'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 2, 2014
Guests: Howard Dean, Hunter Walker, Steve Clemons>
JOY REID, GUEST HOST: The holiday political truce is over. Can
Democrats help bring help to the unemployed? Can those on minimum wage get
New signs are pointing to 2014 as the year of the liberal.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: I, Bill de Blasio --
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Do solemnly swear.
DE BLASIO: Do solemnly swear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A critical moment for progressives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Populist push.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The new direction for the Democratic Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A progressive shift in the Democratic Party.
DE BLASIO: A new progressive direction in New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill de Blasio was formally sworn in.
REID: Bill de Blasio`s inauguration as New York`s mayor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the 109th mayor of New York City.
REID: Has many hoping for a new era of progressive governance in
DE BLASIO: Our march for a fairer, more progressive place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: De Blasio is known for being a progressive
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there`s a move in the country towards the
left as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s been all about inequality. The tale of two
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The larger theme in the Democratic Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will 2014 bring in terms of actual
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama is expected to make income
inequality a key issue this year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats think that they can draw the contrast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a fairness issue. But it is an economic
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The administration is going to make a push on
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The administration is going to make a push on
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To tell a tale of the income problem.
CLINTON: We cannot go forward if we don`t do it together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A progressive shift in the Democratic Party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new direction for the Democratic Party.
DE BLASIO: Our march towards a fairer, more progressive place.
CLINTON: Shared opportunities. Shared responsibilities.
DE BLASIO: It begins today.
REID: I`m Joy Reid, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
2014 is the year of the horse, but will it be the year of the
liberals? "The New York Times" reports, President Obama and congressional
Democrats are supporting legislation that would raise federal minimum wage
to $10.10 an hour by 2015. Mr. Obama is planning speeches across the
country focused on improving wages for workers say aides, many of them
timed to coincide with key minimum wage votes planned in Congress.
Income inequality is also likely to play a prominent role in his State
of the Union next month. The Democratic led Senate will vote next week on
a bell to extend unemployment benefits, temporarily for three months,
retroactive to December 28th when benefits expired for many of the long
And the Senate will hold a final vote Monday to confirm Janet Yellen
as the chair of the Federal Reserve, a vote that will put Elizabeth
Warren`s preferred candidate into one of the most powerful economic policy
positions in the world.
In New York, former President Bill Clinton swore in Mayor Bill de
Blasio with a nod to America`s most successful progressive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The mayor is taking the oath on a bible once used by
President Franklin Roosevelt. It is altogether appropriate that he should
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And in his inaugural address, Mayor de Blasio vowed to take
dead aim at growing inequality and looked for -- to FDR and to Francis
Perkins as progressive visionaries who started in New York and went on to
change the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE BLASIO: We are called to put an end to economic and social
inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love. So, today, we
commit to a new progressive direction in New York.
Nearly a century, ago, it was Al Smith waged war on unsafe working
conditions and child labor. It was Franklin Roosevelt and Francis Perkins
who led the charge for the basic bargain of unemployment insurance and the
minimum wage. It was Fiorello La Guardia who enacted the New Deal here on
the city level, battled Wall Street and championed a progressive income
It was New Yorkers who challenged the status quo, who blaze aid trail
of progressive reform and political action, who took on the elite, who
stood up to say that social and economic justice will start here and will
Let me be clear. When I said I would take dead aim at the tale of two
of cities. I meant it. And we will do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Joining me now are MSNBC senior political analyst, David
Axelrod, and former senior advisor to President Obama, and former Vermont
Governor Howard Dean, former head of the Democratic National Committee.
And Governor Dean, of course, attended de Blasio`s inauguration.
So, Governor Dean, I will start with you. Fascinating to hear litany
of New York figures, of liberal figures, you know, sort of storied liberals
from the progressive movement. Francis Perkins, and Al Smith, and FDR.
I recall that you back in the day, coming from the Democratic wing of
the Democratic Party had some trouble sort of convincing Democrats that it
was good politics to go back to that era, to be the kind of Democrats that
FDR and La Guardia were. Do you see this as an era, where Democrats
actually want to take back in that direction?
HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: First, it`s not just New
York. Eric Garcetti is very much of progressive, and he is now the mayor
of Los Angeles. So, you got the two biggest cities in the country which
are really setting the stage for a progressive comeback. I think that`s
A lot of this is, not just about progressivism and, working for the
little guy, a lot of this is a new generation coming to power. And that is
what started in my campaign. I wasn`t successful, but a lot of the people
-- all the tech people that started all this stuff went on to work for
President Obama, two of the best campaigns ever run in the history of the
And a lot of those people, I was at -- Bill de Blasio`s private
inauguration midnight in Brooklyn, a night before, a lot of the kids --
they`re not kids any more -- worked in my campaign.
You know, this is not about me. It`s about this new generation. And
that`s what happened in my campaign and this is -- now, the new generation
is coming to maturity. They now run the two biggest cities in the country
and they`re not nearly done yet.
REID: And, David Axelrod, having been a very big part of one of the
greatest campaigns in history in 2008, you are very familiar obviously with
attention in the Democratic Party, between the DLC wing, the wing that says
the way for Democrats to win is to really go far to the center to stay away
from core liberal issues, and this new, to Governor Dean`s point,
ascendant, unabashedly liberal wing of the party. At this point, do you
think that that centrist wing, the DLC wing, has a chance of having a
party, or do they need to sort of get with the program and move to the
DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think
rather than looking backward, we ought to look at where we are and where we
are going? The fact is that for decade now, we have seen economic changes
in this country that have marginalized large numbers of people we have seen
stagnant wages. We have got the highest poverty rate since the late 60s.
And, a lot of it has the to do with changes in the economy that necessitate
a strategy for, for empowering people to go out and find opportunities to
make a living and also to strengthen our social safety net.
I think what you see is the emergence of people who recognize that
You know, Bill de Blasio`s most resonant promise in that race was to
provide universal preschool for children, after school programs, because as
you said yesterday, that will give them a greater advantage in terms of --
of growing into productive, successful, people. That`s an important part
I don`t think that the DLC folks should object to that. That is, you
know, to give people opportunity is what the Democratic Party should be all
about. And then people need to seize that opportunity.
REID: You know, Governor Dean, when you talk about universal pre-K,
it`s also something that President Obama talked about wanting to see on the
national level. But, of course, just as Bill de Blasio`s agenda had to go
through Albany, has to go through the legislative branch here in New York,
on a national level you have a legislative branch where one half of it, the
House Republicans are dead set against investments in the economy, dead set
against programs that largely aid the poor and really still looking for
more and more cuts, more and more deficit reduction.
How resonant is a message like inequality, a message flattening the
income divide on a national scale when you get outside of a city like New
York, which is obviously a more liberal city?
DEAN: Well, if you look at -- I mean, I agree with David. I don`t
use, DLC is long gone. There is a penchant among this new generation.
It`s not the old generation of progressives. It`s a new generation and
they do want fiscal responsibility. And Bill de Blasio and Bill Clinton
both talked about that yesterday. We do have to balance the books, and
that`s one thing the younger generation, they are more conservative than
the old left wing of the Democratic Party.
Not about social issues. And that`s a fight we are well on our way to
winning exempt for the rear guard action against women that the Supreme
Court took the other day. But we are going to win that fight. But now we
-- we do have to be fiscally responsible as we go forward. But we`ve got
to make sure that the field isn`t titled towards those people at the top
which it has been for the last 20 years.
We haven`t seen wages go up for the bottom 80 percent for 20 years in
this country. That`s what has to change.
REID: Yes. And David Axelrod, you know, what`s really interesting is
a lot of these messages sound a lot like the Barack Obama before he was
president, right? Somebody who seemed or felt to be more of a progressive
at his core, but who obviously in trying to compromise with Republicans in
a lot of ways has disappointed the liberal base. They felt that he has not
governed as a progressive.
You know, you know Barack Obama, about as well as anybody. Is the
core of the person who sits in the White House right now more like a de
Blasio than he has been able to show as president of the United States?
AXELROD: I think that, he is some one who cares deeply about the
issues that I raised earlier. And if you go back to -- through out his
political career, both his activities and his rhetoric have pointed to
that. How do we solve this problem? How do we create an economy in which
large numbers of people can find opportunity, in which people who poor can
work their way up, in which the middle-class is growing, and thriving?
This has been the central theme of his political career. And I would
argue he has done within the context of the worst economic crisis since the
great depression. A lot within his presidency to promote this. After all,
health reform itself is part of that, expanding Pell Grants is part,
refundable tax credits, earned income tax credit, child care tax credit.
These are all part of that, and certainly his push for minimum wage
increase, for early childhood, for prekindergarten education is part of
So -- I don`t think that he -- I don`t think there is any hidden
agenda there. He has been overt about it.
Now the question is, can, can he persuade the Congress to go along? I
think on some of the key issues, minimum wage being a prime one. He has a
good chance to do that.
REID: Well, you know, of course, minimum wage fight is brewing on
Capitol Hill. But you also have this extension of unemployment benefits.
And, Governor Dean, what do you see as a prospect of getting
Republicans to give on an issue like that, on the extension of unemployment
benefits, as a popular issue. There is a vote coming on Monday. Do you
anticipate a fight out of the Republican Party on the issue?
DEAN: There`ll be a tremendous fight in the Republican Party. Look,
the Republicans are in the minority. They`re in the minority even, even in
the minority -- technically, they`re in the majority in the House. But,
really, they`ve got a million and a half fewer votes than the Democrats
So, they don`t represent the majority of Americans. In fact, they
represent an ever growing -- ever shrinking minority of people in this
country. They`re not for the average person. And ordinary Americans know
They`re not for minimum wage. They`re not increasing, expanding
unemployment benefits, people who lost their jobs and the recession.
They`re not for, health care.
The Republican governors have denied health care to people, to 4.5
million people in their states. That could have gotten it for free.
So, this is not a party that cares much about the little guy. I think
they understand in the leadership that they have to start caring about
ordinary Americans in order to win elections again. And I do think, now
that the president is going to make some progress on immigration reform and
minimum wage, but there is a hard right group of people that John Boehner
has to deal with that wants to stop that at all costs, the Koch brothers
and others like that.
REID: And last word to you, David Axelrod. Is there a chance because
Republicans are more sensitive to the issue an movement can be made, will
the State of the Union result in any actual policy that can pass through
the Senate, more importantly the House?
AXELROD: Well, again, I think the minimum wage has a good chance. I
think it is overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, as well as
independents, and Democrats and the difference between the minimum wage and
extending unemployment insurance is that you are not writing checks to
people when you -- when you extend the minimum wage.
I think that there is good reason to have this emergency extended
unemployment insurance given. What we have been through. And the pain
that people have gone through in this recession.
But it is harder for Republicans to vote for issuing checks than it is
for them to vote for minimum wage. And so, I think they`ll be a bigger
battle over unemployment insurance than there will be over minimum wage, or
may be some skirmishing over the details of it. But I would be surprised
if the Republicans fought a minimum wage increase.
REID: All right. David Axelrod, Governor Howard Dean, thank you
DEAN: Thank you.
REID: All right. And coming up, the political controversy
surrounding the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge is going.
New subpoenas, e-mails and now, a report tonight that documents show the
bridge closure was ordered from outside the Port Authority.
And in a year with lots of wasted time in the Senate, who wins the
award for chattiest senator in 2014? The answer might surprise you.
In the spotlight tonight, powerful message from a mom and dad at their
moment of greatest pain. When most of us were celebrating New Year`s
yesterday, Claire Davis was laid to rest, the victim in last month`s school
shooting in Colorado. Her parents had a profound message to their
daughter`s killer and a message for all of us that you should hear.
REID: Who do you think spent more time on the Senate floor talking in
2013 than anyone else? Was it Rand Paul, who had 12 hour and 52 minutes
extravaganza on drones back in March, that brought us readings from "Alice
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Hold your tongue said the queen,
turning purple. I won`t, said Alice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Or was it Ted Cruz with his fake filibuster that lasted for 21
hours and 19 minutes and included this questionable impression of Darth
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Mike Lee, I am your father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was a trick question, it wasn`t either of them. It had to
be Harry Reid. Majority leader spends a lot of time at the podium. It
definitely was hear Reid, right? Yes, no, wrong again.
As "The L.A. Times" put it, slow and steady wins the race. A C-Span
analysis found Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions spent more time at
the microphone than any of his colleagues top 33 hours. Harry Reid had 30
And up next, the latest in the saga over Chris Christie and what he
may or may not have known about lane closures on the nation`s busiest
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I know you guys are obsessed
with this. I`m not. I`m really not. It`s just -- it`s not that big of a
deal. Just because the press runs around and writes about it both here and
nationally, I know why that is, and so do you. Let`s not pretend it is
because of the gravity of the issue. It`s because I am a national figure
and anything like this will be written about a lot now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie before the
holidays, trying to downplay the George Washington Bridge-gate -- the
mysterious lane closures to the nation`s busiest bridge earlier this fall.
Now, order -- they were ordered by the Port Authority officer and
Christie`s high school buddy, David Wildstein. Today, a local paper
reported the state lawmaker investigating the controversy says the order to
shut down two lanes of traffic to the bridge may have come from someone
outside the Port Authority.
Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski told the "Bergen Record,"
quote, "There are documents that we`ve received that would indicate there
was somebody else who initiated this. There were words used that would
imply improper motive. This didn`t originate with David Wildstein. It
came from a higher authority."
And joining me now MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki and "Talking Point Memo`s"
So, I want to start with you, Steve.
"The Record" asked Wisniewski if he got any evidence that the orders
about the bridge closures actually came from Chris Christie. And this is
what he said.
He said, "I don`t want to go that far. I`m not ready to dot that I
and cross that t. I don`t want to jump too many steps ahead of myself. I
haven`t ruled anybody in or out."
So, it seems there is a lot of smoke around Christie. This is his
sort of first big negative news item. He`s gotten a lot of love from the
press before this, but since there is no smoking gun, how big a political
issue does this become?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Yes, let me get disclosure out of the
way. It`s probably important to put it out there. David Wildstein, who
was one of Christie`s two sort of guys at the Port Authority, just gave
some of the history there. He was my employer once. He at the time was
not in politics. He anonymously owned web sites covering politics, gave me
my first job in journalism. I`m always going to be grateful for David
Wildstein for it and I have not spoken to David Wildstein since this all
started. But I just want to put that out there.
The question if the dimensions expand going forward, as best I can see
is when David Wildstein who`s now been subpoenaed to testify before John
Wisniewski assembly committee, when David Wildstein actually testifies, the
question, and Baroni for that matter, the other port authority appointee,
if they can link Chris Christie, if they do think Chris Christie to this,
if they can back that up. If there`s some way, whether it`s them or
somebody else that can link this to Christie, what you have there in
Wisniewski is not, who knows what that is. See when he shows his cards.
But it needs to be something directly linking Chris Christie, saying
he even knew about it ahead of time. Once he found out about it, let`s
clean it up this way.
So far, we haven`t seen that.
REID: I mean, so far, is there any evidence, Hunter, in the record.
I mean, there`s lots and lots of pages of documents that have come out. Is
there anything that gives us specifics what Christie might have had to do
HUNTER WALKER, TPM: Well, Assemblyman Wisniewski today told me that
he is sitting on he estimates 3,000 to 5,000 of documents, pages of
documents. He`s got a ten-inch stock he says in his office. But he`s
being very coy right now about what exactly is in those documents.
He did say to me that, there is evidence, e-mails from Wildstein, the
explanation of a traffic study Christie and his appointees said justified
closures was concocted after the fact. But, you know, this stuff, coming
outside the port authority and it being an unnamed higher power. It`s all
But I think the question is, you know, do the documents back it up.
And it sounds like we won`t see any of them until Wildstein testifying next
REID: Right. I mean, it`s obviously a PR problem for Christie, kind
of reinforces the bully image and sort of image of him governing in that
manner. But does it become a problem if nothing criminal actually comes of
KORNACKI: Yes, if he is not, if there is no way off to directly
implicate him, if there is nothing that ties him to this long term, I don`t
think this is something in 2015, 2016. One thing there is sort of like a
cultural aspect to this. I think this really is like an only in Jersey
The extent that, you know, Chris Christie is trying to appeal to
voters in states that are very different from New Jersey, that are
culturally different than New Jersey, this kind of reinforces, this is, I
have two guys here at the bridge, and we`re going to screw over, that`s, I
think it read like, maybe this small town people in Iowa or South Carolina
It might reinforce cultural impressions that they don`t necessarily
REID: Cultural impressions that Chris Christie is going to bring into
let`s say he runs, let`s say in a 2016 primary, sort of cultural issue from
the Northeast, that image when you get down south, to South Carolina. Does
this wind up playing into an image problem for Christie despite the fact
that he right now is popular with the base?
WALKER: You know. Before this, he was sort of fashioned as almost
bipartisan, my little pony. His, you know, biggest moment was hugging
REID: The hug.
WALKER: Standing here election night. He talked about hugging the
state of New Jersey. He was Mr. Hugs. This is really the opposite of
But I think, Steve is right. Sort of, this is kind of the limited
scandal. One thing that is interesting though, you know this has brought
out more stories of Christie`s, allies kind of taking revenge in other
instances. If we look at double down, they talk how Mitt Romney during the
vetting saw things that scared him about Chris Christie.
So, I think the question, is this just the first of any sort of
frightening stories from Chris Christie`s past.
REID: It also brings out the inner Chris Christie, when you see him
respond as in the clip. He is responding to the press. He is Chris
Christie at his Chris Christiest, which could be (INAUDIBLE), the way that
he talks sort of brings the aspect of just his personality. So, doesn`t
this provide the opportunity for him to display personality traits that may
not be so attractive?
KORNACKI: Yes, and that`s the thing with Chris Christie. Some people
it comes across as unappealing, needlessly defensive and all that, and to
other people. The guy we like. He`s being defined in front of the press.
And there are pesky questions, the all sort of things.
Chris Christie like a Rorschach test. People see what they`re going
to see, and the Christie/Romney thing. Interesting, I have been watching
this since end of August, 2012 when Christie did not end up in the ticket,
there has been this battle behind the scenes from the Christie people and
the Romney people to be like, no, no. Us, Romney people didn`t want him.
Christie, no, it what the Christie. Didn`t want him on the ticket. Back
and forth. Each trying to pretend they were the one that didn`t want to be
together. It`s fun to watch.
REID: All Chris Christie wanted was a hug.
KORNACKI: He didn`t get it.
REID: All right. Hunter Walker and Steve Kornacki, thanks to both of
WALKER: Thanks for having me.
REID: All right. And be sure to tune in Saturday and Sunday mornings
at 8:00 for "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI".
And coming up, the Affordable Care Act is finally offering coverage to
the previously uninsured. Ezra Klein is here to help us sort out the
numbers and understand why Republicans will have to accept that the law
likely here to stay.
Also, the founder of Home Depot is taking on Pope Francis. Do you
think the pope is hurting rich people`s parents?
And the parents of the victim of a school shooting in Colorado gather
the strength to address their daughter`s killer and deliver a message to us
all. The powerful eulogy is up next.
REID: While many of us were celebrating the New Year, yesterday,
Michael and Desiree Davis were saying good-bye to their 17-year-old
Claire Davis shot by a fellow student at Arapahoe High School in
Colorado on December 13th. She died a week later. The gunman arrived at
the school, heavily armed, looking for the school`s debate coach.
Authorities believe Claire Davis was a random victim.
Yesterday, Claire`s family held a memorial. Her father asked people
to honor his daughter`s memory. Then he said something so surprising many
people might find it hard to believe. But he started by saying this about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL DAVIS, CLAIRE`S FATHER: Claire was full of life and love.
She had a wonderful sense of humor and she loved to laugh. She laughed
with her entire being and she made other people laugh freely and without
She was child like, but not childish. She had learned that to love is
to live. She learned to love others and to respect others, to not judge,
to accept herself and to accept other people`s differences. She had
learned that to receive she had to give. She had learned what it meant to
be a friend and to have friends. She was learning to follow her bliss.
She was becoming a woman of grace and inner beauty. The world was a better
place with her in it. And the world has truly lost a shining light by her
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now what Michael Davis said next made headlines around the
country. He talked about forgiveness. Many have been reluctant to use the
gunman`s name. But Michael Davis said this.
DAVIS: The young man that shot Claire had a name. His name was Carl
Pearson. For reasons most of us or all of us will never know, Carl allowed
himself to become filled it anger and rage and hatred. That anger, rage,
and hatred blinded him. He blindly followed a path that led him to do
something that no one should ever do. He took an innocent person`s life.
He took our daughter`s life. Claire`s last words are poignant and
profound. She said, " my God, Carl, what are you doing?" The fact is that
Carl was so blinded by his emotions that he didn`t know what he was doing.
In her most innocent and precious way, Claire tried to shine a light
on Carl`s darkness. My wife and I forgive Carl Pearson for what he did
because he didn`t know what he was doing. We would ask all of you here and
all of you watching to search your hearts and also forgive Carl Pearson.
He didn`t know what he was doing.
Carl is no longer with us. So it is no longer our responsibility to
pass judgment. As each of us will do one day, Carl has faced the infinite
alone. Unchecked anger and rage can lead to hatred, and unchecked hatred
can lead to tragedy, blindness, and a loss of knowing, a loss of humanity.
The last thing that Desiree and I would want is to perpetuate this
anger, rage, hatred in connection with Claire. Claire would also not want
As citizens of our community, the state of Colorado, our nation, and
the world, we must strive for kindness, compassion, peace, and love to
maintain our humanity. We can`t allow anger, rage, or hatred to take root
now or ever.
And as we all move forward with our lives, we would like to ask you to
join us a honor Claire by forever showing compassion and forgiveness and
using whatever is within your power to reach out to those around you that
might need the light of your love, to help guide them through the darkness.
We can all realize Claire`s last word in our own lives by asking
ourselves, in those times when we are less than loving, God, what am I
doing? It would honor us deeply if you would consider this. Death has an
attitude that all is lost, yet the truth is otherwise. Desiree and I are
working to make this experience serve us by keeping love alive and vital in
our lives. The essence of true forgiveness is to repeatedly to choose love
consciously. And to make love more important than hate, despair, or fear.
By expressing love, compassion, and forgiveness, in our daily lives we
will honor Claire and keep our hearts focused there. Perhaps as a
community, we can consciously choose to raise the bar of our individual
standards and create a positive and empowering meaning to this and all of
our experiences. This is our heartfelt commitment.
BILL KARINS, METEOROLOGIST: The nor`easter is forming off the coast,
effects felt from Washington, D.C. all the way up into areas of coastal New
England. Washington, D.C., a little bit of snow surprise for you, a little
more than expected and it is still snowing. No official word yet, if we
finally broken our snow drought of without two inches in over two years.
Philadelphia almost four inches on the ground already, still snowing.
You could end up with six to seven. Same for New York City with the road
are now becoming snow-covered. Wind chills dropping down below 10 to
single digits overnight. And sandwich Maine, blizzard conditions will be
moving in. Already very windy as you can see along the coast.
Let me take you through the weather maps and the heaviest snow now
located from just outside of D.C. and Baltimore right up i-95 into areas of
Maryland, Delaware, and Southern New Jersey. It is a light fluffy snow.
It is going to blow over the place through southern New England.
Tonight, we have blizzard warnings in effect for areas of Long Island,
Coastal Maine, coastal portions of New Hampshire, right through coastal
sections of Cape Cod and just to the south of Boston. That is where the
worst travel and whiteout conditions expected. Already wind gusts out
there and Cape Cod. The 30, 40 miles an hour. Even Inland, wind gusts of
30 of this fluffy snow. We will have a bouncing and blowing all around.
More details throughout the night here on MSNBC.
REID: What does the Pope owe the rich? Now that might seem like an
odd question given that the traditional religious formulation is to ask
what the people owe to God and then to allow religious leaders like the
Pope, leader of the world`s 1.2 billion Catholics to sort out God`s claims
The current Pope has take in up the mantle in a really amazing way.
Pope Francis has washed the feet of prisoners including a Muslim woman,
refused silk slippers and guilded apartments and driven his own car. He
has talked about being less judgmental of people who are gay.
Stories of Francis sneaking out of Vatican City to minister to the
homeless and his gifts of international phone card to 2,000 immigrants in a
shelter in Rome so they could reconnect with their families for the
holidays have made him a rock star.
More than 6.6 million people have attended events with this Pope at
the Vatican since his election in March. All most three times the number
who came to hear Pope Benedict in all of 2012. But what Pope Francis has
done most of all id to try to refocus the church`s emphasis towards caring
for the poor and addressing the growing inequality in a worlds that seems
to worship on bridal greed.
And the pontiff has plenty of difficult backup. (INAUDIBLE), for the
poor will never cease from the land, therefore I command you, saying, you
shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor, and your needy in
First John, 3:17. But whoever has the world`s goods and sees his
brother in need and closes his heart against him. How does the love of god
abide in him.
Now, it is not clear whether the bible speaks specifically as to
whether giving to the poor depend on how much love the giver receives in
return from the church. But don`t tell that to billionaire, Home Depot co-
founder Ken Langone, who recently expressed concerns about whether Pope
Francis` critiques of unbridle capitalism and trickledown economics will
turn off rich donors.
Langone who is helping to raise $180 million to restore New York St.
Patrick`s cathedral, told colleagues at CNBC that one potential seven
figure donor he talked to was in danger of walking away, offended by the
Pope`s criticism at a culture of prosperity.
He even suggested that all the papal talk about unfairness and
inequality could leave some rich folks to become incapable of feeling
compassion for the poor. Langone said he raised the issue with Cardinal
Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York telling him you want to be
careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don`t act the same
as rich people in another country. Here`s how Cardinal Dolan responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY DOLAN, CARDINAL: Well, that would be a misunderstanding of
the Holy Father`s message. The Pope loves poor people. He also loves rich
people. So I said, Ken, thank you for bringing it to my attention. We
have got to correct to make sure this gentleman, who is, the only one I
have heard, understands the holy father`s message properly and then I think
he is going to say, OK, if that is the case, count me in for St. Patrick`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: OK. Am I the only one who thinks this sound like a really
awkward (INAUDIBLE)? I mean, we are talking about charitable giving which
is by its very nature supposed to not be reciprocal. Does the head of the
Catholic Church literally owe a donor something in return for their
generosity or even to get them to feel compassion? That`s some pretty
thinly felt compassion. And isn`t God`s love for everybody kind of built
into the whole thing without the need for a special shout out to the
The rich in the country definitely are different. Since the late
1970s, the top one percent in the U.S. have doubled their share of the
total income from about 10 percent to 20 percent. That`s the single
largest gain of all of the developed countries. Of course, many of the
rich are undoubtedly incredibly generous giving millions to charity.
But according to the 2013 world giving index, America isn`t ahead by
that much. A lot of our giving isn`t million dollar checks. It is
ordinary people, giving off to a stranger or volunteering or giving to
their church, or synagogue, or mosque.
And most people don`t expect the high five from god`s vigor on earth
in exchange. Should Pope Francis also scrap the whole verse about being
easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for rich man to
enter the kingdom of God. Some of the rich in the country have expressed a
level of entitlement lately from Wall Street bankers whining that the
president calls them fat cats to hedge funders fuming that the tea party
Republicans won`t take their calls. But the idea that the Pope needs to
show rich people the love, or they`ll refuse to follow the biblical
injunction that supposedly the basis of their faith has got to be the most
ironic sense of entitlement ever.
REID: Pot shots in Colorado saw a more long lines today.
Yesterday, the state became the first in the nation to allow legal
purchase of marijuana for recreational use. At least 24 shops in eight
different towns opened up for shoppers at 8:00 a.m. The Colorado
department of agriculture had also adopted that state`s first rules for
hemp production. Producers can begin registering on March 1st.
And up next, with affordable care officially up and running have
Republicans lost all hope of repealing it. I`ll talk about that with Ezra
REID: Nearly four years after President Obama signed it into law, the
affordable care act is finally here. Americans can no longer be denied
coverage due to preexisting conditions. There are no more annual or
lifetime limits to benefits you can receive. And all health insurance
plans must meet minimum standards. In other words, no more junk policies.
And according to the White House, so far more than nine million
Americans now have health insurance because of the ACA. With six million
people signing up through the exchanges or becoming eligible through
Medicaid expansion and another three million young adults now getting
coverage through their parents` plans.
But despite the numbers, Republicans continue their fight against the
ACA. House majority leader Eric Cantor said in a letter to the Republican
caucus that there will be more votes on affordable care act in 2014 with
the first next week. This all comes as Supreme Court justice Sonya
Sotomayor made a last minute decision to grant a small group of Colorado
nuns a temporary exemption from the mandatory contraceptive coverage
And joining us now is Ezra Klein, a columnist at "the Washington Post"
and an MSNBC policy analyst.
So Ezra, you know, the administration is really touting that beg
number, the nine million. But what we don`t know is kind of the mix, the
demographic mix. What is the threshold of young healthier invincible that
need how to be on exchanges or into the ACA for it to be a success?
EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: So back in May or June,
when I was talking to the administration about what they saw as what would
be the success for the ACA in year one? They stead 40 percent. They said
whatever level they had, they didn`t care, they said, whether they had five
million or seven million or 15 million people in the exchanges in year one.
What they cared about was how many of them were young and healthy. They
needed 40 percent.
Now, it is also the case that, the affordable care act has a couple of
different policies built in to protect it from not getting enough young
people in for the first couple years. So one policy, a very big one is
called risk corridors. And if insurers don`t get the kind of young person
signup that they were expecting, the federal government will, in the first
couple years of the law, help them cover the extra cost. That means, in
practice, it can keep premiums lower than with otherwise be possible even
if not any young people come in year one.
But if they don`t get enough young people in year one or year two,
three, then, over time you get into a problem where premiums begin to go up
because you have only order in secular people. And as such, the holding
power for the (INAUDIBLE) becomes unaffordable.
So, year one, you need about 40 percent. But if they don`t have it
they have some that can blunt the impact. But over the first couple years,
eventually those policies run out. So, they really do ultimately need to
get to the 40 percent number.
REID: Now Ezra, you have written a lot about sort of the disincentive
versus the incentives for younger people to sign up? Sort of in a nutshell
what are they?
KLEIN: So, the disincentive for young people who are getting
subsidies, who are getting subsidies but still don`t get that much is cost,
right? Insurance is expensive. Often times folks need it in a given year
or given month or given week, or they don`t think they will. And
similarly, people might just end up thinking, you know what I am just going
to do it later and then they forget and the forget.
So, disincentive is not that they don`t want it. Research shows that
young people want insurance about as much as anyone else. But the
disincentive is, is simply not being able to afford it. And we do have
good news on that recently, right? Ultimately, in addition to subsidies,
we have had very, very low health care cost growth the last couple of
But it is still the case, America`s cost growth, America`s spending on
health care is about twice as high as it is in other developed nations. We
have just incredibly insanely atrociously expensive health care system.
And so, there as reasonable for people to see costs.
On the other side of that, there is subsidies to help people folks get
in. So, it is a good deal for a lot of them. And there is also the
individual mandate which after the first three years will mean you pay
about 2.5 percent of your income if you`ve don`t sign up for insurance and
you are not getting anything.
So, if you make $50,000 and paying more than $1,000 to the individual
mandate and still can`t go see a doctor for reasonable rate, you might
decide it is simply a better deal to actually get insurance and be paying a
little bit more for something who is actually worth having.
REID: And speaking of paying for something you aren`t getting at all,
I mean, federal; taxes are up for the entire country. But for 25 states,
people cannot get expanded Medicaid even with that 100 percent match from
the federal government. I am wondering, how that skews the cost to the
country at large, of health care under the affordable care act?
KLEIN: That`s just a horror show, the fact that all of the people are
not going to be able to get insurance they would be entitled to. It
doesn`t skew the costs we are talking about too much.
So, one thing -- couple things here. One is that each state is going
to have a risk pool. So, you are going to have 51 risk pools, including
the District of Columbia and the risk for everybody is worried about is not
the Medicaid risk poll because the government due to the way it negotiates
Medicaid payment, it drives that price real low, if anything, probably a
little bit too low in order for these folks to get exactly the access and
the desire of it. It drives a real low.
So, insuring people on Medicaid is a whole lot cheaper than insuring
them on private insurance. And the reason people end up getting insured on
Medicaid tend in just to be in income. It doesn`t collect by health or
sickness. So, you are really dealing there with the question of income.
The people get locked out are kind of the same. They`re a demographic mix.
What we are worried about the risk pool, is in the so-called insurance
exchanges or insurance market places which is where people are buying
private health care insurance. And buying it not because they`re get a
full ride from the government as Medicaid is. But because they`re getting
enough subsidies, at the little bit more they have to pay is worth it or
just because the individual mandate is forcing them in. And it is exactly
where you can really see people choose not to pay for something they feel
is too expensive. And if that happens you would get this sort of adverse
selection, spiral, get to see higher premiums. But the Medicaid, I would
say, is a humanitarian disaster. But it is not actually policy disaster
for the Affordable care act.
REID: And you know, speaking of policy disasters. The Republicans
are actually still talking about this idea of voting to repeal affordable
care act, do you foresee, this as a political matter, Republicans actually
willingly choose to do another big fight in the Senate, finance, Senate
finance committee and go through all of this again to put forward their own
probably going to be unpopular health care plan. Does that make sense?
KLEIN: It is ridiculous. Some way, I think it is so important about
politics here because as of January 1st, the politics changed utterly and
dramatically. Everything the Republicans have done on the affordable care
is actually been affected. It has been about blaming the affordable care
act for taking away things people have, right? Taking away your insurance
when Obama said it wouldn`t. Taking away your choice of doctor and the
lots of more complicated situations. Taking away things, maybe it isn`t
really taking away like death panels. But it as always been about what is
the ACA taking away from you.
And when they had political traction, with finding places is real, or
for arguably real where that is happening, this is going to be now a
transition. You have six million and soon you will have many more of that
who are getting insurance through Obamacare.
So, every repeal vote, every time Republicans attempt to, to repeal
or, dramatically overhaul the affordable care act, they will be threatening
to take insurance away from upwards of six million people. That will get
higher real quick. And by the time Republicans who will actually get
potentially the White House, so they could do anything about it, it would
be 2017. So now, you are talking about tens of millions of people.
So, they become the folks who are taking something tremendous and
dramatic and valuable away from folks. And they`re not going to want to
get into the buzz saw.
REID: All right, Ezra Klein gets tonight`s last word.
KLEIN: Thank you.
REID: And thanks for watching tonight. You can follow me on twitter
at the Reid report. And be sure to check out the work that we do at
Chris Hayes is up next.
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