Guests: Rick Barber, John Heilemann, Larry Johnson, Jennifer Granholm
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: BP meet Alex.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Splashing oil. Churning in the gulf, Hurricane Alex threatens to push more oil onshore and crush the cleanup effort. We‘ll go to the scene on two fronts in the gulf to get the latest.
Plus, President Obama really went partisan today, whacking the Republicans, saying their strategy is to just sit back, do nothing, say no to everything and hope for failure so they can win seats this November in Congress. One reason for the president‘s tough talk may be nervousness by him and other Democrats over this Friday‘s unemployment numbers and how Republicans will exploit them.
Among those Americans most afraid of losing their jobs are the Democrats, who could lose control of the House and even the Senate if the economy doesn‘t improve. We‘ll look at November‘s electoral map and get into the perilous road ahead for Democratic incumbents.
Plus, remember this ad?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You gentlemen revolted over a tea tax. A tea tax!
Now look at us. Are you with me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gather your armies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘ll ask this Republican congressional candidate, Rick Barber (ph), to explain himself.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with a tribute to the king of the night, Larry King.
Let‘s start with Hurricane Alex and the effect it‘s having on the oil spill in the gulf. Jeff Corwin is an MSNBC science and environment expert and he‘s with us now from Pensacola.
Sir, briefly, how is the threat and reality, I should say, of this incoming hurricane going to affect this horror in the Gulf of Mexico?
JEFF CORWIN, MSNBC SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT EXPERT: Chris, I can answer that simply. Look over my shoulder, OK? I‘m going to have the camera zoom in. Do you see that brown line hugging the surf?
CORWIN: Do you see that?
CORWIN: That is oil. That is oil washing up on the beaches here in Pensacola. Now, I‘m going to have the camera come swing back my way again. I‘m going to show you what that stuff looks like, Chris. This is what‘s tracing like a dirty, greasy pearl necklace along this entire beach. This is the crude which has bubbled up hundreds of miles from here from the Deepwater Horizon.
Of course, Chris, when you have a storm like this, you can‘t have animal rescue folks out there saving wildlife. You can‘t have the skimmers out there. The booms fail. It becomes literally a perfect storm for disaster.
MATTHEWS: You know, it looks like we‘re looking at the worst bathtub ring in history. Is this going to keep coming back every time we have a tide come in or what? How long is this going to go on in our history, for the rest our lives, this picture of—well, this bathtub ring, for lack of a better phrase, that you‘re pointing to, this necklace of hell.
CORWIN: Yes. Unfortunately, Tidy Bowl isn‘t going to clean this up. It‘s going to probably cost us many, many billions of dollars. And with every oncoming high tide, we get this oil. And what‘s really spooky, is you go to that oil strip and you dig down about six to eight inches, you find the oil from the previous tide because when that tide comes in, it brings more sand.
Of course, this is just the tiny little kiss of this oil spill. When you go along the coast of Venice and other parts of Louisiana, you see the true destructive nature of this unprecedented oil spill. But until they shut it off, this is going to continue.
MATTHEWS: Well, are we going to see white sand again? Is it possible we can keep cleaning it up, you know, each day get up and do a cleanup crew like they do with—the beachcombers do every day, or is it too much to clean up every day? Will there be enough sand to absorb it?
CORWIN: Well, Chris, this is what the white sand looks like when it‘s been basically emulsified with this sticky, taffy-like crude. Now, you can actually go here and cosmetically fix this up. You can take away the sand. You can scrub it. You can clean it.
But the great question is, Chris, how do you get sand out of an estuary? How do you get sand out of a marsh? How do you get sand out of the nursery where the next generation of crabs and shrimp and fish will begin their lives, the foods and the resources which sustain the livelihoods of all these people that have been working here for generations, that provide us the opportunities to fish recreationally, commercially, or to sustain the wildlife? How do you bring back the environment that saves and stabilizes the brown pelican? All of this is in jeopardy.
MATTHEWS: You know, when people go to the beach, they like the smell of suntan oil, suntan lotion. I always associate it with good times, the summer. Are we going to be smelling oil on the beach now for the rest our lives when we go to the beach?
CORWIN: Chris, it is so eerie. We‘re sitting here and it‘s a brooding, stormy day, but rather idyllic. Looks like a postcard-perfect vision of what Pensacola beaches should look like until you smell it. And what it smells like to me is when I‘m at the gas station and you‘re getting the last trace of fumes. That‘s what this beach smells like.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Oh, God. That‘s going—let‘s take a look, by the way—let‘s take a look, Jeff, at what the president said today. He had some tough comments about a congressman—we don‘t have it yet.
Let me ask you about the wildlife. I mean, a lot of people—I‘m involved with saving wildlife around the world. I care about elephants and whales and everything else. But I want to ask you this. What‘s it going to do to the wildlife in the gulf, I mean, the fish life, the shellfish, everything out there? Is it all, like, just going to suffer an enormous rate of casualty, if you will, in human terms?
CORWIN: My biggest fear, Chris, is that people are tragically going to—people are going to tragically discover how valuable the ecology is of this place, especially if we lose it. Seventy percent of the shellfish we consume in our lives in North America comes from these waters. There are over 400 different species that are now in jeopardy because of this spill. I mean, there‘s, like, 10 different types of sharks, some of them endangered, and this is the only place where they breed. The brown pelican of Louisiana, this was a creature that became extinct in ‘63. We‘ve recovered it. And now this.
It‘s not just about species. It‘s not just about wildlife. It‘s our national natural heritage that is at stake.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘ve said it so well. Thanks so much for joining us tonight, Jeff Corwin.
Here‘s President Obama, as I was going to say a moment ago. Here he is earlier today with very tough talk about Congressman Joe Barton and his defense of BP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The top Republican on the energy committee apologized to BP. Did you all read about that? He apologized to BP that we had made them set up this fund, called it a tragedy that we had—that we had made them pay for the destruction that they have caused.
Now, I got to say—they pulled it back after—he meant it, but then they kind of walked it back. I mean, the tragedy is what the people in the gulf are going through right now. That‘s the tragedy. And our government has a responsibility to hold those who caused it accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is Pensacola city councilman Larry Johnson. There‘s president scoring some points, I guess, rightfully so, against that congressman. You‘ve got to call it a jughead comment, anybody that would come out and defend BP these days and say we‘re being cruel to them after this horror that they‘ve allowed to happen because of the operations down there.
Let me ask you this about the federal government. Let‘s go after them right now. What kind of a job is the Obama administration doing in terms of dealing with this problem down—this hell down there in the gulf, sir? Pensacola.
LARRY JOHNSON, PENSACOLA CITY COUNCILMAN: I think that they could do more. Yes, thank you, Chris. Good afternoon. I think they could be doing more. We had Vice President Biden here yesterday. He said more skimming boats are coming. That‘s really not good enough. We need—we need more skimming boats now. I just think they could be doing a lot more, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense that the federal government is relying too much on BP? They‘ve allowed them to own this horror, which they are going to own physically and financially, but making them own it sort of in terms of the responsibility to our country. Do you think they put too much onus on BP and not enough on other ways of getting help down there, other oil companies, other resources, other private corporations that could be brought into this?
JOHNSON: Yes, I really think the federal government should be playing a bigger role. BP—you know, we found them to—sometimes they tell a story and it‘s not accurate. I had a report this week that they‘re bringing in sand for these photo-ops—we had the vice president here, we had the president here, we had the governor here—that they‘re actually bringing in sand in. I called BP about this, and they said, No, that‘s not true. But I do have some pictures that looks like new sand‘s brought in.
Chris, what happens when this oil hits our sand—you know, we‘re known for beautiful white sand, and this oil is—is now staining our sand. If you look behind me, you will see not white sand but—but more of a gritty-looking sand. You look all around this beach, on these dunes over here just to my left, and it‘s white sand. We‘re losing that right now.
MATTHEWS: How far are you right now from the oil rig spill? Do you know how many miles away you are, just to give a sense of the breadth of this tragedy?
JOHNSON: I‘m going to say a couple hundred miles, something like that. But you know, as you know, south of the oil disaster is a hurricane, so the hurricane is pushing all these waves, wind, et cetera, all this oil north. So if the hurricane is south of this rig that‘s leaking, all that oil is coming more and more into our beaches. So this hurricane is really affecting it.
Yesterday, I did hear some good news. The Escambia County operations center here in Escambia County said that the efforts were about 18 days ahead of schedule, which was great news. But in saying that, they said that the skimming boats—some of the skimming boats there at the site had been pulled off because of this hurricane. So they said that the drilling was continuing, but some of the skimming boats there at the site had been pulled away because of this hurricane.
MATTHEWS: You know, when we‘re at war with some enemy out there, whether it‘s terrorism or a more conventional enemy like the Nazis, we always know who our chain of command is. We know it‘s Eisenhower in Europe. We know it‘s MacArthur in the Far East. We‘ve got a very clear idea of it—Nimitz, people like that, Bill Halsey. Who are the people that you‘re looking up to between you and the president that are the leaders in this fight to deal with this mess? Give me some big names.
JOHNSON: I want Senator Nelson. You know, I met with Senator Nelson about two weeks ago, and he‘s leading. He met with BP officials yesterday, and he‘s demanding that they make payment to these communities that are fighting this spill. You know, right now, BP owes Escambia County, the county that I‘m standing in right now, $10 million. Where‘s our check? Our coffers are shrinking. You know, our reserves are shrinking right now fighting this thing.
You know, BP claims that they‘re there to help us and they‘re going to make us whole and all. Send us a check for $10 million right now and quit dragging your feet!
MATTHEWS: You couldn‘t name a major figure in this administration. You gave me the name of a senator. Who‘s in this administration you‘re looking to to help you? Give me a name.
JOHNSON: Ms. Browner. Right now, Ms. Browner...
MATTHEWS: Carol Browner.
JOHNSON: Where is she at? She—yes, sir.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much. Get on the phone, 456-1414.
That‘s the number at the White House.
Coming up, President Obama has a message for Republicans like Joe Barton and John Boehner—You‘re out of touch with mainstream Americans. You should hear him today, very partisan on the economy. The president stepped up his attacks on the opposition today over the economy, over energy, the direction of the country generally. We‘re going to get into that with Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, who‘s going to be sitting at this table in about a minute.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Former president Bill Clinton is bucking the Democratic Party establishment. He‘s endorsing primary challenger Andrew Romanoff out in that Senate race in Colorado. He‘s going up against appointed senator Michael Bennet. Well, we got a little fight going on here within the Democratic Party. Clinton wrote to supporters in a fund-raising letter, quote, “Colorado is far better off today because of Andrew Romanoff‘s leadership. America will be, too.” Well! The Colorado primary is coming up August 10th. We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. The Obama administration is bracing itself for what could be dismal economic news this Friday. We‘ve got the jobless number coming in for June. It could be as bad as the May number. It could go back up to 10. We don‘t know.
The president made sure to go after Republicans today for blocking an extension of unemployment benefits. It‘s hard to believe they‘re doing that, but he‘s after them. Let‘s watch him here. Here he is in Racine, Wisconsin, blasting the Republicans for holding up the job benefits bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Lately, there‘s a minority of senators from the other party who‘ve had a different idea. As we speak, they are using their power to stop this relief from going to the American people, and they won‘t even let these measures come up for a vote.
Before I was even inaugurated, there were leaders on the other side of the aisle who got together and they made the calculation that, If Obama fails, then we win. Right? That was the basic theory. They figured, If we just keep on saying no to everything and nothing gets done, then somehow people will forget who got us into this mess in the first place and we‘ll get more votes in November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm is grappling with a state that‘s got a 13.6 unemployment rate. What a situation—Motor City, America‘s automobile capital, industrial capital. Has the United States got to make a big turn...
GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN: Oh, for sure.
MATTHEWS: ... and go back to industry?
GRANHOLM: Well, I mean, the next generation of manufacturing should happen in this country. And finally, we have a president who has an agenda to have a manufacturing industry in America. That hasn‘t happened before.
But I can just tell you, Chris, today we‘re here with a number of governors to ask Congress, to ask the Senate in particular, to extend some of these emergency provisions because—like unemployment, like Medicaid, because if we don‘t extend them, then the cuts that the states are going to have to do to people, for people, not just their unemployment but their health care, are going to be devastating, and you‘re going to see the nation move potentially into a double-dip recession.
MATTHEWS: Would it help if the president offered up—got the Senate leadership to offer up a clean bill, just unemployment extension, not all this stuff with the AFCSME jobs, the state and local jobs thrown in? That‘s what Olympia Snowe says. She‘s a Republican ready to join if they get a clean bill. Just extend unemployment, don‘t cloud it up with other things.
GRANHOLM: There‘s extension of unemployment and then there‘s Medicaid, too. You cannot...
MATTHEWS: No, would you go with just the extension?
GRANHOLM: I‘d go with any version that allowed for us to be able to keep people on unemployment.
GRANHOLM: This weekend in Michigan, 90,000 people will lose their benefits, and across America by the end of July, 3.2 million people will have no unemployment benefits. It‘s terrible.
So both pieces, both Medicaid—which, of course, protects senior
citizens, children and people with disabilities—you‘re going to see
states cutting those benefits unless the Congress, which has already voted
for that, for both versions—they‘ve already voted for them—just allow
the states—and that‘s why we had—I‘ve got 47 governors—not I, we -
47 governors, Democrats and Republicans, asking Congress, asking the Senate to pass these two emergency provisions.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, they‘ve made a mistake, the Republicans, apparently, fighting this, because it‘s not going to sell. Here‘s President Obama going after House minority leader John Boehner for saying that the financial reform effort he‘s under way now with is a nuclear weapon to kill an ant. Apparently, John Boehner believes somehow that this problem we faced on Wall Street that almost destroyed the entire Western world economically was an ant. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The leader of the Republicans in the House said that financial reform was like—and I‘m quoting here—“using a nuclear weapon to target an ant.” That‘s what he said. He compared the financial crisis to an ant. This is the same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly eight million jobs, the same crisis that cost people their homes, their life‘s savings. I—he can‘t be that out of touch with the struggles of American families. I mean, maybe...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, the Republican Party, Governor, has an interesting strategy. It began by Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Now, nobody nationwide voted for Mitch McConnell, but he apparently send the word, Vote against everything, bring this House down, get back the White House by stopping everything. They‘ve been against financial reform. They‘ve been against health care. They haven‘t wanted to compromise on anything. They haven‘t wanted to compromise on energy. They haven‘t wanted to compromise on immigration. They won‘t allow anything, no matter even if you have an ID card, which is pretty tough, and I‘m for it, anything that allows people who‘ve been here 20, 30 years to stay here. They have been totally unreasonable with the idea. The country is so angry at the economy being bad, they will blame the ins and give power to the outs. Is that a smart strategy? Is it going to work?
GRANHOLM: No. I can‘t imagine it‘s going to work.
I mean, if you just look at something like unemployment benefits, not a single Republican voted for it, not a single Republican. I mean, come on. In their states, there are people who will be going off unemployment, and there will be consequences. Obstructionism has consequences.
And what are the consequences that will happen in their states to their constituents across the country? I think it‘s—that information has to be made clear, that people aren‘t getting their unemployment extended. It‘s because Mitch McConnell and people like him have said it‘s better politics for us if people—if we take the whole thing down.
That is cynical. It‘s wrong. And I—nobody elected people to go to Washington to take the whole thing down. They elected them to fix problems for people in this country.
MATTHEWS: You know, when we were kids—and let me get back to the key problem of American industrialization.
MATTHEWS: When we were kids at grade school in Saint Christopher‘s, we would sit around and see the new cars coming out.
And every kid knew which new car was coming out, the Thunderbird or whatever it was, the—whatever Chevy was coming out with. We all knew the hot new cars, right? And we all were focused on them like—almost like the World Series.
MATTHEWS: Hot, sexy new cars, we loved them, right?
GRANHOLM: Loved it, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: What happened to that love affair the American people had with the hot new car?
GRANHOLM: All right...
GRANHOLM: ... hot new car.
MATTHEWS: We just got into boring compacts. Have we gotten into boring—have we lost design? Have we lost excitement about the cars?
GRANHOLM: Come on. That‘s so old.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m just asking.
GRANHOLM: That‘s so 2009, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. It‘s a year old. It‘s a year old.
GRANHOLM: Now, 2010 -- no, I‘m serious.
The auto industry, the American auto industry, they are all about the new auto industry. You know, these electric vehicles, the Chevy Volt that is coming out, it‘s going to start rolling off the line this fall.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the electric car?
GRANHOLM: The electric car. It is so hot. It is so great.
Ford is producing in America. In fact, they brought back manufacturing from Mexico to Michigan to produce these—the small compact electric vehicles. I‘m just telling you, there‘s a whole new lineup happening.
You know, with the merger between Chrysler and Fiat, the Fiat 500, those engines, those cars are going to be manufactured here. They are hot. They are sizzling. Just wait. It‘s really quite exciting.
MATTHEWS: OK. We‘re going to have exciting new cars.
How about my plan that we bring back heavy investment, and we start building subway cars, start building trains again?
GRANHOLM: Yes. Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: The French have 300-mile-an-hour planes—trains. The Chinese are going to have them. Why are we the slowest-moving rapid rail system in the world?
GRANHOLM: Preach it.
MATTHEWS: What happened to us?
GRANHOLM: Because we have people who believe that you should not be partnering to invest in this country, and those people are running—or at least blocking what‘s happening in the Senate.
There is a philosophical difference here, and there are people who believe that any investment is not going to be good.
MATTHEWS: Have the Democrats lost their guts?
GRANHOLM: No, I don‘t think the...
MATTHEWS: Because Roosevelt—look...
GRANHOLM: Listen, look how bold the president has been.
MATTHEWS: Eisenhower built the interstate highway system. Lincoln built the interstate train system, the transcontinental train system. We used to build things. Would we build a subway system in the big cities today? We probably wouldn‘t build one.
GRANHOLM: Because people are so darned scared of deficits.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s such a thing as capital investment.
GRANHOLM: Definitely. Exactly right, capital investment, paid for over the long run, long-term financing of deficits. Invest them.
MATTHEWS: Well, you and Eddie Rendell have got to go out there and sell this stuff, because it‘s not—this country has gotten so squeamish.
GRANHOLM: We are all about it. Ed was with me today. We‘re all about it.
MATTHEWS: We‘re sitting around shivering waiting for the unemployment rate now. That‘s all we do. We worry together.
GRANHOLM: Well, look it, you have got a president who is making investments in America.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go. I have got to go.
GRANHOLM: All right.
MATTHEWS: Jennifer Granholm, governor of Michigan...
GRANHOLM: It‘s great to see you.
MATTHEWS: ... thanks for coming on.
Up next: Michele Bachmann is back at it. I don‘t know here about the quality of the mind at work here. But she‘s raising the specter now that President Obama is taking us into a one-world government. She‘s actually saying the black helicopters are coming to take away our sovereignty. There‘s a situation here that‘s almost on the edge of true paranoia, and it‘s pandering to the paranoids.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and the “Sideshow.”
First, sound the five-alarm—five-level alarm. U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has got a new villain to chase, the G20. That‘s right. Yesterday, Bachmann said President Obama‘s participation in this weekend‘s G20 summit could eventually lead to a single-world government.
See if you can follow her.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: President Obama is trying to bind the United States into a global economy, where all of our nations come together in a global economy.
I don‘t want the United States to be in a global economy, where we—where our economic future is bound to that of Zimbabwe. Clearly, this is a very bad direction, because, when you join the economic policy of different nations, it is one short step to joining political unity. And then you would have literally a one-world government.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, we‘re teaming up with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe in a new world government.
This is insane talk by a congresswoman. I don‘t know who the voters are out there, but take a look at this kind of talk. This fear that the black helicopters are about to land and take over this country, that Robert Mugabe is in some kind of political partnership with Barack Obama is insane talk.
Next, talk about off the wall. At a Saturday town hall, Democratic Congressman Pete Stark of California got into a heated back and forth with border security activists the Minutemen. Watch what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETE STARK (D), CALIFORNIA: Do the Minutemen want to have something to say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
STARK: What are you—what—who are you going to kill today?
Yes, what‘s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, why is the federal government leaving our borders porous for anybody to come in anywhere they want?
STARK: If you knew anything about our borders...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STARK: ... you would know that that‘s not the case. Our borders are quite secure, thank you.
STARK: And how would you secure it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m asking—I‘m asking, what are you guys doing?
STARK: No, no, tell me. I mean, I‘m not the government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, can I ask you a question?
STARK: You have asked one already. But go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a very serious matter, and you‘re sitting there making fun of it.
STARK: I don‘t have to make fun of you, sir. You do a fine job all
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s the face of incumbency. Well, you have got to decide who you agree with there. You call it.
Finally, talk about an eye for detail.
During yesterday‘s Elena Kagan‘s hearings, an Associated Press photographer caught Senator Al Franken drawing this sketch of Republican Senator Jeff Sessions. Check it out. It‘s quite a good likeness. There it is. Don‘t you think? Talent.
Now for tonight‘s “Number,” HARDBALL “Big Number.”
A rare show of bipartisanship on the Senate floor this morning. General Petraeus, David Petraeus, was confirmed to his new role as field commander in the war in Afghanistan by a vote of—whoa—this doesn‘t happen very often -- 99-0.
Senator Petraeus gets a unanimous stamp of approval for the mission ahead, 30 -- well, 99-0. We will see what his vote will be a year into this fight. That should be tougher over there. But he‘s got a 99-0 start.
Up next: Alabama congressional candidate Rick Barber, he‘s guy with the campaign ads which have General George Washington raising an army against the American government. I have got a few questions for Mr. Barber coming up next.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks closing out a brutal quarter with a loss, as a cloud of pessimism settles over Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials falling 96 points, the S&P slipping 10 points, and the Nasdaq tumbling nearly 26 points.
It was the worst quarter in over a year for stocks, all the major indices shedding between 9 percent and 11 percent, a dismal quarter for the housing sector, losing 21 percent of its value, energy industrial stocks falling 13 percent. Just about the only thing glittering was gold, investors diving for cover in a pile of precious metals.
In economic news today, the private sector adding fewer than expected jobs in June. That does not bode well for the government report due out on Friday.
And, in stocks, Netflix shares skidding 3.5 percent, after Hulu.com announced plans for a new subscription-based service.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Republican House candidate Rick Barber of Alabama came out with an ad earlier this month that got a lot of buzz. The spot begins partway through an imagined meeting with founding father Sam Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK BARBER ®, ALABAMA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: And I would impeach him. And if that‘s not enough, some of you men own taverns.
Sam, you are a brewer, Mr. President, a distiller. You know how tough it is to run a small business without the tyrannical government on your back. Today, we have an Internal Revenue Service that enforces what they call a progressive income tax. Now, this same IRS is going to force us to buy health insurance, cram it down our throats, or else.
Now, I took an oath to defend that with my life. I can‘t stand by
while these evils are perpetrated. You gentleman revolted over a tea tax -
A tea tax! Now look at us.
Are you with me?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Gather your armies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Mr. Barber, that‘s quite an ad.
Let me ask you, what—the—the first part struck me is, “I would impeach him.”
Well, who would you impeach and for what? Which president?
BARBER: It‘s not necessarily meant for a president. We would have said president if that‘s who we intended .
It‘s a metaphor to the fact that we don‘t seem to want to hold our leaders accountable. We have got leaders that are doing illegal acts, that are not representing the people. And we don‘t seem to want to use the tools that are there—impeachment is one of them—to hold them accountable.
MATTHEWS: Well, they have committed illegal acts. What are they?
Which presidents committed illegal acts?
BARBER: Well, you‘ve got...
MATTHEWS: We have had the progressive income tax since 1913. Have all the presidents since then been committing illegal acts?
BARBER: Again, you just look back over the years, there are several who have been caught for tax fraud, tax evasion. You‘ve got the potential offering of Democratic candidates not to run in replacement for possible high-level offices. There‘s a lot of stuff out there. And if anything of it is found to be true, we should hold those people accountable, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Well, sure. I want to go through what your ad says. You stand by the ad, of course?
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s talk about the progressive income tax. Would you like to replace it?
BARBER: Absolutely. I would love to replace it with the fair tax.
MATTHEWS: And you would like to get rid of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which created it back in 1913, get rid of the whole thing?
BARBER: Absolutely. I think it‘s—it‘s counterproductive to our economy.
MATTHEWS: OK. Sure. You want to get rid of the income tax, period, not just the progressive income tax, but any kind of direct tax, income tax, is that right, and go to an indirect tax, some sort of ad valorem, VAT kind of tax? That‘s what you want to do?
BARBER: I think the science is there, the data is there to show that a consumption-based tax is far more productive for a society and far more fair.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. We get rid of the income tax, period.
What interests—or, rather, what sales tax rate on top—here in D.C. we pay 8 percent. What would you add to that for—as a national sales tax? What percentage of sales?
BARBER: No, you wouldn‘t be adding any tax.
The fair tax is a replacement for all the embedded tax that‘s estimated to be in the products and goods and services that we have already because of our current income tax.
MATTHEWS: We have sales taxes all around the country, sir. In addition to the current sales tax we have in other states—you can‘t stop states from having sales taxes, so in addition to the sales tax, you would have a national sales tax, right?
MATTHEWS: OK. What rate?
BARBER: It wouldn‘t be in addition. It would be replacing the product and service. It would be a replacement of the taxes that are already there. And you can‘t—the local locations would have to take care of their own tax.
MATTHEWS: You would get rid of the sales tax in localities?
BARBER: You would get rid of Social Security, capital gains.
MATTHEWS: No, no, no.
BARBER: You would get rid of Medicare and Medicaid. You would get rid of the death tax.
MATTHEWS: Would you answer the question?
What do you do about sales taxes in states like Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C.? All across the country, states have sales taxes. Would you get rid of those? And how can you do that constitutionally, denying the right of states to pay for their expenses? How would you do that legally or constitutionally?
BARBER: You wouldn‘t—you wouldn‘t necessarily do that. The states would have to choose in what way they want to tax on their own. That‘s their sovereign right.
MATTHEWS: Well, they have. They have sales—OK.
BARBER: But I think they would follow the national standard.
MATTHEWS: Right. Everybody listening knows what‘s going on here.
You‘re not answering the question.
You want a national sales tax. What rate of taxation do you want in that sales tax?
BARBER: The estimated tax that‘s already embedded in the goods is 23 percent. You would get rid of the embedded tax, replace it with the fair tax, and the states would then have to choose how they want to tax beyond that.
MATTHEWS: Well, in the states that I live in, it‘s about 8 percent. So we‘re add 23 percent. So we would have a 31 percent sales tax. What would you apply that to? Food, clothing?
BARBER: Well, you keep saying add. You would not—again, you would not be adding a tax, Chris. You‘re putting words in my mouth.
BARBER: There‘s an embedded tax in every product and service that we buy today.
MATTHEWS: OK. What about the local sales taxes? Would you get rid of those when you create the national sales tax?
BARBER: No. You could not.
The states and local communities would have to choose whether they wanted to remain on a state sales or income tax or move to a sales tax. That would be up to them to follow whichever path they want to do locally.
MATTHEWS: So, what would—
BARBER: -- you set the example at the national level.
MATTHEWS: Right. You set the example by having a national sales tax and you think that‘s going to discourage states and localities from having sales taxes? It‘s going to duplicate it?
BARBER: No, absolutely not. But I‘ll tell you, there‘s a lot of them that would shift away from an income tax and they move to a consumption-based tax as well and—
MATTHEWS: But we already have those sales taxes.
MATTHEWS: Sir, you are advocating a national sales tax on top of local taxes and everybody knows it.
Let me ask you about this thing: you say the government can increase taxes today without representation. Don‘t you have a congressman? Don‘t you have a U.S. senator? Don‘t you have representation as a citizen?
BARBER: What we have and I think is universally agreed on at this point in time, and we‘re going to see the result of which in November is that we have misrepresentation, which is almost as bad as no representation. Our leaders today are not representing the views of the people.
BARBER: And you‘re going to see them pay that price in November when the elections come around.
MATTHEWS: So, we don‘t have a representative form of government?
BARBER: No, we absolutely do.
MATTHEWS: Well, you just said without representation they can—you‘re saying the people can raise taxes without being people elected as representatives of the people, and that people who raise the taxes are the ones that have been elected as representatives of the people, including your Congress people who represent you. Why do you keep saying this government is a tyranny?
BARBER: Chris, you need to look at the forest through—look at the forest through the trees.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m looking at your ad.
BARBER: The ad is a 60-second spot.
MATTHEWS: You‘re talking about a George Washington character, talking about gathering an army against our own self-elected government, not the British government, not a foreign tyranny, but our own elected government.
BARBER: No, sir. No, sir.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Look—
BARBER: You‘re putting those words in my ad. It says gather the army and the army we‘re referring to—
MATTHEWS: Against whom?
BARBER: Gather our political army.
MATTHEWS: Oh, political army. You didn‘t say that.
MATTHEWS: He‘s wearing a military uniform and says gather your armies and you‘re saying that‘s a metaphor.
BARBER: Chris, do you know who a metaphor is? Do you know what hyperbole is?
MATTHEWS: Well, it sounds like everything in your ad—are you a metaphor for a guy running for office? Or are you a real candidate? If you‘re a metaphor, I understand what you‘re talking about.
MATTHEWS: You‘re talking we have a government that doesn‘t represent us. We have a government that‘s a tyranny. We have a progressive income tax you wanted to replace—
BARBER: That‘s true.
MATTHEWS: -- with that sales tax. And you won‘t deny the right of states to continue having their own sales taxes, which add up to 31 percent sales tax. And I don‘t think anybody is going to vote for a 31 percent sales tax, sir, or a 23 percent sales tax.
BARBER: Well, again, Chris, that‘s your ignorance with what I‘m saying, because again, it‘s not an addition.
MATTHEWS: OK. Repeat it so I won‘t be ignorant. Repeat it, sir. Anybody who wants to look at this tape, can catch it -- 23 percent, you said, and I‘m saying, people are now paying 8 percent in many states and localities. That adds up to 31, and you don‘t like the arithmetic, but that‘s a fact—isn‘t it?
BARBER: Yes. Your arithmetic is bad. You‘re not listening to what I‘m saying. Yes.
MATTHEWS: OK. Tell me again what rate of taxation—
BARBER: Again, it‘s a replacement for—
MATTHEWS: -- do you recommend for the national sales tax, the fair tax, as you call? What rate?
BARBER: It‘s not the rate. It‘s not the rate, Chris. It‘s not the rate.
It‘s the fact you‘re saying we‘re going to add that. We‘re not. We‘re going to replace what‘s already there embedded that you don‘t see every day in your cost of goods with the replacement tax that‘s seen on the receipt now and that‘s where a lot of folks like to sling mud and misrepresent the fair tax.
MATTHEWS: And what rate will that be? And what rate will be and what will be the rate of taxation on the fair tax?
BARBER: Again, it‘s estimated to be 23 percent.
MATTHEWS: OK. Now, if I get—
BARBER: But it‘s not added on to the price.
MATTHEWS: No, it‘s not added on—it‘s not added on to the national income tax.
BARBER: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: But it is added on to all local taxes, right, sir, so we get on the same page here, right?
BARBER: No, sir.
MATTHEWS: No, it‘s not added on.
BARBER: Here‘s an example. You‘ve got a Coke—Coke today costs a dollar. Today, you pay a dollar. In that dollar is already 23 percent of taxes that we don‘t see. The difference is now that Coke is going to cost 77 cents, but you‘re going to see 23 percent of tax on top of that 77 cents to still yield a $1 Coke and then you add your 8 percent sales tax locally on that. There‘s your correct analogy.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me tell you what happens in the real world. We have a state tax, we have a federal tax if you apply one. That‘s 23 plus 8. That‘s 31 percent. It‘s a cruel world. Arithmetic matters.
Thank you for coming on. Have you ever been audited?
BARBER: The fair tax has more research that—
MATTHEWS: Have you been audited?
BARBER: Have I been audited?
BARBER: My business has been audited, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Why? What have you done to cause to be audited?
BARBER: I didn‘t say I didn‘t anything to cause that. I said it‘s a tool that came to use and has been used in the past.
MATTHEWS: Why were you personally audited, your business?
BARBER: I‘m sorry?
MATTHEWS: Why were you audited?
BARBER: I‘ve had local government audit my business.
MATTHEWS: But why?
BARBER: I‘m assuming they wanted to verify everything was correct.
MATTHEWS: What was wrong with your paperwork?
BARBER: Nothing was wrong with the paperwork. We actually had some of the best paperwork they‘d seen for our industry.
MATTHEWS: But why were you audited? You know, they never figured out why you were audited?
BARBER: All right. You‘re splitting hairs here again.
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m asking an open question.
BARBER: -- conversation to talk about the intrusive part of the government.
MATTHEWS: No, in your ad, you go after what you call “malicious audits” and I figured you must have had some experience to use language like that.
BARBER: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: So, you‘ve been audited. How many times have you been audited?
BARBER: Have you not heard about during the mortgage crisis, when banks were told take the money or they‘re going to be put—they‘re going to be subject to audit, which are costly and time-consuming whether they had done anything wrong or not?
MATTHEWS: How many times have you been audited?
BARBER: It‘s irrelevant. I‘ve been audited once.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Mr. Barber, for coming on.
Up next: With just four months to go before Election Day, could the Democrats lose both the House and Senate? We‘re going to take a look at where they stand right now.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos is suing the polling outfit Research 2000. Moulitsas says he was defrauded by the pollster in the State of the Nation polls published on the Daily Kos Web site were, quote, “likely bunk.” Moulitsas promises a lawsuit against Research 2000 in the next day or two.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As we await the new jobs numbers coming out Friday, and they could be deadly, Democrats especially will be watching that number with an eye towards November. Could Democrats lose control of Congress if things don‘t improve?
“Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, he‘s an MSNBC political analyst. And John Heilemann writes from “New York” magazine. The gentlemen both are experts.
Take a look at these numbers first of all. The Democratic Senate seats seem to be in real trouble in North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana and Delaware. Many people believe they‘re already gone to the party.
If you look at other states—Pennsylvania, Nevada, Illinois, Colorado—they‘re seen as tossups. And then there‘s three they might lose if there‘s what we call a “political tsunami” like in ‘94 and 1980 when Reagan came in.
Even there, Washington State could go. Patty Murray could lose. Barbara Boxer could lose. Russ Feingold could lose—if there in Wisconsin, if this is a really horrible year.
I want to start with Howard. Give me your sense of how bad it would have to be for all 11 to go.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, my God, it would have to be—it would be have to be nightmarish. But right now, the economic numbers don‘t look good. The presidential job approval numbers don‘t look good. The generic ballot between Democrats and Republicans historically favors the Republicans at this point. And people‘s view of Congress couldn‘t be dimmer.
So, right now based on current facts—
MATTHEWS: It‘s plausible.
FINEMAN: -- it‘s plausible.
MATTHEWS: John Heilemann, same question to you—if you look at the ones that are almost gone, nothing‘s gone permanently and nothing‘s really safe. There‘s a lot of thinking between now and November. But I‘m looking like at Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey leads Joe Sestak up there according to Pollster.com. I wouldn‘t have thought that a couple weeks ago even. But it looks like Toomey could hold on if he can keep his sort of ideology under wraps.
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right. Yes, there‘s a lot of surprising races like that, Chris. You know, you‘re looking at that race like in Wisconsin where Russ Feingold is facing a pretty serious threat from a totally—there‘s a Republican primary that has to happen, but the guy who‘s likely to win that is a businessman named Ron Johnson. No one knows who he is, yet he‘s running even or ahead of Feingold up there in Wisconsin.
I think, you know, Howard is exactly right. If this is a wave election and that‘s what‘s Republicans want to make it. They want to have a national conversation where they say, turn this into a referendum on Barack Obama. They want to say, he is too liberal, he is incompetent and he‘s made government too big and hasn‘t brought and hasn‘t done any real good for the economy.
If they can make that argument effectively, it could happen that they could take back control of the Senate, win, you know, eight or nine of those 10 or 11 seats you had up there on the board.
MATTHEWS: Look at this one. Here‘s a weird one, Nevada, we have Republican Sharron Angle, a woman to the very far-right. She‘s leading Harry Reid in that Pollster.com average of polls. There‘s Sharron Angle, who‘s talked about Second Amendment solutions to politicians you don‘t like. I mean, pretty frightening stuff.
FINEMAN: Well, she hasn‘t put George Washington in her ads yet.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think anybody‘s going to do that again.
FINEMAN: Give her time.
FINEMAN: And I wouldn‘t count Reid out in that one. I mean, I was talking to people out there today. You know, their hope is Sharron Angle. But if you get to the point where the Democrats only hope in a lot of these races is to try to paint the Republican candidates as fringe candidates—
MATTHEWS: Do you know why that doesn‘t work?
MATTHEWS: People don‘t like being told they don‘t have a choice.
MATTHEWS: They like to be told it‘s up to them.
FINEMAN: And they will go—they will reach for somebody way out there if it‘s the only way they can protest what‘s going on here.
MATTHEWS: Take a look at Illinois, John. Here‘s Illinois—
Republican Mark Kirk leads Democrat Alex Giannoulias, according to Pollster.com. There‘s the one I think you have to look at. Illinois is not a right-wing state and yet Kirk is winning with all kinds of problems about his resume. Even with a guy with lots of problems, all this inflation about his teaching role, his military role, saying he work and won a medal for intelligence—all this stuff isn‘t true. And yet, he‘s still above there.
HEILEMANN: Yes, he is. And today, Giannoulias came out with a very, very tough ad today. This is the last day of June. We‘re just on the brink of July. And he put out an ad today attacking Kirk for these various misrepresentations.
That is the kind of ad you normally don‘t see in a Senate race until the last couple weeks. It tells you just what kind of trouble Giannoulias is in out there, even with Kirk‘s huge problems.
FINEMAN: You know, that is—that is a great point because the Democrats are using all their negative ammo right now. Harry Reid is doing it in Nevada, as well—tough negative against the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Which tells you of what their polling.
FINEMAN: Which tells you that they‘re in a desperate situation here and they want to try to make it no choice.
MATTHEWS: But using that kind of nitroglycerin blows back at you, too.
FINEMAN: Well, it can because you‘ve got to keep the conversation up between, as John was saying, you got to keep the conversation up between now and November. It‘s hard to do that if you‘re saying your nastiest stuff at the beginning.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here‘s my question. I think people are not in the mood to say, yes, that‘s what‘s going on in the country.
If they want to vote no, how can you vote Democrat? John Heilemann, isn‘t that a problem? If you‘re a Democrat you‘re asking people to basically say, yes, keep it up, because you like me personally. But they only get one vote. So, the voters say, wait a minute, how do I register disapproval of what‘s going on this country if I vote yes to the incumbent, if he‘s a Democrat?
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that a problem?
HEILEMANN: Yes, I think that‘s right. There‘s not a lot of “yes we can” in the country right now, Chris. And I think, you know, the other thing is that it‘s—the Democrats are going to be running, you saw this with Obama today. The Democrats are going to be running largely on fear—fear of the Republican alternative. And the truth is, a lot of people in the country are pretty scared already.
HEILEMANN: I‘m not sure that argument‘s going to work very well.
MATTHEWS: OK. We got four months to go. Let‘s keep up that one.
Thank you very much, Howard Fineman. Thank you, John Heilemann.
When we return, let me finish with some thoughts about the king of the night—Larry King who has announced his retirement.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with Larry King.
Back in the 1970s when I first got involved in politics, I made a couple much road trips out west to Utah. Larry King, the guy on the radio, was my driving buddy—because when you drive into the night, it‘s good to have someone staying awake with you. Larry King, that guy on the radio, has been great company—great company for the long haul driver of the big rig.
And for people like my wife Kathleen‘s grandmother, a conservative DAR-type (ph), who loved having this guy from Brooklyn come through her earphones as she lay in bed at night alongside Kathy‘s grandfather.
Larry got me started in broadcasting in the late 1980s after my years with Tip O‘Neill. He had me on in the middle of the night with his old radio show on Mutual.
Now, he‘s decided to quit his show on television. And now I can admit there‘s nothing like a good Larry King impression. David Gregory does great one. Here‘s mine: Copenhagen, Denmark, what‘s your question?
Somewhere all too soon, Mr. King, we‘re going to be out there on the highway listening to satellite radio, listening for your voice in the night. And we‘re not going to hear you. And boy, we‘re going to miss you. Not because of your questions, tried and true as you made them over the years, do you still love her? Did you watch yourself in the movies? How about the nude scenes?
No, not only that, but because as the guy out there on the road and my wife‘s waspy grandmother never got to say Mr. King, Mr. Larry King, you just happened to be darn good company.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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