
contributor, Perry Bacon, Jr., he`s politics editor at the Grio.com, and
MSNBC.com national reporter, Irin Carmon. Thanks for being here this
So, we have that, you know, talk from Lindsey Graham, talk from Mike
Johanns, some Republican senators speaking up and basically saying they
think 48-72 hours, there`s going to be some kind of resolution. I think
everybody out there yesterday, you know, the idea of a deal being near was
sort of in the air.
I guess this morning, I`ll start with you MJ, I mean, is your read on
this situation that we actually are that close to a resolution here?
Because I`m just looking at this seeing a lot unresolved and maybe in the
short-term unresolvable issues, but do you think we`re that close to
getting something done here?
MJ LEE, POLITICO.COM: I mean, it does sound like we`ve reached a
certain point where Republicans have really realized if we don`t get
something done to raise the debt ceiling and re-open the government, we are
just going to continue to suffer in the polls. And I think that message
has been received by the Republican Party. It`s been fascinating, though,
to see Senate Republicans and House Republican, sort of the lack of
And I think that`s actually, you know, a good thing for the president.
He can sort of sit back and say, well, you know, I`ll be here to listen to
you and, you know, see what plans you all come up with. And you know, I`ll
pick and choose. If the Senate Republicans and House Republicans are not
going to coordinate and work together, then I think that actually gives the
president, you know, an advantage.
KORNACKI: That`s interesting. I think it`s Politico, actually, that
was reporting this that in these meetings that have been taken place as we
give (ph) the Senate Republicans came in yesterday to meet with the
president, and they were asking him in the meeting, hey, when you met with
the House Republicans, what did they say? What`s their plan? What are
they doing here?
And I can see MJ`S point that certainly that would give a little of
leverage to the president, but at the same time the reality is, obviously,
something is ultimately going to have to get through that Republican-
controlled House. We have this question, Perry, of you know, this idea of
Republicans are sort of getting it, that they`re losing the public relation
But how widespread among Republicans? I see that the leadership
understands it. We still have a huge Tea Party commission. We always talk
about these Republicans from these safe districts. How widespread do you
think they`re feeling --
PERRY BACON, JR., THEGRIO.COM: We know that the Senate feels this
way. We can tell the Senate who was elected state wide -- they definitely
feel this way. I don`t think we have a great sense for exactly how the
House members feel. We know that most -- of House members have given up on
defunding Obamacare. They`ve moved on from that, but how much they`ll
accept? You saw even Hal Rogers, a Republican Kentucky, none of the (ph)
conservative who`s actually going to wear the disagreement. Not excited
about the debt ceiling.
He has until January. So, we haven`t seen a lot of House Republicans
so far say raise the debt ceiling until January 31st. The Senate wants a
good idea. I think we have to figure out if more of those House
Republicans feel comfortable with this deal, Susan Collins (INAUDIBLE) this
deal. That`s not someone who`s going to bring a lot of confidence House
Republicans. She`s one of the most moderate Republicans in the chamber.
KORNACKI: Right. You don`t win over the Tea Party by saying Susan
Collins and Lindsey Graham are for this.
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC.COM: Well, I think it`s interesting that Lindsey
Graham is the one that went over with Saxby Chambliss to meet with John
Boehner, because he is somebody who is clearly facing a challenge from the
right and his own state, and he`s kind of trying to have it both ways,
maintain his reputation as someone who can work with people and get things
done at the same time that he`s looking over his right shoulder.
But I also think the White House is doing something very interesting
here, which is that they`re trying to feed the Tea Partiers -- or they`re
trying to feed the Republicans their own Tea Party poison and seeing how
that goes. I mean, they invited Ted Cruz to the White House yesterday. He
got in a shouting match with President Obama.
I think they`re kind of saying to both let`s say conservative
Democrats and to Republicans in the Senate, watch what happens when these
people get her to way.
KORNACKI: Well, let`s understand exactly -- we have all these
different names, the different chambers sort of floating around here, but
let`s understand what the basic differences are right now between what the
House Republicans are pushing for and what the Senate Republican is playing
(ph) with. Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham are talking about.
Some of the key differences are the Senate plan, Todd, would
immediately re-open the government and would do it for six month. Six
months, they fund it at the sequester level. I think there could be talks
to sort of, you know, replaces -- they will open it for six months. This
House plan at least as it was originally constituted this week leaves the
government shut down.
John Boehner said we`re all going to deal with the debt ceiling and
not that. And the second thing is, the extension, the length of the
extension on the debt ceiling at the House is proposing is much shorter
than what the Senate is proposing. The Senate is saying let`s extend this
to the end of January. The House is saying, you know, like six weeks.
There`s a difference there. Do you see these things being -- you know, can
they reconcile this?
TODD ZWILLICH, THE TAKEAWAY: They may not be able to reconcile it,
but it may be the Senate approach here that gets shut down Speaker
Boehner`s throat. I`m sorry to use such imagery. But, why did Lindsey
Graham come out of John Boehner`s office with Saxby Chambliss? Look,
Lindsey Graham is one of the Republican senators who`s been saying all
along this is a stupid idea, why are we are doing this? Yes. He would
come out at Boehner`s office and say, we`ll have a deal in 24 hours,
because he`s trying to put the thumbs on the scales to get the House to
KORNACKI: So, is the idea -- is the model here for somebody like
Lindsey Graham is thinking of what happened with the fiscal cliff where the
House couldn`t -- John Boehner`s house couldn`t get its act together, the
Senate acted, and then the House just had to put it on the floor --
ZWILLICH: Even further back the fiscal cliff and then go back to 2011
to Super Committee debt reduction deals and the name that we haven`t been
mentioned in this conversation yet, which is Mitch McConnell, which had
been in a similar situation as Lindsey Graham and establishment Republican
with a Tea Party challenge in the South. And Mitch McConnell is the most
important person in this entire fight from behind the scenes who has said
enough is enough.
He is the one who is -- and has now gone to our colleague, Sam
Youngman (ph) at the paper down there in Kentucky and said it`s time for a
come together moment. It`s because Mitch McConnell is the epitome of what
Republicans are going through right now. He`s the leader. He`s an
establishment Republican. By the way, he`s an appropriator. He`s a
He`s an operator and he`s looking over his right shoulder as well in
Kentucky. So, he`s trying to navigate these exact same waters. Why does
the Senate win here? Because it`s clear to everyone. It`s been clear to
Lindsey Graham. It`s been clear to Mitch McConnell since 2011 that Speaker
Boehner cannot manage the vocal minority in his own conference.
And there comes a point where he just needs help, Mitch McConnell to
the rescue. That`s what`s happening now. If he can reach him, I don`t
know if he`s far enough down that he can grab his hand like, you know,
Frodo falling off the cliff.
ZWILLICH: But this is what happened -- you know, this is what
happened before, it`s happened a couple of times, and it`s happening again.
KORNACKI: Another piece of this, too, is simply -- if you look at the
Senate plan, let`s just say that`s what gets through Congress, the question
is -- or let`s say the Republicans kind of rally around that, what is the
incentive for the White House here, because again, it`s a longer term
extension of the debt ceiling.
It`s six months on the opening of the government, but that`s still not
too much, but we`re going to get a report from the White House actually
when we come back. We`re going to find out what the White House is
thinking about. This may be emerging, you know, a posture from
Republicans. That`s coming up right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Tying the extension of the
debt ceiling for only six weeks to budget negotiations creates a dynamic
that is very similar to the one we`re experiencing now and very similar to
the one that the country experienced back in 2011. And, it`s been the
president`s position and it`s one that he holds to this day, that that`s
not the appropriate way to go.
The president cannot, as he said, so many times pay ransom in exchange
for Congress doing its fundamental -- fulfilling its fundamental
responsibility, which is to ensure that the United States doesn`t default
and to pay its bills.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s White House press secretary, Jay Carney, yesterday
at the White House saying that there is still no deal. Joining us now from
the White House is NBC News correspondent, Kristen Welker. And Kristen, we
were just talking in the first segment here about the basic, you know,
contours of the Senate Republican plan that seems to be emerging.
A lot of questions about what final form it will take as well up in
the House. I`m just curious from the White House`s perspective what you`re
hearing in terms of this idea of re-opening the government for six months,
extending the debt ceiling to the end of next January, and having this sort
of budget negotiation process with Republicans.
And then also, nearly part of this would be getting rid of for two
years this medical device tax we`ll keep hearing about it. Those are being
the basic parameters we`re hearing. What are you hearing from the White
House about whether that would be OK with them?
KRISTEN WELKER, MSNBC NEWS, THE WHITE HOUSE: Well, Steve, first of
all, I think when that proposal was offered to President Obama during that
meeting that occurred here at the White House yesterday with Senate
Republicans, I am told that he looked at it and said, look, this is
So, that tells you something. In terms of whether or not the
president can actually get behind this type of a deal, I think that they
are encouraged by the fact that it`s six months. It`s not the six weeks
that the Republicans were offering.
That would have put the country right back in the same negotiations
that they`re in right now in the middle of the holiday season. So, I think
that is what you heard in those comments from White House press secretary,
Jay Carney, that the president found so disconcerting in the House
In terms of the medical device tax, I can tell you, Steve, I`ve been
talking about this as a possible concession now for weeks. And, based on
my conversations here, that seems to be the one thing that the White House
could potentially get behind.
That is the one thing that they are opened to looking at. Remember,
President Obama had said he`s just not going to negotiate. Well, that
stance seems to have shifted. The White House seems to have gotten to a
place where they know that they need to have some type of concession to
move these budget negotiations forward to reopen the government, to lift
the debt ceiling.
So, I think that medical device tax is certainly one to watch. And I
think they`re inching closer to a deal, but, clearly, still no deal at
this hour, Steve.
KORNACKI: Thanks. And just one quick follow-up question, in terms of
let`s say, again, something like this, let`s say this ends up being the
basic framework for how this gets resolved, then we would enter into this
budget negotiation process that would plan over the next few weeks, the
next few months.
I`m just thinking back over the last three years, Republicans running
the House, and you know, Democrats in the white house in the senate, these
budget negotiations have never gone anywhere, because there`ve been some
real fundamental issues that Republicans won`t budge on like revenue. Is
there any reason to think that going into this process again could possibly
yield a different result this time?
WELKER: Well, I had the same reaction that you had. I think all of
us here in Washington who`ve been covering these budget battles are sort of
scratching our heads and saying how will this outcome be any different?
One thing is some of the proposals that are on the table are things
that President Obama -- or potentially on the table, I should say, are
things that President Obama had said he could support before, entitlement
reforms, for example, changes to Medicare beneficiaries, folks who made a
little bit more money potentially having to pay a little bit more money.
That is something that President Obama has expressed a willingness to
consider in the past. So, it seems like some of the potential parameters
of these budget negotiations that are coming together would be around
things that have had some bipartisan support in the past. But again,
they`ve never really made it through that final hurdle of getting past both
chambers of Congress.
So, certainly, I think there is some skepticism about that. I just
want to say on one point, there is a growing course of voices among House
Republicans, I am told, who`ve been saying to House speaker, John Boehner,
we really need to reopen the government. Any deal has to both re-open the
government and lift the debt limit. So, there seems to be a growing
consensus around that idea as well -- Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. Thank you to NBC`s Kristen Welker. You can
tell we`re getting later in the year. It`s a little dark behind her still
KORNACKI: -- down at the White House.
BACON: It`s a metaphor.
KORNACKI: Let`s pick up that point about the medical device tax,
because it seems like such an almost trivial thing, but in the context of
the president`s position, the White House`s position as Kristen has been
saying is, look, these are fundamental issues. We should not ever be
negotiating over a debt default.
We should not ever be negotiating over the shutdown here. We want to
kind of reclaim this precedent. MJ, if they end up giving ground on the
medical device tax and giving in to Republicans on that, does that sort of
break up the precedent that the White House is trying to establish here or
is it trivial enough, is it small enough that the press is still
established or reestablished?
LEE: I think the president`s stand, even if they were to make some
concession on the medical device tax. And I think it was very interesting
tactic that the president took, you know, seemingly telling lawmakers this
week, you know what, that`s not actually a core component of Obamacare.
I think if he comes out front and says before anyone can, you know,
tell the story in a different way, if he`s the first one to say this is not
a major part of Obama care, I don`t consider it to be so important that
it`s a core part of the law, then I think, you know, if we reach a deal
that involves a two-year delay of the medical device tax, the narrative,
you know, doesn`t become, well, the president made a big concession.
It becomes he got what he wanted in terms of re-opening the
government, of raising the debt ceiling. And then, there is this other
thing that, you know, he didn`t consider that important anyway. And, you
know, that`s the way the deal gets made.
KORNACKI: Well, the other side of this, too, though is, you know, if
that`s not a big concession from the White House`s standpoint, for the Tea
Party standpoint, if all they get out of this is the repeal of medical
device tax or the two-year delay, they`re going to have a problem with
that. And we have an interesting new statement here from Heritage. I`ll
share that when we come back and we`ll talk about the implications for any
kind of vote in the House on this after this.
KORNACKI: So, this is one of the stumbling blocks that I see, at
least, in terms of we`re talking about how imminent a deal maybe supposedly
is, but you still have to get it through the House. Well, Republican
leaders may understand at this point that a radical overhaul of Obamacare
is probably not going to happen in these negotiations.
I`m not sure the Republican base has that idea at all. So, this Susan
Colins Senate Republican plan that we`ve been talking about, which really
would not touch Obamacare except for maybe this medical device tax thing,
so this is what Heritage, the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint`s group had
to say about this.
"Various press reports indicate that Congress is preparing to announce
a deal that would allow Obamacare to move forward virtually uninterrupted.
If that is what happens such as a grand bargain, maybe a political win
inside the beltway but a loss for the American people." What I`m reading
there, that`s a threat. That is a threat to John Boehner. That is a
threat to Republican members of the House, that`s a threat to Republican
That`s the threat that sort of been behind the lurch to the right of
Republican Party last few years that, hey, this is a core vote for us.
Don`t vote the wrong for this or, you know, you remember what happened to
Mike Castle with Christine O`Donnell? Remember what happened with Sharron
Angle out in Nevada? That`s going to happen to you if you`re on the wrong
side of this.
CARMON: Right. And I didn`t hear any sort of conciliatory deal at
the Values Voter Summit yesterday. I mean, what I heard was doubling down
on this strategy. So, I think that this is on a collision course. What`s
interesting is that part of the strategy for defunding Obamacare or
shutting down the government over defunding Obamacare was the fear of
conservative Senate Democrats or Senate Democrats in red states.
They don`t seem very afraid. Things seem to be moving in the opposite
direction based on the polling. So, I think that Heritage is going to find
itself sort of outnumbered on this front.
BACON: Which is on the policy, Heritage is right. The Medical Device
Tax is a tiny part of the law. Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken support of
getting rid of it, too. It`s not really -- they`re right, it`s not a
concession to the Republicans at all. The Republicans will be virtually
unnoticed by anybody who`s for the law. So, they`re right about that part.
I think we have gotten to a point here where a few House Republicans,
the ones Heritage is pushing the most, are probably going to oppose
whatever deal comes out. And it seems to me if it gets to the floor, a lot
of democrats will vote for this, Peter Kings and the sort of more
mainstream Republicans will as well.
So, I don`t think you eventually have to have many Tea Party
Republicans be for this. The people who drove the shutdown probably will
not vote for the final group anyway, and we can`t knew (ph) that going in
on some level.
ZWILLICH: And then, when that happens, and Perry is probably right,
you`re back exactly where everybody thought this would be when you started.
Maybe not the Medical Device Tax per se, but a situation in the House
where, look, the jig is up. This thing expires on Thursday. So, this is
not like three weeks ago when everybody was saying, hey, Speaker Boehner,
pass the clean increases and will he, won`t he?
And he`s not going to cross Ted Cruz and the Tea Party faction in the
House. No, no. Now, there`s a deadline, and he`s going to have to. And I
think one of the most interesting things about this and if you are a
Democrat, this might be heartening to you. Democrats aren`t used to
winning like this and being quite so smart. Steve, it was weeks ago, weeks
Let`s all remember, we haven`t even talked about spending in this
continuing resolution which is a spending bill. You`ve talked about before
on your show that Democrats have lost on this, the spending levels in this
deal, going into this, where the sequester levels, the Republicans levels,
You went to Democratic aids, even some senators on the Senate side and
said, you guys are really going to let the sequester be the new baseline?
You`re giving in? And they said, we`re not going to fight on this. We`re
fine, because these guys want to fight about Obamacare and we`re going to
watch it. We don`t want to have that argument because we`re going to let
them tear each other apart.
CARMON: But what after that? I mean -- so, let`s say, fine, they win
because they`re unified. They`re not going to talk about the sequestration
unified levels because it shows disunity within the Democratic Party,
especially with the president -- accepting it. But what happens then? How
do we get rid of those spending levels? How do you get back from that?
BACON: They think, they hope that if there ever is a budget
conference which was out of reach before it actually became maybe part of
this deal, the budget conference that Patty Murray and Paul Ryan have been
so at odds on for the last two -- you know, whatever it is, two or three
months, maybe longer, they think that in an actual budget negotiation, this
sequestration could be replaced because they`re may be buying on both sides
to do that. Don`t forget how badly the Republicans hate the defense
sequester. They want it gone.
KORNACKI: Well, we have -- this Congress is in session this weekend.
The House Republicans are meeting about a half an hour. We have a House
Democrat that`s going to join us in a minute. We`re going to find out if
he thinks -- he and his party are on the verge of actually winning this
shutdown. Winning and losing is not the right term here, but emerging with
something satisfactory for them. We`ll talk to him, Congressman Bill
Pascrell, after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BILL PASCRELL, D-NEW JERSEY: This did not just happen, Mr.
Speaker. It didn`t happen. It wasn`t an accident. It was planned. That
is the lowest thing you could ever read about a government. That doesn`t
even -- wasn`t even elected. Who the heck are these people to decide what
we`re going to do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was a very fiery Bill Pascrell. If you know him,
that`s what he is. He`s always very fiery. He`s a Democratic congressman
from New Jersey, Tuesday night. That was after a report in the "New York
Times" that detailed that the current government shutdown was actually
planned way back in February by a coalition of conservative activists led
by Reagan-era attorney general, Ed Meese.
And here now to talk about where we are in all this is Congressman
Bill Pascrell who joins us live this morning from Capitol Hill.
Congressman, thanks for taking a few minutes. I guess, I just want to
start by running by you.
We`ve been talking about it here on the show the basic parameters of a
deal that at least are being reported of a potential deal, you know, the
Senate Republicans kind of pushing this, maybe pushing this on the House
Republicans, and it would be reopening the government for six months,
funding it at the sequester level for that time, extending the debt ceiling
to the end of next January and then making another increase after that,
contingent on having some kind of long-term budget deal worked up between
the Senate and the House.
And the third piece of that being a two-year delay in this medical
device tax. If those are the basic parameters you`re presented with, are
you, as a member of Congress, OK with supporting that?
PASCRELL: As long as we open the government, as long as we agree to
pay what we owe, both sides have voted on these things. We need to pay our
bills, then we can negotiate. So, whether it`s the medical device thing,
which I`m not very happy about it about removing, because what are you
going to replace it with? But we are not going to essentially effect the
affordable Care Act. Thank God.
KORNACKI: Well, can you pick up that point for a minute? Because I
think maybe we should take a step back here on the medical device tax as
everybody has been hearing about this and I think everybody is sort of --
reaction is they`re trying to shrug on why is this thing such a big deal?
Why is this tax on medical device is such a big deal? Can you explain why
this has become such a central issue and what it represents?
PASCRELL: Well, we`re talking $40 billion over a period of time.
It`s one of the ways we`re paying for the Affordable Care Act. I think
that there`s been enough evidence over the last 15 years that parts of this
industry, I say parts of the industry, have actually been in collusion with
doctors, have many times been indicted, got away with it, by the way, by
paying a fine.
I`m not so sure that that`s not the way to go, but Steve, it`s nothing
to hang your hat on and say this is the essential point which I will not go
beyond. It`s a part of a package if it`s reasonable, I think Senator
Collins is heading in the right direction. It`s something that we can be
talking about as we are right now. As long as it`s reasonable, I think
Democrats will go for it.
One thing for sure, we`re standing our ground not because of a party
situation, but because of America. We are not going to back down from
people who threaten who we are. Whether the small group or a larger group.
We made our point. That`s it. The president supports us. We support the
president. And that`s what we should be doing right now. This is not the
time for party politics.
LEE: Congressman, it`s MJ Lee with "Politico." Good to see you.
PASCRELL: How are you doing?
LEE: Good. How are you?
PASCRELL: Pretty good.
LEE: You`ve obviously been very critical of your colleagues across
the aisle, including Congressman Scott Garrett from your state. I mean,
what is your sense right now in terms of Republicans and where they stand
on, you know, defunding Obamacare or weakening Obamacare?
I mean, do you think that most of them view it as a moral issue or do
you think that even the folks who, you know, in the beginning were
initially for defunding Obamacare, I mean, how much of a concern is it for
them, you know, just looking over their shoulder and, you know, being
afraid of having, you know, primary challenger who is considered more to
their right come after them next year?
PASCRELL: Well, I`m not questioning Scott Garrett`s motivations or
the clack that supports what he does. He`s been very, very clear, and I
think you would understand this, that he wants the essential changes. It`s
not a total dismantling, a delay in the Affordable Care Act. Scott, that`s
not going to happen.
So, I don`t know what you`re going to do when you get to the point of
whether you`re going to keep this government opened or try to get it back
open again and what you`re going to do when you have the debt of the United
States on your hands and whether we`re going to pay our debts and not
simply become afterthoughts. I don`t know what he`s going to do about
that. And we either have great motivations (ph). That`s fine.
And the American people are more important than the political party.
We`ll have to make a decision. We`re talking about ideologues. We`re
talking about people who can`t even communicate with their own party.
We`ve seen that. We didn`t make this up. We didn`t create this situation
over the last two weeks. Who would have thought two weeks ago that we`d be
talking about the dismantling of one of the great political parties?
And 20, 30, 40, 50 people are not going to do that to America. And
they`re not going to do it to the Republican Party. I can assure you that.
KORNACKI: All right. Congressman Bill Pascrell, it`s going to be a
busy day there in Washington. Thanks for taking --
PASCRELL: Very busy.
KORNACKI: We appreciate it.
A world famous "Up Against the Clock" podiums have achieved a new
level of fame or maybe infamy. Let me just explain. If you watched our
current events game show last week, you may have noticed that the podium is
looked a little different than usual. On the left side of your screen are
the podiums from two weeks ago. The right side are the ones we used last
Now, they told us they had to switch them out because they were
sending off the first set to New Jersey. We didn`t think anything of it
until we turned on our TVs on Wednesday night and we saw this. There they
are. Live, on stage, right smack in the middle of a heated Senate debate
between Cory Booker and Steve Lonegan.
Just co-hosted by eight local affiliate in MSNBC corporate relative,
WNBC. I`m telling you, those things will be in the Smithsonian someday.
KORNACKI: Unfortunately. they are still making their epic journey
back to our humble studio.
BACON: They`re in your apartment.
KORNACKI: You know what they say, though, not blizzards, not
hurricanes, not smallpox, nothing, will keep us from playing "Up Against
the Clock." And so, we will. That`s up next.
KORNACKI: In 1973, this (INAUDIBLE) Georgia governor appeared as a
contestant on the classic TV game show "What`s My Line?" If you don`t
remember it, the idea of "What`s My Line?" was that celebrity panelists
would try to figure out what each contestants job was by asking only yes or
no questions. And on that day in 1973, the celebrities did not know what
to make of Jimmy Carter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can tell you about Mr. X is that he provides
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it a service that has to do with the women?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it certainly does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this anything to do with the world of fashion?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. X has a very spiritual quest (ph). Does he
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And three years later, that nun recruiter was elected
president of the United States. We`re playing this clip now because in
just a minute, we`ll be taking a page from "What`s My Line?" and we`ll be
bringing out a celebrity contestant of our own, our very first celebrity
contestant in "Up Against the clock." We will unveil who he or she is, and
then we`ll let the game begin right after this.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center. It`s time for
"Up Against the clock."
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: Today`s contestants, originally from Pennsylvania, the
sweetest place on Earth, it`s Todd Zwillich. From Seoul, South Korea, say
hello to MJ Lee. And today`s celebrity contestant, you know him, a judge
born star (ph) from the hit cable TV series, "Mommy," and also MSNBC`s "The
Last Word with Lawrence O`Donnell, say hello to the pride of Dorchester,
Massachusetts, Lawrence O`Donnell.
And now, the host of "Up Against the Clock, "it`s Steve Kornacki.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KORNACKI: Thank you, Bill Wolf and thank you to our live studio
audience. Thank you to those of you joining us at home. Well, you can
forget that high noon is three hours from now, because the gunfight at this
OK corral is just about to begin. We are joined by two new contestants,
Todd and MJ. They have both passed our rigorous contestant screening
Congratulations and welcome to both of you. And for the first time,
we are joined by a celebrity contestant, Lawrence O`Donnell. We know you
from the Last Word, we know you from the west wing. We know you from monk.
It is an honor to have you with us here today.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC, "LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL":
There`s a problem, because I didn`t get the questions ahead of time.
KORNACKI: Oh-oh. Lawrence, this is the ultimate test of knowledge.
O`DONNELL: There`s supposed to be -- they told me --
KORNACKI: If you did your homework for your show this week, you`ll be
O`DONNELL: Tweet me the answers, OK, because I haven`t read the
KORNACKI: There`s no tweeting during the show. I know everyone is
anxious to get started.
O`DONNELL: Tweet me the answers, please, OK.
KORNACKI: But let me give you a quick refresher on the rules, because
Lawrence clearly needs one. He`s looking for help on Twitter. We should
have confiscated that Blackberry. This is a rapid fire quiz about the week
that was in politics. There are three rounds in regulation play. Each of
those round will be 100 seconds long.
In the first round, questions are worth 100 points, in the second,
they`re 200. That means they`re a little harder, and then the third round,
we call this the Ph.D. round that worth 300 points. We`re going to move
fast. We`re going to get through as many questions as we can. Don`t
forget, there are a few instant bonuses scattered throughout.
These are follow-up questions for a no risk chance for to you double
your winnings on one question. Contestants, remember, you`ll be penalized
for incorrect answers. And as always, I`ll remind our live audience here
in the studio --
O`DONNELL: That`s hard.
KORNACKI: Not as hard as it used to be. We eliminated the ringing in
early penalty, Lawrence. We knew you were coming. So, please, no
outbursts, though, from our live studio audience. Our contestants deserve
and they demand absolute concentration when they`re "Up Against the Clock."
And with that, I will ask you, contestants, are you ready to play?
ZWILLICH: Ready, Steve.
KORNACKI: Lawrence, all set?
O`DONNELL: Well, this is as ready as I`m going to get.
KORNACKI: That`s what we look for. Hands on buzzers, please. We`ll
put 100 seconds on the clock. The 100-point round begins with this. In
response to the federal government shutdown, a state of emergency was
declared by this notoriously blunt Republican Maine governor.
ZWILLICH: Angus King, Steve.
KORNACKI: Angus King is incorrect.
ZWILLICH: It is?
O`DONNELL: Oh, yes. He`s a senator now.
ZWILLICH: Used to be.
O`DONNELL: Maine governor, geez.
KORNACKI: Three seconds.
O`DONNELL: Let me see.
LEE: Oh, shoot.
KORNACKI: Time. Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Come on, Maine governor, Twitter. Maine governor.
KORNACKI: I`m going to give you the Twitter penalty. The correct
answer is Paula Paige as a governor of Maine.
O`DONNELL: I was just going to say that.
KORNACKI: Back with this. Jim DeMint, the former Republican senator
from South Carolina who wrote an open letter to President Obama this week
defending the government shutdown is now the president of what contributor
LEE: Heritage Foundation.
KORNACKI: Heritage Foundation is correct. Instant bonus. You got to
listen. It`s a chance to double your winnings. When DeMint left the
Senate in January, who was appointed to fill his seat?
LEE: Tim Scott.
KORNACKI: Tim Scott is correct. Double her points. MJ takes an
early lead. For 100 points, in what may be the single biggest penalty for
public corruption in U.S. history, which former big city --
LEE: Kwame Kilpatrick.
KORNACKI: Kwame Kilpatrick is correct. MJ surging an early -- lead.
O`DONNELL: Five minutes away.
KORNACKI: Inspired a unique sense of civic responsibility this week
as a civilian carrying a South Carolina state flag was spotted mowing the
lawn outside which D.C. --
ZWILLICH: The Lincoln Memorial.
KORNACKI: The Lincoln Memorial is correct. You got to get those
Twitter answers faster, Lawrence. A new poll finds Florida governor, Rick
Scott, losing by four points in a hypothetical 2014 matchup against what
party switching former governor?
O`DONNELL: Oh, Christie.
KORNACKI: You got to ring in, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: That guy whose name I`m forgetting now, Charlie Crist.
KORNACKI: Charlie Crist is correct. Lawrence is on the board.
KORNACKI: And that was the end of the round, by the way. He got --
O`DONNELL: We are told not to hit the button.
KORNACKI: End of the 1st round --
KORNACKI: MJ 200, Lawrence O`Donnell 100, Todd zero. We move ahead
to the second round.
ZWILLICH: I got one.
KORNACKI: But you lost one earlier with Angus King.
ZWILLICH: Oh, the minus. Right.
O`DONNELL: Don`t worry. Laziness is --
KORNACKI: We`re not going to make it -- MJ has 300, I`m told. 300
for MJ. 100 for Lawrence O`Donnell. We move on to the 200-point round
now. We`ll put 100 seconds on the clock. According to surveys, around
three out of four Americans agree with Antonin Scalia`s assertion in the
interview published this week that what exists?
ZWILLICH: Hell (ph), Steve.
O`DONNELL: Are you saying God doesn`t exist. Is that what he just
said, God doesn`t exist? Is that what you`re -
ZWILLICH: The seventh circle bell.
KORNACKI: We can`t accept that, I`m sorry.
LEE: What is more specific than hell?
O`DONNELL: I got more specific than hell.
KORNACKI: Time. What`s more specific than hell is the devil.
Specifically said the devil exists. A new poll shows the majority of
voters disapproving of this freshman Tea Party U.S. senator`s job
performance in his solidly Republican State.
O`DONNELL: Mike lee, Utah. I did -- the show, prep pays off. I told
you -- put that on the telephone a couple of --
KORNACKI: Forty years ago this past week, this man became the second
vice president in U.S. history to resign.
KORNACKI: Forty years ago this week --
ZWILLICH: Spiro T. Agnew, Steve.
KORNACKI: Spiro T. Agnew is correct.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KORNACKI: After debating his Democratic opponent on Tuesday, a poll
showed Chris Christie maintaining a lopsided lead and on course to become
the first Republican to be re-elected governor of New Jersey since whom?
O`DONNELL: Oh, a New Jersey question.
LEE: That is so hard.
O`DONNELL: That`s not fair.
KORNACKI: Two, one. Time. The correct answer is Christine Todd
Whitman 1993, 2001. 200 points, which 2012 presidential flameout remarked
this week, quote, "I`ve never done twerking in my life and --
LEE: Michelle Bachmann.
LEE: Michelle Bachmann.
KORNACKI: Michelle Bachmann is correct. 200-point question, who was
president of the United States when 82-year-old Florida Republican, Bill
Young, who announced he`s retiring from congress this week was first
elected to office 22 terms ago?
ZWILLICH: It`s math. It`s a math question. Dwight D. Eisenhower,
O`DONNELL: No, no.
KORNACKI: Three, two --
ZWILLICH: It`s arithmetic.
KORNACKI: Time. Richard Nixon is the correct answer. Richard Nixon.
And that moves us to the end of the second round of play. MJ with a
healthy lead 500 points, Lawrence O`Donnell 200 points, Todd, negative 200.
We move down to the 300-point round. This is going to settle -- this
is going to decide the winner. The game can change on one question here.
100 seconds on the clock. To decide the game, President Obama probably
wouldn`t be in the White House today if I had only run against him from the
Senate in Illinois in 2004 lamented what hall of fame NFL coach and
broadcaster this week.
ZWILLICH: Mike Ditka.
KORNACKI: Iron Mike Ditka is correct. Of the 16 cabinet level
agencies that have released employment data, this department which was
created as part of LBJ`s great society in 1965 furloughed the largest
percentage of its work force.
O`DONNELL: No, it isn`t this. I was going to say education.
O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s not that.
KORNACKI: Two, one, time. It`s HUD, Department of Housing and Urban
Development. 300 points, this high ranking Republican congressman from
Oklahoma who is also a member of the Chickasaw nation.
ZWILLICH: Congressman Tom Cole.
KORNACKI: Tom Cole is correct. He said Monday (ph) to the Washington
Redskins to change their name.
O`DONNELL: I think Todd is ahead of me now.
KORNACKI: Todd has moved in to the lead, ahead of MJ. When they lost
in four games, the Los Angeles Dodgers this week, it marked the eighth
consecutive time that the Atlanta Braves have made Major League Baseball`s
post-season without advancing, who was president of the United States the
last time they won a series?
O`DONNELL: Sports questions aren`t fair.
LEE: I know. This is unfair.
O`DONNELL: Come on. Adult questions only. Sports questions aren`t
KORNACKI: Time. The correct answer is George W. Bush in 2001.
O`DONNELL: Sports questions.
KORNACKI: -- raise when this daughter of a former Georgia Democratic
senator who seeking to win the seat her father once held next year
announced Tuesday that she`d raised $1.7 million over the last three
O`DONNELL: Go ahead. Show off your political intelligence.
ZWILLICH: Cleland, Steve.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Answer, time, and Todd, that would have won you
the game, instead you fall to 100 points, MJ with 500 points. You have won
the game. Lawrence O`Donnell finished with negative 200. Twitter did not
help him. MJ, congratulations. A dramatic and exciting victory. Bill
Wolf, let`s tell her what she`s won.
ANNOUNCER: As our champion, you`ll have your name printed in
exquisite sharpee on the coveted "Up Against the Clock" gold cup. And
you`ll get to take the trophy home with you and show it off to friends,
family, and local school children for exactly one week. You`ll also
receive an appearance this coming week on MSNBC`s "The Cycle" airing
weekdays, 3:00-4:00 p.m. eastern time.
And you`ll get to play in our jackpot bonus round for today`s grand
prize of $50 gift certificate to Little Pony, the most authentic eastern
European eating and drinking experience in New York City`s historic east
village. And while you`re there, get a tattoo or a piercing. Back to you,
KORNACKI: That is quite a prize package. But OK, MJ, you may have
some unfinished business here before you can collect all that, because I
have in my hand the instant bonus question that could win you $50 in
Pierogies or other Polish food. Are you ready for it?
LEE: I`m ready.
KORNACKI: This is make or break, MJ. For the bonus, we mentioned
earlier that Spiro Agnew was the second vice president in U.S. history to
resign from office. Who was the first? Take your time. You have five
LEE: I don`t know.
KORNACKI: We`ll need an answer. Do you have a guess?
KORNACKI: I`m sorry. We can`t accept that. The correct answer was
John C. Calhoun back in the 19th century.
O`DONNELL: You didn`t want the $50 worth of Polish food.
KORNACKI: Sorry, you didn`t win it, but you still get to keep your
prize package. So, congratulations on that. You are also in contention to
play in our upcoming tournament of champions. Let`s show you our current
leaderboard for that. These are the highest scores. The asterisks are
contestants who have won their game. That means they will get preferential
treatment from the tournament selection committee. And MJ, that means you
will, too. And Lawrence and Todd, you never know, you might still qualify
for the tournament of champions, too.
O`DONNELL: How --
KORNACKI: Though with negative 200 --
KORNACKI: I will say that`s unlikely. I should have tweet --
KORNACKI: But, Lawrence, Todd, you will not leave us empty-handed
today. You will both get the home edition of "Up Against the Clock."
That`s fun for the whole family. And by the way, that home edition is now
available on CD rom. Just one more way you can bring all the excitement of
"Up Against the Clock" into your living room.
So, thanks to everyone at home for playing along today. We`ll be
right back here next week for another battle for the ages on "Up Against
To our regularly scheduled programming after this, the House
Republican conference in a few minutes. We`ll have an update. We`ll talk
to our panel. We`ll tell you if there`s a way out of this mess. That`s
all coming up next.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: This is what it looked like when the
country went to the polls to elect the president 25 years ago. It was the
Bush-Dukakis race of 1988, and this is the county by county map. If you
remember the Bush-Dukakis race, you remember that it wasn`t that close. It
was a landslide. George W. Bush carried 40 states, won by eight points in
the national popular vote. The big broadcast networks went on the air on
election night, the count was 81-0 for Bush. It was a route. It was the
kind of route we haven`t seen in a presidential election since then.
So, when you look at that county by county map for 1988, it`s no
surprise it`s an ocean of red. Of more than 3,000 counties in America,
Mike Dukakis won 819 of them.
So, let`s compare that to last year. Barack Obama wins a second term
by 5 million votes, he nabs 332 electoral votes. It`s not necessarily a
landslide, but it`s a really solid victory. For Democrats, it is light
years better than 1988.
Now, here`s what that county by county map looks like for last year`s
election. It actually looks like there is less blue on the 2012 map.
Let`s put them side-by-side for a minute. 1988 and 2012, yes, you can see
it there, there is more blue for 1988, the election Democrats got crushed
in than for 2012, the ones they won handily, the numbers bear it out.
In 2012, Barack Obama carried 690 counties, 129 fewer counties than
Dukakis won in 1988. Why are we showing you all this? I mean, besides the
fact that it`s just an amazing stuff. We are showing you this because it
illustrates what Democrats are really up against in 2014, when they try to
win back control of the House.
The popular explanation for why Republicans have such an advantage
when it comes to House elections, why they were able to hang onto the
majority, even though Democrats won more votes than they did is
gerrymandering, a preponderance of Republican-friendly districts deviously
crafted by Republican state legislatures. And, yes, it`s true,
gerrymandering is part of the reason Republicans control the House now.
Why they`re in a position to shut down the government and threaten a
default, why they are insulated from paying a price at the polls in 2013?
But the bigger reason is that map, that county by county map. It
shows us how geographically exact the coalition has become. There are now
enough votes to elect and reelect a Democratic president. They are
overwhelmingly concentrated in metropolitan areas. They are absent
That`s the real story of the GOP`s advantage at the House level.
Look at that map, cut it up into 435 districts. It would take a lot of
work to make sure Republicans don`t have an advantage. Population
distribution is not a glamorous term. It`s a big reason why the GOP is
heavily favored to hang on to the House next year no matter how the
shutdown plays out.
History is on the GOP side. Since the Civil War, the best the White
House party has ever done in mid-term election is a gain of nine house
seats, that`s half of the 17 Democrats need to win it back next year. And
yet, for all of this, it was hard to ignore another stat that made the news
this week. Twenty-eight percent, that`s how many voters say they have a
favorable view of the Republican Party from a Gallup poll on Wednesday,
that number, 28 percent is 15 points below the favorable score of the
Democratic Party, ten points below where the GOP was last month before the
government shut down.
It is, in fact the lowest score ever reported by either party by
Gallup. The only time they have been in the neighborhood of 28 percent is
at the end of 1998 when the GOP defied public opinion to impeach President
Bill Clinton. In 1998, not coincidentally was one of those rare midterm
elections when the White House`s party, Bill Clinton`s Democrats actually
It was a shocking result. Republicans were so shaken up, they gave
Newt Gingrich the boot the next day. So, I`ll be the first to point out
all the very real structurally and historical factors that made the idea of
Democrats gaining House seats seemed far fetched.
But when I look at that Gallup poll, when I look at the NBC poll that
I pointed out earlier in the show, it also makes me stop and think, are we
maybe getting into unchartered territory here? Is there a point at which
the GOP could actually damage itself so badly that it could pay a real
political price in 2014? Is this, where we are right, is this what that
point looks like?
Still with us to talk about this is MSNBC contributor Perry Bacon,
Jr. of thegrio.com, MSNBC.com`s Irin Carmon, MJ Lee from politico.com, and
Todd Zwillich of the Public Radio International`s "Takeaway".
So, yes, you know, I basically said my piece there on this a week
ago, but I -- you know, a week ago, I was saying look, even if this
backfires against the Republicans, even if the shutdown backfires against
them and they`re losing the PR game, they`re still really protected in
But I don`t know, I don`t think anybody, and Republicans, certainly
included, it`s one of the reasons why we`re talking about a potential deal
we expect the numbers would fall this low for them.
PERRY BACON, JR., MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: They now have a year to
recover. But, you know, in politics, poll numbers create reaction. We`re
definitely seeing that here. These numbers where so bad, the Republicans
have completely adjusted their strategy to deal with them. They understand
that Senate Republicans have taken the lead.
Mitch McConnell wrote an op-ed (INAUDIBLE), he was very conciliatory.
We need to work together. We need to like build bridges and get things
done. That was not happening a few months ago and those poll numbers are
showing you something. And the Republicans are reacting.
The only thing I would say is if it`s 28 percent on Election Day in
November, I think you are right, this is a way kind of election. I do
think the Republicans will adjust and be less divisive. And maybe that
will change their numbers, get their numbers up some because in politics,
you tend not to -- if you are 28 percent, you can only go up, really. So
they`re going to try to figure out a way to go up.
MJ LEE, POLITICO.COM: Well, you look at a state like Arkansas, Pryor
did not have a lot going for him in terms of ways to go after Tom Cotton,
now the shutdown is what going into almost the third week. You know, we
saw his recent ad saying, you know, where was Tom Cotton when the
government allowed the shutdown to happen? I wasn`t even there to take the
I mean, clearly, this is giving some of the more vulnerable Democrats
going to 2014 ammunition that they didn`t have before. He doesn`t just
have to be on the defensive anymore about Obamacare and other issues. He
has things, like he can try to use to attack his opponent.
KORNACKI: You know, here`s another example of this, we got a pretty
dramatic illustration of the potential for Democrats. In some states at
least this week, in Virginia, a couple polls out this week, here`s one from
Quinnipiac, there`s a governor`s race there this year. Terry, McAuliffe,
the Democrat now, eight points ahead in Quinnipiac of Ted Cuccinelli, the
Republican, 47 to 39 percent.
Attitudes of Virginians, same poll here, attitudes of Virginians, on
the shut down, shutting down government as a way of stopping health care
reform, 71 percent say they`re against it, 24 percent say they support it.
You know, I don`t think there are a lot of states like this, Todd,
that like swing states anymore. Back in the `90s, there were a ton of
swing states. There`s very few now. But here`s swing state with a lot of
federal workers by the way, it seems to be turning against the Republicans.
TODD ZWILLICH, TAKEAWAY: Yes, the shutdown question is skewed in
Virginia, because northern Virginia has so many federal workers that tide
water region is all military and veterans, active duty, and veterans and
reservists. So, in terms of a shutdown question, Virginia is unlike other
states. There is so much government there.
But the other factor, in 2014, you mentioned population distribution,
gerrymandering, the tightness of counties, and all that stuff. But the
other things that Democrats should be remembering is who comes out in a
mid-term? Midterm is a base election. That`s part of conventional wisdom,
and there is nothing that`s good about a 28 percent approval rating for
Republicans, surely. But if it were 2016 and they were looking at that, it
would be an absolute disaster, and it may spell disaster for 2016 if they
can`t get it together on immigration, the shutdown will be sort of
forgotten by then I guess.
But they`re insulated by the fact that the Ted Cruzes of the world
and Michele Bachmann, if you will, even though she`s not running. They
love this stuff. It gets them out to the polls. They want to fight Obama.
And, traditionally, those are the ones that come out in mid-terms.
Not the, you know, people who just have, who are politically active,
pay a great deal of attention. That`s important.
KORNACKI: We have been talking about it this morning, the meeting of
the House Republicans, House Republicans had a meeting. It is getting
under way as we speak. We are lucky to be joined by one of the people
who`s going to be in that meeting. He took a few minutes to join us right
Leonard Lance, Republican from New Jersey, who joins us from the
Capitol right now.
Congressman, thank you so much for taking a few minutes for show.
I guess I should start by -- you know, we have been discussing on
this show the basic parameters that are maybe being reported as potentially
being a part of the deal here, which would be sort of crafted by the Senate
Republicans, which would be six-month reopening of the government funding
for six months,. the debt ceiling through the end of next January with a
sort of budget negotiation process between the House and Senate playing
out, and the two-year delay of this medical device tax. That`s what the
Senate Republicans seem to be pushing, seems to be some resistance on the
Where do you come down on this? Is this what you would like to see
be the outcome of what`s happening this weekend?
REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: I would support that outcome.
And there are those of us in the House who are working on t medical device
tax issue on part of a group, bipartisan in nature that`s working on that.
And I certainly would support that proposal from the Senate if that comes
to us here in the House.
KORNACKI: Let me back up for a minute and ask you -- you know, I
have been asking this to a bunch of Republicans, actually. But why did --
why did we get the shutdown in the first place? If we take a step back, if
it ends up being the two-year delay of the medical device act, it seems
like an awfully small thing to shut the government down over.
Why did Republicans say, we`re OK with a shutdown? What is that
really all about?
LANCE: I think that we need stronger leadership. And, for example,
I think the president should have come to the negotiating table earlier.
I`m pleased that he is at the negotiating table.
Regarding the Republicans, I would have preferred to have vote on an
initial C.R. in July to get that process moving more quickly than it has
moved. And I hope the shutdown can conclude as quickly as possible and
certainly, Steve, I do not want to default on any financial obligation of
the United States.
KORNACKI: Just one question, too, we have been talking so much about
the impact of the Tea Party on the Republican Party. We were just talking
before we brought you in about some of the polling this week about the
damage that`s been done at least right now for the Republican Party in
terms of its standing. But when you look at the push on the right to
defund Obamacare, to get rid of Obamacare, to use the threat of a shutdown,
to use the threat of a default as a means of trying to undermine Obamacare,
can you talk a little bit about the pressure you feel and that your
Republican colleagues feel from your base on that issue? Because that
seems to be what`s really been driving this.
LANCE: I certainly this that Obamacare is not the way to proceed,
but it is the law of the land. So, at the very least, I think it should be
modified. And the medical device tax repeal is something in which I have
been working, not only do I support it, I have worked on that, that`s very
important to New Jersey, the state I represent and the district I
represent. And regarding default on our financial obligations, I have
stated explicitly and repeatedly as has Speaker Boehner that under no
circumstances should the United States default on its obligations.
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC.COM: Representative, this is Irin Carmon from
You described yourself as a mainstream Republican. What does that
mean and are you doing anything to stand up to the more extreme elements in
LANCE: Let me say I try to be a colleague to everybody in our
caucus, regarding my positions of public policy. As a mainstream
Republican, I certainly believe under no circumstances should this
government ever default on its obligations and regarding the shutdown, I
want it to be concluded as quickly as possible. My views are well known in
the caucus. I met with a group of House members. I think there were six
of us last week with Speaker Boehner and I certainly made my views known.
ZWILLICH: Congressman, Todd Zwillich from the Takeaway Public Radio
Insofar as this isn`t about Obamacare anymore and it might be about
entitlements. If there is going to be a budget negotiation, which so many
people say they have wanted for so long. And it comes down once again to
cuts to Social Security and Medicare for Republicans in exchange to some
revenue for Democrats and the president, are you willing to gather together
your mainstream Republicans and put pressure on Speaker Boehner to go for
the revenue side of the deal, which hasn`t materialized for these so many
years, and try to get that through finally?
LANCE: I would respectfully disagree with that. Revenue has
increased this year based upon the compromise that was reached at the
beginning of the year. I voted for that compromise.
ZWILLICH: But they want to vote for it again, of course.
LANCE: It extended if Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of tax filers.
And I think that the best indication of where we might be on this comes
from Paul Ryan`s excellent op-ed piece in the "Wall Street Journal" several
mornings ago, and I think that he is really taken the lead in that regard.
I don`t know whether there can be entitlement reform in the course of
this weekend. Certainly, I want to pursue that moving forward.
Regarding the compromise that will be reached, I hope as quickly as
possible this weekend, I would imagine the medical device tax repeal or
perhaps not letting it come into existence for two years or something like
that, it`s probably the way we are going to be proceeding.
KORNACKI: Congressman, before you go, I want to ask you one more
sort of philosophical question about this idea of using, the basic idea of
using the threat of a default as a political tool, as a tool to extra
concessions from the other side. President right now is saying this is a
bottom line why, he wants to establish or reestablish the principle, the
opposition doesn`t do that. I imagine a future Republican president would
feel the exact same way.
Do you think the House Republican if and when we emerge from this,
that norm will sort of have been altered, and that we will not have
another, the debt ceiling be used like this again in the future?
LANCE: As I understand American history. I try to be an American
student of history, Steve, there have been discussions reducing the debt
ceiling in the past back to the time of Dwight D. Eisenhower. I have voted
to raise the ceiling, not a particularly popular position, obviously. I`ve
explained to my constituents why it`s important not to default on our
And I would point out when President Obama was in the United States
Senate in 2006 as I recall, he did not vote to raise the debt ceiling. I
have tried to be responsible on this issue.
Let me repeat, Steve, under no circumstances do I ever want to
default on any obligations, not only the payment of interest on treasury
bills, but to our contractors, to those within whom the federal government
engages in contracts. We should pay all our bills.
KORNACKI: Congressman, I don`t mean to belabor to point and I
appreciate the time. But I hear this example of Barack Obama from 2006,
brought up all the time. I`m not going to say this was a profile in
courage for Barack Obama at all to cast that vote as a Senator in 2006. I
don`t think he should have cast that vote.
But the difference was, it really was, in effect, a symbolic vote.
There was no threat attached to it, there was no concerted movement by
Democrats, by the opposition party in 2006 to say, we are going to actually
use our power to allow a default if we don`t get x. It was really just a
symbolic protest. It was a campaign too that they were looking for.
We seem to have moved into a different territory here. Doesn`t that
alarm you a threat attached this time?
LANCE: As I recall in 2006 the vote was quite close perhaps 52-48.
I don`t know exactly --
KORNACKI: It was a party line vote, though, Republicans controlled
the Senate. Again, I`m not defending it. They were very political, what
the Democrats did, but they did not attach a real threat to it.
LANCE: I want to move forward making sure we do not default on our
obligations and I hope now that if president is at the negotiating table,
government will reopen as quickly as possible and we should move forward,
making sure that we can fund programs in a responsible way that will meet
budgetary reform and also making sure we pay our bills on time.
KORNACKI: All right. Congressman Leonard Lance, I remember you. I
covered you when you were the Republican Senate leader in New Jersey. I
really appreciate the time this morning. Thanks for the update.
LANCE: Thank you for having me on your program, Steve.
KORNACKI: OK. And we will pick it right back up with the panel
right after this.
KORNACKI: So, you know, we are talking about the potential deal, you
know, the theme of the show. We w find out a lot more when the House
Republicans meet. They`re meeting right now. And the House will be in
But it strikes me that it`s even the basic tension we are talking
about playing out here, this whole idea of using the shutdown and using the
threat of a default to make a real dent in Obamacare. It is not going to
I wonder after going through all this, watching the party`s name
really get dragged through the mud. Ted Cruz, who sort of the guy that led
them into this, right into this, if he`s standing in the party could be
diminished at all because, you know, you took a huge price. You don`t have
much to show for it in the end.
This is Charles Krauthammer, you know, influential comment. He was
on Laura Ingraham`s radio show, influential conservative radio show. This
was him talking about Ted Cruz just yesterday.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: How exactly was he
going to achieve abolition of Obamacare? Explain that to me. Has he ever
explained it? And where is he now?
His sidekick, Senator Lee said, oh, we`re past Obamacare. We`ve
moved on. I mean, you know, these are the generals who lead people into
the Battle of Little Bighorn and then go home and have lunch and leave the
troops out there? Where are they? Where are the generals? What is their
strategy for the abolition of Obamacare?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Thursday, I heard it yesterday. So, I said it
happened yesterday, but it happened on Thursday. But are we watching sort
the -- I know a lot of conservatives like Krauthammer have been privately,
quietly, without their names attached it to saying nasty things about Ted
Cruz. They really don`t like him, but they haven`t felt safe to come out
and say it.
Are we seeing a turning point where there is a marginalization of Ted
Cruz on the right?
LEE: Well, I think the concerns of what folks like Ted Cruz is doing
to the party and the party`s image, those concerns have always been there,
but it`s obviously a tricky position for Ted Cruz`s colleagues to come out
and say we think he is doing is not good.
I mean, you look at someone like Marco Rubio who, you know, clearly
eyeing 2016, he can`t really come out and be seen as someone who is not an
ally of Ted Cruz, especially after all of the immigration debates. He, you
know, obviously suffered with the Tea Party grass roots movement. I think
that, you know, it`s been interesting to see how he has clearly been
positioning himself for 2016, you know, coming out strong, sort of trying
to rebuild his image as a true conservative when all the Ted Cruz standoff
and the filibuster was happening on Obamacare.
I think that was very interesting to see for 2016.
ZWILLICH: Wasn`t Marco Rubio fascinating to this long run-up to this
imbroglio? I remember we all do after immigration, Marco Rubio being early
allies on the Senate floor, a vote for a C.R. that funds Obamacare is a
vote for Obamacare. He was on board. Have you seen him since?
CARMON: Yes, where has he been?
ZWILLICH: Where has he been?
Which is an abject lesson in exactly what MJ is talking about. It
was important for a presidential hopeful like Marco Rubio to be on the side
of the right and on the side of right going into a potential Republican
primary. He said the right things, got out on the Senate floor as an ally
of what Ted Cruz was doing. I haven`t seen him since.
BACON: Sorry. Go ahead.
CARMON: I was going to say, I don`t think Ted Cruz has made it clear
from the start he doesn`t care what Republican establishment columnists
like Charles Krauthammer think. He doesn`t care what Senate leadership
thinks. Yesterday, he explicitly said, we`re going to go over the head of
I mean, he believes as long as the grassroots is behind him, if
problem is, if no one told the grassroots they can`t get everything they
want, those leaders came out and said, we`re going to repeal Obamacare.
We`re going to use the debt limit. By the way, they`re debt limit
truthers, they`re going to say that`s not a real default.
They`re telling their grassroots that they`re in a fantasy land,
where they can get everything they want. As long as those folks don`t care
about a long-term strategy as long as they keep hearing what they want and
in the crisis kind of obscures that nothing is actually changing.
KORNACKI: That is exactly what we see happen today, this weekend in
the next few days, because there seems to be an emerging I guess like a
consensus among Republicans, at least in Washington, that hey, we`re not at
this whole Obamacare thing, this is where we kind of give it up. That`s
what the script says.
I don`t think the grassroots knows that at all. I don`t think they
have any inkling of that.
CARMON: Right. And as long as they support Ted Cruz, why does he
have to change his strategy?
BACON: Yes, I think he`s marginalized among the establishment
Republicans, it will be hard for Ted Cruz to be the Republican nominee in
2016. If he wants to have a career, he`s the leader in the Senate, wants
to have a FOX News show, I think he is doing fine. I don`t think he`s
marginalizing himself with the base that he cares.
I think you`re right, Steve, where this deal goes ultimately, I`m not
sure conservatives in the country have accepted the NBC News/"Wall Street
Journal" poll will be powerful to us. I`m not sure how powerful it is to
Tea Party leaders in Texas or Kentucky or so on, we should watch them
before this deal goes --
KORNACKI: Places where the favorable score a lot higher in.
ZWILLICH: Jim is doing great. Ruffled feathers in not quite as
badly as this, in a lot of the same way that Ted Cruz is doing, left the
Senate, everybody said, oh, Jim DeMint is kneecapping himself with
How much power did Jim DeMint has now?
KORNACKI: His power was always more outside the Senate than inside
There are, believe it or not, there are two big elections coming up
in the next few days. We`ve got to get them in. We`re going to mention
them and talk about them, more than mention them. We`re going to talk
KORNACKI: The eyes of the political world are on Washington today.
But do you know where Sarah Palin is right now? I give you a hint. She is
in New Jersey. She`s campaigning for Steve Lonegan. He`s the Republican
who`s running against Cory Booker for the Senate.
What kind of Republican candidate is running in a deeply blue state
would want to have Sarah Palin by his side? Well, this kind of candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Knowing that I have
a Passaic River running through my city, in multiple towns in New Jersey,
seeing the kind of pollution and contaminants that wouldn`t allow people to
go in there and swim and ruin industries, like clamming and others, trust
me, we need to make sure there`s protections.
STEVE LONEGAN (R-NJ), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, you may not be
able to swim in that river, but it`s probably I think it`s the bodies
floating around from shooting victims in your city.
BOOKER: Oh my God! Oh my God.
LONEGAN: The fact is -- yes, oh my God, oh my God!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Oh my God. That was Wednesday night. The final debate
between Booker and Lonegan four days from now, one of them we`ll be joining
the Senate. We`ll preview that election and we`ll look at another special
election coming up next week, the most memorable political ad of the year.
We will find out if it actually worked. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: You know, not everything in politics right now is about to
shut down. There are disastrous things outside of Washington, too. Only
90 hours from now, yes, on a Wednesday polls open in New Jersey, in a
special elections to replace Frank Lautenberg in the U.S. Senate.
New York Mayor Cory Booker is widely expected to win this one. And
now, Republican long shot Steve Lonegan has just fired his top adviser,
Rick Shaftan, who gave an obscenity-laden interview in which he speculated
on Booker`s sexual orientation among other things. That interview went up
This week, Booker and Lonegan also squared off in a very contentious
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: Look at what he has coming in, he talks about Hollywood
folks. Look who he has, he has three Tea Party people coming in, Sarah
Palin endorsing him. Three people, Rand Paul endorsing him. And who`s
that third person, oh, yes, Rick Perry endorsing him.
LONEGAN: All that income tax and sales tax money gets thwarted to
big black hole of Newark. The biggest portion of our income tax dollars
goes to Newark, New Jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Some of the language of Steve Lonegan.
Against the backdrop of the shutdown is the Values Voter Summit.
It`s a gathering of social conservative leaders and activists meeting this
weekend in D.C. The speakers include Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio --
those are the usual suspects when it comes to the 2016 Republican race,
except for one very conspicuously missing name, that`s Chris Christie.
He`s been accused by some on the right of being too cozy with President
Obama. His non-invite was not an oversight. Values Voter organizer Tony
Perkins said, quote, "We only invited conservatives we work with."
So, we got two interesting New Jersey rooted stories here. One about
the special election coming up. The other about Chris Christie, who`s
gotten election in a month, who`s clearly I think positioning himself for
I guess, let`s start with the Booker-Lonegan thing. I would guess
that Cory Booker would still going to be safe. He`s still going to win
this thing by 10, 15 points. We had this interview his consultant gave
last night. If you have seen any of this, it was unbelievable was put on
the record here. Maybe he didn`t know he was going on the record. No
excuse for saying it.
But, MJ, how does Cory Booker look coming out of this race? Assuming
he goes to the Senate, has he been tarnished anyway? People look at him
differently? Are we still looking sort of the rising star here on the
LEE: I think if Cory Booker wants to get to the Senate and then have
a long career, and be, you know, considered a serious legislator, he has to
sort of take his hand off Twitter for a little bit, you know, not be as
focused on doing the TV hits.
You know, a lot of senators that get to the senate after having a bit
of a following and being, you know, very popular in terms of doing a lot of
media, Elizabeth Warren is a great example. She got to the Senate and kept
her head down. Her aides will say, her strategy is very clear. She wants
to focus solely on the issues that matter to her.
And I think with someone like Cory Booker, it will be interesting to
see, you know, will he carve out areas that he really want to focus on and
sort of build his brand as a legislator or will he sort of continue being
the person he has been up to this point? You know, shoveling people`s
driveways, being involved with the constituents. It`s not the same thing
when you get to the Senate.
ZWILLICH: The Hillary Clinton model reaching the Senate, one of the
most famous politicians in America and the world. Does anybody remember
about her stint to the Senate?
BACON: Other than voting for the Iraq war.
ZWILLICH: Great point, actually. That was the vote. Hillary
Clinton`s tenure in the Senate was marked by her keeping her head down.
She had huge star power, enormous star power. She was a celebrity,
first lady, all of these things, running for president, and she was rank
and file when she was in the Senate.
KORNACKI: See, what I wonder about Booker, I don`t know if he`s
going to be able to say no to all the -- you know, the "Meet the Press"
invitations that are going to come in, all the Sunday shows that are going
to come in, the UP invitations are going to come in. He can say no to
this. He said to this I think. But I don`t know if he can say no to the
others, because that sort of a big part of his brand, is through the media.
BACON: I do think one of the things is he won the special election
right now. He has to run again next year in 2014. I think I know before I
talked to his aides, he planned in some ways to campaign next year
campaigning for other Democrats, the way Obama did in 2006. The way
Hillary was in the Senate.
I`m not sure can you do that anymore. It looks like he is not as
popular as I would have anticipated. And therefore he probably needs to
watch his back in the state and make sure there is not a lot of great
Republicans in New Jersey to run. I knew he had to be careful how does he
manage his, doesn`t go watching the world. Not as Twitter, in terms of
making sure he is focused on what New Jerseyans care about because he`s
going to be up next year.
KORNACKI: That`s right. He`s going to be in 2014.
What about Chris Christie, Irin, though? He is coming out. He had
to worry about New Jersey. He is probably a month away from winning the
reelection, maybe looking for the national stage. When you look at
something like this, with the value voter this week, he snubbed, that will
play well in New Jersey. There is no question, that will help his image in
New Jersey, but he has immediately been thinking about trying to be the
Republican nominee for president, where do you think he stands with that?
CARMON: But I think we are talking about tactical and stylistic
difference not ideological difference. Chris Christie is a social
conservative. He posed with President Obama after hurricane Sandy. He did
not radically change or depart from what the value voters guys believe.
KORNACKI: What is it? Look at the poll voters.
CARMON: He`s pro-life. He opposes gay marriage.
KORNACKI: That`s right. She a pro-life, one in New Jersey, he is
now fighting the gay marriage in the Supreme Court in New Jersey. What is
it that drives social conservatives nationally? Why would the values
voters people look at him and say, he can win in the blue state, he has
issue positions, why would they go out of tear way to snub him then?
CARMON: Because they hate President Obama. I think that really that
simple. I think the idea of them palling around after Sandy is just too
heinous to them.
KORNACKI: It is. Well, sort of Obama-phobia, that`s been a big part
of our politics. From New Jersey, we just want to get this one, I want to
make sure that we travel north to Massachusetts, where voting will happen
on Tuesday, not Wednesday, which means four days from now, we should know
the most clever political ad in a long time has actually worked. It is the
primary in a special election to replace Ed Markey in the House. Seven
Democrats are running.
At the start of the race, most people would have agreed that State
Representative Carl Sciortino was running somewhere around last place.
That was before Sciortino hit political gold with this ad, you probably
remember it, in which he did a special kind of coming out to Tea Party
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: I`m Carl Sciortino and I`ll never forget that
conversation with my dad.
CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: That`s me.
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.
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It was a great ad. It got a ton of viral attention and a
ton of interviews. We had him on the show. That was a few weeks ago and
sort of the media environment we live in. It`s almost forgotten now. I
think nationally, this is probably a trip down memory lane for people.
But this is the ultimate test I think of how an ad like this, how
effective a television ad like this can still be, because I think Carl
Sciortino was probably around 4 percent, 5 percent in the polls, in this
district when this ad went up, you look at all the attention he got from
it, all the money he probably raise from it. I think we`re going to find
out next Tuesday in this crowded primary field, you know, this kind of
thing -- can this win an election for you?
BACON: It will not win the election for him based on the polling.
There is a great, ads do help. I wonder every year, why are ads so boring?
You know any ad Barack Obama had last year, I can barely remember.
There was one about Mitt Romney singing. It was quite clever.
KORNACKI: I remember that.
BACON: Beyond that, ads in politics, as people increasingly get
media in a viral way. They don`t watch television as much. Having a good
ad strategy is something all candidates will think about. And I wonder
when we get out of this (INAUDIBLE), I`m Steve Kornacki, I believe in
universal health care and so on.
The ads are so far behind where you know businesses are, where our
society is moving to.
KORNACKI: Yes, I this I the big winner here, no matter what happens
with Carl Sciortino is whoever did that ad. There are other more
established candidates. There was another candidate, Katherine Clark, that
was endorsed by the "Boston Globe".
But he is young, he puts in his name out there, he has a future ahead
of him if he wants to be involved either in LBGT issues or in national
leadership on another scale.
So, yes, we now are talking about him. We`ve shown the ads several
times on our air. So, he`s already won in that respect.
LEE: This is not a race where different candidates have different
ideological stances, it`s all about identity. So, if this ad helped in
anyway to sort of help voters like him better, that I think it`s certainly
that an ad that was helpful for him.
KORNACKI: Yes, it`s not like one of those general ads when you`re
coming up against, you know, partisanship, people filtering it that way.
So, yes, I`d be really interested. If he gets, you know, 15 or 20 percent,
he could be in mix. It`s a five-way race, 25 percent could win this, maybe
It was supposed to be the biggest achievement of 2013 for President
Obama, and it has nothing to do with the shutdown. But it`s going nowhere
right now because of the shutdown. We`ll tell you what it is and we will
talk to one of the Democrats who`s trying to change that. That`s right
KORNACKI: Think back to the start of this year. There wasn`t a lot
of optimism the big legislation would make it through Congress and into
law, except when it came to immigration. This was supposed to be one issue
where all those tired cliches about the parties putting aside their
differences and working together would actually come true.
The one issue where Republicans actually saw a compromise is being in
their self interest. After all, Barack Obama had just won 71 percent of
the Latino vote in the Republican National Committee so-called post-
election autopsy concluded that, quote, "we must embrace and champion
comprehensive immigration reform."
There was some early momentum, too -- a comprehensive reform bill
passed in July with a real bipartisan majority. Even Bill O`Reilly was on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: The Republican Party has a lot to lose
here. If it doesn`t compromise, many Hispanic voters will reject the GOP
entirely, pretty much dooming the party in the future. That`s reality. It
is time for USA to pass immigration reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And then came summer recess, the government grinds to a
halt, defund Obama crusade by Republicans, the debt ceiling debate, the
shutdown, everything else, including immigration has vanished from the
radar. There used to be a gang of eight in the House. There was a
bipartisan group that was supposed to come up with its own immigration plan
to then merge with Senate`s. But now, with a gang of five, all of the
Republicans except for one had abandoned it.
That`s why immigration reform advocates staged a rally on the
National Mall this week, to remind the political world that this major
issue everyone said would be resolved this year is just as unresolved as
ever, 100 peaceful protesters were arrested for blocking the road in front
of the Capitol building, and that group included eight members of Congress,
and one of the arrested me, the person who rollingstone.com dubbed
"Congress` Rebel With a Cause" is Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez.
And Congressman Gutierrez joins us now live from Washington, D.C.
Congressman, I know it`s a busy day. I appreciate you taking a few
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: It`s great to be with you.
KORNACKI: We set it up there where the momentum for immigration
reform that really seemed to be there 11 months ago right after the
election. It seemed to be there the start of the year, seems to have
stalled out when you have Republicans in the House who seemed just scared
to even touch this thing, leaving the gang of five.
KORNACKI: What is the strategy? What is your strategy right now to
get this back on track, to get momentum, to get a Republican House to pass
real immigration reform in the next few months, a year, whatever it is?
GUTIERREZ: Good question, Steve. So, last Saturday, over 160 events
across the nation. You saw what happened on the mall this Tuesday.
Look, I remember when I was at the White House stopping deportations
alone. I invited other members. They didn`t want to come. They didn`t
think it was an issue that they want.
Now, we had eight. We were there with John Lewis.
Look, we`re not going away. The movement is stronger, more
determined than ever. So you can`t -- all of those blocks that were put
together to pass in the Senate the bills are still there and increasing in
terms of their power and the broadness of the movement and the structure.
So, look, it`s really dark, right? Syria came. Then the debt
ceiling and the budget came, and the C.R. came.
But this cloud will dissipate. The sun will come back. What is it?
The Republican colleagues of mine will have to see? Is they`re going to
have to deal with.
Look, the first week of November, I can only imagine the kinds of
activities that are going to take place across this nation. The immigrant
community isn`t giving up. Let me give you a couple of really positive
things so that we see where the momentum is going to take us.
Number one, 2007, 2008, `09, `10, Democrats held a majority of 240 to
250 in the House of Representatives. Never, not once, did the Democratic
leadership ever engage in getting a bill passed. They are energetic about
getting the bill passed now.
They used to tell me, Steve, why don`t you go get 45, 50 Republicans
and I used to get four or five. Now, we`re getting 40, 50. And so, what
we have found is even right-wing magazines, ideologically right wing, are
talking about there are 80 to 90.
It`s there. It`s a question of harvesting it, and the only way we`re
going to harvest it is the math.
KORNACKI: That math, I`m interested to hear who those 80 or 90 are,
because that math doesn`t seem to mesh with the trajectory of this thing,
which is that in the Senate, what was it, 15 Republicans in the Senate --
it wasn`t a majority of the Republicans, but it was a big number in today`s
day and age.
But it goes to the House and what we`ve seen is the opposite. We
have gang of eight in the House, which has now become a gang of five
because Republicans are running away with it. And it really feels like the
story of the year in the House, and this relates to the shutdown, too, is
Republicans from districts that are really -- they don`t look like the rest
All these demographic changes we`re talking about nationally are not
playing out in these Republican house districts, so where is the momentum
to get those Republicans onboard for something like this?
GUTIERREZ: Sure. The momentum is in the street. The momentum was
shown last Tuesday. It`s a momentum that isn`t going to dissipate.
I think the country should know and understand that every day 1,100
people are deported. We`re going to soon mark the point of 2 million
deportations since Barack Obama assumed the presidency of the United
This is not an issue that can be waited for. This isn`t something
that, oh, well no damage is done. We`ll just wait a few more months.
No, the damage is consistent, persistent in our community, and our
immigrant community. And nobody is going to -- so look, the Republican --
there are many. One day maybe we`ll see.
I know right today, there are 40 to 50 Republicans that are ready to
vote for comprehensive immigration reform. What we have to do is get
Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on that. And how do we get that? I think
by making sure that we marshal our forces and make sure that the Republican
Party understands that you just can`t walk away from this one, that there
are going to be, that there is a demographic tsunami that you`re going to
have to deal with that is angry, but it`s anxious, for an answer on
immigration reform. And you`re going to have to give them one, or suffer
really dire consequences.
Look, if the Republican Party wants to be a party of localities, of
provinces of a few states, fine, don`t do comprehensive immigration reform,
because you will never be able to do it again. Two thousand Latinos turn
18 every day in America, and that`s 2,000 more voters. We know millions, 2
million more vote between each election cycle for president. It`s going to
KORNACKI: OK. Very confident words there.
We thank you, Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Illinois. Thanks for
GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Steve.
KORNACKI: And we`ll be right back with some closing thoughts.
KORNACKI: It`s a very busy day in Washington, a lot happening. That
House Republican meeting is still going on. Democrats held a press
conference. It`s an unfolding story. So, please stick with MSNBC for all
the twists and turns today.
But in the meantime, my thanks to Perry Bacon, Jr., Irin Carmon, MJ
Lee and Todd Zwillich. Thanks for getting UP.
And thank you for joining us today for UP. Join us tomorrow when I
will talk with Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, former "New York Times"
columnist Bob Herbert.
Up next on "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY", the trouble with zombies is that
there are always more zombies. Honestly, that`s all they gave me for this
tease. You`ll have to stick around and find out what that`s about. The
zombie show today on "MELISSA HARRI-PERRY."
We`re going to see you right here tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. Thank you
for getting UP.
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