'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, November 15th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Past transcripts by month
Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: November 15, 2014
Guest: Evan McMorris-Santoro, Elahe Izadi, James Pethokoukis, Steve
Forbes, Larry Sabato, Howard Dean, Carol Leonnig, Casper Kelly
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: Surprise. The bipartisan bubble bursts.
Good morning. And thank you for getting UP with us this Saturday. I`m
Krystal Ball filling in for Steve Kornacki. And there`s a lot that we want
to get to this morning in both the world of politics and news. We will
take a closer look at some of the incoming members on Capitol Hill ask how
many jobs the republicans 46 job fills will actually create and we`ll
discuss the latest assault on the Affordable Care Act as the second period
of open enrollment begins this very morning.
But first, as Ferguson, Missouri, awaits a decision from a St. Louis County
grand jury on whether to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the
shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
has obtained new footage of Wilson entering the police station after that
fatal encounter back in August. The newspaper obtained the surveillance
footage through Missouri`s Sunshine law. The Post-Dispatch also obtained
radio calls between officers in the minutes before and after the fatal
shooting took place. That includes an unidentified officer calling in for
support as a woman wales in the background.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Get us several more units over here. There`s going
to be a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Also happening overnight, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told our
St. Louis affiliate that if the grand jury does not return an indictment,
Officer Wilson may immediately return to duty. Jackson also said that
Wilson will be fired if he is indicted by the grand jury. We`re going to
have a live update from the ground in Missouri later in our show and we`ll
have reports throughout the day here on MSNBC.
Turning to politics, though, we can also tell you the results are in for
one of the final uncalled statewide races, Alaska`s republican Governor
Sean Parnell has been defeated in his bid for re-election by independent
Bill Walker. Walker received support from the Democratic Party in the race
when they decided not to fill their own candidate in that contest. Walker
is the first independent to win the Alaska governor`s office.
And now to Washington, late yesterday afternoon, a bipartisan group of 30
senators sent a letter to leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell requesting
that the Senate hold monthly bipartisan lunches. It is one of several
grand bipartisan gestures like the Bourbon Summit that President Obama
suggested last week. But is all of that post-election feel-good talk about
coming together and getting big things done going out the window as soon as
it walked in the door? Not to mix metaphors there. Republican leaders and
President Obama are already clashing over the first big issue and that
would be immigration. And we`re rapidly descending into the extreme. On
Thursday night, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer and FOX News
anchor Megyn Kelly had this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: We`re in new and unchartered waters here and
that`s why some say that republicans have no choice but to call out that
perceived lawlessness and do something as politically unpopular as impeach
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I believe it is an
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: And then yesterday, republican Congressman Matt Salmon of Arizona
said that he agreed with Krauthammer that executive action on immigration
would be an impeachable offense but added that, quote, "Getting the two-
thirds in the Senate to convict our two different stories." Salmon went on
to suggest that republicans, quote, "Defund the actions that they disagreed
with." So, there you have it. Disagreement, impeachment, defunding,
attention passengers, we are now descending from the new bipartisan era.
Buckle your seatbelts and prepare the land in political reality and yes, we
are expecting some turbulence.
Joining me to discuss this and the week`s other big stories are Washington
Bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine and MSNBC political analyst David
Corn. We also have BuzzFeed White House correspondent Evan McMorris-
Santoro and former spokesperson for President George W. Bush, republican
strategist Mercedes Schlapp. Thank you all so much.
MERCEDES SCHLAPP, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: How are you doing this morning?
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, I didn`t take long now, did it?
BALL: I did not take long. I wanted to actually start with the lunch.
Does anyone actually think that just them having lunch together would make
SCHLAPP: It`s probably like the worst dating scenario, okay? You know,
you`re having lunch over sea bass and just having this uncomfortable
conversation between the republicans and the democrats. I mean, it`s a
formality, it`s an awkward lunch but at the same time, I mean, really, it`s
more so I think for show than anything else that they are coming together.
Now the real work has to get done and it looks like it`s going to be very
CORN: It would be like -- by the way, climate change does not exist.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You have to get
60 votes before it can pass. That`s the problem. I mean, David setting
together bipartisanly at the State of the Union and other sort of events
like that for years now -- it hasn`t had much of an impact on the tone in
CORN: Now, I do believe that there are a number of senators on both sides
who actually came to Washington to try to pass legislation. I`m not sure
that`s a big margin. But we saw --
BALL: Who are you thinking of there?
CORN: Well, we saw an immigration reform. There are you know, what? Six,
eight, ten republicans who worked with democrats to pass the bill.
CORN: The problem is that the overarching dynamic within the Senate where
Mitch McConnell said nothing to Barack Obama and the Republican Party at
large where the base only wants to bomb a bashing, they don`t want
immigration reform compromise or gun safety reform compromise or any of
that, with that context and with the house being controlled more by the Tea
Party tail than by John Boehner, you know, these poor senators who may
want to eat lunch together and occasionally pass a bill together have
nowhere to go. They have been isolated. And the last election hasn`t
changed any of that dynamic.
SCHLAPP: Let`s look at history, though with President Bush when they had
that awkward -- that lunch with Speaker Pelosi, they did passed welfare
reform. I mean, they did worked on the passing by phrasing the minimum
wage at the time. I mean, it was President Clinton, Newt Gingrich pass
welfare reform -- there is a chance --
CORN: Ted Kennedy worked on the education bill and it passed.
SCHLAPP: So bipartisan can happen.
CORN: But the democrats let that happen. They were okay with that. The
republicans are not okay with these compromises.
BALL: Let me ask you this. There`s new reporting in the Washington Post
this morning by Robert Costa saying basically that the number of house
republicans are looking at forcing the president`s hand over spending which
essentially means another shutdown showdown. Which I don`t understand.
Mitch McConnell just reassured me we weren`t going to have.
SCHLAPP: I think they are not going to go forward with the government
shutdown. We know that --
BALL: You think McConnell and Boehner will have better control that time?
SCHLAPP: I absolutely think so. I think Mitch McConnell has been planning
to run the Senate for a long time. If you can recall it with Senator Mitch
McConnell who basically called the White House and it was the extension of
the Bush tax cuts when it was a fiscal cliff, guess who he called Vice
President Biden and said, do you guys know how to negotiate up there? And
I think that you`re going to find that he`s going to try to ensure he`s
able to control the factions of the Republican Party.
CORN: Try is the key word. Try.
BALL: Yes. Evan, what`s your take?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, I mean, it`s way too early to say that the
republicans are going to have control over their caucus they haven`t had
very long. I mean, John Boehner is no neophyte. He`s been running in
Congress for a long time, leader for Congress for a long time. He couldn`t
control his guys and I don`t know that Mitch McConnell will be able to
control this people either. I mean, it`s very nice to talk about the idea
of not having these shutdowns but like David said, there is a split inside
the Republican Party. You call them like the lunchers versus like the
ignore Obamaers over whatever --
Which is like some people wanted, I`m not great at metaphors either. But
like somebody wants to, you know, there are people like Jeff Flake I think
generally do want to think that the way that GOP advance is through things
like lunches and being bipartisan and having government work and then there
are plenty of republicans who are up there and who got up there just a
couple of days ago specifically to shut everything down and did not let
Obama do anything.
BALL: Here`s the thing that I`ve been thinking about. I mean, if
republicans don`t threaten a shutdown, what leverage do they actually have?
Because they still don`t have 60 votes in the Senate, obviously, on most
things. A few democrats may go with them here and there like maybe on
keystone and they still don`t have obviously the presidency. So there`s
the power of the veto. So if they don`t threaten a shutdown, do they
actually have much leverage?
CORN: Well, in the old days, like the Robert Dole days --
BALL: I`ve heard about those.
CORN: You`ve heard about Robert Dole. You know, the republicans would
have gotten together, House and Senate, republicans passed their own
budget, passed appropriation bills, do policy things and do things that
they thought were popular with the public, send them to the president and
defy him to veto them. That`s his leverage. And then campaign against
that and then come together after he vetoed them to do something to keep
the government going. And so they were not -- you don`t have to have a
debt ceiling crisis. You don`t have to threaten to blow up the hospital to
get, you know, what you want. But that has become the new normal, the new
black for the Republican Party.
SCHLAPP: And for -- and for President Obama, he`s really throwing this
political bomb with moving forward on the unilateral executive action on
immigration. This is kind of poised, as Speaker Boehner said, it`s
poisoning the well.
CORN: There`s no well. There`s no water in the well. Boehner and
McConnell took the water out of the well.
BALL: Hold on. Hold on. I want to, well --
CORN: You can`t poison the well.
BALL: I think Boehner, didn`t he say something about lighting himself on
SCHLAPP: The red flag in front of the wall.
BALL: On immigration.
BALL: I mean, what kind of position does executive action on immigration
put republicans in? Because there are a few republicans already saying,
we`ve got to impeach him over taking this kind of executive action. You`re
also going to have lots of to 16 candidates who have to come out strongly
against it. This puts republicans in a tough place.
SCHLAPP: In a very tough place, basically. Because what you`re looking at
is, I think it would be a wrong move for them even to start focusing on
impeachment. Needless to say, it won`t be popular among the voters. It`s
not what the voters wanted when we saw the midterm elections. They want
the gridlock to end in Washington. It was very clear in the exit polls
that that was one of their top priorities as well as the economy. They
want the president to work together with Congress and quite frankly this
has become the shortest honeymoon in the history of politics because of the
fact that the President has decided he`s going to throw this grenade out
because he`s been put in a position where he leaked this out in the summer,
then pushed back, you know, he took it back after the democratic candidates
in swing states said, please, please, please, don`t get involved with this
but then at the same time he made this promise --
BALL: I agree with you there. He should have gone for it with it this
summer. He said he was going to do it. He should have gone ahead and do
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Is there anymore forgotten group these days in politics
than the Latino voter? I mean, the fact is, republicans aren`t doing
anything to earn the votes of Latino voters. Democrats keep just sort of
pushing off all the actions and not doing anything. I mean, if we don`t
have executive action, it`s very difficult to see how does any immigration
think can happen at all.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: If you have an angry group of voters who were really
important for 2012 or want to get something --
BALL: Have to take a break here. We have much more to discuss right after
BALL: Welcome back. On Thursday, Harry Reid elevated Elizabeth Warren to
a new leadership position in the Senate democratic caucus. The media has
been talking about this position as a liaison to the liberal base but
Warren said she was asked to be a strategic policy adviser. She will now
be included in all the weekly meetings where democratic leadership
determine their agenda. Warren described the new position as quote, "A
seat at the table. I plan to use it to make sure that people around this
country have a real hearing." So will this new title for Elizabeth Warren
translate into a bolder economic agenda for the Senate democrats?
David, what I`m wondering from this, is does this mean that the lessons
democrats are learning from this last election blowout is that they need to
have a bolder, clearer economic vision outside of just minimum wage?
CORN: I think you`re being very optimistic that there`s a lesson that has
CORN: It may be too early. I mean, it`s quite clear that Elizabeth Warren
is quite popular. With democrats but also has the ability to talk to non-
Democrats about, you know, kitchen table issues, you know, finances,
economics and doing it from a populist but most importantly an authentic
position. Anyone who has talked to her in person or hear her speaks
publicly can see that she is just dripping with sincerity. I was the first
person to ever ask her whether she would wanted to run for Senate and her
answer to me was, I think I`d rather stick a knife in my eye. Frankly, I
think it was a fork, actually.
And then like a few months later she was in the race. So she doesn`t come
across like a politician who`s eager to be a politician. Like she does
want to help. I don`t think they need to have a liberal liaison. I think
that`s been over --
CORN: But I think having there as a spokesperson for the party won`t hurt
not that many voters can name the democratic or Senate leadership ever.
BALL: Go ahead, Evan.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, I mean, part of this is actually what she
embodies, is that this economic issue that she talks about is actually this
the only universal stuff that democrats really have. I mean, democrats
have talked a lot at this election about having to go back and try to get
some of these male voters that they`ve lost and these rural voters that
BALL: What do you mean by universal?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, I`m talking about like, when it comes so on the
campaign trail in 2014, which didn`t go very well for democrats, Obama
could not go anywhere.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Warren could go everywhere.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: She went to red states, she went to blue states. I
mean, this message of economic stuff that she talks about is what a lot of
these democratic strategists think is the kind of thing that connects all
of their base voters together. When something like climate change, right,
you`re getting this sort of like things like coal and you have difficulties
there with some of your, like royal union voters. But something like the
economic stuff which is what Warren`s thing is, turned out to actually be
much more of a mainstream issue.
BALL: Well, the area where there is rub within the Democratic Party is
that still a lot of their money also comes from Wall Street, big banks, big
corporations. There is a rub there as well. I mean, Mercedes, what do you
make of this move? Because one of the weird things that we saw out of this
election was that democratic progressive issues, minimum wage, in
particular, won overwhelmingly?
SCHLAPP: In the states, yes, absolutely.
BALL: In the states. So it`s not just the democratic base have, you know
SCHLAPP: That`s right.
BALL: -- resonating with these issues but it`s a really popular agenda that
Elizabeth Warren support economically.
SCHLAPP: Right. Well, and when you look at I believe what Senator Reid
did, it was actually very smart. I mean, he does not want the division
between the liberals and moderates and I think really Senator Warren brings
those two groups together. And that`s why when she goes out on the
campaign trail, when she goes out to these speeches, she just receives this
incredibly warm welcome by the liberals because, quite frankly, they don`t
love Hillary. You know, they are disappointed with Obama but they are
sticking with him and they`re thinking that Elizabeth Warren is the next
big thing. And so, and she does talks about these issues in a way that
connects with a lot of these middle class voters, you know, that actually
works beyond just a minimum wage. It`s the economic inequality issue that
she talks about as well.
CORN: She talks about as you know, Wall Street and the power of Wall
Street and what it has done wrong. And you know, Hillary, you know, has
this thing where she gave a very Warren-like speech at the New America
BALL: She`s trying. She wants to be Warren.
CORN: No, but this same week, something I wrote about, she had a
fundraising meeting for the Clinton Initiative at Goldman Sachs.
CORN: And so, she tries to straddle the fence. There`s nothing straddling
about Elizabeth Warren.
BALL: She`s all in.
CORN: She`s the real deal, and so maybe, you know, people might look for
Hillary just to make her treasury secretary.
BALL: But Evan, is part of this move also like a little bit of 2016
maneuvering, making Elizabeth Warren more prominent, bringing her into the
fold, so to speak, so that she`s not on the outside kind of throwing bombs?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, yes. And she`s already sort of like given some
tasset interesting to Hillary Clinton`s presidency.
BALL: That`s right.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But I think, absolutely. But I think more importantly
is that, they are trying to learn a lesson. I mean, I think they are
trying to learn a lesson and I think that one of the lessons is that if
they had talked more about economics, I think they think they would have
BALL: I agree with that one.
CORN: They would have done worse.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, they could have done worse.
BALL: They would have done worse.
All right. Up next, we are going back to school, sort of, the freshman
lawmakers you may not have heard of who could become household names real
BALL: Remember your senior year of high school and how awkward those
freshmen were in the first day of school? They seemed so naive. So
ambitious. So clueless. That may be a bit how veteran members of Congress
look at freshmen lawmakers when they take office in January, like high
freshmen and coming lawmakers have orientation before they`re sworn in and
that orientation took place this past week. The soon-to-be representatives
looked for housing, finished hiring their staff and took care of other
matters before starting their new jobs in January. And also like freshmen,
new lawmakers must learn to co-exist with people who maybe a little bit
different than themselves. The House will have 58 new members in January,
41 republicans and 17 democrats. Eleven of those new members will be
women. Five will be African-Americans. Three Hispanics and two Asian.
And if you think of those fresh faces from diverse backgrounds might help
break the gridlock on Capitol Hill, well, you may be disappointed.
According to "The New York Times" "Upshot," the new house will actually be
even more polarized politically, if that`s possible. The new republicans
will be further to the right and the new democrats further to the left.
The Senate`s freshmen may not need orientation quite as much as new house
members, six of the 12 new senators have already served in the house.
Eleven of those 12 members are republicans. Among them, Joni Ernst of Iowa
who has said she is coming to Washington to, quote, "make them squeal."
Which new lawmakers should we keep a special watch on over the next few
Here to discuss are Elahe Izadi who covers Capitol Hill for The Washington
Post. And Evan McMorris-Santoro from BuzzFeed is also back with us.
Thanks for joining us.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Of course.
ELAHE IZADI, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you.
BALL: So, Elahe, first before -- I want to hear sort of both your pick of
who we should be watching in this class but first help us get a sense of
what these incoming freshmen are doing right now.
IZADE: Yes, I mean, you kind of described it perfectly. It`s just like
college, freshmen, orientation. I mean, they`re going to different talks
and they`re trying to figure even or they`re going to live, there`s a lot
of apartment hunting, they are trying to make friends and then they`re also
trying to figure out which committees that they are interested in serving
on. And there`s going to be some jockeying regarding on that. So, that`s
kind of what they are up to now. The house members are -- the new freshmen
are in D.C. this week. They will be there next week and they are also, you
know, getting their packets of ethic -- from the ethics committees,
potential ethics violations. I think the house packet is like over 400
pages. So, they have a lot of reading to do.
BALL: Wow! I mean, I want to read that carefully.
IZADE: Yes, do you.
BALL: Evan, who is your pick for who we should be watching in this
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, republicans have wanted for a long time to see Mia
Love from Utah get into the house.
BALL: African-American woman?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: African-American woman. Amazing personal story. She
had just like a really compelling speech at the RNC Convention in 2012.
She`s their big star for them and someone that they would like to see
become more of a public face of the party. They`re sort of what they`re
trying to do. So, we`ll see what happens. Now she`s here and we`ll see
what she does. But that is somebody that I think, you know, people should
really keep an eye on because that`s going to be someone we`re going to see
a lot and will be kind of a personnel that they are going to put forward on
a lot of issues in the front.
BALL: First African-American woman member, republican member of Congress.
Elahe, what about you? Are you excited about Mia Love as well?
IZADI: I definitely think Mia Love is one to watch. I mean, the national
party has put a lot of attention and focus on her in the past even though
she didn`t win in 2012, and she kind of barely won this time around, so I
definitely think she`s one to watch. There`s another republican woman,
she`s elected from New York and her name is Elise Stefanik and I think I`m
saying that right. I`m sure I`ll be corrected through the night. But, you
know, she wanted a district that Obama carried and she won by 20 points
beating her democratic challenger. She`s 30 years old and she has already
accomplished way more than most of us have at this point in our lives.
She`s a Harvard grad, she worked in a Bush White House, she helped Coach
Paul Ryan in the VP debate. So, I think she`s going to be one to watch.
She on some issues could be viewed as a moderate. So, you know, she`s
already being touted by republicans in New York as a future of the party.
BALL: Nice to have a few of those new moderate voices in there. But Evan,
overall, you know, I was quoting that "Upshot" piece that looks at the fact
that, you know, you have the more conservatives, the more anti-leadership
even republicans coming in and meanwhile some of the more moderate
BALL: So you have the house being split even farther apart. I mean, what
is this incoming class going to do to the character of the House overall,
do you think?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, this is great. I mean, these two members that
we`ve highlighted are the members that the Republican Party would like to
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I mean, this is the conversation that they want to have.
This is the party that they want to move forward. And what we talked about
in the last segment about this idea, you know, with the shutdown battle and
everything like that, there are significant number of members who are still
there in 2010 who have come in now, who are sort of the classic gaffe-prone
white male republican.
BALL: Yes. Hillary Clinton was the anti-Christ, you have another one who
said the federal government is waging a war on men because of affirmative
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That`s right.
BALL: So Elahe, there are a few that are definitely going to be a
challenge for John Boehner. Do you think that he`s going to have even more
of an issue with this incoming class than he had with his previous caucus?
IZADI: I mean, I think what typically happens is whenever your tent is
bigger, then you have more voices and it doesn`t necessarily mean it`s
easier to control. I mean, John Boehner had a lot of trouble in the past
trying to control his conference and getting them all on board with
something and he had to put major pieces of legislation on the floor that
could pass only with a democratic majorities. So I don`t think it`s
necessarily easier just because you have more republican members. And a
lot of these members, you know, they are replacing house members,
republicans who were reliable votes for leadership who have been in office
for a very long time and a lot of them were retiring as well. So, it
doesn`t necessarily mean it`s going to be easier for John Boehner.
BALL: And what do we expect out of Joni Ernst, Elahe, the new obviously,
republican senator from Iowa who I quoted is wanting to come to Washington
to make them squeal. I mean, she`s ran a great campaign, obviously got
elected there in what was originally considered a long shot chance for her
but she`s been pretty extreme in terms of some of her issue stances
including on personhood and other things. What do we expect on her?
IZADI: I mean, she`s certainly a conservative but also right now, you
know, she`s not out there trying to be super controversial. You know,
she`s trying to lay low. And this is pretty typical right now for a new
members of Congress and the Senate and in the House. They try and lay low
as they kind of see how the cards all fall into place. Committee
assignments are important. But, you know, she`s coming from Iowa and she
already has so much star power already. So, she could play big in the
presidential election as that starts kicking off. And it`s not typical for
statewide Iowa republicans to kind of endorse primary candidates. It will
be -- it remains to be seen whether she will do that but Chuck Grassley
doesn`t do that, the governor doesn`t do that. So, even though she could
lend a lot of star power, that doesn`t mean that, you know, Marco Rubio`s
early endorsement of her would pay off.
BALL: Another female stays that republicans are excited to highlight. My
thanks to BuzzFeed Evan McMorris-Santoro and The Washington Post`s Elahe
Izadi for joining me.
IZADI: Thank you.
BALL: And the most important lawmakers just elected may not have been
mentioned in that last segment. The election results that will matter to
you most when we return.
BALL: If a GOP wave swept over Congress in last week`s election, it was a
republican tsunami that hits state capital across the nation. After last
Tuesday`s election, the republicans now have their tightest grip on state
legislatures since the 1920s. Two-thirds of state legislative chambers are
now in republican hands. The GOP now has total control of the state
government, that`s both branches of the legislature and the governor`s
mansion in 24 states. That`s compared to just seven for democrats and
that`s the lowest for that party in 150 years. Nearly half of all
Americans now live in states controlled completely by the GOP. Do you want
a clue as to why this matters? Well, just take a look back at what
republicans were able to accomplish since tightening their grip on state
governments back in 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: -- do a huge amount of work while no one is watching,
from abortion to -- to environmental legislation.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One of the toughest laws yet to fight illegal
immigration went into effect today in Georgia.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is the worst most egregious law that we`ve seen
since Jim Crow to suppress and isolate the vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The new restrictions on abortions first Planned
Parenthood essentially goes to the back of the line to receive certain
state funding. Second, public hospitals are prohibited from contracting
with abortion providers.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A bold new anti-union law in Michigan, Michigan, I
said, this as Wisconsin`s Governor Scott Walker is facing recall efforts in
his home state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: State legislators also have a tremendous impact on national
politics. They pass voting laws, they design and carry out redistricting.
And they use their perch to run for higher office. So, given how important
these state legislative races are, why is it that democrats are ceding so
much ground to republicans?
Joining me now is MSNBC contribute and former DNC chairman, former Governor
Howard Dean. Governor, thanks so much for being with me.
FMR. GOV. HOWARD DEAN (D), VERMONT: Thanks for having me on, Krystal.
BALL: So, I was delighted to get to talk to your brother earlier on this
week on this topic. So, I`m happy to get to talk to you about it now. And
I want to throw out a few numbers. You know, the group that raises money
for these state candidates on the democratic side raised 9.3 million. On
the republican side, they raised 26 million. So the GOP outspent democrats
at this committee level by three times. Why do you think the democrats
don`t seem to focus on these state-level races?
DEAN: You know, I don`t know. I mean, I don`t know. I did when I was DNC
chair because I came from the state and I know what a difference it makes.
You know, money and politics matter as lot in these races because most
people don`t know there are people on their ballot very well. So, extra
money increases name recognition and it really, really matters. We`re
basically rolling ourselves back to the 1920s. This is an authoritarian
group of people who fundamentally I don`t think believe in democracy given
their views on voting rights, and it`s a very, very frightening time. And
if the Democratic Party can`t step up to the plate, then I think you`re
going to see a third party.
BALL: Wow. What would that third party look like?
DEAN: It would just look like a group of activists who wanted to get out
and talk about issues. The Democratic Party just mailed it in in this last
election. And some of it was just unfortunate. I mean, Kay Hagan ran a
great campaign and she should have won and didn`t win. But democrats
stayed home, they fundamentally have given up. Our message was, oh, we`re
not Obama either. You know, you can`t run on the message like that. There
is no message.
DEAN: So we`ve just got to do better. I think this is about the low point
of the Democratic Party that I`ve seen in a very long time.
BALL: Wow! That`s a pretty bold statement. I mean, Governor, do you
think part of the problem is that democrats are sort of philosophically
inclined to look to the national level because we have a greater faith in
the ability of government nationwide to solve big problems?
DEAN: I think the problem is the democrats are disinclined to discipline
themselves and obviously exceptions. The two Obama campaigns were
incredible in terms of finding every vote and getting them out and so
forth. We don`t stay on message. We are in all different kinds of
directions. We`re afraid, it seems like to me it seems, we`re almost
afraid to fight and I just scratch my head over this. I think the gains of
the last 50, 60, 70 years since Franklin Roosevelt are worth fighting for.
But we just don`t see to be able to get people of the polls. Now, some of
this is, when we do get to the polls, we win. So, I think some of this is
going to be rolled back in 2016 but it just seems to me that people are
more interested in power in both sides than they are in governing. And I
think, you know, the democrats pride themselves on their ability to govern
and the -- does better under democrats, that`s just a fact. But we just
don`t seem to have the fire in the belly that they want to take this back
BALL: Well, and democrats can`t just be arrogant and cede midterms and
say, we`ll get it back in the presidential year. You got to fight, as you
said, in all these states. I read an article this week for MSNBC.com about
how Nevada maybe the next North Carolina and that is the sort of the swing
DEAN: I saw that.
BALL: Swing state. You know, North Carolina had gone blue for Obama in
2008 and then republicans took over and you have this rash of really far
right legislation. Now Nevada is fully controlled by republicans. What
kind of an agenda are we going to see in these states going forward? Do we
see expect to see repeat of the kind of policy issues, far right policy
issues that we saw come out in 2010?
DEAN: Well, I`m actually kind of hoping we do. In New Hampshire in 2010,
it`s very far right extremists took over the legislature and when the
turnout went up in 2012, they all got broomed out. So, you know, the
American people are a centrist, maybe center left group. I say center-left
because they do like Social Security, they do like Medicare and that`s not
on the agenda of the republicans. So, the one thing about one-party rule
in these states is it`s going to be pretty hard to point the finger at
somebody else for what you screw up. In North Carolina, those guys are
going to lose in North Carolina. And McCrory is gone. The legislature I
think is probably gone. Because the turnout is going to be almost twice
what it was and, you know, people of North Carolina are not extremists.
And I think a lot of them think these legislator is pretty awful and they
think the governor is spineless and I think they are right.
BALL: Yes. Unfortunately, it wasn`t enough to get Kay Hagan over the
finish line there --
Speaker of that house.
DEAN: That`s because the turnout was atrocious.
DEAN: But I think you`ll going to see a different story in 2016. But
we`ve got to do better as a party. We`re really in disarray. You know,
the President is running as the president. I don`t think there`s a lot of
much attention paid to the DNC. Of course, the Supreme Court rules on
Citizens United undermined both parties. So, I think our democracy is in
BALL: All right. Governor, we`re going to talk to you a little later this
morning. And ahead, Americans want jobs. What is Washington going to do
BALL: We are awaiting a decision from the St. Louis County grand jury that
is weighing the evidence of whether to indict Ferguson Missouri police
Officer Darren Wilson and of course the shooting death of Michael Brown
back in August. The New York Times is reporting this morning that Brown`s
family and their supporters are suspicious about how long the proceedings
have taken. They are arguing that Officer Wilson should have been indicted
months ago. It seems to me that there`s a secret trial that`s taking
place, a lawyer for the Brown family told the paper. The St. Louis Post-
Dispatch has new footage of Wilson entering police headquarters after his
fatal encounter with the 18-year-old and the radio calls that transpired
between officers in a minute before and after Brown`s death.
MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee is in Ferguson this hour, and we will be getting his
live report in just a few minute and we will have continued updates
throughout the day on MSNBC.
BALL: The first major bill that the republican led House of
Representatives passed since returning to Washington this week.
Legislation authorizing the Keystone Pipeline which we discussed earlier
this hour. The GOP has been touting the construction of the oil pipeline
that would connect the Canadian Tarzans to the Gulf Coast as a major job
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: This is a vote to lower energy
costs and create more American jobs.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Keystone Pipeline, it`s
jobs, it`s the economy. It`s moving us forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: That is a notion that the President took issue with yesterday from
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I have to constantly push back
against this idea that somehow the Keystone Pipeline is either this massive
jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: So here`s the deal. A State Department analysis found the pipeline
would support 42,000 jobs during the construction phase but would only
create 35 permanent jobs for people overseeing that pipeline. Speaker
Boehner maintains that the Keystone Pipeline is just one of the 46 jobs
bills that are #stuckinthesenate. Legislation that the GOP hopes to
advance now that they will have a Senate majority coming in January. The
bills vary widely in scope and impact. There are some big-ticket items
like repealing ObamaCare and the Ryan budget but many focused on some more
niche concerns. Take the Central Oregon jobs and water security acts for
According to this Congressional Budget Office, it will quote, "Modify
features of the crooked river project located in Central Oregon, north of
the city of Prineville and prioritize how water from the project would be
allocated for different uses." "The New York Times" asked economists what
impact republicans` proposals would have on job creation and concluded,
quote, "It is a mix that leaves many economists including several
conservatives underwhelmed. So just where are these jobs bills heading and
are they more sparked propaganda than serious policy that will get our
economy going again?
Joining me from now Washington, former chief economist and economic adviser
to Vice President Joe Biden, MSNBC contributor Jared Bernstein. And also
with us, American Enterprise Institute columnist and CNBC contributor,
James Pethokoukis. Gentleman, thanks so much for being with us today.
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
BALL: So Jared, I think I kind of know what you think of these bills. So,
James, I want to get your thoughts to start with. And let me throw in
another quote from that New York Times piece to you. This is from Matthew
Slaughter who was a member of George W. Bush`s council on economic
advisers. He set-up the bills. "It just struck me as sort of the
compendium of modest expectations. If you ask me, what`s your ballpark
guess for how many jobs are going to be created? It`s just not many." Do
you agree with that assessment?
JAMES PETHOKOUKIS, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: I think there is
absolutely no doubt. If they pass all 46 of those bills, you would create
a lot of jobs for lawyers. I`m not sure about that. They absolutely do
that. I think that`s a big win.
PETHOKOUKIS: Beyond that, listen, for the most part, these are modest
bills. There`s been no great giant bill on the democratic side either.
I`m not sure if you look at America`s big economic problems, they`re
raising the minimum wage is the one thing that is really going to spark the
economy. So, right now what you are getting in Washington are a lot of
modest ideas because no one thinks you can pass any great big idea. There
are some good things in those 46. I mean, I like Paul Ryan`s Medicare
stuff but there`s some things that small businesses and allowing more
quicker expensing, equipment purchases, regulations. These are decent
things but are they going to complete change the course of the American
economy anywhere near like what we`ve seen over the past two years from the
Federal Reserve? Well, no.
BALL: Yes. I think that`s a great point. And we are going to get into
the democratic side of the equation in just a little bit. I mean, Jared,
what do you make of these 46 proposals?
BERNSTEIN: Well, this is kind of the old Washington trick of proposing
something that you want to do and putting the word jobs in there. If you
scrutinize it even for a moment, you`re going to find exactly what you
reported in your tease as well as that of some more conservative economists
who recognize that while some of these may be okay ideas, many of them
actually, I think, are problematic, particularly some of the environmental
deregulation that is in there. It`s not really anything you`d call or
recognize as a jobs bill. Not by a long shot.
BALL: James, should we take this as a measure of the sort of seriousness
of republicans in terms of the economic agenda and the big vision that
they`ll be able to pursue? Because so far what we`ve heard from Boehner
and what we`ve heard from McConnell is focus on the Keystone Pipeline which
is one of these 46 bills and then they talk broadly about the 46 jobs bills
that are stuck in the Senate. It`s to me, it`s sort of disheartening
hearing that because it`s a symbol that there`s not a lot of serious
proposals and big minded thinking to come in the next two years.
PETHOKOUKIS: Well, I think at the beginning what republicans wanted to do
is not go for a grand slam but hit a bunch of clean singles right up the
middle of the show, they can do stuff. I mean, they do have a big idea. I
mean, they do want to do corporate tax reform and House Ways and Means
Chairman Dave Camp had a big giant tax bill. You know, reformable person
on corporate income taxes. So I think that`s going to be like their big --
their ideas are going to be, cash reform and try to do something on trade.
And a bunched of sort of these singles and doubles. I think -- what I`ve
created -- democrats or republicans to do right now is stop passing
anything, take a step back and figure, what is fundamentally wrong with the
U.S. economy? We`re having problems in this economy. Starting in the
2000s, we`ve had very slow job recoveries, we`ve had flat wages. So, I
would take a step I think, what is the problem? And from that, all the
solutions would flow rather than saying, gee, we have these 46 bills and a
bunch of congressmen like and let`s pass them. I don`t think any of these
bills for the most part at least are taking a look at, sort of what the
macro situation and what Washington`s next step should be.
BALL: Yes. I think Jared, when the American people voted this past
election and they said, overwhelmingly the economy was their number one
issue, I don`t think they were thinking about things like the medical
BALL: Like I don`t think that was tops on their list here. But, you know,
some of these bills did have bipartisan support in the House. I think four
of them deal with ObamaCare in one way or another on that piece, on
modifying ObamaCare. Do you think there are some things that democrats are
going to be willing to go along with?
BERNSTEIN: Well, I didn`t see anything in these bills that democrats would
be willing to go along with because --
BALL: What about changing the 40-hour workweek? Yes, I speak to that.
BERNSTEIN: So, that is something democrats won`t go for. And let`s be
clear, so this is the idea that instead of having a 30-hour threshold under
which you`re considered part time, switch it to 40 hours, democrats will
not go for that. The president would not accept that because that is
actually a terrible idea in terms of job creation. It would go precisely
the other way. To the extent that the bill incentivizes employers to put
their workers on part time, if you move from 30 to 40, there`s just a lot
more people who work 40 hours a week through 30 hours a week. So, you`re
basically exposing a lot more people to this alleged incentive. I`m not
sure how strong the incentive is, but if it`s there, that`s actually going
to go the other way. Look, I want to get to Jimmy`s point for a second. I
do think that these are all -- again, these are just kind of local
preferences, you know, straightening out a river in Oregon, that maybe a
good idea, it`s not a jobs bill.
So, this is just putting the word jobs in a bill and making, you know, kind
of a big deal of it and that`s a mistake from a perspective that kind of
not generating enough employment. I don`t think that it`s nearly as
mysterious as -- I agree with Jimmy this to be innovation. We need more of
that. But I think that`s kind of tough to legislate. I don`t think
there`s a big mystery in terms of what is needed in our economy right now
in terms of both job creation enhancing our productivity and that`s a deep
dive into infrastructure investment. Now, that cost some money. And it
means that we need to find the fiscal resources in order to repair our
public goods in a big way. It so happens that the President has a
corporate tax reform idea that maybe republicans would be willing to think
about that has an infrastructure component. We can talk more about that if
you like. But that may be an area where we can bridge these two issues.
BALL: All right.
PETHOKOUKIS: I would love to combine some sort of infrastructure spending
bill with corporate tax reform. I believe when possible the healing power
of the word and. I think they`re trying to come up with a compromise.
PETHOKOUKIS: That corporate tax reform and infrastructure spending, that
would be a great place to start and maybe get a little bit of a more
bipartisan atmosphere rolling.
BALL: Well, based on these 46 jobs bills, I`m not terribly optimistic.
But my thanks to James Pethokoukis for joining me this morning, thanks so
much. And Jared, you`re sticking around a little bit longer.
BALL: So, up next, we`ll go live to Ferguson, Missouri, where residents
are awaiting word on whether Officer Darren Wilson will face charges in the
shooting death of Michael Brown.
BALL: (voice-over): New recordings from when Michael Brown died.
Thank you for staying with us this hour. If you`re just getting up, I`m
Krystal Ball filling in for Steve Kornacki.
It`s been over three months since unarmed teenager Michael Brown was
fatally shot multiple times and killed by a St. Louis, Missouri, police
officer. St. Louis County grand jury is deciding whether to indict police
officer Darren Wilson and has been hearing testimony from multiple
witnesses, including Wilson himself.
Meanwhile, the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" has some new footage of Officer
Wilson on the day of the shooting as well as new radio calls conveying an
unidentified officer at the scene as Brown`s body was lying in the street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 25.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get us several more units over here. There`s going to
be a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Joining me now from Ferguson is MSNBC national reporter Trymaine Lee
who has, of course, covered this story from the very beginning.
Trymaine, thanks for being with us.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for having me, Krystal.
BALL: What do these tapes tell us about the events surrounding Brown`s
LEE: They really don`t tell us much more than we already knew. There was
this brief encounter. There was this stop between Officer Wilson and
Michael Brown and a friend.
But it may give a little more insight into what Darren was known regarding
a suspect. So we got the radio call. He was aware that there had been an
alleged robbery at a local convenience store.
Then he sees Michael Brown, would seem to fit the description but other
than giving us a broader picture of the events slightly before and after,
it doesn`t give us much detail about what exactly went down that day.
BALL: And Trymaine, what are people saying on the ground right now?
Are they feeling confident in the process or are they concerned over how
things have gone so far?
LEE: Well, there`s been, in this community, a long history of distrust and
that hasn`t waned at all. In fact, it seems to have intensified with
recent alleged leaks from the grand jury and other leaks to media.
It only has crowded the process even more. So people who didn`t trust it
before are now even more distrustful and as they believe there will be a
nonindictment at some point in the very near future, it only adds to the
fuel that they already felt that the system was not working, not just in
support of Michael Brown and Michael Brown`s family, but the larger
community as a whole.
BALL: And we are, right now, halfway through the month of November. We
have been told to expect this decision in mid- to late November.
Do you have any indications about when and how this is all going to play
LEE: Not necessarily in terms of timing. As you mentioned, the prosecutor
has maintained it will be mid- to late November. After that, it will be
day-to-day and week-to-week.
The prosecutor`s office has said they will give a heads up to school
leaders. They will give 24 hours if they expect the decision to be
announced over the weekend and three hours if it`s during the week.
Last week on Thursday, the grand jury met with what we believe is the last
witness, Dr. Michael Baden, who performed an autopsy at the behest of
Brown`s family on Michael Brown. So it could come as early as early this
week or further. We just have no idea. The only folks who know are the
grand jury and the prosecutor.
BALL: My thanks to Trymaine Lee for joining me live from Ferguson,
Thanks so much, Trymaine.
LEE: Thanks for having me, Krystal.
BALL: And we`ve talked a lot about political and the economy on the show
today. By now you`ve probably heard the argument that Democrats failed to
deliver a coherent economic message to voters and they had some pretty
persuasive arguments actually.
The American economy grew by 3.5 percent in the most recent quarter and the
unemployment rate is now the lowest in six years. It`s fallen to 5.8
And the budget deficit, which helped fuel the rise of the Tea Party, that
has also hit a six-year low.
But on the other hand and you`ve heard this argument, too, people are
failing to feel the effects of this recovery and it`s not just about the
past few years either.
There`s a disconnect between economic growth and what the vast majority of
Americans are earning and they are not imaging it. A recent study of wage
data from the Social Security Administration found that since 1979, annual
earnings of the top 1 percent are up nearly 138 percent.
Earners in the top 5 percent also saw nearly 60 percent growth; the 5
percent below that had 37 percent growth.
Meanwhile, earnings for the bottom 90 percent of working Americans grew
just 15 percent. That`s 0.4 percent per year, essentially stagnant. It`s
a rate that is more than six times less than what the top 1 percent has
been racking up.
If you`re looking for the disconnect between the economy and the public,
that`s a pretty good starting point. But the election is over and it`s
time for governing.
Let`s ask, what would a real economic agenda actually look like?
I want to bring in former Republican presidential candidate and chairman
and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, we`re lucky to have with us today
Steve Forbes and joining us again is former economic adviser to Vice
President Biden, Jared Bernstein.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.
STEVE FORBES, CHAIRMAN, FORBES MEDIA: Thank you.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
BALL: Jared, we got a little bit of your thoughts in the last hour.
So Steve, I want to start with you if we could make you king or czar,
majority leader, whatever we want to call it, what do you think would be a
Republican agenda that could really get at wage growth, not just growing
for the top 1 percent, not just for corporations but would actually help
people earn more money and have more in their pocketbooks?
FORBES: One would be to radically simplify the tax code. I`ve always been
in favor of the flat tax. I`m not sure that this Congress would be able to
pass it or that the president would sign it.
The other thing that gets no attention is the anti-growth policies of the
Federal Reserve. We`re always hear they`re trying to stimulate the economy
but they`ve created a situation where small and new businesses still have a
hard line getting credit. And they`re the job creators in this economy.
When you have an unstable dollar, you get wage growth stagnating, which is
exactly what we`ve seen in recent years.
BALL: I`m going to let Jared deal with the Federal Reserve piece because I
think he`s more qualified on that than me.
But to push back on the flat tax, doesn`t the flat tax fall more heavily on
people who are at the lower end of the income scale, who spend more of
their money? Isn`t that part of the problem with the flat tax?
FORBES: No. What the flat tax does is you get economic growth. Mine had
an across-the-board tax cut. And when you have a vibrant economy, people
have a chance to move up.
Right now what the Fed has done and what the administration has
inadvertently done is what they call trickle-down economics. Hopefully
when people do well at the top, it trickles down to everybody else. It
never works and we`ve seen a prime example of it now.
BALL: Jared, what is your thoughts on that?
BERNSTEIN: That`s kind of a -- with respect to my old friend, Steve,
that`s kind of an interesting verbal jiu jitsu he just committed there,
because in fact, the idea that if you cut taxes, the benefits of the tax
cuts were down to middle and low income people has been found to be just
supply-side trickle-down fairy dust for decades now. It doesn`t work.
Internationally, it`s kind of the plan that Mitt Romney ran on back in 2012
and it was, I think, very reasonably found to be wanting from voters who
recognized that the only thing that happens when you give the affluent more
after-tax income is they have more after-tax income. It doesn`t trickle
BERNSTEIN: Hold on, Steve. You`ll get your chance there.
The Federal Reserve has actually helped the macro economy significantly and
all of those statics that Krystal cited at the beginning are demonstrably
true. Their fingerprints are all over that.
The problem is that macro isn`t reaching micro and that`s the connection
that needs to be made. And I really think the path there is through more
employment, more jobs and better jobs.
The minimum wage helps at the bottom but we need more public investment to
lower the unemployment rate and provide gainful employment opportunities
for lots of people in the middle.
BALL: Jared, let me ask you this in terms of on the Democratic side. I
think we both agree; the Democratic economic agenda has sort of collapsed
to minimum wage.
BALL: And while I certainly believe that a minimum wage increase would be
great for a lot of folks and important for the economy, it`s not an
One thing that I don`t hear many Democrats talking about is increasing the
power of workers through labor unions or through another mechanism, for
that matter. Back in 2008, we talked about the Employee Free Choice Act,
commonly called card check.
Do Democrats need to be stronger in support of labor as well to rebalance
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. I think that has to be part of the solution
because what is really hurting working people -- again, this is the macro-
micro split that we`ve been talking about -- is the absence of bargaining
power. Anything that helps improve the bargaining power of average workers
will help them claim more of their fair share of the growth that they are
helping to create.
Now, the problem with the union solution is that private sector unions now
represent 7 percent of the workforce. So even if you`re wildly successful,
you might bump that up a couple of points. It`s a good idea but that, too,
won`t solve the larger problem.
BALL: Steve, what`s your take on that?
FORBES: Well, we tried this stuff in the 1930s and it was a failure. And
there`s no real difference between macro and micro. If you get the micro
right in the sense of creating an environment where people are willing to
take risks and businesses can start to grow again, the micro takes care of
What the Fed has done --
BALL: But, Steve, isn`t the macro doing well?
I mean, corporations are doing pretty well, as I pointed out, the top 1
percent is doing just fine. And it doesn`t seem to be coming down to the
FORBES: Because you`ve got the policy wrong. The Federal Reserve has made
it very easy for big companies to borrow, very easy for the federal
government to borrow but if you look at commercial industrial loans in the
so-called recovery, small and new businesses have a hard time of it and if
they don`t have a chance to prosper, the economy is going to have this 2
percent, 3 percent stagnant growth rate.
This is the worst recovery from a sharp downturn in American history and
the Federal Reserve says we are expansionary -- they are contractionary.
And that`s what people don`t get.
BALL: But Jared, one of the things that I think flies in the face of that
is the fact that corporations have a lot of money, they are doing well and
they are not hiring much more and they are certainly not lifting wages.
So how do we change that piece?
BERNSTEIN: Well, first of all, the fundamental numbers do contradict
Steve. Corporate profitability is up 50 percent the stock -- the value of
the stock market is almost double. This is over the course of the
Median household income is down 3 percent. So that macro-micro disconnect
is very much in play.
So what do we do? Certainly lowering borrowing costs has only been
somewhat successful in bringing the corporate dollars into the economy. I
actually think we need more demand. That`s where we`ve dropped the ball.
And one of the best ways to do that in the near term and also help to
repair some of our public infrastructure would be kind of a deep dive
I also think we need to think of direct job creation. If the job market is
not generating enough jobs on its own, then I think the government as an
employer of last resort is something worth thinking about.
BALL: All right, my big thinkers this morning, Steve Forbes and Jared
Bernstein, thank you both so much. Really appreciate it.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
FORBES: Thank you.
BALL: Bipartisanship, bipartisanship, bipartisanship. Everyone says they
want it but can you even get elected if you vow to rule from the middle?
BALL: Senator Mark Warner`s nail biter in Virginia was one of the big
surprises of Election Night. I think for me it was the big surprise of
Election Night. Warner had been expected to win the race handily and it
wasn`t even supposed to look close. That was because of this.
This is how Virginia looked in 2008 when former Governor Mark Warner won by
a million votes. He won all but six of Virginia`s 133 cities and counties
against Republican Jim Delmore. That was seen as baseline for Warner this
year. Sure they expected a little bit of regression due to this being a
But Warner isn`t exactly a polarizing member of the Senate. He`s a self-
described radical centrist and throughout his tenure, Warner has been well-
known for reaching across the aisle and finding the middle. He was also
running the same campaign that he ran when he was so successful in 2008.
So what happened to Mark Warner this year? Take one more look at the 2008
victory map. Now look at the Virginia map from this year. Pretty much a
complete reversal from Warner`s `08 victory. It`s a sea of red across the
rural sections of Virginia with just barely enough votes to squeak by from
the densely populated areas of Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton
That has given Warner his apparent victory now over Ed Gillespie. And it
wasn`t just Mark Warner. Across the country independents or radical
centrists were expected to have a major role in elections this midterm
Kansas independent Greg Orman was outpolling Republican Pat Roberts for the
final two months. It looks like independent Larry Pressler had the
potential to play the spoiler a few weeks before the election in South
Dakota. But Orman and Pressler both over -- underwhelmed rather -- on
Election Night. The argument from Washington and across the country has
been that it is the partisan extremists dividing the country.
But if it`s only the ideological candidates who are appealing to voters, is
there still a role for moderates?
Joining me to talk about all of this, we`re lucky to have director of the
UVA Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, Larry Sabato, and
also back with us we have Washington bureau chief from "Mother Jones" and
MSNBC political analyst David Corn.
Thanks so much for being with us, gentlemen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Krystal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure thing.
Larry, I want to start with you on this Virginia piece.
What is your assessment of the race? Did Mark Warner err by trying to
recreate his 2008 appeal to the moderate Republican?
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UVA CENTER FOR POLITICS: I think he underestimated
the role of passion which in a midterm election is always key. Because
turnout`s going to be way down. It always is from presidential race. This
was unusually low. The lowest since 1942.
I don`t know that anybody calculated it would be that low. But Mark
Warner, I think he did know that he was in for a much tougher race. They
certainly didn`t expect one this close.
But it is more difficult for someone like Warner whose brand is
bipartisanship to excite the base and you need the base to be excited, to
turn out in an election like this, where the wind is in your face, as
opposed to 2008 when he was first elected, when the wind was at his back.
That`s the fundamental difference.
BALL: "The Washington Post" was making the argument that Warner should
have made a more direct appeal to the base, as you`re saying. Other folks
I`ve talked to said the real problem was that he kind of took the election
Yes, he thought it would be closer than his 2008 romp but he was looking at
polling that had him up significantly and maybe he didn`t campaign as hard
as he needed to.
CORN: Well, I think everybody was fooled by those polls. In the polling
averages, he had a 10-point lead on Election Day. So funny thing about
that. It didn`t work very well.
They were overconfident early on. I don`t care what they say now. Late in
the campaign, they were anything but overconfident because they realized
something was happening. They didn`t think it would ever be this close but
they were worried about a 52-48 percent race that would be compared natural
to a 65 percent in 2008. But it was too late. They put very little real
effort into get out the vote and they admit it now privately, at least.
They don`t admit it publicly and that`s not what politicians do.
BALL: Let me bring in David Corn here.
David, let`s broaden this out to the national perspective. One of the
quotes that was in "The Washington Post" was from Jerry (ph) Connolly.
He`s a congressman from Virginia just won re-election in Fairfax County and
he thought this was more about a national trend not just specific to
He said, I think if you look at the returns around the country, it raises
questions about just how successful the bipartisanship brand really is. We
all say we want it but that`s not how we`re voting tonight.
What do you think about that?
CORN: Well, pivoting off of Larry`s point about passion, there are very
few people out there say I am passionate about being bipartisan. I`m
talking about the voters. They want a champion and they want someone on
their side and their team. They think he is going to Washington, knock
heads or get things done. There`s a lot of conflicting impulses when the
public says we want to get rid of gridlock but yet they vote for a party
that is dedicated to blocking the president. Right?
So the idea that an independent out there fires up passion in a midterm
election when there aren`t a lot of people paying attention is wrong. You
have the independent winning in Alaska, as we noted earlier, the governor.
But in Kansas, Greg Orman did fizzle very fast, once the Republicans saw
the threat from him and the Democrat got out of the race, they just were
able to put the resources in and get their people to the polls in terms of
get out the votes for independent, there`s no campaign. There was no
campaign structure that the Democrats tried in Kansas but no campaign
structure to get out all of those independents, bipartisan seeking voters
in that state.
So we still have very much a duopoly here, a binary system where each side
tries to mobilize their people and the people feel in between I want
bipartisanship but don`t have the structure and they don`t often have the
candidates really addressing them.
BALL: Well, Larry, we all want folks to compromise. It`s just as a
Democrat, I want the Republicans to come to my position and the Republicans
want the Democrats to compromise to their position.
But one of the things looking national that was also astounding to me is
all of these red state Republican Senate candidates, the Michelle Nunns of
the world, the Kay Hagans of the world, the Natalie Tennants of the world,
Alison Lundergan Grimes, they ran conservative Democratic campaigns that
seemed like they should be appropriate to their states. They distanced
themselves from the president, they stood with the NRA, all of those sorts
None of them performed significantly better in their states than President
Obama did, who was supposed to be so dreaded and hated in the South.
SABATO: Yes, and actually, take Alison Grimes for a second. What was the
most embarrassing moment of her campaign? Which was really well run in
many respects. It was when she wouldn`t admit having voted for Barack
Obama when everyone knew she had. She had been to the Democratic
convention one of those years.
BALL: So what do Democrats learn from this?
SABATO: You have to be what you are. You have to be what you are in a
campaign. If you try to hide what you are or you try to be, as we`re
talking, too bipartisan, then you lower the passion of your own base and
you don`t get the turnout that you need from African-Americans, Hispanics,
hardcore Yellow Democrats in the South -- and there are still some.
BALL: And David, I think also we have to realize that these are national
elections. You can`t separate yourself from the national party anymore.
CORN: Particularly when we saw some brand-name politicians like Pryor in
Arkansas and Mary Landrieu fighting for her life now in the runoff in
Louisiana where in the past you might expect that these are family
dynasties, they`re brand names in their own states, they might be able to
buck a national trend if the president is unpopular.
But still have their own personal family oriented popularity in their own
states. That`s not working. But we`re also seeing -- and Larry knows this
-- there`s an overall trend in a lot of these states towards Republicans.
Obama seems to have accelerated that trend in some of these states.
CORN: And part of it might be racially motivated. We see a lot of racial
issues coming out of these states in terms of voting rights and voter
suppression efforts and it may just be there is a shaking out.
So it`s going to be very, very difficult for Democrats to win back a lot of
these states and do well in these states unless they change their game plan
and their general approach.
BALL: Yes. I think that`s absolutely right. All right. I want to thank
David Corn from "Mother Jones" and Larry Sabato, whose class I was never
able to get into at the University of Virginia.
Thanks for being with us, Larry.
SABATO: It was my mistake, Krystal. I`m sorry.
BALL: All right. Up next, Republicans` latest ploy in their effort to
BALL: Open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act
begins today. This morning, actually and for a second year. But instead
of birthday cake with a number 2 on it, Congress may be getting the law a
brand-new set of hearings.
Aww, you shouldn`t have.
Over the past few weeks, videos have made their way across the Internet and
MIT professor Jonathan Gruber made some snide comments about people`s
understanding of ObamaCare and also implying that the public was tricked
into supporting it. This is one of the first clips that went viral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR: Black transparency has a huge political
advantage and basically call it the stupidity of the American voter or
whatever but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to
pass and it is the second best argument.
Look, I wish -- Martha`s right. We could make it all transparent but I`d
rather have this law than not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: The response from the conservative media has been calm -- just
kidding; they are outraged. Earlier this week, Republican Jim Jordan had
the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee suggested hearings to
investigate Gruber`s remarks.
But to understand why some consider these comments to be so inflammatory,
you have to go back to Jonathan Gruber`s role in the origin story of
ObamaCare. It was actually Jonathan Gruber`s economic models that helped
Mitt Romney`s 2006 Massachusetts health care reform law, AKA RomneyCare
become so successful.
So when President Obama began work on his health care law in 2009, Gruber
was actually one of the first people that the administration called. In
fact, Gruber was hired as a contractor with the title, "technical
assistance in evaluating options for health reform." He was the only
person called "reasonably available to satisfy agency requirements."
I don`t know exactly what that means.
The Right argue Gruber is the architect of the Affordable Care Act while
the Left seems to discount him as someone with little influence or, as
Nancy Pelosi said this week, "I don`t know who is he." For his part,
Gruber apologized Tuesday in an interview with Ronan Farrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRUBER: The comment and the video were made at an academic conference. I
was speaking off the cuff and I basically spoke inappropriately and I
regret having made those comments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: So for now, the Republicans actually seem pretty serious about
investigative hearings. So as the second open enrollment period begins,
the fight to repeal ObamaCare is alive and well.
But is investigating Jonathan Gruber really a smart strategy for the Right?
Joining me now, former governor of Vermont and former DNC chairman Howard
Dean and also former spokeswoman for President George W. Bush, Mercedes
Thank you both for being with us again.
Governor, let me start with you, what do you make of Gruber`s comments
DEAN: I think they were arrogant and foolish but what are you going to do?
People are entitled to make fools of themselves.
As far as investigating or whether or not to investigate, why not? The
Republicans have investigated everything else. So they might as well do
this. But unfortunately what they`re doing is nothing. That`s the
problem. This is not going to lead to anything. It`s not a crime to have
a nitwit running your program.
BALL: Mercedes, what do you make of the Republican strategy to potentially
have investigative hearings and to Jonathan Gruber`s comments?
SCHLAPP: Well, I think that really what the Republicans are trying to do
is bring to light the flaws of ObamaCare. We`re going to be seeing the
rising premium rates. We`re going to be seeing rising rates on the
penalties as well. All of these things of course that happens after the
Going after Gruber, I`m sure the White House is just appalled and sending
out the red flags saying, please stop talking. There`s six videos out
there of Gruber making these -- what I would call stupid comments.
BALL: Six so far, we should say.
SCHLAPP: -- exactly, stupid comments which, you know, in fact, I think
really make the American public feel like, oh, my gosh, what does he mean?
How can we feel this way?
And then there`s the lack of transparency issue as well. So then it gives
ammunition to the Republicans to bring ObamaCare back into the center of
BALL: Should Republicans, Mercedes, be bringing ObamaCare back to the
center of debate?
BALL: They don`t even know who Jonathan Gruber is and actually, folks,
there`s a new study out showing that folks who have ObamaCare, seven out of
10, are really happy with it. It has brought down the number of uninsured
Why do Republicans still want to focus on this thing that is the law of the
SCHLAPP: Again, it`s law of the land. I think it`s going to be very
difficult to repeal. I think that you could have as many hearings as you
want but, quite frankly, they really couldn`t do very much. Because you
were talking that no matter what they take out of the Senate or the House,
the president is going to veto.
Even when you`re looking at the medical device tax, which is a bipartisan
support on getting rid of the medical device tax --
BALL: It`s an industry giveaway, is what the medical device tax is.
That`s why both parties support it.
Governor, do you think it`s smart strategy? Put on your pretend Republican
hat right now.
Do you think it`s smart strategy for Republicans to continue to focus on
ObamaCare, even to the point of having hearings on it?
DEAN: Actually, I don`t think it is. But that`s what they do. They are
not any smarter than Jonathan Gruber is in terms of their political
Notwithstanding the tragedy of last Tuesday. Here`s why it`s not smart.
If this collapses, which I don`t think it will, but if it does because the
Republicans or the court -- there`s another court case now that could be
really damaging if it goes the wrong way, the Republicans are going to be
That`s about 15 or 20 million people and if you magnify that with the
number of people who know those people well, say 30 million people are
going to know somebody, 40 million even, they`re going to know somebody who
got their health insurance taken away by the Republicans.
If this collapses, there`s no way you can blame the Democrats for this and
the Republicans have been foaming at the mouth for four years about this.
I think I`d leave this one alone. They have plenty of things that they can
do now that they have majorities in both houses. I would not make this the
top of my list.
BALL: All right, so Mercedes, let`s fast forward a little bit through the
next two years, let`s say you`re advising a 2016 Republican presidential
candidate. How hard do you want them to go on repealing ObamaCare?
SCHLAPP: I think that it will be an issue and I think it`s something that
they will be talking about. I believe it will be very difficult at the end
of the day to repeal ObamaCare.
BALL: -- in the primary, for example?
SCHLAPP: Oh, absolutely.
SCHLAPP: You have, in so many of the states -- and we saw this in the
swing states, for example, where you had the higher premium rates, where
you have the higher deductibles, where people are losing their doctors and
they are saying, why can`t I do go to my doctor? We have these narrow
doctor networks now.
So there are incredible flaws to the law and I think rather than repealing
it, you can dismantle it piece by piece. But it`s going to be difficult to
do an outright full repeal.
BALL: And do you have to have an alternative plan which we have not seen
BALL: My thanks so much to former Bush spokesperson Mercedes Schlapp and
former DNC chairman Howard Dean for joining me this morning.
BALL: Thank you both.
SCHLAPP: Thank you, Krystal.
BALL: Still ahead this morning, new details about the White House
intruder. What one Secret Service officer was allegedly doing as that
alleged intruder made his way toward the executive mansion.
BALL: The country`s top military leader is in Iraq today. General Martin
Dempsey`s unannounced trip was his first to Iraq since the U.S.-led
coalition began its military campaign against ISIS. The chairman of the
Joint Chiefs is there right now to confer with the U.S. ambassador and the
Iraqi prime minister and to get a first-hand look at the situation.
The trip came two days after Dempsey told Congress that the U.S. would
consider sending some American combat troops to fight alongside Iraq`s
military force in their battle against the Islamic State.
And according to the AP, it also comes just a few days after Al Qaeda`s
affiliate in Syria formed an alliance with ISIS. Stay with MSNBC
throughout the day and the weekend for updates on this developing story --
and we will be right back.
BALL: More details are emerging about how an intruder was able to jump
over the White House fence and make it all the way into the executive
mansion. It`s looking worse and worse for the Secret Service on duty that
According to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security, a
Secret Service agent on the North Lawn of the White House wasn`t listening
to his two-way radio that night in September. The officer reportedly
didn`t have his earpiece in while he was in a van.
He was talking on his personal cell phone at the time. The report says
that the officer`s standby radio wasn`t with him, either. It was in his
locker. It was only after he saw another officer chasing the alleged
intruder did he realize what was happening.
That alleged intruder, Omar Gonzalez, is facing several charges, including
unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a
deadly or dangerous weapon.
Carol Leonnig has been covering this story for "The Washington Post" and
she joins me now.
Carol, thank you so much for being with us.
CAROL LEONNIG, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Of course, Krystal.
BALL: So talk to me about this report and what it means in terms of reform
of the Secret Service going forward.
LEONNIG: Well, I have got to hand it to the Department of Homeland
Security, which did this review with a combination of various experts and
DHS panel members. It is unflinching in its review of all of the
successive failures that evening on September 19th, a Friday night, when
Omar Gonzalez made it over the fence.
We reported on this on that night and also on September 20th and we thought
we knew a lot about what happened and much of it is confirmed in that
report, but there were even more failures that we didn`t know about. One
of the most dramatic is the communications failures.
I mean, we`ve talked a lot about the K-9 handler not releasing the dog in
time, not being available but what we didn`t realize was that the radio
system for alerting all of the officers stationed on the White House, the
people in charge of protecting it, that radio system was failing in
There was sort of a crisis command center officer who saw the alert flash
on his panel of boards, telling him that someone jumped the fence but he
didn`t realize when he sent out a radio alert to all of the officers that
they didn`t ever hear that broadcast, that it was a failed broadcast. It`s
kind of stunning.
BALL: It is stunning. And another piece of this report says uniformed
officers weren`t trained adequately because of staffing shortages.
Do you think that`s a legitimate claim?
LEONNIG: I do. And I`ve heard it so many times from uniform division
advocates and also former and current officers. I mean, this is a group
that really -- you know, when you think about it, Krystal, they are the
front lines of protecting the White House and ultimately protecting the
They are not the flashy guys with the earpieces and the dark glasses and
the suits that are next to the president and next to his children and his
wife. But they are the people on the exterior making sure this campus is
safe and what I have heard so many times is that they are working six and
seven days out of every week.
They are called in routinely on their days off. Many of them are leaving.
They are burned out, so there are more and more junior officers. I was
really dumbfounded when I read that most training had been canceled for
these people because they are just too short-staffed to have them out of
BALL: That is really remarkable. Carol, do you think from what you`re
seeing right now on Capitol Hill and within the Secret Service right now as
much as you have visibility there, do you think they are undergoing the
sort of reforms that they need to at this point?
LEONNIG: I think that there are -- there`s a little bit of a Secret
Service at war with itself. And there are lots of countervailing forces.
There are some on the Hill who I`ve talked to who say it has got to change.
And we are going to make sure that the structure of this service changes
and that things that are broken are fixed.
But there are plenty of people who have an interest in keeping the service
the way it is. People who are part of the leadership now, who are pretty
defensive and don`t think they`ve done anything wrong and think that they
can be good leaders of it.
And they have certainly advocates on the Hill and within the
administration. I`ve heard some really compelling things. Congressman
Cummings, who I interviewed last night, said he feels so strongly, after
talking to various members of the service, that it needs a full clean house
sort of reform.
BALL: Wow. That`s a dramatic statement. And we know whatever happens,
you will certainly be reporting on it.
You`ve done such a great job up to this point, Carol Leonnig, thank you so
much. Really appreciate it.
LEONNIG: Thank you, Krystal.
BALL: And you have probably watched it at least once or maybe twice or
maybe 100 times or maybe you have the song stuck in your head. We will
talk to the man who created the viral video sensation "Too Many Cooks"
right after this.
BALL: Unless you have spent the last week or two in some faraway exotic
island paradise without a cell phone or Internet access, you have likely
seen the incredible new viral video, "Too Many Cooks." It`s a spot-on
parody of 1980s TV sitcom opening credits with its own dangerously
addictive theme song. Take a look.
(VIDEO CLIP, "TOO MANY COOKS")
BALL: A scoop of kids to add the spice. I love that.
Sweet, right? Not so fast. If you watch the entire 11-minute video, which
first aired late night on "Adult Swim," it goes onto take a bizarre series
of campy, disturbing twists and surreal turns, some of which we are not
comfortable showing you on Saturday morning television.
As of this morning, "Too Many Cooks" has been viewed over 2.5 million times
on YouTube and has received major praise on social media from ordinary
citizens but also from celebrities, like Penn Jillette who tweeted, "This
is to comedy like Bob Dylan is to folk music. Wow. Inspiring and
And joining me now is the creator of "Too Many Cooks," Casper Kelly, a
writer and producer for "Adult Swim."
Casper, thank you for being with us.
CASPER KELLY, "ADULT SWIM": Hi, Krystal. It`s so great to be with you.
It`s an honor.
BALL: Did you have any idea that this video, which is pretty amazing,
would take off like it has?
KELLY: I had no idea. It aired two weeks ago at 4:00 am. When I got 20
tweets, I thought, I did it! People watched it! I`m so excited. And then
it just grew and grew. And I`m flabbergasted. And the Penn Jillette
quote, and now I`m here on the show with you. I can`t even believe it.
BALL: What could be better, really?
Talk to me about the creative process here. First you`re like, you`re
watching the video and you`re like, oh, I get it. I recognize -- that
looks like "Roseanne" and that looks like "Small Wonder," whatever.
Then all of a sudden this axe murderer guys comes in and it goes crazy from
So how did you come up with this turn from the happy `80s sitcom classics
into the bizarre and surreal?
KELLY: I think originally I wanted it to be like the beginning where it
was just happy sitcom show intro for the entire 11 minutes, just to drive
everyone crazy, as a joke.
But my boss, Michael Adlew (ph), said, I don`t think you should do that. I
think that`s good for about four minutes. Then you need to start
surprising people again.
So my editor, Paul Painter (ph), and I talked. And I started just layering
in more and more ideas of where this could go and to surprise and start
shifting genres and then take a dark turn and then try to bring it back,
but maybe not. And just try to always -- the key is, when the audience
thinks they see a pattern, it`s to surprise them again.
BALL: Yes. I think you succeeded at that, to be sure.
Well, my favorite character is Smarf, to be sure. I think you would have
to say he`s the star. But BuzzFeed actually, I don`t know if you know
this, created an online questionnaire because of course they did. And you
can find out which "Too Many Cooks" cast member you are.
So I filled it out.
You know what I said I`m most like?
BALL: What, Krystal?
BALL: It says I`m like the killer.
What does that say about me?
KELLY: OK. We can bond then. Because that`s what I got and I was very
Because it asks you to choose your favorite soup. I`m like, how does that
indicate that I`m like the killer? Yes.
BALL: So BuzzFeed did not consult with you on this quiz?
Maybe you have a bone to pick with them.
KELLY: I was hurt. I was hurt.
BALL: So which of the characters is your favorite? Did you feel most
KELLY: OK, now that I say all this, maybe it is the killer. I`m the weird
person. I apologize.
BALL: He is your creation. All right. We asked our social media friends
for some questions because this is a social media sensation. We got this
Twitter question from Craig Schwarz. He wants to know if any animals were
injured during the filming?
Of course, we see my favorite Smarf die at the end. So I guess that would
be a yes.
KELLY: Yes, animals were injured. And our crew consisted of some barnyard
animals that were also poorly treated. They had to work long hours without
any meal breaks.
BALL: That explains a few things, actually.
So what`s next for you, Casper?
You got any other crazy ideas that we`re going to see cropping up on "Adult
Swim" or elsewhere?
KELLY: Oh, yes. I have a notebook full of ideas. I`m very excited.
Right now I`m shooting season two of my show; "Your Pretty Face" is going
I don`t know if I can say that on air.
BALL: I think you can.
KELLY: OK. We`re shooting season two of that and we`re very excited about
that. But yes, I have so many ideas for new shorts and movies and things I
want to do.
BALL: What`s the wildest thing that you`ve heard from a fan so far about
this particular short?
KELLY: It`s impossible to -- it`s overwhelming. There`s so many choices
that could be number one. The Penn Jillette tweet, Edgar Wright tweet.
The people who will write five pages of analysis of what it means. I am
just gobsmacked by all of it.
It feels like I`m in "The Truman Show" and it`s -- this is all some kind of
practical show being played on me. It`s so amazing.
BALL: What was your favorite `80s sitcom?
KELLY: This may be going back a little earlier, `70s. But I got to say
the "Facts of Life" theme show -- theme song is super catchy to me.
BALL: It was definitely still going in the `80s to be sure, though.
KELLY: Yes, it was. That thing went on forever. So you`re right.
BALL: And I think maybe even a little early `90s in there like we
shouldn`t just peg you as early `80s. One of my favorites was "Full
KELLY: Oh, yes.
BALL: Which definitely I think there was some "Full House" inspiration in
there to be sure.
KELLY: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
BALL: Casper, real quickly, any advice for getting the song out of your
KELLY: Oh, boy. It`s the classic of find a song that`s even more crazy.
BALL: Even more annoying.
Just real fast. I want to say hi to my daughters, Ava and Maggie, in the
BALL: Hi, Ava and Maggie.
All right. My thanks to guest Casper Kelly for joining me this morning.
And thank you for joining us today for UP. I will be back tomorrow morning
at 8:00 Eastern time. Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." Thank you
again for getting up.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
MORE FROM RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader: