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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

April 11, 2013

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, Ola Kaso, Davis Guggenheim, Abby Clements, Sara Clements

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Today, the United States Senate heeded the call
of the lobbyists from Newtown, Connecticut.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The answer can`t be as it has been for 20 years that
we`re going to do nothing.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Developing news out of Capitol Hill.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: The first vote on gun safety comes next hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, let us decide there will be no more Newtown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The debate begins.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Senate just voted 68-31.

JANSING: The procedural vote in the Senate.

WAGNER: To begin debating Senator Harry Reid`s gun safety reform bill.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Hard work starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got to reach 60 votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill has gotten past that 60-vote hurdle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixty votes, not bad.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is still work to be done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got to reach 06 votes. Actually, several times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t know what the end result will be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In order for this to go all the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough is enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White House is pulling out all the stops.


TODD CHUCK, NBC NEWS: Here`s the thing, a wide divide remains between the
two parties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new NBC "Wall Street Journal" poll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love this thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eighty-two percent of Democrats favor stricter gun

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only 27 percent of Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just 27 percent of Republicans.

TODD: What happens next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the goal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It needs to be bipartisan.

WAGNER: Republicans and Democrats are working together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman Mike Thompson and Peter King.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I don`t know what they`re afraid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This does nothing to infringe the rights of law abiding

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So, what happens?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The answer can`t be we`re going to do nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The debate begins.


O`DONNELL: With the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre
watching from the Senate gallery today, the Senate voted to move forward on
massacre control legislation. The measure passed with 68 votes, 16
Republicans joined 52 Democrats to overwhelm the Republican filibuster
threat led by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

Jillian Soto, who lost her sister in the Newtown massacre, said this.


JILLIAN SOTO, SISTER OF NEWTOWN VICTIM: We had a good start. This is one
thing we needed done, and we`re not going anywhere. At least I`m not.


O`DONNELL: President Obama called the Sandy Hook family members who have
been lobbying Congress all week. White House Secretary Jay Carney
described the call this way.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president congratulated the
families, noting the bipartisan progress would not have been possible
without their efforts. He reiterated that much work remains and pledged to
continue fighting for the votes they deserve.


O`DONNELL: Every word of every Republican argument against gun safety
legislation pretends that the United States Supreme Court has not already
defined the limits of the Second Amendment. Republicans pretend their
favorite Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, has not said public that
it, of course, allows restrictions to be placed. They pretend the court
did not make that clear in the Heller case. They pretend the only words
ever written about the Second Amendment are in the Second Amendment.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The government should not
punish or harass law-abiding citizens in the exercise of their Second
Amendment rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone who is true conservative, whether you`re --
Senate, House, wherever, watching the show, stand by the Second Amendment.


O`DONNELL: The Supreme Court has spoken. But in Washington, it seems only
the Democrats know that.


BIDEN: You`re allowed to ten certain people under the Constitution access.
You`re allowed to deny certain weapons. You`re allowed to deny certain

You`re allowed to do that. That`s constitutional. We can argue whether we
should. But this argument there`s any constitutional violation is
absolutely not there.


O`DONNELL: Not everyone on FOX News is falling for the Republican
constitutional lie.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Doesn`t it make sense to have firearm
registration, just like you register your car? Doesn`t that make sense?
So then if somebody doesn`t register, all right, you can slap them with a
10-year mandatory?


O`DONNELL: The worst, most vicious lie being told by Republicans is this


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: None of what`s been proposed would have stopped
it, by the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing that`s proposed would prevent another Newtown.
Another Aurora, Colorado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look at Aurora and you look at Newtown, there`s
nothing that`s been proposed here. Not a single thing that would have
prevented the tragedy.


O`DONNELL: If the shooter in Tucson, Arizona had been limited to a
magazine with 10 bullets, Christina Taylor Green would be alive today.
Christina Taylor Green`s life ended that day at age 9 when she was shot
after the 12th bullet had been fired from a magazine holding 33 bullets.
That shooter was stopped only when he had to change magazines.

You can blame the shooter for the first 10 bullets. You have the law and
lawmakers to blame for every bullet fired after that. Magazines larger
than 10 rounds used to be illegal in this country. Christina Taylor Green
was safe then. She is dead now, because of cowardly lawmakers`
indifference to her right to life.

The mass murders in Newtown, Connecticut, and Aurora Colorado, and Tucson,
Arizona, were all made much more murderous, thanks to the members of
Congress and lawmakers around the country who have done everything they can
to make sure that when our mass murderers enter a movie theater or shopping
mall or an elementary school, they will be able to go in there with high-
capacity magazines.

Joining me now, Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, and
MSNBC`s Joy Reid.

Senator Blumenthal, you know what happened in Sandy Hook was a result of
those high-capacity magazines.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Absolutely right, Lawrence.

And, by the way, the killer at home had both low-capacity magazines and
high-capacity magazines. He took with him the 30-round magazines. Because
he wanted to kill more people.

O`DONNELL: Who could you ask for about what high-capacity magazines mean
to mass murderers?

BLUMENTHAL: There is even more proof which is that when he had to change
magazines, children actually escaped from the classroom, six to 11 children
really escaped because he had -- or chose to change magazines.

So there is no question that as you put it so well, these magazines make
these mass killings more murderous. They don`t necessarily cause them or
compel them. They make them more lethal.

And the same is true of assault weapons. He had both shotguns and assault
weapons. He chose the assault weapon, because he knew he could fire and
kill more people, more rapidly, more lethally.

And that`s why we are supporting a bill and I`m going to be very proud to
spearhead the amendment that deals with high-capacity magazines and bans
any that have more than 10 rounds. Not because they will necessarily end
all of the killings in this country, 3,300 people have died since Newtown.
But at least they will save some lives.

And if we save lives, we have accomplished something.

O`DONNELL: And, Joy, we all know we can`t end this phenomenon, but there
are easy things to do. There`s limit on magazines, to limit what`s going
to happen when these kinds of crazy people go on their rampages.

JOY REID, THE GRIO: Absolutely. We can`t obviously stop all car
accidents. But that doesn`t mean we don`t regulate automobiles. It
doesn`t mean we don`t put restrictions on their use.

I mean, it is such a shame in their hour of grief these Newtown parents
have had to trek to Washington with pictures of their children, just to get
the most basic common sense reforms done that the senator was talking

It is common sense the only way to stop a mass murderer is to make him
pause. If that`s all we`re asking for, we can save 10 out of 20 kids or
15. Isn`t that worth trying? It`s an unbelievable to me that anyone would
be opposed.

O`DONNELL: Senator, that vote today, overwhelmed that -- those opponents
who said we won`t even let you debate this. What would that vote have been
today if the Newtown families didn`t spend the week in Washington?

BLUMENTHAL: I don`t know exactly what it would have been. But there`s no
question that they helped determine the tie. Remember back four months
ago, gun violence control was deemed to be untouchable politically. Four
days ago, we didn`t know whether we could reach this 60-vote threshold.
Many regard it as unwinnable and unreachable. And they came to Washington,
and they met face-to-face. Their voices and their faces were really so
powerful and so eloquent.

Colleagues of mine came to me on the floor of the Senate today and they
said I met with your constituents, those families. Wow. They are
unbelievable. Their strength and courage, I think, was the decisive

And, you know, they -- as I said on the floor of the Senate, they spoke
truth to power. And I think they really did a remarkable job.

O`DONNELL: Joy, I really don`t think we`ve seen anything like it. There
was that thing that was going around in the pundit class. The week after
this shooting in Connecticut saying, well, how long will the effect last?
How long will the effect last?

And if we were to calculate, how long can Dick Blumenthal keep this in the
air? How long can the congressional delegation from Connecticut keep this
alive? It would have been not as strong a calculation but seeing what
those families can to is something we haven`t seen in our politics before.

REID: Absolutely. Some of the most remarkable video is the family sitting
with Joe Manchin, the NRA A-rated senator from West Virginia, and he was
almost brought to tears just sitting in the wrong with them and talking
with them. And you know what? We don`t do it often but you have to give
some nods for political courage to people who face tough re-election like
Mary Landrieu, people like Pat Toomey, who are very ensconce with the NRA,
who took a tough vote.

The NRA is scoring just allowing this bill to proceed. This was just to
allow the senator and others to debate the bill. So those senators who
took that courageous step should be commended for listening to those

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in a LAST WORD exclusive, we`ll be joined by one of
the teachers who saved a live inside Sandy Hook elementary.

And in the "Rewrite", part two of what Francis Perkins, the woman who
created Social Security, would think of the current fight over Social
Security. If you missed the first part, go to our Facebook page and check
it out. But don`t do that until after the show, because I need you to
watch this show, now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your real name, baby?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Francis, after the first woman in the cabinet.


O`DONNELL: I did not know that my pal, Jennifer Grey, said that in that
movie until one of our viewers tweeted it to us last night. More on
Francis Perkins and Social Security later tonight. But there will be no


O`DONNELL: President Obama sparked another round of Republicans versus
Republicans in the House of Representatives.

First, John Boehner said this about the president`s proposal to reduce the
annual increase in Social Security benefits.


credit for some incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his


O`DONNELL: Then came Republican Congressman Greg Walden.


REP. GREG WALDEN (R), OREGON: His budget really lays out kind of a
shocking attack on seniors, if you will. I think he`s going to have a lot
of pushback from some of the major senior organizations on this, and
Republicans, as well.


O`DONNELL: Yes. That guy is a Republican.

And John Boehner didn`t like that one bit.


BOEHNER: I made it clear that I disagree with what chairman Walden said.
He and I have had a conversation about it.


O`DONNELL: The man who used to lead the budget thinking in the House of
Representatives first said this.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: So chained CPI. The president put this
proposal in there, in his budget. First time he has done something like
that. And so we interpret this as more or less an olive branch, meaning a
good thing.


O`DONNELL: And then he said this.


RYAN: We`ve never proposed it before. We`ve never proposed this. This is
not our idea.


O`DONNELL: That`s how good a thing it is. Grover Norquist had this to say
about the president`s budget today.


wanted to pass anything in his budget, he would have lined up the Democrat
votes in the Senate first. It`s just for show. He didn`t actually write a
budget he plans to work with.


O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, this is a very interesting point that Grover
nor quest just brought up. Rachel raised this last night. Is he serious
about this budget? Is this some kind of political pot-stirring and not
really attempt to legislate?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he`s serious enough about
it as a way to drive the Republicans crazy.

O`DONNELL: It`s working!

FINEMAN: Which is working. Because the Republicans like to talk about how
they want to, you know, really approach this big behemoth of entitlement
reform. But they don`t really -- they can`t decide whether they really
want to do it or don`t want to do it.

Don`t forget, Ronald Reagan back in the day exempted Social Security and
Medicare. George W. Bush expanded Medicare. The Republicans prospered in
2010, not just because of the Tea Party, but because they ran on the notion
that Barack Obama wanted to cut Medicare. Then, Paul Ryan put his cuts in
his campaign document and Mitt Romney took those cuts out.

So they can`t decide -- and whenever they get up close to it, they then
kind of scurry away in the other direction. And I think the president is
sort of calling them on it. And good for him for trying to do that.

So I`m not entirely sure that he`s serious. And even though the
progressives, in his own party have gone crazy about this, I don`t think
they quite appreciate what he`s up to here. He`s trying to call the
Republicans on something that he needed to be called on.

O`DONNELL: But to go into the Democratic Party dynamics on this, what the
progressives are saying about this is also very helpful to the -- to the
president. If he ever is in a negotiation with Republicans, which is
highly doubtful, he has to be able to show them, look, this is how hard
this kind of movement is on my side. And oh, by the way, he might not be
able to do it, even if he says he wants to do it, because you have to have
the votes.

FINEMAN: Yes. You have to have the votes. And I think that the larger
point here from the progressive side, and I think they`re right about this.
There are lots and lots of ways to deal with a budget deficit, if you`re
serious about it. Chipping away at cost of living adjustments for seniors
is really not the way to do it, especially in Social Security, because
Social Security really isn`t part of the actual equation. Social Security
is off on its side, should be left on its side. And they have a very valid
point about that.

And it`s actually won that I think Greg Walden, who by the way, is also
head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.

O`DONNELL: Which has a lot to do with this.

FINEMAN: Of course, it has a lot to do with it. His people are going to
have to go out there suspect run --

O`DONNELL: The guys in the swing districts, this could be a problem, even
as Republicans.

FINEMAN: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, last night members of Congress watched a documentary
about the young men and women whose entire lives depend on their vote on
the DREAM Act. One of those DREAMers will join me, next.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the dream is now. After that
demonstration on the west lawn of the capitol yesterday, in favor of
immigration reform, senators and congressmen gathered to do something I
have never heard of them doing. They sat down together to watch a movie as
a way of helping them decide how they will vote on legislation.

Now, I`ve seen senators and congressmen go to movie premiers in Washington
off-campus. I`ve seen the Senate recently have a screening of "Lincoln" in
the big new screening room they have on the grounds of the Capitol.

But senators and congressmen sitting down to watch a film about legislation
they will be voting on? I`ve never seen them do that, in an organized way.
And I don`t think they ever have before last night. A group of senators
led by Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin watched the 30-minute film, "The Dream
is Now" about young immigrants whose dreams can be answered only if the
DREAM Act becomes law. Nancy Pelosi led a separate group of House members
who gathered together in the same room after the senators to watch the same

Here is part of what they saw.


NARRATOR: Ola and her mother went to a routine meeting at immigration

OLA KASO, HAS LIVED IN USA SINCE 5:: It was a hot, big, crowded room.

NARRATOR: A supervisor led Ola into a separate interrogation room.

KASO: You`re going to be deported. It`s going to be soon. I was taken to
the basement, handcuffed to a chair in the hallway. Six hours. I believed
in this idea that if I had worked hard enough, I would earn my place here.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Ola Kaso who came to this country from
Albania at the age of 5, and Academy Award-winning Davis Guggenheim, the
producer of "The Dream is Now."

Ola, what was it like to be at that screening room last night, that very
big screening room?

KASO: It was incredible. It re-enlightened a sense of hope and a sense of
just -- I can`t even explain it to you. Just to know that they were
listening. Our voices were being heard. And that change is right around
the corner. It was incredible.

O`DONNELL: Davis, you know when an audience is connecting to a movie and
what they`re getting out of it. What was your sense of what happened last

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: It was a powerful day. And to see Ola say to Speaker
Pelosi, leader Pelosi, your vote is my future. And the whole room started
to cry.

What you don`t see in the film is that Ola is a spectacular student who we
may ship away. She wants to work in cancer research. She wants to help
underprivileged women to -- help them with -- medically. And she has done
everything right. That`s what we learn about these DREAMers. They work
hard, they do everything right.

O`DONNELL: How -- look. American high school kids have enough struggle
trying to do everything right. When they know that their future is pretty
much guaranteed to them, if they do do everything right, how did you
continue to apply yourself, knowing that there`s brick -- a brick wall at
the end of this line that you`re going down?

KASO: It`s very difficult to juggle the stress, in addition to studying
for finals, studying for exams, athletics and student government and
National Honor Society. But at the same time, it gives you something to
work even harder towards. You think that I just need to work harder. I
need to prove myself. I need to earn my place here. And if I do that, I
can guarantee a future for myself. I can build a future for myself that
doesn`t exist right now.

O`DONNELL: But there you are working on earning your place here and you`ve
come close to being deported.

KASO: Yes. And that`s -- it`s really discouraging. And it -- really
breaks you down and makes you lose hope. And it makes you question all of
the values that you`ve been taught here and everything that you thought
that the country stood for.

O`DONNELL: And, Davis, the provisions in the DREAM Act pretty much
guarantee you getting the kinds of new Americans that you want to have in
this country.

KASO: That`s exactly right. Do we want to give Ola away --


GUGGENHEIM: I want to keep her. Don`t you?

O`DONNELL: Talk about brain drain, if we lose these people.

GUGGENHEIM: And the idea that if people spend the time, 30 minutes to
watch this movie, it will open their minds and their hearts to what`s
really at stake here. There are millions of people like Ola who make our
country great. And it`s not just moral, it`s right thing to do, but it`s
practical. It will bring more money to our economy.

American Center for Progress says there`s $329 billion in added revenue and
spending if we fix this thing. It`s a no-brainer. And yet, you know,
we`re close, but will we get over the edge. And that`s the hope with this

O`DONNELL: What is your expectation of what you think Congress will end up
doing, giving away the immigration reform story has been unfolding so far
this year?

KASO: Well, I can only give my personal experience and from what I saw
yesterday, congressmen went into the room with a certain energy, and they
walked out of the room wanting to change something. They walked out of the
room with a sense of -- I need to do something about this. It`s not one of
those movies that you can just watch and just forget about. It`s something
that you`re going to be thinking about for days and weeks after you watch

O`DONNELL: It`s been a week of amazing personal advocacy in Washington
with the Newtown, Connecticut families and now the DREAMers being down

Ola Kaso and Davis Guggenheim, thank you for joining us tonight.

"The Dream is Now" is premier on MSNBC this coming Sunday April 14th at
4:00 p.m. Eastern.

And coming up, one of the teachers who saved a life at Sandy Hook
elementary school is here in our LAST WORD exclusive.


DOBBS: Last week, we told you about a 6-year-old girl in Afghanistan who
was saved from a forced marriage by an American lawyer, Kimberly Motley,
who negotiated the girl`s freedom, if the marriage had occurred, Nagma
Mohammed would not have been allowed to continue in school. Today Kimberly
Motley told us that Afghanistan`s National Institute of Music School has
accepted Nagma and her siblings at the school, free of charge.


DOBBS: In tonight`s "rewrite," Chapter 2 of a love letter. Last night I
introduced you to my beloved Frances Perkins, the first woman Cabinet
member, the woman who really did create Social Security as Franklin
Roosevelt`s Secretary of Labor and then, of course, sat back and applauded
President Roosevelt as he got all the public credit for creating Social

What Roosevelt really deserves credit for, huge credit, is having the
vision and courage to choose Frances Perkinsas his Secretary of Labor. No
president has made a better or more important Cabinet choice since and no
Cabinet member in history has had such a lasting and important effect on
the way we live in this country. I promised last night that I would try to
do the impossible tonight, and imagine what Frances Perkins would say about
today`s debate on Social Security. Specifically, the president`s proposal
to reduce the cost of living increase in Social Security benefits.

Now, I`m fairly certain what Franklin Roosevelt would say. That`s the easy
part. But let`s listen to more of what Roosevelt and Frances Perkins
themselves had to say about Social Security to try to figure out what they
would say about it now.

Here is FDR at the signing ceremony of the Social Security Act with Frances
Perkins standing behind him.


FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: This Social Security measure
gives at least some protection to 50 millions of our citizens who will reap
direct benefits through unemployment compensation, old-age pensions and
through increased services for the protection of children and the
prevention protection of ill health. We can never insure 100 percent of
the population against 100 percent of the hazards and (INAUDIBLE) of life,
but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection
to the average citizen and the least family, against loss of a job and
poverty-stricken old age.


DOBBS: Notice the modesty of FDR`s ambition for Social Security then. It
was never his intention to deliver a comfortable living to retired people.
He speaks of some protection. He says "we can never insure 100 percentof
the population against 100 percent of the hazards and (INAUDIBLE) of life.
He was just trying to give people some measure, as he called it, some
measure of protection against unemployment through the unemployment
insurance that was originated in the Social Security Act, and some measure
of protection against "poverty-stricken old age".

Something better than poverty that`s what Franklin Roosevelt was aiming
for. There were no cost of living increases included in the original Social
Security Act, Franklin Roosevelt and Frances Perkins never tried to insert
cost of living increases into Social Security. When the law was passed, the
highest concentration of poverty in America was among the elderly and as an
anti poverty program, Social Security has worked. The good news is, people
over 65 are now the age group least likely to be poverty-stricken and the
very bad news is children are now the most likely to be poverty-stricken.

President Roosevelt and Frances Perkins knew Social Security would change
over time, and they knew it would have to be changed. At first, all
government workers were not included in the Social Security system. They
didn`t pay Social Security taxes, they didn`t collect Social Security
benefits. In fact, only 56 percent of the work force was covered by the
original Social Security Act. Self-employed workers did not begin to be
included until the 1950s.

Increases in benefits by the Congress were made occasionally, but no
automatic cost of living increases were in the law until 1972 and in a
speech in 1962, Frances Perkins looked back on how Social Security evolved
in the real world.


FRANCES PERKINS, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: Thousands and thousands of
problems arose in the administration, which had not been foreseen by those
who did the planning and the legal drafting and, of course, the bill had to
be amended and has been amended and amended and amended until it`s now
grown into a large and important project. For which I think the people of
the United States are deeply thankful.


DOBBS: Obviously, there would be absolutely nothing surprising to Frances
Perkins or Franklin Roosevelt about a president thinking about changing the
benefits calculation formula. something that has been changed many, many
times over the years. There were two principles that were of the utmost
importance to both Franklin Roosevelt and Frances Perkins in the design of
Social Security and in the contemplation of any changes to Social Security.

The first was that Social Security must be self-financing, that the Social
Security tax on your paycheck go directly and exclusively to paying Social
Security benefits. The second is that the benefit paid to a worker is
based on what the worker has paid into the system. Franklin Roosevelt said
in a private meeting, "we put those payroll contributions there so as to
give the contributors a legal, moral and political right to collect their
pensions and their unemployment benefits with those taxes in there, no damn
politician can ever scrap my Social Security program".

Franklin Roosevelt thought that the only thing that gave you a right, a
political right, as well as a moral right, to collect Social Security
payments was paying into Social Security. He didn`t want it to be a welfare
program, he did not want workers getting something for nothing under Social
Security. It`s not that Franklin Roosevelt was completely opposed to
welfare. In fact, he, which is to say Frances Perkins, created welfare
within the Social Security Act, but the welfare provision was to be used
exclusively by women, mothers of dependent children.

Franklin Roosevelt hated the idea of men collecting welfare, of being on
the dole, as they would call it in those days. Frances Perkins knew that
poverty was blind to gender, and may herself have been inclined to be more
generous with welfare payments, but she knew she needed to design a Social
Security system that was a true insurance system that participants got what
they paid for, and no one got something for nothing. No one could call
Social Security being on the dole.


PERKINS: Franklin Roosevelt was greatly -- very much opposed to the dole.
oh, we don`t want the dole not the dole. I had a great time to get him
quieted down and stop talking about the dole. Rather thinking -- to try to
think about the realities.


DOBBS: The Perkins-Roosevelt principles on Social Security have never been
violated by any of the changes made to Social Security so far. You heard
Frances Perkins say that the Social Security Act would have to be amended
and amended and amended and amended over time, because she knew that the
Social Security tax was going to have to go up if Social Security benefits
were going to be self-funded. If we were going to use other tax revenue to
pay for Social Security, then we wouldn`t have had to increase the Social
Security taxes but using other tax revenue, to pay for Social Security,
would violate the Perkins/Roosevelt principle on funding Social Security.
It would break that direct relationship between what workers pay into
Social Security directly and what they get back directly from Social

Now, I`m sure Frances Perkins and probably Franklin Roosevelt would have
approved of the 1972 amendments that established automatic cost of living
increases for Social Security benefits and I am sure they also would have
approved of the Social Security amendments just five years later that cut
those increases in Social Security benefits. That`s right.

In 1977, a Democrat House of Representatives and a Democratic Senate and a
Democratic president all supported cutting Social Security benefits after
they discovered that the first formula they used for automatic cost of
living increases was increasing Social Security benefits at a much faster
rate than the system was able to pay. And so let me say this again. A
Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, and a Democratic House of
Representatives and a Democratic Senate voted to cut the annual increase in
Social Security benefits because they believed it was a necessary and
prudent thing to do for the continued solvency of Social Security.

There is nothing new in that idea and when you hear people saying that no
Democratic president has ever contemplated such a thing before, you are not
hearing the truth. And in 1983, a Democratic House of Representatives led
by Tip O`Neil, a protector of Social Security, voted to raise the
retirement age for Social Security for full retirement benefits under
Social Security. A Republican-controlled Senate also voted to raise the
retirement age with a majority of the Democrats in the Senate voting to
raise that retirement age.

What is now the great taboo in the Democratic party, raising the retirement
age, is something the Democratic party has already done. They did raise
the retirement age and they didn`t do it to be mean. They did it to
preserve the long-term solvency of Social Security as a self-financing
system according to those Perkins/Roosevelt principles.

Now I was there on the Senate floor the night the Democrats and Democrats
alone passed Bill Clinton`s idea of increasing taxation on the Social
Security benefits of people whose incomes were greater than $34,000 that
was a Social Security benefit cut for people making more than $34,000.
Congress and the president did that for the same reason that all of these
changes have been

Now, I have absolutely no doubt tonight that Franklin Roosevelt would
support President Obama`s proposed reduction of three-tenths of a percent
in the annual increase in Social Security retirement benefits, if it was
part of an overall package, agreeable to Democrats, including taxation and
the other elements that the
President insists on.

Roosevelt would think it`s perfectly reasonable to slightly reduce the
annual increase in order to extend the solvency of the program. He would
also absolutely be opposed to simply removing the limit on Social Security
taxation, so that the rich would pour much more money into funding Social
Security, because then workers, especially the highest-earning workers,
would not be getting a payment based on what they paid in, and the top-
earning workers would actually get back much, much less than they paid in.
As some of the top-earning workers already do in this country.

It`s one of the great secrets of Social Security, but at the top end of the
contributors to Social Security, many of them are now getting back less
than what they actually paid into the system. That would shock Franklin
Roosevelt. It would violent Roosevelt`s notion of the legal, moral and
political right to collect pensions based on what you pay into the pension

Now I think Frances Perkins would take a broader view of this whole subject
and while looking at Social Security retirement benefits, she would notice
today that we have many other ways, the Federal government, subsidizes
retirement in this country that did not used to exist, including very big
tax breaks that the rich get and others get for self-funding their own
personal retirement funds.

IRAs KEO plans, all these sorts of things and I think what Frances Perkins
would have to say about the current debate is more complex and more
comprehensive than what anyone else is currently saying about Social
Security and to lay that out, I think it`s going to take a lot more time
than what I have here tonight and so I will do that in our next chapter of
Frances Perkins, the American hero.


DOBBS: Pastor Rick Warren today tweeted that an unregistered gun purchased
over the Internet was the weapon his son Matthew used to kill himself last
week. The gun`s serial number was scratched off, and it was obtained
without any background check.

Up next on THE LAST WORD exclusive, one of the teachers from Sandy Hook
school and her daughter will join us.



SARA CLEMENTS, NEWTOWN STUDENT: For over three months now, teens in
Newtown have been writing and calling our legislators and demanding they
vote on banning high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, among other
things but nothing is happening. so we need your help.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: It`s time to make a change, and this change
starts now with you and your friends. So go, get a pen, start writing now,



UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Demand a vote, help us transform our tragedy
into meaningful action.


DOBBS: That was a new ad from Junior Newtown Action Alliance, an advocacy
group created after the shooting massacre in Sandy Hook Elementary School
in Newtown, Connecticut.

Joining me now for their first television interview, second grade Sandy
Hook elementary teacher who inside the school the day of the shooting,
Abbey Clements, and her daughter, Sarah Clements, who we just saw in that
ad with Junior Newton Action Alliance. Thank you both for joining me


DOBBS: Abbey, you gave an interview to NPR on the day of the shooting. I
would like to listen to that for a moment.


ABBEY CLEMENTS: My heart breaks for my little students who had to listen
to those gunshots.
and I -- so they`re going to have to work out their own trauma. Little --
six or minus six year olds, six and seven year olds. I couldn`t muffle the
-- you know, I didn`t know what to do to -- I couldn`t stop those sounds.


DOBBS: Abbey, you maybe couldn`t stop the sounds, but you did help save
children in that school that day. How have they been getting along since
that day? How have they been progressing?

ABBEY CELMENTS: It`s been a challenge. The school, the teachers, the
students, the administrators, we take it day by day, and student by
student, issues that come up and just do the best we can we`re in it
together and we`re trying to move on together. It`s difficult.

DOBBS: And Abbey, you`re still teaching the same class of students, aren`t
you, at a different school building.


DOBBS: And Sara, the day this happened -- you`re in high school and now the
day this happened, what was your first knowledge that your mother might
be in danger?

SARA CLEMENTS, DAUGHTER: I luckily had my phone with me in lockdown and my
dad actually texted me the information so that`s the -- when I heard about
it first and then also the first time I knew my mom was OK. But lockdown
was for about two hours. So I had to sit there in lockdown for about two
hours before I could actually speak to her which was really hard.

DOBBS: OK. And Sara, you`re about a year away from being old enough to
vote, but already politically active. I imagine kids going to high school
around Newtown, Connecticut are getting politically active sooner than they
probably expected to.

SARA CLEMENTS: Yes, one of the reasons that I formed the Junior Newtown
Action Alliance was to really allow students to have an outlet for what
they`re feeling and if they were angry about what happened, it was a good
way to, like I said in my PSA, turn what happened on to a 12/14 -- turn
that tragedy into meaningful action and I believe that students should have
a huge say in the debate. So that`s really why I formed the junior

DOBBS: Abbey, how aware are the students from Sandy Hook Elementary who
survived the shooting, how aware are they of what`s going on in Washington
this week, and what has happened in our politics since that horrible day?

ABBEY CLEMENTS: Well, they`re little kids but they`ll come and sing a
little something and I was excited to see the president along with many of
my colleagues. So I did share that with them. I do speak with the parents
often. I`m sorry. I do speak with the parents of my students often and I
think together we`re growing more politically active in this through social
media, through conversation. And the Sandy Hook parents who are in
Washington right now, the change that occurred today, I think was very much
due to their courageous efforts and relentless efforts in not letting this
issue just disappear and it`s a huge inspiration for me. I know they are
for my family and for the Sandy Hook teachers and for this community.

DOBBS: Abbey, when you see them as we all have in some of the video
walking through the halls of Congress, meeting with Senators, I would think
as a teacher who wants the support of parents and everything that you do
that you couldn`t ask for more support than that. People who are trying to
make your school building even safer.

ABBEY CLEMENTS: Absolutely. I mean -- and to -- to watch them with grace
and endearing but relentless dedication to making 12/14 something bigger
than just a massacre. Something more than just a massacre, for change to
grow out of that and to keep their children and their loved ones` memories
alive through these causes.

DOBBS: Sara Clements and Abbey Clements, thank you very much for joining
us tonight, we really appreciate it.

CLEMENTS: Thank you.

CLEMENTS: Thank you.

DOBBS: Chris Hayes is up next.


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