'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
October 16, 2013
Guest: Howard Dean, Chris Shays, Mark Patterson; Maggie Haberman>
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: This is our continuing live coverage
of the vote in the House of Representatives at this very minute. The vote
that will end the government shut down. That will indeed raise the debt
That vote comes on a day when the Speaker of the House John Boehner
was in effect forced to declare his official surrender.
The Republicans in the House of Representatives who are trying to
force President Obama into compromises did not get their way. Speaker
Boehner had to lead those Republicans to this vote that`s taking place
Joining me now: Howard Dean, former FNC chairman. Sam Stein,
"Huffington Post" political reporter, and we will soon, I believe, have
Luke Russert, but we don`t have him yet.
Sam Stein, this came at a -- at the end of a day that now seems
inevitable. There was no one -- absolutely no one saw a way for
Republicans to win in this fight when they started it.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes, I mean -- what`s remarkable is that
after two weeks, 2 1/2 weeks time, we are ending up where we thought we
would be. We wasted $24 billion in economic activity along the way. A lot
of people have to suffer.
We are ending up where the debate would end up. We`re going to be
funding the government for a short period of time. We will be lifting the
debt limit for a little bit longer, with extraordinary measures. And we`re
going to have to replay this whole thing in a little bit.
But, you know, House Republicans could have seen this one coming.
They should have seen this one coming. They didn`t do anything about it.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, this comes after an overwhelmingly positive
vote in the Senate, 81 senators voting in favor, casting the reasonable
vote in favor, 18 casting the unreasonable vote against it, all of the no
votes coming from Republicans.
But I just want to read you -- some of the things, some of the threats
that were issued to Republican senators and Democratic senators today by
these conservative lobbying groups. One of them, the Club for Growth put
out a key vote alert urging all House and Senate members to vote no on the
Reid/McConnell plan. Heritage Action put out an alert saying they oppose
this plan. FreedomWorks put on alert to all the senators and congressmen
saying they oppose the plan.
And these lobbying groups said they were going to use this in their
scorecards of in effect who is a real conservative here.
And, Howard Dean, 26 Republican senators defied those threats.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: Yes, I don`t think there is anything
you can`t call these people conservative. They`re just right-wing,
destructive, groups that don`t have America`s interests at heart.
For anybody to argue that you should let the United States refuse to
pay its debts is just irresponsible and silly.
So I think those organizations take a big hit. I think the Club for
Growth, unmasked. Not the Club for Growth at all. It`s just a group
that`s been captured by the Koch brothers. Jim DeMint is evidently running
the show at Heritage.
These people are off the charts. This is nothing conservative about
refusing to pay you bills. Actually, conservatives pay their bills. So, I
-- you know, this is a huge loss for the Republicans. It is a huge loss
for the right-wing.
I think, people have finally stood up to them, including the
Republican Party. That`s what was necessary.
O`DONNELL: We do have Luke Russert now wired up and ready to go from
Luke, what`s the word -- was the House of Representatives surprised by
the 26 Republican senators who defied the right-wing lobbying groups and
voted for this plan?
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: No. I think it was expected. They thought
it was going to get a comfortable margin out of t United States Senate.
That is something that helps out the House GOP cause that gives them some
cover, especially the senator from a given state votes for something. Some
times allows the House members of the same state to coalesce around that.
You often see that with South Carolina, Lawrence.
What will be interesting to see on the vote coming up in the House,
the numbers, during the fiscal cliff deal, which similar to this, a deal
that was not well liked by the conservatives in the House GOP conference.
They were able to get about 75-plus, really led by Tom Cole of Oklahoma,
one of Speaker Boehner`s close friends, more moderate guy. So, I`d like to
call these groups of Republicans, the Cole caucus.
So, we will see where the number is, anywhere between 50, 75. If it`s
more than 75, then it shows a lot of folks who are, really, happy to start
getting the government off the ground, working again for the American
Interestingly enough though, we were told that John Boehner, the
speaker, who would vote for this. As you know, Lawrence. He doesn`t have
to. The speaker often times does not vote. He wants to show his
conference that he`s supportive of this measure. It is expected he will
publicly support it tonight.
Interesting to see what Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy do. Some
times, even the leadership splits on votes this big.
O`DONNELL: As you can see on the clock, bottom of the screen, six
minutes, 15 seconds in the vote.
Luke, 216 is the winning number for tonight isn`t it?
RUSSERT: Yes, 216 is the winning number. Two Democrats are not here
for the vote. So, that`s why the number is there.
That`s the magic number between 216 and 218. That`s the magic number
to the House GOP conference. They can`t reach by themselves. Hence, they
will use a lot of the House Democratic votes to get there tonight.
And it`s a number that if you talked, to the leadership that kind of
haunted them over the last year or so. And it, really is one that, they
hope how to be able to get to next year. So they will have a chance of
legislating anything and having some leverage in the United States Senate,
O`DONNELL: Speaker Boehner said earlier, "The House has fought with
everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage
in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country`s debt and
providing fairness for the American people under Obamacare. That fight
will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by
members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us."
Sam stein, that`s a version of that he could have given a couple of
STEIN: He could have said that three weeks ago, obviously. I think
he wanted to three weeks age he was pressured into doing this.
You know, it`s remarkable to me, the lack of long term strategic
thinking on the part of House Republican leadership. They could have
entered this with very limited demand on Obamacare, maybe the medical
device tax repeal or delay. They might have been able to pluck that off.
Also, they could declare victory on some of the things. Spending
levels will be at their desired level. They will keep sequestration in
effect. They could theoretically turn and say, we have won. We won the
big spending battle.
But they don`t do that. I`m curious as to why they don`t step back,
take a breath, and look at the long term strategic implications for their
party before they jump into these battles.
O`DONNELL: I just wanted to check the number. I think I said 26
Republican senators voted for the bill. It was actually 27, just to keep
all the scorecards clear here.
Howard Dean, there are right-wingers who are very disappointed in
this. Erick Erickson, who is a right-wing dreamer and editor of Red State,
has written, "This fight exposed conservative activists to the frauds they
have funded. Men like Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Eric Cantor, Kevin
McCarthy and others have preached a great sermon against Obamacare. But
now, conservatives who supported them see what these men have refused to
actually practice. They have refused to actually practice what they have
O`DONNELL: It`s amazing, Howard Dean, that this -- this attack is
still going on. Calling people like Eric Cantor, frauds and not
DEAN: Look, let me just -- go back to something that Luke just said.
I actually think that, that Boehner couldn`t have done this three weeks ago
or two weeks ago. Boehner has a problem in his caucus. These are
incredibly unreasonable people.
When you are willing as conservatives are -- they`re not, again,
they`re not conservatives. These far right-wingers, whether they`re
sitting in the House or writing about it, to destroy the credit rating of
the United States and put the economy of the United States at risk for your
cause. You are not serving the American people.
Boehner, I think, he hoped to be able to, to keep his caucus together.
He tried for two weeks. He couldn`t do it. I give Boehner credit for
doing the right thing, standing up and taking a tough hit.
This is something that has to be done. I think Obama was right not to
negotiate over something like the debt ceiling. I think the House is about
to do the right thing.
I give John Boehner some credit. I don`t, fault -- I mean, I fault
Boehner for letting this go this far. But I don`t blame him for trying to
keep his caucus together.
It just couldn`t be done in the face of recalcitrant stubbornness,
which put their party and their cause before the country.
STEIN: Well, what about -- I disagree with that. I mean, isn`t the
job of leadership to tell their party and guide them and tell them
limitations of certain strategic ambition? Isn`t the job of leadership to
say, listen, we won`t be able to defund Obamacare through this and makes no
sense to do it?
I`m just confuse as to why Boehner was at the whims of the party
opposed to leading it.
RUSSERT: If I speak to Boehner leadership style.
DEAN: These are, these are -- we haven`t seen people in the House
since the know-nothings in 1840. Boehner was dealt a really bad hand with
these guys. They`re not interested in anything except their own ideology.
And they`re willing to put that in front of the country. That`s exactly
what they have done.
So, I don`t -- look, it would have been much better for the
Republicans if this never happened, much better for the country if we
hadn`t had this ridiculous fight. But Boehner did what he had to do, is to
stand up to the right-wing.
O`DONNELL: We`ve got a minute and a half left in the vote. And it`s
running, very, very close at this point.
Luke Russert, on John Boehner`s leadership style --
O`DONNELL: -- I mean, that`s what`s at issue here. When does the
speaker stand up and say this is what we must do? When does the speaker
have to, basically let the members discover what their own limitations are?
RUSSERT: Yes, to sort of answer Sam`s question there, is John
Boehner`s whole leadership style since he took the gavel has been to follow
where the members want to go and let the hot air out of the place, to use
his own language and that he believes sort of lets everybody bark, scream,
yell. But at the end of the day, they come back home and they do what is
the smart thing.
And in this case, John Boehner did not want this fight. He did not
want to shutdown the government by any means over the health care law.
Personally, I spoke to a lot of GOP leadership aide over the summer when
this idea was first born. And they all said it was one of the dumbest
things they ever heard. A la what Richard Byrd, John Boehner`s close
friend, the senator from North Carolina said.
However, this group of conservatives brought them on this path. A lot
of what you saw, John Boehner do over the last few weeks was number one: he
now is beloved by all of the conservative members, more so than he ever
was. So, he strengthens his leadership.
And number two he sort of let them see the err of their ways.
O`DONNELL: We hit 216. With 18 second left in the vote.
RUSSERT: There you have it.
O`DONNELL: Popped up to 218, 9 second left in the vote. Still 114
not voting. So, sitting on the sidelines.
RUSSERT: Economic catastrophe avoided.
O`DONNELL: Clock ticks down.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, the leadership style of Speaker Boehner will
continually be debated. The one thing that I have never heard is the name
of the person who could reasonably be expected to replace him.
DEAN: Right. That`s a huge problem that they have. It is -- you
know, the rest of -- Boehner`s term is going to be a really rough one. He
doesn`t really have, he can`t keep the party together.
He does have a majority. So he can stop things. But he can`t get
much past -- unless it is really unreasonable.
And I -- you know, what`s at stake here for these members that voted
for this tonight is their re-election. The Republican, as you know, the
Republican brand has gone completely. The worst numbers I have ever seen.
The worst numbers that anybody polled for a party who`s controlling the
And they, you know, they keep doing this kind of stuff, were going to
take the House back, against all of the odds. And they know that, they
know that. And Boehner`s got to now pull in, some how, rein in these 30 to
80, whatever they are, lunatics.
O`DONNELL: You know, Matt Drudge of all people predicted to night
that, the Democrats will win the House back. And he did it in a tweet,
saying, Speaker Pelosi part 2, opening January 5, 2015.
Luke Russert, there`s been zero time on the clock for a while, still
62 not voting. Can you explain to America how you get to continue to vote
in the House of Representatives when the clock shows zero?
RUSSERT: So, in the House, leadership, or the chair can keep the vote
open on the House floor as long as they want. This is most famously seen
Medicare Part D, when the House GOP House leadership didn`t have the votes
to pass the bill, kept the floor open many hours, until 4:00 in the
morning, in the night, to finally were able to convince enough Republicans
to pass it.
So, what you are seeing right now is a lot of members who leadership
said, you know what we would really like you to vote for this, but if it
gets to 21 and it`s already there. You may not have to support it. A lot
of folks stood back and saw where their colleagues went and are now making
that final decision.
What I`ll be interested to see right here is if there`s any Democratic
no votes on this. Sometimes, we`ve seen that during this process play out
with this sort of piecemeal votes. The Republicans move forward, they
attracted Democrats support from the last of the remaining blue dogs, seven
of them on Capitol Hill, still left after 2010.
So, what you are seeing the vote held open and members can vote. See
who the leadership tapped and who is getting a free pass on this. If they
need for it a tough primary or a tough re-election in 2014, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: We`ve got 75 Republican yeas. We have no Democratic nays.
And only 10 Democrats have not yet voted. And we have got -- a total --
our total is 265 to 125 at this point.
RUSSERT: I should add right there that Nancy Pelosi once again
delivers the vote she promised. She said she was going to get 190. She
got 190. She`s undefeated in terms of getting the votes she promises since
her speakership in 2007.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean first. And then Sam Stein.
DEAN: Pelosi deserves a lot of credit for this. This is not an easy
vote for Democrats. Democrats who have voted for this have to support the
sequester, which they hate. So, not only does Pelosi get a lot of credit,
I did give Boehner some credit for eventually doing the right thing for the
A lot of those Democrats have put their own concerns aside and the
concerns of their constituents who are suffering under the sequester and
voted this, because they knew it was the right thing to do for the country.
You know we talked about the Republicans here. The Democrats deserve
a lot of credit for voting this. They`d put their party, their party
second and the country first.
It`s a tough vote and unpleasant vote for anybody who`s progressive
O`DONNELL: That was a good point.
Sam Stein, go ahead.
STEIN: Just to add on that. I think talk to a bunch of congressional
aides in the House who said that a key part of the strategy for Democrats
rested upon Pelosi`s shoulders essentially and she was saying to her
caucus, don`t vote for any of this, hold the line. And by doing that, she
prevented John Boehner from getting any real leverage over the White House
by showing measures that had broad bipartisan support. So, Boehner was
stuck without any Democrats. He got a few here and there. It didn`t work,
by and large.
And let me just say, I want to congratulate Congress for boldly
agreeing to fund the government and prevent a worldwide catastrophe
happening. They really came through. Congratulations, guys.
O`DONNELL: Necessary note, Sam Stein.
I`m joined here in New York by Richard Wolffe, MSNBC`s Richard Wolffe,
and former Republican congressman from Connecticut, Chris Shays.
And, Chris Shays, you were considered at various times what people
used to call a liberal Republican, moderate Republican, and I`ve been
thinking about you all day, because there are so few Republicans left down
there who approach these kinds of issues for the way you have.
What has this been like for you to watch this?
CHRIS SHAYS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: You know, it`s sad. There
are reasons. You need veterans there.
I mean, Henry Hyde is a conservative, but Henry Hyde would have sat
down and said, "Guys, it`s not going to turn out the way you think." And I
can tell you y. He could give them experiences.
O`DONNELL: And Henry Hyde knew what the debt ceiling actually was,
SHAYS: That`s true. But you know what? I`m not going to diss the 30
or so, what Howard calls crazies.
O`DONNELL: No, that`s why we are here. Go ahead.
SHAYS: In their heart of hearts they believe, they believe that that
the country is doomed if we don`t deal with every year spending more than
we have. increasing the national debt. When does it stop?
And, you know, you can say, well, they voted for these budgets. They
voted for one third of the budget. They didn`t vote for the entitlements,
which are almost 2/3. And the entitlements happen on automatic pilot.
Something has to happen. To me, the real test is how magnanimous is
this president going to be in willing to negotiate. He won big.
No surprise. He won big. And Henry Hyde could have told him that,
and Newt Gingrich could have told them that.
O`DONNELL: Can you referee a discussion we are having about John
Boehner`s leadership style? Do you believe it was possible for John
Boehner three weeks ago, to do what he did today?
SHAYS: You can`t tell them. They had to experience it. And they
experienced it. And he now has a lot more power, because he was willing to
take a lot of grief and people accuse him of not being a great leader.
You know, this is a guy put together with Ted Kennedy a significant
bill on education. He is a moderate Republican. Excuse me, he is, I`m a
moderate Republican. He is a conservative Midwestern Democrat. And he is
not a social Democrat.
He is a good leader. And he is dealing with the hand that was dealt
O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, they still have not closed the vote. It`s
hard to read. Trying to read the number, 143 is the nays. And, what is it
-- 285. And, still for -- just haven`t quite made up their minds.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: Yes. Look. The obvious thing here is --
I, I beg to differ about the great leadership of John Boehner. For a start
he doesn`t have the majority of his own caucus with him. And you could
say, well he has found a path great for the country.
Yes, he took the country to the brink, took us to the point where
Fitch says we are on unhealthy state for our debt, which is, let`s face it.
If it was a Democrat doing this, we would be hearing Republicans say how he
-- he had weakened the country, and weakened the country standing in the
If this was President Obama`s leadership, they would say, he is
leading from behind. That`s not leadership. It is weakness that we are
seeing. And yet --
O`DONNELL: Let`s go to the vote right now. They`re going to announce
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.
Pursuant to Clause 8 of Rule 20, the unfinished business is the question on
agreeing to the speaker`s approval of the journal, which the chair will put
de novo. The question is on agreeing to the speaker`s approval of the
journal, those in favor say aye. Those opposed no.
In the opinion of the chair, The ayes have it. And the journal stands
O`DONNELL: So, the business is done. And -- Chris Shays, where does
your party go from here in the House of Representatives? What will be the
lessons John Boehner tells these people in the next meeting they should
have just learned.
SHAYS: I hope there is lessons for the president as well. This is
not a president who reached out to any legislators like Lyndon Johnson, he
doesn`t enjoy it. That`s one of the jobs of the president.
I mean, John doesn`t have to tell them anything. They experienced it.
And he was willing to go well beyond where he wanted to go.
But he would not have been able to do what people thought, like what
you want. And so -- I think he goes in to next year having a stronger hand
to be able to deal with the president. I think the caucus has got to give
him, the authority to negotiate. I think they will be more inclined to.
O`DONNELL: We have in Washington joining us, is it Gene Robinson?
Gene Robinson is joining us now.
We`re going without commercial break. So, I`m not sure who is where?
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s me, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Gene, these votes in the Senate and the House are, it
seems to me, impressive on the Republican side. It turns out very large
numbers of Republican whose were ready to vote for this.
ROBINSON: As was written all along. There were a lot of Republicans
in both chambers who realize this was a ridiculous fight, realize they were
harming not just the country but the party, harming their own chances of
taking the Senate, or eve holding the House, and, who wanted to get it
behind, never wanted to do this fight.
But they were all held hostage by -- and sorry, Chris Shays, call them
the crazy, they`re crazy. I mean, you know? And -- why did they have to
be shown demonstrated the stove is hot and if you put your hand on it you
If enough people tell you that, you can feel the heat coming off of
it, do you have to put your hand on it anyhow? I mean, I don`t think -- I
don`t see this as a profile in courage on their part --
SHAYS: I think some of them are hurt in the election. They knew
they`d be hurt in the election. And they really, really believed. It was
such a sense of honor for the folks.
And if we keep calling them crazies, if you`re not going to at least
try to understand them, then you`re not going to be able to negotiate with
O`DONNELL: What is the term of art for some one who says -- I think
it would be a good idea for us not to raise the debt ceiling and have the
country go into default? A
SHAYS: I think they`re wrong.
O`DONNELL: That`s what -- Ted Yoho said that. Republican
SHAYS: I think he is wrong.
O`DONNELL: A lot of people think that`s crazy.
SHAYS: Yes, but I am not going to label what he did, to the other 30.
O`DONNELL: See, that`s the Connecticut gentleman in you. You`re so
O`DONNELL: Luke Russert, what is the sense there in the House of
Representatives from your reporting about what John Boehner`s standing is
tonight in his caucus?
RUSSERT: Oh, he is much more beloved amongst his more conservative
members than he was three weeks ago. As I was saying earlier, this has
emboldened him. He is in no way at risk of a coup. He is in no way at
risk of, members fleeing and complaining about him.
If anything, what they said to him a day in that conference meeting
was, you know, thank you for keeping up the fight. Way to go. We hung
tough. We hang together.
The government was shut down. The economy lost about $4.8 billion.
We came to the brink of economic catastrophe.
But John Boehner was able to solidify his control -- his limited
control, rather, over the House GOP conference.
This is his leadership in the sense, and it worked.
I would also, though, Congressman Shays said I would agree with. Had
he tried to do the profile in courage moment, and fund the government right
away and put the C.R. on the floor, and extend the debt limit cleanly, he
would have faced an insurrection.
And while that would have worked in the near term and it would have
been beneficial overall, this still does allow Boehner that chance to pull
the rabbit out of the hat one more time.
And I`ve covered him very closely. I have a personal relationship
with him. I feel like I know the guy to some degree. I think deep down in
his heart of hearts, he wants to get the grand bargain debt deal and go out
with that. He wants some sort of history of his speakership.
Right now, if you right the history of John Boehner, he can`t deliver
this conference. He is overtaken by these conservative groups. He`s
appearing weak. He wants to be able to have the library someday where it
goes, Speaker of the House John Boehner got entitlements under control, got
debt and deficits under control and was able to cut a deal with, President
He wants that. Whether he does it, by the end of 2014, if he wants to
stay around for 2016, I think by letting that hot air come out like it did
over the last three weeks. It gives him the opportunity to pull that card
where he is really going to need 25 or 30 Republican votes.
O`DONNELL: Richard, let me go to Richard.
SHAYS: -- he knows John Boehner.
O`DONNELL: Was that you, Howard Dean?
O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, go ahead.
STEIN: Let me say, this internal Republican caucus melodrama and
questions of John Boehner`s leadership, they don`t exist in a vacuum. I
understand that he needed to solidify his control over the House and,
playing this out was a way to do it.
But in the process, many thousand of lives were disrupted. Many
people were hurt in their personal lives and professional lives. We talked
to a number of scientists for instance whose research may have been
irrevocably damaged because they couldn`t operate in government run
facilities they use.
And so, these are not things, power struggles, political manipulation
how to control your caucus. There are costs to decisions. S&P put a cost
on it, $24 billion in lost economic activity. Was that worth playing this,
so you could solidify control of the caucus? Those are tough decisions --
O`DONNELL: Let me go to Gene Robinson on this.
Gene, what do you think the country`s verdict is going to be on the
$24 billion cost of the lesson that John Boehner had to teach young
ROBINSON: Well, the country`s verdict is clear. Every poll we have
seen -- shows that -- you know, this was -- this was not a popular move.
This was seen as a terrible idea by people. And the Republican Party`s
number, you know, are in the tubes. And -- you know, so we know what the
Here`s my political question about Boehner, though -- if he`s going to
go down in history as the guy who made the deal with President Obama, got
the long-range deficit under control and, is, is acknowledged as such. Is
that deal going to involve compromise? That deal is going to involve doing
things that are anathema to the 20, 30, crazies, non-crazies whatever, but
to the people who believe that this was a noble fight and they had to do
They`re not going to want new revenue in that deal. They`re not going
to want the things that John Boehner is going to have to agree to any more
than they wanted them in 2011, when they came close to making a deal.
So, you know, did he really ensure that he can get some of those votes
by hanging tough with the conservatives this time? Maybe he did. I don`t
SHAYS: He`s missing the point.
O`DONNELL: I`m just going to Richard Wolf on this.
Richard, Gene makes a very important point there, which is the White
House has been trying to teach the lesson that no means no in many
different ways, including -- no means no when they say, we will not do any
such deal without increased tax revenue. We will not do it.
How does this exercise work as a way of teaching the Republicans there
that no means no from the White House?
WOLFFE: Well, it succeeded in this round. But the congressman made
an important point. The caucus, the Republican caucus needs to empower the
speaker to have a negotiation so that they can have a negotiation. Come up
with a deal. Go back and get something through.
We are not talking about a caucus that is ready to do that, talking
about a speaker who is really in the position to get anything done.
Politics here isn`t the art of the possible. Politics has become the art
of the quotable, and this is not a speaker who is in control of the House.
This is a speaker who is an effective opposition leader, an effective
minority leader. He is trying to pull things together. And get the new
That is not what a speaker -- an effective speaker needs to do. So,
he is not in a position to negotiate. That`s not going to change any time
So, with respect, he may have survived this. That doesn`t make him a
speaker. He is the leader of a fractious opposition body. That`s it.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to break it there.
Howard Dean, Sam Stein, Luke Russert, Richard Wolffe, Eugene Robinson,
and former Congressman Chris Shays -- thank you all very much for joining
me during this breaking news event. Thank you.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up: what to expect in a few months when we go
through all of this again? Ezra Klein and Mark Patterson will be here.
O`DONNELL: And so, disaster has been averted, thanks to a vote in the
United States Senate and the House of Representatives for a bill to reopen
government and raise the debt ceiling, 81 yes votes in the United States
Senate, 18 no votes and 27 Republican senators voted yes. All of the no
votes were Republican senators.
In the House of Representatives, 285 voted yes, 144 voted no, 87
Republicans voted yes in the House of Representatives and no Democrats
voted against the bill in the House of Representatives.
Joining me now MSNBC policy analyst Ezra Klein, "Washington Post" --
also "the Washington Post" blog and Mark Patterson who is the former
treasury department chief of staff. He is now a senior fellow at the
center for American Progress.
Mark, you worked on a lot of bills, speeding through at the last
minute especially when you are working in the majority leader`s office.
Can you tell me what the heck is in this thing?
MARK PATTERSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, TREASURY DEPARTMENT: Well,
they do reopen the government, Lawrence. They do extend the debt ceiling.
Interestingly, the way they didn`t it in the bill was to suspend the debt
ceiling. They didn`t actually include the somewhat eye popping number that
is our national debt in the bill because people don`t like to vote for
that. And there is this matter of the income verification provision which
is really -- it`s really more a matter of clarification of something that
is already in, the Affordable Care Act. So it -- I would call to a clean
bill, if you want, you can say it had a fly speck o it.
O`DONNELL: And the -- that thing you mentioned about suspending,
that`s what allows them to give us a date certain on when this will come up
again, right? Because if they had given, if they had just raised the debt
ceiling to a certain number, we`re not sure exactly wt date that would hit.
PATTERSON: Yes, that`s right. Although, at the end of the day.
After some back and forth, they did allow the use of so-called extra
ordinary measure. So, the date again will be extendible by the treasury
using the standard accounting method that they have used before to avoid
default when Congress does not act in time.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, what should be expects in the next round of
EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, I`m looking
forward to a bicameral budget committee, our eighth in a couple of years.
Look, I actually think that this shutdown, though a horrible thing, there
was no reason to do. I mean, one thing about vote that you just mentioned.
John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, could have not in, 100 and it was 80-some
Democrats, 190-some Democrats, I`m sorry, to vote for this deal on
September 30th, and then we wouldn`t have needed to shut the government
down. It wouldn`t have needed to rattle the markets. It wouldn`t have
needed to send hundreds of thousands of people home from work.
But, the shutdown from the Republican Party, I think, was a healthy
thing because the they felt the pain of it. They saw their poll numbers go
lower than they had gone before. They completely caved. The Boehner rule
is dead. The House rule is completely suspended. They actually did the
entire fold here. So, I do think that when this next deadline runs out,
well, it is possible we may not see a deal from the budget committee.
Well, it is possible that we will just do more short term extensions and
things like that. I think the likelihood of the Republican Party will
think it can do a shutdown or do another debt ceiling is substantially
reduced from where it was a couple of months ago. I think there is a
lesson that has been learned by many in the GOP here. And I think that`s
O`DONNELL: Mark Patterson, I read earlier in the show, a series of
threats that were issued today by right-wing lobbying groups saying we are
going to score this vote, you must vote against this if you are going to be
a real conservative, 114 Republicans defied that, 27 Republicans in the
Senate, 87 Republicans in the House of Representatives.
In this current climate with those threats coming from those lobbying
groups. Were you surprised at what the, the yes vote turned out to be on
the Republican side.
PATTERSON: I was a little surprised. Bu although, I think given what
transpired in the last few days. Obviously, people just wanted to put some
distance between themselves and the very negative reviews that this, really
ridiculous strategy has brought on the Republican Party.
So, I think it, it makes sense, that people would do that. It is a
little bit surprising the numbers. But I am frankly, I`m glad. However, I
am concerned that the lesson may not be learned. As you said, no means no.
That lesson may not be learned because the Democrats sought to have a
deadline extension that was much longer and the Republicans said no. Why?
Because for whatever reason, they still have it in the back of their mind
that they want to have this fight over again.
I agree with Ezra, though, I think when it come to February. It is
going to be very hard for them to run this play again. I think the public
and everybody else will say you have got to be kidding me.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, the potential, Republican presidential
candidates in the Senate all lined up no votes. Ted Cruz, obviously.
Marco Rubio voted no. Someone who likes to be taken, I think more
seriously than Ted Cruz is. And Rand Paul also voted no. So, it looks
like their call on how to play the Republican presidential primaries in
this sort of thing is to vote no.
KLEIN: And not only that. In the House, Paul Ryan voted no. Paul
Ryan was the one who surprised people the most because he has generally
been a close ally of Boehner on the votes. He has been playing, a recently
valuable role in the House Republican conference. He has been pushing
toward the sort of more negotiated settlements. He has been pushing to get
folks off Obamacare on to some kind of to budget negotiation.
This was in a lot of ways a culmination of the Paul Ryan strategy and
he voted no against it. And this thing that he voted no against is going
to create a budget committee that he is probably going to be one of co-
chairs of along with Patty Murray in the Senate.
So as you say, there is clearly a lock step belief among the top
Republicans that it is smarter for them to vote no for this if they want to
run for president in 2016. But it is leading them, in a way that I don`t
think shows great leadership chops. It is leading at least a couple of
them to make votes, or to take votes, that go against, not what they
believe, but actually what they were actively strategizing for and
encouraging other folks in the House conference to do. So not exactly a
profile in courage.
O`DONNELL: Mark Patterson, take a look at what Mitch McConnell did
here as the minority leader of the Senate, basically making this happen.
And, you have worked for both the majority leader and the minority leader,
when the Democrats were in the majority in the minority in the Senate. And
this is a very tough spot for this minority leader because he is right now
tonight, being challenged by his Republican primary opponent in Kentucky
for basically completely surrendering to the president of the United
States. How, just give us your sense of what we, we saw and how Mitch
McConnell handled this?
PATTERSON: I got to give him some credit, Lawrence. He swooped in at
the last minute and saved his party from itself. And you know, this is not
the first time he has done that with regard to the debt limit. It was
Mitch McConnell who in 2011, designed the elaborate mechanism that was used
at that time to raise the debt limit through a disapproval process
resolution. He thought up a scheme that allowed all the Republicans to
vote no and yet the debt limit still went up. It was brilliant.
And so, he has done this before. He has done the right thing here.
Obviously, for the nation it would have been much better if all of this had
happened earlier. But I do have to give him some credit for doing that
even thought, it is not going to make him popular guy in his party.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein and Mark Patterson, thank you both for joining
KLEIN: Thank you.
PATTERSON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, while Ted Cruz and John McCain were fighting it
out in the Senate, Sean Hannity and Bill O`Reilly were fighting it out on
FOX News. And luckily, the epic battle is all on video and you will see it
in the "rewrite." O`Reilly versus Hannity, guess who wins?
O`DONNELL: For obvious reasons the tea party is less popular than
ever. According to a Pew poll, 49 percent of the public view the tea party
unfavorably, 30 percent in the tea party, favorably. The tea party
unfavorability in June was 45 percent versus 37 percent favorable. The
drop in favorability was the steepest for a self-labeled liberal and
moderate Republicans, 27 percent of liberal and moderate Republicans view
the tea party favorably. While 46 percent had a favorable opinion of the
tea party back in June. That is a 19-point drop.
The rewrite is next. It`s O`Reilly versus Hannity. Think about it?
which one of them is right?
O`DONNELL: For weeks now it has been Ted Cruz versus John McCain in a
battle for the hearts and mind of the heartless and mindless Republican
party. The battle was simultaneously fault at Republican party media
headquarters FOX News. The part of Elder statesman, John McCain was played
by Bill O`Reilly. The part of the much younger fire brand was, of course,
played by Sean Hannity.
Our friends at BuzzFeed assembled video that tracks the FOX news
version of the fight. And it shows that just like in the Senate, the elder
statesman was right and the young fire brand was very, very wrong.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: So now the Republican party finds
itself in trouble. Big trouble. Obamacare is not going to be defunded.
And the GOP will have to make a deal with the president. And you know who
is most happy about this, Hillary Clinton, that`s who. Hard right
Americans should understand that the Democrats will win, next year`s
midyear elections and presidency of 2016, if the Republican party does not
begin to solve problems.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The Republicans now have a generic
ballot lead which they hadn`t had before. And they have a lead now among
independents about 18 percent. So, they picked up significant ground.
O`REILLY: The polls haven`t caught up to you yet. The polls still
say, most of the folks are blaming Republicans. I think you guys should do
some PR here.
HANNITY: At the end of this mess, the American people, they are going
to see who stood up for them and who didn`t. Every single Republican ran
on repealing Obamacare. Yes, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee. They stand up
They are fulfilling their promise and Corker and McCain and Peter King are
slamming them for doing what they told their constituents they would do.
Yes, that really ticks me off.
O`REILLY: They have to get a strategy. But, there isn`t any strategy
because n the end President Obama is not going to make any changes to this
law and he has the power. So, it is basically, you know, you are at the
Alamo. You guys are at the Alamo, you know. You will get killed. It just
a matter of when.
HANNITY: Hold the line. Don`t cave in to the liberal name calling,
the bullying and those intimidation factor.
O`REILLY: You know what is going to happen. He is not going to back
down. You and him. Mano a mano. This is a macho thing. You know what
HANNITY: If Republicans don`t fight on health care with everything
they have got. What good are they? I have strong feelings about. I think
they have shown too much weakness and inability to communicate on the
issues we are discussing about being demonized, and responding, and
messaging, and tactics. I think they have been weak. I think they haven`t
stood up for their principles.
O`DONNELL: Today, John McCain, punctuated the end of the fight this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think it is obvious that we are now
seeing the end of this agonizing odyssey that that this body has been put
through. But far more important, to the American people have been put
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What about what poor FOX News has been put through?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`REILLY: You know I hate to say I told you so. But I did. But I
feel bad about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In other breaking news tonight, New Jersey voters elected
the newest member of the United Sates Senate 99 percent reporting, the
Associated Press has declared Democrat Cory Booker, the winner of the New
Jersey special elections to fill the late Frank Lautenberg`s Senate seat
which has been occupied by an appointed Republican.
. Cory Booker will become the first African-American senator from New
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: All over New Jersey, north to
south, urban to suburban to rural, from Democrats, independents and
Republicans, I heard it from everybody. They all said if we put you in
Washington, don`t go down there to score victories for a party, or for
politics, but go down there to work for people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Maggie Haberman, senior political writer
Maggie, in the last few days there were people getting nervous about
maybe that gap was closing the lead Cory Booker had.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, POLITICO: They were. And I
thinking that was premature. I wrote about this in a couple weeks ago or
in the last two weeks. It was never likely that Cory Booker was going to
lose this. The problem for Cory Booker was that he came off as sort of not
ready for primetime in this special election. As it turned out, this was
probably the best thing for him. He is now in the Senate and he has to run
to the seat again next year.
The concern I think that a lot of Democrats had was, you know, a, he
has a national brand. He is one of the party`s rising stars. He is a
tremendous fund raiser. People wanted to make sure that he is going to be
able to preserve that. And I think that he took some dings in this
campaign that were probably avoidable.
He also has to defend the seat next year. And the concern was if the
margin was too small. That it was fewer than ten points. You know,
substantially, fewer than ten points. You remember the beginning of this
evening, it looked like he was only winning by six points. That could
encourage a more moderate Republican to jump in the race against him for
next year. I think that is going to be substantially harder now. And I
think for Democrats they are going to look at this like the icing on the
cake of finally getting to day behind them.
O`DONNELL: And, Maggie, every day he is in the Senate, he gets to
build the value of incumbency.
HABERMAN: Right. Exactly right. And as long as he uses the time
well, it remains to be seen what kind of senator, Cory Booker is going to
be. He is known as a celebrity. This was used against him by Steve
Lonegan in this race. The question is he going to be served like Senator
Warren who has kept her head down. Who has been a workhorse instead of a
show horse as the saying goes.
I think that he is going to heed the advice around him and be a little
quieter, a little less on the national stage. But he is somebody who comes
to this with tremendous celebrity.
O`DONNELL: It is an interesting problem for him, Maggie. Because the
standard advice to, people who come into the Senate already famous is to,
exactly that. It`s to keep your head down and show everyone that you are
really there to do the work of the Senate. But he has the got to run for
HABERMAN: That`s right. He has to run for reelection. And he has
also has not really made clear exactly what kind of policy agenda he wants.
He has talked about having a focus on in urban agenda. But it is not clear
what exactly that is going to look like. It is a little different than how
you typically hear senators talk about entering Washington.
You heard his speech tonight. He is clearly casting himself as
outside Washington, not planning as becoming of Washington. That`s not,
you know, inadvisable given what is happening right now. And as you say,
he does have to run again. But I think he is going to have to try a real
mix of the two.
O`DONNELL: Maggie, he ran a remarkably economical campaign. I am
seeing here, that he less than a million on television. He had to buy the
New York City TV market, and Philadelphia market too. It is (INAUDIBLE),
most expensive market you have thought.
HABERMAN: Exactly right because New Jersey has no market of its own.
So, these are two crossovers. He has spent in general election less than a
million dollars. That`s the same amount that Mike Bloomberg put on TV for
a week`s worth of time, and Cory Booker, just for contrast. I think what
he is probably doing is husbanding resources toward next year. But he is
not really somebody who has to do that. I think that if anything, it is
something of a miss opportunity to really introduce himself to voters
around the state in a place where he will have to run again next year. His
advisors, I am guessing, put that money into field and into different areas
of the campaign. But we will see how it comes out in the spending.
O`DONNELL: And he is going to immediately start fund-raising for the
O`DONNELL: Maggie Haberman gets tonight`s last word.
Thank you, Maggie.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes its up next.
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