THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
October 22, 2013
Guest: Jon Favreau, Jonathan Chait; Jyoti Bansal
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: It`s another rough day for Affordable
Care Act here in Washington, but a great day for the Affordable Care Act in
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The final thing we have to do is win the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cruz, of course, throws out his own idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never tell the truth. And always say that
CRUZ: Win the argument with the American people that Obamacare isn`t
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the biggest job killer.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It has killed jobs.
CRUZ: It is the number one job killer in this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not shown in the data yet.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Are you kidding me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred and forty-eight thousand jobs were
added last month.
BOEHNER: Why are so many workers getting their hours cut?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are actually kind of seeing the opposite, which
is fewer part timers in the workforce.
CRUZ: Win the argument.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Obamacare is indeed a
BOEHNER: The law isn`t wonderful. It`s a train wreck.
MCCONNELL: Fewer choices.
CRUZ: Massive premium increases.
MCCONNELL: And higher premiums.
CRUZ: Because of Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re actually kind of seeing the opposite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health premiums are now growing at the slowest
rate in 50 years.
BOEHNER: Are you kidding me?
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Mr. Ted Cruz knows which side won.
MATTHEWS: There are a couple of truths, i.e., facts.
CRUZ: Who cares?
COLBERT: Have you really thought your strategy through?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until some one stand up to him. He`ll keep going.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressional Republicans have their work cut out
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats are feeling more optimistic about their
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fourteen House seats, good shift towards the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a lot of that anger is aimed at Republicans.
CRUZ: Win the argument with the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never tell the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The shut down was magnificent, run beautifully.
I`m so proud of these Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And always say that you`re winning.
CRUZ: Win the argument.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: That`s my advice, misinformation works.
COLBERT: Have you really thought your strategy through?
O`DONNELL: Well, the national news has been dominated by stories
about problems with the federal Web site for signing up for health
insurance. There was good news for the Affordable Care Act in Ohio today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ohioans woke up today and learned that they
qualify for Medicaid. This after the state approved the expansion of that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Former FOX News host and current Ohio Republican governor,
John Kasich, used an administrative maneuver to accept the Affordable Care
Act`s expanded Medicaid coverage after he vetoed a bill passed by the
Republican legislature that blocked the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio.
Outraged Tea Party activists are already threatening to sue Governor
Kasich who has apparently abandoned any hope of running for president in
the next round of Republican presidential primaries.
"The New York Times" reports, "Mr. Kasich, who initially declared
himself an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, and who has declined to set
up a state online health insurance marketplace, has argued all year that
his sense of Christian compassion, not to mention cool economic
practicality, favored extending Medicaid to poor adults."
Tonight, President Obama released a video to volunteers with
Organizing for Action who are helping enroll people in health care
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s important to
remember, though, that the Affordable Care Act is much more than a Web
site. Because the Affordable Care Act, millions of young people have been
able to stay on their parents` plan until they turn 26. Seniors now have
deeper discounts on the prescription medicine, preventative care like
mammograms and birth control are now free. That`s all happening right now,
because of the Affordable Care Act.
And already many Americans have used the new health insurance
marketplaces to find affordable coverage. Even as we boost our efforts to
get the site working as well as it`s supposed to, we are boosting efforts
to make sure folks can still buy the same quality, affordable insurance
plans the old fashion way, either over the phone or in person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is David Axelrod, former senior adviser to
President Obama, and Ezra Klein of "The Washington Post."
David, I want you to listen to something that Marco Rubio said to
night to Bill O`Reilly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: It`s unfair that on the one hand, you
are telling people if they don`t buy insurance next year, the IRS is going
to come after them with a fine. So, it`s unfair to say that to them and
then turn around and make it so difficult or impossible for them to buy
that health insurance.
So, what the bill would basically say is that the Obamacare Web site
has to be up and functioning for six consecutive months before they can
begin to enforce this individual mandate on people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, should Democrats support a bill that delays
the individual mandate based on how long the bill will be in the full
functioning of the federal Web site?
DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: Well, Lawrence, I would
wait and see how things work out. We`ll see whether that the fixes that
we`ve been promised materialize. If they do, I think this will take care
One thing we`ve learned very, very quickly, is that there is a huge
demand and interest for the coverage that the exchanges offer. And -- but
Jay Carney and others have signaled that, you know, obviously everyone is
watching this. No one wants to disadvantage people. What we shouldn`t do,
though, is allow it to become fodder for a bunch of folks who wanted to gut
the Affordable Care Act from the beginning.
It`s unbelievable to hear the crocodile tears, people can`t get health
care fast enough when they have done everything they can to make sure they
can`t get it at all.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Mitch McConnell said this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: Even if you were lucky enough, Bob, to get on to sign up,
you are going to find you got fewer choices and higher premiums.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, fewer choices, higher premiums. That`s the
mantra of the Republicans.
EZRA KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: See, this is actually an interesting
important change. The Republican, actual argument about the Affordable
Care Act, the actually problems they`re having are t good ones for
Republicans right? It`s not a great problem to have that your Web site is
broken, because the answer to that is you should fix your Web site and go
on about your business.
That is more the problem Republicans need the Affordable Care Act to
have. Premiums have shot up. Choices have constricted. And that really
O`DONNELL: They need their predictions to come true.
KLEIN: They need their predictions to come true. You know, I have
had the funny -- I`ve been very harsh on the administration for how the
launch is rolled out because it`s a very technical disaster is the term for
it. I have watched, as that gets repeated into the right-wing, right-wing
politicians it becomes, I said it is the greatest threat to the economy.
It needs to be delayed for a year, because it`s no good for them to just
have the Affordable Care Act broken in a way that needs to fix, in order
for the law to go about its business actually helping people.
You need these doomsday predictions to actually come true. But in
this case, they haven`t. We have had the slowest health care spending
growth in the last 50 years, over the last three. Premiums came in below
what Congressional Budget Office estimated they would be at, back when the
So, in terms of the insurance product itself, that`s come in either
about what or better than we expected when the law itself was actually
signed into law on March 2010.
O`DONNELL: And, David Axelrod, another thing that Marco Rubio said on
O`Reilly tonight is that 300,000 policies have been canceled in Florida
today, and, of course, what they`ve don`t explain is that those policies do
not fit the new requirements that help, what health insurance policies must
contain under the new law. They are inadequate policies that are being
junked in favor of the policies that will be available on the exchanges
state -- in the states and on the federal exchange and that -- that dollar
for dollar, if you`re actually comparing the value of these things. There
actually isn`t an increase in cost.
AXELROD: Well, that`s true. And as Ezra said, I mean, no one knew --
there was a hope, but no one knew for sure, what would happen with these
rates before this began. And the competition worked, insurance companies
came in with competitive prices. There`s no doubt. There is this, this,
this absolute lie that keeps getting repeated. That everybody`s premiums
are going up.
The fact is most people who are going off to the exchanges are going
to get especially with the subsidies, an extraordinarily good deal. Many
of them would not have had health care at all.
But one interesting thing, I listened to Senator Cruz in your opening
piece, one thing that`s worth noting if you look at "The Washington Post"
poll this morning, since Senator Cruz started talking and talking and
talking, support and, despite all of these problems with the Web site,
support for the Affordable Care Act is actually gone up. It`s in a better
position today than since the beginning of the discussion.
So, when people learn what it is that is being offered, there is great
enthusiasm for it. And as Ezra said, the task now is to fix the website so
the great demand can be met.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, there`s been an insistence by Republicans the
Affordable Care Act is a job killer, because it requires employers to
provide insurance for full time employees, not for part-time employees.
So, you know, we`re cutting back on full time. We`re getting all these
part-time workers. And we`re not doing any hiring because the cost of
hiring that was so astronomically higher. Can you referee that one for us?
KLEIN: Yes, there is an issue here. The way that the law streets
sort of full time employees of the, of the 50-person or more workplaces,
and don`t offer insurance is not great. You shouldn`t justify it by hours.
You can up the hours, or things we could and should do to fix it.
Now, it`s one reason the Obama administration delay this. And now,
you`re saying that a part of the law that isn`t going into effect is
O`DONNELL: Yes, but part of the law that won`t go into effect for
over a year from where we sit here today.
KLEIN: Possibly never go.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And so, they`re saying. I`m not going to hire
somebody who I need now because there`s a law way off in the distance.
KLEIN: And the other piece of this is, this is an extraordinarily
small number of firms. So, you are talking way over 90 percent of the
firms offer health insurance. They`re not dealing with this law at all.
It`s a very small number of firms who are not actually paying the fine.
And I think it was Mark Zandi who you had in the opening, but he and
others have noted, we are not seeing a rise in part-time work right now.
We`re seeing a rise in full time work. We are not seeing the kind of job
creation we want. But if you want to increase job creation, you know what
you should do? Don`t shut down the government for a month.
AXELROD: Right, exactly.
KLEIN: Don`t all most breach the debt ceiling. Don`t refuse to pass
tax increases. Invest in infrastructure. There are these incredibly
direct, and crucial, and important ways that we could directly create jobs
And for folks who are interested in zero of them, to talk about this
bank shot argument that is currently being disproven by the data, it is
such a cynical way to treat a genuine jobs crisis that Washington has
mostly moved on from. It also makes me a little bit furious.
O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, I`ve got to ask you, if you are still in
the White House, how would you handle this Web site crisis, of which there
are two parts. One is the public discussion of it, and the management and
the public discussion of it from the White House perspective. Then
actually fixing the problem, which is, of course, the much more important
AXELROD: Well, that is the most important part of it. If I was in
the White House, I`d be, as I`m sure they are, kicking a bunch of folks in
the butt every day to make sure that what needs to be done is being done.
But I think they also need to be -- they need to beep for forthcoming
with the public. Report on a regular basis as to the progress that`s being
made, as to the problems that are being addressed, so that people
understand that there is work underway.
I -- this has been shrouded in a little bit of mystery. And I don`t
think -- I don`t quite understand why that is. I think it`s better to be
straight forward about it.
You know people -- I saw on the cover of "The Washington Post" today,
the front page of "The Washington Post," that the Web site for common
application for colleges has been all screwed up and it`s created great
AXELROD: That`s not a government issue. It just speaks to the fact,
that some of this technology can get complex. The codes are difficult and
there are glitches. So, they need to fix it and they need to be clear
about what they`re doing. They need to do it quickly.
If I were in the White House, I would be communicating regularly on
those fixes, but I also would be very, very tough on the people who are
responsible, to get those fixes done quickly.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein and David Axelrod, thank you both for joining
KLEIN: Thank you.
AXELROD: Good to see you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Tea Party is now against the Tea Party.
And later, the good polling news for House and Senate Democrats and
very bad news for the Republicans in the 2014 election. And in the rewrite
tonight, 50 years ago today, here in Washington, President Kennedy gave a
It was about a topic that was not then controversial in the least.
But it is now so toxic for Republicans that they don`t even want to talk
And later, we`ll have the latest on the problems with the federal Web
site for the Affordable Care Act. We`ll have an expert here who can tell
them how to fix it.
O`DONNELL: In "The National Journal`s" cover story about Senator Rand
Paul entitled "The Truthiness of Rand Paul," Jill Lawrence reports on a Q&A
session the senator had in August at University of Louisville. He was
asked by one of the school`s medical students if he had any advice for
medical school exams.
And here is what the junior senator from Kentucky actually said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I never, ever, cheated. I don`t condone cheating. But I would
sometimes spread misinformation.
So, this is a great tactic. Misinformation can be very important.
So, one time, we were in locker room, we`re studying for the path (ph)
test. So, we just started spreading the rumor that we knew what was on the
test and it`s definitely all about liver. Everything is going to be --
vast majority of questions all about liver. We tried to trick all of our
competing students into over-studying for the liver and not studying for
kidney and every other organ.
That`s my advice. Misinformation works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I got nothing.
Up next, Tea Party versus the Tea Party.
O`DONNELL: Renee Ellmers was elected to Congress from North Carolina
in 2010, with the support of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. According to
"The National Journal," Renee Ellmers is a much more conservative than
Michele Bachmann. "The National Journal" rates Michele Bachmann at 80 on
the list of conservatives in the House of Representatives, based on just
how conservative they really are. And Renee Ellmers is listed at number
Ellmers voted each and every team to defund Affordable Care Act in the
House. But Ellmers lost her Tea Party darling status, because she said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RENEE ELLMERS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: One of the things you have
probably heard about in the media to use the continuing resolution to
defund Obamacare. That`s a problem, because that`s not where the funding
for Obamacare is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Tea Party was not impressed that what she said was
absolutely true. The Tea Party did not want to hear that. And now, North
Carolina`s "News Observer" reports, investor and radio personality, Frank
Roche, recently announced he would challenge Ellmers in the GOP primary and
more Republican opponents are expected to emerge. The intraparty
opposition is driven by Tea Party activist whose helped send Ellmers to
In the end, Ellmers sided with the Tea Party and voted against raising
the debt limit and reopening the government. She denies that her vote had
anything to do with pressure from the Tea Party, saying, "If anybody knows
me, they know I don`t vote one way or another to appease any special
President Obama`s former speechwriter Jon Favreau writes in "The Daily
Beast," "The Republican Party is at war with itself, and as tempting as it
might be for Democrats to gloat from the sidelines, it is in awful our
interests to make sure the Tea Party doesn`t win."
Joining me now, Jon Favreau, and MSNBC contributor and "Washington
Post" columnist, E.J. Dionne.
Jon, your -- your, your -- making the terms here in terms of beating
the Tea Party pretty important. You talk about how in official Washington
decrying bipartisanship is the real problem is a big mistake because you
say the real problem is not the Republicans. The real problem is the Tea
JON FAVREAU, FORMER OBAMA SPEECHWRITER: Yes. This is the source of
dysfunction in Washington. And the debt limit shutdown fight showed us
this better than anything we have seen yet. And, you know, John Boehner
and the rest of Republicans operate on fear of these right-wing primary
And as long as that fear is greater than the frustration that they
feel from the majority of the American people, we`re not going to get
O`DONNELL: E.J., what about the new polling showing how unpopular the
Tea Party is. Shouldn`t the Republicans take some courage from that when
they`re staring down the Tea Party?
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: I really do. In fact, I wish they had
before, before we had this useless, destructive shut down.
The NBC poll, if you compare the Tea Party at its peak in mid-2010, to
where we are now. They have lost almost 40 percent of the people who once
said they like them. So, this is a movement in big trouble. I think it`s
a movement on the run.
The story you told right before we came on, they are just like the old
far left divided into Lovestonites, Shackmanites (ph) and Trotskyists. I
mean, this is narcissism of small difference. So, the Tea Party is in
danger of sort of splitting into so many little pieces that they will
But I disagree with Jon very much that the Tea Party represents
something quite different from traditional conservatism. I mean, I have
problems with traditional conservatism, but it did believe in governing.
What you saw out of the Tea Party and what you`ve seen a number of
times is their main desire is to blow up the liberal state. And that`s a
O`DONNELL: There is nothing conservative. It is radicalism.
FAVREAU: Yes. I mean, they cost $24 billion. There`s nothing
conservative about that.
O`DONNELL: Right, without blinking.
FAVREAU: Right, that`s with the shutdown --
O`DONNELL: Yes, there`s a new CNN poll finds both Republicans and Tea
Partiers with low ratings. Republicans have 30 percent favorable, 64
percent unfavorable rating. The Tea Party, 28 percent favorable, 56
percent unfavorable rating.
Jon, the -- it seems like -- I mean, is there something here -- you
say in your piece the Tea Party has to be fought. You really have to fight
them. And Democrats have to fight them.
Is there any way to sit back and say they`re on a self destructive
FAVREAU: They are. But I think the Republicans have to exorcise the
demon. All these moderate Republicans or common sense Republicans, the one
that stood up and said -- and voted yes for this last compromise, the
Republicans in the Senate that voted for common sense immigration reform,
all the other Republicans who have put revenue on the table in the past.
These Republicans, if, their own political survival, at some point, is
going to depend on standing up to their own party and standing up to the
right-wing in their party.
O`DONNELL: And, E.J., they do seem to be finding voice in one thing,
which is direct by name criticisms of Ted Cruz.
DIONNE: Well -- I mean, the remarkable thing is how far that is going
in the party. Somebody like Orrin Hatch who just a couple years ago was
moving way to the right.
O`DONNELL: He was running scared --
DIONNE: This guy worked with Ted Kennedy on so many things. Suddenly
put that a in the background. Then, suddenly Ted Cruz so angered him with
this that he was out there as one of the first critics.
Mitch McConnell was worried about a Tea Party primary, now he`s much
more worried about the general election. And so, he cut the deal that
helped shut this down.
But the one thing, we have to remember is even itch the Tea Part --
even if the Tea Party goes down to 28 percent of the public, only about 38
percent tops of the country is Republican. That still means an awful lot
of Republicans identify with the Tea Party. That`s why in very red
districts, people are going to be scared of the Tea Party for a while.
O`DONNELL: Jon, what do you think the Democrats` anti-Tea Party
strategy should be?
FAVREAU: I think that the Democrats need to lift up and praise the
Republicans that have shown the willingness to compromise. I think
Republicans that have taken the step of voting for bipartisan comprehensive
immigration reform, they should laud those Republicans.
And at the same time, be as strident as possible against the Tea Party
members whose only function is to -- is dysfunction, is to completely tear
down the government, right? So, I think they kind of need to play that
DIONNE: Although nothing would guarantee the defeat of certain
Republicans in certain districts that`s praised by Democrats.
FAVREAU: Of course.
DIONNE: I think about that. For example, Tom Cole, interesting guy
from Oklahoma. Very conservative.
He was one of the few Republicans to vote for Sandy aid. He got on
the floor. He said, in my district we are going to need this kind of help
again. And so. when he came back after the terrible tornados, those
terrible events in his district and said we need help. He had a record of
having said so.
I wrote kindly about that. I doubt I did him any good work --
O`DONNELL: That`s right.
E.J. Dionne and Jon Favreau, thank you both for joining me tonight.
FAVREAU: Thank you.
DIONNE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, just how much did Ted Cruz and the Ted Cruz-led
government shutdown hurt the Republicans? And what is actually wrong with
insurance exchange Web site? We found some one who thinks he can explain
it. It`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: Look, I think people are frustrated in Texas and all across the
country. People are frustrated that Washington politicians aren`t
listening to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the Republican Party`s Ted Cruz
problem. A new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll finds approval of Congress
at a new 40-year low. Only 12 percent now approve of Congress`s job
performance while 85 percent disapprove. A record number of Americans, 68
percent, are inclined to look for some one else to represent them in the
congressional election next year. Just 25 percent say they`re inclined to
re-elect their representative in Congress.
President Obama was viewed favorably by 50 percent in the poll, with
48 percent unfavorable. The Democratic Party was at 46/49,
favorable/unfavorable. And the Republican Party is viewed favorably by
only 32 percent of Americans with 63 percent unfavorable. Republicans
worst rating in 29 years.
Only the Tea Party has a lower favorable rating than the Republican
Party, with 26 percent favorable and a 59 percent unfavorable.
Joining me now, David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones"
and an MSNBC political analyst and Jonathan Chait, columnist for New York
David Corn, so turns out shutting down the government is not the way
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Who would have guessed? Who
would have guessed?
O`DONNELL: Because there was no evidence.
CORN: First time. Let`s give it a shot. Let`s see what happens.
Could go either way. You know, we in Washington in particular, we look at
polls like this and we get very hyperventilated.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead. Hyperventilate. I want to see that.
CORN: Because you know, the numbers are just so disastrous for
Republicans. They are not very good for Democrats. But you know, we have
a long way to go between now and the next election. But more importantly,
the way people process political information, that way they vote it often
doesn`t go according to national trend. You know, districts are
gerrymandered. So, there are about, you know 25, 30, competitive districts
within 435, you know, house seats.
So, and while a lot of districts are drawn so that the competition
might be, as you talk about in the earlier segment between Republican and
tea party Republicans. And so how this national dissatisfaction gets
manifested in elections on a local level is really a hard thing. It is
often a disconnect put there purposefully by those who control the, you
know, how the things work.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Ann Coulter said about the shutdown.
CORN: Do we have to?
O`DONNELL: Yes, we have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: The shutdown was so
magnificent. It run beautifully. I`m so proud of these Republicans. And
that is because they have branded the Republican party as anti-Obamacare
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ann Coulter said the shutdown was run beautifully. And
the ABC News/"Washington Post" poll says, 81 percent approve of the
shutdown while 17 percent think it was run beautifully. Actually -- really
just approve. We are not sure how beautiful they thought it was.
But Jonathan, I mean, so and there is Ann Coulter, you know, it was
great, 81 percent disapproved.
JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right.
Now, look. On the one hand, Republicans have suffered some serious
reputational damage here. The percentage of people who as your poll shows
-- support the Republican party is, is in the toilet right now. People
have really had a national conversation about our crazy Republican problem.
This has been lurking in the shadows. But people don`t really pay
attention to. People pay attention to the president. And Congress is sort
of there in the background. The House Republicans put themselves center
stage. So, this really came to the forefront in the way it hasn`t before.
On the other hand, it is really hard to flip the House. As David
says, the districts are very gerrymandered. Democrats are not sure its
clustered together. Democrats probably have to win the House votes by
seven percentage points which is a landslide in order to put the House.
They might be at the level now, just barely. But people aren`t going to
stay this mad at the Republicans for a whole year unless they shut down the
CORN: And remember in the last election, Democratic congressional
candidates in total got almost 1.5 million votes. More votes than all
Republican house candidates. And yet they end up with 47 percent of the
house seats in the Republicans get 53 percent. So, if they had to win 1.5
million votes more, to be, 47 percent, to lose.
O`DONNELL: How many more votes to lose? How many more votes do they
have to win by to not lose?
CHAIT: There is a points spread.
CORN: Points spread.
O`DONNELL: Yes, the political report, changed his ratings on 14 house
races, just last week, to favor Democratic candidates. He said, mostly as
a result of the damage House Republicans sustained during the 16-day
government shutdown. These are California, Florida, Michigan, and New
CORN: New jersey.
O`DONNELL: And, and so -- Jonathan, this is real evidence of
CHAIT: It is evidence, but also a little bit of guess work.
CHAIT: I mean, he, you know, he is kind of going with his gut in the
sense and, maybe right now, if the election were held tomorrow, Democrats
would have maybe, 50 percent chance of flipping the house. Bit again, it
is a year away. And as David also mentioned, people process their
political information a lot of them, you know they`re not sitting there
reading the news, watching cable news. Most voters, especially the ones
who decide the elections, they have short memories.
O`DONNELL: Let`s remember what the opposition to the president`s
party is supposed to do in a midterm election. And that`s pick up seats.
The Republicans are supposed to by formula, win a significant number, more
seats in this next election. And they may very well be on wait tonight
CORN: Yes. By still collecting less votes than Democrats -- and the
majority. And also, you know, as we have seen, as we have seen recently,
external events come quickly and has a strong impacts. And now, while we
have had this fevered and I think productive debate and conversation about
the government and the shut down, the debt ceiling and crazy Republicans,
were are now shifting to Obamacare and the Web site that may do, a whole
And if we talk about that for two months. You know, the issue may be
that Obama as the stand in for all Democrats, for Democratic programs is
not competent. They can`t do what they want to do. And the Republicans,
were looking for years, for, you know, for ways to attack Obama care.
Death panels, premiums going through the roof, you know, socialized
medicine. All these things that were not true.
And finally, into their laps falls this thing, that, you know, the Web
site isn`t working. So, that`s could affect overall perceptions. But
then, something could happen again in the next.
CHAIT: You are right.
CORN: -- not quite which will come in January and February.
CHAIT: I think they will have the Web site fixed by a year from now.
But the point is, we will be talking about something else and that
something else will go through a million new cycles. The shutdown will be
long past us. It will people still be thinking front and center about our
crazy Republican problem a year from now or will they will be taking
President Obama and the economy and the latter seems more likely.
CORN: Well, the nice thing is that the crazy Republicans have really
rededicated themselves to more craziness. So, it is like they are not
running away from this. We may have repeats.
O`DONNELL: They will have their ways. We got to leave it there.
David Corn and Jonathan Chait, thank you both for joining me tonight.
Coming up, what JFK said 50 years ago today here in Washington that
was anything but controversial to Republicans back then. You will hear,
President Kennedy, in to night`s "rewrite."
O`DONNELL: It has been 20 years since the federal gasoline tax was
increased. It stand at 18.4 cents a gallon where it has been since being
increased by 4.3 cents a gallon in 1993.
This week, the head of the usually conservative U.S. chamber of
commerce Tom Donahue said it was time to raise the gas tax again to pay for
fixing roads and bridges which is what the gas text does. Twenty years,
it`s been 20 years since we had an increase in the federal fuel tax. What
kind of car were you driving 20 years ago?
It is not the first time, Donahue called for an increase. During a
speech back in January he said the tax needed to be raised and suggested
calling it something else. He said it`s not a tax. It`s a user fee. And
if you`ve don`t want to ride on the roads you don`t have to pay for it.
Breaking news, the chamber of commerce has finally found a tax
increase that it likes.
Next, you will hear President Kennedy in his own words in the
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s rewrite, science versus politics. We have in
one of our major political parties today a significant group of science
deniers. Their argument is not just with climate science but with subjects
like evolution. Republican candidates for president are unharmed and
Republican presidential primaries if they offer full throated denunciations
of the theory of evolution.
It wasn`t all ways this way. Fifty years ago today here in Washington
at 4:00 in the afternoon, President Kennedy went to constitution hall to
give a speech to the national academy of sciences. It was an era when
government support of science and enthusiasm for science was utterly
uncontroversial. The American space program was thrilling the world by
rocketing astronauts from Cape Canaveral out into space where they circled
the globe in tiny capsules. It was an era when the science adviser to the
president, Dr. Jerome Wiesner was as prominent as a cabinet member.
Dr. Wiesner went on to become the president of MIT. But when he died
at age 79, in 1994, the first fact reported in his "The New York Times"
obituary was that he was quote "the influential science adviser to
president John F. Kennedy.
I am not sure any president has had an influential science adviser
since then. The president brought Dr. Wiesner with him for his speech to
the audience of scientists. You will now hear some of the speech given 50
years ago today. And in it, you will hear the stirrings of what will
become by the end of the decade the environmental movement in our politics
which actually began with bipartisan support. And you will also hear a
president of the United States say the words, we are all doomed.
That`s right. The president actually says those words. We are all
doomed. When he speaks of the new challenges that science was presenting
now that the strongest opposing powers in the world, had atomic bombs.
Here then is the president of the United States, speaking confidently
even joyously about science years before science became infected by
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is
impressive to reflect that 100 years ago in the midst of a savage fraternal
war, the United States Congress established a body devoted to the
advancement of scientific research. The recognition then, of the value of
abstract science, ran against the grain of our traditional preoccupation
with technology, and engineering.
You will remember the famous chapter on why the Americans are more
addicted to practical than to theoretical science. De Toucville (ph)
concluded that the more Democratic case society, the more will discoveries
immediately applicable to productive industry confer gain, fame, and even
power on their authors.
But if I were to name a single thing which points up the difference
this century has made in the American attitude towards science, it would
certainly be the wholehearted understanding today of the importance of pure
We realize now that progress in technology depends on progress in
theory that the most abstract investigations can lead to the most concrete
results. And that the vitality of a scientific community springs from its
passion to answer science`s most fundamental questions.
In a recent speech to the general assembly of the United Nations, I
proposed a road-wide program to protect land and water, forest and
wildlife, the combat exhaustion and erosion, to stop the contamination of
water and air by industrial as well as nuclear pollution, and to provide
for the study of renewal and expansion of the natural basis of life.
The earth can be an abundant mother to all people that will born in
the coming years. If we learn to use her, with skill and wisdom, to heal
her wounds, replenish her vitality, and utilize her potentialities. And
the necessity is urgent and worldwide. For few nations embarked on the
adventure of development have the resources to sustain an ever-growing
population and a rising standard of living. We all stand committed to make
this agreeable hope a reality.
This seems to me the greatest challenge to science in our times to use
the world`s resources to expand life and hope for the world`s inhabitants.
Ours is a century of scientific conquest and scientific triumph. If
scientific discovery has not been a blessing, if it is only conferred on
mankind the power, it has only conferred on mankind the power not only to
create but also to annihilate, it has the at the same time provided
humanity with a supreme challenge and a supreme testing. If the challenge
and the testing are too much for humanity then we are all doomed. But I
believe that the future can be bright, and I believe it can be certain.
Man is still the master of his own fate. And I believe that the power
of science and the responsibility of science have offered mankind a new
opportunity, not only for intellectual growth, but for moral discipline.
Not only for the acquisition of knowledge, but for the strengthening of our
nerve and our will.
We are bound to grope for a time as we grapple with problems without
precedent in human history. But wisdom is the child of experience. And
the year since man unlocked the power, stored within the atom, the world
has the made progress, halting, but effective towards bringing that power
under human control. The challenge in short may be our salvation.
O`DONNELL: Exactly one month later, President John F. Kennedy was
O`DONNELL: Fifty-eight percent of Americans favor legalizing
marijuana according to the new Gallup poll. There are only two things
Americans support more than legalizing marijuana. Sixty-four percent are
in favor of same sex relations being made legal. And 83 percent support
universal background checks for gun purchases.
Up next, what went wrong with the Affordable Care Act Web site and how
it can be fixed.
O`DONNELL: President Obama has called the help desk and tapped long
time aide Jeffrey Zients to oversee the fixes to the affordable care act
web site, healthcare.gov. At the White House briefing today, Jay Carney
made the announcement about Zients who is a former CEO of a health care
management company and former director of the office of management and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are working alongside the
(INAUDIBLE) team and using his rich expertise management acumen, Jeff will
provide short term advice, assessments, and recommendations. As you know,
he will be coming here in the beginning of the year as director of the
National Economic Council. This is a short term assignment for HHS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Zients will now manage the tech surge that President Obama
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Experts from some of
America`s top private sector tech companies who, by the way, have seen
things like this happen before, they want it to work. They`re reaching
out. They`re offering to send help. We have had some of the best IT
talent in the country join the team. And we are well into a tech surge to
fix the problem. And we are confident that we will get all of the problems
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Jyoti Bansal, a technology expert and
founder of Appdynamics and application management company.
What happened here?
JYOTI BANSAL, FOUNDER APPDYNAMICS: One of the things that went wrong
here, number one is the site was launched without proper testing. It is a
very, very complex site, you know. There are 55 contractors involved.
There are hundreds of different systems. There are a lot of legacy
(INAUDIBLE) that a lot of databases involved.
And you know, when everything came together it just didn`t work.
There were a lot of functional problems in there. And, you know, the
government ran out of time to, to do proper integration testing before site
was launched. And that`s why we see, you know, a lot of errors when people
try to sign up. You know, a lot of errors, when people are looking at
their eligible for subsidies. That`s number one.
Number two what went wrong was, you know, the stress testing wasn`t
done properly. So, there was a lot of software button-like that are in the
system. There are, you know, they are software design flaws, there are
software, you know, glitches, in the, architecture. That needs to be
fixed. And you know -- because of the shortness of time it was launched
O`DONNELL: Jyoti, I don`t think people understand what you mean by
the shortage of time? America thinks they had three years to do this?
BANSAL: You know, it looks like, you know, there were three years for
this. But the development really started only about eight, nine months
ago. So, there was only about eight, or nine months to the develop this.
And you know, in hindsight, the development should have started sooner. It
is probably like, you know, should have given 15 months, 18 months to do
this. It is a very complex system because, finally because of the nature
of the different, you know, legacy, data bases, and legacy systems, you
know, the, you know, the systems from all of the defense states that are
involved. In (INAUDIBLE) it takes a lot of time.
Eight months is very aggressive. At the same time, I do think, you
know, it`s the launch of it, the expectations were not set right for the
American people. Right? So, that`s why most of the Americans think it was
a lot of time. Everything should have been good day one. The look at most
large Web sites like, you know, when Google launches a product. It starts
with a beta launch posts, right? So, you know, you have beta launch for
two months, three month period. Then all the glitches are found and fixed.
The expectations are low. Once you find and fix all the glitches, that
when you launch it to everyone else. So, that part, you know, wasn`t done
O`DONNELL: And the beta launch, Jyoti is that you have launched it to
a small sample of people to see how that works?
BANSAL: Yes. And you, and even itch you make it available for
everyone, you said that expectations that is only for early adopters,
people who are willing to, you know, experiment with site, if there are
glitches, where there are problems, and they report the glitches so
developers can fix it.
O`DONNELL: And it is very common when new soft ware comes out or new
editions of software comes out for some people to hang back and wait at
least a month because they expect these kinds of bugs. I know a lot of
people who are not upgrading the operating systems on their iphones to the
new system because they want to see, a month or two go by for that.
BANSAL: Exactly. And that`s very common. That happens so you see,
with iphone you see with everything. But it is, that expectation has to be
managed right. There would be glitches, you know. With this launch,
everyone expected it would be perfect from day one except like, you know,
people in the technology industry. None of us are surprised by this --
except at the magnitude of how big the problems are.
O`DONNELL: Jyoti Bansal gets tonight`s "Last Word."
Thank you so much, Jyoti.
BANSAL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, October 22, 2013
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL