Guests: Rep. Peter Welch, Josh Rogin, Jon Erpenbach
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. It`s really, really
good to be back. Thank you. It`s been good to see you here in L.A.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, "THE LAST WORD" HOST: Thanks.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us for the
We are coming live from Los Angeles tonight. I have to say, it is
very, very good to be back from vacation and back at work.
On September 29th, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives took a vote
on emergency action to stop the collapse of Wall Street. With Lehman
Brothers gone at that point, with Bear Sterns gone, with AIG maybe on the
way to gone, with the world`s largest economy teetering on the brink of
complete financial collapse, the House of Representatives voted on whether
or not to take emergency action to prop it up temporarily, to stop
Remember this? The House took a vote on that that day, and what they
voted was no. They voted against that emergency rescue plan. And as a
result, Wall Street looked like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do we go from here?
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: They don`t have enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to go down -- ton of uncertainty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has gone down now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened, Steve?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Find out if it`s possible to change votes, because
by my math, this can be bad. I don`t think they can pass it now with the
remaining no votes being 17.
REPORTER: Wall Street first believed Congress would pass the bailout
package, then a wild day of market gyrations before the Dow closed down 777
points, a 7 percent drop.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: A 7 percent drop, biggest one-day point drop in the history
of the market. That was September 29th, 2008.
Again, the context there was that there was a deal on the table to
save the economy. The House voted no and that`s how the markets reacted.
Well, today, nearly three years later, again, there was a deal on the table
to save the economy. This time, Congress voted yes and the markets reacted
exactly the same way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve got about ten minutes to go here before
the closing bell and it is a bit of a blood bath. Dow right now down 257
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe Wall Street`s sending a signal to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today, after Congress voted to raise the country`s debt
ceiling and thereby avoid catastrophic national default, the market fell
off a cliff. The Dow lost 265 points, its eighth consecutive day in the
red and its biggest point loss in month.
CNBC does something everyday that they called the heat map for the S&P
500. The S&P 500 is basically an index of 500 of the largest most actively
traded companies on the stock market. And this heat map lists all 500 of
those companies on one big board, each company represented by a little box.
If the box is green, that means the company is up for the day. If the box
is red, that means the company is gone.
Here`s what CNBC`s heat map looked like today.
Yes, it was that kind of day on Wall Street. After the debt ceiling
deal got signed, that`s what happened on Wall Street. About 20 little
green boxes lost in a sea of about 480 red ones.
Everybody`s been talking about how the markets would tank if we didn`t
reach a debt ceiling deal, today, we got a debt ceiling deal and the
markets still tanked. And the markets tanked because this debt ceiling
deal, which was passed today in the Senate and was signed into law by a
lonely President Obama, signed into law with nobody standing behind him,
this debt ceiling deal is essentially telling an economy that has just been
run over by a cover that now, it needs to lay down in the road again so we
can back up over it and run it over a second time.
The nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute estimated that the debt deal
signed into law today will directly cut 325,000 jobs from the economy. It
will slow down economic growth by 0.3 percent. That`s just the direct cost
of the cuts Republicans forced in this deal.
The account for the fact that Democrats also did not use this deal to
extend unemployment insurance, like I said they wanted, or the payroll tax
cut for middle class people, like they said they wanted to, if you factor
in that they didn`t do those two things, which would stimulate the economy,
and you factor in those cuts, which are counter-stimulative, then this deal
today is estimated to result in 1.8 million fewer jobs in America.
It`s estimated to take 1.5 percent off American economic growth.
Total growth in the economy right now is only at about 1.3 percent. This
deal has the potential to take 1.5 percent off of that, which brings us to
negative 0.2 percent economic growth. In other words, heading back into a
That is the achievement, the achievement of a deal in Washington that
Republicans in Congress were patting themselves on the back about today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: When you look at this
final agreement that became here to the White House, you know, I got 98
percent of what I wanted. I`m pretty happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m pretty happy. I`m pretty happy.
Speaker John Boehner -- Speaker of the House John Boehner does, in
fact, seem pretty happy. The markets are clearly not happy. And the
country looking at this deal that may have just taken 1.8 million jobs out
of the economy when we`re already in very bad shape is not feeling very
happy about it either.
Add to this an unhappy warning today from Treasury Secretary Timothy
Geithner that even though default was avoided at the very last minute by
this make-John-Boehner deal, we are still not out of the woods. We still
may get our credit downgraded as a result of this whole mess.
Late tonight, the credit rating agency Moody`s announced that the U.S.
will retain for now its AAA credit rating but our outlook as country is now
listed as negative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the last few months,
the economy`s already had to absorb an earthquake in Japan, the economic
head winds coming from Europe, the "Arab Spring" and rile in oil prices,
all of which have been very challenging for the recovery. But these are
things we couldn`t control.
Our economy didn`t need Washington to come along with a manufactured
crisis to make things worse. That was in our hands. It`s pretty likely
that the uncertainty surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling for both
businesses and consumers has been unsettling, and just one more impediment
to the full recovery that we need, and it was something we could have
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama indicated today that now that this, as he
described it, self-created debt ceiling fight is behind us, the White House
and Congress, all of Washington, should pivot towards jobs. Now, that this
fake crisis is out of the way, everybody can now focus like a laser on the
real crisis, the unemployment crisis that`s been hanging around the neck of
this country like a lead weight.
During his eight-minute in the Rose Garden today, President Obama
mentioned jobs. That word jobs, 11 separate times. This morning, before
the debt ceiling vote even passed the Senate, the president met with
leaders of the AFL-CIO labor union federation to talk about economic growth
and putting Americans back to work.
Mr. Obama has been pushing for an infrastructure bank. There`s a jobs
training bill for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans now working its way through
Congress. The only thing that the White House wants to talk about now that
the debt ceiling fight is behind them is jobs, J-O-B-S, jobs, jobs, jobs,
Their spin on this debt ceiling deal today, the way they are trying to
get people to cover it is by saying now that they have done this, now that
they have essentially given Republicans what they wanted, that means they
have checked the box on deficit reduction, they have checked the box on
giving Republicans what Republicans said they want. And so, now, they are
guessing Republicans are going to have to give, what, Democrats some of
what they want?
If that is what the White House is calculating here, that is not at
all how these things work these days. If you are the Republicans, you
don`t come out of a negotiation that you just won deciding that you`re
going to lose the next one to be fair. And if you`re the Democrats you
shouldn`t come out a negotiation you just lost expecting that you`ll win
the next one because it`s your turn?
People do not take turns in Washington. You do not get concessions
from Republicans by giving them what they want. They do not operate on a
give-and-take basis. It`s not sharesville.
Republicans, for instance, have not said, oh, President Obama, you`ve
been so strict in deporting people as president and enforcing border
security. Now, we`ll give you that comprehensive immigration reform that
you wanted. It doesn`t work that way.
President Obama, in fact, became the deportation president. He got
really strict on border security. But Republicans still accuse him of
being weak on illegal immigration. Weak on border security and hell no,
he`s not going to get what he wants on immigration reform.
When Republicans attack a Democratic president, politically, they are
doing it for a fact. They are not giving an honest analysis of his record.
They are throwing epithets. And the epithets are always the same no matter
who the president does.
Who passed the biggest middle tax cut in the history of the United
States? Barack Obama did. It was the stimulus actually. True.
When is the last time you heard Republicans credit President Obama for
his tax-cutting prowess, his record-breaking tax cutting prowess?
Even in these raw political terms, President Obama has to be thinking
of not just the health of the country right now, but also the health of his
prospects for reelection. He`s currently staring down an unemployment rate
of 9.2 percent. And an economy which was already slowing, that`s now about
to get hit with this debt ceiling deal that could very well bring the
economy to a screeching halt and throw it into reverse.
The idea that President Obama has now made Republicans happy by doing
this thing and now they will go along with him on creating jobs implies
that President Obama now has some sort of leverage and political capital
with Republicans going forward.
I don`t think that`s true. It also implies that Republicans share the
goal expressed by the White House today of trying to make the economy
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: When you look at this final agreement that we came to with
the White House, you know, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I`m pretty
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDWO: Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of
Vermont. Congressman Welch voted no on the debt ceiling bill that passed
the House last night.
Congressman Welch, thanks very much for your time. It`s nice to have
REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Good to be here.
MADDOW: Why did you vote no on this deal?
WELCH: This is a job-killing budget deal. It`s plain and simple.
There`s two problems of it. One is policy and one is politics.
On a policy level, what we`ve done is absolutely gone into
contraction. I mean, this is all cuts. It`s no revenues. So, the
capacity to build jobs to get our economy moving is limited very
dramatically by this agreement.
Secondly, on to politics, we`ve passed the Rubicon. We`ve given a
tool never before used in this country to a willful minority in the Senate
or a willful majority in the House to hold hostage our full faith and
credit, our AAA bond rating.
That`s very dangerous. Mr. McConnell has already indicated he`s going
to use again in 2013.
MADDOW: What`s the way back across that Rubicon as it were? What`s
the way to take this, I guess this tactic, this sort of brinkmanship off
the table? Do you think that between now and when this comes up again in
2013, Democrats should take steps to avoid this type of stand off again?
WELCH: Well, we have to. We made a big mistake, Rachel, in December.
That`s when the Bush tax cuts expired. And the president wanted to extend
them for the middle class, we supported that, but Mr. Mitch McConnell did
successfully was hold a ransom, that the only rate he`ll do that is he give
the tax cuts to the wealthy. That was $800 billion added to the deficit.
And incidentally, we failed at that time. This is political
malpractice on our part to get a debt limit extension in order to
accommodate that demand that the Republicans made. We got to get a little
tougher here, a little more practical and realize the implications of our
Second, what we have to do is double down on building jobs. What
you`re seeing as a result of this debt ceiling agreement really is not
focus on the interest rates, but focus on how this is contracting the
economy and the markets, as you have indicated, greeted this with about a
700-point reduction in the last week. So, the markets are figuring out
that a slow economy is probably going to make it tougher for us to pay back
The Democrats have to concentrate constantly, repetitively,
consistently, on jobs -- jobs that we can create by rebuilding our
infrastructure. It`s a disgrace what`s going on with our roads and
bridges. Building and deploying broadband;, having an energy policy that
takes advantage of the opportunities to move to a clean post carbon energy
economy. These are thing -- and we have to rebuild in our cities and towns
our sewer and water systems.
These are things that will put people to work. They are visible in
the community, and they have a lifetime, a generational return. These are
all things that we can do.
You know, we have to step back as a country and as a party and say if
we have confidence in ourselves and in our future, we`re going to invest in
our future and we`re going to do what it takes to put America back to work.
We are about the American Dream. We have work to do.
MADDOW: That type of spending that you were describing on
infrastructure -- those types of investments, even investments in clean
energy. Those types of jobs initiatives, investments are not the type of
spending plans, not the type of initiatives that Republicans tend to
demagogue. Those are things on which you will sometimes get Republicans
saying they agree with you, your sentiments there.
WELCH: That`s right.
MADDOW: Does that mean that it is possible to pass it in Washington
right now both through the House and the Senate that would increase our
investment, increase spending on the type of infrastructure programs you
were just describing?
WELCH: Well, basically what we saw today was the ideology of the Tea
Party prevailing, very simple, lower taxes for everybody, particularly the
so-called job creators, lower spending, and that will build a stronger
economy. I mean, that`s a Herbert Hoover philosophy and didn`t work so
well last it was tried.
The Democrats, I think, have to be more assertive, more self-
confident. And there are some Republicans who have come from communities
where they have infrastructure issues and they know that their public
supports that type of spending.
Now, we put some handcuffs on ourselves with this budget agreement,
but I think that`s where the Democrats and when we can reach out to
Republicans, that`s where we`ve got to concentrate. Americans have -- they
will support spending when they know it`s about investing in the future,
when generations are going to be benefiting by it. And really it`s a
matter after restoration of our own confidence and our ability to move
ahead, that the investments that we do will make a difference, that will be
beneficial not just to us but to our kids. We`re neglecting that and we`ve
got to bring that fight back to rebuilding America.
MADDOW: Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont -- thanks very
much for your time, sir. Appreciate the chance to talk with you about
WELCH: Thank you.
MADDOW: For reasons I cannot totally explain, one of the things I do
well and often is that I can find dark linings to otherwise silver clouds.
Tonight, a departure, a reversal, there may, in fact, be a silver lining to
our new anti-spending, growth-killing, deficit-reduction debt ceiling deal.
There`s maybe, maybe, maybe, a teeny, teeny, teeny -- something not
entirely terrifying to report about it and that is next.
MADDOW: Before President Obama signed the bill this afternoon that
will crash the economy into a big concrete bollard, in order to avoid
driving the economy off the cliff altogether, before handing over that
ransom for the wounded hostage today, President Obama took time this
morning to meet with the AFL-CIO, because, hey, remember, jobs, jobs, jobs.
But then after that, President Obama met with our nation`s defense
secretary, Leon Panetta. Why the defense secretary? Why today of all
Because under this debt ceiling deal, defense appears to be the single
biggest item slated for cuts, at least maybe for cuts -- both in terms of
the short-term and in terms of the cuts that would come into play if
Congress doesn`t agree on big generic spending reductions, thus triggering
automatic deep cuts. Those could account to about 10 percent of the
Pentagon`s annual budget.
When President Obama chose Leon Panetta to be his new secretary of
defense, not just the CIA director but an old congressional hand who`s seen
as being a budget wonk, did the president make that choice of Mr. Panetta
in part because he saw changes coming at the Pentagon? Could we actually
be changing course on the single biggest thing in American politics that
never really gets debated? The single largest chunk of money in American
politics and government, the single biggest thing in American government
that affects all of our lives and every single thing about the way America
is seen around the world but is usually off limits for political debate at
Could we be changing course on how much America spends on our
When Ronald Reagan took office, the national debt was about $1
trillion. When he left, it was more than $2.5 trillion. As for the annual
deficit, he doubled it. It is not easy to spend that much money. He did
it by instituting the largest increases in defense spending ever in our
country when we weren`t actively fighting a big war.
And those huge increases in defense spending blew everybody`s mind in
the 1980s. It was almost impossible to believe how much we increase
defense spending under Reagan. But then when the Berlin Wall came down and
the Soviet Union fell, everybody thought, OK, Cold War`s over, maybe we`ll
have a peace dividend. Maybe now that the Cold War is over, we will stop
spending all of this money on defense.
But that never really happened on a big scale. We never went back to
the way it had been. The skyrocketing Reagan era spending sort of became
the new national norm. It went down a little bit through the Bill Clinton
presidency, flattened out a bit then.
Look what happens after 9/11, though, with the two George W. Bush
wars. You got a defense budget that`s doubled. That`s what happens. It`s
Reagan bombing the budget to hell all over again, except this time,
nobody`s mind is blown. Now, it seems normal, and then, we get to
President Obama, supposedly winding down both of those George W. Bush wars.
But does that graph look like a war is winding down, ratcheting back
defense spending kind of trend? We are still, even now, at previously
unimaginable levels of defense spending in absolute terms.
The difference between today`s awe-inspiring defense spending and the
unimaginable spending of Ronald Reagan is that the amount we`re spending
now is no longer unimaginable. Now, it is hard to imagine not spending it.
There are two defining features of money and government in our country
in this lifetime. It`s the fact that our effective tax rates have come
down to a 50-year low and that defense spending in this country dwarves
what the whole rest of the world spends on defense. And that spending
really cannot be challenged politically here. Those are the defining
economic features of American government in this lifetime. America`s
spending what the rest of the world spends on defense combined and not
debating it at home. That`s what it`s been like my whole life.
Could the defense part of that equation finally be beginning to
Joining us now is Josh Rogin, staff writer for "Foreign Policy
Magazine" and the author of the blog, "The Cable."
Josh, thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate your time.
JOSH ROGIN, FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me. Welcome
MADDOW: Thank you.
You wrote a piece today. The headline kind of says it all. "Levin
and McCain: We Have No Idea How Much Debt Deal Cuts Defense." The top
senators in the Armed Services Committee say they don`t know what the
defense cuts here are.
Is the vagueness of the numbers here intentional, do you think?
ROGIN: It`s totally intentional and it`s intentional on all sides,
Republicans, Democrats, administration all have a very vested interest in
not telling anybody on what defense cuts are in the bill. And there`s a
reason. It`s because -- I hate to burst your bubble -- there are no
defense cuts guaranteed in this bill.
There`s the prospect of defense cuts. There`s the possibility of
defense cuts, there`s even the threat of defense cuts. But that doesn`t
matter when the rubber meets the road.
This is all part of a very long pattern of all the sides in this
budget debate claiming to have big savings from cutting defense or getting
out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to portray an image of savings
that doesn`t actually force the Pentagon to make hard choices about rolls,
admission, or programs, all the things that are wrong in their budgeting
and financial system. It`s a shell game. It`s a lot of smoke and mirrors.
And what it`s resulted in is actually beginning the discussion about
defense cuts, as you rightly mention, which is a huge shift in our
political discussion, but it hasn`t resulted in any actual cuts and the
details just don`t exist. It`s really amazing.
And I think that`s the most interesting thing to me about this, is
that what they are sort of setting up in Washington is an opportunity to
think about it, if not fight about it. I think the concept is that we`re
not yet ready to fight about defense cuts as a country. Neither party is
really ready to have that as an argument. But it`s at least time to start
mulling it over.
And the big cuts that would go into effect if that trigger is pulled -
- again, this is months if not years down the road -- those would be cuts
that would be significant. Those would be on the order of 10 percent of
what the Pentagon has in its yearly budget.
Is that trigger simply designed to be scary? Is that never designed
to be policy?
ROGIN: Well, you`re absolutely right here that it is time to start
thinking about it. There`s no way to avoid thinking about it, considering
the state of our economy and our fiscal situation. The problem is that if
we`re going to have this discussion after decades of not having it, we have
to have it honestly based on real numbers and real figures and real
tradeoffs. And nobody in this debate is having that debate honestly.
I mean, look at the Obama administration. They claim that this deal
would cut $350 billion from the defense over the next 10 years? It`s just
not in the bill. Harry Reid claimed $1 trillion in savings from drawing
down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we`re going to draw it down
anyways. So, that doesn`t really represent any new savings. Paul Ryan did
the same exact thing.
The trigger thing that you mentioned is the perfect example of this.
It`s a threat. It`s meant to be so distasteful as to force Congress to do
the one thing they don`t want to do, which is compromise, because if they
don`t compromise, defense will be arbitrarily cut at the $600 billion
But if you look at that threat and if they actually have to implement
it, guess who has to decide the details of those cuts? Congress. And not
even this Congress, future Congress. And there`s all sorts of games that
they could play to make those cuts.
And now, let me really blow your mind. That $600 billion cut is based
off a fake number. It`s called the CBO baseline. It`s a projection of
defense spending that no one ever thought was real.
So, it`s conceivable that you could cut billions from the defense
budget and the defense budget could still keep rising in real terms. It`s
comparing fake numbers against fake numbers so that everybody can claim to
be cutting the deficit and cutting the budget when none of that is really
MADDOW: It`s like having a pageant that is about a play, that is
about a fictional event, that is based on history, in order to talk about
what`s going on in current events. It`s a designed to get our minds
wrapped around it but it`s not actually rubber hitting the road at this
Josh Rogin, staff writer for "Foreign Policy Magazine," author of the
blog, "The Cable" -- Josh, I really appreciate your help with this. Thanks
ROGIN: Any time, thank you.
MADDOW: All right. So, what happens when one giant government freak-
out completely dominates the entire news cycle for weeks at a time? What
happens? Other crises flourish. While Republicans were barely able to
stop themselves from fast-tracking the ruination of the country`s economy
on purpose, they were also able to shut down a critical government agency.
And as a person who personally has to be on an airplane tonight, I wish
they had not done that. That story is coming up.
MADDOW: Once upon a time, the economy blew up like somebody threw a
fragmentation grenade into it. That happened because of wildly
irresponsible behavior by Wall Street, a deregulated Wall Street making
itself very rich by doing risky things with billions and trillions of
dollars with other people`s money.
After the immediate crisis, Democrats and Congress passed the Wall
Street reform bill. One component of the reform bill they passed was a
consumer protection agency for financial stuff. The government had long
taken the position that if you buy a toaster or curling iron in the United
States, it shouldn`t be one that burns your house down. Advocates like
Elizabeth Warren argued successfully that people`s mortgages and student
loans and credit card agreements shouldn`t burn you down either.
And so, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency was born.
Republicans in Congress said they would never let Elizabeth Warren be
appointed to run an agency like that. And so, President Obama appointed
instead someone who worked with her to set the agency up.
Today, Republicans announced they will not let him run the agency
either. They will not let anyone run the agency. They will filibuster
anyone who the president nominates to run it.
And so the president can`t get around the filibuster by appointing
someone while the Senate is in recess, Senate Republicans announced today
that they will keep the Senate technically in session the whole time they
are away until September so there can be no recess appointment, so no one
can run that agency. No one at all, because what could possibly go wrong
in a financial sector operating without rules?
MADDOW: Exactly one week from today, Wisconsin will hold what may be
the most exciting elections this year, and I say that in full cognizance of
the fact the elections I`m talking about here are for six state Senate
seats in one upper Midwest state in the middle of August.
I love this job. I am so happy to be back.
Seriously, though, this is quite excellently interesting. All year,
Republicans in D.C. and in the states have been crusading really hard
against union rights. Modern conservativism is organically hostile to
unions, anybody representing people who work for a living. They like to
talk about what they call the job creators, not the job havers.
Corporate profits, incidentally, are on track to set a new all-time
record this quarter in the United States, even as the rest of our economy
tries to decide whether it would prefer to be embalm or cremated. So,
calling corporations job creators right now is starting to feel like a
little bit of a sick joke. But that is whose side today`s Republicans have
And taking that side means trying to eliminate union rights, which
makes corporations very happy with the Republicans to whom they have
donated and which has the happy political side effect of gutting the best
organized, best-funded, most effective political force that typically helps
Democrats come election time.
In the vanguard state of Wisconsin this year, Republican Governor
Scott Walker`s plan to cut union rights led to protests that filled the
capital city of Madison for weeks. After those huge protests and some very
dramatic political tactics, Scott Walker`s union-stripping bill did become
law in Wisconsin this spring.
But now, that is baring consequences. Six Republican state senators
put up by Wisconsin voters for recall. On Tuesday, a week from today,
those six Republican state senators will have to defend their seats in
recall elections against bone fide Democratic challengers, which started
with protests in February and March is coming down to real voting in
One group, We Are Wisconsin, which backs the Democratic side in this
fight, announced on Friday that it had made more than a million contacts
with Wisconsin voters. The next day, a fire destroyed its local office in
Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Officials say they do not know what caused that
blaze, luckily, nobody was hurt either in the We Are Wisconsin offices or
the six adjoining apartments that burned.
Today, We Are Wisconsin planned to open shop again at the plumbers and
steam fitters local. Also on Saturday, the same day as the fire, a voter
in one of the Republican recall districts filed a formal complaint with the
Wisconsin`s elections board over a mailer he got from the group Americans
for Prosperity. Americans for Prosperity, of course, a very well-funded
conservative activist group supported by the oil and chemical billionaire
This was first posted online by Politico.com. It`s an application for
an absentee ballot sent by AFP. It says the deadline for voting is August
11th. August 11th is two days after the recall election in the area this
mailer was sent. It`s two days too late.
The state director for Americans for Prosperity blames all this on a
typo. Quote, "This just went out to our members. I`m sure the liberals
will try to make a mountain out of a mole hill in an attempt to distract
voters` attention from the issues." That`s the explanation from this Koch
brothers` Tea Party group -- it only went to the members. Nothing to see
here. Move along, mole hill mountain people.
But here`s the voter`s formal complaint to the Wisconsin Elections
Board, quote, "I believe I was targeted by this group because I am a
Democrat and a senior citizen."
Wisconsin Democrats are hoping to gain three seats in these recalls,
enough to turn the state Senate back from red back to blue. It is worth
nothing that Wisconsin voters also put three Democrats up for recall. One
of them, Dave Hansen, successfully defended his seat last month. Elections
for the other two are a couple of weeks away.
But the polls say, really, the action here is with the six Republican
state senators who could get the boot. With local races like this, it
could be tough to tell how things are playing out. The Web site "Daily
Kos" has been posting data from Public Policy Polling showing Democrats
with narrow leads in two races and a big lead in one of them. So, there`s
that if you`re looking for something to steer by.
Also this from Greg Sargent in "The Washington Post" today. The state
Democratic Party chairman in Wisconsin today citing internal polls that
show Democrats with a lead or a tie in all of next week`s races recalling
Republicans, saying all six of those races are eminently winnable.
Some of this, of course, is just a political animal barking into the
wind. One of the founding laws of politics is that you have to look like a
winner before you can be a winner. But we are one week away now, one week
away from knowing if Wisconsin Republicans celebrated anti-union rights
binge and the pro-corporation, "stick it to working people" budget that
went along with it, we are one week from learning whether or not that
churned up a lot more than a lot of people`s resentment. In one week, we
will find out if it has also churned up a majority of the vote.
Joining us now is Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach, whom we spoke
with a lot earlier this year when he and 13 other Democratic state senators
left the state in an attempt to halt passage of the union-stripping bill.
Senator Erpenbach, it`s good to see you again. Thanks for your time
STATE SEN. JON ERPENBACH (D), WISCONSIN: Good to see you, too, and
MADDOW: Thank you.
Democratic Party chairman in your state says things are going great
for your side of things coming up to Tuesday`s elections.
What are your expectations for these elections? What do you think is
going to happen?
ERPENBACH: Well, I tell you what, Rachel? We could win anywhere from
two seats to four or five seats, it all depends. It`s very close in three
seats and we are ahead in the three other seats.
And now, keep in mind: we`re ahead in Republican areas. We are ahead
in Republican state Senate seats. Some of these seats have been held by a
Republican for over 100 years, not the same Republican, but they`ve been
held by Republicans for 100 years.
So, just the fact that we`re leading in three of them and it`s a
tossup in three other seats it says a lot for what we`re trying to do.
MADDOW: In terms of the Democrats who are up for recall, one of those
Democrats has successfully defended his seat. We`ve got two more who will
be defending themselves against Republican challengers. What do you think
about those races?
ERPENBACH: We have Bob Wirch in southeastern Wisconsin. And
southeastern Wisconsin is pretty good Democratic area. It`s built on labor
tradition, goes way back family generations as far as labor families are
concern. So, Bob should be in pretty good shape and he`s working really
Jim Holperin represents the north of Wisconsin, which is basically
northeastern Wisconsin and he`s been working real hard. I`ve been up in
his district now four or five times, at events with him and hundreds of
people have been showing up at the events, encouraging Jim, telling him
he`s doing a great job and he`s working really hard.
If we have a close race, it would be that one, but I don`t think we`ll
be outworked. So, I think Jim will win.
MADDOW: In terms of the rest of the country watching Wisconsin here,
I think part of the reason these recall elections are national news is
because the Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans agenda, this very, very
strong anti-union agenda in particular has a lot of national resonance and
people are wondering coast to coast if when those politics are upsetting
people if that upset is enough to actually flip election results back the
And in Wisconsin right now, you guys need to net -- Democrats need to
net three seats in order to flip the Senate back to Democratic control.
If that happens, what are you going to show the country you want to do
with that? What would be the overall open? What would your priorities
ERPENBACH: That`s a great question. I guarantee, those who are
watching closest around the world, around the country, Rachel, are
Republican governors and Republican state legislators, because if we do
stem the tide here and we`re successful next week, it`s going to send a
loud and clear message for those who want to take away workers rights and
other things throughout the country, that they are probably going to back
What we want to do in the state Senate, obviously, is want to try and
restore worker`s rights as best as we possibly can. But the one thing
we`re going to get out of this is we`re going to be able to show Governor
Walker one thing we`ve been trying to do all along, and that`s to sit down
and negotiate. Sit down and work out a deal, sit down and compromise.
He`ll have to actually sit down and listen to Democrats and their thoughts
and their ideas as far as we want to go with the state.
So, that will be something new for the governor. So, for the
governor, that`s actually probably a positive thing.
But one thing we`ll be able to do is we`ll be able to start the ball
moving forward, talking about health insurance reform, talking about
environmental issues that we want to talk about and obviously talking about
restoring worker`s rights.
MADDOW: How much did the national winds affect what`s going to happen
in Wisconsin right now?
I mean, we`re about to talk on the show about how there`s another
union rights standoff hat has shut down the Federal Aviation Administration
-- that standoff happening in Congress. The news for weeks has been about
Washington and the debt ceiling, people raising the prospect that deal that
President Obama ultimately had to sign may be so distasteful the Democratic
base that Democrats nationally will lose their taste for all sorts of
Do you see any of those national winds blowing through Wisconsin?
ERPENBACH: Not so much right now, but the Republicans at the national
level did the same things that the Republicans at the state level did here.
They took what normally is not a controversial move, normally raising the
debt ceiling is like a one-sentence bill and it passes, and they loaded it
up with agenda items that they want to see.
Now, I saw the top of your show, where we`re talking losing some
300,000 jobs just with the president`s signature today. Those are middle
class jobs. Those are jobs that the Republican Party at the national level
and the state level here in Wisconsin don`t really seem to care about.
But as far as what I`m seeing here in Wisconsin from one end of the
state and the other is a tremendous amount of passion. People showing up
who have never, Rachel, ever been involved in politics before, never worked
on a campaign before. They are volunteering.
They are phoning. They are going door-to-door. They are passing out
leaflets. They`re doing whatever they can.
And I`m not kidding when I`m telling you we`re going to have thousands
of volunteers throughout the state of Wisconsin over the next week to make
sure that we bring home a Democratic majority come next Tuesday night. So,
there`s a lot of passion, lot of excitement here in Wisconsin.
MADDOW: Jon Erpenbach, Democratic senator from Wisconsin -- we`ve
talked to you a lot over the ark of this. I feel like we`re coming to a
very important part of this plot. We`re looking forward to continue to
talk to you over the next few weeks, sir. Thank you.
ERPENBACH: OK. We`ll talk with you soon.
All right. On "THE ED SHOW" tonight, the congressman who started
calling the debt ceiling deal what I think it will forever be called in
history now, the man who coined the term Satan sandwich to describe the
deal ceiling deal will be a guest on "THE ED SHOW," which starts right
after this show.
Still to come on this show, "Best New Thing in the World Today" and
what Congress did today in trying to kill union and trying to strip union
rights that is going to cost us all $30 million a day for the foreseeable
future. Details to come.
MADDOW: So that`s my dad there on the left and his awesome I`m on
vacation camouflage straw cowboy hat. That`s me on the right looking like
a big goober. Hi, Dad!
"Best New Thing in the World Today" has to do with some amazing stuff
that happened while I was on vacation. It is now stuff that happened to
me. It is stuff that happened to you while I was away. That`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There`s another stalemate in Congress right now involving our
aviation industry, which has stalled airport construction projects all
around the country and put the jobs of tens of thousands of construction
workers and others at risk, because of politics. It`s another Washington
inflicted wound in America. And Congress needs to break that impasse now,
hopefully before the Senate adjourns, so these folks can get back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: These folks are probably not getting back to work.
The Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that regulates air
travel in our fair nation has been partially shut down. Four thousand
people who work there furloughed directly, safety inspectors working
without pay. Hundreds of construction projects around the country halted,
which means tens of thousands more people idle and no longer working.
This has been going on for a week and a half now. We are on day 11
now. Today, we learned that there will be a day 12 of this shutdown, and a
day 13 and very likely a day 40, because Congress is now out of session
Before leaving town, House Republicans rejected the Democrats
compromise deal on a temporary, not even permanent, but a temporary funding
extension for this agency.
The FAA hasn`t had permanent funding in four years. Congress keeps
passing short term funding for it. They`ve done that 20 times. But this,
the 21st time, suddenly, we have another manufactured crisis on our hands.
Republicans, with the strong encouragement of Delta Airlines, have
decided that they will shut down the whole Federal Aviation Administration
to try to force Democrats to strip union rights from people who work for
airlines or for railroads. Even if they got Democrats in Congress to give
them that, that would still be dead on arrival. President Obama said
months ago that he would veto anything like that.
But that fight, that is what`s keeping the FAA shutdown right now.
That`s what 4,000 people furloughed, and tens of thousands of construction
workers off of these jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: Because they passed the bill and said
to the United States Senate, either you take it our way or it will be no
runway and no highway, and no way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood went to New York City`s
LaGuardia Airport yesterday to point out the impact of this partial
shutdown. He stood in plain view of an old traffic control tower that`s
supposed to be demolished by a company based in Brooklyn.
The contract to do that demolition work is for about $6 million. A
whole bunch of jobs, right? But like the other $2.5 billion worth of
improvement projects this one is on hold.
Secretary LaHood has said the partial shutdown, however, will not
affect airline safety.
Amid all the chaos and uncertainty here, though, the FAA did miss a
deadline yesterday to publish new safety rules. And to add injury to the
existing injurious insult here, in addition to all the people out of work
and the work that needs to get done not getting done, this FAA shutdown is
also projected to directly cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars.
When you buy an airline ticket, you pay tax on that ticket that the
FAA collects. Except with no FAA, the government cannot collect that tax.
So, the government loses that income. Delta Airlines, the airline lobbying
so heavily to strip funding rights in this bill, yes, that Delta Airlines,
they were one of the companies that reacted to the accidental tax holiday
here by jacking up their prices and pocketing the difference for
So, so far at least, this crisis, this partial shutdown of the FAA,
has actually been good for Delta, and for some other airlines. They made
more money off each ticket.
After some substantial public shaming over this, Delta agreed to
refund to its customers those ticket taxes that it had decided to keep for
So, in this part of it at least, Delta was shamed into doing the right
thing. Shamed into it.
Congress so far? Not so much.
MADDOW: OK. "The Best New Thing in the World Today," this is a sappy
one, I`m sorry.
I was away for a week and a bit on vacation and then traveling. I`m
here at Los Angeles. It is great to be back on the air. I love my job and
I`m very happy to be back.
If you are a regular viewer of the show, I hope you will not mind the
indulgence of me saying that, for me, "The Best New Thing in the World
Today" is coming back to work knowing that things here have been in such
good hands. Melissa Harris-Perry has not only been a phenomenal guest and
contributor on this network, she did such an awesome job hosting this show
last week that you would never have known she had never done this before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Where we begin tonight is T
minus seven days and counting.
Six days to go, and still no deal.
Today was a day of pure, ultimately pointless political theater.
This is totally 100 percent, a manufactured crisis.
The hair on firefight happening in Washington right now is
fundamentally a debate over whether or not to destroy the economy.
How do you define success? How do you know, for example, if the
speaker of the House has been successful?
This doesn`t have to happen. The Treasury Department doesn`t have to
be put in the position of being the arbiter that gets paid, senior citizens
or military veterans.
This is an extraordinarily tough job. Thanks to Rachel for letting me
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: My thanks to Melissa Harris-Perry who did an extraordinary
job, especially considering all the breaking news she had to contend with
last week, which if you`ve never done a job like this is a whole different
fish (ph) from what it`s like if you don`t have breaking news.
Melissa is incredible in a very challenging guest-hosting gig here
last week. She succeeded beyond all of our wildest dreams.
And as for the man who sat in this chair last night, even better news.
The wonderful Chris Hayes of "The Nation" magazine and MSNBC, who is so
great at one he does, it has just been announced that Chris Hayes, very
deservedly, is about to start his own hosting gig at MSNBC. His new
weekend show will start on September 17th. It will air on Saturday
mornings and Sunday mornings.
Don`t worry, there will be still some prison on the weekends.
But, now, live, smart, awesome Chris Hayes on both weekend mornings,
which is just great.
So, huge congratulations both to Chris Hayes and to Melissa Harris-
Perry for jobs well done, and accomplishments well-earned. This network
also announced today that I will be sticking around here for a long while
yet, with colleagues around here like the ones I`ve got. Nothing could
make me happier or prouder.
I know that it`s all a little indulgent. So, thank for enduring. But
for me, it really is "The Best New Thing in the World Today."
So, thank you. That`s it.
"THE ED SHOW" starts right now.
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