October 30, 2013
Guest: Kathleen Parker, Nancy Metcalf, Frank Pallone, Dana Milbank,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Out of this world.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in this great, historic city of
Philadelphia, where our self-government began, where we Americans first
learned to gather around and build a country.
"Let Me Start" tonight with that. The first requirement of every
political leader is to know what country he`s living in. It helps, too, to
know what time you`re living in. Ted Cruz and the advancing right of the
Republican Party speak of a place where people refuse to compromise on
spending and taxes to cut the national debt, where people like government
shutdowns as a political tactic, where people don`t believe in background
checks for gun buyers.
Mr. and Mrs. Angry Right-Winger, you might want to check your GPS,
your map, your continent, your calendar, your century. That country the
right wing claims as their own may exist somewhere in Cloud-Cuckooland, but
it sure isn`t the United States of America in October 2013.
This country, indeed, the Republicans in this country, accepted the
fact that to get a deal on cutting the deficits, we need to act on both
sides of the ledger. Republicans don`t like government shutdowns as a
tactic. They`re talking to you, Senator Cruz. And they think it`s nutty
not to check out who buys guns in this country, especially with all that`s
So my question -- just who do the hard core mean -- the hard-core
right mean -- when they speak so casually of the American people?
Howard Fineman`s editorial director of the Huffington Post Media
Group. David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine.
Both are MSNBC political analysts. And both are Americans.
Well, the hard right continues to stick to its guns, but the more Ted
Cruz and his cohorts man the battlements, the more some of his Republican
colleagues call them out. According to "The Hill" newspaper, Congressman
Scott Rigell of Virginia says many of his fellow GOP colleagues in
Congress, including Senator Cruz, don`t live in, quote, "political
reality." It was the latest salvo from the non-crazies in the Republican
Yesterday, editors at "The National Review" warned against the
apocalyptic Republicans who, quote, "believe the most effective model for
gaining ground is simply pressuring Republicans to be more
Also yesterday, the Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, took on
members of his party when it comes to the social safety net. Quote, "I`m
concerned about the fact that there seems to be a war on the poor, that if
you`re poor, somehow you`re shiftless and lazy." That`s Governor Kasich
Let me go to Howard on this whole question of this misapprehension by
the hard right of who the American people are, but not only that, not even
knowing who their own party is on key issues of gun rights and fiscal
policy and government shutdowns. Their party doesn`t think like the hard
right does, and they`re the more conservative political party.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, Chris, the Virginia congressman that you mentioned and the governor
of Ohio that you mentioned live in the political and economic reality of
America today. They understand what`s going on.
In Virginia, it`s quite likely that a Tea Party Republican is going to
lose the governorship to a Democrat who many thought was unelectable.
That`s probably going to happen on election day next month.
In Ohio, there are pockets of poverty and misery that John Kasich, who
used to be a doctrinaire Republican congressman, now as governor must deal
with. And that sort of mugging by reality that John Kasich has experienced
in Ohio has made him and put him in the traditional mainstream of Ohio
Republicans, who, if anything, are among the most practical.
There`s a reason why so many Republicans were elected to the
presidency from Ohio. They understand the gritty reality of that state.
Kasich does. And that`s a reality that the ideologues who think that their
home base is the Heritage Foundation and think tanks in Washington don`t
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But you know
also, Chris, what`s really interesting...
MATTHEWS: David, I want you to answer a question, though.
CORN: OK. Sure.
MATTHEWS: When they say "We the American people," who are he this
talking about? Are they only talking about people of a certain evangelical
religious Christian background, people who are of a certain heritage
ethnically, of a certain region?
Who are they talking about when they confidently say "We the American
people," as if they don`t mean blacks from the big cities, they don`t mean
liberals from the big cities, they don`t mean people of other religions
besides Christianity, certainly? Who are they actually talking about?
CORN: They mean the people who think like...
MATTHEWS: Let`s nail it.
CORN: They mean the people who thi9nk like us. They mean the people
they see at Tea Party rallies or at Heritage Action town hall meetings.
They -- you know, some of...
MATTHEWS: Well, how did they get the monopoly on America?
MATTHEWS: How did they get to be "We Americans"?
CORN: Well, Chris, they`re free to say whatever delusional thing they
want to say. But you know, talking about, you know, practical politics
here, what I was going to say, too, in addition to Howard`s observations
about Rigell and Kasich -- they both live not just in the land of political
reality, but in the land where Barack Obama wins. You know, he won the
district in Virginia that the congressman comes from. Of course, he won
the state of Ohio.
So they know, Kasich and Rigell, that American politics are actually
diverse. They`re diverse, you know, ideologically, policy-wise, also
demographically, generational. And so they, to be successful politicians,
have to operate within those confines.
The people -- Ted Cruz and others are really kind of self-selecting,
self-segregating, and coming up with this formula of success that only
relies on people who think like they do. You know...
MATTHEWS: OK, I`m not going to stop...
CORN: ... for success.
MATTHEWS: Howard, I`m not going to quit on this point. I like
immigrants, especially people who come here legally, play by the rules. He
did that. But his father`s from Cuba. He just got here from Canada. And
yet he gets to dictate who an American is. He gets to write out everybody
from the Northeast, everybody who`s a liberal, everybody who`s a minority.
The blacks in this country who were here for 400 years, at least, a lot of
them, most of their families -- are they Americans? Or just the guy who
just got here from Canada with a Cuban father?
I mean, how do you get to just dictate this definition of America to
your convenience? It`s awesome. It`s an awesome arrogance to talk like
this, "We Americans."
FINEMAN: You don`t get to dictate it, Chris. And I think it`s up to
people within the Republican Party, as well as Democrats, as well as
President Barack Obama to counter that notion. The whole point of this
country is, I -- its welcoming nature. Controversial, yes, with conflict,
yes. Every group that`s here wishes that the one after them wouldn`t
follow, but that`s been going on for hundreds of years.
And people have to stand up and say, No, you do not...
FINEMAN: ... You, to the Tea Party -- You, the Tea Party, just
because you`re waving the "Don`t tread on me" flag, just because you`re
claiming a sort of exclusive control over and understanding of the roots of
the country -- that`s not the case. That`s not the case. This is a
MATTHEWS: Actually, I like the Gadsden flag because it refers to
other countries treading on us, not our government treading on us.
FINEMAN: Well, exactly, so...
MATTHEWS: It`s a total misuse of the flag.
FINEMAN: So it`s up -- it`s up -- I think it`s up to others in the
political arena to challenge them on that and to counter that very
arrogance that you`re talking about.
CORN: You know, the history of America is about fighting over the
definition of America. You can go back to 1800, when Jefferson and Adams
were at each other`s throats fighting over what type of country this would
be and what type of Americans we would be.
And so throughout the Civil Rights period, throughout, you know,
protesting Vietnam, McCarthyism, there`s always been this fight over what`s
a real American. And sometimes, it`s very coded, sometimes it`s not too
coded, in racial or religious terms.
And so the fact that they`re, you know, advancing their very narrow
view of this now is nothing new. And I think, in some ways, it seems a
little retro, a little tired, and we`ll see to what degree other Americans
have to fight to -- you know, to not let them succeed. It may be that
they`re so marginalized that this fight is really a last gasp, not a last
MATTHEWS: It just seems a bit bizarre and maybe comical that the guy
that just caught the night train from Montreal is deciding who`s in and
Anyway, we mentioned earlier "National Review" editors say apocalyptic
conservatives have zero interest in political engagement, in winning
arguments through persuasion and actually passing actual legislation.
Right-wing blogger Erick Erickson took offense at that. Quote, "Like much
of the Republican leadership, `National Review` wants to win majorities
before unleashing hell. But history shows us repeatedly that Republicans
never unleash hell once they have the majority. They become well-fed
denizens of power, using it to reward friends and influence people, instead
of willingly surrendering it (ph) to shrink the leviathan." Of course,
that`s the government
And to me, David, the question here is, what do they want to do if
they`re not running for office? In other words, is the hard right simply a
clamoring bunch of right-wingers who stand out there and try to call for
the walls of Jericho to fall, rather than actually building anything?
Here`s a guy on the right saying, We don`t want to hold office.
That`s corrupt. We just want to attack those in office. That`s basically
what he`s saying.
CORN: I mean, if people on the right think "The National Review" is
the problem, well, they have a big problem. I mean, we know the people at
"The National Review." We like them. They`re are hard and fast
conservatives. Sometimes they`re more pragmatic than other times.
But you know, this is really, I think, from Erick Erickson`s point of
view and others, just a form of political nihilism. They just want to
destroy. They want to tear down. And anybody who sees it differently is
not just wrong, they are the enemy. They are the rot within. And they
must be defeated. They`re RINOs, whatever you want to call them.
And that`s why -- you know, I`ve said before. The civil war within
the -- you know, it`s not just within the Republican Party, but within the
conservative crew, whatever you want to call it, is not getting any better.
FINEMAN: Well, Chris...
CORN: It`s getting more exacerbated as people feel more, you know,
unburdened and able to attack the enemies.
FINEMAN: Chris -- Chris, there`s a generational war going on here.
"The National Review" was started by William F. Buckley and comes from the
-- has its roots in the 1950s and early 1960s, when I think even when
William F. Buckley said he wanted to stand athwart history shouting "No,"
he didn`t want to give up on the governmental process. He didn`t want to
give up on faith in the American government, on the ability of the American
government to take wildly divergent views, to take very harsh arguments and
somehow make progress from them.
The difference between what Bill Buckley was doing with "The National
Review" a generation or two and what some of the Web sites on the right are
doing now is that the current crop -- and I would put Ted Cruz in that
category, and I would put most of the other younger Tea Party people in
that category -- is that they fundamentally don`t believe in this system
that the founders put together to be able to settle the arguments that they
So the irony is, they`re the ones who are saying that they are
Americans and the others aren`t, when it`s these people who seem to have
deep, deep, deep doubts, if not total fear, of the very political system
that the founders created.
MATTHEWS: Yes, and the great comment recently I came across was
George F. Will, the outstanding Republican -- actually, conservative
columnist who said, The American people are conservative. They wish to
conserve the New Deal. The American people are very pragmatic. They like
Social Security. They like Medicare. They may have questions, and they`re
always legitimate about the growing role of government, but so far, they`ve
Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman, and thank you, David Corn.
Coming up next: Ted Cruz is accusing President Obama of abusing the
power of his office and acting in an unconstitutional manner. (INAUDIBLE)
Well, we`ll talk about that. We`ll be right back.
Also, the smearing of the Affordable Care Act continues. Today was a
prime example, when HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified on Capitol
Plus, Rand Paul is promising to hold up the nomination of Janet Yellen
to head the Fed. The Pauls, by the way, as a family, simply don`t like the
Federal Reserve. They`re a little strange on that one, don`t you think?
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with the men, deep flaws and all, who
built this country right here in my hometown of Philadelphia. That`s where
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: A brand-new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll has bad
news for pretty much everyone in Washington. President Obama`s approval
has dropped to 42 percent. That`s an all-time low for him in the poll.
The Republican Party meanwhile has dropped to an all-time low of its own.
Only 22 percent have a favorable impression of the party, versus 53 percent
who view Republicans unfavorably.
Meanwhile, 63 percent say they want to fire their own member of
Congress. That, too, is an all-time high. And the feeling is stronger in
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the Republican Party is on
a bit of a losing streak, don`t you think? It tried to defeat Barack Obama
back in 2008. Lost that baby. Tried again in 2012, lost again. It hoped
to see the Supreme Court declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.
And, well, that didn`t work out. And led by freshman senator Ted Cruz, it
shut down the government and nearly defaulted on our country`s debts. But
guess what? The Republicans and Cruz lost that one, too.
David Denby wrote today in "The New Yorker," quote -- what a statement
this is -- "Cruz`s strategy is universal aggression aimed at everyone.
Cruz resembles one of those war chariots with blades flashing from the
wheels. He tries to cut up everything in his path. When things go wrong,
he only sharpens the blades. In Cruz`s rhetoric, the American people are
always being wronged. He seeks the presidency, of course, and he appears
to be doing it by sowing as much confusion and disorder as possible,
playing the Joker in a seemingly nihilistic charade whose actual intent is
a rational grab for power."
Well, in an interview he did with NBC/ABC Fusion Network -- I think
that`s the Spanish pronunciation -- that aired last night, Cruz told Jorge
Ramos that President Obama is absolutely abusing his power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORGE RAMOS, FUSION: You think President Obama has been abusing his
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think he has absolutely been abusing his
power. And when you have a president who says, Regardless of whether
Congress acts, I`m going to force my agenda on the American people, that`s
wrong. That`s not consistent with our constitutional protections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Alex Wagner`s the host of MSNBC`s "NOW" with Alex, and of
course, Kathleen Parker`s a syndicated (ph) columnist, and a very
successful one, by the way, with "The Washington Post."
Alex and Kathleen, thank you for joining us.
These terms like "abuse of power" are strong. They carry with them a
notion of a president beyond -- acting beyond his constitutional powers.
I`m wondering what we can point to or he has pointed to that suggests
Obama, who was able to pass review with the Supreme Court for his most
important bit of legislation, has abused his power.
Why don`t you start with it, Alex. Where is the abuse apparent to Mr.
ALEX WAGNER, HOST, "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER": That`s that "New Yorker"
piece that you pointed out, Chris, is a great piece of writing. And one of
the comparisons that David Denby makes is between Ted Cruz and Joe
McCarthy. And for Ted Cruz, "Obama care" is his communism. It is the
thing that animates him and animates everything that he says.
And I think in some way, because the president is somehow trying to
help the poor, the disenfranchised and the uninsured, Ted Cruz has flipped
that script and made it somehow a repression of American democracy in some
I would also say the thing that Cruz has pointed to lately in terms of
President Obama`s abuse of power is the fact that the president was willing
to somehow use whatever levers he could to reopen the government and
prevent financial catastrophe, and somehow, Ted Cruz saw that as a
manipulation or an adulteration of executive power.
MATTHEWS: Kathleen, I think the president`s been very careful, maybe
because he`s the first African-American president. I think he`s been very
much tiptoeing around these questions of the nuclear option and these
things he can do under the 14th Amendment, you know, pay the bills no
matter what the Congress says.
I think he`s put out statements through Jay Carney that he would never
go that far, that he`s been very careful in walking the line that has been
walked before in terms of presidential power and opportunities and options.
KATHLEEN PARKER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, that may be the case, but
the government in general, the administration and the directives that come
down from -- by tone or other avenues has been to expand government powers
and to take -- take some leeway here and there with certain -- like, for
example, the IRS investigations of Tea Party people.
I mean, I think we are all aware that there`s more government
overreach than we`ve experienced before in our personal lives. And that`s
what I think appeals to Ted Cruz`s -- to his constituents. Now, some of
what he -- I can`t argue...
MATTHEWS: Yes, but those people work at -- but Kathleen, we`re
talking about the president here. Did he appoint those people at IRS or
PARKER: No, apparently, the -- apparently, the president has nothing
to do with anything. He...
MATTHEWS: Well, no, but they were holdovers.
PARKER: He pleads ignorance on almost everything that comes along in
the news these days...
MATTHEWS: No, but aren`t -- wasn`t it -- wasn`t that a holdover
person that just in this -- you pointed to the case of IRS, so I`ve got to
go at you on that.
PARKER: Well, that...
MATTHEWS: Wasn`t the head of IRS over there who caused the trouble,
who was overseeing it, was a W appointment?
PARKER: Yes, but to the same extent -- oh, well -- in any case, to
the same extent that we blamed -- I`m just playing devil`s advocate. I`m
not defending Ted Cruz, by the way. I`ve been pretty clear on my thoughts
MATTHEWS: Thanks for that definition of your role.
PARKER: But we blamed -- everyone was quite willing to blame
President Bush for anything that took place anywhere in the world while he
was president. So I mean, I think the -- you know, everyone -- the tone
and the -- and the sense of what is possible comes from leadership.
And so if people feel like they can go ahead and, you know, wiretap
telephones or investigate certain people who are ideologically opposed,
then, you know, there`s a sense that things are not going the way they
WAGNER: But can I interject here, Chris and Kathleen.
WAGNER: I think that one of the things that distinguishes, if you can
use that word, Ted Cruz from other folks who may have a healthy skepticism
of government overreach is that Ted Cruz, as Chris pointed out, has a
strategy of universal aggression.
He`s not just attacking President Obama. He came out of the
government shutdown and blamed Senate Republicans, people in his own party.
Ted Cruz is not looking to govern. Ted Cruz is looking to tear asunder and
kneecap those who are actually trying to govern, regardless of what party
And he certainly has said some outrageous things about the president
of the United States. But he`s also said some outrageous things about his
own party, making it completely unclear what Ted Cruz`s philosophy actually
is of governing and policy.
This is someone who voted against the secretary -- confirming the
secretary of defense, the secretary of treasury, the secretary of state,
who voted against an immigration bill that had bipartisan support, who
voted against the farm bill, and has turned around and manipulated those
votes and said the president is abusing his power. It`s shocking.
I think it`s very important for all to know that I went back and read
Senator Cruz`s senior thesis at Princeton. He has been concerned -- and
zealously so concerned -- about the role of the federal government way back
to his college years.
I don`t doubt it comes from his heritage coming out of Cuba, where you
had a real dictator down there. And I`m completely anti-Castro. So I`m
with him 100 percent on Castro. I just don`t think Castro has anything to
do with Barack Obama or the other way around.
Here`s Ted Cruz`s father, however, bringing them together. He
compared President Obama to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Let`s take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL CRUZ, FATHER OF TED CRUZ: I grew up in Cuba under a strong
military oppressive dictatorship. I think the most ominous words I have
ever heard were in the last two State of the Union addresses, when our
president said, if Congress does not act, I will act unilaterally, not much
different than that old bearded friend that I left behind in Cuba,
governing by decree, by executive order, just like a dictator like Fidel
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: Yes. Right.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the senator`s father, not him. But even he --
he defended his father in that particular regard.
And, by the way, the last two State of the Union addresses Rafael Cruz
was referring to in President Obama, he was talking there about steps of
the federal government that it would take to combat climate change if
Congress didn`t act.
He didn`t say he was abuse his authority. He was going to use his
executive authority under the presidency as head of the executive branch to
take action. And when pressed to renounce the comparison to Castro made by
his father, Senator Cruz, the son, wouldn`t do it.
Here`s Cruz`s response to the charge that his father was off-base in
saying that Castro and Obama are similar in any regard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Is President Obama a dictator, from your point of view?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Well, the point that he made -- Look,
there`s obviously -- obviously, there are enormous differences.
QUESTION: And the U.S. is not a dictatorship. We have freedom of the
press. We have a democracy, political parties.
T. CRUZ: Absolutely. But his point was, he was focusing on a
statement President Obama made in the State of the Union where he said if
Congress doesn`t act to enact his agenda, that he will do it always on its
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Kathleen. Defend that.
PARKER: Yes. OK. Now, that`s not fair, Chris. You obviously don`t
read my column. So, I`m not here to defend Ted Cruz.
MATTHEWS: You said you were going to play devil`s advocate.
MATTHEWS: No. You said you would play devil`s advocate.
Is there any way to give the devil`s advocacy position there?
PARKER: No. No. It`s absurd, absurd, absurd. I have been to Cuba.
Believe me, it`s not like -- we`re not like Cuba. And...
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. I`m sorry.
PARKER: No, it`s ridiculous.
MATTHEWS: I didn`t want to abuse your guestship here, because I do
think it`s an absurd connection.
PARKER: Well, if you would stop talking, I would say something. I`m
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
PARKER: That was rude of me.
No, the point is, it`s very difficult -- sort of -- this reminds of
Mel Gibson and his father -- it`s very difficult to go out and say, no, my
father`s a complete off-the-wall nut job. But the Cruz people are allowing
the father to talk and maybe they`re using him a little more than they
It`s -- it`s very problematic for Republicans. And I think this is
the key point that I would like to make is that when -- Ted Cruz is
obviously a smart guy. He can talk about these legal issues in ways that
none of us here can. But is he the right voice for the Republican Party?
And my answer to that is absolutely no. And the longer he talks, the
worse it is for Republicans. And, by the way, the sensible ones feel this
way too. I mean, I don`t want to insult the people who elected Ted Cruz
and do think that he`s speaking for them. But, bottom line, he`s speaking
for himself. And he`s advancing his own candidacy, his own interests. Ted
is about Ted, ultimately. And I think that is very hard for the GOP to
MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me go back to -- let me give Alex the last
thought here and question.
It just seems to me that the son here has a very, almost zealous
attitude against federal power. It`s in his writings as a student. It`s
still there. He sees the federal government as a problem. He`s big on the
10th Amendment and restricting federal power. Fine. But there`s a
zealotry there I think that he`s got. Forget his father for a moment. I
think he`s got it about Obama and any president really.
And I think he`s found a moment in time when there`s a section of the
American electorate that feels disenfranchised, that feels demographically
isolated, that is economically repressed as much as the Republican base is.
That moment and Ted Cruz`s zealousness against the federal government have
And I am all for, Kathleen, moderate Republicans taking back the
party. But I talk to congressional reporters, and they say that the GOP is
still under the sway of the Tea Party. And you talk to folks looking at
2016 and they say Ted Cruz is a viable nominee. So I guess the jury still
seems to be out, and I think that that`s an optimistic message about...
PARKER: Well, I wouldn`t judge the future of the Republican candidacy
in 2016 by what happens in Iowa, because we have seen how that goes.
I did meet with Speaker John Boehner yesterday for a good while. And
his sense of things is a lot people in the Tea Party in the House learned a
lesson this time. And maybe they have matured a little bit by the process,
not all, but enough to give him some optimism about what happens next.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think we`re going to be very fortunate, Kathleen
and Alex. I think we`re going to get a real test of Ted Cruz`s influence
and power in the Republican Party, because now I believe -- I didn`t before
-- I believe he`s running. He`s going to South Carolina. He`s been to
Iowa. This guy looks like he`s running and putting together a coalition.
We will get to see how strong he is.
Thank you, Alex Wagner. Thank you, Kathleen Parker.
We will be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
Well, this morning, a bust of Sir Winston Churchill was unveiled at a
ceremony in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. It`s a long overdue honor,
I believe, for the late prime minister, who was our closest ally during
World War II and who became an honorary American citizen 50 years ago, in
Well, the event featured a musical performance by The Who`s front man,
Roger Daltrey, and included speeches by Speaker John Boehner, Mitch
McConnell and Secretary of State John Kerry. Here was Kerry telling a
story about one of Churchill`s famous witticisms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It was Churchill after all at a
late-night party long past its rightful expiration date who encountered a
scold from his own party, who exclaimed, in horror, Winston, you are drunk.
You are very drunk. You are very, very drunk.
And Winston without missing a beat looked back and said, you, you are
ugly. You are very ugly. You are very, very ugly. And what`s more,
tomorrow, I shall be sober.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, up next, dissecting the many Republican smears of the
Affordable Care Act. They kept coming today.
And, later, Rand Paul, the Don Quixote of the libertarian right, goes
after his longtime enemy.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. I`m Veronica De
La Cruz. Here`s what`s happening.
The Treasury Department says the U.S. deficit is less than half of
what it was four years ago, falling to $680 billion this year, down from
more than $1.4 trillion in 2009. New York City lawmakers have passed a
bill raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. And
President Obama making a pit stop in Boston to get an advanced look at a
statue to honor legendary basketball player Bill Russell. The ceremony is
set to take place on November 1.
I`m Veronica De La Cruz -- and now back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You said it`s the most dangerous piece of
legislation in the history of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think so. I believe that, yes.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Let`s repeal this failure
before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.
Let`s not do that.
T. CRUZ: ... is killing health benefits, is shattering the economy
all across the country in all 50 states.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Of course there are death
panels in there. But the important thing to remember is that`s just one
aspect of this atrocious, unaffordable, cumbersome, burdensome, evil policy
of Obama`s, and that is Obamacare.
DR. BEN CARSON, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: You know, Obamacare is really,
I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.
And it is in a way -- it is slavery, in a way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
As you saw in that clip, some of the right have been so blinded by
their hatred of the president, they have invented their own narrative about
the Affordable Care Act. By the way, the only honest statement about it
made, by the way, was Cruz back in January said his biggest worry was it
would become like sugar, it would become addictive. In other words,
they`re not afraid of it failing. They`re afraid of it being popular.
Anyway, here`s a thought. The president`s health care plan is a plan
to insure more than 40 million Americans who ought to have I think the
basic ability to see a doctor when they need to. How is that for an idea?
And they also deserve the insurance plan that won`t bankrupt them and their
family when they get really sick.
What is wrong with that idea? Republicans on the right are not
talking about that.
Anyway, Congressman Frank Pallone is a Democrat from New Jersey. And
Nancy Metcalf is a health insurance expert with "Consumer Reports."
I want to begin with this. It`s hard to keep track of all the
distortions out there. So, let`s take a look at some of the most over-
repeated Republican charges against the Affordable Care Act. The first is
that you will lose your current coverage. Well, the fact is that insurers
won`t be able to peddle consumers those junk plans they had before.
They`re called junk plans because they don`t cover even basic services like
hospitalization. How is that? Or they cap your benefits at incredibly low
levels, and those are gone. They weren`t really good policies anyway, or
even decent ones.
The next is that the health care law`s Web site is forever broken.
Not true. The experts brought in to fix it say the site will be totally
functional by the end of November. Then there`s the argument that the
entire law tends to be replaced -- needs to be replaced. Well, there`s
only one problem with that. Despite all their yelling, Republicans have
yet to offer any alternative, something to replace it with.
And 40-plus votes to repeal the law is not a viable alternative by the
House Republicans. We have also heard Rand Paul and Ted Cruz both argue
that it will bankrupt America. Well, the facts, according to the
nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, say that the law will actually
reduce the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.
And then there`s this little sugarplum, that the law will destroy the
American economy. That`s a hard argument to make, actually, a hard one to
make when just yesterday the stock market hit an all-time high.
Mr. Pallone, thank you, Congressman Pallone. I`m beginning to fall in
love with everybody from New Jersey, especially you and your colleague the
other day. Tell me about the tenor of the discussion in that committee
today of the almost robotic attack on the president`s health care plan and
your reaction to those robotic behaviors.
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, it is all scare tactics and
the GOP trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
Today`s discussion was mostly about the first thing you mentioned,
Chris, would is that this idea that insurance companies are taking away
your plans. As you point out, this is private insurance in a competitive
market. That`s exactly what we wanted.
So the insurers that are canceling these individual policies are doing
so because they are not going to be able to sell them. In other words, if
you have a skeletal plan that has very few benefits and costs a lot and
somebody else is out there on the exchange with a plan that has better
coverage and better benefits and costs less, you`re not going to be able to
sell your insurance.
So what they`re doing is they`re notifying people that they`re not
selling the lousy insurance at a high price anymore, because we can give
you a better plan at a lower, more affordable price. And the Republicans
are saying, well, I want to keep my plan. Well, why in the world would you
want to keep a lousy plan that`s going to cost you more?
PALLONE: And the insurance companies say, we can`t sell that anymore.
Nobody`s going to buy that lousy plan. And so that`s why we`re canceling
it and telling you go to another one that is better and that probably costs
It`s so -- it`s capitalism at its best in a private, competitive
Nancy Metcalf, help us out here as a consumer expert. It seems to me
that a person who comes out and says I`m really happy with my health
insurance plan, if it`s only a catastrophic plan, a real cheap one, a
skeletal plan, like we`re calling it, it didn`t really cover much, but the
person happened to have been very healthy the last couple years and very
fortunate not to need a very good health care plan, so they say my
insurance has been good to me.
In other words, you have been lucky. If that person was not lucky,
had the usual problems of bad health coming at them and their family, they
wouldn`t say it was a great plan, would they? So, it seems to me, by
definition, the people out there saying they love their cheap plan have
been fortunate and very healthy the last few years.
NANCY METCALF, "CONSUMER REPORTS": That`s true.
What you can see is that people really don`t know what`s in their
health insurance plan as long as they`re healthy. The people who know
METCALF: -- about their health insurance plan are people who have
gotten really sick and needed a lot of care. And unfortunately, people who
have bought on the individual market up until now have oftentimes, without
realizing it, bought really terrible plans and only found out that was the
case when it was too late.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Well President Obama hit back at the criticism
today, specifically addressing the GOP fear-mongering campaign which has
seized on several reports of insurance cancellations. We`re talking about
that in a small corner of the market.
Well, let`s listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the fewer than 5
percent of Americans who buy insurance on your own, you will be getting a
better deal. So anyone peddling the notion that insurers are canceling
people`s plan without mentioning that almost all the insurers are
encouraging people to join better plans with the same carrier and stronger
benefits and protection, well, others will be able to get better plans with
new carriers through the marketplace and that many will get new help to pay
for these better plans and make them actually cheaper. If you leave that
stuff out, you`re being grossly misleading to say the least.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman Pallone, when winter comes, you like to have a
heater. If your heater breaks, you want to get the heater fixed. You
don`t say you don`t like heaters.
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Exactly.
MATTHEWS: The Republicans are making that ludicrous charge now. We
don`t need heaters because this one is broke, or they broke for a week or
two, or a month or two. So, therefore, we`re offering a program called no
heaters, and winter`s coming.
It seems they get away with crazy talk. They don`t have a plan for
health care. They haven`t had one since -- Nixon was pretty honest in
pushing an employer mandate back in `74, during Watergate. That was
basically knocked down by the Democrats. They don`t even think -- how are
your colleagues that are across the aisle from you, sitting at committee,
how do they walk up to the constituents and say, we got this little problem
with the Democratic plan -- and they don`t have any plan at all for health
care and people do (INAUDIBLE) health.
PALLONE: Well, I think a lot of them, if they`re the Tea Party right
wing, Chris, just don`t believe the government should assist or help in any
way with your health insurance. And that`s an ideological point of view
which I don`t share and I don`t think most Americans share.
But, you know, that`s one group. But the group that are, you know,
scaring people and giving the impression that somehow you shouldn`t
participate in this program, you know, they`re not being fair, because they
don`t have an alternative.
And, again, I can`t stress enough, you know, this is private insurance
in a competitive market. The federal government, you know, can`t force an
insurance company to sell a lousy plan that nobody`s going to buy because
the insurance company has to make money. So, that`s why they`re canceling
these lousy plans and say, here, we`re going to offer you something better
because they`re competitive. If they can`t sell it, they can`t make any
money. I mean, it`s just capitalism at its best.
MATTHEWS: You`re great.
PALLONE: And there`s no socialist ideology here. This is pure
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m falling in love with New Jersey. You guys have
been so great.
Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey, and
Nancy Metcalf. We`ll have you back again Ms. Metcalf for more of expertise
on the consumer impact on this whole thing.
Up next, how we know -- how we know that Rand Paul just loves
Wikipedia. He`s actually plagiarizing it. Can you get that low? To
plagiarize Wikipedia, which is bad enough? I mean, that`s ahead.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Catch this -- a new poll in Virginia shows the race for
governor down there may be closer than we thought. Let`s check the
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads by
four points over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. McAuliffe 45, Cuccinelli 41,
and the libertarian in the race at 9. Well, that`s a lot closer than
yesterday`s "Washington Post" poll that had McAuliffe up by 12. And it`s a
lot closer than today`s Roanoke College poll which shows McAuliffe by 15.
We`ll know more for sure this coming Tuesday, Election Day. Polls in
Virginia close at 7:00 Eastern Time next Tuesday, and HARDBALL will be
quick with the results and all the exit polls and analysis. Please join us
next Tuesday at 7:00 Eastern for HARDBALL.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Senator Rand Paul is about to get a national issue land right in his
wheel house. The Federal Reserve, an entity he says has far too much power
and far too little oversight. Senator Paul says he`ll attempt to block
President Obama`s candidate to be next Fed chair unless he gets a vote on a
pet bill that would severely constrain the Fed. He warns in a letter to
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, quote, "I will object any unanimous
consent agreement for the waiver of any rule with respect to the nomination
of Dr. Yellen without a vote on S-209."
While attacking the Fed is a Paul family obsession and Rand Paul hopes
to ride it straight to the White House. His strange obsession recalls this
iconic scene from the movie "Dr. Strangelove."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can no longer sit back and allow communist
infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist subversion, and the
international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Dana Milbank is a columnist for "The Washington Post", and
Clarence Page is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Chicago
Gentlemen, this is the precious bodily fluids concern of Rand Paul and
his father. I think a lot of people who are normal, who read the
newspapers every day and read your columns and think about American
politics, wonder why a guy like Rand Paul, and you think of Ayn Rand here,
of course, would be so obsessed with something as exotic as the Fed, is
that the Fed is somehow some evil force that we have to worry about, when
in fact what it does, it controls the money supply.
Your thoughts, Dana?
DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, not only is he concerned
about this precious bodily fluid, but it`s passed on by his father as well,
because -- you know, he is the guy, Ron Paul, who wrote --
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s how you get it, isn`t it?
MILBANK: That`s exactly right. He wrote the book, "End the Fed", so
now we`re down to auditing the Feds.
But this is something of a Holy Grail among the libertarians. They
have done this for a long time. Rand Paul himself has said we should have
a commission, to think of going back to the gold standard. They don`t like
the Fed anyhow in the first place.
But in terms of, you know, putting a hold on this nomination, Lindsey
Graham already said he`s going to put a hold on all of these nominations
until they get Benghazi. I mean, there are more holds going on from the
Republicans than a wrestling competition.
MATTHEWS: Clarence Page, my contemporary, we`re not used to this kind
of bizarro, are we? I`m not used to it. The guy at the level of Rand Paul
has talked about, in fact, leading some polls in many primary states. And
yet he`s got this interest people might find bizarre.
CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, what`s bizarro about it is
that we`re kind of we`re institutionalizing the practice of hostage-taking
in order to move legislation. That`s what Rand Paul is doing here, holding
up Yellen`s appointment, saying, you know, if you don`t take a vote right
away, I`m going to hold up the appointment.
Actually, she is going to be acting chairman, anyway, procedurally.
But there is a streak -- historical streak, Chris, going back at least
to Andrew Jackson, a populist who opposed the Fed. Andrew Hamilton favored
it. This is an old argument here in the United States, and Paul family is
just the latest iteration of it.
MATTHEWS: Suppose we elect somebody like Rand Paul and they say,
let`s get back to the gold standard, and then they could say, look, I ran
on this, you got to let me do it -- Dana.
MILBANK: That`s a fairly big supposition, because even if a guy like
Rand Paul can beat off the likes of a Ted Cruz in a Republican primary,
it`s not exactly clear how somebody like that gets to a position of power
in a general election. But, you know, the whole anti-Fed movement is
collected in all sorts of conspiracy theories.
And, of course, the majority of the electorate would realize that it
was the actions of the Federal Reserve rather than the inaction on Capitol
Hill that actually prevented us from going into another Great Depression.
MATTHEWS: It`s sure great for the growth. It`s been great for the
Look, this is something everybody watching can cut through. It`s
called plagiarism. My colleague Rachel Maddow discovered that in his
speech at Liberty University Monday, when he referenced the sci-fi movie
"Gattaca", the one that abortion access can lead to eugenics, Senator Rand
Paul lifted many sentences verbatim from the Wikipedia entry about that
movie. And that was just the beginning.
He also lifted directly from the Wikipedia entry for the movie, "Stand
and Deliver." Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: On March 19 of this year, Rand Paul gave
a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And he made referenced
to that 1988 movie, "Stand and Deliver." The Wikipedia entry for "Stand
and Deliver" describes the main plot of the film this way. Quote, "In the
area of East Los Angeles, California, in 1982, in an environment that
values a quick fix over education and learning, Jaime Escalante is a new
teacher at Garfield High School." That`s Wikipedia.
Here is Rand Paul.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: In the area of East L.A., in 1982, in
an environment that values a quick fix over education over learning,
Escalante was a new math teacher at Garfield high school."
MADDOW: Just like "Gattaca."
Rand Paul was just reading Wikipedia, and passing it off as if it is
his own words.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Well, three more times in that same speech, Rand Paul
repeated lines that came verbatim from the Wikipedia entry for "Stand and
What do you make of that, guys, that he is relying on somebody and
just read verbatim from a questionable source to start with? Dana?
MILBANK: He must have lost his speech writers because of the
government shutdown, and has now had to import something else. But well,
look, maybe he could find some -- perhaps of a higher quality if he is
going to go ahead and plagiarize.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Dana Milbank and Clarence Page.
Clarence, do you have a thought?
PAGE: Well, just, you know, at Liberty University, you know, social
conservatives flock there. And I`m sure it must have been interesting
hearing them listen to literature about -- that Satanic Hollywood being
quoted to them as an example of the pathway forward.
OK, thank you, guys. Thank you.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with where I`m at tonight, up here
with my Republican brother, Jim, who is having a book party for me.
Well, this studio I`m in right now is in the old part of Philadelphia.
You walk along these blocks and you are taken back a couple of centuries.
It`s a good walk but not much more from Independence Hall where George
Washington and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and the rest of those
incredible gentlemen built this country.
They were not moral, some of them by our standards. Many had slaves.
They were not the soul of the Earth. Many of them were men of property. I
don`t know if they`d be friendly or rugged if they meet you or I today, say
hi and chat about the things we do.
But I`ll say this -- they knew how to build a government. They worked
at it, thought about it, read books about it, wrote books about it. They
were professionals and compromised. They ate and drank at nearby taverns,
no doubt and had their share of rivalries and jealousies.
But they knew how to compromise, knew how to build something. Listen
to Senator Cruz and his claims that the president is abusing his powers,
listen to these crazed comparisons to Fidel Castro, and what I hear is an
abuse of politics, choices of words and antagonisms that have no home in
this country today.
The president`s healthcare plan was approved by the United States
Congress, and reviewed by conservative-leaning Supreme Court. You don`t
have to like it. You don`t have to believe in it. But you cannot honestly
call it an abuse of power.
You may not believe in climate change. You are permitted in our
country to be ignorant, or more likely to pretend ignorance. That`s an old
habit of those who wish to win popularity. But you can`t accuse the
president of abusing his power when he promises to use his executive
authority to act on his belief in climate change.
Words have meaning, Senator Cruz, you can`t use the innuendo and scare
tactics of Joseph McCarthy without people saying that`s exactly what you`re
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, October 30, 2013