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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Sam Stein, Joe Klein, David Mintz, Michelle Goldberg, Joe

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Herman Cain may be in the lead in the
Republican presidential race, but the real campaign front-runner is still
President Obama.


TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: A new shocking surge by Herman Cain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEAMLE: Yes, it is the surging CEO of Godfather`s Pizza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Cain is a great candidate for Republicans
who want to feel more than they want to think.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: We had Donald Trump near the lead about five
months ago. Then there was the Michele Bachmann surge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can he be a serious alternative to Mitt Romney?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Cain is clearly to the ideological right of
Mitt Romney.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO HOST: There`s a core constituency on the
right within the GOP that is not satisfied with Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people who are most likely to vote are the
people who are supporting Herman Cain. You`ve got Herman Cain who`s got a
lot of passion going, and then you`ve got Rick Perry who`s sitting on $17
million, and that can`t buy you love but it can rent you some organization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Rick Perry. And are you breaking up with me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the guy that made pizza? And so they
move him in first place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine-nine-nine!

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Nine-nine-nine has been basically
dismissed by virtually every single reasonably educated economist that we
can find.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: He may be making it up as he goes

tax and keeping the income tax. It`s like having three needles in your arm
take blood out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not think Herman Cain is the front-runner for
the nomination. That said, you look at your poll, Chuck, and there is a

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here are the head-to-head match-ups. You have
President Obama at 46 percent over Mitt Romney at 44 percent. Against
Herman Cain, the president has an 11-point lead, and against Rick Perry he
has a 12-point lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re stuck with Mitt.

ANN COULTER: If we don`t run with Chris Christie, Romney will be the
nominee and we`ll lose.



O`DONNELL: More good news for Herman Cain.

After taking the lead in yesterday`s NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"
national poll of Republican voters, he now has the lead in the all-
important primary state of Florida. In a new poll from the American
Research Group, Cain has 34 percent, Romney has 28 percent, Newt Gingrich
has 11 percent, and Rick Perry comes in fourth with just 5 percent.

Cain is already imagining who would serve in his cabinet as vice
president as he did today on a conservative radio show.


Congress that are very, very good, that I respect and admire, that I would
love to have on my team. Whether that would be in a V.P. slot or whether
that would be in a key cabinet slot, I`ll give you a name, like
Representative Paul Ryan, Senator Jim DeMint -- people who are not afraid
to challenge the system. People who are not afraid to put on the table
what we should do and not just what we think we can get done.

Newt is a great, great -- he`s a brilliant mind. And I don`t know how
-- I don`t know how things are going to turn out, but I am going to -- I am
going to call upon Newt Gingrich to assist me at some point some way
because he brings so much knowledge and insight to this whole process. But
more importantly, to the problems we face in this country.


O`DONNELL: And Cain`s 9-9-9 tax plan is finally getting a closer look
by the media. As we showed you here last night, it includes almost as an
afterthought, abolishing Social Security and Medicare.

No Republican seems to have a problem with that. But
ultraconservative, anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist opposes the plan
because it creates new taxes.


needles in your arm taking blood out. It`s much more dangerous than just
one. And because he has a transition period, where you have these three
taxes and then he wants to go to a retail sales tax. What if the Democrats
win the House, the Senate, or the presidency during the transition period
and say, let`s keep all three, all three would grow over time.


O`DONNELL: Here`s how Cain describes the adviser who developed his
tax plan.


CAIN: My advisers come from the American people. Now, I will have
some experts. One of my experts that helped me to develop this is a
gentleman by the name of Rich Lowry out of Cleveland, in Ohio. He is an
economist, and he has worked in the business of wealth creation most of his
career. Rich Lowry out of Cleveland, Texas, is one of the economists I
have used. He`s been my lead economist on helping to develop this.


O`DONNELL: Rich Lowry may be from Ohio, but he is not an economist.
He`s an employee at the Wells Fargo branch in Pepper Pike, Ohio.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Lowry was asked about his credentials.
He said, quote, "When people say, well, you`re not an economist, you`re not
-- you`ve not even set foot in a faculty lounge, what could you possibly
know about economics? I`m not holding myself out to be that. We`re just
focused on simple truths of economics, the same way it doesn`t take a PhD
in physics to know what would happen if I held a bowling ball and then
dropped it."

Just a short time ago on CNBC`s "Kudlow Report," Lowry added this


RICH LOWRY, WELLS FARGO EMPLOYEE: My interest in economics started
with you in 1988. And first, let me say in front of the whole world, thank
you, Larry, and God bless you.


O`DONNELL: "The Huffington Post" thinks Rich Lowry may have lifted
the 9-9-9 idea. It might be a bigger Republican plagiarism scandal than
Scott Brown cutting and pasting part of an Elizabeth Dole campaign speech
into his personal message on his congressional Web site. The idea of the
three 9 percent taxes was used in the Sim City virtual reality game, as you
can see in this screen grab from the 2003 edition.

Joining me now is Sam Stein, political reporter for "The Huffington

Sam, congratulations to "The Huffington Post" for getting to the
bottom of the 9-9-9 plan, where it came from. It doesn`t get stranger than
this in the politics of economics in our country, to have --


O`DONNELL: -- to have that screen grab being relevant to the story.
But also this adviser to Herman Cain who has no training in what it is he`s
talking about, no experience with it, and says in his mind this is very
simple -- this is as simple as the physics of dropping a bowling ball.

STEIN: Well, first of all, if we CC`ed the Pulitzer (INAUDIBLE)
reporter Amanda Terkel did for the Sim City piece we put up.

It was sort of a bizarre coincidence, and we`re wondering if Rich
Lowry is a secret gamer.

You know, this 9-9-9 plan, more coverage for this plan than any
proposal that will never be enacted into law I think in the history of
politics. It`s obviously dead on arrival both because conservatives like
Grover Norquist don`t like it. You can easily demonize it as -- the sales
tax component of it as was demonized as a tax on common goods like milk or
beer or bread or anything like that.

And if Herman Cain were to get through the primary and into the
general election, Democrats would likely love this because they can say
you`re lowering the personal income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans
down to 9 percent. It`s a huge giveaway to the wealthy.

So, you know, this thing is a nice simple gimmick that has vaulted Mr.
Cain up into the ranks of the Republican primary election but it`s so
unserious and so unlikely to pass it`s almost a wonder we`re spending so
much time analyzing it.

O`DONNELL: Well, but the wonder of it is it could be the essential
plan of the Republican front-runner. The wonder of it is that it is
popular with Republican voters who clearly at this stage don`t know what`s
in it. They`re learning more, though.

Let`s watch -- let`s watch Herman Cain`s exchange today on "THE DAILY
RUNDOWN" with Chuck Todd. It was yesterday with Chuck Todd.


CAIN: The sales tax in the state of Florida or any other state, I`m
not addressing that. That`s going to be there whether we have the old
system or the new system. So, let`s not muddy the water with that. That`s
a totally different situation.

Now, when you look at the sales tax and the fact that we are taking
out embedded taxes that are built into all of the goods and services in
this country, prices will not go up. They will not go up.

TODD: But will they go down?

CAIN: So, people who are suspecting -- they will probably go down.


O`DONNELL: Sam, that`s Herman Cain not wanting to muddy the water
with any state sales taxes that are already in place on the order of 8
percent and other amounts in other states, to which you would add a new 9
percent, bringing the sales tax in some states, you know, up around 17
percent, something like that.

STEIN: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: On everything sold in the state.

Muddy the water if you mention state sales taxes.

STEIN: These are minor details. It does feel like he`s sort of
improvising this, right? I read somewhere that he was going to make an
exemption for charitable deductions and then, you know, as new issues are
raised, he keeps making exemptions for them as well.

What we have here is a candidate who has taken advantage of a
particularly nice niche, and which is no one to be the anti-Mitt Romney.
And these are very soft poll numbers that I think Herman Cain is sitting.
And it doesn`t talk a genius to dig into his biography to find things that
can make it complicated for him to actually stay on these poll numbers.

It`s not just the tax. I mean, we looked at his 2004 Senate campaign,
for instance, the social issues. This might go over well in a Republican
electorate. But he called gays godless. He said that Planned Parenthood
was in the business -- or suggested Planned Parenthood was in the business
of eugenics.

I mean, this is someone that holds fairly radical beliefs. And as
soon as a little bit of money is devoted by the Romney campaign or any
other campaign to digging up these types of things, I have a feeling that
Mr. Cain will probably go as fast down the polls as he went up them.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I`m going to dig deeper into 9-9-9 later tonight in
the show. In fact, I think every night, I`m going to be turning over a new
page of 9-9-9 on this show.

STEIN: Why doesn`t anyone go 8-8-8 is my question?

O`DONNELL: There`s a lot of fun to be had in this plan. Sam Stein,
thank you very much for joining me tonight.

STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "Time" magazine has a new cover story called "The Return
of the Silent Majority," which shows that most voters are not partisans,
are not Tea Partiers, but are moderates who are looking for more civility
and compromise in their politics.

Joining me now is Joe Klein, columnist for "Time" magazine and the
author of that cover story.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Joe.

JOE KLEIN, TIME: Good to be here, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Joe, in your piece, you say you got out there on the road
-- by the way, I consider that cheating in political punditry, you getting
out there, talking to actual voters. That`s not fair. We`re supposed to
stay in studios in New York or Washington and tell America what those
voters are thinking. But, OK, you had to cheat, get out there in the car
and talk to them.

And you write that what you found out there is that "There was
tolerance for the president outside of Planet Tea Party, where the most
disgraceful and dare I say un-American insinuations still fester. Obama is
assumed to be intelligent and honest. He is assumed to be trying hard to
find compromises between the parties on most issues. And he is also
assumed to be in over his head. A good man who has proved to be a
disappointing leader."

Joe, I didn`t read anything else in there about any particular praise
for any other politicians.

KLEIN: Well, there was praise for Mitt Romney. There are an awful
lot of traditional Republicans. I spoke to a lot of small businessmen on
this road trip. By the way, it was 19 days, 20 -- 2,976 miles about, 15
town meetings with "Time" readers who, you know, reached out to me and
wanted to meet with me.

And a lot of them really were straight-ahead conservative Democrats or
moderate Republicans. A lot of Romney voters out there. And some who are
still looking.

O`DONNELL: The NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that President
Obama is ahead of Mitt Romney in a one-on-one match-up, 46-44, that`s
basically a tie within the margin of error. He`s ahead of Herman Cain by a
big margin, 49-38. And he really wipes out Rick Perry at 51-39.

So, President Obama is still the front-runner in this race. They`re
going to have to get in there -- and Romney, if he`s the nominee, is going
to have to get in there and take it away from him.

How do you see a Romney-Obama race shaping up? Republicans like Ann
Coulter have feared that Romney is too much like President Obama to beat

KLEIN: Well, you know what? It`s kind of hilarious that the top of
this program was about Herman Cain and that Romney is not getting credit
for what I thought was one of the better debate performances I`d ever seen.
You know, in the past Romney has been kind of cold and not very engaging.

I thought for the first time on Tuesday night this is a guy who could
stand with the president of the United States and give him a real tussle.
You know, I think it would be a very close race.

O`DONNELL: It seems Perry really has sharpened Romney`s game. I
agree with you, Joe, his debate performances have just gotten better and
better. But he has trouble in Republican world.

Let`s listen to what Rush Limbaugh is now saying about Mitt Romney.

Oh, we don`t have it. I thought we had it. I will read to you what
Rush is saying.

He`s saying, "Romney`s not a conservative. He`s not." And, you know,
some of his audience is disappointed when he says it. "You can argue with
me all day long," says Rush, "but he`s not a conservative."

He goes on and on about that. I want to point out that Rush was very
much against the candidacy of John McCain as John McCain was on his road to
the nomination last time, too.

So, the Rush curse doesn`t exactly stop Republicans on their way to
the nomination.

KLEIN: You know, Rush Limbaugh`s definition of what a conservative is
isn`t a definition of what a conservative is.


KLEIN: You know, we have a poll out this week, too, the "Time"
magazine poll, 89 percent of the American people want to have politicians
who make compromises on big issues like deficit reduction. And you know,
over 70 percent want to see higher taxes on the wealthy. We see this in
poll after poll after poll.

In our poll, only 11 percent identified themselves as supporters of
the Tea Party, while 54 percent had positive feelings toward the occupy
Wall Street movement. What I saw out in the country was that people were
sick of the kind of bloviating that Rush Limbaugh does. He has his
audience, but it`s a small audience.

O`DONNELL: Joe, you say that the voter, the swing voter, the voters
are going to control the outcome of this election are looking for a
moderate. Is President Obama going to be seen as that moderate by the time
we get to November?

KLEIN: Well, I think he is seen as a moderate by most voters. But
there is this tremendous megaphone on the right. And, you know, these are
right-wingers, not conservatives. Right-wingers use the word "socialism"
an awful lot, and they talk about him apologizing for America and all these
other things that most of the people -- and I was driving through a very
conservative part of this country -- through Texas, Arkansas, Missouri,
Iowa -- you know, most people do not see him that way.

O`DONNELL: Joe Klein of "Time" magazine, thank you very much for
joining us tonight.

KLEIN: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we`ll go live to the "Occupy Wall Street"
demonstration in lower Manhattan, where tonight, protesters fear they are
on the eve of a major crackdown designed to end their demonstrations.

And later, the political fight over abortion returns to the House of
Representatives. Democrats say a Republican bill aimed at restricting
women`s rights is so misogynistic that the party wants to send women to --
wants to put women in shackles.


O`DONNELL: Coming up: at this hour, tension is growing in Lower
Manhattan over Occupy Wall Street. Protesters have been put on notice that
they must leave the park where they have gathered for nearly a month so
that the park can be cleaned. But the protesters are vowing to stay. That
could trigger a potential face-off with police tomorrow morning.

And later, while criticism of Herman Cain`s 9-9-9 plan grows, the
policy picks up the endorsement of Joe the plumber. Joe the plumber will
join me.



WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Essentially, what they`re
saying is that America: A, has become too unequal and, B, that some of the
people that caused the problem are in good shape today and a lot of them
aren`t. This can be a positive thing. But they`re going to have to kind
of transfer their energies at some point to making some specific


O`DONNELL: A new "Time" magazine poll out today shows a majority of
American voters favor the occupy Wall Street movement, 54 percent, 23
percent have an unfavorable impression.

Tension is building tonight between the owners of Zuccotti Park and
the growing number of protesters who`ve called that park home for the past
27 days. Starting tomorrow at 7:00 a.m., Brookfield Office Properties,
Inc. plans to move protesters out of the park while they clean the area.
That message delivered by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a
surprise visit there last night.

Brookfield chief executive Richard Clark wrote a letter Tuesday to New
York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, saying, "After weeks of occupation,
conditions at the park have deteriorated to unsanitary and unsafe levels."

Commissioner Kelly had this to say today.


RAYMOND KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: It`s complex. People have a right
to be there. But Brookfield has the right to sort of establish the ground
rules. So, that`s what`s happening now. They now have decided that they
want to clean the area. And they`re going to do that. We`ll stand by to
make sure that, you know, the peace is maintained.


O`DONNELL: Commissioner Kelly says the protesters will be allowed to
re-enter the park after its cleaning.

But according to a notice distributed from Brookfield, camping and/or
the use of tents, sleeping bags, and simply lying down will all be
prohibited in the park. Occupy Wall Street`s cleanups Facebook page reads,
"Friday morning, we`ll awake and position ourselves with our brooms and
mops in a human chain around the park, linked at the arms. If NYPD
attempts to enter, we`ll peacefully, non-violently stand our ground, and
those who are willing will get arrested."

Joining me now,`s campaign director, Daniel Mintz, who has
just delivered a petition to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an
effort to stop tomorrow`s efforts to vacate the park.

Daniel, thanks for joining us tonight.


O`DONNELL: What does your petition to the mayor say?

MINTZ: It`s pretty simple. I mean, I`ll read it. I`ve got a copy of
it right here.

It just says, "Respect the protesters` First Amendment rights. Don`t
try to evict Occupy Wall Street."

O`DONNELL: And what is your understanding of what is going to happen
there tomorrow? Is there any new information about what Brookfield, the
owners of the park area, have and the police, what they have in mind?

MINTZ: No. We haven`t heard anything. You know, we -- about 100
people marched the petition up to city hall just a couple hours ago. More
than 200,000 people have gone to since noon today to sign this
petition, to say these people -- there`s no reason to evict them, it`s
totally unnecessary.

You know, they`re here peacefully assembled, exercising their First
Amendment rights, and it`s just a completely unnecessary move by the mayor.

O`DONNELL: Russell Simmons has just tweeted, "I am hearing about a
potential showdown at Occupy Wall Street tomorrow. I am offering to pay
for the cleanup of the park to avoid any problems."

Daniel, do you think there`s any possibility of that kind of offer by
Russell Simmons being accepted?

MINTZ: It`s a very generous offer, but I don`t think it`s needed. I
mean, there have been dozens of people back behind me cleaning the park
this evening. You know, the park is really clean. If the mayor wants to
do something for America, he should go clean up Wall Street, not Zuccotti

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes actually has tweeted earlier tonight that he
thinks the best thing that the mayor could do to raise even more attention
to this cause is to force -- attempt to force an eviction from the park.

What do you imagine would happen if the police do attempt to force
that eviction tomorrow?

MINTZ: I mean, we`ve seen it several times. Every time that the NYPD
engages with protesters, makes mass arrests, you know, the movement only
grows stronger. That`s why there are -- they`ve really struck a chord.
They`re standing up for the 99 percent of us who`ve been left behind in
this economy. And you know, against the 1 percent that are now set to
evict them from this park.

You know, sitting on the board of the owner of this park is the
mayor`s girlfriend. And so, you know, that`s who`s been putting pressure
on the mayor that this property company, to kick these people out. They
don`t like the fact that they`ve struck a chord with the 99 percent of
Americans who are suffering.

O`DONNELL: Daniel Mintz of, we are less than 12 hours away
from this attempt to vacate the protesters from the park. Thank you very
much for joining us tonight.

MINTZ: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up -- Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi takes on the
Republicans for their latest effort to restrict abortion rights.

And Herman Cain and the 9-9-9 plan are in the "Rewrite" tonight.
Herman Cain is having more and more trouble trying to explain how that plan
works. That`s going to be in the "Rewrite."


O`DONNELL: Still to come in this hour, earlier tonight, House
Republicans voted to pass the Protect Life Act, which would not create a
single job but it would restrict abortion rights. That`s next.

And Joe the Plumber has filed papers to run for the House of
Representatives. Joe the Plumber will join me later.

And what Herman Cain doesn`t know about his 9-9-9 plan. That`s in the



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: When the Republicans vote for
this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor
and health care providers do not have to intervene.

I can`t even describe to you the logic of what it is that they are


O`DONNELL: House Republicans voted tonight 251 to 172 to pass HR-358,
the Protect Life Act. Nicknamed the Let Women Die Bill by pro-choice
Democrats, the legislation seeks to prohibit women from using tax subsidies
from the Affordable Care Act to purchase insurance that covers abortion,
except in cases of rape, insist, or health risk to the mother.

It would make it illegal for federal funds to go to any health care
plan that provides abortion services, even if the woman pays out of her own


REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: My colleagues on the other side
of the aisle are attempting to do is misogynist. It is absolutely
misogynist. The time has come for us to stop taking up this issue over and
over again this year, and do something that the American people really care

They want jobs. They want to be able to hold on to their homes. They
want some mortgage relief.

And what do we do? We stand here on the floor and create yet another
opportunity for women to be cast in shackles.

focus on creating jobs and getting the American people back to work,
tomorrow, the House of Representatives is scheduled to turn its attention
to a divisive, politically motivated piece of legislation that
unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choice that women and their
families have today.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Michelle Goldberg, author of "The Means of
Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World." Thanks for joining
me tonight, Michelle.

having me.

O`DONNELL: So as I understand, this is -- the Republicans claim they
need to do this -- federal funding for abortion is already banned through
the Hyde Amendment. So I never understand why it keeps coming up, because
it`s banned.

GOLDBERG: Well, I think --

O`DONNELL: But they`re saying there`s something that the Democrats
did in the president`s health care bill that requires us to go in and plug
some hole.

GOLDBERG: Right. Well, there are two different things going on here.
Part of it is just legislation as propaganda. Republicans have been
claiming, as part of their kind of full-court press against health care
reform, that it subsidizes abortion. It does not.

But if they can kind of -- if they can pass a law ostensibly to stop
health care reform from subsidizing abortion, it only kind of reinforces
their case and helps convince their base that by fighting health care
reform, they`re also fighting on behalf of the pro-life cause.

And then they`ve gone above and beyond. One thing that Republicans
often like to do is pass laws in response to non-existent problems and then
use them to kind twist the knife a little bit more. You`ve seen that in
response to so-called voter fraud, which is -- it kind of goes all the way
into voter disenfranchisement.

I think this is somewhat analogous. The most sadistic part of this
law is the so-called conscience clause, which would go further than current
law --

O`DONNELL: What is current law?

GOLDBERG: OK. So there`s something called the Access to Medical
Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires hospitals to -- it basically
says that hospitals can`t turn people away in emergency life and death
situations, and that if they can`t treat them, they have to transfer them
to another hospital that can, and that hospital can`t turn them away.

So the way that that`s been interpreted right now with Catholic
hospitals -- and this is mostly about Catholic hospitals, which are 15
percent of all hospitals. The way that that`s been interpreted so far is
that Catholic hospitals have routinely refused to treat women in really
life-threatening circumstances and transferred them to other hospitals.

There`s been some question about whether what they`re doing is kind of
valid. The ACLU has said, in many cases, they`ve endangered women by
transferring them, say, to a hospital 90 miles away when they`re in sepsis
or when they`re hemorrhaging or when they can barely be stabilized.

But at the very least right now, you would have to transfer them.
This law would not only say that they absolutely don`t have to treat them,
which right now is somewhat up in the air, but it would say that you don`t
even have to transfer them.

O`DONNELL: So you don`t have to start up the ambulance, just leave
them right there?

GOLDBERG: Right. And it`s easy to imagine a case when they wouldn`t,
when somebody who is so opposed to abortion that they would reject
transferring them because that would itself result in an abortion. And
again, these are in very dire, dire cases, when usually the pregnancy isn`t
viable and the woman`s life is, you know -- is at stake that very day.

O`DONNELL: Now, if that was a real factor that somehow needed to be
dealt with, why did the Republicans wait until this day in 2011, when they
could have tried to legislate that at many times in the past?

GOLDBERG: You know, I think that the Republicans have convinced
themselves that women are so kind of desperate to kind of get their
delectable abortions by any subterfuge possible, that it`s partially why
they tried to redefine rape earlier this year. They kind of said that
we`re only going to pay for abortion in cases of forcible rape, the idea
being that women were just sneakily claiming rape to get their abortions.

There`s something similar here. It`s as if women are just kind of
sneakily claiming that their life is at stake. So I mean, it`s not a real
problem. The only way -- it is a real problem in that there`s a debate
about whether or not Catholic hospitals are treating women adequately. And
so in that sense, they`re kind of catering -- they`re covering them.

But this is also just a way to kind of further an incredibly twisted
view of women and women`s health, kind of by any means possible.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Michelle Goldberg, columnist for "The Daily Beast,"
thank you very much for joining me tonight.

GOLDBERG: Thanks so much for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Joe the Plumber is running for Congress. He`ll
join me to explain why.

And the questions Herman Cain cannot answer about his 9-9-9 plan.
There are a lot of Devils in those details. That`s next in the Rewrite.


O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, another episode of the Devil is in
the Details. Tonight`s episode, of course, is Herman Cain`s 9-9-9 tax
plan. Let`s listen to yet another confident explanation of 9-9-9 by Herman
Cain yesterday in New Hampshire.


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the first nine, relative
to corporate profits, you are allowed to deduct -- this was in the
calculation. You are allowed to deduct purchases and capital investments.
100 percent. No depreciation schedules, capital expenses and purchases, if
those purchases were made here in the United States of America.


O`DONNELL: So that`s it. Businesses are allowed to deduct only
purchases and capital investments, which are, of course, really just big
purchases. So purchases and big purchases.

Now, that would bankrupt most American businesses, because the 9-9-9
plan does not allow them to deduct what is the biggest expense for most
businesses: salaries. You can`t deduct salaries. Nor does the 9-9-9 plan
allow businesses to deduct rent or attorney`s fees or accountant`s fees or
all sorts of regular costs of doing business.

The 9-9-9 plan does not understand the difference between a company`s
revenue and that company`s profit. It is impossible to calculate a
company`s profit without accounting for -- that is to say deducting all of
its real, legitimate expenses.

Under the 9-9-9 plan, companies that lose money, they make no profit
at all, would still have to pay taxes on their non-existent profit. Cain`s
version of the nine percent tax on businesses would actually be a huge tax
increase on most businesses.

It would, in fact, be a business-killing tax. It would put some
companies out of business, which means it would be a jobs-killing tax. In
1819, Chief Justice John Marshall famously wrote in a Supreme Court
decision, "the power to tax involves the power to destroy."

Herman Cain shows you exactly how to do that with his ill-conceived
nine percent corporate tax that does not allow corporations to include
reasonable and normal business expenses.

I`m not talking about their wild complicated tax loopholes. I`m
talking about all normal reasonable business expenses. They`re not allowed
to be deducted under the 9-9-9 plan.

Now, if a Democrat had proposed this, Fox News would be screaming
about a crazed anti-business socialist who was going to destroy American
businesses and the American economy. Now, let`s restart that tape and
listen to the rest of what Herman Cain had to say.


CAIN: On the first nine, relative to corporate profits, you are
allowed to deduct -- this was in the calculation. You are allowed to
deduct purchases and capital investments. 100 percent. No depreciation
schedules, capital expenses and purchases, if those purchases were made
here in the United States of America.

If you purchased components from a country outside of the United
States, you can`t deduct them. What does that do, folks? It makes U.S.
goods more competitive with the rest of the world. It levels the playing
field. This is how we deal with China.


O`DONNELL: OK. First of all, that doesn`t level the playing field.
That tilts the playing field in favor of American products over foreign
products. Now, I know it`s asking way too much of the Herman Cain campaign
or most of the campaign press to know that that would be in violation of
the international trade rules enforced by the World Trade Organization.

Those rules are supported by the United States because, without them,
we would risk being unable to sell our products anywhere in the world.
What Herman Cain wants to do is put a tax on Chinese goods or any foreign
goods that any American corporation purchases.

He`s not calling it a tariff, but that is what it is. And it violates
every trade agreement we have in American law now, including the three that
Congress finally passed last night. And if the United States was ever
crazy enough to do something like this, other countries would retaliate
immediately, creating a virtual shutdown of American exports around the

Boeing would be stuck trying to sell new aircraft exclusively inside
the 50 United States, while Airbus would be selling its aircraft everywhere
else in the world. But Boeing wouldn`t actually be selling any new
aircraft, because new aircraft in America would have Cain`s new nine
percent tax on it, and used aircraft wouldn`t.

See, this simplified the tax code thing gets wicked complicated wicked
fast. Yesterday in New Hampshire, it got too complicated for Herman Cain
on the very first question he was asked when he finished describing his 9-
9-9 plan. It was the single best question anyone has asked Herman Cain so
far, including every question that I asked him last week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So sir, if you bought under 9-9-9 an Apple
computer designed in the United States, with components made in Malaysia
and assembled in China, would you get to deduct it?

CAIN: I have no idea.


O`DONNELL: The man with the plan has no idea whether an American
corporation would be able to deduct the purchase of its computers, any
computer, because there are no computers made in the United States with
only American components. None. It doesn`t exist.

That product does not exist. There is no American car made in the
United States with only American-made components. Is a BMW made in South
Carolina an American car?


CAIN: I have no idea.


O`DONNELL: Is a Toyota Camry made in Kentucky an American car?


CAIN: I have no idea.


O`DONNELL: Oh. According to a Department of Energy report, it is
usually impossible to tell whether the petroleum products you use came from
domestic or imported sources of oil once they are refined.

Would airlines in America and other businesses be able to deduct their
fuel expenses?


CAIN: I have no idea.

I have no idea.

I have no idea.




JOE WURZELBACHER, "JOE THE PLUMBER": My name`s Joe Wurzelbacher.


WURZELBACHER: I`m getting ready to buy a company that makes about
250,000, 270,000, 280,000 dollars a year. Your new tax plan`s going to tax
me more, doesn`t it?

OBAMA: From the 250 down, your taxes are going to stay the same. It
is true that for, say, 250 up -- from 250 to 300 or so --

WURZELBACHER: Well, here`s my question --

OBAMA: Hold on a second. I just want to answer your question. So
for that additional amount, you`d go from 36 to 39 percent, which is what
it was under Bill Clinton.


O`DONNELL: That was a famous scene from the 2008 presidential
campaign that started Joe the Plumber`s 15 minutes of fame. Joe the
Plumber is back in the limelight, after having filed his statement of
candidacy paperwork to run for the House of Representatives in Ohio`s 9th
Congressional District. He will run as a Republican, despite telling "Time
Magazine" in 2009 that he was quitting the Republican party.

Joining me now, Republican candidate for Congress Joe Wurzelbacher.
Joe, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

WURZELBACHER: Thanks, Mr. O`Donnell.

O`DONNELL: Joe, you support the Cain 9-9-9 plan?

WURZELBACHER: I like a lot of it. What do you think? I heard a
little bit of what you think. If you don`t like Cain`s 9-9-9 plan, what do
you want to propose? Right now, the tax system`s broke. Don`t you agree?

O`DONNELL: It`s a complicated tax system that we have now, Joe,
obviously. But what Herman Cain`s finding out is changing it is as
complicated as trying to add to the ridiculously complicated version we
have now. But let me ask you about it, because what is the median income
in that district that you`d be running in?

Do you know? I don`t mean it as a gotcha question, but do you know
that? Have you looked that up?

WURZELBACHER: Well, actually, I do. I was having some things with
the school board. Right about 40,000 dollars a year is the median income.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it`s 43. And every estimate of the Herman Cain 9-9-
9 plan indicates that people in, say -- making around 43,000 dollars,
families with that kind of income, would actually pay 2,000 to 4,000
dollars more in taxation, especially because of that very heavy new sales
tax that he would introduce.

And I`m not asking you to figure out tonight exactly which one of
these estimates is right. But if those estimates turned out to be true,
that those people would end up paying more in taxation under the Cain plan,
would you still favor that?

WURZELBACHER: Well, you know what`s amazing is one group has their
experts saying one thing. Another group has their experts saying a whole
other thing. So really, to be honest with you, to sit there and make any
kind of choice of what you`re giving me right now would be silly.

O`DONNELL: OK. And have you seen in Herman Cain`s platform that he
wants to abolish Social Security and Medicare? Is that something you could
also support?

WURZELBACHER: Are we going to talk about what I want to do with the
Great Lakes or are we going to talk about Herman Cain? You can have him
back on if you like, Mr. O`Donnell.

O`DONNELL: I just want to ask you, before you go to the Great Lakes,
do you want to apologize -- abolish Social Security and Medicare?



WURZELBACHER: Is that what you`re asking me?


WURZELBACHER: No. God no. I want to protect Social Security,
Medicare and Medicaid. Those promises have been made and they need to be

O`DONNELL: Why are you running, Joe? What made you decide to run?

WURZELBACHER: Well, there`s a couple reasons. I`ll give you three
real quick. One is I want to show the American people and the people in
the Great Lake District that I can run, win, and serve, and not compromise
the integrity or principles.

The second reason`s jobs, man. We have to have jobs in this area.
Union, non-union alike, we need jobs.

And the third reason I like to push are veterans. Our veterans need
to be taken care of. The promises made have to be kept. And those are
three issues, just right off the top of my head. I can give you many more.

But you know, I want to promote American people over party politics.
It`s got to be done. The Republicans, Democrats, they seem to serve
themselves. And I`m sick and tired of it. I want someone that serves

And unfortunately, not enough of us are stepping up. So I`m going to
step up and serve.

O`DONNELL: Do you think that the three trade bills that the
Republicans in the House of Representatives passed yesterday will help
create jobs, as they insist that they will?

WURZELBACHER: You know, I really hope so. I know some of the issues
with that, as far as down in Panama and South Korea. On the surface, it
can. Some of the Democrats that voted for it believe it as well. But you
have some people on the back side that don`t believe it. I guess time will

O`DONNELL: Joe, do you live in that district, the 9th District?

WURZELBACHER: You know, I did up until just a couple -- a couple
weeks ago. When I was thinking about this and praying about it and talking
it over with my family, you know, I did. Now they -- I just made the
change. And that gave me pause for a short time. I sat there and
rethought and prayed some more.

And what it comes down to, the reason still haven`t changed as to why
I`ll make an announcement on October 25th.

O`DONNELL: So you`re still thinking about -- you`re close, but you`re
going to make a final decision on October 25th?

WURZELBACHER: Yeah. October 25th, you know, we`ll have an event and
we`ll talk about it and see how things go.

O`DONNELL: Joe Wurzelbacher, come back when you make your decision.
Joe the Plumber, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

WURZELBACHER: Thanks a lot, Mr. O`Donnell.

O`DONNELL: OK. You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog, You can follow my Tweets @Lawrence.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" is up next. Good evening, Rachel.


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