Guests: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O`Donnell, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, Valerie Jarrett, Jan Schakowsky, Jason Chaffetz, Bob Shrum, Alex Wagner
REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton.
This hour, President Obama will head to Capitol Hill for one of the
most highly-anticipated speeches of his presidency, an address to a joint
session of Congress focused on jobs. President Obama`s address comes just
one night after the Republican candidates offered up their solutions, and
time and again, offered more deregulation and more tax cuts as the answer.
But we start with the president`s speech.
The backdrop of this speech is stark. He is trying to turn around an
economy amid a public that seems to be losing faith in government. The
president`s approval rating has dropped to 44 percent, and just 13 percent
approve of the work in Congress.
Later in the show, Chris, Lawrence, Rachel and Ed will join me to
preview the big speech tonight and what it means for the president and the
But joining me now, is Valerie Jarrett, assistant to President Obama
and senior White House adviser.
Good evening, Ms. Jarrett.
VALERIE JARRETT, SR. WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Good evening, Reverend
Sharpton. How are you doing this evening?
SHARPTON: I`m great. And like the rest of our nation, we`re waiting
to hear from our president.
Let me say, we understand that if the preliminary reports are correct,
that part of what the president is going to propose are these key items --
he is going to talk about extending payroll taxes, extending unemployment
benefits, hiring tax credit, publics works projects.
Are these among the things we can expect? And how do we feel that
that will help to deal with the 9.1 unemployment rate?
JARRETT: Reverend Sharpton, you`re exactly right. Those are many of
the programs that he`s going to announce tonight. Their programs that have
historically received bipartisan support. And also, importantly, they`re
programs that he intends to pay for.
Next week he will send legislation up to Congress and he`ll set forth
the details of his American Jobs Act, as well as the companion source of
funding to pay for it. We think we can close loopholes. We think that we
can increase the burden on those who can most afford it, the wealthy and
the corporations who are going to do well. And in doing so, we`re going to
be able to provide the jolt that the economy needs to get going again.
There are certain things that the government should do and there are
certain things that the private sector should do, and there are certain
things Congress should do and the president should do. And this evening,
the president is looking forward to addressing not just Congress, but the
American people, to set forth his plan to move our economy now. And he
will call on Congress to act now.
SHARPTON: Now, you are saying that we will be able to pay for this by
closing loopholes and by those that have benefited the most to do their
share. So the Republicans have kept this whole argument going, saying, how
do we pay for this? You`re saying we can pay for it by dealing with
corporate loopholes and by everybody paying more of their share in the
JARRETT: Absolutely. And as I said a moment ago, the president will
detail all of that in a bill that he will send up to Congress next week,
and this evening he will call on them to act, and to act now.
Every day that goes by, that this legislation isn`t passed, is another
day that we`re not creating jobs. And you had it exactly right, Reverend
Sharpton. We want to provide construction jobs -- that`s been an industry
that has been so hard hit -- so that we can pay for our roads and our
bridges and our dams and our infrastructure and our schools. There will be
a special initiative in here to make sure we can repair our schools, that
we can save jobs for teachers and first responders, provide opportunities
for our veterans who served our country so proudly. When they come back
home from Iraq and Afghanistan, they should have jobs waiting for them.
And as you and I have discussed, Reverend Sharpton, on multiple
occasions, a real serious issue are the long-term unemployed.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
JARRETT: So there will be a special provision here for people who
have been without work for six months or longer to provide incentives for
companies to hire them.
We also have initiatives in here for programs for summer jobs and for
the youth, because we know during summer months, it`s important that we
keep youth off the street and we put them in an environment where they are
working and they get used to the idea of getting up and going to work every
day, and develop those life skills that will serve them so well in
So there`s a wide range of initiatives in here -- cutting taxes for
small business, both the employer and the employee tax. So we will have
employees who will pay half of the payroll tax that they are used to
paying, and employers the same thing.
We want to cut the payroll tax for them as well. And if we do that,
we are confident that small businesses, who are our economic engine, we
know that that`s really where the economy gets going, is with the small
businesses. And we want to give them tools that they need to expand and
grow and put people back it work, and make sure that we have extra dollars
in the pockets of people who will go out and buy goods and services and get
our economy going again.
SHARPTON: Now, one of the things that really comes home to me is that
people are suffering. I mean, people are really suffering. They are also
scared because their future seems bleak.
There seems to be a removal of that safety net. And the president has
to not only give jobs, but hope. And at the same time, give something
viable that can be passed.
And in my conversations with the president and you, I think you get
it, but the hard part is how you pragmatically get something done, and at
the same time, deal with your own passionate concern. And already the
cynics are out.
Look at "The New York Times" even before the speech. Let me show you
a statement that they have already put out you`re going to have to deal
This says, "The modest, pragmatic measures that economists say will at
best make a small dent in the nation`s economic problems."
Then you have Senate Majority (sic) Leader McConnell already saying --
this is before the speech now, with all these people suffering, this is
what Mitch McConnell says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: The president`s so-called
jobs plan is to try those very same policies again, and then accuse anyone
who doesn`t support them this time around of being political or overly
partisan, of not doing what`s needed in this moment of crisis. This isn`t
a jobs plan. It is a reelection plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And I`m mistaken. He`s the minority leader.
But with all of that cynicism, the president walks in front of the
country tonight with the naysayers and the doubters, and has to look at
people who are really hurting, and look to him for an answer. That`s a
tremendous burden, Ms. Jarrett. But I think he said that that`s what he
was elected to do.
JARRETT: That`s exactly what he was elected to do, Reverend Sharpton.
He`s the president of the United States, and he`s not going to let the
naysayers get in the way of him fighting every single day on behalf of the
This is a solid plan. We believe that economists will support it.
We know that businesses have said that if we do this package, they
will hire. The president has been on the phone talking to mayors and
governors across our country who say, look, we need help.
We`re laying off teachers. We`re going to have to lay off first
responders. Our schools are in decay. How are we going to teach our
children if they are working and trying to learn in schools where the roofs
The president is responding to what he has heard from across the
country, and he is confident and he is optimistic that if he can challenge
Congress, and if he is willing to roll up his sleeves and push forward his
legislative agenda, as he intends to do next week, and if he calls on the
American people to support this agenda, then we will prevail on their
This is not about short-term political gain. This is about our
country. This is about putting people back to work again.
That`s what gets him up every morning with optimism and hope. He
knows that these are tough times, but he also knows that the American
people are resilient.
And if government will just do their job, if the private sector will
step up and help and hire people, people who have been out of work for six
months, if they`ll give them a chance, they want to work. They wan to get
back in the game.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
JARRETT: And that`s what the president is going to -- his message
tonight will be one of optimism, it will be one of challenge, one of mutual
responsibility. And he is going to ask Congress to pass this, and pass it
now, or they will have some explaining to do on behalf of the American
people, because people are suffering, just as you said, Reverend Sharpton.
They want a chance. This bill gives them that chance.
SHARPTON: Well, we are going to be watching, and the American people
need to make sure we press for answers and for jobs. And it`s past
I said last night, Ms. Jarrett, this is not even about President
Obama. It is about our mama and --
JARRETT: It`s about our country.
SHARPTON: And that is really what`s at stake.
Thank you so much. We`ll be talking.
JARRETT: Thank you.
SHARPTON: We`re going to be talking next with Democratic
Congresswoman Jan Schakowksy. She proposed a jobs plan that seems to have
inspired some elements of the president`s plan tonight, as we just heard
Valerie Jarrett mention some of those elements.
Congresswoman Schakowksy, thank you for being here.
You heard Valerie Jarrett. Are you satisfied? Are you leaning
towards satisfaction? Or are you still waiting to see?
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: I think this is a bill and a
proposal that progressives can support, that the American people need to
You said, what are we going to do with the naysayers? We`re going to
need to mobilize around this country in favor of a bill that`s going to put
people to work both by creating jobs and putting money in the pockets of
people that can go out and actually spend money and help to kick-start this
This is something we need to do yesterday. We need to do it right
And I do think that this proposal is going to have a number of things
that I have long suggested, and that it`s going to actually make a real
difference now. Government can make a difference. We are not helpless in
the face of this crisis.
This has nothing to do with politics. This has do with an economy
that needs to get a real infusion of energy right now. And this proposal,
I`m confident, is going to do that.
SHARPTON: Now, you had the legislation FAST. And I`ve been talking
about FAST so much, that people thought I helped to write it, because you
had an immediate how we can provide jobs right now -- school repairs and
other things that will provide 500,000 jobs, some of which that seems to be
what the president is proposing tonight.
So you must feel that some of what you did which seemed like pipe
dream when you first brought it up is something now that`s closer to
SCHAKOWSKY: I know, I feel very gratified. I`m looking forward to
hearing him talk about it.
But FAST stands for Fix All Schools Today. And we could do that right
now, get money out to fix schools that need repair.
So many of our schools are crumbling. They need to be upgraded. Our
students deserve that, and we can put thousands, hundreds of thousands, of
construction workers, maintenance people to work immediately.
I hope, I think there`s going to be more teachers to be hired, more
veterans to be hired. All of these things are going to reduce our
unemployment rate, and they are going to make sure that our economy is
infused with that kind of energy that we need right now.
You know, there`s a lot of worry that we could fall into a double-dip
recession. This is the antidote to that. But we`re going to need the
American people to let their legislators know if the Republicans obstruct
this legislation, they will have a serious price to pay.
SHARPTON: No question about it.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, thank you so much for being with us
SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
SHARPTON: Ahead, America, meet the home of the Whopper, also, known
as the GOP debate. We`re going to the truth zone tonight.
And the whole MSNBC primetime team joins me to preview the president`s
You`re watching POLITICS NATION. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`re now less than an hour away from President Obama`s
speech on jobs. The plan will include some elements Republicans have
supported in the past like extending payroll tax cuts. But some
Republicans now say they`ve changed their minds about those cuts. What a
surprise. And some others say they`re not even going to bother showing up
for the speech at all.
Joining me now is Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Republican from Utah.
Congressman, thank you so much for being here tonight.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Thanks for having me on. I appreciate
SHARPTON: Let me start by asking you, do you support those
Republicans who are skipping out on the president`s speech tonight?
CHAFFETZ: I plan to show up. I think anybody who skips this is
making a mistake. That`s my own personal opinion.
They are grownups. They can make those decision for themselves. But
I think it`s right to hear the president out.
SHARPTON: Now, with the crisis that we`re in, in terms of our
economy, with the 9.1 unemployment nationwide, and other of various burdens
on the working class and middle class in this country, how do you deal with
the extension of the payroll tax, Congressman? Where do you stand in terms
of your position on extending the payroll tax? Which I understand the
president is going to propose extending tonight.
CHAFFETZ: Well, I think we would be unified in the call for tax
reform across the board. We want to broaden the base, lower the rate, make
it more predictable, make sure that we close a lot of these loopholes. I
think that`s actually some common ground for Democrats and Republicans, and
so we need to look at that specific proposal in context of other tax
reform, which is obviously needed.
SHARPTON: So, because when you look at the fact -- let`s look at the
fact that if we extended the payroll tax, we would be saving individuals
$2,136 a year. That`s a lot of money for people that are working. And
let`s look at the fact that in your state of Utah, the impact of that alone
would help workers there -- 1.3 million workers in Utah, it would -- they
would lose $900 million if we didn`t extend the payroll tax.
So, at some level, Congressman, we`ve got to get beyond the partisan
politics and look at what it does to the people, Republican, Democrat, all
of whom elected you and your colleagues to go to Washington and, for that
matter, the president to solve their problems, not to just decide which
party was going to win.
CHAFFETZ: Well, again, I think there is common ground in saying we
definitely need tax reform, because not only do we need that, some better
parity, we need to make sure that we keep as much money of the people`s
money in the people`s pockets. They the ones that have actually earned
That`s why I think there also needs to be some corporate reform,
because I would like to see the corporate income tax come down, but only if
you get rid of some of these loopholes so that you balance the playing
field. The tax code should be much more simple than it is today. And
again, I think we can find support of that on both sides of the aisle.
SHARPTON: Well, I definitely agree you`d have to close some of the
loopholes. I don`t know that we need to keep giving the tax breaks to
But let me ask you this. Where some of the devil in the detail is
going to be debatable, is part of what you say in context the balanced
CHAFFETZ: I would love to see the balanced budget amendment.
SHARPTON: But suppose that`s not on the table. Could you deal with a
payroll tax cut extension without a balanced budget amendment as part of
CHAFFETZ: Well, I think we could have those as two separate
We are going to have a vote in the House of Representatives and in the
Senate about a balanced budget amendment. I think it`s a core question for
the president. I think it`s a discussion we as a nation should have.
Are we actually going to put ourselves in a position where this nation
will actually balance its books? So they don`t necessarily, for me,
personally, don`t have to be tied together. I want a solution, not just a
deal. I happen to think that a balanced budget amendment gets us closer to
an actual solution to the problems and challenges we`re facing.
SHARPTON: Let me give you a Republican, since you said something that
all sides can go with. Mr. Zandi, who was an economic adviser to John
McCain`s 2008 race, wrote for Moody`s. He did an analysis.
Now, he looked at the Republican plan and the Bush tax cuts. And he
said out of the Bush tax cuts, we got 31 cents for each dollar. Corporate
tax rate cut, we got 39 cents -- 30 cents. I`m sorry, 30 cents per dollar.
Out of the Obama plan -- now, this is Zandi -- he says extending
unemployment benefits, we would get $1.64 per dollar. Payroll tax cut,
$1.28. Infrastructure spending, $1.59.
Now, this is Mark Zandi, who was a McCain adviser, that is saying,
using your terms Congressman, bang for the buck. You get more bang for the
buck with the Obama plan than the Republican plan or the Bush tax cut plan.
This is what you say you are looking for.
Here is a guy who`s on the Republican side of the aisle. That should
certainly perk you up to say, Obama has got the better plan.
CHAFFETZ: Well, I`m way perked up, but I don`t necessarily agree with
Mark Zandi on everything.
Listen, I voted against the extension of the Bush tax cuts because
there was $300 billion that was added to our national debt. So, President
Obama voted to extend the Bush tax cuts. I didn`t vote to extend those.
Now, I do think that maintaining the current status quo on the tax
structure is the right philosophy. And the Republicans lost the rhetorical
battle in suggesting that that was somehow a tax cut.
Nevertheless, I think what the marketplace more than anything needs is
stability and predictability. Capital is resistant to making invest when
there is so much unpredictability on what the tax code is. And that is
part of what is holding back jobs in this economy right now.
SHARPTON: Well, Congressman, we`ll see where it goes. I`m glad that
you are at least open to extending payroll tax cuts. I`m glad you are open
to dealing with corporate loopholes. I don`t know about your balanced
budget amendment. But let`s leave it there and see what the president has
CHAFFETZ: We`ll talk you into it.
SHARPTON: We`ll talk after we see how -- the president`s speech and
how you get ready to vote.
Congressman Chaffetz, thank you so much for stopping and spending some
time with us.
CHAFFETZ: Thanks for having me.
SHARPTON: Ahead, they came, they saw, they made stuff up. We`re
taking a to trip to the truth zone tonight, and we`re bringing Perry,
Romney, and the whole gang with us.
And we`re less than an hour away from the president`s big jobs speech.
Chris, Lawrence, Rachel and Ed will join me for a preview.
You`re watching POLITICS NATION, only on MSNBC. Stick with us.
SHARPTON: The GOP candidates did their best to stretch the truth last
night at their debate. And we`re going to hold them accountable.
Joining me now is Bob Shrum, democratic strategist and even senior
advisor to John Kerry in 2004. And MSNBC analyst, Alex Wagner, is in our
truth zone. Tonight, Alex, the truth was a real casualty last night.
Where should we start?
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANALYST: Why don`t, Rev, why don`t we start with
Governor Rick Perry calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme.
WAGNER: Last night. Here`s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: It is a monstrous lie. It is a Ponzi
scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you paying into
a program that`s going to be there, you cannot keep the status quo in place
and not call anything other than a Ponzi scheme.
WAGNER: That`s a whopper. Rev.
SHARPTON: A big whopper. But go ahead.
WAGNER: Yes, a big whopper. Perhaps a flame broiled whopper.
Social Security is not an investment swindle. It is an income
insurance program that also supplies life insurance and disability
insurance. It is not a pyramid scheme. It is a pay as you go program.
That is protected to be solvent for at least the next two decades and
beyond. Thus, a whopper.
SHARPTON: So, Bob, I understand that it would go to 2037 and then you
would even be able to take care of it with payroll taxes. But, let me ask
you to politics of this. Who is he playing to here? When you look at
Americans, Americans are in every poll, want to see Social Security not
overhauled. I mean, look at 64 percent of Americans say no. According to
CNN or our poll, who is he talking to here, who is he trying to appeal to?
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he thinks he plays to the Tea
Party types. At least those that are not 65. And some of these extreme
elements of the Republican Party who`ve been talking about this for a long
time. I just published a column in the weak.com (ph) which I said, never
has a serious candidate for president, issued such a full-throated
denunciation of Social Security. And today he is scrambling, Reverend. He
said, you know, somebody asked him, you want to abolish? He said, no, no,
that`s misinformation. Well, the misinformation comes from him, from that
book you were reading.
SHRUM: If it is illegal and unconstitutional, you got to abolish it.
SHARPTON: Well, even Republicans, look at this poll, Republicans
don`t want Social Security overhauled. Fifty seven percent of Republicans.
So, the problem he has is even his own party does not agree that they want
to see the overhauling of Social Security.
SHRUM: But the people who tend to vote in republican primaries.
SHRUM: .are part of that 43 percent who wouldn`t mind something being
done to Social Security. A lot of them. And I think because he appeals as
an authentic conservative to so many people, I think he is actually a
radical. And Romney seems so artificial and inauthentic, that Perry is
still a front-runner for this thing despite what he said last night.
SHARPTON: All right. Well, Alex, let`s go back to the truth zone.
What else do you have, Alex? What`s next?
WAGNER: Lots of fodder in the truth zone, Rev. Second on deck, we
have Mitt Romney saying that he created more jobs in Massachusetts than the
president has in the entire country.
SHARPTON: Yes, I heard him say that.
WAGNER: Let`s go to the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: At the end of four
years, we had an unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent. That`s a record I
think the president would like to see. As a matter of fact, we created
more jobs in Massachusetts than this president has created in the entire
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: In fact, Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, between
2003 and 2007, created 48,500 jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, a
nonpartisan group, estimates that President Obama has created a total of
either 1.0 to 2.9 million jobs. Depending on the abacus (ph), actually
regardless of the abacus you use, that is more than 48,500.
SHARPTON: Forty eight thousand five hundred that were Bob, by Mitt
Romney while he was governor. A million to 2.9 million, depending on how
you want to count it, was produced by President Obama. I think that that
is an obvious whopper by anybody`s scale.
SHRUM: Yes, look. Romney is trying to run as candidate of the
economy against Obama. The fact is, Massachusetts was 47th in job creation
when he was governor. In the private sector, his specialty was buying up
companies, firing people, destroying jobs, breaking them up, and then
making a lot of money for himself. So, I think I understand why he said
it. I don`t think it did him any good. And I think he continues to look
like a guy who will say almost anything to try to get this nomination.
SHARPTON: Well, Bob, thank you very much for joining us.
SHRUM: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Alex, thank you for being in the truth zone. And we will
be checking in with you from time to time as we go through the political
WAGNER: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: We will be right back with the president`s speech right
SHARPTON: The MSNBC team is in place. Chris, Lawrence, Rachel and
Ed. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Welcome back. We are waiting for the president who has
just left on his way to make his jobs speech for our coverage tonight. I`m
joined by the entire MSNBC prime time team. Lawrence O`Donnell, Rachel
Maddow, and Ed Schultz here in New York and Chris Matthews down in
Washington. Well, there`s been a lot leading to the night. The president
first one to do the speech last night. There was drama with the speaker.
Then the NFL game. Back and forth. But here we are. In the middle of all
of that, millions of Americans are suffering. I don`t know if they get it
down there. People are really at their wits end on how they are going to
survive. How they are going to take care of their families and they need
jobs and they need a future. What does the president need to say
concretely? What does he need it say to revive the American spirit? Or
can he? Let me start with you, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": I think that the
president needs to say something tonight that has a big enough exclamation
point on it. That people believe that he is hitting the economy hard
enough. Nudging the economy hard enough that he is going to move it. Not
just that he has to be a political statement, it`s not just that has to be
a statement of his values. It has to be a vision that is big enough that
people start to believe that political action can improve things. I think
part of problem we`ve got right now is that things that have been so bad
for so long, people are hopeless that the political process can do anything
to make anything better. That is a dangerous thing for any country.
SHARPTON: Lawrence, you know the Washington beltway betted in all of
us. And yet, you know that he`s got to speak beyond the beltway tonight.
How does he say something that hits the American public but at the same
time, is feasible enough in the beltway to get something concrete done?
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, "THE LAST WORD": Well, the reality
is, it`s two speeches. It is a campaign speech and it is an attempt at a
governing speech. And the reason it is an attempt is, he has to get
Republicans to go along with some portion of this. There is no way they
will go along with all of what he says. He has to put a kind of pressure
on them in this speech that at least for the first 24 hours prevents them
from jumping up and saying no, no, no, no, no. They are looking at those
polls too. They are looking at the 13 percent polls, saying, hey, you
know, the president may be unpopular right now. There is no one more
unpopular than us. Especially us Republicans on Congress. So, he has to
at least, for the next 24, 48 hours, mute their opposition to see if he can
then gain some yardage out there with the public that would then maybe put
some pressure on some Republicans to think for their own reelections. They
should think about doing some business here.
SHARPTON: Vice President Biden is walking in. Speaker Boehner is up
at the platform. And we see Mitch McConnell behind Vice President Biden.
The president has not arrived at the Capitol yet. Ed Schultz, you are the
angry man representing the base. You`re so angry. You are main stream to
me. What does the president have to say tonight to the base?
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST, "THE ED SHOW": To the base? I don`t think
the president can think about the base tonight. I think the president has
to think about the country. And he has to tell the Congress that he has
been out and about just like they have been. And they`ve all got to get on
the same page. There is a lot of people hurting out there. And we as a
country are better than this. I`m not quite sure it`s a campaign speech.
Because I think any president that would be in this position with this kind
of economy would be obligated to step up and say some pretty tough things
to the Congress right now. Eighty percent of the American people want to
get rid of the group of people we are going to be watching tonight.
The president in that sense, has the wind at his back. He is
tremendous at making the appeal for the American people to move something
forward in Washington. There is going to come a time tonight in the speech
where I think he`s going to turn to the Congress and say, you got to be
with me. I can`t do it alone. We are better than this as a country.
Let`s get the corporations and labor working together. Let`s repatriate
this money. Let`s put some tax incentives to it. Let`s get some more
revenue into the treasury. Let`s do this shared sacrifice. Our people,
our country is better than this. And I also think the president personally
should make a pitch to buy American. There is nothing wrong with that.
SCHULTZ: And I think that everything I just said in the last minute,
the base is going to go along with. And so, I think this isn`t about
solidifying his base. This is about solidifying the economy. And making
sure that the people want to reinvest in our economy and create jobs.
There`s a lot of scary prognostications going on out there, economically,
about the money that`s being parked overseas. What is the president going
to do tonight to talk about bringing that money back to America and
connecting it with investment and the economy? Because these corporations
with their record profits that are going on, the forecast is they are going
to keep doing that.
SHARPTON: Well, that`s one of the thing that Valerie Jarrett
addressed earlier in this show. Last night, the Republicans all had their
debate as we all joined with you Rachel, and this is what they said about
jobs. We are watching the president speak at night after we saw the
Republicans. This is how they addressed the jobs plan, or lack of, that
they were proposing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: They are looking for a president that will say, we`re going to
lower the tax burden on you and we are going to lower the regulation impact
ROMNEY: No tax on interest, dividends or capital gains.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Obama-care is clearly leading
to job killing regulations.
ROMNEY: Granting a waiver from Obama-care to all 50 states, it is bad
PERRY: What they would like to see is the federal government get out
of their business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: President Obama has now arrived at the Capitol. Rachel,
the president has to deal with the fact that some Republicans, no matter
what he says, what he does, they are not going to support anything because
their priority is to defeat him. How he does overcome that?
MADDOW: Well, some Republicans aren`t even going to show up for the
speech tonight, which tells you something about where the Republicans are
coming from. It is an address to a Joint Session of Congress and there are
members of Congress who are staying home purposely to snub the president.
So, it tells you something about their orientation toward the presidency
when it is held by this particular man. That said, the president, I think,
has got a window of opportunity with the freak-out that Lawrence was
describing earlier about Republicans and Congress, starting to feel it a
little bit, that people really dislike their handling of the country and
ascribe to them some responsibility for governing. You did see in that
letter from Eric Cantor and John Boehner to the president this week, saying
we are in favor of infrastructure spending.
MADDOW: It says, we know that our roads, and bridges and highway
networks are in need of repair. We know there are certain areas in the
country that need additional roads. We believe in infrastructure spending.
They put that in writing. They`ve said that. That is an opportunity to
say all right, you said you were for it. Don`t go back against it now just
because I`m proposing it as President Obama.
SHARPTON: You know, as a minister, I waited all my life all the time
to hear from a voice from the Lord, I don`t hear it, but I hear a voice
from Washington of Chris Matthews. And around here, that is second to what
you heard from the Lord. Chris, you have been a presidential speech
writer, and you know oratory better than most as well as you know politics,
how does he get the right speech? How does he, at the same time, deal with
the practicalities of dealing with getting something done in Washington?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, "HARDBALL": Well you know, I think a
great leader has to be feared as well as loved. When you stop being
feared, I think you soon stop being loved. And this president is very near
that problem right now. People don`t fear him. People make fun of him on
the floor of the House. They mock him. They don`t show up. They ignore
him. I think his biggest danger tonight, and Lawrence O`Donnell, we have
worked together up here right now, down here tonight. I think the biggest
fear tonight is they will stamp dead on arrival to whatever he says
tonight. They will ignore it. They are not even responding formally
tonight. That`s the biggest thing. So, I said -- is to make it such a hot
potato, whatever he offers tonight, they`ve got to vote on it. Then got to
commit the vote on, within a couple days of heat.
They`ve got to say, we`re going to give him an up or down on his
package and elements of it without obstruction. And then he has to put a
lot of heat on members to give them the 218 in the Senate, the 51 in the
Senate. He has to put heat out there on these members on infrastructure,
if he puts it forward tonight, put the bridge names of the people at home
that they`ll going to get not fixed because of failure to vote for it. Get
business to come in and support a cut in payroll tax if that`s on the bill
tonight. He`s got to put heat out there on these guys. He`s got to burn
them in the butt. If they don`t back him. He can`t just let this be a
free ride every time they vote against him. And that`s what I think
tonight, it is not what he says tonight, Reverend Al, it is how much hate
he puts on these guys and women if they don`t do what he tells them to.
SHARPTON: Now you`re talking my kind of talk. So, you want him to go
and heat it up. You want to put heat on their butts, put it in their face
and tell them, voted up or down and really challenge them and make them
fear him and respect him.
MATTHEWS: The first thing he`s got to get a vote on this thing. He
cannot have us go now until the end of the year and have them ignore him.
That is the worst thing they can do. It`s not even bring an up or down
vote on what he proposes tonight. The second thing is to have a real
campaign, if you will, to put so much heat on these freshmen worried about
keeping their seats. The people from more democratic districts that are
Republicans, when they voted for Obama last time. And if they have a
bridge that`s below safety code, he should put the name of that bridge on
their local TV stations and let everybody know that they are voting no on
something that they need to fix. He`s going to take the fight to them.
He`s going to play offense and stop waiting for them to fumble the ball or
have an interception. He`s got an offensive team on field. Not just hope
that they run some rube against him next year, that he can easily beat.
I`m afraid he`s hoping he`s going to get Alan Keyes next year again.
Nobody has always a streak of luck to have a chance to run against Alan
SHARPTON: Lawrence, he`s got to fight, he`s got a rally, he`s got to
really press it. What do you say?
O`DONNELL: I say it is so easy, so easy to both ignore and stop and
object to this kind of legislation from a republican standpoint. It is a
very simple side of the bill that everybody always forgets. They look at a
bill and say, what is it going to do? And that`s the way they talk about
it. The way the real pros talk about it, is how do you pay for it? That`s
the other side of the bill. It`s the part nobody tends to read. What is
your pay for? His pay for on some of this stuff may be closing some
corporate tax loop holes. Republicans are going to say, those are tax
increases we are opposed. So, I can say to you, yes, I want to fix that
bridge in my district but I can`t do it the way the president wants to pay
for it. So, you fight the pay for us and you kill the bill.
SHARPTON: Ed, what do we do? How do we break through? Lawrence is
right, they can ignore it. I think Chris is absolutely right. If they
ignore him until the end of the year, he`s dead. How do we, forgetting the
president, how do we deal with the American people that really need some
SCHULTZ: Well, he probably will be ignored. I mean, they have a
pattern of ignoring him. But the president that Chris Matthews was just
describing, that`s why the base was frustrated, because that guy hasn`t
shown up. I mean, when has President Obama been tough on the other guys?
He caved in on the Bush tax cuts? Didn`t fight as hard as the base wanted
him to do on the healthcare reform? Some argue that the stimulus package
wasn`t big enough? The debt reduction, the Supper Committee, not everybody
is really happy about that. These are guys that will go off on their own
and do some things that the American people aren`t going to have a chance
to vote on. And where is it going to end up? It`s going to be an end up
on attack on the new deal and the big three which was a big focal point of
the republican debate last night. So, I`m waiting for President Obama to
be that tough guy that Chris Matthews is talking about. I think we have
been yearning for that.
MADDOW: You look at the first couple years of this president`s time
in office, and you know what, he passed national health reform. He did
pass an $800 billion stimulus bill. He did repeal "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell."
He did set an end date on the Afghanistan war, even if it is a distant one.
He didn`t do a lot of stuff. He did get a lot of things done. And yet, he
did them in a way that left his most ardent supporters feeling like he
didn`t get enough.
MADDOW: And so, the question is not, I think, whether or not
President Obama can get stuff done. He`s actually showing an ability to
get stuff done. I don`t think he got rolled as hard as everybody thinks he
did on the debt issue. The question is whether or not he can make people
believe that he is effective and to be feared, as Chris said.
SHARPTON: What if calling the session -- but I think Chris hit the
tone that I`m concerned about, the respect. And making them fear him
because that is what breaks it through. That`s enough to make something
crawl up my leg, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You`re so kind. I guess that`s throwing it to me, Reverend
Al. But I think there is a problem with this president. That he can be
dealt with, with impunity. That people, small people, not big people, but
people like Cantor and people like Joe Walsh and Allen West can mock him
and walk away and perhaps get re-elected. And I think he has to teach a
couple of these guys a lesson. And find which ones he can do it to. When
I agree with that, I certainly Lawrence is right, you can always get the
paid for issue, but I think the old tricks is all politics is local, find
something that is really in need of prepare in these guys districts and
women`s districts and make them defend, not fixing the bridge that this
school bus is about to go over. And I think you`ve got to really bring it
home to these guys to make them feel it.
MADDOW: I think these guys are so radical that they would take that
as a badge of honor. You`re right. That bridge is a mess in my district.
But I need to take one for the country. We can`t afford it, we`re broke.
I think they would love to not pay for their broken bridges.
SHARPTON: But can they get away with it?
MATTHEWS: They pay the price?
SHARPTON: Can they get away with it, Lawrence? It is their price to
pay and how do we make them pay it?
O`DONNELL: Some of them think they can. You know, there is nothing
you can offer Ron Paul in his district. You could -- you can say, I`m
going to fix everyone and your bridges, I don`t care. I`m not going to
vote for you in this. So, some of them do believe they`re at that point
where they can get away with that. And they`re just -- the truth of it is,
to try to lever every one of those in every one of the Congressional
districts. The White House doesn`t have the personnel to pull that off,
the kind of micro politicking you would have to do in each of those
districts. And so, it is going to be tough. Look, presidents are beggars
to Congress. They beg those chairmen to consider what they want.
Remember, George W. Bush got re-elected on two things in his platform.
One was Social Security reform. The other was tax reform. That was his
entire legislative agenda for his reelection campaign. The chairman of
Ways and Means, the chairman of finance had jurisdiction over both of those
things. They are both Republicans. They didn`t give them a single hearing
on any one of those things. He had a republican Congress that ignored his
top priorities. They will do that. And they are empowered to do that and
they are certainly empowered to do it against a president of the other
SHARPTON: Dr. Biden, sitting upstairs. Ed, how do we put a people`s
movement together that would pressure them in those districts? I think
Lawrence is right, the White House doesn`t understand but you were there
among the people in Wisconsin. They were able to get two of the state
senators recalled, can there be enough pressure on the ground if we see
movement, civil rights labor. If movements get behind this package. Or
get behind a package. Can we put the fear there on districts that are not
that overwhelmingly republic?
SCHULTZ: I don`t think it is matter of fear at this point, Reverend.
Because the hurting, is you see it. So, this president has asked the
American people to call their Congressional members and put the pressure on
it. I think he will ask for the order again tonight. Putting a movement
together is not going to be hard thing to do because there is enough angst
out there among the different sectors of the economy or work force that are
willing to step up and do something. Especially after the republican
debate last night when they see how radical things could be. So, I think
the president, as I said earlier, has got the wind at his back from the
standpoint. I think that people are ready for him to do something and step
out and be strong and be a leader on the issues that he believes in.
Putting people back to work. It is a heavy lift. It takes money to do
that. Now, where are you going to get the money? Is the president tonight
going to ask for shared sacrifice? Is he going to turn to the top two
percent and say, you`ve had it pretty good the last ten years.
We got to brace ourselves for more money coming into the treasury, we
need more. It is unpopular talk but it is straight talk. And you`re not
going to be able to get a whole bunch of money into the treasury to reduce
our obligations unless we go somewhere. And the best place to go in my
opinion is to the people who have had it very good over the last ten years.
Again repatriating, the money is a big thing, the corporate tax breaks,
he`s going to probably cave in on that and say, all right, we`re going to
do something really big if you create jobs in America. The manufacturing
sector in this country. We have closed 50,000 factories in this country
over the last ten years. He should throw that number out at the Congress
and ask them if they are in favor of that. Who, what American would say,
hey, that`s really a good thing, Mr. President. We have outsourced that
many jobs. And talk about outsourcing. Talk about Ohio. Talk about
Michigan. And then say, you know what, the one big plan I have for the
economy was to save the automobile industry and none of you over here were
with me. I took the chance and did it. And look where we are. Trust in
my judgment, let`s move forward.
SHARPTON: First lady, Michelle Obama has come in and is taking her
seat. Rachel, the movement. What do we do? We are getting ready to hear
the president. If the president does what all of us has collectively said,
where does it go? Does it go to the people? Does it go to the Congress?
What do we do after we hear the marching orders tonight from the president?
Assuming we hear marching orders?
MADDOW: I think Chris was right to identify the speed with which
Congress needs to act after this as a key point. And one thing that I will
be watching for us, whether or not the president is going to be introducing
specific legislation. Whether there is legislation associated with his
ideas. Here we go.
SHARPTON: Well, thanks to you all. This is the cabinet coming in.
Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State. Timothy Geithner, Secretary of
the Treasury is behind her. Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense. And Eric
Holder as you see. Well, thanks to you all and thanks to all of you for
Special coverage of the president`s job speech starts right now, with
the special edition of "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews. Chris.
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Guests: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O`Donnell, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, Valerie Jarrett, Jan Schakowsky, Jason Chaffetz, Bob Shrum, Alex Wagner