February 5, 2014
Guests: Bob Del Tufo, Maggie Haberman, Bob Ingle, John Megrue
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Who`s behind all this?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Who built this huge, lumbering, take no
prisoners payback machine rooted in Trenton, New Jersey, this machine that
told so many people in Governor Christie`s office to punish the mayor of
Fort Lee by refusing under any circumstances to even answer a phone call
from him, even in the midst of that huge traffic jam up there that was
smother his community?
This same machine told the deputy chief of staff to alert Christie`s
appointee at the New York Port Authority, David Wildstein, that now is time
for some traffic problems in Fort Lee. This same machine allegedly told
the lieutenant governor to issue a "get in line" order on a Hoboken parking
lot to the local mayor, an order to either back the project the governor
and his friend wanted done or get stiffed on hurricane disaster funds.
and what led the attorney general of New Jersey, a Christie appointee, to
quash the indictments of the governor`s allies in Hunterdon, and why were
those prosecutors fired? Who is the man behind this machine? Who created
this statewide payback machine that punishes all those who dare to cross
Who, to use a classic term, is the man behind the curtain, or in this case,
the man behind the machine? And when will this machine`s path of
destruction and political malevolence be traced back to the one who created
it? And that`s where we`re headed here on HARDBALL, to the seat of the
hurricane that`s blown so furiously out of Trenton.
Bob Del Tufo was the U.S. attorney of New Jersey. He was also the state`s
attorney general. And Howard Fineman is, of course, MSNBC political
analyst and editorial director of The HuffingtonPost. I want --
Huffington Post Group, I should say.
Howard, we were talking as we came in, and you said something I thought was
so powerful in basically explaining the scope of a story that`s gotten
messier and messier, but gives clarity to it. It is about the whole thing.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, Chris, you have to understand that New Jersey has one of the
strongest governors in the country. I`m not talking about Christie
himself, I`m talking about the way the constitution of New Jersey sets it
up. The governor of New Jersey has almost unrivaled power in the country.
He appoints the attorney general. He appoints all the cabinet members. He
appoints local (INAUDIBLE) lower down middle-level officials. He appoints
judges. He appoints prosecutors. Nothing moves --
MATTHEWS: And the attorney general.
FINEMAN: Yes, and the attorney general of the state. Nothing moves in New
Jersey without the governor`s approval, at least on paper. And Christie is
one of those strong figures who took this strong office and used it to
enhance his strength.
And he did it in that first term. Coming to the second term when this
event happened on the bridge, he was at the height of his powers and
presumably the height of his knowledge. That`s why people doubt. They may
give him credence for saying he didn`t know about this before it happened.
But the notion that he didn`t know anything from September 9th, from the
day that the bridge closing happened, until he was basically surprised by
"The Bergen Record" and "The Wall Street Journal" the morning before his
press conference on January 8th -- it just doesn`t stand up, given what we
know about the way the office is set up and about the way the man operates.
MATTHEWS: And that runs at me with everything I know about politics -- and
we`ll get to the law in one minute -- which is when you make those
patronage appointments, you know those people depend on you.
MATTHEWS: You gave them the job. You gave them the position. They owe
you every moment they`re there. Number two, you are always thinking of how
they work together. Who`s the head of the pecking order? Who`s fighting
with who? And sometimes, you want fights, and sometimes you just want
people to get in line.
Let me go to Mr. Del Tufo. Thank you for joining us about this, legally.
And I`m looking at this question, which any reasonable person asks -- all
these people running around speaking for the governor, a young woman in her
early 40s saying, OK, it`s time for some traffic problems, a guy over at
the Port Authority says, Yep! Everybody operating (ph) on the governor, it
seems, governor`s authority at least, his authority.
You`ve got the lieutenant governor saying, If you don`t play ball, you`re
not going to get the money -- operating on the governor`s authority. The
same with the attorney general, appointed by the governor. Everybody`s
moving around saying, I`m here from the governor`s office implicitly.
Now, where does the law come in? Where does RICO come in? Where`s
racketeering coming in here? Where does the law say, Wait a minute, there
comes a point when all these moving parts have to be pointed back to
somebody who started this machine. Your thoughts.
BOB DEL TUFO, FMR. NJ ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, let me say that we have to
analyze all of the facts, and we don`t have all of the facts now. And I
think we ought to be patient and prudent about that.
And secondly, since I was the state attorney general, I have to correct the
statements that the governor controls the attorney general. Once
confirmed, the attorney general cannot be fired by the governor. And
that`s because it`s such a powerful position.
MATTHEWS: So in the Hunterdon case -- well, let me ask you your judgment,
since you`ve gotten into this.
DEL TUFO: Well, let me --
MATTHEWS: Your experience, the Hunterdon case, where the guy was in there
and quashes all the local indictments, and then subsequently goes out and
fires all the local prosecutors for apparently going after some local
allies of the governor. You say that wouldn`t show the influence or the
friendship of the AG with the governor?
DEL TUFO: Well, you`re -- listen, most of the attorney generals --
attorneys general that I knew in New Jersey were really effective and
honorable and honest people. And there are an awful lot of honest people
that were appointed by the governor of New Jersey going back to Brendan
Burn (ph), Jim Florio, absolutely.
But in the Hunterdon County case, I don`t know the facts about that except
that the attorney general took over the operation of the entire office.
You can only do that with the consent of the governor. And then she fired
assistants. This is from the "New York Times" story in the fall.
DEL TUFO: -- fired the assistants and dismissed an indictment against an
early Christie -- an ardent supporter, the sheriff. Now, the attorney
general can supersede a prosecutor on any particular case. So it`s
puzzling to me why they took over the whole office. That`s only been done
once or twice in the 40 --
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, that`s what I`m pointing to.
DEL TUFO: -- 40-year history. Well, I wouldn`t -- I`m not going to
characterize the position and the relationships based on that incident.
And I don`t know all the facts about that incident, but --
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re looking at a pattern here of a lot of people
throwing their weight around who are all close to the governor. They have
titles like lieutenant governor or deputy chief of staff.
Let me show you the list here to look at. And I want to know about how
this is looked at by a U.S. attorney. This is why it`s so hard to believe
Christie`s "know nuttin`" defense, which as Howard points out, is kind of
difficult to believe, because in all these cases, the question remains.
Did someone give the orders, and if so, who?
Let`s look at the big ones. Again, during the lane closures, when traffic
was blocked for all those days, there was apparently an office-wide alert
in Christie`s own office to ignore what were expected to be the Fort Lee
mayor`s desperate phone calls -- What`s going on up there? And during
yesterday`s discussion, we were reminded that that alert pretty much
included everyone down to low-level aides. We know this because one of
Christie`s staffers, Christina Renna, who just quit, all but apologized to
Bridget Kelly for letting a call from Fort Lee Mayor Sokolich slip through
to a junior staffer, who picked up the phone because, quote, "It came from
a number he was not familiar with." So who gave the order for this
enforced radio silence, as they called it, against the mayor, across the
board in the office?
It`s pretty that someone put together this who mechanism for payback. All
Bridget Kelly had to do was pull the switch, which she did -- quote, "Time
for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." But did someone order Bridget
Kelly to do so? And if so, who? Who put that payback machine together?
In addition, you have Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno (ph)being accused
of holding Sandy money hostage as a way to basically order the Hoboken
mayor to get in line to support a real estate deal. Did someone give her
that authority to walk into the -- into Hoboken and make that demand.
Not to mention there are reports that the state`s attorney general did pull
the plug on that indictment of those Christie sheriffs by overruling an
entire office down in Hunterdon, something that`s basically unheard of in
Jersey politics. The AG then fired the prosecutors on the case. Did
someone approve that?
That`s the question. Who has the power to give all these orders? Who is
the man behind the curtain, and who can order the governor`s office to
ignore phone calls? Who tells Bridget Kelly to pull the switch? Who gives
the lieutenant governor the OK to pressure the Hoboken mayor? And who
signs off on the attorney general killing that indictment?
Now, you say he`s an independent official. But someone who gives these
kinds of orders across the board must be pretty far up. Your thoughts.
DEL TUFO: Chris, I don`t want -- I don`t want to waste the time here
defending the public servants of the state of New Jersey, but what we have
here involving Governor Christie -- sure, somebody gave an order. It is an
abuse of power. But we don`t have all the facts yet. We don`t know them,
and we ought to be patient for that.
But it certainly seems that a group of people involving human beings in the
governor`s office and the Port Authority have gotten together and have done
some specific acts. That`s why when I was on the news show 10 days ago, I
You know, Rico was used to bring down a Blagojevich in Illinois. And what
it really is -- if a group of individuals can be an enterprise, and then
the predicate acts can be state crimes or federal crimes, Hobbs Act crimes.
I am not saying that this applies in this situation. I`m saying that we
have to get the proofs and we have to find out what exactly happened.
This U.S. attorney, Paul Fishman, is a very able guy with a lot of
integrity. And he`s doing it exactly the right way. He`s not having press
conferences. He`s doing this on a confidential basis, which is the way it
ought to be done. And he will get the facts, for sure.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about that with Howard. It seems to me we`re
all looking at that together. This has gotten a lot of attention across
the country. I was just out in California. I got to tell you, people are
all talking about it. And they`re trying to figure out how all this
Now, some people can just say, Well, this is the way things are done. Or
you can say, This is the way they think shouldn`t be done and this is an
elevated case of it. But you know, it gets down to people`s lives and they
go, Wait a minute. If everybody is out of line but the governor, that gets
kind of screwy. Then everybody got the wrong word. He said rather
painfully, apparently, I don`t know how everybody got the wrong idea about
what I wanted done.
FINEMAN: Yes. Well, I totally agree with Mr. Del Tufo that there`s no
reason and no justification for hurrying to a conclusion here. But while -
MATTHEWS: Except all the people around him are taking the 5th because --
FINEMAN: Yes --
MATTHEWS: -- they don`t want to go to prison over this!
FINEMAN: But while the U.S. attorney is slowly and carefully doing his
business -- and I agree that Paul Fishman is that kind of guy -- everybody
else in the world is going to wonder what the heck happened here. And what
I`m saying is the way New Jersey is set up legally, constitutionally and
politically, you can`t be governor in any successful or effective way
without needing to know everything that`s moving in the vast empire that
you`re allowed to create constitutionally in that state.
And that`s what Chris Christie did. That`s the guy he was. And you can be
made by the machine and unmade by the machine, if it flips on you. In
other words, the central control that you have that makes you effective is
what also raises questions about what the attorney calls the enterprise of
the government of New Jersey.
That`s what we are sitting around here trying to figure out. And yes,
people have taken the 5th. The legislative committees that think that
they`re going to get a lot of getting public hearings out of these people
are not because those people want to cut deals with Paul Fishman, the U.S.
attorney. So we`re not really going to know for sure what the facts are
until Mr. Fishman carefully finds the facts, which he will do.
MATTHEWS: -- wheels of justice --
FINEMAN: There`s nothing worse --
MATTHEWS: -grind slowly but fine.
FINEMAN: Yes, there`s nothing worse -- there`s nothing worse, by the way,
for somebody who`s in the middle of a crisis like this, to have a U.S.
attorney who`s known to be apolitical and professional, which this guy
Fishman is. He`s not a grandstander. He`s not a partisan guy. He`s
basically a professional level civil servant guy who happened to have
gotten the job of U.S. attorney.
That`s good for Christie, which means this guy will be fair, but it also
means when this guy has a report, it will be definitive.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Bob Del Tufo. Thanks for joining us. And
Howard Fineman. You deserve all the encomia coming your way.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Everyone had the same reaction when Christie accused
David Wildstein of deceptive behavior back in high school. In high school?
Really? Well, tonight, the true story behind that smear, and that`s what
Plus -- this is fascinating stuff. Plus, the department of distortion, how
conservatives took a government report that the Affordable Care Act can
liberate people from dead-end situations and turn it into "Obama care"
And what did a Republican congressman say when a constituent suggested
President Obama should be executed? He told her, Yes, we do have an outlaw
Well, finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the question that hangs over
New Jersey. Who created this monster?
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Women`s rights activist Sandra Fluke is running for elective
office, but not the office she was expected to. Fluke has announced her --
declared, in fact, her candidacy for California state senate. She decided
against running for the House seat of retiring U.S. Congress Henry Waxman.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. This weekend, Governor Chris
Christie`s team charged David Wildstein of the Port Authority of suing --
hat`s the word -- over a matter involving the high school school board. In
other words, something to do with his high school attendance way back when.
Well, that`s certainly the way it was meant to come across.
The fact is, Wildstein, a young gung-ho Republican in his teenage years,
sued to get onto a local Republican committee, nothing to do with school or
the school board, everything to do with his political ambition to get ahead
in local politics, I think a totally understandable ambition for a lot of
Anyway, Christie`s team piled on again with another charge, accusing
Wildstein of having been accused of, quote, "deceptive behavior" by a high
school teacher. Well, it turns out that this teacher had signed
Wildstein`s petition to run for school board the following year, and
Wildstein had taken that signature as an endorsement. Anyway, they agreed
afterward that there`d been a misunderstanding about how far the teacher
could go in endorsing his candidacy.
Well, joining me right now is "Asbury Park Press" political reporter Bob
Ingle, and Politico`s Maggie Haberman.
Maggie, this stuff is so low, going after the guy`s high school behavior
and trying to make it look like he was some weirdo that was litigious in
high school politics, when it turns out he was trying to get into local
Republican politics, and then later saying he was some sort of a dishonest
person with his teacher. The teacher signed his petition and then he went
ahead and used that as an endorsement.
You know, I think these are shadings, but they`re certainly -- they were --
what would I call them, highly escalated charges by the Christie people.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: I think going back to somebody`s high school
era to, you know, muddy them or make them look a certain way is always sort
of questionable. I think the bigger question here is, when you see that e-
mail, you then ask yourself -- and the Democrats were are asking this, and
it`s a legitimate question -- if he was so bad, if all of this was true,
then why did you appoint the guy to the Port Authority in the first place
and then praise him on his way out the door? Those are very, very
I think, mostly, it just surprised people for the simple reason that what
Christie is facing right now is an allegation that his office basically
engaged in bullying over the George Washington Bridge episode, that it was
a political bullying attempt. And to send out an e-mail like that sort of
furthers that. Whether that was the goal or not, that was the perception.
MATTHEWS: Bob, I agree. I think you only get one public personality. And
for some reason, the Christie people are not aware that they`re promoting
the very personality publicly they`re trying to deny, which is this guy
engages in roughhouse tactics against people he sees as political enemies.
BOB INGLE, "ASBURY PARK PRESS": Well, not only that, but this was such an
amateurish thing, you have to go back and rethink about all those times
when we said they were a professional, hard-nosed, know what they`re doing
kind of group. This was just petty and amateurish.
And by the way, the attorney general may look independent on paper, but it
is a very political office.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so. Tell me about that. Tell me your thoughts,
because the attorney general, handpicked is rare. In most states, they`re
usually elected now.
INGLE: Well --
MATTHEWS: And when you get picked by somebody in a top political office,
you are a politician, I think, but your view.
INGLE: I wrote a book called "The Soprano State: New Jersey`s Culture of
We have a whole chapter on the attorney general. And I`ll tell you
something I have never said publicly before. I was interviewing an
attorney general one day, and we were talking about a particular situation.
And this attorney general said to me, Bob, I would go after that if they
would let me.
That was an attorney general, supposedly an independent one that has -- is
not influenced by politicians.
MATTHEWS: Go after what?
INGLE: Well, I don`t -- I don`t remember the particular circumstances we
are talking about, but it was about something that was going on in the
INGLE: And I said, why isn`t anything being done about this? And the
attorney general said, I would go after it if they would let me.
Well, Christie made sure to distance himself from Wildstein, David
Wildstein, in his January 9 press conference, especially their time
together or not together in high school. Let`s listen to this distancing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Let me clear something up, OK, about
my childhood friend David Wildstein.
David and I were not friends in high school. We were not even
acquaintances in high school. We didn`t travel in the same circles in high
school. I was the class president and athlete. I don`t know what David
was doing during that period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what David was doing that period of time.
Well, it turns out David Wildstein was doing a lot during that period of
time. Here is a "New York Times" article about a high school kid, him,
from 1978, about Wildstein`s effort to get a seat, as I said a few moments
ago, on the county Republican committee. It`s headlined "Student 16 Is
Fighting for Right to Run for Essex Gop Panel."
So, Maggie, this is sort of interesting, because this is how agitprop goes
out, dishonest propaganda. Over the weekend, Christie`s team, whoever in
that office has the right to put -- assistant communications director, I
guess -- to put out words trashing somebody who is causing you trouble, in
this case David Wildstein, and it was linked apparently to stuff they put
out on him to this article.
So, all you had to do was look at the article and realize he wasn`t suing
over a school board issue or a school matter. He was suing over his right
to run as a younger person for a job in the local Republican committee,
which isn`t the worst thing in the world to say about a gung-ho young
But there you have a kid who was very busy in politics, and now Christie is
saying, as of his press conference, never heard of the guy. He is
basically a nerd. I was the cool kid, the class president. I was the
jock. This guy was over with the chess team somewhere.
That kind of dismissal does fit with the mode, as you pointed out a couple
minutes ago, of being a bully, the big shot, the tough kid, the linebacker,
the kid in the school that can push people around in the cafeteria. Your
HABERMAN: Well, Chris, can you remember the last time that you heard a
politician say, I was the cool kid in class, as opposed to, I was the nerd
in class or I was the -- this was -- that, in and of itself, was really
interesting, number one.
But, number two, yes, to your point, an editor of mine wrote about this,
this weekend. You sort of never escape who you were in high school.
Right? And Christie really I think underscored what we have seen. He set
in motion to some extent this series of events. Whether they were going to
happen or not, I think it took on a very personal edge after that press
conference, where he basically called Wildstein a loser in high school.
I think that Christie`s people understandably feel like they need to fight
back. They do feel like they are under siege. They argue that what
Wildstein is saying is wrong and that it`s made up and it`s basically a guy
who is looking for immunity himself from prosecution.
And I think had they stopped at that it would have been fine. It is just
that it went all the way back so far, as you say, to an article that then
ended up not being portrayed in its fullest form.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a couple points here. Bob, first of all, the
journalism coming out of the -- coming out of the governor`s office is not
accurate. They first of all distort the facts.
Number two, they make this big mistake of thinking that everybody is
looking back to high school and rooting for the jocks, the superstars, when
in fact only a few people are the superstars, as I remember.
MATTHEWS: We had a couple of heroes in basketball and football, a couple.
Now, a couple of them were good guys and a couple of them probably were
not. But they were not all universally loved.
And certainly most people felt they were nobodies in high school. It is a
very difficult time in life, high school, as we all know. It is after
puberty. It`s difficult socially. And to go back and say I was the
kingpin back there, this guy was the nerd, and then his people, Christie`s
people put out the trash talk on the guy.
It is bad enough bringing up high school, but to trash you and distort high
school, they are desperate in the governor`s office. That`s what I know
about politics. When you reduce yourself to fouling the other side, you
want the ball back. They don`t have the ball, and they know it.
INGLE: Good luck. There is a lot of that going into it, Chris.
Did they not see what was coming, that we were going to be sitting here
talking about it on national TV? It was so trite and trivial. And who
approves this stuff? Did that get out of the governor`s office without the
governor signing off on it?
MATTHEWS: Who is the man behind the curtain?
Well, that`s a question we got to ask for the next couple months perhaps
around here. Who approved all of this stuff? Who said it was OK to put
out the word from the governor`s office it is time for traffic problems?
Who said it is OK for the lieutenant governor to head down to Hoboken and
threaten the local mayor with getting screwed if they didn`t play ball on a
local real estate deal favored by the governor`s buddies?
Who says, this is the governor`s office calling? That is the question. It
always seems to be happening that the governor`s office is calling, but
where is the governor?
Thank you, Bob Ingle, for asking the question.
Maggie, you are always great to have on the show. Thank you.
HABERMAN: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Next what: more on Chris Christie and David Wildstein were like
in high school, courtesy of Steve Colbert. Well, this is a little humor
Well, this is HARDBALL. This whole discussion is HARDBALL, the place for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": These accusations coming from
the highest level, a social studies teacher.
COLBERT: Now, unfortunately, David Wildstein`s social studies teacher was
unavailable for comment because he is deceased.
COLBERT: Was it murder?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Time for the "Sideshow."
That was, of course, the great Steve Colbert on the attacks that Chris
Christie dug up from David Wildstein`s high school days, all distorted.
But America`s favorite satirist didn`t just speculate about Wildstein and
Christie`s past. He found a special guest to come on as a character
witness, their first grade teacher. Here is how that played out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
COLBERT: I hear you have damaging revelations about what David Wildstein
was like as a first grader.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, Stephen, he was an untrustworthy ruffian.
One time, he said he needed to tinkle. But once he was in the bathroom, he
just played with the soap dispenser.
COLBERT: OK. Did you also teach Chris Christie?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christopher?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, he was a joy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A born leader with executive experience.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COLBERT: You`re reading off of note cards. Did Chris Christie`s people
get to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He closed off two lanes of the lunch line.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn`t endorse him, and a week later, the class
goldfish turned up dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Next up: President Obama`s haters can be vitriolic at times, but what
unfolded at a recent town hall for Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine
of Oklahoma is behind reproach.
A video of the event turned up online just last week, and it shows a local
constituent`s ugly diatribe against the president of the United States.
The woman who is unidentified in the video went so far as to call for
President Obama`s execution. What`s worse is that the congressman,
Bridenstine, a Tea Party freshman, quietly listened to her and then chose
to turn a blind eye, never correcting or even acknowledging the delusional
gravity of her comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not president. As far as I`m concerned, he
should be executed as an enemy combatant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Muslims that he is shipping into our country
through pilots and commercial jets, what is -- I can`t tell you, I can`t
say, because we are in a public place, that this guy is a criminal.
REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE (R), OKLAHOMA: Look, everybody knows the lawlessness
of this president.
He picks and chooses which laws he is going to enforce or not enforce. He
does it by decree. And, ultimately, when it comes to -- when he can`t even
get that done, then he uses foreign bodies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Clown car material there. Bridenstine not only was silent about
the terrible charge the president should be executed. He piled on by
saying he is an outlaw. This guy is an elected official in the United
States government getting paid by the United States government to do what?
Be an idiot?
I don`t know. We tried to get an answer from his office to see if they`re
going to fix it. We called the office for comment today, but received no
response. Well, no response is better than that performance.
Up next: The right-wing distortion machine is back in action. They have
twisted a government report to say Obama is costing millions of people
their jobs, when the report says nothing of the sort.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
The winter storm that dumped snow on the Midwest before charging East has
forced the cancellation of thousands of flights. More than 2,000 were
canceled today, on top of another 4,500 on Monday and Tuesday.
CVS will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products this fall. The
items will be phased out by October 1.
Tennis star Billie Jean King will miss the Olympics` opening ceremony in
Sochi because her mother is ill. She is part of the U.S. delegation to the
Games -- and now we are going to take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, no, the Affordable Care Act is not killing jobs. That`s the spin, of
course, from the Republicans that is being out about the Congressional
Budget Office report released yesterday. That`s what the Republicans are
The report did say that the implementation of the health care law could
shrink the size of the work force, largely because some workers will choose
to cut their hours or retire early. It says that subsidies for part-time
workers will dissuade some people from looking for full-time jobs they were
not looking for.
However, here is Senator Mitch McConnell interpreted that -- quote --
"Obamacare to print even more pink slips." He expanded on that in a news
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The CBO report is certainly
not pretty if interested if you`re interested in creating jobs in America.
As we all know, they estimate up to $2 million -- two million fewer jobs
will be created as a result of Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the National Republican Congressional Committee echoed
McConnell -- quote -- "New budget outlook says Obamacare is hurting
And here was a tweet from U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia -- quote
-- "Under Obamacare, millions of hardworking Americans will lose their jobs
and those who keep them will see their hours and wages reduced."
Senator Chuck Grassley had this message: "According to CBO, the law will
hurt economic growth because the law -- and cause the loss of 2.5 million
Well, just to be clear because we go through more of this ramble, here is
what the CBO actually said -- quote -- "The estimated reduction stems
almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers
choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business, business demand
In other words, the Affordable Care Act is not leading to mass layoffs.
It`s giving people the freedom to leave jobs they`re in only because those
jobs, if you go for 40 hours a week, provide health insurance.
Well, don`t tell Eric Cantor that.
Joy Reid is soon to the host of the new show on MSNBC 2:00 in the afternoon
Eastern time. And Ron Reagan -- you always smile at that one. And you
should. And Ron Reagan is an MSNBC political analyst.
Joy, I`m going to give you the rare opportunity to explicate something, a
CBO report yesterday. Generally, the president likes CBO reports.
Yesterday, for whatever fickle -- we know the reason -- Republicans loved
it. They twisted it and turned it. It was putty in their hands and they
come up with an idea this health care plan is killing jobs, when, in fact,
what does the CBO report say?
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, as a matter of fact, this is another CBO
report that generally the White House probably likes, because, for one
thing, it said that -- it projected the unemployment rate to go down to 5.8
percent by 2017 and it projected robust economic growth, GDP growth year
And it anticipated the deficit is going to go down to between 2 and 3
percent of GDP, all good things. Now, on 39, page 39 of the report, it
also had that one paragraph where it said that you are going to see a
reduction in the hours worked potentially of workers that is the equivalent
of some two million workers. Now, it never says in the CBO report -- and I
did spend the day reading through the actual report --
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
REID: -- and also reading "The Washington Post" fact-checker that has a
really great piece on this -- that it never says job being lost. You just
did a little piece of the quote.
It said supply vs. demand. If you were talking about job loss, you would
be saying that the demand for labor would go down, businesses would want to
hire fewer people or people who wanted to look for work wouldn`t be able to
find it. No, this is the opposite. This is about supply. This is about
somebody who, for instance, wanted to retire, but puts it off because they
need their health insurance, so they put off retirement and they keep
working, or somebody who has got a part-time job, but they tend up adding
more hours, trying to keep to 40 hours a week, so that they can keep or get
Those people not having to do that means they reduce their voluntary supply
of labor into the market. Now, part of this is a problem of headlines.
The headlines on this were extremely simplistic.
REID: And I have worked in political communications. There is nothing a
press secretary likes better than a simplistic headline.
And some of the headlines were literally refuted by the first sentence in
the same story under the headline. This is about the supply of the hours
of labor, not, not, not about the quantity of labor demanded.
And don`t take it from me. Doug Elmendorf, who wrote the report, the guy
who runs the CBO, testified before the House Budget Committee, with Paul
Ryan sitting in front of him, and said what I just said. He said that it`s
absolutely a mischaracterization and not about job loss.
MATTHEWS: So well-done. Joy, you`re the best.
MATTHEWS: Here is the CBO director, as you mentioned, Dough Elmendorf,
testifying today and answering that key question, in this case from U.S.
Congressman Van Hollen about demand for labor as a result of the Affordable
Care Act. In other words, will the new health care law increase or
Here`s the CBO director.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: The CBO estimates that the ACA will
boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years and
then you go on to say the net increase for demand in goods and services
will in turn boost demand for labor over the next few years. That`s the
conclusion you make, right?
DOUG ELMENDORF, CBO DIRECTOR: Yes, that`s right.
VAN HOLLEN: So, when you boost demand for labor in this kind of economy,
you actually reduce the unemployment rate because those people who are
looking for work can find more work, right?
ELMENDORF: Yes, that`s right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s pretty clear.
Let me go to Ron Reagan on that. So, there you go. It takes a little
work. You know, headline writers supposed to make things clear. Many
people around me today have said these blew it and some of the people we
know around the broadcast world did the same thing because they missed the
point. It`s not about the drop in demand for labor. There`s going to be
increase demand for labor, which is good economic news for the whole
country, but people won`t work in situations they only were in because they
needed health care and to qualify for it, as Joy said quite clearly. They
just would work on those hours to get the health care. Now, they don`t
have to. That`s the news.
RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Ron?
REAGAN: Yes. Well, I think you have correctly identified the story here.
It isn`t really the CBO report itself which as Joy has pointed out, which
is basically good news for the economy and good news for Obamacare even the
part the Republicans are highlighting and trying to make into a negative is
actually a positive.
But the real story here is not the CBO report, it`s Republican dishonesty.
And you have to wonder how long will the American public put up with being
played for rubes by people like Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham, Mitch
McConnell? Do they think American people are illiterate, that they can`t
read plain English, that they can`t read what the CBO report actually says,
which is totally different from what the Republicans are pretending it
says? And when do we get sick of that kind of nonsense?
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make? I mean, I`m not going to put this all
on the same stead, Joy, but there is -- the continual statement, we are
talking about it here off camera. The continual statement that gets you
where you want to go in politics is simply always being against the
president. Somebody in the room says the president ought to be executed.
You pile and say, yes, he is an outlaw.
Anything that`s nasty and the president screwing the economy, he`s costing
job, anything that`s nasty about this guy has now become the main course of
the Republican Party. You can`t ever put your hand up like John McCain did
wondrously. Remember? And he said, no, he is a good man when the woman
said he is an Arab -- not that that`s a bad thing -- but she meant it`s a
bad thing. He said, no, he is a good American.
When is anybody else going to do that? Is that like something you don`t do
anymore in Republican Party, say a wait a minute, hold your horse, we
disagree on policy, but he is not the frickin devil? Your thoughts?
REID: Yes, exactly. I mean, even shaking the president`s hand or not
being rude to him on the tarmac can be the kiss of death for Republican
And look, even -- it`s worse with the CBO report in a sense, Chris, because
Republicans themselves as recently as 2008 and 2009, during the campaign of
2008 John McCain, the Heritage Foundation, and as recently as 2012
campaign, people like Paul Ryan were arguing about something called job
lock. They themselves were touting this idea that Americans are trapped in
jobs they`d rather retire from and start a business or they`d rather retire
and go out and do some fishing, or they`d rather do something else other
than being trapped in a job they don`t want because they are constricted by
John McCain was proposing in his health care plan to tie tax breaks to
portability, meaning tying your health care to you and not to your job.
REID: That was a Republican idea. The Heritage Foundation was for that.
But now that very idea that you can look up, any American who wants to can
Google these guys health care plans and ideas and now, they are saying the
opposite. Now, they are saying that they are now, I guess, in favor of job
lock. They`re saying now they`re in favor of people being stuck in their
jobs rather than be able to be portable because their health care is
What the Affordable Care Act has done is essentially make your health care
portable and say, now my health care is tied to me. I don`t have to be
stuck working in this job, I don`t want to work in this job and adding more
hours to it because I need my health care. That used to be something
Republicans were for. They reversed position because now Obama is attached
MATTHEWS: Joy, you`re on fire tonight. Joy, you`re on fire tonight. Joy,
thank you so much.
REID: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Ron, you can`t keep with her. You can`t keep with Joy tonight.
Thank you so much for coming on.
You`re great. I love Ron Reagan. Thank you for coming on tonight.
Thank you, Joy.
Coming up, a once unthinkable goal now within reach and the man responsible
for meeting it.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Well, this year Senate elections can be tough for Democrats.
But two years from now, things may get less difficult. That`s because a
Stu Rothenberg, he`s a Republican expert, notes not a single Democratic
seat up for a vote is in a seat carried by Mitt Romney in 2012. Couple
that with a larger turnout expected in a presidential year and 2016 could
be very kind to the Democrats.
Meanwhile, seven Republican senators up reelection in states President
Obama carried in 2012, which means the battles for the Senate, will likely
be fought in friendly territory for the Democrats.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
I know the people who watch HARDBALL give a damn and I know a lot of you
are progressives out there who care about poor people, care about issues
like the long enduring struggle against HIV and anyone, by the way, who`ve
seen "Dallas Buyers Club", as Kathleen and I did last night, has had it all
brought back to us right in our minds and our hearts again.
Well, as you know, I was proud to serve in Africa`s Peace Corps volunteer.
The country I served in, Swaziland, is one of the hardest hit countries on
that continent when it comes to HIV/AIDS.
My wife Kathleen has spent almost two decades now raising money to the
(INAUDIBLE) orphanage in Kenya, which cares for children born with AIDS.
Our children have worked as short term volunteers there and, Michael, our
oldest, spent half a year working on AIDS treatment in Rwanda as a part of
the Clinton Global Initiative. I have to thank the former president for
Well, tonight, we`re here at HARDBALL, we`re getting committed in a new
more powerful way on fighting AIDS, especially in Africa. There`s a new
private sector American organization called Born Free, which has been
formed and organized at the request of the United Nations to end the
transmission of AIDS from mother to child.
And this can be done, believe it or not, if an infected African mother
takes a pill daily once a day, from the time of her pregnancy and continues
through her breast-feeding period, the child will be, believe it or not,
AIDS-free, instead of 700 children being born with AIDS, as they are right
now, we can hopefully cut that number down to actually zero by the end of
next year. Anyway, that is the goal.
The man who`s accepted meeting that goal, getting it done, is here with me
right now, what a great goal to take on.
John Megrue`s group is called BornFree.
John, congratulations on trying to do something that can be done. So many
people give to charities and feel it`s a bottomless pit, that they`ll be
back again in five years. They`ll never stop. But yours seems to be a
goal that`s based upon knowledge, can do information you can stop mothers
from giving AIDS to their kids.
JOHN MEGRUE, CHAIRMAN, BORNFREE: Yes, thanks, Chris, for having us on to
talk about this. It really is amazing what`s happening and only 10 years
ago, there were 600,000 children born HIV positive, we`re down to about
260,000. And I think, as you mentioned, most of those, this is a death
sentence. So, we`re going to be able to eliminate this over the next few
MATTHEWS: What`s the trick of taking modern science, which allows a woman,
if she doesn`t regularly takes a pill every day, and takes it through
pregnancy, and then through breastfeeding period, that breastfeeding time
of six months or so, whatever happens to be? What gets that done for a
rural woman, example? Who doesn`t have perhaps much education, doesn`t
have much access to great doctors -- how do you as an organization get
those pills literally into her mouth on a daily basis? How do you that?
MEGRUE: You know, large scale global health issues like this have to be
led by countries. Nobody from the outside can carry the ball on this,
there`s a lot of funding that comes from the outside. But, very simply,
first, the pregnant mother needs to get to a clinic, there needs to be a
test, and then she needs to be initiated, and that sounds easy in countries
like the United States and Western Europe, it is easy, you spend time in
Swaziland and countries like that, and particularly in rural Africa, that`s
not so easy. Those are the issues we`re solving right now.
MATTHEWS: OK. What can you do with the money, if anybody gives you money,
and I hope they do, I`m going to do it. But how do -- how do you take
American money and transform that into somebody making sure a woman who
cares enough to care about their child, which is most mothers I would
think, to save that kid from a death sentence?
MEGRUE: We`re in a position of being a catalyst to make things go very
rapidly, the U.S. government has been very generous through both of the
last two administrations as well as other western countries. Every country
in Africa wants to eliminate mother to child transmission.
And so, the question is, how do you get the money flowing in the right
places, get it there on time, and the private sector through our
organization has been able to step in, put people on the ground, make sure
the training is occurring, that the drugs are getting there on time, that
mothers show up at clinics -- so, it`s a very basic system but not so basic
MATTHEWS: So, you put people in place and health ministries in these
countries throughout Africa, and you make sure those people are people who
have one big commitment of wanting transmission from mother to child. And
you make sure they bring their gung ho determination to get this done and
influence and move these ministries and help them get these down to the
MEGRUE: Yes, absolutely. So much of this is around talent, right? Having
really high charged, entrepreneurial people working within the health
ministries, developing training programs, training trainers, taking
countries that may have 100 clinics that have tests and have drugs in
place, and getting that to 5,000 clinics.
And how do you do that over 2 years, you have to make sure the program`s in
place, the money`s in place, and the execution occurs.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re going to do what we can to help you.
John Megrue, it`s a great effort. It`s called BornFree. Hillary Clinton
is 100 percent behind this, an effort to eradicate transmission from mother
to child. Of course, she`s working very hard and joining in this.
For more information on the campaign you`re running, go to BornFreeAfrica.
That`s one word, born -- is that word one, dot-org? BornFreeAfrica.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MEGRUE: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with my number one question, who? That`s
my question. Who?
Did someone tell Bridget Kelly, a total political loyalist, to say to
punish the mayor of Fort Lee by blocking traffic across the George
Washington Bridge? And if so, who?
Did someone tell her that it was time for some traffic problems in Fort
Lee? If so, who?
Did someone tell David Wildstein that he should assume the call from Kelly
was not only to be honored but enjoyed as punishment for the, quote,
"little Serbian". And if so, who?
Who told the people in Christie`s office, many of them, not to answer the
phone of the desperation call came from the Fort Lee mayor?
Did someone tell the lieutenant governor to put out word to the mayor of
Hoboken that she better back the favored real estate deal of the governor
or suffer big time consequences? And if so, who?
And who could put together this punishment brigade altogether, this
protection racquet, this whatever? Who would have had the power to tell
all these people working for Governor Christie that he wanted these things
done in his interest?
It`s a great question, because if you want government to run this way,
you`re entitled to know who did it, so you can thank that person. If not,
well, another sort of reckoning is certainly in order, don`t you think?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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