Guests: Michael Steele, Brian Sullivan, Mark Warner, Mick Mulvaney, Joan Walsh, Horace Cooper, Judith Browne-Dianis, Sally Jacobs
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The leading six-pack.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in San Francisco.
Leading off tonight: Team of rivals. The “Gang of Six” has a plan. President Obama endorsed it in principle. Conservative Republicans helped draft it. And a debt ceiling deadline looms with certain economic consequences on the other side of August 2nd.
So how long can the Tea Party Republicans stand in the door and say, No, give us everything we want, we‘ll give you nothing, and then we‘ll have a deal? How much longer can they say they won‘t accept any plan that President Obama would agree to? Of course, that‘s our top story tonight.
Plus, what would Ronald Reagan think of the debt fight? It‘s pretty obvious what today‘s Republicans think of him. The Ronald Reagan who agreed to tax increases and to hikes in the debt ceiling multiple times would be seen by today‘s Republicans as a hopeless moderate. Republicans talk about the party of Reagan, but wasn‘t the “great communicator” also in several cases a great compromiser?
And across the country, Republican governors and legislatures are rewriting voting eligibility rules with one thing in mind, lowering the turnout, making it easier for Republicans to win elections and harder for Democrats to even register and vote. Isn‘t it time to put a stop to this?
And if you watched HARDBALL last night, you may have noticed how much Tea Partier Joe Walsh loved saying my name.
REP. JOE WALSH ®, ILLINOIS: Hey, Chris—
MATTHEWS: How many times did Congressman Walsh say “Chris”? Well, here‘s a hint. It used to be the single-season home run record before steroids. Check out the “Sideshow.”
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with the Ronald Reagan who wouldn‘t have put us in the fix we‘re in right now.
We start with the “Gang of Six‘s” plan. Senator Mark Warner is a Democrat of Virginia, and most importantly for us, a member of the “Gang of Six.” You know, I feel like the cavalry‘s attacking—
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: And I‘m not going to call you “Chris.” I‘m not going to call you “Chris.” Don‘t worry.
MATTHEWS: Well, you can call me anything, just don‘t call me late for dinner, as we used to say. Let me ask you this. Are you hopeful that we could—your “Gang of Six” can ride in and save the people from the attacking enemy?
WARNER: All I can tell you is this is the first time we‘ve seen a bipartisan plan that includes revenues, that really is comprehensive, that‘s bipartisan. It isn‘t perfect, but when the alternative is we‘re going to drive this country over the cliff, I think we got to start with something that actually gets the job done, that gives us that comprehensive approach. And the fact that we had a whole lot of Democrats and Republicans yesterday saying, yes, I‘m ready to at least move to the next step, was a good sign.
MATTHEWS: Well, not to look a good—a gift horse in the mouth, why does now work for you? Why did Tom Coburn, who my kids thing is great, by the way—young people who read “Rolling Stone” and all, they just love this guy—why is he—why did he come back to the team? Why is the team of rivals working?
WARNER: Well, Chris, I wish we would have had this plan out three months ago, so it could have been fully vetted and attacked from every side, which we‘re getting some of those attacks today. But you know, we are where we‘re at. I wish it would have been earlier. You‘ve been around this place. Sometimes it‘s a little wacky.
But we got to realize we‘re what, 13 days away from a default. We‘re 13 days away from an indirect tax increase on every American when their interest rates skyrocket and the government can‘t pay its bills. We‘ve got to be responsible, get something done. And if we can build this into some of our process into the debt ceiling, if we can make sure that this ought to be at least a starting point for the conversation—remember, this has got revenues.
It‘s got an approach that says defense spending has to take its hits, as well as just hitting domestic spending. And I think it‘s a good starting point.
MATTHEWS: OK, July 20th, as we speak, August 2nd coming around the bend. How do you get—let‘s go through the groups. How do you get the House Democrats to go along with at least participating in getting 218 if Boehner will let this come to a vote?
WARNER: Well, we went over and talked to a lot of the House Democrats today. I think they were generally optimistic. They see that if we simply do something where we do a trillion dollars in cuts and no plan, we‘re going to be back where we are today 6 or 8 months from now with a new starting points and even deeper cuts in entitlement programs and domestic discretionary programs.
We got to make sure anything we do now counts towards a larger deal, and that‘s—and they say, Hey, this makes some sense. The House Republicans—I mean, I think they‘ve asked for things that are comprehensive. This is a comprehensive approach. But I can‘t make a prediction about that part of the body.
MATTHEWS: I feel like we‘re dealing in the Middle East now, it‘s so hard. But how about this? Will this plan work? You‘ve got your plan for $4 trillion, most of it spending cuts, some revenues. You got it agreeable to a group—a bipartisan group. You go to the House Democrats, they say, OK, we‘ll agree to the following. There will be a separation of the debt ceiling issue, a divorcing, a decoupling of that from the spending cut package and all that stuff. So you get an agreement in principle from both sides that as part of getting the debt ceiling hiked up and avoiding a bankruptcy, that there will be this down the road fairly soon legislation to do the $4 trillion package?
Is that the idea? They‘ll be decoupled, but not in principle.
WARNER: Chris, that would be extraordinarily reasonable, but I work in a place that‘s not always reasonable. We‘ve got to first and foremost make sure we deal with this debt ceiling in a responsible way. We don‘t want to do anything with our so-called “Gang of Six” plan that messes that up.
But we‘ve got to keep our momentum going forward. In a reasonable world, what you suggested would work, but I‘m not sure where we‘re headed. I‘m anxious to hear from when those—the guys get back from the White House, literally right now.
MATTHEWS: I get the feeling—I mean, everybody I work with, all the producers who are part of our brain trust, who put together the show every night—everybody—I don‘t want to speak for everybody—seems to think that Boehner really wants to reach some kind of reasonable compromise which tilts to the conservative side, but it doesn‘t shut out the Democrats. They get some piece of the action. Is that your view?
WARNER: Yes, that‘s my understanding from every report I‘ve heard from the White House, from the fact that anybody that can read a balance sheet realizes you can‘t solve this problem on simply one side of the ledger, on simply the cut side. You got to have revenues, as well. You got to give confidence that the economy‘s going to come back so the $2 trillion sitting on the sidelines can actually start getting reinvested, creating some jobs.
So I think—everything I‘ve heard is the speaker‘s willing to be reasonable on this.
MATTHEWS: OK, we saw the market go up 200 points yesterday when there was good news coming out of your “Gang of Six.”
MATTHEWS: You‘re a businessman Democrat. That‘s an interesting hybrid.
MATTHEWS: You‘re a businessman who‘s a Democrat. How does getting this thing dealt with effectively in the next week or so help get the market back on track, get consumer confidence and business investment going? How does it connect?
WARNER: Well, let‘s face it, over the last few months, whether it was the near shutdown of the government, the whole Congress has looked pretty not up to the job. If we can put a plan in place that‘s going to say America‘s going to balance its books, even over a 10-year period—remember, corporate America has done pretty well over the last two years. They‘re sitting on $2 trillion in cash.
They‘ve been saying too much uncertainty. Let‘s give them the certainty that we‘re going to get our fiscal act together and then they won‘t have an excuse about not investing that money back in this country. I would be willing to take that message to them real strongly. It‘s time. If we do our part, you‘ve got to do your part, as well, and start hiring folks.
MATTHEWS: Well said, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, member of the “Gang of Six.”
Joining me now is U.S. Congressman Mick Mulvaney. He‘s a Republican from South Carolina. Sir, thank you. Is your position personally, as a U.S. congressman, that you have to have the measure that was passed by the House yesterday as part of any debt ceiling increase?
REP. MICK MULVANEY ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: My position is that I have to have some cutting, some capping, some balance. So yesterday, what we got was acceptable to me. It‘s why I co-authored it and helped move it through.
MATTHEWS: Well, most of the time, when there‘s a compromise, the side that has just won the election gets the best part of the deal. Aren‘t the “Gang of Six” and people like that offering your side the best part of the deal, mostly spending cuts, some revenues?
MULVANEY: Chris, I‘m not sure about that—at risk of using your name too frequently. I‘m not sure about that because we haven‘t seen the details on the “Gang of Six” program yet. We went through the summary today. I understand there may not be a bill until next week, so it‘s sort of hard to have an opinion on it.
I was surprised to hear the president back it today when he hasn‘t actually seen it yet. I‘d like to see the bill. There‘s some stuff in there that, obviously, would appeal to a conservative like me. Getting rid of the alternative minimum tax appeals to me. But you look at the summary, and it says—for example, there‘s immediate $500 billion in deficit reduction. I don‘t know what that means. In this town, an immediate reduction could mean that we vote today to save $500 billion 20 years from now. That—
MATTHEWS: I understand.
MULVANEY: To me, that‘s not immediate. So I don‘t know if I‘ve got enough information to have an opinion yet on the “Gang of Six” proposal.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your ideal because the ideal seems to be driving a lot of Tea Party Congresspeople, the ideal of a federal government that only spends 18 percent of the economy, 18 percent of the GDP. Do you think that‘s reasonable? Is that something that would make you happy? That‘s in the balanced budget amendment.
MULVANEY: Actually, Chris, I‘d love to have that, but the proposal that we offered yesterday actually was a 20 percent cap during that cap period. It was part of the compromise. Keep in mind00 I hear what you‘re saying, you think this isn‘t a compromise. But there‘s a lot of us who never expected to come to Washington to vote to raise the debt ceiling. For us, giving a $2.4 trillion increase is a compromise. We wanted 18 percent caps. We didn‘t get it. We took 20 percent caps instead.
MULVANEY: There‘s compromises that we‘ve already made. And in exchange, we give the president his debt ceiling increase. We‘re willing to trade a short-term increase in the debt ceiling for a long-term fix, which is the balanced budget amendment. So in our minds—
MATTHEWS: Give me—
MULVANEY: -- we think it is a—we think it is compromise.
MATTHEWS: You know the budget by now. We all know the budget. Most of the budget goes to interest payments. It goes to defense. It goes Social Security, goes to Medicare, Medicaid. It goes into these big, big, big-ticket items. What would you get rid of? I mean, how would you really reduce the spending of the federal government by getting rid of something really, really big, in the trillion-dollar level? How do—What would you get rid of?
MULVANEY: Chris, I was one of the folks last week who introduced an amendment consistent with the Simpson-Bowles commission that said, Look, let‘s at least freeze defense spending at 2011 levels. I did that. It‘s not a very popular thing for a Republican to do. But it‘s easy for us to cut stuff that we don‘t like, hard for us to cut stuff we like. I like defense. It‘s important to me—
MULVANEY: -- my constituency, my state, but I did that. We only got 65 Democrats, a minority of Democrats, to go along, and only got 70 Republicans. So I am willing to put everything on the table to be serious about spending reductions.
MATTHEWS: What do we do about these big entitlements that grow—like health care, that grow through the roof just because people get older and older? The more people turn 65, the more those programs cost. And yet you say limit the federal government spending to 20 percent. You can‘t limit the number of people turning 65 by law. So how do you deal with the cost increase?
MULVANEY: Let‘s start by being honest with ourselves. And I think the president did that this week. I don‘t think he did it on purpose, but if you go read his veto message about “cut, cap and balance,” he says the only reason he opposes a balanced budget amendment is that it prevents us from keeping our promises to our seniors.
That‘s an important thing for the president to say because what he‘s saying is what we have been telling folks back home for the last six months, seven months since we‘ve been here. You cannot balance the budget without changing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. You simply can‘t do it. The folks back home will tell you they want a balanced budget amendment. We have to be able to deal with entitlements.
MATTHEWS: But there‘s only three ways to reduce the cost of Medicare, increase the co-pays, put on some kind of means test or what, or change the age? These are all tough things to do.
MULVANEY: It‘s going to be a tough fix, Chris. Nobody said it was going to be easy. The Republican Study Committee budget actually proposed slowly raising the Social Security age. There are folks here willing to make the tough decisions, willing to offer things that you would never expect Republicans to do. We are deadly serious about fixing this spending problem and about making sure that we don‘t bankrupt the country. So there are folks up here, a large majority of us, willing to do tough things, like we did yesterday.
MATTHEWS: But when you say you‘re going to limit the amount of federal spending to 20 percent of GDP, that is an artificial, arbitrary line. How do you hold that line in a society where people are getting older all the time, and you have more and more people with entitlement, who‘ve paid into Medicare, who expect to get full medical treatment after age 65, and now go back and say, Well, we‘re going to change that system?
MULVANEY: Chris, that‘s not an arbitrary line. Let‘s tell you exactly how we got to that. It started at 18, 18.5 percent, which was the 30 or 40-year historical average on the revenues that come into this country as a percentage of GDP, as a percentage of our overall economy.
MULVANEY: The 20 percent is that same period of time, average, 30 to 40 years. That‘s the average that we spend. We should be able to live within that means. Even the president said last week that he wants us to be able to live within our means.
MULVANEY: His $4 trillion of cuts doesn‘t do it, but I think we‘re all saying the same things. We need to live within our means, and that 20 percent is the means.
MATTHEWS: So we gradually reduce our commitment to people over 65 to keep it below 20. We have to. That‘s a fact. You can‘t keep the same old commitments, as you‘re saying, to people after 65 -- total health care—if you‘re going to constrain the growth in federal spending. You can‘t do both.
MULVANEY: Chris, look at what the Republicans did in our budget. One of the most overlooked pieces of our budget is that we told you if you are rich, you are going to pay more for your Medicare. Look at what the Republican Study Committee did in its budget. We said we‘re willing to consider raising the retirement age very slowly, two months for folks who are 59 years old. We have already put these very real, very difficult things on the table, but we got nowhere. I shouldn‘t say we got nowhere.
MULVANEY: We got five Democrats yesterday. We‘ve overlooked that.
This was a bipartisan vote yesterday.
MULVANEY: They got the “Gang of Six” across the way. We‘ve got the gang of 234 over in the House.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Mulvaney, you‘re a very good guest on our show. You know your stuff. You can now call me by name.
MULVANEY: Mr. Matthews, I‘m a big fan. I‘m happy to be here.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. You can call me Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up—the other guy did. He matched Roger Maris‘s record, 61 times.
Coming up, by the way: What would Ronald Reagan make of this fight over the debt ceiling? He signed 18 debt ceiling hikes as president, agreed to multiple increases in taxes over his presidency. Would Reagan even be a Republican today?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s a shocker. New Jersey governor Chris Christie says again he‘s not running for president. He met yesterday with the founder of Home Depot and other big Republican fund-raisers, who tried to convince Christie to run for president, but Christie says he wasn‘t swayed. So if the answer‘s always no, why does Christie keep making these meetings? Why does he keep showing up with these guys? Maybe he‘s auditioning for the VP slot, maybe, on the Republican ticket.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Why did you change your tune on tax increases from “over my dead body” to keeping any increase as low as possible?
RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I am going to meet with the leaders of the Senate because it is high time to bring down the deficit and get us on a path, which the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill was supposed to do for us, toward a balanced budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, the great Ronald Reagan in his own words back in October of 1987 about raising taxes to deal with the ballooning deficit. Sound familiar? Well, today many Democrats in Congress have picked up on Reagan‘s comments about raising taxes and are using the most revered of Republicans‘ words against his own party.
Here to talk more about this are MSNBC political analyst and former RNC chair Michael Steele, and Salon‘s Joan Walsh.
Let‘s go to the old issue of negotiation, Michael. And I think—I think—I don‘t want to get too sophisticated about this.
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: It seems like the Tea Party element in your party doesn‘t believe in negotiation, whereas Reagan always—he used some pretty crude language in some of those names (ph) I‘m familiar with, and he was really crude, like some of the other politicians are when they get in that back room. But in the end, he would agree to just about anything except High Frontier. He didn‘t want to negotiate with Gorby, but he did get something done in terms of ending the cold war.
But let‘s talk about this stuff. He would raise taxes. He would raise the debt ceiling multiple times in order to get a reduction in—or the continuation of the debt ceiling so we wouldn‘t have a crisis. Why has your party changed on this?
STEELE: Well, I—that‘s a good question, Chris, and I think what you see is the transition from a party in those days, and even before, that really did look at deficits and debt as a long-term impact on the nation‘s health and economy, the impact on future generations, which Reagan talked about a great deal.
And I think when you look at—when you got to that point where he realized that the road ahead was going to be tougher for that future generation, that it was easier and better and smarter politically to making the compromise today, not where you give up on principle, but where you take that principle and you reshape it around this new idea—
STEELE: -- of this being raised. And I think Reagan did that very effectively. And the Tea Party has a very, very structured, very constitutionally-based argument at this moment with respect to taxes and spending.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but the Constitution provides for people to come to Congress and negotiate. That‘s the Constitution. They don‘t e-mail it in.
STEELE: Well, you know—
MATTHEWS: They don‘t stay at home, they come in and meet other people, they make friends—
STEELE: It‘s the politics, Chris. It‘s the politics.
MATTHEWS: No, they make friends. And they listen to the other side.
MATTHEWS: And that‘s how Congress works.
Joan, I want to respond to this. Here‘s a video the Democratic Caucus has put out on its Web site right now in which Reagan talks about increasing the debt ceiling. And it‘s very pertinent.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veteran benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket. Instability would occur in financial markets and the federal deficit would soar.
The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned representation for reliability and credibility, two things that set us apart from much of the world.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Joan, that sounds like ship to shore more than anything else. I don‘t know. It sounds like Reagan underwater there.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: Yes.
MATTHEWS: But you got his point.
JOAN WALSH: Well—
MATTHEWS: There he is saying this brinkmanship, this trickery around the time of a deadline just to get your way is sort of economic terrorism.
JOAN WALSH: Well, right.
Reagan was very much a conservative, and I didn‘t agree with him on very much, but he was a pragmatist and he was a compromiser. And the fact of the matter is, Chris, I heard my friend Michael talk about the Constitution. And the Tea Party likes to talk about the Constitution and the founders.
But the fact is that the founders didn‘t agree on very much at all. The founders argued about a lot of things. And they created a system in which we had to talk to one another and we had to compromise.
This president, President Obama, who I don‘t always agree with either, is actually the Reagan figure here. He is the person saying, you know what? I‘m going to disappoint some folks.
MATTHEWS: Why are you laughing?
JOAN WALSH: Please don‘t laugh at me, Michael. I didn‘t laugh at you.
STEELE: I‘m not.
MATTHEWS: Why are you laughing, Michael?
STEELE: When you say something funny, I‘m going to laugh.
MATTHEWS: Why is it funny?
JOAN WALSH: Why is it funny?
STEELE: Because he should have listened to that Reagan speech when he was a U.S. senator and voted against raising the debt limit.
JOAN WALSH: Yes.
STEELE: This is the fact here. The fact of the matter is, you know, it‘s great for the DNC and the Democrats on the Hill to run around and quote Reagan, and all of a sudden to find their Reagan mojo.
The reality of it is, it‘s not believable, because they‘re not consistent in applying those very principles that Reagan talked about, particularly economically, in how we deal with this problem.
STEELE: So don‘t cry me a river about Reagan. The reality of it is the president of the United States currently, Obama, did not listen to those very words when he had an opportunity as a U.S. senator to vote to increase our debt.
JOAN WALSH: Let me talk. I‘m going to grant you one thing.
STEELE: Go ahead.
JOAN WALSH: Absolutely, people have grandstanded on the deficit.
That‘s why poor President Reagan was making that point.
People in both parties, actually, both parties at that point were pushing him and pushing him on cutting the deficit. That was back in the day when real Republicans, like Bob Dole, really wanted to bring the deficit down, and for a little while Ronald Reagan didn‘t care about deficits. He actually left a huge—the largest peacetime deficit.
So Republicans play both sides of the aisle when it comes to, do we like deficits, or are deficits OK, or are deficit terrible? And they happen to hate deficits when a Democrat is in the White House. This president has compromised so much that people on the left, in my camp, are sometimes disappointed, but we understand what he‘s doing.
JOAN WALSH: Your party won‘t compromise.
MATTHEWS: Michael, respond to that very prescient thought there.
STEELE: I will.
MATTHEWS: I thought it raised the question of compromise.
Is your party as good a sport as the Democrats happen to be right now in terms of compromise? Can you say that? The public doesn‘t think so.
STEELE: I know. And I agree with you, Chris, on that one. And as I said on your show before, I think one of the problems that the Republicans have is they have messaged this very, very poorly.
They have not laid out why they have taken so firmly the position they have taken. And so people believe and begin to think that you don‘t—you aren‘t willing to make those compromises. The Republicans have said very consistently that they want to see something from the administration. And they‘re looking, specifically, what do you want to cut? How do you want to address the entitlement challenges we have?
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute.
STEELE: If the president has not laid that out. And if he has, then let‘s produce that evidence, so we can see how much and where—
MATTHEWS: Michael, I think you‘re not—you‘re usually up to date, but did you read the bill yesterday that passed by the House by the Republican big vote over there, 234 votes? It doesn‘t have any specifics on the cuts. There‘s no specific cuts in there. You‘re knocking the president for not having specifics. Your party just dodged it again.
STEELE: No, they haven‘t dodged it again, Chris, because Republicans have talked about, whether it‘s the Ryan plan—
MATTHEWS: Yes, but this thing said yesterday no touching of Social Security of Medicare or Medicaid. The bill passed—you have got to get up to date on this.
STEELE: I‘m very much up to date on it, Chris.
MATTHEWS: The bill passed yesterday has no reference, makes no
reference to entitlements at all. It‘s all about discretionary spending,
the easy stuff. You know that.
JOAN WALSH: Because it doesn‘t matter.
STEELE: But that‘s that bill.
But I agree with you. That part doesn‘t matter. We‘re still waiting for the president to tell us specifically what he‘s going to cut.
MATTHEWS: But will you admit now that what the House voted on yesterday doesn‘t even talk about Medicare or Medicaid or Social Security? All it talks is about is more money for terrorism fighting, the usual stuff.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.
STEELE: You‘re right about that.
JOAN WALSH: And, also—
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
JOAN WALSH: I have just got to say here, look, the president has backed the “Gang of Six”—the gang—whatever we‘re calling them now, the “Gang of Six” proposal.
JOAN WALSH: He said that that‘s fine with him.
And now the Republicans are saying there‘s not enough meat in it, there‘s not enough meat in it. Paul Ryan attacked the president for not supporting the deficit commission recommendations, which Paul Ryan didn‘t support. So there‘s so much hypocrisy here, Michael, and there‘s so much double dealing, and there‘s so much not being honest about the details of anybody‘s plan, including to some extent on my side.
People are not telling the truth.
STEELE: Well, I‘m glad to hear you say that last part. And I think that‘s the crux of the frustration of the American people, because both sides, to be quite honest and frank about it, have not been honest and frank about this discussion.
Let‘s take a listen to Mike Huckabee, because something—we are missing the talk here about how Reagan was more of a reasonable conservative than the people today, the Tea Party people.
Here‘s Mike Huckabee talking on FOX News, home court, in May that Reagan probably wouldn‘t even make it into the ticket today. Let‘s listen. And see if you agree with that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Ronald Reagan would have a very difficult, if not impossible time, being nominated in this atmosphere of the Republican Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How come?
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Michael, are you to the left or right of Reagan?
STEELE: Oh, I‘m with—I stand with Reagan. He‘s one of the reasons why I joined the party as a young man.
MATTHEWS: That‘s one of the reasons why you‘re not in it anymore.
Let‘s go to Joan.
MATTHEWS: It seems like the Michael Steeles and the Ronald Reagans aren‘t quite hip enough and crazy enough now to bring down the government, which is the new standard.
Your last thought, Joan. You get it.
JOAN WALSH: Michael still says in the party. He‘s not left the party, Chris, so let‘s leave him where he is. I‘m glad he supports Ronald Reagan.
STEELE: I was going to say, let me answer the question.
JOAN WALSH: I want hear Michael—I want hear Michael become a voice for real conciliation and compromise on his side with the people in his party, because that‘s what we don‘t have right now.
And Reagan, sadly, probably could not be nominated, unless he sold out everything he believed in at this point.
MATTHEWS: I think Michael is a lean-forward Republican. Figure that one out when you go to bed tonight.
STEELE: Oh, please.
JOAN WALSH: Oh, OK.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, guys. Thank you.
Thank you all for coming on, Joan and Michael.
MATTHEWS: Up next: If you caught last night‘s show, you might have noticed how much Tea Party Republican Congressman Joe Walsh loved saying my name. Actually, I like people who mention my name. Stick around for the “Sideshow.” It‘s very funny, I think.
You‘re watching HARDBALL from San Francisco, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
First up, with all the hype about Rick Perry of Texas running for president, the inevitable question is, would he accept an offer to serve as the running mate who does come out on top.
Well, here‘s how he responded to that very question at an event in Texas yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS: I think you kind of go, vice president, governor of Texas, and that kind of answered it. So, John Nance Garner had a pretty good handle on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know. Think he‘s being coy?
Not so much. Former V.P. John Vance Garner—John Nance Garner of Texas also was also know to have said this about the number two slot. “Being vice president is not worth a bucket of warm spit.”
Well, Garner made that statement a number of times once he became vice president to FDR. And that‘s the tamer version of his notable quote.
And now for another feud going on in Congress, and this one‘s more personal. It began when Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz made a statement on the House floor criticizing her Florida colleague Allen West for his position on the Cut, Cap and Balance bill yesterday.
West responded with a scathing e-mail to Wasserman Schultz which read
I don‘t believe these words—“You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the United States House of Representatives.”
Wow. Opting to take the high road, Wasserman Schultz spoke with Andrea Mitchell today, stating that she understood—I love this—the pressure felt by Allen West and her other Republican colleagues.
And now for the “Big Number.” This one is personal. On yesterday‘s show, on HARDBALL, I interviewed Republican Congressman Joe Walsh from Illinois. Suffice it to say that Representative Walsh tried to use my name, which is fine with me, more than a few times as he attempted to defend the Cut, Cap and Balance bill they voted on yesterday, as well as his own rationale behind signing Grover Norquist‘s anti-tax petition and his claim—this is Congressman Walsh‘s—that our president is a liar.
Let‘s take a look back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH ®, ILLINOIS: Hey, Chris, let me ask you a question.
Do you support that, Chris?
MATTHEWS: The president‘s plan—
JOE WALSH: What is the president‘s plan, Chris?
We have to stop that, Chris. Come on, Chris.
JOE WALSH: Chris Matthews.
I love it, Chris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that wasn‘t half of it. How many times did the
congressman from Illinois say my name in that little short interview over
the course of the interview? Well, I couldn‘t believe this when I heard it
61 times. That‘s how much home runs Roger Maris hit when he made the roared. That‘s tonight‘s incredible “Big Number,” 61 times, my name.
Anyway, I appreciate him coming on the show, of course.
Up next, Republican governors and legislatures across the country are changing voting rules to make it harder for Democrats to vote. Guess why? When we return, we are going to find out what‘s going on here and what is being done to stop this effort.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
BRIAN SULLIVAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: Now for your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
I am Brian Sullivan.
No huge losses today, but stocks still fizzled in the afternoon to wrap the day slightly lower. The Dow game up 15 points, the S&P 500 losing less than a point, the Nasdaq down 12, despite a monster earnings beat from Apple last night.
Investors overall taking a bit of a breather today after Tuesday‘s big rally, many, of course, in wait-and-see mode, as Washington wrestles with the debt ceiling debate. Investors focusing on that, instead of solid corporate earnings. In the financials, U.S. Bancorp and BlackRock investments topped expectations. We also had Abbott Labs and United Technologies posting impressive profit increases.
And, Chris, after the closing bell, Intel, eBay, American Express and Qualcomm earnings all coming in better than expected, E-Trade also jumping, Chris, after that firm‘s biggest shareholder urged it to explore a possible sale.
Small-cap stock Nalco, kind of known for the BP spill, surged on word that Ecolab will buy the water treatment company for $5.4 billion. And, Chris, online real estate firm Zillow.com scoring 78 percent in its first day of trading.
So, that is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to Chris and Chris Matthews of HARDBALL—Chris.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
State legislatures across the country are changing or trying to change
their laws on voting. Are they doing this to prevent voting fraud, which
is legitimate, or could they be trying to prevent lower-income and minority
and younger voters from heading to the polls next year, folks who typically
those categories are people who tend to vote Democratic.
Well, Horace Cooper is a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute. I thank you, sir. And Judith Browne-Dianis is co-director of course of the Advancement Project.
Thank you both for joining us.
I just want to get a little feel from both of you about your personal feelings about someone who would cheat in a voting booth, go in and vote for someone else, drive around in a bus, vote numerous times, or engage in planning that kind of thing.
What is your visceral reaction to that, Horace?
HORACE COOPER, HEARTLAND INSTITUTE: That‘s outrageous behavior. And what it does is it disenfranchises voters.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of those people who do that, those people who do that? Just focus on that, people who cheat.
COOPER: Those people are awful cheaters.
Let me go to Judith.
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: And they don‘t exist.
MATTHEWS: Oh, well, wait a minute.
MATTHEWS: No, no, Judith, first of all, that displeases me, because of course they exist.
MATTHEWS: And what‘s your feeling toward them?
BROWNE-DIANIS: Well, I mean, that—that is wrong. No one wants to see anyone cheating.
MATTHEWS: What should you do to a person who cheats in an election, who votes for somebody else, who uses a phony name? What should you do to a person like that?
BROWNE-DIANIS: They should be prosecuted under the law. There are laws that exist already in every state that prosecutes people for voter fraud. And that is what should happen to them.
MATTHEWS: -- where I stand. I despise people like that.
COOPER: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Because they—and I know this goes on. It has gone on in old-time politics. It has gone on since the ‘50s that I know about.
People call up, see if you voted or you‘re not going to vote. The, all of a sudden, somebody does come and vote for you. This is an old strategy in big city politics.
MATTHEWS: I know all about it in North Philly. It‘s what went on. And I believe it still goes on. The question is, can we correct it without screwing up our system?
I want people to vote, that‘s the number one goal. But I also want to make sure people don‘t cheat. So, let‘s get out of here.
BROWNE-DIANIS: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Horace, let‘s go to the issue here. How widespread is cheating to the point where we actually have to make it more difficult for an honest, older person who may not drive a car? People in their 80s don‘t drive cars, thank God. People in their late 70s may stop driving. They don‘t have driver‘s licenses and they don‘t deal with the government. They don‘t have an ID card.
Are we going to be discouraging people by raising this effort to raise the standards?
COOPER: The state of Missouri looked into this very kind of question. And they said, how many people do we have on the rolls, and how many people have identification cards, either driver‘s licenses or others. And it turned on the 105 percent of the eligible voter population issued driver‘s licenses.
MATTHEWS: What do you mean 105 percent?
COOPER: Their own numbers—their own numbers that more than the --
MATTHEWS: That doesn‘t make any sense. You‘re losing your credibility here, because I know older people --
COOPER: Not at all.
MATTHEWS: Older people don‘t—
COOPER: Not at all.
MATTHEWS: Just a minute. Older people don‘t drive.
COOPER: Not at all.
BROWNE-DIANIS: We have a lawsuit against the state of Missouri for this very issue.
MATTHEWS: My understanding is you can‘t get a driver‘s license if you‘re not—your eyesight is not good --
COOPER: People still retain their driver‘s license and their identification cards. They don‘t have to go someplace and give that information up or that card up. They‘re still going to need to go to the bank. They‘re still going to go or grocery store.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Can I correct the record here?
BROWNE-DIANIS: Can I correct the record here? In Missouri, for example, Advancement Project filed a lawsuit in Missouri. It‘s estimated that there are actually 280,000 already registered voters who are not going to be able to vote, because they don‘t have the proper photo identification. It has to be state-issued photo identification.
We have to understand these laws are the stepsisters of poll taxes.
That‘s what they are. They‘re increasing the barriers—
MATTHEWS: Horace, what is your response to that?
COOPER: The attorney general of Missouri disagrees with that finding, and in fact says that one of the cases their office prosecuted last year involved a Democratic primary where people showed up some 500 Samoans, not eligible to vote and were paid a fee, and they were the deciding vote who won that state primary.
BROWNE-DIANIS: We should look at—
COOPER: This is behavior that‘s not acceptable.
MATTHEWS: OK. Horace, raising your voice won‘t help. Let‘s take a look at this. According to an NYU study, as many as 11 percent of Americans, 21 million people—
BROWNE-DIANIS: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: -- don‘t have current government-issued photo IDs? Can do you make of that statement.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the respond to that?
BROWNE-DIANIS: Can I add to that? In Wisconsin, where the law
passed, there are 78 percent of African-American males between the ages of
18 and 24 do not have the photo state-issued photo ID that would be
required to vote. You can‘t say this is not a poll tax and then it‘s not
going to have a disproportion impact -- \
MATTHEWS: Horace, why those are numbers are out there and you deny them? How does that make sense?
COOPER: Those numbers: (a), are inflated. When the states themselves are asked, you can go to the National Conference of State Legislators Web sites. And when their—those states themselves are asked how many people are issued ID, the numbers are very close. Some of them are only about 96 percent, 97 percent, to as much as 102, 103 percent.
BROWNE-DIANIS: In North Carolina, where they tried --
COOPER: So, the idea that there‘s some staggering number, it‘s just not true.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Eight hundred and ninety thousand people by the state‘s estimates, 890,000 already registered voters in the state of North Carolina would not have been able to vote, but thank goodness the Democratic governor vetoed the law.
MATTHEWS: I want to make a final point here. If you live in a big city, like New York, or Philadelphia, or some of the really dense downtown neighborhoods, you don‘t own a car, you don‘t drive. So, not everybody has driver‘s licenses. It‘s as simple as that.
So, they don‘t have these government ID cards. That‘s just a fact.
Anyway, let‘s go on. Thank you for coming. We‘re going to have this debate right through the elections. I just think it‘s odd that you can vote if you have a gun license, but you can‘t use a student ID cards, things like that.
BROWNE-DIANIS: That‘s right. We know who the targets are.
MATTHEWS: It seems discriminatory to me. In favor of the Second Amendment types and certainly discriminatory against college kids.
Horace Cooper, thank you for joining us.
COOPER: Thanks for having me on.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll continue this debate. Judith Browne-Dianis, thank you for joining us.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, a new book sheds light on President Obama‘s enigmatic father. This is a great topic coming up here. Who was the old man that played such a part in, at least his imagination, the president? I‘m going to talk to the author when we return.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Minnesota state government will be back in business tomorrow after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton signed a new budget into law. Dayton and Republicans struck a deal last week to end the longest state government shutdown ever. I guess deals get made.
Finally, in neighboring Wisconsin, a state senator easily survived a recall challenge stemming from the Democrats‘ decision, of course, to leave the state rather than vote for Republican Governor Scott Walker‘s anti-union agenda. Remember that standoff?
Two other Democrats and six Republicans still face recall elections out there in Wisconsin.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For his cool and composure, candidate Barack Obama has been nicknamed “No Drama Obama.” And he‘s carried that cool into the White House. We‘ve all noticed that for better or worse sometimes.
Contrast that with his life of his father, characterized as bold and reckless in this subtitle of new book, it‘s called “The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama‘s Father.”
“Boston Globe” reporter Sally Jacobs is an author.
What a great book to come out with. Thank you. Congratulations, Sally, about this.
Let‘s just start with your reporting here in this book about the differences in personality, if you will, and character between the senior and the junior Barack Obama.
SALLY JACOBS, AUTHOR, “THE OTHER BARACK”: What are the differences between the two?
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, please.
JACOBS: Certainly, their lives were radically different. The elder Obama was very reckless character. He lived large. He drank heavily. He had multiple wives. He came from a polygamist background.
Unlike his son who, I think, is a very rooted, responsible and cautious person, in many respects.
MATTHEWS: In that sort of impulse to blow off, that just off the hammer—tell us about. What are the instances of the old man being a kind of a guy that has a hot temper?
JACOBS: Well, the areas where he spoke out of had to do largely with politics, those are the areas that got him in the most deep water.
In particular, when Kenya after had reached independence, the country
was trying to figure out which way it was going economically. Was it going
towards the right in a conservative manner or toward the left. Obama cast
the elder—cast himself as a mediator and criticized the country‘s drift towards the right. Even took a shot at the president himself. And that got him into some deep trouble.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I remember. Jomo Kenyatta was the most conservative leader there. I spent a lot of time there in the ‘60s actually, in my younger years in the Peace Corps.
Let‘s take a look at what Newt Gingrich told “The National Review,” quote, “What if Obama is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan anti-colonial behavior can you begin to piece together his actions. That is the most accurate, predictive model for the president‘s behavior.”
Now, I always thought that was an odd claim for a guy about a father who spent how much time with his son to indoctrinate him, if you will. I mean, was there a rough relationship in that kind of intellectual level between Barack Obama the president and his father?
JACOBS: Of course, it‘s a senseless statement. They spent very little time together. The father left when the son was about nine months old. Then they spent one month together in 1971.
So, it was inconceivable that he would have handed him down that kind of a legacy.
Additionally, senior wasn‘t really a part of the anti-colonial movement. He came of age after the Mau Mau years and really wasn‘t in Nairobi until the late 1950s.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think—let me ask you about what you discovered about father-son because in my family, maybe in yours, I think everybody watching has relationships like this, where one father—my grandfather was a hot head. My father was a cool customer, had the same job for 30-some years, very low tempered. I‘m probably somewhere—a hybrid maybe.
It seems like he reacted to his father, did he or not? What was the influence of knowing what is—he wrote a whole book about his father.
JACOBS: You know, I think two things about that. One, he tried very hard to understand who his father was. That book is interesting to me because he is pretty upfront in discovering his father was quite different in his esteemed, vaunted figure that his mother had portrayed.
He learned that his father really had a rather tragic life. He peaked very early. He drank heavily and was somewhat of a failure.
But he also—they have many similarities at the same time.
MATTHEWS: Tell us about that. One is—I read from your book—obviously acute and high level intelligence.
JACOBS: Yes, the first thing is just raw DNA. Both Obamas were extremely bright. Some of his other children were, too. They had that in common. Both of them had the imagination, some would say arrogance, to imagine the life far beyond the quite limited circumstances of their youth.
JACOBS: Thirdly, they were both very involved in the political era in which they lived. Both of them cast themselves as mediators and conciliators.
I was reading the paper about Obama the president, you know, how he cast himself as the compromiser. His father really did quite the same thing in 1965. He wrote an article in the “East Africa Journal” trying to bring together the polarized elements of Africa politics, of Kenyan politics of the time. Jomo Kenyatta, very extreme on the right in terms of economics and Ongiga Odinga on the left.
And Obama, the elder, was trying to bring the two together in the interest of his country, about which he was very passionate.
MATTHEWS: Trying to Tom Mboya.
Let me ask you about the tendency of sons of alcoholics to be the opposite. And also to try to keep things calm all the time. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, both sons of alcoholics.
JACOBS: I think in “Dreams From My Father,” you can really feel Obama trying to understand who his father was, to what kind of a man would he be, he himself. What does it mean to be a man in America? What does it mean to be black?
JACOBS: I think through that process he did define himself quite in opposition to his father. The president, like his politics or hate him, you know, is a very grounded person. He chose to marry somebody. He is very grounded. He is a very steady father and not a heavy drinker—all things that his father certainly was not.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you. What a distinguished biography this must be. The book is called “The Other Barack.” Thank you so much, the author, Sally Jacobs, for reporting this great story.
When we return, “Let Me Finish” with how President Obama is doing exactly what President Reagan did nearly three decades ago in terms of his politics—very much modeling himself after the compromises of Ronald Reagan.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: “Let Me Finish” tonight with Ronald Reagan.
People make a mistake when they overdo this thing about the great communicator being the great compromiser. When he met with Mikhail Gorbachev, he didn‘t give on missile defense. He despised the very notion of Mutually-Assured Destruction and refused to accept Gorbachev‘s demand that the United States promise not to develop a missile shield.
But there are other areas where he did compromise. He did agree in 1982 to let taxes go up as part of a deal to cut the deficit. In the following year, after significant defeat in the midterm congressional elections, he agreed to a compromised reform of Social Security. It led heavily on extending the tax base for the program and rejected any sizeable cuts in benefits. In other words, it reflected the results of the election that had just been held.
So, the relevance is right here in front of us. President Obama just had his party get licked in a midterm election last November. He is now going to the Republicans with a debt reduction plan that leans heavily in the Republican direction, spending cuts three times the size of revenue increases. He is doing what Reagan did, giving the other side the benefit of an election victory. They won. They get the biggest piece of the pie.
But guess what? The Republicans aren‘t dealing. They‘ve got the Tea Party calling the plays and that means it‘s their way or nothing.
Look, Obama and Reagan are governing from different sides of the 50-yard line, but the point is they are playing fair and by the rules, the side that wins get the better end of the deal. If the far right would get their heads around what‘s going on and stop worrying about the hottest head at the next Tea Party meeting, they‘d get it. It‘s called leadership, not followership.
Yes, it‘s easy to join the protesters. They don‘t have to go do anything. Legislators have to legislate. It‘s why they get paid, to do a job.
Protesting carrying placards and yelling is part of the American way.
It just isn‘t the same as governing.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
More politics ahead with Al Sharpton.
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Guests: Michael Steele, Brian Sullivan, Mark Warner, Mick Mulvaney, Joan Walsh, Horace Cooper, Judith Browne-Dianis, Sally Jacobs