THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 21, 2012
Guests: Chris Murphy, Sam Stein, Ezra Klein, Richard Painter
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: At 9:30 Eastern, Americans stopped to
remember the women and children lost a week ago to a mass murderer`s
bullets. Not long after that, the man who made sure that the shooter was
equipped with the tools of mass murder made a speech in Washington that did
not include a single word of apology.
O`DONNELL: There is no chance, no chance, that Wayne LaPierre will
choose to say what is best for the country or our children.
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: Since when did the gun become a bad word?
TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a
LAPIERRE: -- is a good guy with a gun.
HALL: -- is a good guy with a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the good guys against the bad guys and
everyone should have a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t even know where to begin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The NRA embarrassed itself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very haunting and disturbing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically we are all targets.
LAPIERRE: And our society is populated by an unknown number of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we need to have a gun on us at all times.
LAPIERRE: I call on Congress today to put armed police officers in
every school in the nation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that say about me?
LAPIERRE: The media called me crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys are nuts.
LAPIERRE: The media called me crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is whacked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He trolled (ph) the press corps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was not a press conference.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a commercial.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More of a commercial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn`t even take questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most bizarre press briefings I have ever
LAPIERRE: Since when did the gun before a bad word?
HALL: Wayne LaPierre blamed the media, video games.
LAPIERRE: Violent video games.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not the only culture that has video
LAPIERRE: But since when did the gun become a bad word, bad word, bad
O`DONNELL: At 11:02 a.m. Eastern Time today, the world stopped today
to listen to this man. Well, OK, the world didn`t stop, but Washington
certainly stopped to listen. And all the cable networks stopped what they
were doing to cover every word of what he had to say. And here is how he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: The National Rifle Association, 4 million mothers, fathers,
sons and daughters, joined the nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Wait a minute. Four million people? In a country of 300
million people, a guy who represents 4 million people gets every camera in
And he doesn`t really represent them, he just tricks them out of some
dues money with nonstop lies. Most of those 4 million people disagree with
him about a lot of stuff.
When is the last time this guy got every camera in Washington and live
coverage from all cable news networks for something he had to say? He is
the CEO of the AARP, which has 40 million members, 10 times the size of the
NRA. And the AARP members have more to worry about in the budget
negotiations in Washington this week than the NRA members have ever had to
But if Barry Rand steps up to a microphone to say something about it,
I guarantee you no network is going to go live with that.
And if this guy, who was actually elected to represent 12 million
members of the AFL-CIO today, no one will go live to him either. And so
what did this man have to say today? This man who got all of this
attention, this man who is the CEO of a $200 million business that plays
with the dues money of 4 million people, most of whom disagree with this
man on some of the issues he cares about most.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: Now, we must speak. For the safety of our nation`s
children, no one, nobody has addressed the most important pressing and
immediate question we face. How do we protect our children right now,
starting today, in a way that we know works?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And then he suggested something that you cannot do right
now starting today. Put a police officer in every school in America. That
would require hiring at least 132,183 new police officers. Now, just based
on the median salary for police officers in America, that would cost $6.7
billion a year. There is not a town or city or state in America that has
extra money lying around today to hire extra police officers.
If $6.7 billion had to be raised from new taxes, then, of course,
Grover Norquist would use all of his powers to oppose those taxes -- Grover
Norquist, who is, of course, a member of the board of the National Rifle
So, the CEO of the NRA took to a microphone in Washington today to
suggest a solution to the massacres of children in our schools and the
solution is something he and his friends would not be willing to pay for.
And he and his friends would attack any politician who attempted to pay for
He reached for a variety of ways to make his point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: We care about our money. So we protect our banks with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I don`t know about you, but I cannot remember the last
time I was in a bank that had an armed guard. All banks had them when I
was a kid. And the armed guards couldn`t stop bank robberies then. What
stopped bank robberies in America was not armed guards, it was video
cameras and automatic locking safes that cannot be opened no matter how
much you scare a teller with your little gun.
And I`m not just talking about small town banks that I go into. New
York City banks do not have armed guards anymore.
He went on to cite an 18-year-old movie and a 12-year-old movie that
were not exactly blockbusters at the box office as the reasons why children
are being shot and killed -- killed in an elementary school last week. He
talked about people in the movie business, and stockholders of
entertainment companies as, quote, "complicit co-conspirators in the mass
murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School."
Here is the lobbyist for mass murderers, the only lobbyist that mass
murderers have, calling actors, actresses, people whose pensions might be
invested in mutual funds, quote, "complicit co-conspirators" in these
And then there was this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: The media calls semiautomatic firearms "machine guns".
They claim these civilian semiautomatic firearms are used by the military.
They tell us that the 223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers
-- when all of these claims are factually untrue. They don`t know what
they`re talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was aimed directly at the NRA membership, directly at
the people whose dues allow him to take home a million a year. Most of
those people know more about guns than most reporters do.
He believes that if you can show one reporter using language about
firearms that isn`t strictly, technically accurate, then he can discount to
his membership everything that the American news media might say about
guns. He wants to show NRA members a flash of his pretend ballistics
expertise by making fun of the idea that the 223 round is one of the most
powerful rifle calibers.
I am sure there are bigger bullets than the 223, but every 223 fired
in Sandy Hook Elementary School came out of the barrel of that assault
rifle, at three times the speed of sound, 3,200 feet per second.
Is this really something to quibble about in how powerful a bullet is
when it is heading toward a 6-year-old at the speed of 3,200 feet per
second? What kind of desperate cornered rat would dare to mention that the
Sandy Hook shooter could have used a more powerful bullet?
Could have what? Done more damage? Could have what? Made the bodies
of 6-year-olds even more difficult to identify?
So today, the NRA announced that it has a solution. Complete solution
to gun violence in America, mass murders in America. Their solution is the
national school shield program, a police officer with a gun in every
Now, he didn`t announce a national movie theater shield program with a
police officer in every movie theater in America. Wayne LaPierre has in
fact never spoken one word about 6-year-old Veronica Moser Sullivan, who
was murdered in that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, along with 11 other
people, and 58 wounded, 58.
All of that, death and savagery was delivered from an ammunition
delivery system so big it isn`t called a magazine. It`s called a drum. It
holds 100 rounds.
Wayne LaPierre is the lobbyist who made it possible for the mass
murderer in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater to be able to shoot and
kill and wound so many people without reloading even once.
The law Senator Dianne Feinstein pushed through Congress in 1994 made
large capacity ammunition delivery systems illegal. Wayne LaPierre made
them legal 10 years ago. Wayne LaPierre made no public statement
whatsoever after the movie theater mass murder.
After that mass murder, so successfully used the weapon systems that
Wayne LaPierre made available to him. Instead, Wayne LaPierre simply sent
out a letter, a letter asking for money, asking for contributions to the
NRA over and above dues. And as with every solicitation of money Wayne
LaPierre has ever made, he lied to every poor fool who fell for it.
He said in his letter asking for money, quote, "Nothing less than the
future of our country and our freedom will be at stake."
Wayne LaPierre did not announce today a national shopping mall parking
lot shield program, because Wayne LaPierre has no suggestion about how to
prevent or even in some way inhibit, maybe just somehow reduce the
possibility of what happened to 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was
murdered because she chose to stand in a parking lot in Tucson, Arizona,
and listen to her Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
Wayne LaPierre is all for having a police officer protect 9-year-old
girls in school, but anywhere else a 9-year-old goes in America, a movie
theater, a shopping mall, she is on her own. And we know now, she is on
her own against the best equipped mass murderers in the history of the
That`s right. We`re number one. USA, USA, we`re number one. No
country in the world has better equipped mass murderers than the United
States of America. And that is thanks to the lifetime work of Wayne
Every day since 1977, Wayne LaPierre has been making sure that mad men
in America can fire any gun they want, and any bullet they want, at any
children they want, at any teachers, at police officers, at the president.
The solution Wayne LaPierre suggested today to stop school shootings
has already been tried in many places across America, including Columbine
High School, where 13 years ago 12 students and one teacher were shot dead.
Columbine High School had an armed sheriff`s deputy at the school that day
and every day prior to that. But when the moment came, the deputy could do
something to stop the mass murders.
There was a good guy with a gun in the parking lot in Tucson when the
madman there opened fire on Gabby Giffords and the men and women and
children in the parking lot. But the good guy with the gun could do
nothing to stop what was happening because he realized he could not get off
a clean shot. A shot that he couldn`t be sure would not kill one of the
Stuck in the middle of Wayne LaPierre`s speech today was his bottom
line. He said that gun and ammunition control advocates, quote,
"perpetuates the notion that one more gun ban and one more law imposed on
peaceable, lawful people will protect us."
So there is Wayne LaPierre saying that he is opposed to anymore laws.
Not one more law, not a law banning the 100-round ammunition drum that was
used in the Colorado movie theater. Not a law banning the 30-round
ammunition magazines used in Sandy Hook Elementary.
Not a law banning assault weapons. Not a law tightening access to
ammunition. Not any kind of law that would make it in any way even
slightly more difficult for a mad man to obtain the very best tools in the
world for up close mass murder. Not one more law.
It is now impossible to count how many people Wayne LaPierre owes an
apology to. There are all of those who have been killed by weapons that
became available after he made sure the assault weapons ban would not be
renewed. There are the parents of the dead, the brothers and sisters of
the dead, the children of the dead.
And then there are millions -- truly, millions and millions more,
because in his most vile fundraising letter before the last presidential
election, Wayne LaPierre actually said this about what would happen if
Barack Obama was reelected president of the United States. Quote, "The
night of November 6th, 2012, you and I will lose more on the election
battlefield than our nation has lost in any battle any time, anywhere."
There is Wayne LaPierre claiming on election night that he, who of
course avoided service in the war of his era, the Vietnam War, that he lost
more on election night this year than, quote, "on any battlefield in the
history of our nation." Wayne LaPierre lost more on election night than
1.3 million Americans who have lost their lives in war.
He lost more than the relatives and the descendents of those 1.3
million Americans. He lost more than all the amputees, double amputees,
brain-damaged amputees that our wars have produced.
How could Wayne LaPierre ever, ever find the words to deliver an
adequate apology for that filthy insult to the American war dead, and to
those of us who have lost loved ones in war? Those of us who have lost
loved ones in the war that Wayne LaPierre personally avoided service in.
Of course, there are no words. No words. And the apology will never
come, and we can now see through that psychotically self-centered statement
that Wayne LaPierre made, quote, "I will lose more on the election
battlefield than our nation has lost in any battle, any time, anywhere" --
we now see that the mind that could shape that sentence is almost, almost
as twisted, almost as damaged as the minds of the mass murderers Wayne
LaPierre keeps supplied so well in America.
O`DONNELL: While Wayne LaPierre was fighting for the rights of mass
murders to use any kind of weapon they want today, Newtown, Connecticut,
was saying good-bye to more of the women and children murdered a week ago.
Connecticut Senator-elect Chris Murphy attended two of the funerals today
and he will join us with the reaction he heard tonight in Newtown to Wayne
LaPierre`s speech. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones. They
issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs, advertising
them. And in doing so they tell every insane killer in America that
schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem, with minimum risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, during the NRA`s stunt in front of the cameras in
Washington, in Newtown, Connecticut, there were five more funerals and one
memorial service for the victims of the massacre at sandy hook elementary
Seven-year-old student Grace Audrey McDonnell, school psychologist
Mary Sherlach, 6-year-old student Olivia Rose Engel, behavioral therapist
Rachel Marie Davino, 7-year-old student Josephine Grace Gay, and 6-year-old
student Christopher Dylan Jack Hockley. They were all remembered today.
Joining me now is Connecticut`s Democratic senator-elect, Chris
Congressman Murphy, you couldn`t listen to Wayne LaPierre`s speech
today because you were busy in Newtown?
SENATOR-ELECT CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: I was, when he made that
statement, I was at Grace`s funeral. And by the time I got to the second
funeral of the day that I attended, little Dylan Hockley`s funeral, people
there had heard or read the statement, and the whispers through that hall
of hundreds were frankly in horror.
I can`t speak for everybody in Newtown. But I think there is a lot of
shock and disgust right now in Newtown, when they heard that the NRA came
to the table today and said that the solution for what happened to us in
Newtown was to have more guns on the streets, to have more guns in our
schools, that we don`t have enough assault weapons out there to adequately
This was as revolting and as tone-deaf a statement as I have ever seen
from any political entity in my short time in politics. And as you said,
it ignores reality.
You know, the shooting in Colorado was one example. But there were
plenty of guns in Fort Hood, and that didn`t stop the madman from spraying
that facility with bullets. There were plenty of guns in Virginia Tech and
that didn`t stop the horror there either.
There were a lot of people that watched Wayne LaPierre, and frankly
I`m glad that they saw it. My colleagues in Congress who seem to be led
around by the NRA on a daily and weekly basis saw it, because they saw a
man in an organization that is just absolutely fundamentally disconnected
from what we`re going through in Newtown, and frankly where the whole world
is right now.
Ultimately, I think this statement and what may come from it, could
make the NRA irrelevant from the upcoming debate and that would be the best
thing for the families in Newtown.
O`DONNELL: Well, they seem to be so far irrelevant to your political
success. You represent as a congressman, the district that Newtown is in.
And you have managed to get from the NRA the badge of an F-grade on their
I have the feeling that today in Connecticut that could even be a
badge of honor.
MURPHY: Yes, I`m not sure that I can get much lower than that. But,
listen, I think a lot of people thought that at the very least the NRA
would come to the table today and just ignore the gun issue and maybe offer
something on mental health.
But what they did, essentially, was to spit in the faces of those who
have gone through this tragedy. And, ultimately, I think the result of
this will be that a lot of legislators, who maybe previously listened to
the NRA, who maybe had always try to make sure they had the A-rating, are
going to look the other way.
I don`t mind the fact that everybody watched this today, because this
was out of step with where this whole country is, as anything that we`ve
seen from the NRA, and that`s saying a lot.
O`DONNELL: I want to bring in Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning
columnist for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst.
Gene, I want to read you something that Chris Christie said today in
reaction to all this. He said, "In general, I don`t think that the
solution to safety in schools is putting an armed guard, because for it to
be really effective in my view from a law enforcement perspective, you have
to have an armed guard at every classroom, because if you just had one at
the front door, what if the guys go around to the side doors? There are
many doors in and out schools." He goes on a little bit from there.
But that is actually the lesson of Columbine, Gene.
ROBINSON: Yes, it is. It doesn`t work. There were armed guards at
Columbine as you pointed out and it did not stop the massacre.
The solution to gun violence in the schools cannot be more guns in the
schools. This is -- I was shocked when I heard LaPierre today. It was
desperate. He was illogical to the point of insane, frankly.
And I came to the word evil, Lawrence, that was the word that just
kept popping up in my mind about this organization or -- at least the way
he runs it, and the way it does arm these mad men.
And so I think made themselves irrelevant, certainly forfeited their
right to speak with any sort of authority in the gun debate, and I hope we
hear from the majority of NRA members who favor sensible gun control. I
hope we hear from the gun manufacturers who -- and gun sellers who hide
behind Wayne LaPierre`s skirts, and frankly from the Republican public
officials who wouldn`t say a word about Newtown until after Wayne LaPierre
had spoken, because they didn`t want to cross him.
So I hope we hear from them, too, they have to participate in this
debate. And I would like to know what all of them, not just Chris
Christie, but what all of them have to say now.
O`DONNELL: Chris Murphy, Gene makes a good point, that within the NRA
membership of 4 million, all polls indicate that they are in favor, they
poll in favor of some reasonable adjustments in gun legislation. And there
is Wayne LaPierre today saying not one more law.
MURPHY: Of course they -- disagree with where LaPierre is, because
most members of the NRA when they go out and hunt never discharge more than
two or three bulls at a time. The vast majority of NRA members have never
looked at a 30-round or 100-round clip that goes into one of these guns.
Listen, he is so fundamentally out of step with where the NRA is, that
those politicians in Washington that have had their votes -- frankly, for
decades -- dictated by the NRA, need to free themselves from those chains.
I don`t think there is any political gain any longer to following
Wayne LaPierre when the majority of gun owners absolutely believe that
there is common sense gun legislation to take these military-style weapons
off the table, to get these high capacity clips off of the table and allow
them to get back to the sport that they enjoy.
Listen, this guy walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School, and within
10 minutes had killed 27 people. Only two people escaped with injuries.
There is absolutely no reason why gun owners and non-gun owners can`t come
to the table right now and figure out ways to stop this from happening.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson and Senator Elect Chris Murphy, thank you
both for joining me tonight.
MURPHY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the House and Senate have left for Christmas
with America now teetering on the fiscal curb. Ezra Klein will join us.
And a former lawmaker in the Bush White House is here to tell Republicans -
- Republicans how to stop the political racket run by the NRA. That`s
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, time for plan C.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I just spoke to Speaker Boehner, and I also met with Senator
Reid. In the next few days, I asked leaders of Congress to work towards a
package that prevents a tax hike on middle class Americans, protects
unemployment insurance for two million Americans and lays the groundwork
for further work on both growth and deficit reduction.
That is an achievable goal. That can get done in 10 days. Once this
legislation is agreed to, I expect Democrats and Republicans to get back to
Washington and have it pass both chambers. And I will immediately sign
that legislation into law before January 1st of next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, House Republicans passed a motion to adjourn until
December 27th. That leaves House Speaker John Boehner just four days to
convince House Republicans to support a deal to avert the fiscal curb, all
while trying to preserve his speakership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last week I asked you if you were concerned
about using your speakership. If you`re not concerned, shouldn`t you be?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: No, I`m not. And while we may
have not been able to get the votes last night to avert 99.81 percent of
the tax increases, I don`t think -- they were not taking that out on me.
They`re dealing with the perception that somebody might accuse them of
Merry Christmas, everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, "The Huffington Post`s" Sam Stein. Sam,
you have great sources in Washington and the White House. So could you
please tell us what President Obama said to John Boehner on their phone
SAM STEIN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": I wish I knew. I wish I was on the
phone call. I don`t have that good of sources. But look, I mean, we`re at
a place now where it is very, very conceivably that we`ll get to January
1st with nothing done. For a while, I had been assuming that a lot of this
was noise and theater, and that each side needed to demonstrate to their
respective bases that they were getting the best deal they could possibly
At this juncture, I`m a lot more skeptical about that. And from the
people I talked to, that is a reported skepticism. The people I talk to
are very skeptical about a deal getting done, as well.
O`DONNELL: Sam, what I have thought is, yes, it is all noise and
bluster and all of that. And it is designed, as you say, to try to claim
the high ground, have the president look like he is really trying to avoid
the cliff; Boehner, I`m really tried to avoid the cliff. But the
leadership at both ends realize that they will actually have to go over the
cliff in order to begin to have the real conversation, which I think you
know, they can really seriously start having on New Year`s Eve.
STEIN: Yeah, I mean, it seems very clear now there is one of two
options available. One is that Boehner decides he doesn`t have to work
with a majority of his majority, that he has to craft a bill with
Democrats. And the other is the one you mentioned, that they go over the
cliff, and at some point the political pressures become so acute, probably
on Republican lawmakers, that they come back and accept a deal along the
lines of what the president offered Boehner with his latest proposal, not
the paired down one, but the one that has a 400,000 threshold for tax
rates, that includes the chained CPI.
What`s ironic here is that Obama has done everything he can to
convince House Republicans to take a deal that under normal circumstances
would be a huge victory for them. They are changing benefits to a major
entitlement programs. They are protecting tax cuts for 99 percent of the
public. They are getting trillion dollar additional deficit reduction,
along with the trillion dollars that they got through the deal in the
summer of 2011.
That is a very much conservative victory. But Obama can`t seem to get
Boehner to say yes, I claim victory on this one. And it is remarkable.
This is the second time now that he has offered him cuts to Social Security
benefits, and Boehner has not accepted it.
O`DONNELL: Sam, the fascinating this is going to be what are the
White House`s terms once you hit January one. And will all the same stuff
be on the table? Or will the president simply demand a fix in the tax
rates as a starting point, pass the bill that fixes the tax rates first,
then you can come up here and talk about the other stuff?
STEIN: It is a great point. And you know one of the understated
aspects of this whole negotiation process is how much unemployment
insurance, the payroll tax cut, and infrastructure spending has kept the
White House at the table. The administration wants those three things.
Now they have gone away from the payroll tax code a little bit.
But they want those things. They want the stimulus, because they know
there is an economic impact to it. And it`s kept them in negotiations.
Once those things are done with, once you have passed that cliff, how much
are they going to fight for them? Obviously there was a point to the
president including in his pared down offer today unemployment insurance.
They feel like it is a big component of any deal. They don`t want to risk
having it lapse. They think there is an averse economic impact to it.
So yeah, when they go over the cliff, are they going to demand it?
That is a huge negotiating problem here.
O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, thanks for joining me on this special Friday
edition of THE LAST WORD. Thank you, Sam.
Coming up, just how much of a bump will you really feel if we do over
that fiscal curb? Ezra Klein will join me.
And later, a former lawyer law in the George W. Bush White House calls
the NRA exactly what it is, a protection racket, a protection racket for
Republicans. He will join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: The speaker should bring the
middle class tax cut passed by the Senate five months ago to the floor of
the House for a vote. We know it would pass. All he has to do is let
Democrats vote with some Republicans. It will pass.
The clock is ticking until the nation goes over the fiscal cliff and
taxes go up for every family in America. But there is still time for the
speaker to hit the brakes and avoid that cliff.
OBAMA: Even though Democrats and Republicans are arguing about
whether those rates should go up for the wealthiest individuals, all of us,
every single one of us agrees that tax rates should not go up for the other
98 percent of Americans, which includes 97 percent of small businesses.
Every member of Congress believes that, every Democrat, every Republican.
So there is absolutely no reason, none, not to protect these Americans
from a tax hike. At the very least let`s agree right now on what we
already agree on. Let`s get that done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The House of Representatives now stands in recess until
Thursday, December 27th, just four days before we step off that fiscal
curb. This week, the Office of Management and Budget issued guidance to
government agencies outlining the potential impact of the 1.2 trillion
dollars in budget cuts, which will start to take effect on January 1st, if
Congress does not act.
Joining me now is Ezra Klein, columnist for "the Washington Post" and
an MSNBC analyst. Ezra, I just want to talk first about -- now I think
it`s not an unrealistic thing to talk about what happens if we go off the
curb. And I just want to talk at first about the spending side, because we
have talked the tax side of it a lot.
And so there are preparations being made now in all of the departments
of this -- what we have to do starting in the first week of January. What
is going on within this flurry of activity within the departments?
EZRA KLEIN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": They are preparing. And as there
is before a shutdown or as there is before any of these disruptive events,
they`re trying to figure out how to lessen the impact. So you can talk
about furloughing things. You can talk about delaying some payments,
instead of laying people off. You just tell them to come back in a week.
A lot of it, of course, is premised on the idea that this will be
quickly resolved. Although, of course since we don`t know how it will be
resolved, it makes it harder.
But I think one thing worth emphasizing is there are three ways the
fiscal cliff or curb, whatever you want to call it, can affect the economy.
One is through tax increases and another is through spending cuts. And
people get those. And the third is through financial markets. And that is
one that if we go off and if it does seem there is not a resolution around
the corner, that is one that will happen most quickly and will be, in some
ways, most devastating, as the financial markets will mediate the new
expectations that Washington might throw us into recession.
And businesses that were looking for credit in order to expand won`t
be able to get it. And so hiring decisions they were going to be make to
hire for the growth we expect to be coming in 2013, those hires won`t
happen. Some layoffs will happen. So even before the government spending
and taxes contract the economy, the expectations of economic actors, coming
through markets and credit, can do it for them.
O`DONNELL: It is hard to see, as we sit here today, what happens next
Thursday to make this anymore urgent. Because normally, Ezra, as we know
in these situations, there is a certain amount of public pressure. There
is a certain sensation that you get back from constituents.
But it is Christmas. It`s Christmas eve, and constituents aren`t
actually going to be knocking on their congressman`s door and saying,
please go fix this right now. It is happening in a moment when the
electorate could not be more distracted by the whole Christmas season.
KLEIN: Yes, so that is certainly going to make it tougher. The
question I think, in some ways, that I have begun wondering about is simply
what happens when we go off? What comes quicker? Does the political
pressure come quicker from the CEOs and the market players and the
political constituencies saying what are you doing? The defense
contractors, the hospitals -- you know, Medicare doctors, if we go off the
cliff, get a 25 percent cut in their payments. Do seniors rise up.
So how does the political pressure from all these constituencies and
all these powerful players come in response to the economic pain? Does the
political pressure come quick enough that it disrupts the economic pain,
that it forces a deal before we get into real economic pain? Or does it go
in the other direction? We get economic pain, and the political pressure
does not -- either doesn`t come or it doesn`t come in the right way,
somehow it creates more gridlock.
The thing that terrifies me, Lawrence -- the thing that I stay up at
night worrying about, if we go a month, a month and a half without a
resolution, we begin to run into the debt ceiling. And if we are going
into a fiscal cliff period, a contraction from government policy, and then
on top of that we have a debt ceiling crisis, we`re going to unleash,
essentially, an economic hell on this nation. It will be like Lehman in
O`DONNELL: Ezra, the sense of the reaction to this has always been --
it is why I`ve always been very relaxed about going off the curb, is that I
have never believed that we would hit the month or the month and a half.
Now if I`m wrong, then you and I are both staying up nights. But my sense
has always been that all Capitol Hill needs is that sensation of being off
the cliff for a day or two.
And they -- those people who are preventing Boehner from getting
something done now will all sit in the right corner and allow Boehner to
assemble the right vote package of both Democrats and Republicans to get
something done in the first week that we`re off the curb.
KLEIN: I think you`re probably right. And I think the market thinks
you`re right. That is why you`re not seeing huge panic. But the only
thing that makes me worry about it is Boehner`s recent travails. If you
have a challenge to his speakership, if that begins to drag on, if he gets
weakened, then things become a little hairy. But as you say, I don`t
expect that. It will be bad. It don`t expect it to be horrible.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, I think you should sleep relaxedly for at least the
first three days of off the cliff, OK? And then we can both start to get
nervous. Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a Republican will tell us exactly how the NRA
racket really works.
O`DONNELL: The National Rifle Association is a racket, an old
fashioned protection racket. And no one knows better how it works than our
next guest, who served as an associate counsel in the White House for
George W. Bush.
Joining me now, Richard Painter, a professor of law at the University
of Minnesota. Professor, you wrote an op-ed piece entitled "The NRA
How does the protection racket work?
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER ASSOCIATE COUNSEL, GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE:
Well, what they do is they have an enormous amount of money that they will
spend to protect politicians who will pursue their agenda. And they will
spend that money to protect them against any challenger from within their
party or from outside. Most of these politicians are Republicans. But
they make it very clear that if you depart from their agenda in any way,
that they will come after you in the primary. They will find someone to
the right of you. They will support them with an enormous of money.
They will turn all of their guns on you and they will take you out.
And that is a very intimidating threat for many Republican office holders.
And that is why we have no progress on the gun control.
O`DONNELL: You tell the story in your piece about a legislator in the
Tennessee House of Representatives who had an A plus rating with the NRA.
But then she got viciously attacked by them. What did she do? What was
her betrayal of the NRA?
PAINTER: Well, I believe the law that was at issue there was a law
that would have -- that the NRA wanted passed by the late legislature that
would allow gun owners to take their guns on to private property without
the property owner`s consent. And a law that would not give the property
owner the right to forbid guns on their private property.
And she rightly believed that that was contrary not only to public
safety but to property rights. And she said no. And they said if you
don`t support us on this, we`re going to take you out. And they did that.
They supported somebody in the primary who opposed her.
O`DONNELL: It is stunning to me that these freedom champions would
oppose the property owner`s freedom to dictate the conduct that occurs on
the property owner`s property.
PAINTER: Well, it doesn`t surprise me at all, because they only care
about one thing, and that is guns. And they care about manufacturing guns
and selling guns and making money doing that. And that is where the vast
majority of the money they get at the NRA comes from, is from the gun
industry and a very, very few individuals who are obsessed with guns.
It is not from the vast majority of their four million members. Many
people even join the NRA because they have to in order to use the shooting
O`DONNELL: Yeah, they`re showing that the dues now from supporting
the NRA amounts to less than half of their revenue at this stage.
PAINTER: Yes, a lot of this money is coming from the gun industry,
and as I say, a few die-hard adherents to the gun cause, people who do not
want to compromise at all.
O`DONNELL: Richard Painter gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you very
much for joining us tonight.
PAINTER: Thank you very much, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.
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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL