IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show


Guest: Jack Conway, Errol Louis, Julie Menin, Errol Louis, Christopher

Dodd, John Harris, Douglas Brinkley

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Bunning throwing a shutout.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight:

Mr. Bunning gives it to Washington.  Senators both Democrats and

Republicans are attacking Jim Bunning for holding up a bill for

unemployment benefits extension and highway construction again today.  He

says his fellow senators simply refuse to pay for such measures and are

just adding bill after bill to the national debt.  We‘ll talk to a

Democratic candidate going for Bunning‘s Senate seat, Jack Conway, in just

a moment.

Plus, the pressure‘s mounting on New York governor David Paterson to

leave office.  “The New York Times” reports today that Paterson personally

instructed two state employees to contact the woman involved in a domestic

violence case against his top aide and even enlisted one of those employees

to ask the alleged victim to downplay the incident.  It doesn‘t look good

when a governor‘s in the center of an effort to influence a domestic

violence accuser.

And who‘s going to keep watch on Wall Street, and who should they

answer to?  That‘s my question for Senator Chris Dodd tonight.  He‘ll be


Also, what‘s all this focus on the press—or rather, in the press on

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.  Is he doing the job?  Is he

keeping the president—is he helping the president with Congress?  Is he

keeping the president focused on the key priorities he set when he ran? 

And is he, most important, doing the job of protecting the president from

trouble?  We‘ll get to that tonight.

And finally, Jay Leno makes a triumphant return to the “Tonight” show. 

We‘ve got the jokes and we‘ve also got the audience numbers in the


Let‘s start with Senator Jim Bunning, who continues his stand against

the government borrowing another $10 billion for the latest spending bill. 

Jack Conway is Kentucky‘s attorney general and a Democratic senator—

well, he‘s a candidate for Senate to replace Bunning.

Let‘s take a look at what happened today.  Here‘s the Senate floor

today, where Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine tried to get past

Bunning‘s blocking.  Let‘s watch what followed, and by the reaction from

Harry Reid and Bunning himself.  Let‘s watch it all.  It is getting a bit

theatrical in the Senate.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS ®, MAINE:  On my own behalf, and on behalf of

numerous members of the Republican caucus who have expressed concerns to

me, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate

consideration of the HR-4691.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  I would hope that my friend,

the senator from Kentucky, would reconsider.  There‘s—his point has been

made.  It‘s been adequately made.


SEN. JIM BUNNING ®, KENTUCKY:  There is.  I object.  And let me...

SHAHEEN:  Objection is heard.


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  That‘s Jim Bunning of Kentucky.  He‘s a lame duck. 

He is not running again.  He‘s not being back for reelection by his—

about to be former colleague and not his best friend in the world, Mitch

McConnell.  This man‘s under attack...


MATTHEWS:  ... attack by his own party.  He‘s being pushed out by his

fellow senator, Mitch McConnell.  Do you like Mitch McConnell?

CONWAY:  Well, I have a cordial relationship with him.

MATTHEWS:  Well, do you think he should be—he should have muscled

Jim Bunning out of his seat?

CONWAY:  No, I think the people of Kentucky should have been able to

decide that, and I think Senator McConnell...

MATTHEWS:  You think he‘s been badly treated by his party?

CONWAY:  Yes, he has.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about what happened today.  Here he is,

Senator Bunning, standing up to his party and to your party, the Democrats. 

Let‘s listen as he makes his case Jimmy Stewart-like, one might say,

against this $10 billion spending bill that hasn‘t been funded.  Here it



BUNNING:  We want a country that don‘t (SIC) owe everybody in the

world for our existence.  I don‘t—and—and the question I‘ve been

asked mostly is, Why now?  Well, why not now?


MATTHEWS:  You know, you wonder whether a guy on his way out, he‘s a

lame duck, hasn‘t been stricken by conscience that he never felt all those

years he was backing George Bush‘s latest war, for example.  So I‘m a bit

skeptical.  But I think he has a point.  And I want to ask you what you

would do if you were a senator right now.  There‘s a bill before the Senate

right now that he‘s holding up, and you‘re running against this guy.

CONWAY:  Well, I‘m running to succeed him.

MATTHEWS:  To succeed him.  Well, you‘re running to get rid of—to

replace him.

CONWAY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  About $10 billion, $11 billion, a lot it‘s for highway

construction, for COBRA, the extension of health benefits, extension of

unemployment benefits, all good things that every member of the Senate

agrees should be paid for.  But nobody wants to pay for it, but they just

want to borrow it.  Should Congress continue to borrow for everything it

spends money on?  That‘s his argument, it shouldn‘t.

CONWAY:  Yes, where was Jim Bunning during the Bush years, when they

doubled the national debt?  Where was Jim Bunning when he was voting

against pay-as-you-go just a few weeks ago?  Now, all of a sudden, he has

pangs of conscience?

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m asking, do you think he does?

CONWAY:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Why is he doing it now?

CONWAY:  I think Jim Bunning...

MATTHEWS:  Why is anybody on that Hill of hypocrites—nobody up

there spends the money.  Look, we have a bunch of characters on Capitol

Hill, of senators, who will say yes to every spending bill, yes to every

tax cut, and when it ends up we‘re raising about $2 billion -- $2 trillion

in taxes and spending $4 trillion, which adds up to about a $1.6 trillion

deficit every single year now, they act like, How‘d that—whose deficit

is that?  It‘s their deficit!

CONWAY:  I understand.  We need to cut spending, Chris.


MATTHEWS:  Well, wait a minute.  What would you cut?  Here‘s the

federal budget.  Tell me what you‘d cut.


CONWAY:  I tell you what.  Here‘s what you can do...

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  Here‘s the (INAUDIBLE) right here‘s the sheet of

all the government spending.  Tell me how we reduce the federal deficit by

cutting the 1.6 deficit, in trillion dollars, out of the federal spending? 

Where‘s your list?

CONWAY:  OK.  I understand.  Let me tell you.  I understand...

MATTHEWS:  Use the list.

CONWAY:  This is mighty small print, Chris.


CONWAY:  Now, let me say this.  The pharmaceutical companies wrote

provisions in the legislation over the last decade.  There‘s $200 billion

in savings from letting Medicare use its full purchasing power...


CONWAY:  ... $130 billion in savings by ending offshore tax havens. 

Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning supposedly were behind the Conrad-Gregg

deficit commission, which I would have supported.  All of a sudden, when

the president thinks it‘s a good idea, suddenly...


MATTHEWS:  How much do your spending cuts add up to?

CONWAY:  $330 billion...


MATTHEWS:  Out of the $1.6 trillion debt we have.

CONWAY:  I just listed $330 billion right there.

MATTHEWS:  So how far...


CONWAY:  We do have to get back to fiscal sanity, Chris.  We do.  And

you know, the Clinton administration...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go over them again.  How do we cut down that deficit

again?  How do we do it?

CONWAY:  How do you do it?  You end the offshore tax breaks.  That‘s

$130 billion right there.


MATTHEWS:  Offshore tax breaks, how do they work exactly?

CONWAY:  How do they work?  Well, we offer companies incentives to go

overseas and invest in job creation over there.  They can take it as a tax

credit against their income tax here.  And then you know else?  We allow

them the offshore tax havens.  And that‘s the type of thing that drives

people nuts.  You know, we have...


MATTHEWS:  And that would be money that would be raised here in this


CONWAY:  $130 billion.

MATTHEWS:  In other words, those businesses would come back to America

and pay taxes here, is that what...


MATTHEWS:  You think they would?

CONWAY:  Yes, sure.  You think Citi‘s going to go offshore?

MATTHEWS:  No, I think they‘re offshore for other reasons besides tax

benefits.  They‘re offshore because it‘s cheaper wages.  You know that.


MATTHEWS:  You know that (INAUDIBLE)

CONWAY:  Sure.  Absolutely.  But...


MATTHEWS:  ... you‘re really talking about revenue that won‘t exist,

even though (INAUDIBLE)

CONWAY:  Well, why are we going to allow them a tax break to go and

invest in jobs overseas?  That makes no sense whatsoever.  No sense



CONWAY:  It‘s the type of thing that drives the American people crazy.

MATTHEWS:  Good point.

CONWAY:  And then $200 billion that we ought to be saving from

pharmaceutical companies that are not allowed to give us a discount because

of the way we wrote the part D benefit...


MATTHEWS:  How does that work as a reduction in federal spending?

CONWAY:  It works—it works in that the Medicare plan, CMS, can do

what the VA does and what the state Medicaid programs do, and that is to

use bulk purchasing to bring down the costs of...

MATTHEWS:  And why isn‘t it being done now?

CONWAY:  Because the pharmaceutical companies wrote a piece of

legislation in this most recent round of health care debate.  The

pharmaceutical companies got in and they struck a deal, and they agreed not

to touch it.

MATTHEWS:  So the Democratic Party controls the Senate.  Why would

they go along with something like that?  Why would your party do that?


CONWAY:  I think you‘ve got to reach across the party aisle sometimes.

MATTHEWS:  So your leadership is backing something you don‘t agree


CONWAY:  On that particular provision, I don‘t agree with it.

MATTHEWS:  So basically, you think that the government could save

money by doing what, by requiring mass purchasing of drugs by the


CONWAY:  Bulk purchasing of drugs.  We ought to have the deficit

reduction commission for an up or down vote.  I could have supported that. 

Listen, there‘s going to have to be some political...

MATTHEWS:  And where has this been tried and succeeded?

CONWAY:  What do you mean, where has it been tried?

MATTHEWS:  Well, where have we tried to have bulk purchasing by

consumers, where the government funds that...

CONWAY:  In the VA.  In the VA, where you have 48 percent savings, in

state Medicaid programs.  Listen, I run a Medicaid fraud unit as an

attorney general.  And we have saved the taxpayers of Kentucky $100 million


MATTHEWS:  So we can save...


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get through the numbers again.  You say we can save

how much money off the federal deficit?  How much can you cut, as a

senator, if you could get your way...

CONWAY:  On those—on those three issues I talked about...


CONWAY:  ... that‘s $330 billion.

MATTHEWS:  Good work.  We want to hear here (ph).

Let‘s take a look at Harry Reid criticizing Bunning here today. 

Here‘s your potential party leader going after Jim Bunning, the lame duck

senator that you would like to replace.  Here he is.


REID:  Now, my friend talks about the debt.  He wants to make sure

that the debt doesn‘t go up.  Where was he during the Bush years?  Unpaid

wars, two wars unpaid for, taxes unpaid for, running up trillions of

dollars.  But he‘s made his stand.  I think it‘s wrong, as does the

American people, as does, I‘m sure, the people of Kentucky.


MATTHEWS:  You see the problem here with the American people watching

this.  Can you see the weakness in that argument of your leader?  Which is,

his knock against Jim Bunning is not that Jim Bunning‘s not making a

reasonable statement, but that he should have made that same reasonable

statement against deficit spending when the president was a Republican.

CONWAY:  I understand that, but...

MATTHEWS:  See what I mean?  In other words, when everybody gets on

the Hill, all of a sudden, they change to instead of doing the kind of

thing you‘ve done here, trying to develop ways to reduce the deficit, they

simply point the finger at the other party and they have a back-and-forth

enjoyment of, Oh, how come they didn‘t do it when those guys were in

charge?  (INAUDIBLE) How about a better question to Harry Reid, How come

you‘re not doing it when you‘re in charge?

CONWAY:  And that‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that a pretty good question?

CONWAY:  That‘s a good question.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  So...

CONWAY:  It‘s the type of thing that drives the people of Kentucky

nuts and...

MATTHEWS:  By the way, the people of Kentucky, what‘s their reaction

to Jim Bunning‘s statement against spending $10 billion more that they

haven‘t come up with the funding for?

CONWAY:  Well, I think you have Rand Paul, who‘s running on the other


MATTHEWS:  And he‘s with him.

CONWAY:  ... and he‘s with him.  And I‘m on the other side and I‘m not

with him.

MATTHEWS:  And you think he‘s not—he‘s shouldn‘t be doing it.

CONWAY:  No, I agree with Harry Reid on that point.  Where was he?

MATTHEWS:  Well, where are you now, though?  Where are you now?  Do

you think the government should be borrowing $10 billion more from abroad? 

You‘re concerned about giving people tax breaks...

CONWAY:  Right...


MATTHEWS:  No!  I‘m asking you.  Are you happy about the fact that our

government—you‘re concerned about overseas reliance.

CONWAY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Are you happy about the fact that every time we sign a

check at the federal government now, it‘s basically a draw against our

debtor nations out there, the donor nations like China?  Doesn‘t that

bother you?

CONWAY:  It does bother me...

MATTHEWS:  That we have to pay our unemployment compensation out of

money we borrow today from China?

CONWAY:  Yes, that does bother me.


CONWAY:  These are extraordinary times.  We do need to cut costs, but

we don‘t need to cut costs...

MATTHEWS:  Do we need...

CONWAY:  ... on the backs of unemployed people.

MATTHEWS:  My question to you, bottom line, because it gets to what

Bunning‘s doing today—and everybody‘s making fun of Bunning.  Do you

believe it‘s better—he says take the money out of TARP money, find other

places in the federal budget to draw this money, and you say it‘s better to

borrow it.

CONWAY:  It‘s...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what...


CONWAY:  I understand.

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re against him.  You say it‘s better to borrow.

CONWAY:  I say it‘s better to borrow it right now and...

MATTHEWS:  You know better, borrow it from abroad.

CONWAY:  I understand that.

MATTHEWS:  Even though your big way of raising money is to avoid

giving tax breaks for people doing business overseas.

CONWAY:  These are extraordinary times...

MATTHEWS:  So the very strength of your argument is undercut by your

current taking a position against the incumbent senator from your state.

CONWAY:  And you know what...


MATTHEWS:  ... inconsistency there.

CONWAY:  He‘s acting in a very unsenatorial fashion.

MATTHEWS:  But is there an inconsistency in your argument?

CONWAY:  There is an inconsistency if we borrow...

MATTHEWS:  In the fact that you want to borrow $10 billion more from

the Chinese at the same time you‘re campaigning on ways of not giving tax

breaks to companies who take jobs overseas.  Your thoughts?

CONWAY:  Well, I...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just asking.  I think you‘re pretty impressive, but I

think you‘re wrong about...


CONWAY:  These are extraordinary times.  These are extraordinary—

people in Kentucky are hurting.  We have 10.7 percent unemployment.  People

are out of jobs.  They need this.  They want to work.  And so, listen, I

understand that this argument you‘ve got to go borrow it from overseas. 

But we have to get back to fiscal sanity.  But suddenly having pangs of

conscience right now, at this time, when you should have had them earlier,

I agree with Harry Reid on that on.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you certainly do.


MATTHEWS:  We‘ll see how Harry Reid does this election!  Thank you,

Jack Conway.  What a great name.  He‘s running for Senate, and he‘s 4

points ahead of his opponent for the Democratic primary coming up in May. 

Looks like a good candidate.

Coming up: “The New York Times” reports that New York governor David

Paterson had a much bigger role directing the effort to keep that woman

from bringing domestic abuse charges against one of his top aides.  This is

trouble for Governor Paterson.  He says he won‘t run for reelecttion, but

should he resign now?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  More questions swirl about New

York governor David Paterson‘s interference in a domestic violence a case

against one of his top aides.  Today‘s “New York Times” reports that

Paterson personally instructed two state employees, one being his press

secretary, to contact the woman who accused his close aide of assault. 

After the calls from one of the state employees and a conversation with the

governor himself, the accuser did not show up for a court hearing in

February and the case was dropped.  “The Times” goes on to say that these

new accounts are evidence that Paterson, quote, “helped direct an effort to

influence the accuser.”  How damaging is all this to Governor Paterson, and

could it mean criminal charges?

Julie Menin is the chairperson of Community Board One and a New York

cable talk show host.  Thank you, Julie.  And Errol Louis is a columnist

for “The New York Daily News.”

Errol, I want you to start on the news coverage of this story. 

Anything breaking right now for tonight‘s story, anything new on this case

besides the fact that the two employees contacted the woman who stopped

being an accuser of assault after getting the calls?

ERROL LOUIS, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”:  Well, the latest appears to be

that the heads of the state legislature, of the state senate and the state

assembly, went and met with the governor today.  They came out after lunch,

and of course, said that nothing of substance was discussed and nobody

asked him to step down.  But the scuttlebutt was, of course, that that was

exactly why they went there.  And there is talk that some legislators want

to start talking about impeachment.

So we‘re nowhere near out of the woods.  And whether it‘s criminal

investigation or a political step like impeachment, we‘ve still got a

capital that is in absolute deadlock.

MATTHEWS:  Julie, you know how bad this looks for New York.  You had

Spitzer had the problems with the paid sex workers, and that was pretty

notorious.  But he did get out quickly and I think he showed a bit of

class.  Certainly, his wife did, in the way they handled it.  It was over. 

Good-bye, get out of here.


MATTHEWS:  I‘m gone.  Then you brought in David Paterson, the son of

Basil Paterson of New York legend up there, who came in with a pretty clean

record.  He admitted he had had marital, what, whatever you call them,

infidelities, these days.

MENIN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just kidding.  We know what we call them.  But that was

OK.  People said fine with that.  We‘re clean up front.  So there was some

transparency.  And now this.  How does this fit in?

MENIN:  This is terrible.  This is a very bad day for New York.  And I

think the governor really needs to be a bit more proactive here.  We‘ve got

to remember that he directed two of his state employees, one being Marisa

Shorenstein (ph), his press secretary, to call Miss Booker, the victim of

the domestic violence.  Why is the press secretary for the governor of New

York calling Miss Booker?

And the rationale that was given by the governor‘s office today was,

basically, because they wanted to get a public statement from Miss Booker. 

The governor has no business getting a public statement from this victim,

and it‘s very, very troubling.  And that‘s why I think you see women‘s

groups, such as the National Organization of (SIC) Women today, calling on

Governor Paterson to resign.  He‘s got to get the facts out and he‘s got to

get them out quickly or he‘s going to be forever damaged.

MATTHEWS:  Errol, this is one of the other added facts, is everybody

in America knows that Andrew Cuomo is gunning for that job.  He‘s leading

in all the polls.  He probably would have beaten Paterson in the primary, I

guess.  And now he‘s in the position of chief law enforcer in the state,

and he‘s got to look at this case where there‘s criminality involved.

And what about this new wrinkle, a $40,000 Lexus SUV that was

purchased by the accuser right before she dropped the charges?  What do we

make—is that something that Cuomo is looking at, do we know?

LOUIS:  They are looking into it.  And what I understand, in fact—

they—there‘s been no formal report yet, but it has been reported and the

sources are saying that the money for that probably came from a totally

unrelated settlement in an injury case, that she had the money from a

completely legitimate source to buy the car.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  So there‘s no hanky-panky there, as far as anybody


LOUIS:  No...


MATTHEWS:  ... that Cuomo‘s looking at it, he‘s not really looking at

it in depth?

LOUIS:  Oh, no, he‘s—well, he‘s looking at it quickly because he‘s

got to get this all out of the way if he has any hope of starting his

campaign anytime soon.

MENIN:  Well, that‘s really the key.  And we also have to remember

that in New York state, we have an April 1st budget deadline.  Most other

states in the nation go by June 1st.  But here in New York, to add to this

dysfunction, we have April 1st.  So people‘s taxes aren‘t even in, in time

for them to plan the budget.  And it adds to the real level of concern

here.  We‘ve got to get a budget hammered out.  We have close to a $10

billion shortfall here in New York.

And is Governor Paterson so weakened that he can‘t really negotiate

with the assembly speaker and the Senate leader?

MATTHEWS:  I want to mix it up here a little bit here. 

It seems to me the New York media has always been something of a

pinball machine, to use an old mechanical reference.  The lights are on. 

The—everybody‘s flashing.


MATTHEWS:  You know, the bells are going off.  You have to be ready to

live in that environment every hour at least. 

Is Paterson able to deal with this heat right now, and this noise

level about—he said today, apparently—I read in the piece—that he

didn‘t feel good today. 

Well, who would?




I mean, look, there‘s—one lawmaker said, Chris, that he actually

longs for the days of ordinary dysfunction, because at least the word

function is in it somewhere. 


LOUIS:  And, right now, we have got nothing.  We have got a bunch of,

in some cases, fairly well-paid state workers who are accumulating pension

time, and we‘re getting no closer to solving many, many different really

pressing problems right now. 

MENIN:  But we do have, Chris, an...


MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  You‘re Andrew Cuomo and you‘ve had—let me give

Julie, I have got to move this. 


MATTHEWS:  Andrew Cuomo, everybody figured—I figure the guy‘s ready

for the job.  He did a good job at HUD.  He‘s doing a great job as attorney

general.  And it‘s a great job to have these days, being attorney general,

catch the bad guys.  You‘re in the news, always on the prosecution end. 

Is this one time he should show restraint?  Has he got to be careful

not to go for the kill here and be seen as the guy putting away the guy

that is in his way politically? 

MENIN:  Absolutely.  I think he‘s got to tread very carefully here. 

He‘s, first of all, got to wrap up this investigation very soon,

because he needs to announce quickly that he‘s running.  So, I think...


MATTHEWS:  Right.  That‘s what—can he—can he take himself out of

the case, as attorney general? 

MENIN:  Well, he could.  He absolutely could recuse himself.  And,

personal, as a former regulatory attorney, I think he should consider

recusing himself, because he is self-interested here.

I don‘t know whether he‘s going to do that or not.  But he‘s got to

wrap this investigation up quickly. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Errol, you‘re shaking your head.

LOUIS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Can he get out—he can‘t get out of this, can he? 

LOUIS:  Not really, because the problem is, if he recuses himself, it

either goes to a special prosecutor appointed by the governor—that‘s out

of the question—or it goes to some—some—some fancy law firm here

in Manhattan. 

MATTHEWS:  What a pinball machine.

LOUIS:  It goes to some fancy law firm billing 400 bucks an hour. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you, speaking of fancy law firms, Mort

Zuckerman running for the Senate?  What‘s going on?  Harold Ford pulled

himself out.  The best thing he did in the whole campaign was the letter he

wrote to “The Times” today, Julie, saying why he‘s not running...


MENIN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... and how all the big shots in New York are terrible,

that the power players kept an honest race from occurring. 

What did you think of ha? 

MENIN:  Well, first of all, I thought that this is actually good news

for David Paterson, the fact that Harold Ford is not running, because, if

Harold Ford would have run, it really would have been against—a mark

against the governor, basically questioning his judgment in appointing

Senator Gillibrand.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MENIN:  But I do think that we‘re going to see some strong Republican


We have got to remember there‘s obviously a very strong anti-incumbent

feel here, all across the country.  And people that I talk to in New York

are particularly upset about the U.S. Senate health care bill, which would

sock New York State with an additional $1 billion in fees and cause the

closing of clinics all across the state. 

So, whether it‘s Mort Zuckerman, whether it‘s Bruce Blakeman, whether

it‘s Dan Senor, these are the field of Republican candidates.  And maybe

there will be someone that we don‘t know who will emerge. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that Campbell Brown‘s husband? 

MENIN:  That Campbell Brown‘s husband.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it is getting so busy in this world, Errol.


MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know friend from foe here, colleague from subject. 


LOUIS:  One happy dysfunctional...

MATTHEWS:  Your thought.  Last word from you about New York.  Go


LOUIS:  One happy dysfunctional family. 

But you know that part of the state.  I think Gillibrand is going to

be no pushover.  And those who think that they want to jump into the race

at the last minute are going to get a big shock from her. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, she wants to have lunch with me.  I can‘t wait to

find out what‘s going on. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Errol Louis.

It‘s great to have both of you on.

MENIN:  Thank you. 

LOUIS:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  New York just wakes me up, Julie Menin.  It wakes me up.


MATTHEWS:  Up next, our good friend Jay Leno is back on “The Tonight

Show.”  We have got some of his jokes.  We also have the numbers.  He beat

the heck out of “Letterman” last night.  We will have more of that, and

lots of political jokes from him, from Jay coming up.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  It‘s time for the “Sideshow.” 

Jay Leno back in action last night.  Here he was last night, his first

day back to “The Tonight Show.” 



have heard, former Vice President Dick Cheney is doing fine, after

suffering his fifth heart—five heart attacks. 

But the good news is, the former vice president is doing fine.  And

his doctors said that sneer will be back on his face in no time. 



LENO:  President Bush said today he often turned to prayer during his


Hey, I think we all turned to prayer during his presidency. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, Jay, by the way, doubled “Letterman” in what we call

the demonstrators, the younger audience, grabbing a big young audience for

his first night back. 

By the way, he‘s got Palin on tonight.

Now a blast from the past.  Remember Mark Foley?  He‘s the U.S. 

congressman forced to resign in 2006 because of inappropriate contact with

underage male pages.  Well, four years later, he‘s opened a furniture store

down in Key West—I‘m sorry—West Palm Beach, Florida, called—catch

this—Celebrity Consignment.  He‘s put out for sale some old mementos

from his Washington days, along with some elephant-themed knickknacks. 

He‘s a Republican, by the way.  Another challenge to F. Scott

Fitzgerald‘s old line that there are no second acts in American life. 

Finally, a story of light, harmless, yet undeniable irony.  Bill

Clinton‘s spokesman has now confirmed that his former—well, his boss,

the former president, has called Tiger Woods to offer the golfer some words

of encouragement. 

Good for both guys. 

Now for the “Number” tonight. 

Thirty-nine House Democrats voted no, or nay, on the health care

reform bill back in November.  Of those, how many say they‘re now open to

switching their nay votes to yea votes this time around, which would help

Pelosi get the 216 she needs?  According to an Associated Press survey just

out, at least nine Democrats are ready to vote yea.  You can bet they‘re

the most popular people in Washington on the Democrats‘ side of the aisle

these days. 

At least nine Democrats open switching their nay votes to yea votes on

health care—tonight‘s big, important number. 

Up next:  Senator Chris Dodd is proposing a compromise with

Republicans that would create a consumer watchdog committee, but it would

be within the Federal Reserve.  Would this put too much pressure on the

agency to go soft with the big boys?  I will ask the senator when we get


You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

He‘s coming up in a minute.



“Market Wrap.”

Stocks losing steam in the last hour of trading, giving back some big

gains, on weakness in the telecom sector—the Dow Jones industrial

average finishing just a couple of points higher, the S&P 500 adding 2.5

points, and the Nasdaq gaining a little bit more than seven points. 

Tech giants Microsoft, IBM and Intel leading the retreat late in the

day.  Flash memory-makers SanDisk and Micron Technology also finishing in

the red.  Chipmaker Qualcomm one of the few standouts, after upping its

dividend and launching a $3 billion share buyback program. 

Big automakers reporting today—GM kicked it off with an 11.5

percent increase in sales, about half what analysts were expecting, but

Ford posting a 43 -- that‘s right—a 43 percent jump in sales.  That‘s

higher than expected and the first time Ford has outsold GM in nearly 12


Toyota saw sales fall more than 8 percent.  That‘s not quite as bad as


That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

In a letter today to congressional leaders, President Obama outlined

four Republican ideas for Thursday‘s summit—or from last Thursday‘s

summit—that he says he‘s exploring right now. 

They are Senator Coburn‘s suggesting to curb Medicare fraud by having

undercover investigators disguised as patients, the suggestion by several

Republicans to expand medical—medical malpractice reform pilot programs,

Senator Grassley suggestion to increase payment to doctors who treat

Medicaid patients, and Senator Barrasso‘s suggestion of expanding access to

to health care savings accounts. 


Well, President Obama has also noted his proposal doesn‘t include

extra Medicare benefits for certain states like Florida.  That‘s something

Senator John McCain had criticized at last night‘s—at last night‘s

summit—last week‘s summit. 

Let me go right now to Senator Chris Dodd, who is up on Capitol Hill

right now.  We just had a little misfunction there. 

Let me ask you about—Senator, about these proposals. 

Is this how we‘re going to have to do business as a country now,       

with even the majority party, the Democrats now, having to favor some

Republican ideas, even when you‘re not going to get any Republican votes

for the bill? 

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT:  Well, I think it‘s important

that the—that the president—that was a very—it was very worthwhile

last week.  I was part of that summit, Chris, as you know. 

And I think, listening to ideas and offering to include some of them,

or to work on some of these ideas, is worthwhile.  We did that, as you

know, last—last July, when I finished up a very long markup of our—of

Senator Kennedy‘s health care bill.  And we included 161 amendments offered

by my Republican colleagues. 

They, I think, made a very positive contribution to the bill. 

Regretfully, they didn‘t vote for the bill coming out of committee.  But I

think, if you can improve the bill and enhance the effectiveness of the

bill, that‘s worthwhile.  So, I applaud the president for offering these


MATTHEWS:  Why does it take a Republican to propose having people

check up on corruption in Medicare?  You always hear these stories about

people abusing Medicare, grabbing whatever benefits and sharing them, or—

or exploiting them and fencing them? 

I‘m not sure how it works, but I have heard there‘s so much corruption

in Medicare now.  Why does it take a Republican to suggest putting people

undercover to catch it, sting operations? 

DODD:  Well, I‘m not sure that—you know, the author of it is not

terribly relevant.

In the past, I think people have been under the assumption that the

people who operate the Medicare program, or the people who operate the

Medicaid program is where the corruption resides. 


DODD:  That‘s not been the case. 

And, so, it‘s always the people who are utilizing the system that have

been causing the problem.  So, I think Tom Coburn‘s idea has merit. 

MATTHEWS:  So, who do you think—where do you think—by the way,

just to finish that point, where do you think the most corruption has been

in Medicare?  Has it consumers who have abused it or have switched benefits

to other people somehow, I don‘t know, pills or whatever, or has it been

the facilities themselves that abused it? 

DODD:  I think the facilities...


DODD:  ... if you had to say where the bulk of it resides, because you

and I never look.  Even—you put aside Medicare for a second, Chris. 

When you go out and have some sort of a physical problem or go to a

hospital, and they go through all the procedures, when was the last time

any of us who have insurance actually looked over the bill and said, well,

what does this item mean?  


DODD:  How much does that—why did that cost so much? 

The assumption here that just the insurance is going to take care of

it, without ever questioning this—one of the things we do in the bill

is, we require a lot of transparency on these issues, so that people can

know what they‘re—what they‘re actually getting or not getting. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Democrats, if you‘re going to have to come

up with the 50-plus votes even to do the reconciliation piece of this bill,

do you think that the Democrats are willing to do the heavy lifting against

the trial bar, to after the—the trial lawyers on malpractice, even if

you‘re not getting a single Republican vote for it? 

DODD:  Well, I think Dick Durbin, Senator Durbin, made an eloquent, I

think, case the other day at the summit about the dangers associated by

just eliminating the private litigation, of putting caps in these areas

that are too low. 

The president has suggested, others have in fact, in the bill, trying

some pilot programs with states to see if we can‘t do a better job of

reducing the frivolous lawsuits where they do exist. 

I think it‘s a major step forward.  It needs some resources.  The

president offered that today as one of the suggestions.  And I don‘t—I

know of no one that objects to that.  That makes sense.  Even the trial bar

doesn‘t want to see frivolous lawsuits being brought. 


DODD:  But the idea you‘re going to wipe them out altogether doesn‘t

make any sense. 

Look, one of the—we lose 100,000 people a year, Chris, because of

medical errors -- 100,000 a year because of medical errors in this country. 

The idea that you‘re going to sort of excuse that or make it the exercise

or the—falling into those problems is going to be something you don‘t

have to pay a price for I think would be a mistake.  So, having a sense of

balance about it makes sense.  I think the president has done that. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the stock market, your area, your

bailiwick, trying to get some kind of consumer protection. 

You talk about not understanding the bill you get at a hospital or not

paying attention to it.  Most people don‘t understand what‘s going on

inside Wall Street.  I don‘t.  I don‘t know what derivatives are.  I don‘t

get all that stuff.  I trust the guy who advises me. 

And the question comes down to, how do you house the consumer

protector?  Is it right to put it in the Federal Reserve, where the

influence there is sort of a “Wall Street Journal” mentality?  It‘s pro-

money.  Can a pro-money organization, like the Fed, look out for the

average investor? 

DODD:  Well, I think, Chris, the key issue here—and I have been at

this for 30 years on consumer protection.  I wrote the consumer—the

credit card bill earlier this year.  So, I care deeply about the issues now

for the elected time I have been in the Senate. 

Where this is located is a debate that‘s going on back and forth. 

What‘s really important are four points that I have been insisting upon

from the very beginning. 

One, I want a presidentially appointed director of this operation.  I

want it confirmed by the Senate.  I want a separate funding source.  And I

want it to have rule-making authority and enforcement authority.  I‘m going

to insist upon those four points wherever this is located.

The debate about where it is, is not insignificant, but most

significant is, what powers will it have?  Will we be able to do something

about what happened to consumers over the last few years?  And that is, of

course, where mortgages and credit cards and a variety of other things,

abusive, fraudulent practices put many, millions, of our fellow citizens at

great risk in the country. 

And this bill, in my view, needs to address those four critical

points.  And I‘m going to fight for those points. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do Republicans, like Senator Corker, want to have it in

the Federal Reserve?  Why do they want to house a consumer protection

agency within the Federal Reserve, which is really responsible for the—

you know, the—the quantity of money we have in this country, really? 

It‘s the—it‘s controller of the amount of money we have. 

DODD:  Well, again, I will let Senator Corker speak for himself and others

on what they are advocating.  Nothing has been decided, I will tell you,

first of all, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  You used to be against this.  Let me show you something

where you were against this, Senator Dodd.  This is where you were against

having it housed in the Fed.  Let‘s take a look at this picture of you



DODD:  I really want the Federal Reserve to get back to its core

enterprises, in a sense, to do what it‘s designed to do, monetary policy,

the dealing of obviously with a lender of last resort, the payment systems. 

That‘s what they‘re designed to do. 

We saw over the last number of years, when they took on consumer

protection responsibilities, and regulation of bank holding companies, it

was an abysmal failure. 


MATTHEWS:  That was Chris Dodd speaking there, saying it would be an

abysmal failure to have the Fed house a consumer protection agency.  Your

thoughts now? 

DODD:  No, no, Chris.  Look, it was, no question about it.  There,

of course, they never promulgated a single regulation.  What we‘re talking

about here as an independent bureau, a division, however it‘s going to be

constructed, in whatever agency we‘re talking about—ideally what we did

last October was an independent one. 

But the four points are the critical points: is it independent; is

it going to be confirmed by the Senate; is it going to have a separate

funding source; does it have independent rule-writing authority and ability

to have enforcement?  Those are the critical issues.  That didn‘t exist

under the previous system.  We‘re arguing very strongly for something that

will include those four points. 

MATTHEWS:  You know the importance of these organizational charts. 

You remember for years we fought to keep the Peace Corps out of the State

Department, keep it completely separate from the politics, right?  So can‘t

you understand why somebody would want to keep—“Huffington Post,”

whoever, wants to keep this thing out of the Fed?

DODD:  Well, I can understand why people have different points of

view on this.  I‘ve got great committee members.  I‘ve talked to all of

them about the ideas.  So we‘re in the process of trying to determine

what‘s the best outcome to produce the bill. 

There are other parts of the bill, Chris, that are very important. 

One of the things in this bill we want to do—we never, ever, again want

to see some institution be called “too big to fail,” where it has an

implicit guarantee that the taxpayers are going to bail them out.  We never

again want to have these exotic instruments which you talked about lack

transparency and accountability.  We never again want to have a system

where there isn‘t an early warning system of systemic risk in the country. 

This bill is a large bill.  Consumer protection is very important. 

But there are major, major other achievements in this bill that I think

we‘re going to be able to achieve common ground on. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think as you leave public service—and I‘m a big

fan of yours—do you think it would be a good time to pass a law that

says, just a general rule, whenever your country—your company—there‘s

a mistake—your company gets a bailout, all the bosses have to leave? 

There has to be some penalty automatic when a company has to get bailed

out.  The big shots have to go. 

DODD:  Yes, one of the things we‘re talking about in this bill—

and again I‘ll reserve the final judgment until it‘s in.  But we‘re going

to have a situation where you don‘t get resolution.  If you fall into deep

trouble again, you‘re going into bankruptcy.  You‘re going into

receivership.  And all your leadership is going.  We‘re going to make it so


MATTHEWS:  People would love this.  They would love it.  People

would love it.  Every time you get a nickel from the federal government,

the bosses have to go.  No bonuses.  No profits.  Get out of here. 

DODD:  That‘s the best discipline.  And that‘s a major part of this

bill.  And there‘s a lot of agreement about that part of the bill.  So I

know we‘re talking about consumer protection.  Let‘s not lose sight of

other parts of this bill, which there‘s consensus developing. 

And that‘s what really annoyed Americans the most.  I‘m not going to

let this Congress end without us getting a bill that addresses those

issues.  I think we have an obligation to deal with those questions. 

Taxpayers were furious about that.  I understand why we did it two years

ago.  We ought to never, ever do it again, and particularly reward people

who got us into this mess as they did. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a little early, senator, but Happy St. 

Patrick‘s Day to you, buddy.  Thank you for coming in.  Thank you for

coming on my show.  You‘re one of my favorite senators.  Keep it going. 

Thank you, Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

Up next, what‘s all this focus at the White House about the chief of

staff.  He‘s getting a lot of ink.  And I‘m not sure getting a lot of ink

when you work for somebody is a good deal.  We‘ll get back into that in the

politics fix.  This is a hot one.  This is HARDBALL, coming up on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Time for the politics fix. 

What makes an effective White House chief of staff?  For each president,

the qualities vary.  So does Rahm Emanuel have what Barack Obama needs? 

Joining me is the “Politico‘s” John Harris and historian—

presidential historian Doug Brinkley, who is author of “The Wilderness

Warrior; Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.” 

Gentlemen, thank you for being on.  Let me go to John Harris for the

inside the beltway daily press look.  Then I want to go to Douglas for an

historic look at this.  Is Rahm Emanuel the man—or woman—or whatever,

he‘s not the woman—is he the right person, I should say, to be chief of

staff to the president we have right now?  Looking at it from all sides,

you tell me first, John. 

JOHN HARRIS, “POLITICO”:  Well, obviously it‘s not for me to take a


MATTHEWS:  Let me give you some standards.  Is he doing a good job

getting his bills through Congress?  Is he helping him keep focused on his

priorities?  Is he helping the president avoid trouble?  Is he keeping the

White House clean and avoiding the indignities that come to some White

Houses?  Is he doing those objective jobs?

HARRIS:  I think he‘s done a lot of those individual jobs well. 

Obviously, the overall political health of the administration has been not

that great for the past couple of months, with health care foundering. 

We‘ll see if the health care gets through.  If it does, I think everybody

would suddenly take a new look at how well the Obama White House is doing,

in particular how well Rahm Emanuel is doing. 

At the moment, with these questions in doubt, there‘s a big, big

debate, with people saying there are changes that need to take place in the

West Wing, and if so, should they take place at the top.  Some want Rahm‘s


MATTHEWS:  Who?  Who?  Who?  I ask that because


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get some names.  Anybody out there who is willing

to say—the guy from Illinois was speaking out against him in the Post


HARRIS:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.  Then there‘s a whole lot of

background chatter, as you well know.  You worked in—

MATTHEWS:  I know there is.  I‘m trying to figure out—

HARRIS:  When you get the—the sort of background chatter gets

going, it can be really hard to tamp down. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he‘s stirring these positive pieces by Dana

Milbank in the Post, and the front page piece today by Jason Harowitz, the

main bar piece across the top?  Do you think he‘s pushing these pieces?  Is

that a fair shot at Rahm?

HARRIS:  I doubt it.  Rahm is many things.  One of them is a smart

politician.  I don‘t think these pieces are particularly helping him,

because they are making him more of the focal point, and they are enraging

a lot of other people around town, who don‘t think it is appropriate for

somebody who is—after all, it is a staff position, not a principle,

chief of staff—that say he shouldn‘t be out there making his case this

way.  I doubt Rahm is.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve had staff positions.  Let me tell you, John, I know

exactly the painful position of having positive pieces written about you. 

It is not a smart thing to have it done.  It is very painful with the boss. 


MATTHEWS:  It causes trouble at home with the boss.  It seems to me,

Douglas Brinkley, that the most successful chief of staff in modern history

was Jim Baker.  He was a Waspy elitist guy, but he was very good at knowing

-- as John just said, he was a staffer, even at a very high level. 


Baker was terrific.  He also had the advantage of Nancy Reagan trusting him

fully, and Rahm Emanuel has that with Michelle Obama, too.  I think we have

to remember these chiefs of staff aren‘t just guys slugging it out with

Congress, but you‘re having to manage a White House staff; you‘re having to

run the president‘s schedule; and you‘re in the trench warfare with the

president, day after day, hour after hour.  So chemical friendship,

personality, bonding matters a lot for having a successful chief of staff. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to John on this.  The question is, what‘s

happening?  I saw Desiree Rogers is leaving.  That tells me this president

is capable of making changes.  She‘s not leaving because she was asked to

stay.  She‘s leaving because she wasn‘t asked to stay, it seems to me. 

Therefore the president—you lost Greg Craig.  Now maybe it was Rahm

Emanuel that bounced him as counsel and brought in Bob Bauer.  But the fact

is that there‘s movement going on.  That tells me the president is open to

change.  What do you think? 

HARRIS:  There‘s no question about it.  Rahm Emanuel has a

constituency of one.  I think he is on of those situations where for him to

go would be an admission that—of failure that they‘re not prepared to

embrace yet.  Remember, early in the administration, people were calling

for Tim Geithner‘s head.  Rahm Emanuel, as I understand it, was one of the

people saying, no, we can‘t get rid of Geithner because to do so would be

to admit we made a critical error in economic policy staffing. 

I think Rahm might be in a similar situation, in some ways kind of

too big to fail, at least for now.  I think Obama is likely to want to keep

the same team going into the 2010 election, rather than admit I screwed up

and we‘re getting rid of this team and replacing him. 

MATTHEWS:  Doug, it seems to me that—you know how the best

director wins best picture; the best picture is the guy that‘s best

director.  Well, see if that works again Sunday night with the Oscars.  If

you have a really good White House, you usually give credit to the chief of

staff.  Of course, the president historically.  If this administration

succeeds with health care, that‘s an—is that how you judge Barack

Obama‘s success of the boss?  Or what kind of PR he‘s getting? 

BRINKLEY:  Look, a normal chief of staff, Chris, stays about two and

a half years.  I agree completely with John Harris.  There is no way in

hell Rahm Emanuel‘s going to be stepping down as chief of staff.  He‘s

Barack Obama‘s alter ego. 

The question is what kind of alter ego.  Sometimes—you know,

Woodrow Wilson had Colonel House (ph) Sigmund Freud had to write a book

about their weird interactions with each other. You have chief of staffs

like Bob Haldeman with Nixon, who‘s just a thug. 

Rahm Emanuel is somewhere in the middle.  He‘s clearly one of the

president‘s closest friends.  And they‘re going to run this together up

until the—I think for four years.  Something like Andrew Card stayed for

five years, but remember, Karl Rove was ostensibly running the White House. 

Rahm Emanuel has no real power contention within the White House.  It‘s

Barack Obama and himself. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, gentlemen, back when somebody would attack me

when I was aide to Speaker O‘Neill, the speaker would very nicely say to me

in the back room, “what‘s that guy got against you?”  I would say, it ain‘t

me he‘s aiming at, OK?  Thank you, gentlemen, very much, John Harris and

Doug Brinkley. 

When we return, my thoughts on Jim Bunning‘s one man blockade and

why he may just have a point.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with something nobody in this town

of Washington wants to hear.  A good many years ago now, there was a

Massachusetts Congressman—Jimmy Burke was his name—who voted for

every spending bill that came along.  He had an open government checkbook. 

People wanted government to do things, he was all for it.  Why not? 

This friendly congressman also voted for every tax cut that came

along.  Why not?  People love tax cuts.  So someone asked this popular

congressman how he wanted—if he wanted government to do so many things,

how could he vote for all those tax cuts?  Why shouldn‘t I, he answered?

Today we have a Congress full of these guys, liberals who have lost

the guts to vote for tax hikes, conservatives who have lost the guts to

vote for unpopular spending cuts.  Incumbents in both parties have just

become appropriators.  That‘s why the government spends more money,

trillions more, than it taxes.  Excuse me if I can‘t join the howling

masses of both parties now growling tonight at Senator Jim Bunning.  The

guy is standing out there on the Senate floor and saying a simple, powerful

thing: if the Congress won‘t find money to pay for things like the

extension of unemployment compensation and highway reconstruction, purposes

that both parties agree are important, then when and for what will we

actually foot the bill? 

If there‘s nothing that the American people find important enough to

pay for, does anything—does everything have to be borrowed from China? 

Do we have to endlessly run up the debt to all those out there who are

still willing to lend the government of the United States money? 

I‘m no fan of filibusters.  They have only one purpose.  That‘s to

wake people up to something they otherwise refuse to pay attention to.  I‘m

talking about this growing willingness by our country to put everything—

I mean everything—on the tab.

Join us again tomorrow night, 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern.  Right now it

is time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz. 




Copyright 2010 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.>

Watch Hardball each weeknight