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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Read the transcript from the Wednesday 6 p.m. hour

Guests: Ed Rendell, John Feehery, Robert Menendez, Dana Milbank, Alex

Wagner, Rosa DeLauro

CENK UYGUR, HOST.  Good evening, everybody.  I‘m Cenk Uygur, from Los Angeles. 

Today we have got some good news for the president and even better news for the president.  How do you like them apples? 

Now, just over a week after Osama bin Laden death, the president is now clobbering all of his potential Republican opponents by double digits.  A new Reuters poll has Obama beating Mike Huckabee by 12 points.  He beats Mitt Romney by 13 points. 

Now, that‘s a whooping stick right there. 

Now, overall, the American people are giving the president high marks.  Sixty percent approve of the job that he‘s doing.  That‘s a very high number.  In fact, it‘s the highest rating in two years.

Fifty-three percent say that he should be reelected.  Another very solid number.

Now, despite those formidable numbers, another Republican is jumping into the race.  Today, Newt Gingrich officially announces he‘s running for president.  Woo-hoo. 

Now, of course he got a lukewarm reception from other Republicans. 


KARL ROVE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes, I don‘t think he jumps to the top of the pack by the simple fact of getting in, because he is so well known.  He could earn his way into the top tier, though, and that‘s what‘s going to interesting about this contest.  If you look at the polls, there‘s essentially no front-runner. 


UYGUR:  Now, here‘s a problem for Newt -- 42 percent of Americans say they would never vote for him as president.  That‘s a little hard to overcome, but he might be seen as too extreme for a lot of voters, obviously.  But that‘s a problem that almost everyone in the Republican field is going to have, because they have to appeal to their hard-core right-wing base to get past that primary.  So that‘s for some candidates to massively flip-flop on key issues.

Tomorrow, Romney gives a speech rejecting his main achievement as governor, which was health care reform.  And why?  Because it‘s too similar to the Obama‘s health care law. 

Mitch Daniels just signed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, despite saying that he wanted a “truce” on social issues.  I guess that‘s the Republican idea of a truce.

Tim Pawlenty, of course, has flip-flopped on climate change.  Donald Trump has flipped-flopped on, well, just about everything.

And in a recent rare moment of clarity, Mike Huckabee admitted even Ronald Reagan couldn‘t win today. 


MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FMR. ARKANSAS GOVERNOR:  Ronald Reagan would have a very difficult, if not impossible, time being nominated in this atmosphere of the Republican Party.


HUCKABEE:  Because he raised taxes as governor, he made deals with Democrats, he compromised on things in order to move the ball down the field. 


UYGUR:  He‘s absolutely right.  Reagan wouldn‘t stand a prayer in a Republican primary today.  They would call him “Reagan the Rhino.” 

How extreme is the GOP base these days?  Well, take a look at this. 

A new poll shows 52 percent of Republicans still aren‘t sure the president was born in the United States.  This poll was taken after the release of the long-form birth certificate. 

Come on!  That is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.  And that‘s 52 percent of the Republicans. 

So the president is surging, the Republicans are slipping, and the GOP is trying to figure out, how in the world can they get someone elected in a Republican primary and in a general election? 

Well, I‘m going to bring in some people here to help me try to figure that out.

First, we‘ve got former Pennsylvania governor and NBC News political analyst Ed Rendell. 

Great to have you here as always, Governor. 


UYGUR:  And also with us is Republican strategist John Feehery. 

All right.  Good to have you, John, as well.


UYGUR:  Great. 

Governor, let me start with you.  I mean, that 52 percent number is stunning for people who still don‘t necessarily believe that the president was born in the U.S. 

So, let me start with that fundamental question.  How do you get past the primary voters who believe this and then win in a general election? 

RENDELL:  Well, it‘s an interesting dilemma. 

First of all, let me say that none of us Democrats should be so buoyed by the president‘s numbers, because remember, at this time back in 1991, George Bush Sr. had a 90 percent approval rating because of the blowback from the Desert Storm war.  So we can‘t take anything for granted. 

But your analysis, I thought, was right on.  Plus, it‘s only going to get worse for Republican candidates, because none of the major candidates have declared themselves on the Ryan budget.  And you know how popular the Ryan budget is.  He got hooted out of his own home district, and people are jumping off the ship left and right, but not the Tea Partyites, who are going to control Republican primaries.

So what‘s Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee or Newt Gingrich or any of them going to do about a budget that‘s so flawed, that the Republican congressional leaders are starting to back away from it?  It‘s only going to get worse for them. 

And the way I would run if I was—and I don‘t know what John would say, but if I was advising one of the Republican candidates, I would say be different, stand up to the Tea Party, talk sense to the constituents, and hope that you can capture some of that other 48 percent.  And in a multi-Republican field, you might emerge as a winner with enough credibility that you could compete in the general. 

UYGUR:  I want to get some of the specific candidates in a second, but John, I‘ve got to let you respond. 

I mean, you see the case that I laid out.  You hear what the governor is saying.

So how do you get out of the that Republican primary and win in the general election? 

FEEHERY:  Well, first of all, the governor is right on one front. 

It‘s awfully earlier. 

And I remember working in the House Republican leadership when the Bush team was up 91 percent, 91 percent approval rating, and they thought they had it.  It‘s awfully early in the game to be counting your eggs before they hatch. 

Now, for the Republicans, I think they have to be authentic to themselves, I think they have to offer solutions to problems.  I don‘t think they should get caught up in all this birther stuff.  And I think if they are authentic and offer good solutions, I think that they can get through the primary process. 

Now, it‘s all about coalition building, it‘s all about being true to yourself.  It‘s all about being articulate about what the solutions are.  And I think we have plenty of good candidates who can do that. 

I think Romney is a good candidate.  I think Pawlenty is a good candidate.  I think that Mitch Daniels is the best candidate.  And in many ways, Newt Gingrich, who you talked about earlier, is a polarizing figure, but he‘s offered a lot of very good solutions in his career, and he‘s going to invigorate the debate with ideas.  And I think this debate needs some ideas. 

RENDELL:  But, John, pretty soon, the Republican candidates, as they declare, are going to have to speak out whether they‘re for our against the Ryan budget.  And what would you advise them? 

FEEHERY:  Well, Governor, you know, I think that the fact of the matter is that the Ryan budget, no matter how I might support aspects of it, is not going to be the campaign issue in the next year, because there will be a new budget.  And hopefully by that time we‘ll get some sort of budget deal—

UYGUR:  John, I‘ve got to be honest with you—

FEEHERY:  -- and we‘ll take Medicare off the table.  And I do think that the president—we‘ve got to solve these problems starting today, and I think --  


UYGUR:  No, no.  John, I‘ve got to be honest with you.  It sounds like you‘re running away from it.  It really does. 

FEEHERY:  I‘m not running away from it.  I do think that it‘s a notional (ph) budget, it passed the House.  It‘s not going to get through in the Senate.  You‘re going to have to have some sort of compromise.

And we‘ve got to get—start the solutions today.  If we don‘t, this country is in serious trouble. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now let‘s take the candidates one by one.  You know, you mentioned authenticity, and then you mentioned Mitt Romney, John, which I was surprised you put them in the same sentence.

I want to read you guys a quote from his op-ed today, because he‘s trying to get beyond this health care problem.  Right?

And he wrote, “With the passage of Obamacare last year, the president and the Congress took a wrong turn.  I believe the better course is to empower the states to determine their own health care futures.” 

Well, Governor Rendell, isn‘t that kind of ironic given that his plan is so similar to Barack Obama‘s?  And this whole thing of, like, oh, it‘s a states‘ rights issue, doesn‘t it seem really inauthentic? 

RENDELL:  Well, two things. 

And number one, first of all, that‘s exactly what the president did.  Remember, he spoke to the National Governors Association in February and said to every governor, you come up with a plan of your own that will in fact cover as many people as our plan will and will control costs the way our plan will, and we‘ll give you a waiver, we‘ll let you do it. 

So that‘s not an issue.  The president has already said governors can do that, and states‘ rights, if they meet that threshold, will be upheld.

But secondly, I visited Governor Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts and I was governor of Pennsylvania because we wanted to learn a lot about his health plan.  And, in fact, we replicated a lot of it in Pennsylvania.  We tried to get it through the legislature.

And one of the things that he said to me is it won‘t work without the mandate.  Every business has to be a part of it and every individual has to be a part of it.  And of course he was right, because you can‘t ask the insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing illnesses, to keep people on who become sick, to uncap their yearly medical expenses and pay for whatever the charges are without putting healthy people into the system themselves. 

So the mandate is fundamental to it.  And how he can back away from that now and still be authentic or credible is a mystery to me. 

UYGUR:  John, come on.  Really, when you look at the plans, they‘re so similar.  To say that I would like the Obama plan if it‘s in Massachusetts, but I don‘t like it if it‘s in other states, doesn‘t it seem disingenuous? 

FEEHERY:  Well, you know, what the governor said, Governor Romney said, was that it has to be done at the state level.  His plan was at the state level.

I think there were significant flaws with the Romney plan.  I think that if he had to do it over again, he would fix those flaws.

I think the individual mandate is problematic for a lot of people. 

It‘s problematic for me.

I think there‘s got to be a way to do market-based reforms that the Obama administration and Romney did not do.  And I think that that‘s why—the problem with the Romney plan in Massachusetts is it‘s not working as well as he thought it would. 

I think if he had a chance, he would fix it.  And I think that that‘s one of the things that he‘s learned. 

You know, and I do think that Romney does have a little bit of a problem with authenticity.  He has got to speak with more passion  and what he truly believes.  And I think if he does that, he can win the nomination. 

UYGUR:  Well, I think part of the problem is that what he truly believes is what his donors tell him to believe.  So—

FEEHERY:  Well, I don‘t think that‘s it. 

UYGUR:  Oh, really?  OK.

FEEHERY:  Yes.  Yes. 

UYGUR:  Now, here‘s another guy who‘s raised a lot of money, Newt Gingrich.  And he‘s announcing today, so we should give him his due. 

Governor, I want to ask you about that.  He‘s raised $32 million.  He‘s got apparently 1.7 million voter donor contacts.  Now, that‘s a lot, so people think he‘s credible.  On the other hand, 42 percent of Americans say they would never, under any circumstances, vote for Newt Gingrich. 

Is he viable or not viable? 

RENDELL:  Well, it‘s a tough bar.  I agree with John.  Newt Gingrich is a very bright guy and has some creative ideas and some interesting ideas, and some with which I have joined him.

But his biggest problem is, before one negative ad from his Republican opponents, no less Democrats, one negative ad has been put out on the air against him, 42 percent say they could never vote for him.  Well, when the Gingrich story is told by people who want to do negatives on him, that number is going to explode.

I just don‘t think—I think he could emerge as the conservative candidate in the Republican field.  And if he wins the nomination, I think we‘re looking at a near-historic victory for the president. 

UYGUR:  I hear you on that. 

John, I‘m going to let you respond, but let me just first lay out the case that Governor Rendell was talking about. 

One these get into those ads, they‘re going to start talking about how he divorced his first wife while she was in the hospital for cancer.  They‘re going to talk about how he married his third wife while still married to his second wife—no, not married, but there were mistresses, and then he went on to his third wife.  And then he blamed his infidelity, “partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country”? 

Come on.  Is that stuff going to fly?  Is he viable at all, or no?

FEEHERY:  Well, I mean, you‘re asking a couple very interesting questions about the Republican primary.  Will that fly with primary voters?  You know, I don‘t know the answer to that question. 

I would say that about 42 percent of general election voters won‘t vote for President Obama either.  So, that‘s not necessarily the threshold.

For Newt, though, his problem is his polarizing statements really kill him with Independent voters.  And when he was Speaker of the House, he did appeal to more moderate members of the House. 

And Governor Rendell, I would disagree with you on one point.  He‘s not as conservative as you might think he is. 

On education policy, on transportation policy, on a lot of other things, he‘s actually much more of a spender than a lot of people would think.  It‘s his rhetoric, his fiery rhetoric, that puts him on the right wing.  But, actually, his ideas get him more in the center. 

RENDELL:  I think John is right about that, Cenk.  The ideas—and some of them are very creative.  But again, the rhetoric, especially in the last year, has been tragic, I think. 


UYGUR:  And look, you know, my conclusion on that, guys, is that it‘s because he knows he‘s about to run.  He knows he‘s going into the primary.  So he‘s talking about all this nonsense about Islamic radicals taking over the country. 

He doesn‘t believe any of that stuff.  He‘s doing it to appeal to the base.  I mean, the same reason Mitch Daniels defunded Planned Parenthood today, because he thinks he‘s going to go in the race.

FEEHERY:  Well, my own personal opinion is if Newt could get beyond the rhetoric, he could be a very effective candidate.  And I‘ve said that in many different forums. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Ed Rendell and John Feehery.

Great conversations, guys.  Thank you so much for joining us. 

RENDELL:  Thanks, Cenk. 

FEEHERY:  Thank you.  Thanks. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now, when we come back, John Boehner wants $2 trillion in cuts.  Here‘s an idea—start with your buddies in big oil.  Senator Menendez had a stern message for all of them today, and he‘s going to join us live. 

And a federal judge ruled today that Governor Mitch Daniels can defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana, as he is planning.  The war on women is growing.  And we‘ll show you the GOP‘s frontal assault on women‘s rights throughout the country. 

And why did Eric Cantor not want to honor the Navy SEALs that killed bin Laden?  We‘ll tell you. 



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (ND NEW YORK:  When the average motorist pulls up at that pump, they‘re hit with a double whammy—the high price of gasoline, and then some of their tax dollars are going to subsidize Exxon Mobil. 



SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN:  We pay for the privilege of their gouging us. 



SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY:  It‘s time for the big five oil companies to give up these subsidies and allow their companies to pay a fair share towards reducing the deficit. 


UYGUR:  It‘s on.  Look at that.

Senate Democrats are hitting back at big oil and the Republicans who support them unconditionally.  The Democrats sent a letter to the CEOs of the big five oil companies, and they‘re urging them to admit that they don‘t need those taxpayer subsidies when they appear before the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow. 

Now, remember, they take at least $4 billion in subsidies every single year.  What the Democrats are proposing is, hey, over the next 10 years, let‘s at least take back $21 billion of those subsidies.  That cuts our deficit, that helps to balance our budget, and they clearly don‘t need them.  Let me show you.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, BP and Chevron made $32 billion in profits just in the first quarter.  So how do they maintain these huge subsidies anyway?  Well, that‘s because they have big backers in the Republican Party.  Look at this.

House members who voted to continue oil subsidies received five times more money in 2010 from oil and gas.  Of course. 

They received more than $8.7 million in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests in that 2010 election.  So now the GOP says that taking away subsidies would raise gas prices. 

Now, I‘ve got to tell you, that is absolute economic nonsense.  Under that theory, the only way that gas prices would rise is if the oil companies produced less oil because they thought that they weren‘t making enough money.  Well, you know, our taxes are higher, we‘re not making enough, so we‘re not going to produce as much oil, and then prices go up. 

But that‘s a laughable proposition.  They‘re making money hand over fist. 

You know that the prices have tripled since the last time we passed one of those subsidies?  Tripled. 

So, of course they‘re going to continue producing as much oil as possible, and it isn‘t going to affect gas prices at all.  But the thing is, the Republicans already know that.  They‘re just looking for any excuse to justify selling out to their donors, which are, of course, the huge oil companies. 

All right.  Now let me bring somebody in here to have a discussion with.  The man you just saw in that clip was Senator Robert Menendez.  He‘s one of the lawmakers who sent that letter to the big oil CEOs, and he‘s going to grill them tomorrow.

Senator Menendez, great to have you here. 

MENENDEZ:  Good to be with you, Cenk. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, you‘re going to bring in the oil executives.  My guess is they‘re going to say that they still absolutely need those subsidies.  In fact, ConocoPhillips said that it was un-American to challenge those subsidies. 

How do you respond to that? 

MENENDEZ:  Well, number one, I hope ConocoPhillips will apologize tomorrow to suggest that simply asking them to be part of meeting the nation‘s deficit challenge, as we‘re asking middle class, working families, families on medium income in this country and make $50,000 a year, that we say to them they should be part of meeting the nation‘s deficit challenge, but we‘re not willing to say to the big five oil companies who will make projected $125 billion this year that they should give up $2 billion this year in oil subsidies and do so for the next 10 years?  That‘s pretty ridiculous. 

And so to say that that‘s un-American is unacceptable, number one.  And number two is some of them have in the past suggested—or some of their predecessors have suggested that when oil is at the price it is, it‘s certainly not necessary to have these subsidies.

So the bottom line is, I don‘t know how the big five are going to do anything to justify the position that the American taxpayer should continue to have what in essence is corporate welfare. 

UYGUR:  Now, I‘m going to play you a clip of Fox News anchors talking about this, because I want to show people the nonsense and then come back and talk about why it makes no sense. 

Let‘s watch it first.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you raise the taxes on gasoline and oil, the price of gasoline and oil isn‘t going to go down.  The price of gasoline and oil is going to go up. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This White House does not want to lower prices, and they‘re willing to go after the oil companies, which is going to only make the price go up. 


UYGUR:  Now, there aren‘t any economists who agree with that.  They say that it‘s, of course, all about supply and demand, and that the oil companies will continue to supply the oil, because they‘re making incredible profits at it. 

So how do you argue with people who don‘t argue based on facts?  You know what it is?  They‘re taking $21.8 million—they did in 2010, the Republicans did—from oil and gas companies.  So they‘ll make up anything.  So how do you argue with these guys when they don‘t even believe the things that they‘re saying themselves? 

MENENDEZ:  Well, Cenk, one of the things about truth is that no matter how much you crush it, it springs back up.  And it‘s pretty undeniable. 

The reality is, is that to suggest that gas prices are going to go up because we‘re going to take $2 billion away from the big five only, the big five oil companies who will makes $125 billion this year in profits, and that somehow should dictate more rising gas prices is ridiculous.  And the average American fully understands that. 

Secondly, it‘s very well established that the fluctuations in the marketplace, speculation, you know, the price—the strength of the dollar, disruptions in market supply, that can affect gas prices more—probably than anything we‘re going to do in taking away a small amount of the corporate subsidies that they‘re getting. 

And lastly, when it‘s 30-some-odd dollars a barrel to produce oil, and a lot less for the big five—they‘re even more efficient at it—and you‘re selling oil at $100-something a barrel, you know that there‘s plenty of room already.  That‘s why they‘re making these record profits. 

They don‘t need to gouge the American taxpayer more.  They‘re already paying at the pump.  And it‘s an insult to have them not only pay at the pump, but then also give them a tax subsidy out of those taxpayers‘ pockets. 

UYGUR:  All right.  The final question for you, Senator Menendez, is on how do you get this done?  Right?

Because to me it seems like you guys should say under no circumstances will we have any budget cutting at all going forward until you take away these subsidies.  That‘s it, we‘re not—you know, they love to declare things off the table all the time, right?  Until you put this on the table, we‘re not having a conversation. 

Is that actually possible in Washington? 

MENENDEZ:  Well, I certainly believe that since all of the $21 billion that we‘ll save by taking away these subsidies to big oil will go to the deficit—that‘s what we proposed—that in any extension of the debt relief—of the debt ceiling—that this has to be an essential element.  They‘re going to come and say they want certain things.  I think this should clearly be one of our counters.  And it seems to me that it‘s doable.

You know, even some Republicans—Speaker Boehner, in the past, has said this should be eliminated.  Ryan, the budget chair, has said that in the House, several of my Republican colleagues here in the Senate.  Well, it‘s time to show us that you‘re willing to put your vote where your comments are. 

UYGUR:  And you know who else has said that?  Seventy-four percent of the American people.  So this should be an easy win for Democrats if you guys insist on it.  That‘s my sense of it.  We‘ll see if that comes to fruition. 

Senator Robert Menendez, thank you for joining us this evening.  We really appreciate it. 

MENENDEZ:  Great to be with you. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now, when we come back, Eric Cantor doesn‘t have time to honor the Navy SEALs that killed bin Laden, but guess who he did have time to honor?  We‘ll explain that in our “Con Job of the Day.” 

And inside bin Laden‘s personal journals.  We‘re learning more about what he was writing and the attacks he was personally planning. 

Those details, next. 


UYGUR:  And now for our “Con Job of the Day,” we take a look at the twisted priorities of the Republican House. 

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has announced that the House won‘t vote on a standalone bill to honor the Navy SEALs who captured and killed Osama bin Laden.  That seems a little stunning, right? 

Well, Cantor said that the House won‘t take action on the honorary measure because, “We‘ve said since we assumed the majority, that we want to be substantive and meaningful.”  So, Cantor‘s argument is that the House only deals with serious business, and honoring the Navy SEALs is just not serious enough. 

All right.  Look, that seems like a bit much to me but fair enough if that‘s your standard.  That‘s why we didn‘t originally cover that story.  Because if they‘re not taking any votes on honoring people, then at least it‘s consistent.  Except, of course, it turns out, as Think Progress points out today, House Republicans made a big exception to their own rule last Monday.  That‘s when the House took the time to vote on the bill to rename a Texas courthouse after George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.  Sponsor and Representative Mike Conaway explained why this was such a substantive measure. 

He said, quote, “by renaming this courthouse in Midland, Texas, we are able to honor these two great Texans.”  Come on.  Now, how do you like those priorities?  Honoring the Navy SEALs who took out the most wanted terrorist in the world, no, not that important.  Honoring two republican presidents by renaming a small courthouse?  Added them in the middle of Texas.  Oh, that‘s totally worth the house‘s time.  And that bit of sad self-serving logic is our con job of the day.                                                              


UYGUR:  Welcome back, everybody.  Now, here‘s a shocker.  Republicans are refusing to budge as inch in budget negotiations.  You don‘t say.  Well, with Democrats and Republicans bellying over whether they extend the government‘s debt limit and trim budget deficits, negotiations are being complicated by disputes over basic economic facts.  Well, there‘s a reason for that.  It‘s because the Republicans are lying on purpose about those facts.  Now, I‘m not just saying that.  We‘re going to show you, we‘re going to prove it to you. 

For example, John Boehner speech on Monday, he said this.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  The reason stimulus spending binge frankly hurt our economy and hampered private sector job creation in our country. 


UYGUR:  Not remotely true.  The CBO finds that the stimulus put between 1.4 and 3.3 million people back to work.  And cut the unemployment rate by as much as 1.8 percent.  That is what economists agree on.  There aren‘t almost any economists out there saying, oh, no, no, no, we did the stimulus and it actually causes jobs.  There is no such theory, John Boehner made it up.  He also made this up. 


BOEHNER:  We will never have real economic growth if we‘re going to raise taxes on those in America who create jobs. 


UYGUR:  Now, under Clinton, the economy growth average of nearly four percent a year.  Now, remember we had much higher rates at that time.  Actually, we‘re much higher and a little higher.  And guess what happened?  Twenty two million jobs were created.  What resulted was the largest economic expansion in history.  So they say, well, you can‘t raise rates.  If you raise rates on the job creators, we don‘t have any jobs.  You‘d have to be unconscious the entire decade of the ‘90s to believe that.  You can‘t possibly think that they just missed the decade of the ‘90s, oh, 22 million, jobs are created under the Clinton race.  Whoopsie, doopsie, they‘re know they‘re not telling the truth. 

And then you‘ve got another doozie by Boehner. 


BOEHNER:  It‘s possible to make sure in just a way that will ensure a future beneficiaries and we‘ll have access to the same kinds of options that members of Congress currently have.  


UYGUR:  They just keep saying that.  I‘m amazed.  Not remotely true.  Here‘s the reality.  Under the Ryan plan, by 2030, the government would cover only 32 percent of the average 65-year-old‘s health care costs.  In comparison, the government covers 75 percent of health care cost for the average member of Congress.  Look, these are not matters of opinion, these are facts.  Either Speaker is ignorant, and he has no idea what the fact are, or he‘s purposely misleading you.  And what‘s worse is why.  Because they don‘t care about you.  They care about their donors, you‘re pawns to be manipulated.  What they want to do is get you to believe things that aren‘t true.  So, they could do what‘s right for their donors, where there‘s the big insurance companies, the big oil companies, the big banks.  Those are the guys who pay people like John Boehner.  And that‘s why John Boehner and those Republicans who say things that demonstrably false are not honest actors, and we shouldn‘t treat them as such. 

All right.  Now, joining me is columnist for the Washington Post, Dana Milbank.  Also, with us, a reporter for the Huffington Post and MSNBC analyst Alex Wagner.  All right.  Dana, let me start with you.  Look, those things aren‘t true.  So, what are we supposed to do?  Are we supposed to call it even and say, well, on the one hand, this guy who‘s got the wrong facts and on the other hand, you‘ve got these guys with the right facts? 

DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, Cenk, what you have to do is retaliate by making up a whole bunch of things on your show.  And see if we can get people to believe that.  

UYGUR:  Not a bad plan.  


MILBANK:  I can help you with that.  I think you‘ve really hit on the nub of the problem here, and that is why we can‘t have a rational debate. 

We‘ve got these echo chambers going on and, you know, John Boehner‘s

followers believe those things he said.  He can find validators in the

media to say what he said is true even if he look at it and then objective

say it‘s not.  This is why we can‘t have a rational debate going on in this country.  Look, you know, both sides have a times been guilty of this but now, we‘re at a point where you‘re not even operating with your own opinions, you‘re operating with your own facts.  That‘s why people are legitimately worried that we‘re heading for a real collapse with the debt limit here because they can‘t have a reasonable discussion.  

UYGUR:  Well, Alex, I want to play you another clip from Boehner and this is where he talk about the massive borrowing, and spending by the Treasury Department and he says something else that is interesting.  So, let‘s watch that real quick. 


BOEHNER:  And this massive borrowing and spending by the Treasury Department crowded out private investment by American businesses of all sizes. 


UYGUR:  In order for that theory to be true, and there is an economic theory, that if the government spends too much, it crowds out private investment.


UYGUR:  The interest, and the way it does that is interest rates go up, but interest rates have not gone up.  They are incredibly low.  So, for anyone to make a statement like that today, they would have to not know what the interest rates was or they‘d have to be purposely lying.  Is there any way that I‘m seeing that wrong?  

WAGNER:  I don‘t think so.  It‘s sort of like Rip Van Winkle economics, you just fall asleep for the parts you don‘t like.  But, you know, to your point, Cenk, private business is actually doing pretty well in some sectors.  You look at the fortune 500 list that came out last week, you know, the top 500 companies in America  saw a soaring 81 percent increase in profits.  I mean, it‘s the largest profit increase since the index was created.  So, this idea that somehow once private, you know, for the private sectors flooding with money that‘s going to translate into jobs and a better economic forecast, the country doesn‘t seem to really hold any water.  

UYGUR:  So, Dana, isn‘t that the crux of the problem here?  We‘ve got all Washington talking about how we‘re going to do spending and we can‘t raise taxes, because then, you know, that would hurt jobs.  We just showed you the facts, and the facts don‘t match that, so why are we still having that conversation?  Why don‘t the Democrats change the conversation and go, no, no, no, we‘re going to create jobs.  And the way we did that for example was through the stimulus but not by cutting spending.

MILBANK:  Sure.  And I mean, the argument about the stimulus is a good example.  I mean, you can make the case that, well, it wasn‘t worst the expense for the economic benefit we got.  You could argue that in the long term, maybe it‘s more harmful to the economy.  But you can‘t argue that it had a negative effect in the short term.  That‘s just simply as near, the problem is when President Obama goes out and tries to knock this down and explain these things, it‘s like what‘s happens with the health care debate.  He looks like he‘s deep in the weeds, and you know, Mark Twain said, you know, a lie can make it halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.  The problem is, it‘s just very hard to keep up with this sort of thing. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Well, Alex, John Boehner now has a new problems as well and that‘s with some Catholics.  Let me show you what a Catholic leader wrote to John Boehner, he said, this Stephen Schneck he‘s Catholic University of America from them.  He said, “Your record and support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress.  This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policymakers, yet even now you work in opposition to it.” 

Now, Dana was talking about strong responses.  That‘s a strong response.  Is it interesting to see Catholic community in some portions coming out and calling him out and saying, hey, how about the poor?  Why do we forget all about them?

WAGNER:  Well, I think what we‘re seeing is this argument that the White House has long wanted, which is a fundamental sort of debate about the compact that the government  should and can have with the  American public.  And I think that the Catholic representative is speaking to that.  It‘s his idea of, should the government be accountable to the poor and be uninsured and those are the disadvantage in society.  And I think they‘re beginning to see some real blowback from certain corners with regards to the GOP‘s policies on some of the stuff.  Look at what AARP said to Eric Cantor.  I mean, there‘s real concern that their, quote, unquote Medicare reform is going to harm seniors in the long run.  And the GOP has tap that up to a messaging concern but I think that there is a larger argument here, and when that both sides are going to have to address, you know, what is the role of government in public life?

UYGUR:  So, Dana.  That is the fundamental question.  I think Alex is totally right about that.  So, when today for example, the Republicans demand another $45.7 billion in spending cuts, how do the Democrats respond?  I mean, they say that their priorities are different, they say that for example, as with the great majority of the American people, we should consider going back to the Clinton tax rates, meaning raising taxes for people making over a quarter of a million dollars.  Now, the Republicans say, that‘s off the table.  So, what do you do next when the other guys say, it‘s off the table? 

MILBANK:  Well, what the Democrats are doing, which is politically effective, is to stay on the offense on Medicare.  And, you know, the Republicans are say, it‘s medi-scare and that they are frightening people about, that they are going to lose their Medicare.  Of course, this is the same thing the Republicans did during the health care debate.  That‘s a way of seizing the offensive for the Democrats.  It works politically.  The problem is it‘s, you know, it‘s irresponsible in some way because it‘s not getting everybody to the table to actually have a discussion here.  In fact, the Republicans, freshmen Republicans in the House, they said, come on, White House, could you please cut it out with the medi-scare.  And I suspect they‘ll do that as soon as John Boehner backs down on his tax situation.  

UYGUR:  No, but Dana, we‘ve got to go, but I‘ve got to disagree a little bit there.  I mean, those guys is crying to the president, I find to be hilarious.  But they viciously attack Democrats all the time.  They‘re going to come to the table with their own set of priorities, no matter what you do.  And the only thing they respond to his strength, that‘s why they ran away from their own Medicare proposal, because the Democrats actually came out strong against it. 

Now, I‘m sorry I got the last word there, but we‘re out of time.  So, Dana and Alex, it was a great conversation. 

WAGNER:  Thanks, Cenk.

MILBANK:  Thanks, Cenk.

UYGUR:  As always, thank you for joining us.  

All right.  Now, Governor Mitch Daniels law to defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana gets the green light.  Guess what?  I‘m calling him up.                       


UYGUR:  NBC News has learned that Navy SEALs retrieved Osama Bin Laden‘s personal journal, and as once senior official tells NBC, quote, “every morning he woke up, and tried to come up with the ideas to attack the homeland, ideas that he could communicate with subordinates, Bin Laden wrote that his goal was to kill as many Americans as possible in a single attack.  Clearly still in command, still plotting.  We‘ll stay on this developing story right here on MSNBC.           


UYGUR:  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels had claimed that we should have a quote, “truce on social issues.”  Good, a republican who say got to reasonable stance.  Well, that didn‘t last long.  He just broke the truce by defunding Planned Parenthood in Indiana entirely.  Now, that‘s the republican idea of a truce, you don‘t fight back, but we get to rip your face off.  But when you look at the big picture, Daniels‘ move is hardly surprising.  It‘s part and parcel of the GOPs nonstop war on reproductive rights.  The Indiana bill is one of more than 900 anti-choice measures introduced in 49 states this year alone. 

Five other states are considering similar legislation.  The defund Planned Parenthood, it‘s simple.  Conservatives can‘t win the war at the national level.  So, they‘re taking the battle to the states.  And that‘s where they‘re getting between you and your doctor and you and your body, because the Republicans love big government when it‘s intruding upon your life to force their morals or lack thereof down your throat. 

Joining me now, Representative Rosa DeLauro.  Democrat from Connecticut and a member of the Pro-Choice Congress.  Congresswoman, great to have you here. 

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT), PRO-CHOICE CAUCUS:  Thank you so much.  I‘m happy to be with you.

UYGUR:  As I said, it‘s a pleasure to have you here tonight.  Let me start talking about the different states for example in Texas, they‘re now making women, not just take sonograms but forcing them to look at sonograms before they have the procedure in places like South Dakota, you‘ve got to wait 72 hours, which is an incredibly difficult procedure for people who live in rural areas, who have to drive back or go through the expense of staying in that area for 72 hours, et cetera.  It looks like you‘ve got a war on your hands.  

DELAURO:  Well, look, let me just say that, you know, you are right about that and it‘s a full-scale assault on women‘s health overall.  And Planned Parenthood of right to challenge the constitutionality of Governor Daniels law, and the ruling that occurred today is not allowed to be read into it.  And it‘s a first step in the process.  But let‘s take a look at what Planned Parenthood does.  And it provides primary care, preventive care services for over five million Americans, life-saving services.  What are they?  Immunization, gynecological exams, over one million surgical call cancer screenings, 830,000 breasts exams.  Over four million treatment and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. 

Let me tell you about early detection of illness and these screenings.  I‘m a cancer survivor.  My cancer was, ovarian cancer found at the very earliest stages so that I was allowed to survive by the grace of God and biomedical research.  Planned Parenthood is providing primary care and life-saving care.  This is not about abortion.  We know that there no federal funds that can be allowed to be—for abortion.  That is what the hike amendment said.  This is a full-scale assault on women‘s health issues.  Take a look at those who are willing to in the Republican Party of shutting down the government over Women‘s health issues, think back a little bit further about those who held hostage the health care bill because of women‘s healthcare. 

It is the time now to trust women, trust women with these decisions about their health, and trust them with the decisions for their families.  They‘re used to making decisions every single day.  It is one way in which we‘re looking at the republican majority in the House and Governor Daniels who do not value women nor respect them or their decisions, and do not put their trust in the decisions that women make on behalf of their own health and behalf of their family‘s health.

UYGUR:  Right.  Congressman DeLauro, I got to be honest with you.  I think that the Democratic Party is also at fault here.  And I‘ll tell you why.  It‘s because for as long as I‘ve been in this country for the last 30 years, the Republicans have attacked and attacked and attacked on this issue.  And for so long, the Democrats have run away from it.  And so, now, we‘ve got a poll that says, 54 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal.  Forty two percent say, it should illegal.  You still have a significant majority there, no question about them.  But that number used to be much, much higher.  And it‘s because one side doesn‘t make their case on it, you don‘t run elections on it.  

DELAURO:  I would take issue with you.  There are several places including Colorado where the issue was determinant in that Senate race.  Let me just tell you that women around the country, and there both democratic women and republican women are very, or independents, are very concerned about those who would try to put women‘s health in jeopardy.  And the fact of the matter is—House of Representatives, there isn‘t a—we don‘t have the majority of the votes, but in the Senate and with the—and the president was very clear on the issue of not defunding Planned Parenthood.  We stood up on the floor of the House, not too many weeks ago, when they tried to do this at the federal level.  Nobody is walking away from this issue.  


UYGUR:  No, I understand that, look, recently I understand you guys have been taking the fight to them.  Look, I understand recently that‘s been—that‘s‘ happening to some degree.  But over the last 30 years, they get like 30 percent of the country to vote with them, lock, stock and barrel, no matter what, based on the  abortion issue, whereas you have the majority of the country, and you almost never run on that issue, so that just gets wasted. 

DELAURO:  I would just say to you that in several states that issue was joined, and to the success of a democratic—success of a democratic candidate.  The issue is now enjoining that issue, which has been done.  And it‘s not about abortion.  We cannot use federal funds for abortion. 

This is about women‘s health.  

UYGUR:  I understand that.  

DELAURO:  And you have to take a look at this, you have to take a look at it in those terms.  And keep in mind, this has done nothing about creating a job, turning the economy around or deficit reduction.  No question about that either which is where they came from last November.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Representative Rosa DeLauro.  We‘ve got to go. 

Thank you for the conversation though, we really do appreciate it. 

DELAURO:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  We‘ll be right back.


UYGUR:  President Obama‘s coming off a great couple of weeks.  And that means those on the right and FOX News had to come up with new, interesting ways to go after the president.  They are ingenious over there, so they‘re criticizing the White House for hosting the Rapper Common tonight for the White House Poetry Reading.  Come on.  Now, of course, Common is not so clean lyrics as all rappers do.  He‘s a rapper.  But even casual hip hop fans wouldn‘t characterize him as controversial.  In fact, he‘s considered pretty mainstream and known for being socially conscious.  But now, any reason, of course, is a good reason to go after the president because of his recent wins.  So, of course, FOX Nation jumped right in the middle of this issue with this headline, quote, “Michelle Obama hosting vile rapper at the White House.”  FOX News Sarah Palin decide to chimed in with the tweet, oh lovely, White House.  I don‘t even know what that means.  Of course, the entire FOX News Channel has devoted entirely too much time to this issue over the past few days.  


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Some on the right are upset that rapper and poet Common will be the guest of the Obama‘s during a poetry event at the White House.  

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Why would he invite a thug to the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Don‘t worry.  He‘s just there to read poetry to kids.  

DOUG SCHOEN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER:  The president should disinvite him and explain why, that it‘s outside American values, outside American culture, just plain wrong.  

ROVE:  For the president to do this, and for the president‘s people to allow this to happen is reprehensible.  


UYGUR:  But it‘s funny how quickly FOX forget things, as media matters points out, just in October, FOX interviewed Common praising him as a very positive and conscious rapper.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  You‘re music is very popular, and you‘re known as the conscious rapper.  How important is that to you and how important do you think that is to our kids?  

COMMON, RAPPER:  It is a significant role, I just try to show who we are as well-rounded people and I‘m happy to be known as the conscious artist.  


UYGUR:  I love that.  Conscious artist one day, vile artist the next.  Wow!  If he supports the president or dares to read poetry in the White House, he‘s got to be a bad guy, right?  All right.  Pathetic.  All right.  That‘s our show tonight, guys.  “HARDBALL” is next. 

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