CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Let`s play "Hardball."
Good evening I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Welcome to a special
edition of "Hardball." It is now 7:00 Eastern Time and President Obama is
just moments away from entering the chamber of House of Representatives
where he will tell Congress and the American people his plan to create
jobs. As we wait for the president, I`m joined by my MSNBC colleagues
Lawrence O`Donnell, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Reverend Al Sharpton.
Reverend Al was just introducing the cabinet as they were coming out. We
are seeing them right now joining the president. There is Timothy
Rachel, we have a couple of moments to talk about this as the
president prepares to come in here. I guess the question I think, and I go
back to his action. Words have been spoken now for three years. I think
people want action. Can he make Congress act?
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: I think that president
thinks that he can make Congress act if he calls them on things they have
already said they are in favor of when we saw the first stimulus act,
Chris, just a few months after the president was inaugurated in March of
2009 that was about 2/3-1/3 spending to tax cuts. What is the overall
ratio that is going to be his offer tonight? Is it going to be more
heavily weighted towards tax cuts? If it is, I think we can expect to see
that as an olive branch to the Republicans.
OK, you get more of what you want this time. You get more of what you
want with the understanding we will all get something, with the
understanding that something will happen here. I think Cantor and Boehner
putting it in writing they are in favor of infrastructure spending this
week. I will be speaking with Chairman John Mica from the Infrastructure
sub-committee in the house right after the speech tonight in the 9:00 p.m.
Eastern hour to find out if he is willing to move on transportation
infrastructure spending in the Republican controlled house. It is going to
be about whether or not he can sign them up for things they have already
declared they are in favor of. And I think the president will tightly
MATTHEWS: Rachel, it`s the question I guess if these leaders and the
Republicans side of said they would support infrastructure spending and
there are shovel-ready projects can be quickly approved and quickly put out
there, how do you put the pressure on and say yes, do it.
ED SCHULTZ, HOST, THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW: Well, middle-classers, labor
in this country are engaged at this point. The recent events of the last
couple of months certainly have really kicked, I think, a sleeping giant.
And I think the Republicans know that. I think that they know they`ve got
to engage here although they have a history, obviously, of ignoring this
president. But they`ve got home. And they`ve heard an earful. And they
have seen the angst and I really believe it that this might be an
opportunity for the Republicans to step away from a radical agenda and
start thinking about, you know, there`s an up side for everybody, even for
us politically, if we do go along with the president on something and the
job markets get a little bit better.
I think that people that who are just so upset with congress right
now, each and everyone of them have got to deal with that individually when
they go home. So there`s, from the Republican standpoint, I don`t think
there is any down side, although, their rigid thinking of the last several
years, you know, the track record is they don`t want to help this guy.
So this is a big speech. This is going to be a big reaction. I also
think that one of the reasons why the Republicans aren`t responding to it
tonight, they want to see where the wind sock is. They want to see where
this all plays out.
MATTHEWS: Lawrence, I just saw (inaudible) one of the master minds of
this, how can they vote against if he does put forward something on payroll
tax relief for example, something that cheapens or reduces the cost of
hiring people and keeping them aboard, why would business not put pressure
on Republicans to give that bill a shot?
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Well, for one thing, it is
tax bill, Chris. And it is almost impossible to move a tax bill through
Congress without reconciliation protection. As soon as you are doing a tax
bill it opens it up to endless streams of tax amendments in the Senate on
all sorts of Republican darlings, also Democrats could try to load it up
with their version of amendments on the tax side.
And so this kind of thing is very easy to bog down and it is very easy
to say, I`m for infrastructure spending. That`s the easy thing for elected
officials to say. The question that is going to be facing them is how are
you going to pay for it? And Eric Cantor would be happy to pay for some
infrastructure spending with, oh, I don`t know, a couple of hundred billion
in Medicare cuts. If they can get the Democrats and president to go for
some Medicare cuts to pay for their infrastructure spending then they feel
they will have neutralized the problem they have currently, the Republicans
do, on Medicare. So it is all about the pay-for. The Republicans will not
come to an agreement on how to pay for this stuff.
MATTHEWS: OK, Reverend Sharpton, your thoughts here. What do you
think is - here he is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.
MATTHEWS: Here is President Obama coming. Let`s watch him coming in.
MATTHEWS: Now, these members of Congress from both parties, even the
party, the president is a member of the other party waiting in these seats
for hours to get this opportunity to shake his hand on national television.
Look at that, how they hold him. They just won`t let him go by sometimes.
This is a bipartisan tradition. Get there in the aisle eats, after
the dogs check for bombs. Get back to those seats again. Hold them.
There is Allison Schwartz of Pennsylvania. Hold on, there is Brian Kelly
(ph) retiring this year from Michigan. These people have been around and
women of here for so long. They just love this stuff. Look at this. It
hasn`t changed in years.
Reverend Sharpton, this is the good old boy system we are watching but
it not terribly unhealthy if they do something in the rituals, besides
enjoy the presence in that chamber.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, HOST, POLITICS NATION: Yes. Well, I would hope
they are reaching out to the American people like they are reaching out to
the president. I think the real problem is, when you look at that 13
percent approval rating of congress. I think that we have to use that
leverage, the public, that`s why we were speaking earlier about that, there
must be a real movement that goes down on those that block what is in our
judgment the ability to create jobs.
The fear, I think, comes from the fact that they are so un-floppy
(ph). And that if we really started challenging and organizing in some of
the key districts that are swing districts, I think that you can begin to
create a climb that the president may not be able to create on his own.
And I think he has to give us enough to warrant - to do that he has it give
enough of the American people`s anger to be channeled into real movements.
I don`t think he can do it by himself but he has to give an impetus
tonight so the movement can be directed to those in swing districts. Some
people you will never get but there is enough there to work with.
MATTHEWS: Rachel, take a moment there, there he is with Gary Ackerman
looking at him rather - there he is, with his arm on the guy`s shoulder,
saying hello everybody. And I guess the question is this sort of palling
around even in these moments, does it add up to strength?
MADDOW: You know what this shows is, the office of the presidency and
this president fully inhabiting it regardless of the fact that people
scream "you lie" at him from the Republican side of the aisle. That some
Republicans don`t show up on nights like this, remind you of the importance
of the office here.
MATTHEWS: Here he is, Rachel. And everyone, the President is about
to speak. Let`s let him get ready to make his points.
JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Members of congress, I have the
high privilege and distinction honor of presenting to you, the President of
the United States.
OBAMA: Thank you so much. Everyone, please have a seat. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and fellow
Americans, tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue
to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless
and a political crisis that`s made things worse.
This past week, reporters have been asking, "What will this speech
mean for the president? What will it mean for Congress? How will it
affect their polls and the next election?"
But the millions of Americans who are watching right now, they don`t
care about politics. They have real-life concerns. Many have spent months
looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by, giving up
nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage, postponing
retirement to send a kid to college.
These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work
and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone
gets a fair shake and does their fair share, where if you stepped up, did
your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded
with a decent salary and good benefits, maybe a raise once in awhile. If
you did the right thing, you could make it -- anybody could make it in
But for decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode. They
have seen the decks too often stacked against them. And they know that
Washington has not always put their interests first.
The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities.
The question tonight is whether we`ll meet ours. The question is whether --
in the face of an ongoing national crisis -- we can stop the political
circus and actually do something to help the economy.
The question -- the question is whether we can restore some of the
fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.
Those of us here tonight can`t solve all our nation`s woes.
Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our
businesses and our workers. But we can help. We can make a difference.
There are steps we can take right now to improve people`s lives.
I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away.
It`s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial
about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of
proposal that`s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans, including
many who sit here tonight, and everything in this bill will be paid for,
The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people
back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It
will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers,
more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for long-term unemployed. It will
It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it
will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small
It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled and give
companies confidence that, if they invest and if they hire, there will be
customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan
Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs
begin. And you know that while corporate profits have come roaring back,
smaller companies haven`t. So for everyone who speaks so passionately
about making life easier for "job-creators," this plan`s for you. Pass
this jobs bill.
Pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get
a tax cut if they hire new workers or if they raise workers` wages. Pass
this jobs bill, and all small-business owners will also see their payroll
taxes cut in half next year. If you have 50 employees...
If you have 50 employees making an average salary, that`s an $80,000
tax cut. And all businesses will be able to continue writing off the
investments they make in 2012.
OBAMA: It`s not just Democrats who have supported this kind of
proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut
that`s in this plan. You should pass it right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America.
Everyone here knows we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over this
country. Our highways are clogged with traffic. Our skies are the most
congested in the world. It`s an outrage.
Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us
an economic superpower. And now we`re going to sit back and watch China
build newer airports and faster railroads, at a time when millions of
unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?
There are private construction companies all across America just
waiting to get to work. There`s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio
and Kentucky that`s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America,
a public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the
worst areas of traffic in the country.
And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need
renovating. How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are
literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great
school, and we can give it to them, if we act now.
The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000
schools. It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows,
installing science labs and high-speed Internet in classrooms all across
this country. It will rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hit
hardest by foreclosures. It will jump-start thousands of transportation
projects all across the country.
And to make sure the money is properly spent, we`re building on
reforms we`ve already put in place. No more earmarks. No more
boondoggles. No more Bridges to Nowhere. We`re cutting the red tape that
prevents some of these projects from getting started as quickly as
possible. And we`ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars
and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is
needed and how much good it will do for the economy.
This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a
Massachusetts Democrat. The idea for a big boost in construction is
supported by America`s largest business organization and America`s largest
labor organization. It`s the kind of proposal that`s been supported in the
past by Democrats and Republicans alike. You should pass it right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go
back to work. These are the men and women charged with preparing our
children for a world where the competition has never been tougher.
But while they`re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we`re
laying them off in droves. It`s unfair to our kids; it undermines their
future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this bill, and put our teachers
back in the classroom where they belong.
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they
hire America`s veterans. We ask these men and women to leave their
careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for our country.
The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come
OBAMA: Pass this bill, and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged
young people will have the hope and the dignity of a summer job next year.
And their parents...
... their parents, low-income Americans who desperately want to work,
will have more ladders out of poverty.
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if
they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.
We -- we have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their
search for work. This jobs plan builds on a program in Georgia that
several Republican leaders have highlighted, where people who collect
unemployment insurance participate in temporary work as a way to build
their skills while they look for a permanent job.
The plan also extends unemployment insurance for another year.
If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance
and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a
devastating blow to this economy. Democrats and Republicans in this
chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past.
And in this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again, right
Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a $1,500
tax cut next year, $1,500 that would have been taken out of your pocket
will go into your pocket. This expands on the tax cut that Democrats and
Republicans already passed for this year.
If we allow that tax cut to expire, if we refuse to act, middle- class
families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. We
can`t let that happen.
I know that some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on
anyone for as long as you live. Now is not the time to carve out an
exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this
bill right away.
This is the American Jobs Act. It will lead to new jobs for
construction workers, for teachers, for veterans, for first responders,
young people, and the long-term unemployed. It will provide tax credits to
companies that hire new workers, tax relief to small-business owners, and
tax cuts for the middle-class.
And here`s the other thing I want the American people to know: The
American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for. And
(APPLAUSE) The agreement we passed in July will cut government
spending by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. It also charges this
Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by
Christmas. Tonight, I`m asking you to increase that amount so that it
covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday,
I`ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan, a plan that will not only
cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run.
This approach is basically the one I`ve been advocating for months.
In addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts I`ve already signed
into law, it`s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making
additional spending cuts, by making modest adjustments to health care
programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and by reforming our tax code in a way
that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their
What`s more, the spending cuts wouldn`t happen so abruptly that they`d
be a drag on our economy or prevent us from helping small businesses and
middle-class families get back on their feet right away.
Now, I realize there are some in my party who don`t think we should
make any changes at all to Medicare and Medicaid, and I understand their
concerns. But here`s the truth: Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in
their retirement. And millions more will do so in the future. They pay
for this benefit during their working years; they earn it.
But with an aging population and rising health care costs, we are
spending too fast to sustain the program. And if we don`t gradually reform
the system, while protecting current beneficiaries, it won`t be there when
future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.
OBAMA: I`m also...
I`m also well aware that there are many Republicans who don`t believe
we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford
it. But here`s what every American knows: While most people in this
country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and
most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody
Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, an
outrage he has asked us to fix. We need a tax code where everyone gets a
fair shake and where everybody pays their fair share.
And, by the way, I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and
CEOs are willing to do just that, if it helps the economy grow and gets our
fiscal house in order.
I`ll also offer ideas to reform a corporate tax code that stands as a
monument to special interest influence in Washington. By eliminating pages
of loopholes and deductions, we can lower one of the highest corporate tax
rates in the world.
Our tax code should not give an advantage to companies that can afford
the best-connected lobbyists. It should give an advantage to companies
that invest and create jobs right here in the United States of America.
So we can reduce this deficit, pay down our debt, and pay for this
jobs plan in the process. But in order to do this, we have to decide what
our priorities are. We have to ask ourselves, "What`s the best way to grow
the economy and create jobs?"
Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies, or should we use that
money to give small-business owners a tax credit when they hire new
workers? Because we can`t afford to do both.
Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or should
we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and
Right now, we can`t afford to do both.
This isn`t political grandstanding. This isn`t class warfare.
This is simple math. These are real choices. These are real choices
that we`ve got to make. And I`m pretty sure I know what most Americans
would choose. It`s not even close. And it`s time for us to do what`s
right for our future.
Now, the American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs
right away. But we can`t stop there. As I`ve argued since I ran for this
office, we have to look beyond the immediate crisis and start building an
economy that lasts into the future, an economy that creates good, middle-
class jobs that pay well and offer security.
We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for
companies to take their business anywhere. If we want them to start here
and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build, and out-
educate, and out-innovate every other country on Earth.
This task, of making America more competitive for the long haul,
that`s a job for all of us, for government and for private companies, for
states and for local communities, and for every American citizen. All of us
will have to up our game. All of us will have to change the way we do
My administration can and will take some steps to improve our
competitiveness on our own. For example, if you`re a small-business owner
who has a contract with the federal government, we`re going to make sure
you get paid a lot faster than you do right now.
We`re also planning to cut away the red tape that prevents too many
rapidly growing start-up companies from raising capital and going public.
OBAMA: And to help responsible homeowners, we`re going to work with
federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at
interest rates that are now near 4 percent. That`s a step...
I know you guys must be for this, because that`s a step that can put
more than $2,000 a year in a family`s pocket and give a lift to an economy
still burdened by the drop in housing prices.
So some things we can do on our own. Other steps will require
Today, you passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent
process so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as
quickly as possible. That`s the kind of action we need.
Now it`s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that
would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in
Panama, and Colombia, and South Korea, while also helping the workers whose
jobs have been affected by global competition.
If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South
Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers.
I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with the
three proud words, "Made in America." That`s what we need to get done.
And on all of our efforts to strengthen competitiveness, we need to
look for ways to work side by side with America`s businesses. That`s why
I`ve brought together a jobs council of leaders from different industries
who are developing a wide range of new ideas to help companies grow and
Already, we`ve mobilized business leaders to train 10,000 American
engineers a year, by providing company internships and training. Other
businesses are covering tuition for workers who learn new skills at
community colleges. And we`re going to make sure the next generation
of manufacturing takes root not in China or Europe, but right here in the
United States of America.
If we provide the right incentives, the right support, and if we make
sure our trading partners play by the rules, we can be the ones to build
everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors
that we sell all around the world. That`s how America can be number-one
again. And that`s how America will be number-one again.
Now, I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow
the economy. Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our
economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate
most government regulations.
And -- well, I agree that we can`t afford wasteful spending, and I`ll
work with you, with Congress, to root it out. And I agree that there are
some rules and regulations that do put an unnecessary burden on businesses
at a time when they can least afford it.
That`s why I ordered a review of all government regulations. So far,
we`ve identified over 500 reforms, which will save billions of dollars over
the next few years. We should have no more regulation than the health,
safety and security of the American people require. Every rule should meet
that commonsense test.
But what we can`t do -- what I will not do -- is let this economic
crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that
Americans have counted on for decades.
I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their
jobs and their safety. I reject the argument that says, for the economy to
grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card
companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or
laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging
OBAMA: I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective
bargaining rights to compete in a global economy.
We shouldn`t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the
cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards. America should be in a
race to the top, and I believe we can win that race.
In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore
prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody`s money, and let
everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they`re on their own,
that`s not who we are. That`s not the story of America.
Yes, we are rugged individualists. Yes, we are strong and self-
reliant. And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and
entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and the envy of the
But there`s always been another thread running throughout our history,
a belief that we`re all connected, and that there are some things we can
only do together as a nation.
We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our union,
founder of the Republican Party. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was
also a leader who looked to the future, a Republican president who
mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad, launch the
National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges. And
leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.
Ask yourselves: Where would we be right now if the people who sat
here before us decided not to build our highways, not to build our bridges,
our dams, our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen
not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or
Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the
opportunity to go to school because of the G.I. Bill. Where would we be if
they hadn`t had that chance?
(APPLAUSE) How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses
decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the
computer chip? What kind of country would this be if this chamber had
voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid
idea about what government could or could not do? How many Americans would
have suffered as a result?
No single individual built America on their own. We built it
together. We have been -- and always will be -- one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, a nation with
responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another.
And, members of Congress, it is time for us to meet our
Every proposal I`ve laid out tonight is the kind that`s been supported
by Democrats and Republicans in the past. Every proposal I`ve laid out
tonight will be paid for. And every proposal is designed to meet the
urgent needs of our people and our communities.
Now, I know there`s been a lot of skepticism about whether the
politics of the moment will allow us to pass this jobs plan, or any jobs
plan. Already, we`re seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying
back and forth. Already, the media has proclaimed that it`s impossible to
bridge our differences. And maybe some of you have decided that those
differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box.
But know this: The next election is 14 months away. And the people
who sent us here, the people who hired us to work for them, they don`t have
the luxury of waiting 14 months.
OBAMA: Some of them are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck,
even day to day. They need help, and they need it now.
I don`t pretend that this plan will solve all our problems. It should
not be -- nor will it be -- the last plan of action we propose. What`s
guided us from the start of this crisis hasn`t been the search for a silver
bullet. It`s been a commitment to stay at it, to be persistent, to keep
trying every new idea that works and listen to every good proposal, no
matter which party comes up with it.
Regardless of the arguments we`ve had in the past, regardless of the
arguments we`ll have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do
right now. You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every
corner of this country.
And I ask -- I ask every American who agrees to lift your voice, tell
the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell
Washington that doing nothing is not an option. Remind us that, if we act
as one nation and one people, we have it within our power to meet this
President Kennedy once said, "Our problems are manmade; therefore,
they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants."
These are difficult years for our country, but we are Americans. We
are tougher than the times that we live in, and we are bigger than our
politics have been. So let`s meet the moment, let`s get to work, and let`s
show the world once again why the United States of America remains the
greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you very much. God bless you, and God bless the United States
MATTHEWS: Rachel, have we just heard the first refrains of "give `em
MADDOW: When the president said, "I intend to take that message to
every corner of this country," did you see the look in his eye when he said
MADDOW: This was -- this was a fighting Obama. This was not fighting
about policy. This is not fighting over the right way to approach things
in the world. This was, I am willing to fight to get what I think is right
and I`m a formidable political force. We have not seen the "I am Obama
political force" guy in quite some time.
MATTHEWS: Ed Schultz?
SCHULTZ: Well, I was inspired by the president as much as he has been
through, Chris, with a record number of filibusters, and no effort from the
other side to come forward with any kind of job proposal, this president is
-- I don`t know if we hold records of presidents trying to reach out from
the other side.
But even if this moment, he says no individual built America on their
own, we built it together. We have been there and we always will be. One
nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Responsibility to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another.
Members of Congress, it is time to met you`re responsibilities. In the
midst of it all, in the midst of the climate, he says, we are not doing our
jobs as lawmakers and now is the time to do it because Americans are
suffering and we are better than this.
That`s what I took from this tonight, a message that we are a better
country than the we are performing right now and we need to move forward.
MATTHEWS: Lawrence, you should pass this bill, this plan, right away,
again and again and again. Action, rather than words, action rather than
specificity, or even a grand plan. The plan is not so grand. But what
seems different here is his putting heat on the other side.
O`DONNELL: He puts specifics, Chris, on the things I thinks are easy
which are basically corporate tax breaks, $4,000.
O`DONNELL: A $4,000 credit, for example, for hiring someone who has
been unemployment for six months or more. He expects both sides to want to
do that. There are plenty of other tax provisions in here that he never
specified. He talked about Warren Buffett`s tax return but didn`t say how
he wants it change it. Not one word about exactly how he wants to change
how the rich, the millionaires and billionaires he called pay their taxes?
What does he want to change there? We don`t know yet. He did say in
language that was a little bit veiled, he does, wants to, and is willing to
cut Medicare and Medicaid to help pay for this package.
I said before his speech, the all the real difficulty here is going to
be in the pay force. In the pay force, he`s talking about, he has
difficulties with both parties. He`s got difficulties with the Democrats
on Medicare and Medicaid. The tax provisions where he wants to increase
taxation, he did not specify. Republicans wouldn`t go along with any of
MATTHEWS: Reverend Al, all during the speech, I`ve been tweeting.
And I just noticed and pointed out -- I didn`t just notice, I pointed out
there are 90 bridges in his home district, Speaker Boehner, that are
structurally deficient right now, like that bridge in Minnesota that came
down, that collapsed. Will this pressure for jobs, this focus now in
infrastructure and tax breaks work?
SHARPTON: I think it will. When you see the tone the president set
tonight, I think it is a brilliant tone he set because what he said, he
talked not only about his $447 billion package, he not only talked about
the fact that Americans need to ride above their partisan differences. He
talked about we need to see cars around the world made in America. He
talked about we can`t let China do things that we can`t do.
He appealed to a new level of patriotism that is going to make some of
the opposition look petty when they go home and not deal with some of the
infrastructure disrepair and not deal with the jobs. I think what he said,
which was key, is that I understand his election in 14 months but people
can`t wait 14 months. If he goes on the road, if he travels as he said to
every corner of this country, that message is going to be hard for them to
Now, I agree with Lawrence, the devil is going to be in the details.
What is going to be in the package he sends down Monday after next? And
how do we pay for it? How do we do the tax cuts? That will be debated.
But the tone he set tonight was brilliant. And once you lay out the
tone, the lyrics are interchangeable once people start humming the melody.
MATTHEWS: Chuck Todd, political director of NBC News and chief White
Chuck Todd, do they have a plan to ramrod this through and get it
done, not just talk about it?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Well, they have a political plan, and they have
a marketing plan. What`s not clear what they a legislative plan. I mean,
earlier this afternoon, the president did the perfunctory calls to Boehner,
to McConnell, to say, look, I`m sending this bill, putting it in bill form,
next week, calling it the American jobs epic, Chris. And you`ll appreciate
it as a long time speechwriter, how unflowery this speech was, right?
So, for instance, somebody made this point to me on Twitter, and I
double-checked, they were right, the word infrastructure was never uttered
but the president talked infrastructure in a large part of the speech.
They scrubbed this speech in a way to make sure that this -- that this
didn`t get lost in Washington speak that made him sound like a populist.
It got him out of here.
So stylistically, I think that`s why it came across as a feisty
speech. Very, frankly, unstated, the union-like in style.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the reason we remember Anglo Saxon words,
including the dirty ones, they are short. They are usually four letters,
like jobs. They beat the hell out of Latinate phrases like infrastructure
and stimulus. Those are weasel words. They are weak words.
Let me ask you back again, you say they got everything in place. They
probably got a bus trip here.
Do they have a plan to ramrod it through Ways and Means, through
Finance, through Public Works? Do they have a plan on the Hill to put heat
so that these members of the edge have to vote for it? And this leadership
has to give it the vote, to bring it up for vote even?
TODD: Well, the heat is going to come from his public appearances,
right? So, where does he go tomorrow? Richmond, Virginia. Whose
MATTHEWS: Eric Cantor.
TODD: Correct. Then, next Tuesday, it starts again. He is going to
Ohio. Whose home state is that? Speaker Boehner`s.
So you see what they are trying to do at least in the public, in the
marketing campaign of this in putting this pressure and ramping it up. As
for the pay-fors, one of the things that we have been told behind the
scenes is that he is going to have a specific plan. He`s going to give the
so-called supercommittee for the debt reduction.
And what seemed to be and I think going into this and Lawrence picked
up on this really well when they go through the pay-fors, and that`s us
speaking too much Washington speak here. So, my apologies here.
When they figure out how to pay for this, is it going to be now having
to find another $450 billion that the supercommittee has to go and find and
do? You can argue that`s what they view the legislative strategy as, which
is simply, well, let`s put the burden on the supercommittee.
MATTHEWS: Will he take this all the way home? Two people like Eric
Cantor, he won`t get his vote probably. But bringing it home, we now have
a list from transportation of America, thousands and thousands of bridges
across this country that are recognized to be structurally deficient. Will
he go into the face of Eric Cantor, into the media market of Richmond,
Virginia, into the donut diner, the suburbs and list the bridges below
safety code that Eric Cantor will have to vote to keep below safety code if
he opposes this bill?
How detailed, how local will they make this fight?
TODD: I think the intent is to go very local. I mean, the intent of
this, the whole reason they wanted to have the joint session speech was to
have the moment in here so he could be saying 17 times "pass this jobs
bill, pass this jobs bill" to members of Congress listening. And they want
to go old school about it for the next six weeks, which is simply blitz the
country. Start what they`re doing here.
Now, the question: do they go as local as you`re describing? One
would assume that is what they`re going to do or they`re going to have to
do to try to do this.
But I have to say and he pointed out in his own speech, I`m pretty
skeptical how the House Republican leadership and where the base of the
Republican Party is right now with a presidential campaign in full swing
inside the Republican Party whether Boehner can do this. You know, let`s
say he wants to do this.
Can he afford to 100 -- we`re going to go back to some of these
things. This is -- there are a lot of conservative Republicans who are not
going to be wanting to play ball with the president on this out of
politics. And that`s going to be the tough fight here.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Chuck Todd, at the White House.
Let`s go back to right now Rachel, Ed and Al Sharpton, in that order.
Rachel, your thoughts about how convinced are you this president is
going to be a "give `em hell, Barry" and really bring it to the people and
win on the argument of creating jobs?
MADDOW: I think that the president while he took a sort of spunky
tone tonight, I do actually think he`s put together something that`s as
passable as possible. We saw two-thirds, one thirds relationship between
spending and tax cuts in the first stimulus. This is 60/40 tax cuts to
spending. There`s more tax cuts in this than spending. The Republicans
are going to like to see that.
I went back and looked at Harry Truman`s 1948 Labor Day speech because
the president talked about this when he spoke on Labor Day this week in a
sort of preview. And the way that Harry Truman gave them hell back in
1948, was very blunt, you know? Now, mother house to outfit the children
for school at outrageous prices, how she does it I don`t know. I tried to
help her out in this terrible crisis situation. But I got absolutely no
help from that do nothing Republican Congress.
That was "Give `em hell, Harry." "Give `em hell, Barry" doesn`t sound
"Give `em hell, Barry" sounds like, you know what Republicans? Come,
let us reason together. You are better than this. You don`t really
believe that America should give up for partisan gain. You don`t really
think these things that you have been claiming as a means of getting over
on me in politics because you know that America needs you to be bigger than
He`s not telling them they are bad guys. He`s not telling the country
that Republicans are the reason that we`ve got the problems that we`ve got.
He may start doing that over the next six weeks. But at this point, what
he`s doing is saying, Republicans, you ought to work with me on this. I`ll
make it as easy as possible and take on your ideas when I can and I`ll
credit you for them when I do and you ought to stand with me on this. You
ought to pass this bill.
MATTHEWS: Ed Schultz, how would you make this better?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think the president needs accolades tonight for
saying to his base, you`re going to have to serve up a little bit on
Medicare and Medicaid. That`s something that we have not seen the
Republicans do turn to their base and say, you know what? We got to get
some shared sacrifice out of you guys, too. So, once again here come the
The president had a lot for teachers tonight -- 35,000 schools. Who`s
going to be against that?
He wants to do something for veterans who are coming home and trying
to get a job. Who in the world could be against that?
He also addressed in a roundabout way the 99ers. He said, we need
round of unemployment insurance. We voted for this in the past. We can do
He talked about the manufacturing sector and competing with China. He
talked about the trade agreements.
But there are some devils in the details there that I`m interested in
personally. The president said as we will set up an independent fund to
attract private dollars in issue loans based on two criteria. How badly a
construction project is needed and how much good it will do for the
economy. Well, this is very vague. This is about as close as I think he
got to infrastructure projects tonight without using the word as Chuck Todd
What fund? Where`s the money coming from? He`s asking -- he says
private -- attract private dollars. He`s asking people with the money in
this country to step up and take a risk.
And if you don`t take the risk, we might not be able to address the
unemployed in this country and get people back to work. So, the olive
branch is I`m going to ask my base to do a little bit more but you know
what? You got to get in the game.
In fact, I think at one point in the speech he said everybody in. I
thought it was a great speech. I thought it was common sense. I thought
there was a sense of fairness in it. I thought the president tonight,
Chris, was as aggressive as he has ever been in asking for the order. Pass
this jobs bill.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Lawrence about the Democratic response. What do
you think it will be? The whole plethora of proposes he made and how they
O`DONNELL: There`s tough stuff for Democrats. They are not going to
welcome cracking the political wall on Medicare. They`re not going to
welcome up opening up a discussion of how much should we cut Medicare to
pay for those teachers or pay for these other elements, especially since
they have the Paul Ryan abolish Medicare plan to run against.
Chris, there`s a minimum, a minimum, of six congressional committees
of jurisdiction over this bill. Half of those committees are chaired by
Republicans. There will be as far as I can see here, very little political
pressure on any of those Republican chairmen to take up their portions of
this bill. They can sit there and say, let`s see the Democratic chairman
in the Senate do it first. Ways and means can just sit there in the House
and say let`s watch Baucus do these tax cuts and targeted tax cuts to
By the way, very big corporate tax breaks to big corporations while at
the same time an unspecified list of closing some other corporate tax
loopholes. You know, Chris, what the lobbying is going to be on this in
the different committees and the way you would do the plan of targeting the
individual Congress members is specifically on the committees. You don`t
just pick Eric Cantor. You go to the public works committee players and
you go to the finance and ways and means players and work on them in their
district. You don`t have to work on all 100 members of House.
O`DONNELL: Yes. In fact, I`d go back, Lawrence, even further.
You`re a Hill guy, too, in the past and I`d get a list of every pork barrel
project of infrastructure that they have asked for. Go back and inventory
what they asked for in the past. And say, OK, now you can have it. My
name is on it. My name is on it.
Anyway, thank you. Good luck with your show. You`ll be coming on at
Let me go to Rachel whose voice I think I just heard there.
Rachel, this whole question of how good a politician is this guy, I
think has come to the fore. This isn`t about ideology tonight I don`t
think. It`s about effectiveness as a political leader. This speech was a
combination of here`s some easy stuff for you guys. Certainly, we can do
this together. The Rodney king approach. Let`s all do this together and
get along. And then there was the real rousing populous you threw in at
the end they don`t like.
Has he put it together?
MADDOW: This president has one thing in common, I think, in terms of
the people who -- perception of people by people who dislike him and
perception of people who like him. And that is at this point in his
presidency, people thought that he would be stronger in the sense that he
would be more effective at getting what he wants. I think even his
opponents have been surprised he hasn`t been able to get through more of
MADDOW: And so, that`s the main perception he`s got to change.
People react to weakness often with meanness and they want to see a
president they believe in mostly in terms of his effectiveness. People
admire strength even when they don`t agree what it`s aiming at.
MATTHEWS: You`re my brother, but you`re weak, right out of
"Godfather." We`ll be back with our coverage.
By the way, thank you, Rachel.
We`re going to be right back with our coverage of the president. But,
first, NBC news justice correspondent Pete Williams is with us with the
latest on a possible terror threat that officials say is credible if
unconfirmed on now the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That`s exactly the way
to describe it, Chris, according to officials we`ve talked to tonight, that
this is information the U.S. has received in the last day or so about a
potential threat to New York and Washington involving car or truck bombs.
We`re told the information originates from tribal areas in Pakistan and
officials are now trying to run it down and see how accurate it is and
whether it`s credible.
They say it`s -- there are some contradictory things about it.
Statement from homeland security tonight injects a note of skepticism but
nonetheless, they are trying to run it down. We do know that both
Washington and New York police responding to this information have already
increased their patrols, told their people to be on the lookout, told them
they may need to stay longer in the next day or so as they continue to try
to check this out.
So, the best way to say it, Chris, is that it is something of concern
to the government. I don`t they`re going to raise the terror threat level,
but they are certainly asking people in police and Washington to be more on
the lookout and there undoubtedly is going to be a lot more of this as we
go into the hours before the 9/11 anniversary as more and more of this
information is churned out.
MATTHEWS: OK. Pete Williams, thanks so for joining with us that
news. We`ll see how that turns out. Of course, stay tuned to MSNBC and
NBC News to find out whether this thing comes to reality. Hopefully, it
won`t on this anniversary.
This has been quite a night for the president. I think it`s probably
his most rousing political performance in a long time. He may have learned
a lot of lessons in the last couple months during this dead fight. He may
be a tougher customer than the Republicans started dealing with a few
Anyway, our coverage continues now on "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence
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