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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Friday, January 25th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Friday show

January 25, 2013

Guests: Thomas Mann, Norm Ornstein, Bob Greenstein

EZRA KLEIN, GUEST HOST: It has been a huge week in the world of politics.
We had the inauguration, of course. And that was followed by House
Republicans stepping back from the brink on the debt ceiling.

But the biggest political story of the week got very little attention --
until tonight.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We`re going to show the country here is an
alternative path to the one that the president has us on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican Party`s big plan for renewal.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: We`re committed to producing a
budget --


CANTOR: -- that will balance the budget in the next 10 years.

BOEHNER: -- to balance the budget over the next 10 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Balance the budget in 10 years.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s going to be some hard sledding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Ryan`s didn`t balance until 2040.

RYAN: We are putting out our path to prosperity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we get closer to the sequester.



RYAN: The sequester is coming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These automatic spending cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is massive cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Painful and hard to sell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can`t be a pretty thing.

RYAN: The sequester is coming. We don`t think we should ignore this.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: What do you think the party must do better?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We`ve got to stop being the stupid party.

ED RENDELL (D), FORMER PA GOVERNOR: Stupid is as stupid does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican Party`s big plan for renewal.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Change the Electoral College.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new plan for electoral votes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to
repeat it.

PRIEBUS: We must compete in every state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This Republican plan would divvy them up by
congressional districts.

PRIEBUS: That I believe is how we`ll achieve Republican renewal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republicans are giving up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have no choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re about as popular as lice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve got to do these tricks.

RENDELL: Stupid is as stupid does.

PRIEBUS: What do you think the party must do better?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they say is no all the time.

BOEHNER: We all voted no.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: "Empire Strikes Back" was the best one.


KLEIN: The Republican Party made an incredibly important promise this week.
It`s a promise I cannot believe that they made.

The first time I heard about this promise was actually in an article I was
editing. And when I read it, when I read the article said the Republicans
were going to do, I actually sent the article back to the writer and said
this is wrong. You have to correct it before we can publish.

And so, by the way, I just want to say here on television, I`m sorry,
Susie, you`re totally right.

What the article said the Republicans promised and in fact what they did
promise was they would release a budget, in the coming weeks that would
balance it in 10 years.


BOEHNER: It`s time for us to come to a plan that will in fact balance the
budget over the next 10 years. It`s our commitment to the American people.


KLEIN: That probably doesn`t sound like a big deal, balancing the budget.
Households do it all the time.

So, let me rephrase it for you. The Republicans promised to release a
budget that makes Paul Ryan`s previous budget look like squishy socialism.
Right now, the Republican budget, the one Ryan put together, it is not what
you would call a modest, centrist document.

And yet, for all the fire and brimstone around its deficit reduction, you
want to know what it balances? Around 2038, that`s 25 years from now. In 25
years, I`m going to look something like that. That is how long Paul Ryan`s
most recent budget takes to get to a balanced budget. I become an old

It will take until 2038, because balancing the budget while the country is
getting older and; while you won`t raise taxes, is really hard. To do, it
you have to embrace some really ugly policies.

So to understand the trap, to understand what they`re about to tell the
American people they`re going to do, you need to quickly understand what is
in Ryan`s original budget, the one he didn`t balance until 2038.

So I made a graph for you. These numbers come from the Congressional Budget
Office. And I want to be clear away they are. They`re the numbers Paul Ryan
himself gave the Congressional Budget Office. They are his own vision of
his plan. They`re what happens if everything goes exactly how he wants it

And so, what you`re seeing here is pretty much the difference between Paul
Ryan`s most recent budget and the law as it is currently read. And it is a
difference between these two things in 2023. So, 10 years from now.

And this gives you a very clear idea up until now of what Ryan has been
cutting. First, people tend to think that Ryan`s budget is all about
Medicare. But Medicare isn`t really where he gets the savings, at least not
in the first 10 years. It`s only about half percentage point of GDP, or
something around 10 percent of his cuts.

Then, there`s Social Security. In the next 10 years, Ryan doesn`t touch
Social Security at all.

Then there`s this category of other health care, which is mostly health
care for poor people. This is Medicaid. It`s the Children`s Health
Insurance Program. It`s Obamacare, things like that.

And now, you begin to get into bigger numbers. Ryan gets 1.5 percent of
GDP, or more than three times of what he saves in Medicare, but cutting
mostly health care on poor people. That`s about 40 percent of his total

And then there`s everything else. There`s defense, it`s food safety, the
FBI infrastructure, education, food stamps, everything else the federal
government does. Ryan doesn`t really say exactly which programs he`s
cutting here. But it`s where he is cutting. He gets four and a half times
as much from this part of the budget as he does from Medicare. It`s about
half the total cuts and it is a huge cut.

We don`t know the programs really get the ax, but he`s given us enough
detail on the entire budget, to say, according to the Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities, that about two-thirds of Ryan`s budget cuts come from
programs for the poor. But that is quite a bit. And he is still not
balancing the budget until 2038.

So how is Ryan going to take the budget, which is already pretty rough and
has pretty unpopular policies in it and get it to balance in 10 years as
opposed to 30? Ironically, one thing that actually helps him a lot is the
fiscal cliff deal, because it actually raises taxes.

Here he is explaining this point at a "Wall Street Journal" breakfast
earlier this week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Can you get to balance in 10 years and not
raise revenues?

RYAN: Yes. Yes, the baseline -- the revenue baseline is obviously higher
now that we have this cliff behind us.


KLEIN: I want you to listen to that again. They asked Paul Ryan,
(INAUDIBLE) asks Paul Ryan, can you balance the budget in 10 years? And
Paul Ryan says, yes, we`re much better off now because we raised taxes.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Can you get to balance in 10 years and not
raise revenues?

RYAN: Yes. Yes, the baseline -- the revenue baseline is obviously higher
now that we have this cliff behind us.


KLEIN: Well, would you look at that? Raising taxes, it does help you
balance the budget. Who knew?

Perhaps the Republicans could take this insight further, but they`re not.
Ryan says no more revenue increases at all.

And so, what is Ryan going to do beyond the tax increases Democrats forced
on Republicans, how is going to get that budget balanced? He won`t say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going back to the math question, you said that the
reforms to Medicare wouldn`t apply to -- to people who are, say, 55 or
older. But -- as some members have suggested, wouldn`t it be necessary in
order to balance the budget in 10 years to make those reforms applicable to
people who are, say, six, seven, or eight years away from becoming eligible
for the program?

RYAN: You know, I am just not going to get ahead of ourselves. I haven`t
sat down with the committee members on the Budget Committee. I don`t even
have a baseline yet with which to write the budget. So, it would just be
premature to speculate or comment on where we`re going to go before I`d
even --
Gotten the baseline means measuring stick and met with my members to talk
with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mathematically, wouldn`t that be a lot (INAUDIBLE) --

RYAN: I`m just not going to get into it. It would be premature.


KLEIN: It would be premature.

It is not premature to say how -- where the budget is going to be balanced,
of course. But premature to say how we`ll get there yet. Mr. Ryan will tell
us soon enough.

But we can at least get the lay of the land here. In 2023, to get his
budget into balanced, even after all the new taxes, Ryan needs another $800
billion in that cuts in that year cut alone, 800 in 2023 alone. That`s
trillions over the next 10 years. He`s ruled out tax increases.

House Republicans don`t want to cut defense spending. In fact, in the
Romney campaign, they said they wanted to raise it by quite a bit. So, in
theory, they`ve also said you shouldn`t cut Social Security and Medicare
for anybody retiring in the next 10 years, so you can`t get cuts there if
you stick to that.

The whole rest of the budget that year, everything else we`re doing , it`s
only about a trillion and a half dollars. That is all of our spending on
the poor and education and environmental and research, and skills training
for workers who get laid off, everything else we`re doing, it`s about a
trillion and a half. And Ryan needs $800 billion. Is Ryan really going to
cut all that by half, by more than half?

That would be the most unpopular budget in history, it would be a disaster.
Or will he -- will the Republican Party change their promises and cut into
Medicaid or into Social Security in the next ten years?

This is what they have backed themselves into, these choices. There is a
reason why Ryan, who is really a conservative guy, who is trying to create
a budget, there was a genuinely conservative vision of our future. There`s
no reason, when he was doing this for the last five years, he did not
balance his budgets in 10 years. It is not a good idea, because why he`s if
you`re not raising taxes, you can`t do it in a reasonable way.

An d there is a reason he is having to do it now. It was a price House
conservatives demanded for delaying the debt ceiling just by three months.

So, this is a deal that Republicans made with their members just this week,
a deal that will define our budget arguments over this next year. They made
this deal. If you don`t force us into a politically disastrous showdown
over the debt ceiling we will bring out a political disastrous budget.

And I have to say I do not don`t understand that deal. I do not understand
what is happening in the Republican Party right now, but it is not good for

Joining me now, Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities, a man who always understands exactly what is happening right

Bob, it`s good to see you.


KLEIN: So I guess my question is how? How do you make the budget balance in
ten years, and keep to all of these different promises? Do you know budget
-- you know budgets better than anybody I know, so how?

GREENSTEIN: So there are three things to start with. You have already
mentioned perhaps the most important. He is going to take advantage of the
revenue increases from the fiscal cliff deal.

The second thing is since Ryan issued his budget a year ago, the
Congressional Budget Office who does the forecast of what the deficit will
be, that you have to shrink to get to balance, CBO has changed its
forecast. It`s more optimistic. It now forecasts $750 billion less in
deficits over ten years, with no changes in policy, than it did a year ago.

So Ryan is going to take advantage of the fact that the amount by which you
have to shrink the deficit to get to balance is smaller than it looked like
a year ago.

The third one is interesting. Remember, Ezra, in Ryan`s budget a year ago,
he took credit for all the savings in Medicare that are in the Affordable
Care Act, then he and Romney disowned them and said they were against them.
I bet they`re right back in budget again, just like they were last year.

He`ll do all of those things, and then on top of them, he will have huge
cuts in, I believe in -- as you said, the part of the budget that is
everything other than defense and everything other than entitlement
programs, where education and environmental protection and food safety is.
And the advantage for him there is he just lowers the total dollar amount
for that part of the budget. And he doesn`t have to identify a single
specific program he would cut.

And as you also suggested, I think he will have huge cuts in areas like
Medicaid, health care for the poor, food stamps and he does that by
converting the programs to block grants and just giving states lots less
money. And the states have to be the bad guys. Ryan doesn`t have to say
which people lose the benefits and go hungry or become uninsured.

So it will be an exercise in huge vagueness that will be very difficult for
people like you or me to say that a certain individual would lose this
benefit or have their income fall by that amount. It will just be one thing
of obfuscation, where everything is vague, but on paper, the numbers make
it look like it`s balanced.

KLEIN: So let me ask you something, because I think when people hear that
it`s going to be a balanced budget in 10 years -- well, of course, why is
it even taking 10 years? Households balance their budgets all the time. So,
in politics, I mean, my read of the economic evidence here is we actually
don`t need to balance the budget. We can, because of growth in this nation,
we can run manageable small deficits, 1 percent, 2 percent of GDP, you
know, going forward, tended to be what we did in the last 20 or 30 years.

But I`d like to hear you on this, do we need a balanced budget? And
certainly do we need one any time soon?

GREENSTEIN: Well, it would be a mistake to have one real soon because that
could put us back in a recession. It would pull too much demand out of the

For the long-term, when people say, correctly, we have a serious, long-term
fiscal problem, the cause of the problem is that if we don`t do anything,
the debt will rise faster than the economy grows. And ultimately, we`ll
have to pay so much in interest payments, we`re in big trouble.

But what we need to do to prevent that is to keep the debt stable, to keep
it from rising faster than the economy grows. And to do that, you need
deficits below about 3 percent or maybe 2 1/2 percent of the gross domestic
product each year. You don`t need the deficits at zero. You don`t need the

And in fact, the difference between a small deficit to 2 percent, 2 1/2
percent of GDP and balance, if the difference was if you shorted funding
for education and highways and roads and bridges and basic scientific
research, you`d probably have a smaller economy in the long run, not a
bigger one because you`d have starved the very kind of investments you need
to fuel long-term productivity increases and growth in the economy.

KLEIN: Right, this is a crucial point that you can -- by cutting too much
now and not making investments in your future, you can actually hurt long-
term growth and make long-term deficits higher.

Bob Greenstein, thank you as always. It is always good to see you.

GREENSTEIN: My pleasure.

KLEIN: John Boehner says President Obama is trying to annihilate the
Republican Party. But up next, I`ll explain why the GOP is kind of doing a
good job of it itself. And we know, on that path of annihilation, some
Republicans are trying to gerrymander the Electoral College.

But today, some prominent Republican leaders are saying we cannot change
the rules of the presidential election just because we lost one.

Meantime, in the Senate, we`ve been waiting for the rules threaten to
filibuster to be reformed. A deal was reached and voted on. But many say it
doesn`t really reform much anything.

And in a week that saw plenty of crazy things happened in Washington, we
will let you weigh in on the scandal of the week.


KLEIN: Ryan`s new budget is not the only really, really odd fight that
Republicans are about to pick. They have another one, too. In this one,
they threaten to cut the spending they like unless Democrats cut the
spending that Democrats like first.

If that does not make sense to you, you are not alone.

And the bust that is the filibuster effort, that is coming up.


KLEIN: I`m going to ask you to bear with me for a second, because I need to
talk to you about the GOP`s other big budget scheme, the thing that now
that the debt ceiling is gone, has become their plan A, their best shot at
getting spending cuts.

The problem is that their plan A has the most boring name of really I think
any policy in Washington -- the sequester. But you need to know about it to
follow what is going to happen in D.C. in the next couple of months. So,
here`s the deal -- I am not going to use the "S" word, many more times in
the segment. Instead, I`m going to call it what it is, big, dumb, and this
is something you need to pay attention to -- very, very liberal, friendly
spending cuts.

But before we rename it, you need to hear Speaker John Boehner on the


LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Obviously now, the next deadline is the sequester.
Have you had any conversation with the president or Harry Reid about that
so far?

BOEHNER: I have not. The sequester is going to go into effect on March 1st
unless there are cuts and reforms to get us on a plan to balance the budget
over the next 10 years. It`s as simple as that.


KLEIN: Mr. Boehner also told "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board,
"The sequester is as much leverage as we`re going to get," quote. He meant
it to sound reassuring to conservatives, you know, don`t worry, it`s fine,
we don`t -- we don`t need the debt ceiling. We have the big, damn spending
cuts coming on March 1st. Democrats will never allow those.

I can`t figure out why they`re reassured. To see why this isn`t a very big
good plan, you have to know the deal Republicans made when they created
those cuts in the first place. This was back during the 2011 debt ceiling
fight. You might remember, the way we got out of that ridiculous mess was
we kicked the can down the road, we formed the super committee.

You remember the super committee? A bipartisan group of legislators are
charged with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.

The sequester was the plan B to the super committee. If the super committee
failed, which they did, the sequester would cut the deficit by the same
$1.2 trillion, but it would do it automatically, and it would do it in such
a mindless, painful dumb way that neither party would be able to live with

It was meant, then to force the parties to make the deal. It was punishment
if they did it.

And that was an obvious design, you build half the sequester out of tax
increases, which Republicans hate, and then the other out of spending cuts
which Democrats hate. But Republicans refused to vote for anything with
taxes in it, even though the whole policy was they were not supposed to
like it.

So, they made a concession to the Democrats. If the sequester was going to
be all spending cuts, then the things the Democrats would get is a spending
cuts would be really friendly to Democrats.

And so, the spending cuts, they don`t touch Medicaid or Social Security, or
programs. It exempts most programs for low income Americans, including food
stamps and the earned income tax credits, veteran`s benefits, totally home
free, as our federal retirement benefits, Medicare providers see cuts, but
Medicare beneficiaries, seniors themselves, do not.

And fully half of the cuts come from the military, half the cuts come from
the military. It is a huge cut in defense spending on the order of about
$500 billion. It is so big, liberals could not dream of achieving it any
other way.

Now, that is not to say that Democrats will love all the spending cuts in
the sequester. The sequester is full of cuts they will not like, including
cuts to the National Institutes of Health, and to education and to

And in addition, the cuts are very dumb. Every affected program gets a cut
of the same size, and so you can`t choose which programs should get bigger
cuts and which should get smaller cuts. It is just a cleaver. It is not a

But the Republican hits get hit harder, just not the same way.

So, the question becomes, how is this leverage for Republicans? Remember,
their theory of the case when it comes to the budget, the one you saw in
the Romney campaign, and then the Ryan budget is that it needs to be cut
and changed is Medicare and Medicaid. And over time, Social Security, and
in particular now, programs for the poor.

The one thing we really need to keep and even spend more on is defense.
These spending cuts are the reverse of that theory. The spending they want
to cut is protected. And the spending they want to increase is gutted.

And this is a kind of insane outcome that is the consequence of the GOP`s
no tax budget. They could get a deal from the Obama administration that
would cut into Medicare and Social Security and all of these other programs
in ways liberals would hate and Republicans would find somewhat congenial,
as long as they also agreed to raise taxes. And they don`t even need to
agree to raise tax rates, that`s already been done. They just need to get
rid of the loopholes and tax breaks in the code, and put the proceeds
towards deficit reduction. But they won`t.

This is a corner they backed themselves into having lost an election and
being tied to this ridiculous tax pledge. They are so desperate for
leverage, so desperate for a hostage, that they can actually shoot that
they`re willing to point the gun at their own head and threatening to pull
the trigger.

Coming up, Virginia is for cheaters, at least when it comes to electoral
votes. It is aspiring to be the place where if you win 47 percent of the
popular vote, you can take 69 of the electoral votes, seriously.

And what so controversial about the inauguration? One thing in particular
that we are crazy in love with. That is coming up.


KLEIN: A federal appeals court today ruled that the president exceeded his
constitutional authority when he picked three members of the National Labor
Relations Board during a Senate recess last year. The court says allowing
the appointments to stand, quote, "would wholly defeat the purpose of the
framers in the careful separation of power structure."

The ruling may jeopardize the president`s recess appointments of Rich
Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on
appointments already the focus of a different lawsuit. But if it is upheld,
it`s a broad ruling. It could destroy this administration and every other
administration`s ability to make the inter-session recesses appointments

Jay Carney voiced the administration`s feelings this afternoon.


unprecedented. It contradicts 150 years of practice by Democratic and
Republican administrations. So, we respectfully but strongly agree with the


KLEIN: But why did the president have to make those recess appointments in
the first place? After all, Democrats control the Senate.

Well, Republican filibusters were blocking all the president`s nominees, of
course, and the filibuster was also upheld this week. We`ll have more about
that, coming up.

But first, Virginia Republicans think they figure out how to win elections
-- cheat. A legislation that might actually let them do it is next.


KLEIN: The Republican party has a bit of a problem. A majority of voters do
not seem to want the president of the United States to come from a
Republican party. The Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the
last six elections. Republican party lost in which recent presidential
election fight very high unemployment and quite a lot of economic anxiety.

And the matters are getting worse. Their core demographics are shrinking as
a share of the electorate who we might call the Obama coalition is growing.

Now, one way to respond to a challenge like this, the way that it has been
typical threat history, is change your positions to be more appealing to
the majority of voters. That is the traditional approach.

But there is another, less traditional approach, too. If Republicans have a
disadvantage at the presidential levels, and they have a clear advantage at
the house level. Republicans tend to live in more rural areas than
Democrats and they have had more control over the redistricting processes.
Both things have given them an advantage in House representatives.

As a result, Republicans control the House despite the fact that one
million more people voted in November, voted for Democratic house
candidates than Republicans ones. And so, another strategy, some
Republicans have come up with is to try and build on is that strength, if
it can work for a congressional election, why not try it in a presidential.

Forget one man, one vote. The plan of that some Republicans are testing out
is one district, one vote. The way it would work is state with a portion of
the electoral college votes not according to who won the popular vote in
that state, but who won the most congressional districts. Plans of this
nature have now been proposed in Virginia, and Michigan and Florida.

A senior Republican laid out the rationale to "National Journal," quote "if
you did the calculation, you would see a massive shift over a pro-votes in
states that are blue. There is no kind of a top seed and an outreach that
can grab us those electoral votes that quickly."

Of course, the senior Republican was not named because no political figure
would want to attach their name to such a shameless quote. So here is how
the massive shifting of electoral votes in blue states would work.

There is legislation moving in three states that went for President Obama
in November. In Virginia, President Obama received 51 percent of the
popular vote. And all 13 of Virginia`s electoral votes, winner take all.
Under the change proposed by Republican state senator Charles Caricco,
which is expected to be voted on next week in the state committee next
week, President Obama would have received four electoral votes from the
four districts he won. Mitt Romney would have received seven electoral
votes from the seven congressional districts he won, plus the two at large
votes for winning the most districts. That means Barack Obama who won 51
percent of the popular vote in Virginia would get 31 percent of the
electoral votes, and Mitt Romney who won 48 percent, a minority of the
popular vote in Virginia would get 69 percent of its electoral votes.

In Michigan, President Obama got 54 percent of the popular vote, and all 16
of the state`s electoral votes. Under the change proposed by Republican
state representative Pete Land (ph), Obama would have won five electoral
vote for winning five congressional districts, while Mitt Romney would have
won nine electoral votes for his nine districts. President Obama would get
an extra two electoral votes for winning the popular vote. Very generous.

President Obama won 54 percent of the popular vote in Michigan would then
get 44 percent of the electoral votes. Mitt Romney, who won 45 percent of
the vote would get 56 percent of the electorals.

In Pennsylvania, President Obama received 52 percent of the -- I`m sorry, I
meant Pennsylvania, not Florida, earlier. And all 20 of Pennsylvania`s
electoral votes. Under the under that change proposed by Republican state
senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi, President Obama`s 52 percent of the
popular vote would have won him a total, a grand total of 12 votes. Mitt
Romney`s 47 percent of the popular vote would have won him eight electoral

In 2012, President Obama won 51 percent of the vote, nationwide. Mitt
Romney infamously got 47 percent of the popular vote. The president won 332
electoral votes to Mitt Romney`s 206. But if the one district, one
electoral vote plan applied in all states, President Obama would have won
262 electoral votes and Mitt Romney would have won 273 in the presidential

Now, the good news here is that a lot of Republicans do not want to win
this way. Today, Virginia governor Bob McDonald`s communication director
issued this statement. HE said the governor does not support this
legislation. He believes Virginia`s existing system works fine as is. He
doesn`t believe there is any need for a change.

In Florida, the Republican house speaker, Will Weatherford, told the "Miami
Harold," to me, that is like saying in football game, which you have only
three quarters because we are winning after three quarters, and they beat
us in the fourth. I don`t think we need to change the rules of the game. I
think we need to get better.

Well, the Florida Republican chairman, Lenny Curry said, it seems to me we
opt to be focus on connection with voters and bringing them into our party
versus trying to change the game.

Joining me now is Joy Reid, managing editor for the Grio and an MSNBC
contributor to talk to me about the game.

Joy, it`s good to see you.

JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Great to see you too, Ezra.

KLEIN: This does not seem healthy for the Republican party right now. I
mean, it seems healthy that some of their key figures are rejecting it. But
t does seem like a destruction of this kind of tough post-electoral working
you can do of figuring out what in your party needs to change to be more
appealing to the electorate.

REID: Well, you know what, you`re absolutely right, Ezra. It is a
capitulation in a lot of ways. The Republican party maxed out the white
vote her. Their goal was to try to get as close to 60 percent of the white
voters they could. They actually did better than that.

But because of the shifting demographics of the country, the president,
President Obama only had to win 26 - you only needed to see the percentage
of the vote that is nonwhite be 28 percent, because about every four years
we`re getting two percent more of the electorate is nonwhite. So then, you
had for President Obama a threshold where he could lose 60 percent of the
white vote and still win the election.

Now, Republicans could have responded to that in one or two ways. One way
would be to say, OK, what we need to start to trying to appeal to these not
white voters. We to start appealing to urban voters. If you look at the map
you showed earlier, the vast sea of red are less populated states with
smaller numbers of electoral votes because they have smaller populations.
That`s where Republicans do well.

But, rather than trying to find a way to appeal to urban voters, to appeal
to black and brown voters, to appeal to women and urban voters, they, in a
lot of these states, the operatives who decided, forget trying to do that.
There is no GOP 2.0. We`re just going to change the rules so that we win
even more we lose.

KLEIN: I want to play some sound from Bobby Jindal, speaking at the
Republican National Committee meeting this week, talking about how they
need to change.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We have to stop being the stupid party.
And I`m serious. It is time for a new Republican party that talks like
adults. It`s time for us to articulate our plans and our visions. We have
to start dumping down our ideas, and stop reducing them to mindless slogans
for 30 second ideals. We must have the courage of our convictions, our
principles. We must be willing to provide details to describing our views.


KLEIN: So, that is pretty harsh criticism. So, what do you think of the
actual issues that this foretells Republicans shifting on, if any, or is it
simply a change in tone.

REID: You know what, I just don`t think what Bobby Jindal said is really
popular, and for couple of reasons. One of them, first of all, Bobby Jindal
himself pushed creationism as teaching that in schools. I`m not sure how on
board he is with getting to be the party of reason.

However, The Republican Party, at some point, seeded the intellectual
moorings of its ideology to its entertainers. You really have people like
Rush Limbaugh, people like Sean Hannity, FOX News, sort of the
entertainment media complex, now speaks for conservatism. They have given
up the intellectual pursuits that used to live at like the national review,
the weekly standard, that used to be the drivers of policy. And because
they have done that, it is a lot harder to get their bases to go along with
the changes, to say yes, we embrace immigration, to say yes, we embrace
minorities. It is much easier to just changes the rules. And I think that
is why you`re seeing operative give up on the first idea and just go to the
rules changes.

KLEIN: Joy Reid, who will never give up. Thank you for joining us and good

REID: Thank you.

KLEIN: Coming up, we have been waiting for filibuster reform, and then it
almost happened and then it died. I will explain why.

And we let you decide about what arguably became the most controversial
part of President Obama`s second inauguration.


KLEIN: What I learned from the Beyonce scandal is coming up. But next, the
dead on arrival filibuster reform.


KLEIN: Last night at about 7:45, filibuster reform officially died, and it
died for a lot of reasons. One reason has to do with that advantage
Republicans have developed a congressional elections. The Republicans
already control the house over the last 55 years, all second term
presidents who see their lose seats congressional seats in their six year
in office. And so, for President Obama, and the Democrats, that year would
2014. And Democrats will have a very uphill road in the Senate, of the 35
at senate seat up for grabs in the midterms, 21 are held by Democrats, of
those 21, seven are in states Mitt Romney won in November.

The bottom line, is it filibuster reform is always going to be the tough
sell even for the party in power, because they don`t know when they will be
in the minority again. For the Senate it may be soon. But last year,
filibuster reforms seemed for a moment possible. Senate Majority leader
Harry Reid even went to the senate floor to praise the work of filibuster
form advocates senators (INAUDIBLE).


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: These two young fine senators,
said that it was time we changed the rules in the Senate. We didn`t. They
were right, the rest of us were wrong. Or most of us now, anyway. What a
shame. If it were anything that ever need changing in this body, it is
filibuster rules because it has been abused, abused and abused.


KLEIN: But senator Reid`s enthusiasm eventually settled on a more modest
set of reforms. He told me yesterday quote, "I`m not personally at this
stage ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold," although it could be said
(INAUDIBLE) package did not do so either.

Harry - Senator Reid struck a deal with minority leader Mitch McConnell.
And last night, the Senate overwhelmingly agreed to speed how they consider
legislation and nomination in the Senate. So the deal makes it work and
somewhat faster and more efficiently. And also cuts down on the time of
times a filibuster can be used on a bill that is already passed the house
and Senate, and now it just needs to be reconciled.

What the bill is missing is the actual form of the filibuster itself. And
to talk it through that better, two men, who know the filibuster like
almost no one else, Tom Mann, director of governmental studies at the
Brookings Institution and Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American
Enterprising Institute. He also co-authors of the book "it is even worse
than it looks."

Tom, Norm, it is good to see you.

wonderful seeing you, Ezra.


KLEIN: So, tell me, Norm, why? Why did filibuster reform not go the way the
reformers had hoped?

ORNSTEIN: I think there are a couple of reasons, Ezra. One is, this is not
the right time for it for some of the reasons you mentioned. But also with
the house in the hands of Republicans, hands of Republicans, if you use the
so-called nuclear constitutional option, causing a lot of disruption in the
Senate, debt-con one from Mitch McConnell, and maybe you could pass a bunch
of legislation through the Senate, it is not going to go anywhere in the
house anyhow.

So, you do the cost benefit analysis of whether or not pushing further
would make sense. And Harry Reid just didn`t think it made any sense. And
what he opted for and said was something that would give more efficiency to
the Senate and a little bit more traction for nominations for the

And viewed that as something where you could get bipartisan support and
move on from there. And finally, he is leaving open the option of going to
something much further if this current system continues to be abused.

KLEIN: So Tom, let`s talk about those changes for a minute here. Senator
Reid`s office argues that they will make a big difference in how the Senate
is able to get on to a bill. Right now it can take a week before the time
you say I want to consider the legislation to give Thomas (INAUDIBLE) for
$50 million in 2013, to the time you could actually begin to consider it,
which is clearly a little bit long. Do you think these reforms will
actually change the way the Senate works in a significant way?

MANN: Not in a significant way. I mean, the reality is the 60 vote for
closure to shut off filibuster rule is still very much there. And without
touching that, it is likely we`ll still see a (INAUDIBLE) of the use of the
filibuster by the minority party. We`ll still see individuals abusing it.
It does give the majority leader another option for moving legislation to
the floor and therefore controlling the agenda a bit. And in that sense,
one of the things that really irritated Harry Reid was the -- was the time
wasted through the procedural requirements for filing, cloture petitions,
voting on them, the post-cloture debate, and the like, he now has a way out
of that. Of course, he had to pay something, of guaranteeing two amendments
to the minority, which might be used for purely wedge political issues. But
it is something, and he also has an opportunity with some nominations to
dramatically cut down on the post-cloture debate time to block some
nominations and really move them through more quickly.

So in that sense, there are some advantages. But I think the biggest
changes that the -- the incentive now is for the public to -- to keep an
eye on this for other groups. They`re finally aware of the super majority
hurdle in the Senate that was never anticipated by the framers. And it may
begin to sort of increase political pressure on McConnell to use it less
than he has.

KLEIN: Well, one thing that I think is interesting on that, Norm, is that
one of the things I found in the reporting here was that, a lot of senior
Democrats, and this has true for a look time, but it remains true today,
they really like the filibuster. I mean, despite the fact that it has
caused them no end of headaches in the last couple of years. They really
think that that 60 vote threshold, those only a fairly recent thing for be
so routine, is an important piece of the architecture of the senate and
that it should be preserved.

I think a lot of folks on the ancestors have wonder why, why wouldn`t they
want it to be a majority Senate? So walk me through it because you talk to
these folks. What is the case for it among the more established members of
the institution?

ORNSTEIN: Well, if you think of what is going on in a number of state
legislatures, and look at what happened in Virginia. If you have a
Republican party that gains even by the narrowest of margins, all the reins
of power, they have a willingness and ability to jam through some pretty
remarkable and revolutionary things.

Democrats in the Senate, the senior ones who spent plenty of time in the
minority. They have been in the minority when George W. Bush had Republican
majorities in both houses. They saw the tax cuts go through. They have seen
other instances where they`re fearful enough that the worm will turn, and
they want to be in a position where they can use their minority status for

And if you put that together with the other reality, Ezra, which is that
all the other 100 senators who have egos like to use holds, sometimes even
with their own president, to block action on a nomination, to give them a
two by four across the forehead to gain their attention for something that
may be entirely extraneous. They are really a little reluctant to go from
major change.

KLEIN: Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, thank you very much.

ORNSTEIN: Thanks, Ezra.

MANN: Thanks.

KLEIN: The part of the inauguration, people couldn`t stop talking about. It
wasn`t just the speech or the parade or the moment when President Obama
turned around and look at the crown one last time about was a cool moment.
It was Beyonce, and that is next.



STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE COLBERT REPORT: Yes, lip gate, Beyonce-gate, the
crisis in Libya, Beyonce-gazi, was there a second singer on the grassy
Knowles? Mr. President, the American people demand answers, what about
Beyonce sing? When did she sing it? And was that even Beyonce? It could
have been Sasha Fierce. Either way, folks, it is now official. Jay-Z,
officially, has 100 problems.



KLEIN: It is the biggest government controversy since the Apollo 11`s fake
moon landing, did Beyonce lip-sync at "The Star-Spangled Banner" at
President Obama`s second inauguration? No one has a good answer or no one
can even agree on how to spell lip sync. Do you spell it with an H, without
the H. Some speculate, the singer just used a backing track under a live
performance. So far, there has been no response from camp Beyonce. as for
the White House, not talking either.


don`t think it is really a particularly important issue to address from the
podium here.


KLEIN: So what really happened? I do not care.

In 2009, it was called Yo-Yo Ma pretended to play the cello, well a
recoding play because otherwise the strings would have snap. I didn`t care
about that either.

The good part of the scandal thought, was it made me go back and actually
watch Beyonce sing the anthem, which I had missed the actual inauguration,
so as writing. And you know what, it was awesome. I would not have expected
when I saw the first destiny`s child video that Beyonce would one day sing
the anthem at the second inauguration of the first black president.

So, I`m kind of happy of about the scandal because I enjoyed singing her
with the anthem and I wouldn`t have seen it at all if not for all the
arguing. And I think lip-sync or not, you would enjoy seeing it, too.


KLEIN: For the record, I`m team Beyonce.

I`m Ezra Klein in for Lawrence O`Donnell. You can find my work at "THE ED SHOW" is up next.


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