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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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December 3, 2013
Guest: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Jonathan Gruber, James Peterson; James

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The president wants everyone to know
there are only 20 days left to purchase health insurance coverage under the
Affordable Care Act coverage that will be effective on January 1st.

And today, the president picked up one very happy customer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a major new push to focus positive
attention on Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than a Web site.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Touting the improvements made to the site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what you`ll hear from President Obama

well for the vast majority of users.

broken Web site.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Obamacare is still plagued
with problems.

BOEHNER: This bill was fundamentally flawed.

OBAMA: My main message today is we`re not going back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans have no alternative that they`ve

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans have to answer for the lack of a plan.

OBAMA: If you`ve got good ideas, bring them to me.

BOEHNER: We`ll see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crickets, if you will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are advocating for underinsurance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s needed in the House is leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He presides over the least productive Congress.

BOEHNER: The House continues to do its job.


BOEHNER: The House has done its work. We`ve done our work.


BOEHNER: The American people want to pick their own type of health

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m absolutely being offered competitive plans
with what I have.

OBAMA: More problems may pop up. When they, do we`ll fix those too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The problems with the Web site and the problems
with enrollment, the back end issues with the insurers, have made it very

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re working on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, after all that, the White House finally
appears comfortable enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re saying it`s time.

OBAMA: My main message today is we`re not going back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president has a message on health care.

OBAMA: We`re not repealing it as long as I`m president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It ain`t going nowhere.


O`DONNELL: There are only 20 shopping days left to buy health
insurance on the federal exchange for coverage that will begin on January
1st, and the White House plans to spend every day until then highlighting
the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama kicked things off today.


OBAMA: I have said very clearly that our poor execution in the first
couple months on the Web site clouded the fact that there are a whole bunch
of people who stand to benefit. Now that the Web site is working for the
vast majority of people, we need to make sure that folks refocus on what`s
at stake here, which is the capacity for you or your families to be able to
have the security of decent health insurance at a reasonable cost through
choice and competition on this marketplace, and tax credits that you may be
eligible for, that can save you hundreds of dollars in premium costs every
month, potentially.

More problems may pop up, as they always do when you`re launching
something new. And when they do, we`ll fix those, too. But what we also
know is that after just the first month despite all the problems in the
rollout, about half a million people across the country are poised to gain
health care coverage through marketplaces and Medicaid beginning on January
1st, some for the very first time. We know that, half a million people.


And that number is increasing after day. And it is going to keep
growing and growing and growing.


O`DONNELL: The president told congressional Republicans to give up
their campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act.


OBAMA: Now, we may never satisfy the law`s opponents, I think that`s
fair to say. Some of them are rooting for this law to fail. That`s not my
opinion, by the way. They say it pretty explicitly.

Some have already convinced themselves that the law has failed
regardless of the evidence. But I would advice them to check with the
people who are here today and the people that they represent all across the
country whose lives have been changed for the better by the Affordable Care

Look, I have always said I will work with anybody to implement and
improve this law effectively. If you`ve got good ideas, bring them to me.
Let`s go.

But, we`re not repealing it as long as I`m president. I want every to
be clear about that.


We will make it work for all Americans.


O`DONNELL: And the president asked for help.


OBAMA: I`m going to need some help in spreading the word. I need you
to spread the word about the law, about its benefits, about its
protections, about how folks can sign up. Tell your friends, tell your
family. Do not let the initial problems with the Web site discourage you
because it`s working better now, and it`s just going to keep on working
better over time.

Every day, I check to make sure that it`s working better. And, you
know, we`ve learned not to make wild promises about how perfectly smooth
it`s going to be at all times, but if you really want health insurance
through the marketplaces, you`re going to be able to get on and find the
information you need for your families at


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman
Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee; Jonathan Gruber, an
MTI professor of economics. He helped craft both Massachusetts health care
law and the Affordable Care Act; and Michael Smerconish, a nationally
syndicated radio talk show host and an MSNBC contributor.

And, Michael, I want to start with you. You have been struggling
dealing with this Affordable Care Act, trying to get coverage for you and
your family. But it sounds like you had something of a breakthrough today.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I`ve had a horrific experience
since October 1st, Lawrence. In fact, I remember naively waking up at 5:00
a.m. on the day of the launch, and thinking that I would go on the site,
explore my options, go on the radio that day and say, OK, here they are for
my family of five, and for eight weeks, could not get any satisfaction
online until today.

I`m online right now in real time, in fact, I don`t think you`ll bow
able to see it too clearly --

O`DONNELL: Hold it up, we`ll try.

SMERCONISH: All right, there are the 24 plans that are now available
for my wife and me and our three sons. Our daughter is about to hit 26, so
she`ll no longer be on the plan. But I can tell you I have 24 plans
available to me.

I`m in Pennsylvania. We don`t even have our own exchange. So, this
is via the federal exchange. They range on the low end, one of the bronze
plans, $1,050.71. The highest of the platinum plans, $2,101.33.

For sake of comparison, right now --


O`DONNELL: Michael, are those monthly charges for you and your

SMERCONISH: Monthly charges. Those are monthly premium charges.

So, Lawrence, call it either $1,000 on the low end to $2,000 on the
high end, depending on what the deductible will be. These are with
reputable insurers. We`re talking about Independence, Blue Cross, and
Aetna. And for sake of comparison, right now, health insurance for my
family is $2,246.90.

So, bottom line, 24 options, very competitive with what I`m now

O`DONNELL: Just one more thing, Michael. The benefits packages
you`re looking at, are they the same as you had already had this year or
are there improvements in the benefit packages?

SMERCONISH: Well, the platinum plans are comparable to what I have
right now. If I go in a different direction and I look at some of the
bronze plans, and I`ve got nine different bronze plans that are available
to me, then the deductible is going to be much higher. So I`m going to be
paying out of pocket until I reach a particular threshold and then, all of
a sudden, the insurance coverage is going to kick in.

So, I mean, there`s more choice than you could ever hope for, and I`m
sitting here now chuckling because I`m saying, this is as far from
socialism looking at 24 competitive plans with Independence, Blue Cross,
and Aetna, as one could ever imagine.

O`DONNELL: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, it sounds like you`ve got one
happy customer there.

important thing, now what Michael has is a broad range of options with a
minimum floor of benefits that a lot of people are finding are better than
the coverage that they`ve had previously. And they`re able to choose from
plans like Michael can, with a higher deductible, and they can pay lower
premiums or they can pay a lower deductible or no deductible and pay a
little more.

But the important thing is that you have a broad range of choices,
that it`s private market based health insurance, that you have the option
of comparing coverage side by side, and that you have the most important
provisions like insurance companies are not in the driver`s seat anymore
and can`t drop you or deny you coverage, that you have basic preventative
care that can keep you healthy, instead of you only really accessing the
health care system when you`re sick.

I mean, that`s going to bring down costs right there because people
are going to be able to stay healthier, illness caught earlier, because
people will have access to coverage that didn`t have it before.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Gruber, this is exactly what you were hoping to
hear from consumer said when you were helping design this law, and
presumably, what you heard a lot of in Massachusetts when that law got up
and running, but Michael isn`t exactly who this law was designed to help.
He already had health insurance and could already afford it. He doesn`t
need a federal subsidy, which makes the application process more
complicated and the approval process more complicated.

Where does the process stand tonight for those kinds of new customers?

it`s still early. I think the important thing to remember is the relevant
deadline for this is March 31st. That`s when everything has to be working
to satisfy the individual mandate. So, the first point is that it`s still
early. In terms of where it stands, we have to separate sort of the
shopping function of the Web site from the enrollment function.

What we`ve really been focused on the last couple of months, with the
administration has been focused on is getting the shopping function to
work, and that`s the right priority. People need to shop on the Web. As
Michael mentioned, people have a lot of good options and it`s going to be
really impossible to compare then without the website working.

However, once they`re able to shop on the web, there`s no reason they
can`t enroll over the phone. So, I think getting the front end shopping
experience working well was key. Now, we can turn to enrollment over the
phone. There still are some back-end issues to resolve, but I think the
important first step has been taken.

O`DONNELL: Michael, where are you now in the enrollment process? Are
you still considering your options?

SMERCONISH: Yes, there`s a lot of information to digest, and a lot of
it is complicated. So, I need a couple days to sort out exactly what plan
best suits my family and me and then I`ll pull the trigger on one of the

O`DONNELL: Michael, as a consumer, you`re the only one of us who has
been on this Web site working as a consumer, you`re a fairly sophisticated
health insurance consumer. You have purchased it before and purchased it
for your family. There`s going to be a lot of first-time health insurance
purchasers and evaluators going into this Website. How do you think it`s
going to work for them?

SMERCONISH: I think it`s an intimidating process. The Web site that
I was able to access today was very navigable. The questions were
straightforward. You`re right, I didn`t need the income verification
because I`m not in the league for a subsidy.

But it was not an intrusive process. The only question I was asked
about personal health had to do with my tobacco usage. I have a beef with
that. I think if I`m answering about my cigar smoking, then somebody
else`s obesity might be of relevance.

But not to get off on a tangent, it`s pretty straightforward now.
Lawrence, my problem is I was so damn anxious to get onto this thing for
the last eight weeks that I convinced this computer model that I was a
fraud and I couldn`t prove my identity sufficiently to get me to the next
hurdle. And the way I broke free of the log jam was to withdraw my
application, submit a new e-mail address, and start over again.

And once I did that, it functioned very well for me and it`s
functioned well all day long.



O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Congresswoman.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What I just wanted to add is it is important to
know that people who need assistance are able to get it. They can go down
to their local community health center and speak to a navigator, someone
who is trained in the entire Affordable Care Act process of signing up.
They can sit down and get some guidance on the side by side comparisons and
get some questioned answered.

So this is a process that someone is not just left to fend for
themselves. If they need assistance, they have a number of ways to get it.
In-person assistance as well as telephone assistance and some other types
of informational assistance as well.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Gruber, take us back to the Massachusetts
experience when they initiated the experience there, and were they -- what
was the Web site usage? How much of a factor was that in getting it

GRUBER: You know, Lawrence, it wasn`t as big an issue. We had much
more -- it`s like the congresswoman was mentioning. We had a lot of use of
navigator-like entities to help especially low income people to find their
insurance options. There`s a lot more use of the phone.

I think what`s more important is we really just weren`t as focused on
it in the early days because there wasn`t this enormous opposition that was
making people hyper-focused on every single minute`s numbers. We recognize
we`re in a long-run process and we didn`t focus that much on who was using
the web and who was want in the first of couples of months. We know the
relevant point was that at the end of the year who signed up.

So, I think, right now, it`s great the Web site is rolling forward,
but we have to remember, the timeframe is not to worry about what`s
happening today. It`s to make sure that by the time, we get to the
enrollment deadline, of March 31st, that folks can use the Web site and
enroll, use the kind of navigators that the Congresswoman mentioned, and
used the various resources that are available to enroll in the right plan.

O`DONNELL: Michael Smerconish, you have been through eight weeks of
struggle over this. You seem to be in a good spot with the Web site
working for you at this stage.

If it continues to go smoothly and you make your enrollment decision
and the rest of the process goes smoothly, how are you going to feel about
this, say, around Valentine`s Day?

SMERCONISH: Well, I think what it forces you to do, when you become
knowledgeable about what the program consists of, you start to become more
cost-conscience than you ever were before. I can tell you, Lawrence, as
one who has always been privileged, who`ve always had health insurance
supplied by an employer, I had no care as to how much anything cost. All I
wanted to know, am I covered? And from that point forward, I would pay
whatever the co-pays might be.

This makes me a different type of a consumer. I`m much more focused
on what I`m getting in terms of the value for the dollar expended and I`m
hopeful that long-term, what the program is going to do, what the
Affordable Care Act will do is make us much more mindful of the costs and
get away from the mindset of what do I care? I`ve got coverage.


O`DONNELL: Go ahead.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: He`s also no longer at the mercy of the insurance
company. The insurance company is no longer in the driver`s seat, deciding
whether he`s healthy enough to cover, deciding whether or not they`re going
to exclude a specific problem that Michael or his family member might have
and not cover that particular illness or malady. He`s able to get
preventative care without a co-pay or deductibles, so his family can stay
healthier. He`s able to make sure that his young adult kids can stay on
his plan until they`re 26.

If he`s a senior citizen, he`s able to get prescription drug coverage
that`s a lot more affordable.

So, there are so many things that are apart of the Affordable Care Act
that enable people to stay healthier, that have more comprehensive
coverage, higher quality, and the overwhelming majority of Americans, for
them, it`s more affordable as well.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz gets the LAST WORD.

Jonathan Gruber, thank you very much.

Michael Smerconish, thank you very much for your invaluable consumer
input. Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: OK, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, last night, we told you about three black high
school athletes who were arrested in Rochester, New York, for the crime of
waiting for their school bus. Today, prosecutors followed the advice that
they got on this program last night and they dropped the charges.


O`DONNELL: Remember the debt ceiling crisis? I think you do. Well,
one of the ideas suggested for President Obama to bypass congressional
Republicans and raise the debt ceiling was for the president to order the
Treasury to mint a $1 trillion platinum coin. That coin would have been
deposited into the Federal Reserve, and the trillion dollars would be used
to pay America`s bills to avert a global economic calamity.

Well, "The Huffington Post" has learned from a Freedom of Information
request that the White House had the president`s top lawyers actually look
into the legal justification for making the $1 trillion coin under a law
that allows the Treasury to mint currency of any denomination. The White
House admitted to the legal memos, but they were determined too sensitive
to be released, so we don`t know if legally the White House actually
believes that it could have used the coin option. The U.S. will actually
hit the debt ceiling again on February 7th.

Up next, Republicans admit that they have no ideas for making health
care better.



OBAMA: I mean, that seems to be the only alternative that Obamacare`s
critics have, is let`s just go back to the status quo, because they sure
haven`t presented an alternative. If you ask many of the opponents of this
law what they would do differently, their answer seems to be -- well, let`s
go back to the way things used to be. Look, I have always said I would
work with anybody to implement and improve this law effectively.

If you`ve got good ideas, bring them to me. Let`s go.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC political analyst
and columnist for "The Washington Post". And here with me in New York,
Steve Schmidt, MSNBC analyst and senior adviser to the McCain `08
presidential campaign.

Let`s listen to what John Boehner had to say today about health care
reform Republican style.


BOEHNER: When you look at Obamacare, what you see is a government-
centered health care delivery system. That`s not what the American people
want. The American people want to be able to pick their own type of
insurance. They want to be able to pick their own doctor. They want to be
able to pick their own hospital. That`s what a patient-centered health
care system looks like.

REPORTER: Will that be up for a vote in 2014 now, a bill for that?

REPORTER: Will that be up for a vote in 2014?


BOEHNER: We`ll see.


O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, the guy can`t even take the question
seriously. The Republicans in the House would vote on anything involving
health care from their side, an idea from their side.

the founders of the Democratic Leadership Council, out with a book today
that basically charts Bill Clinton`s rise to power. When you look at Bill
Clinton coming to power after three disastrous elections where the
Democratic Party was viewed as unelectable by a lot of the country, it was
fueled by ideas, by platform, by a vision of where to lead to reinvent the

And you see the great deficit in those remarks by the speaker that the
congressional wing of the Republican Party has in the eyes of the American
people, just absolutely bereft of ideas. I`m not a fan of the Affordable
Care Act, but my party has no solutions to deal with what`s a real issue.
No working person in this country, for example, should lose their house, go
bankrupt, because their kid breaks their leg or their spouse gets leukemia.

And so, Republicans, who were once the party of ideas, during the
Reagan era, through much of the 1990s, along with President Clinton, we
have totally collapsed as far as our ability to be policy entrepreneurs.
And this is the great challenge if we`re to be successful in 2016, is to
have candidates to break away from that congressional wing of the party, to
put forward ideas about economic growth, dealing with health care, and
actual issues that that American people are focused on.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, you wrote a great piece today about the
Republican Party basically being dead to the ideas. The thing that strikes
me about the video that we just saw, it`s one thing for John Boehner to not
really have any health care proposal and to just rattle off some platitudes
about the way things should be.

It`s quite another for him to not be able to keep a straight face
publicly when asked a question about, will you ever vote on anything that
you just said?

CAPEHART: Right, right, and you know, Steve just talked eloquently
about sort of the vacuum of ideas from the Republican Party on what to do
about health care reform. The thing I found interesting about what Speaker
Boehner came before he said, you know, wait and see or time will tell.

It was -- you know, a patient-centric health care system, and all the
things he rattled off, I sat there and thought, well, how is what Speaker
Boehner talking about different from what Michael Smerconish just talked
about in the first half -- in the very first segment where he talked about
the 24 plans that he gets to choose from and the doctors he has to figure
out, and all the things he can spend all this time, trying figuring out how
he the patient, the consumer, is going to avail himself of this new health
care law.

You know, it`s almost -- it`s painful to watch Speaker Boehner try to
pretend like he`s leading a national party, leading -- you know, just
leading, I guess is the word I`m trying to focus on, because where you have
the president trying to make sure that something is available to the
American people that they clearly want, given the traffic on, meanwhile, he has an opposition that`s trying mighty hard,
has voted more than 46 times to not only prevent him from doing, but trying
to repeal it, and as Steve just talked about, as I said before, have
nothing in the alternative to present once they do successfully repeal it,
which they won`t.

O`DONNELL: President Obama said something today that builds on your
point, Steve. Let`s listen to them.


OBAMA: If despite all the millions of Americans are benefiting from
it, you still think the law is a bad idea, you have to tell us what you
would do specifically to cut costs, cover more people, make insurance more
secure, you can`t just say that the system was working with 41 million
people without health insurance. You can`t just say that the system was
working when you got a whole bunch of people who thought they had decent
insurance and when they got sick, it turned out it wasn`t there for them,
or they were left in tens of thousands of dollars in out of pocket cost
that were impossible for them to pay.


O`DONNELL: That`s your point, Steve. That this Republican Party is
no longer willing, even at the fringes of the Republican Party, to talk
about those issues.

SCHMIDT: Right. There`s no argument about what the president said.
Clearly, the American health plan wasn`t working, from a health care
inflation perspective, the fact that there were 41 million people

I think the criticism as a Republican you could offer is that this is
a 100 percent solution to what at the end of the day was a 15 percent
problem with those 41 million people, to pretend that that wasn`t problem
is just absurd.

You see him getting on the high ground of reasonable again in a
political debate, at the expense of the political prospects of Republicans.
And it`s a self-inflicted Republican inquiry.

O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in tonight`s "Rewrite", if it`s December, you
know what Bill O`Reilly is talking about, the war on Christmas. The only
war Bill O`Reilly is willing to fight is in tonight`s "Rewrite".

And next, prosecutors in Rochester, New York, dropped charges today
against three black high school students who were arrested for loitering
while they were actually waiting for their school bus. It sounds like
those prosecutors were watching this program last night.


O`DONNELL: The district attorney in Rochester, New York, followed the
advice she was given on this program last night by a former upstate New
York federal prosecutor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Now to a developing story here in the
city of Rochester. Unfair and out of line, that`s what three teens are on
recent arrest.

O`DONNELL: Arrested in Rochester, New York, last week, while
committing the crime of waiting while black.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Their families they have never been in
trouble before and they shouldn`t be in trouble now.

O`DONNELL: They are members of the Edison Tech high school basketball
team who were waiting for their school bus to take them to a scrimmage
basketball game on Wednesday morning. At 8:43 a.m., they were arrested and
charged with disorderly conduct for obstructing pedestrian traffic on this

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tried to tell them that we were waiting for the
bus, but we were catching the yellow bus. They didn`t care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These young men were doing nothing wrong. Nothing
wrong. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. And still, yet,
they get arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under federal civil right laws there have been
cases in the second circuit that have gone a lot further. If I was a law
enforcer in Rochester, I would thinking about issuing apologies and
dismissing charges.


O`DONNELL: Today, the Monroe county district attorney said in a
statement after reviewing the facts associated with these arrests, I have
decided to dismiss the charges in the interest of justice.

Joining me now is James Peterson, director of African studies and
associate professor of English at Lehigh University. He is also an MSNBC

James, this looked like the outcome that had to happen as the pressure
mounted on this. After our program last night, the mayor of Rochester came
out this morning and he is against this. And I will tell you. We were
deliberate -- I was deliberately on this show last night doing everything I
could, including booking Dan French, former U.S. attorney of northern New
York to push this prosecutor back and to push the police back on this

JAMES PETERSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s right. And listen, kudos
to you, your show, and your producers for making this national news. I
mean, we have to give credit where it`s due.

Really important here, Lawrence because at the end of the day -- I`m
teaching a class right now in black prison narrative. So, I`m like
studying Michelle Alexander and the studying the narratives about prison
systems in the United States. And essentially, we have a really aggressive
criminal justice system that is racially biased, that profiles young black
and brown man, it profiles people of color, profiles women of color. And
at the d of the day, we have to have media and other institutions step up
and shine a light on it. Because these three young men, thank God, are
going to be exonerated for doing absolutely nothing. But unfortunately,
the aggressiveness of the system filters and fills too many people into it,
too many young folks who can`t get out of it, who don`t have the Lawrence
O`Donnell show and elaborate to come on and say hey, this is wrong.

So, at the end of the day, this is a key issue, massive incarceration,
the prison that`s where complex are some of the most important challenges
that we face as a nation. And we want to think about like racial bias and
institutional racism. That is where it lives and breathes.

At the end of the day, those police officers thought they were doing
their job when they saw those young men. And this goes back to like the
black codes. It goes back to moments in history that we look back on and
say, we don`t want to be that America. We are that America.

O`DONNELL: You know, technology plays such a role in this. When you
think about the Rodney King case, the reason we knew about it was the then
relatively new technology of home video. The reason this got national
attention, these kinds of cases, you know, happen all over the country, no
national attention. Audrey McDonald (ph) tweeted about this story
yesterday. That`s how I found out about it, following her tweet. So from
twitter, it made its way into a national television program you know they
were watching, because when the former U.S. attorney of the northern
district comes on and tells you what he`s thinking, they`re taking notes up
there. But all of this happened because of this new form of attention that
we get to bring to these cases.

PETERSON: And this is an important piece of the equation. Listen
Rochester has a rich history, right? Frederick Douglass` grave is in
Rochester. It is a rich history of race and racial issues. But people
think about social media sometimes and they dismiss it. They think it is
that important. I think it is like young people playing around on twitter
or facebook. But there are social movements that occur on social media,
and this is a great case in point. We can raise awareness around social
injustice issues, the prison industrial complex, mass incarceration,
institutional racial bias, and we have media platforms to shine the light.
It is very, very important it happens every time.

O`DONNELL: And the thing is that the bad actors in those places have
to know that people in Rochester are empowered. Everyone is empowered with
the camera, a video camera, everybody can tweet.

PETERSON: They`re watching.

O`DONNELL: They`re empowered. Everybody is empowered with a video
camera. Everybody can tweet.

PETERSON: And you`re on twitter.

O`DONNELL: The word can get out.

James Peterson, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the war on Christmas is back. Bill O`Reilly`s
imaginary little war is in tonight`s rewrite.


O`DONNELL: One of the Pope`s bishops assigned to deliver comfort to
the poor may have revealed a secret about Pope Francis. The bishop told
the Associated Press when the bishop prepared to head out at night into the
streets of Rome to visit the poor and needy on behalf of the Pope, quote,
"there`s a constant risk that he will come with me," end quote.

When the reporter asked if Pope Francis was sneaking out of the
Vatican, the bishop smiled and said, next question. A source told the
"Huffington Post," Swiss guard confirm that the Pope has ventured out at
night dressed as a regular priest to meet with homeless men and women.

As archbishop of Buena Sares (ph) before becoming Pope, Francis often
sneaked out to visit poor on the streets.

Up next, Bill O`Reilly, the commanding general in the war on
Christmas. And yes, he is on Christmas` side.


O`DONNELL: As soon as Bill O`Reilly finishes honoring those heroic
pilgrims who settled the Massachusetts bay colony by having his last piece
of thanksgiving pumpkin pie, Bill grabs his musket and bravely Sally`s
forth to fight the war on Christmas.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: If you`re not going to say merry
Christmas and it`s a federal holiday, I`m not going to buy the lamp. I
mean, I`m not small.


O`DONNELL: That was general O`Reilly fighting the good fight seven
years ago. This is the O`Reilly Factor`s writers favorite time of year
because they get to recycle a dozen years of war on Christmas scripts.
Here`s the recycled script O`Reilly used last night.


O`REILLY: Hi, I`m Bill O`Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.
The war on Christmas centralizing. That is the subject of this evening`s
talking points memo. Well, over the years, we have taken on the role of
protecting the federal holiday of Christmas.


O`DONNELL: That`s right, thanks to Bill O`Reilly, Congress has not
been able to pass that bill revoking the federal holiday status of December
25th. In fact, thanks to Bill O`Reilly, no one in Congress has even dared
to introduce that bill. But O`Reilly knows it took Congress over 80 years
to make Christmas a federal holiday, so he`s not about to trust Congress to
hold the line on the war Christmas.


O`REILLY: President grant signed the holiday into law after Congress
passed legislation in 1870 acknowledging the country`s Judeo Christian


O`DONNELL: OK. There was absolutely nothing Judeo about Congress
making Christmas a holiday. But you know, in the heat of war, sometimes
you say stuff you don`t mean.


O`REILLY: Everything was swell up until about ten years ago when
creeping secularism and groups like the ACLU began attacking the Christmas
holiday. They demanded, demanded the word Christmas be removed from
advertising and public displays, and many people caved into that. Now we
have the happy holidays syndrome.


O`DONNELL: Obviously, cowering in fear of general O`Reilly, the ACLU
says, in recent years, culturally conservative commentators have declared
there is a so-called war on Christmas and in many cases have claimed the
ACLU is leading the charge. This simply isn`t true. Religious expression
is a valid and protective part of the first amendment rights guaranteed to
us all. While Christmas displays are being placed in front of homes,
churches and business across the country and as carolers go door to door
with songs of Christmas cheer, these culture warriors say that Christmas is
being removed from all public mention and persist with such declarations
about a war on Christmas.

The constitutional rights of people to worship, preach, sing, carols
and celebrate Christmas in their churches and with family and friends
whether in public or private is well protected. The ACLU itself has
advocated on behalf of people who want to celebrate Christmas. They most
certainly can.

The real question is not whether people can celebrate Christmas, they
most certainly can. But whether the government should be promoting
religious beliefs and practices, it most certainly shouldn`t. When the
smoke of battle clears, Christmas is completely safe.


O`REILLY: The absurdity of the situation was brilliantly parodies
today (INAUDIBLE). The following Christmas special actually mentioned
Christianity. Viewer discretion is advised.


O`DONNELL: Well, I guess that means viewer discretion is advised
tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. on NBC.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the iconic Rockefeller center Christmas
tree, and she`s basically ready. The lights are in place, and this year,
we will help flip the switch. So join me and Al and Savannah and Natalie
tomorrow night as we light the tree.


O`DONNELL: The name of the NBC special tomorrow night is Christmas in
Rockefeller center, not holidays in Rockefeller center. NBC has been
broadcasting the lighting of the Christmas tree as a live special for 16
years. And the Rockefeller center Christmas tree has been New York City`s
best knows Christmas landmark for 81 years with no help from Bill O`Reilly.

And Bill O`Reilly`s beloved pilgrims who he was celebrating on
thanksgiving, yes, they banned the holiday of Christmas in the
Massachusetts bay colony in 1659, and they kept it banned for over 20
years. And Bill, the ACLU had nothing to do with that.


O`DONNELL: The House of Representatives passed a bill today. Yes,
the Republican House of Representatives, and the Democrats voted for it.
It was virtually unanimous, and it was not just any bill. It`s a bill that
bans certain types of guns. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: The one and only vote that the U.S. House of
Representatives has cast this year on guns happened today. When it passed
a one-sentence bill by voice vote to extend the 1988 undetectable firearms
act for another ten years.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: When we first passed the ban in
1988, it was a forward looking exercise because no one had been actually
able to produce a gun that had no metal and therefore couldn`t be detected.
The only time we heard about plastic undetectable guns was in the movie
"Line of Fire" where as you remember, John Malkovich, one of the great bad
guys, was seeking to kill the president using a gun made out of plastic so
he could slip past the metal detector said. Now because of 3-D printers,
anyone with a thousand dollars can make one of these plastic guns.


O`DONNELL: The Senate version of the bill, Senator Chuck Schumer
hopes to close a loophole to the 1988 act that can make an illegal gun
legal by simply attaching a piece of metal that can then be removed to
avoid detection. Earlier this year, a Texas man posted blueprints on line
for the world`s first functional 3-D plastic gun. Last month, the ATF
released video showing plastic guns they created using a 3-D printer. The
first gun that they created exploded, but a second one successfully fired
off eight rounds.

Joining me now, James Cavanaugh, an MSNBC analyst and a retired ATF

James, for this law, is a simple one-sentence extension of the law as
written adequate or do we need that Schumer amendment and any other updates
to it?

JAMES CAVANAUGH, FORMER ATF AGENT: We definitely need the Schumer
amendment, Lawrence. I mean, it`s the death of common sense that we`re
even debating whether we should have a law that strengthens our ability to
prohibit the plastic guns. I mean, they have no sporting purpose. They`re
not a good self-defense weapon as they`re unreliable. They`re dangerous to
the user. You can see ATF agents aren`t holding it in their hands when
they`re shooting it. They have no police or military purpose. So, the
only thing they`re good for, Lawrence, is assassins, terrorists, killers,
maniacs, people who want to avoid security.

O`DONNELL: And we haven`t heard from the NRA on this one yet, but
this is as much an element of gun control as anything else we have talked

CAVANAUGH: Absolutely right. I mean, this is the kind of thing that
gun laws need to stop. Gun laws have been used over the course of our
history to evolve when technology evolved. The 1934 firearms act came into
when machine guns first became prevalent and put heavy restriction on
machine guns, and so they`re not used in a lot of crimes because we cracked
down on those.

And so, this is another reason why technology should be, you know,
looked at in the law and these things should be made like Senator Schumer
says, metal permanently in the gun, heavy penalty said to violate the law
if you do so. This is the kind of thing terrorists go for.

O`DONNELL: And on these plastic printers and their capacity, I mean,
so far, most of what they have been turning out melts or burns on the spot,
but the idea that ATF has been able to create one that fires eight guns --
eight bullets, I mean, that`s a completely successful version of that gun
for someone who wants to use it for one use.

CAVANAUGH: Why would we as a nation allow people to make a gun that
could be smuggled onto an aircraft, into the courthouse security, get into
our prisons, hurt our elected leaders in a year when we saw, you know, even
the Congress with a woman shot in Arizona. Why would we allow guns that
have no sporting purpose, no legitimate purpose for self defense, no police
or military purpose. So, why would we do that?

We could easily make a law to stop this. It isn`t a second amendment
issue in my view. And the second amendment is now a suicide pact. We
should come together, all of us, and say we`re not going to allow these
things to be put out on the street.

The analogy is, Lawrence, is pen guns. We have those around for years
and we track them down. They were regulated by the national firearms act
since 1934. And whenever we got a lead on people making pen guns, we track
them and track them and track them and shut the factories down. And so,
you don`t see those a lot in crime.

O`DONNELL: The trouble with these guns made from printers is to
really control it, you would somehow have to get legislation in there that
controlled the specifications of those printers.

CAVANAUGH: I think if we came together on it, we could probably even
have software fixes that would, you know, maybe hamper or prevent of slow
some of that stuff down. But the real deterrent is heavy penalty,
licensing, you know, strict laws that prevent the use in crime. And then,
you know, we would not have to deal with it. It shouldn`t hut sportsmen,
shouldn`t hurt shooters, shouldn`t hurt gun manufacturers. It shouldn`t
hurt any of us. It should help us from having to deal with this in an
aircraft or hurting our elected leaders or some other disaster that we
don`t really don`t need to deal with. We can see it`s going to happen. We
should take the steps to do it right.

O`DONNELL: James Cavanaugh gets tonight`s last word. Thanks, James.

CAVANAUGH: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


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