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All In With Chris Hayes, Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

October 30, 2013
Guest: Leonard Lance, Donna Christensen, Clay Johnson, Wendell Potter,
Barney Frank, David Stockman, Michael Bernan Dougherty, Chiwetel Ejiofor,
Carl Hart, Joel Berg

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.

President Obama hit the road today traveling to the laboratory of
Obamacare, the state of Massachusetts, to defend his signature law today.


marketplaces will work, because Massachusetts has shown that the model

Yes, this is hard. The healthcare system is a big system and it`s
complicated. And if it was hard doing it just in one state, it`s harder to
do it in all 50 states, especially when the governors of a bunch of states
and half of the Congress, aren`t trying to help. Yes. It`s hard, but it`s
worth it.


HAYES: While the president was in Boston trying to reboot the conversation
around the new health law, House Republicans were back in Washington hard
at work investigating the law`s troubled debut.


REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Once again, here we have my Republican
colleagues trying to scare everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the gentleman yield?

PALLONE: No, I will not yield to this monkey court.

HAYES (voice-over): Today, the monkey court was back in session. This
time with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius fielding
the questions from congressmen eager to get to the bottom of the rocky
health reform rollout.

Did you know, for example, that Kathleen Sebelius used to be governor of

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary, while you`re from Kansas --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As governor in Kansas --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were governor and state insurance commissioner in

HAYES: Which is also the site of an iconic American film.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a famous movie called "The Wizard of Oz".

PALLONE: I know we`re not in Kansas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People went to see the wizard because of the wonderful
things that he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those folks worked hard to go down that yellow brick

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some may say we are actually in the Wizard of Oz land.

HAYES: That land you speak of, sir, is called Oz.

But Sebelius wasn`t actually born in Congress, which means she could not
have run into the 90-year-old Texas Congressman Ralph Hall on a tricycle in
Meade, Kansas, circa 1931.

REP. RALPH HALL (R), TEXAS: Were you born in Kansas, Meade, Kansas?

born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

HALL: I was in third grade there and thought I saw you on a tricycle there
one day.

HAYES: Who was the Kathleen Sebelius lookalike on a tricycle in Depression
era Kansas? We may never know.

So the Republicans moved on to more important matter, like the relative
morality of an ad put out by a Colorado nonprofit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree with this kind of advertising for

SEBELIUS: I can`t see it and again --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a college student doing a keg stand.

SEBELIUS: If the Colorado exchange did that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you approve of this kind of advertising?

SEBELIUS: State-based marketplace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you approve of this kind of advertising?

SEBELIUS: I don`t see it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a pretty big picture of a keg.

HAYES: Marsha Blackburn, however, took a pro-bro stance, channeling Toby
Keith`s "Red Solo Cup" to the cry to reform the health.


REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Some people like to drink out of a
red cup, not a crystal stem.

HAYES: Stepping in to carry the torch for the GOP women was Congresswoman
Renee Ellmers.

REP. RENEE ELLMERS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Correct me if I`m wrong, do men
not have to buy maternity coverage?

HAYES: Congressman Bill Long had other reasons for boycotting the new

REP. BILLY LONG (R), MISSOURI: I could not bring myself to do that from
what I`ve heard from people like John McAfee, and folks about the security.

HAYES: You know John McAfee, the Internet security mogul-turned-fugitive
from the law, and certifiable creep.

JOHN MCAFEE, INTERNETS SECURITY MOGUL: People asked me, did you actually
sleep with 10 17-year-old girls and you`re 67-year-old man? I go, yes, I

HAYES: Yes, the rollout of the ACA has been rocky to say the least, don`t
worry, America, Congress is on it.


HAYES: Joining me is Congressman Leonard Lance, Republican from New
Jersey, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and
Congresswoman Donna Christensen, a Democrat who represents U.S. Virginia
Islands, also a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a
doctor herself.

And, Congressman Lance, I`m a little confused at this point of the sort of
Republican objection through a policy standpoint, is the idea that health
insurance companies should not be able to cancel policies in the individual

REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: That is correct. And that is the
substance. First we want to make sure that the procedure works, which is
the Web site. And I want to work with the administration to make sure that
the Web site is up and running fully, as quickly as possible, Chris.

HAYES: Well, that`s great. I think that is -- that is everyone who cares
about the implementation of the law feels this way.

But just to -- just to make sure I`m understanding you: your position, the
Republican Party position, is that private health insurance companies
should not be cancelling policies in the individual market? That should be
something they`re not allowed to do?

LANCE: I think that those who are satisfied with their health ca policies
should be able to keep their health care policies and that is what the
president has said repeatedly. And unfortunately, in many circumstances,
that will not be the case.

HAYES: But you are aware that, you know, just for instance, one House
study showed that in five years in the mid-2000s, that 20,000 policies were
cancelled by insurance companies. Insurance companies cancel policies as a
matter, of course, particularly in this market. Would the House
Republicans be willing to introduce a law banning them from this practice?

LANCE: No, Chris, what we say is that if you are satisfied with the
policies and if the insurance companies will continue those policies, that
ought to be able to be acceptable. And that is what the president said
repeatedly. And unfortunately that is not the case in many circumstances.
And I think that that should be the case.

HAYES: Congresswoman Christensen, did you feel like you got a better
sense, got your hands around what was going on with the health exchanges
today in today`s hearings?

that the health exchanges have been worked on from day one, when the
problems first surfaced, that improvements are being made. We see that
more people are being able to apply. And the paper -- those who are doing
it by paper, those paper applications are being entered at higher numbers

So, I think yes, I am very, very comfortable that the changes that need to
be made are being made. And that it will be ready, hopefully, by the end
of November. But --

HAYES: And what is your reaction to the criticisms from your colleagues in
the Republican Party about the fact that some people are seeing their
current plans in the individual market cancelled?

CHRISTENSEN: Well, you know, there are plans that -- if they were in place
at the time that the law was passed, they can be grandfathered. But some
insurance -- as a physician, I saw patients with insurance policies that
when they got sick, they were of no use.

And what we`re doing -- what is happening with the Affordable Care Act, is
we`re raising the level of insurance. We`re improving the services that
are provided. We`re making insurance more secure. And if there are any
policies that don`t meet the high standards, they may not be able to
continue to see patients, but -- to write policies for patients. But most
of them are going to be grandfathered. Only about 5 percent are not
meeting that standard, and are dropping patients.

But as you said, Chris, insurance companies drop their insured all the time
for a variety of reasons. And I guess in some cases, they felt that this
was a good excuse, whether it was warranted or not.

HAYES: Congressman Leonard Lance and Congresswoman Donna Christensen, I
thank you both for your time.

LEONARD: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now is Clay Johnson, founder and CEO of the Department
of Better Technology, a firm that designs and builds software for
government. He was a presidential innovation fellow.

And, Clay, I wanted to have you on because you have been tweeted about
watching these hearings. They`re all out of You worked on
trying to do big tech projects. What was your takeaway from the hearing

have a Congress that is dangerously illiterate when it comes to technology
issues. I mean, looking at this thing, for me as a programmer and
technologist, it was rather like watching people who can`t neither read nor
write trying to be a book critics. I had no grasp of the fundamental
issues at stake here or what is even and what is even bad, that was sort of

HAYES: What do you -- what did you emerged to you about what is going on
with the Web site? Which it seems to me, Republicans have kind of moved
past certain criticisms. Yet, that seems to be the implementation hurdle
that this law needs to get over.

JOHNSON: It`s interesting for sort of fiscal conservatives to move on, and
worry about this issue, whether or not people can keep their health
insurance. You know, the system that we use called the federal procurement
process, in order to buy and build is broken. And that`s
responsible for $500 billion a year of spend by the federal government.

HAYES: Wait, I`m sorry -- $500 billion a year?

JOHNSON: Yes, a half a trillion dollars a year. T`s and B`s is what we`re
dealing with.

HAYES: Goes through the federal procurement system, the system that got
the various contractors that built out this Web site.

JOHNSON: Right. And I think it`s fundamentally broken, when you look at a
Web site like, that costs $200 million, this idea that
that`s acceptable is clearly false. And so I think you have to take a step
back and look at the thing that created it. You have to look at the idea
that maybe we`re not selecting the best vendors or the best people are not
working on this.

Look, when you build a technology project, you need three things. You need
money, you need time, and you need talent. We had plenty of money and we
had plenty of time. So --

HAYES: That`s an interesting critique.

Do you think that there is any way to reform that process so that in the
short term needed to get implementation up and running or is this a bigger
thing that the big tech companies and government is inevitably will have to
do down the line?

JOHNSON: Look, the standings group came out last week and said that 94
percent of federal IT projects up above $10 million fail. The federal IT
budget alone is $81 billion a year.

HAYES: Wait a second, wait a second -- 94 percent of federal IT projects
above $10 million fail?

JOHNSON: Right, and the federal IT budget is $80 billion a year.

So, I don`t know why the Republicans are not up in arms about trying to fix
the federal procurement process, because what they could be doing is really
working hard on that, being of service to the idea of fiscal conservatism
and opening the door to thousands if not millions of small businesses to
compete on projects like And they would probably do a
better job at it.

HAYES: And yet, we`ve seen them kind of move past the Web site. I mean
today, the thing that was notable about the hearing, I thought there was
going to be a lot on the Web site, here they have Kathleen Sebelius, the
woman who is ultimately responsible for this, and it didn`t get a lot of

JOHNSON: Yes. It was interesting, last week at the hearing with the
contractors, Marsha Blackburn was asking about error logs and asking about,
you know, HTTP request, and all kinds of technical stuff. And this time,
she was talking about red solo cups and crystal straws. It was sort of --
you know, as a person who wants to see the federal procurement process
changed, myself, I was sort of sad to see the right especially, but also
the left, sort of move on from the actual Web site.

HAYES: Well, the monkey court attention span is short.

Clay Johnson from the Department of Better Technology -- thank you so much.

Coming up --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get a letter from someone in my district, Adrian, she
says that she lost her coverage. She is going on the exchange. She
doesn`t qualify for a subsidy. She feels -- she writes this -- she feels
betrayed by her government.

Now, she has to sit there asking herself is this fair?


HAYES: Meet the newest Republican line of attack on Obamacare. We`ll tell
you the full story, ahead.


HAYES: Hi there. I`m Chris Hayes, and you`re watching MSNBC, the place
for politics. I`m here to talk to you about a new and very special part of
our operation. We here at the MSNBC like to lean forward and so we did.

Out of the past and into the future, welcome to the new Now,
not to worry, you will still find videos of your favorite shows in
reporting. But now, it`s better in every single way. It`s not a Web site
anymore. It`s a community.

So, go, make a poll. Join the group to create your own, because you can do
that. Every nook and cranny of the site has something to offer. So, don`t
stay too far from our page. (ph).

Thanks. We`ll be right back.



OBAMA: Anyone peddling the notion that insurers are cancelling 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
stronger protections, while others will be able to get better plans with
new carriers to the marketplace, and that many will get new health 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.


HAYES: As the president responding to what has become the leading line of
Republican`s attack to Obamacare in the last week, which is no longer a
glitchy Web site. It`s now policy cancellations.

Republicans, you see, are now very worried about cancelled health care
coverage and Obamacare forcing people into signing up for more expensive
plans. But it`s not clear that is what is actually happening.


REPORTER: Self employed realtor, she buys her own insurance. (INAUDIBLE)
provider recently sent her this notice reading, "Because of the
requirements of new laws, we can no longer offer your current policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I want is what I currently have. I want to keep
my doctors and I would like to have lower premiums.

REPORTER: The insurance company is offering her a new plan that would cost
$484 a month versus her current $293 premium, a 65 percent increase.


HAYES: So, 65 percent increase, that looks bad. That was a report from
"NBC Nightly News".

But contributing editor for "The American Prospect", Paul Waldman, saw the
report and wanted to know what (INAUDIBLE) other options might be. He did
a little digging, and discovered that by going on the California exchange,
he got, quote, "nine different choices for a bronze plan. The average
monthly cost was $258 or $35 a month less than what she is paying for her
bare bones plan." Waldman also found that, quote, "she could get a silver
plan with more generous coverage for $316, only $23 more than what she is
paying now."

One of our producers also hopped on the California exchange Web site and
came up with similar results.

That`s assuming the woman was 45 years old and had an income high enough
she didn`t qualify for subsidies.

Now, the other context here is that insurance companies don`t seem to be
giving people the full menu of options in the letters they`re sending to
announce the policy cancellation. In fact, those letters seem like they`re
being used to up-sell people into more expensive plans. Or as Waldman
points out, it`s like getting a letter from your car dealer and saying,
your 2010 Toyota Corolla you`re releasing has been recalled. We can supply
you with an Avalon for twice the price.

What they don`t seem to be communicating to their customers is that they`re
very well might be another plan that is ACA compliant that cost about the
same as what they`re paying right now.

Joining me now is Wendell Potter, former head of the communications at the
insurance company Cigna, author of the fortcoming e-book, "Obamacare,
What`s In It For Me: What Everyone Needs to Know About the Affordable Care
Act." He`s now senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity.

All right. Wendell, I want to start with the baseline, which is what we
had had before the Affordable Care Act, because I think that`s getting

How common was it for insurance companies to cancel policies in the
individual market in a given year?

In fact, it`s one of the reasons I left the industry just because of that

In fact, my own son was a victim of that. In 2009, before the Affordable
Care Act was passed, he got a letter from his Blue Cross plan in
Pennsylvania telling him that his plan was being cancelled. And his
options were to go into a plan that was somewhat comparable, but his
premiums would increase 65 percent or he could shift into a very high
deductible plan, shifting from one that had a $500 deductible, to one that
had $5,000 deductible plan. It was 10 time increase in deductibles. And
that`s what he was able to do.

This has been going on for many years, Chris, and just is now coming to
light. Reporter`s really have not focused on this in years past, so
insurance companies have been able to get away with this.

HAYES: So, the big question here is what is driving this? And it seems to
me there`s a few things going on. One is, plan that are being cancelled
have to be replaced with a plan that is compliant with the Affordable Care
Act, which means basic minimum, which are being enforced. But it also does
seem to know, and I have now seen a bunch of these letters through these
stories which have become a kind of genre, that the insurance companies
saying you can enroll in this plan B, and it is a lot more expensive. But
it is also not clear this is the only plan they`re offering.

POTTER: Right, that`s exactly right. It is a classic example of what I
used to do for a living. That is, obscure the facts and use selective
disclosure of facts to present something and make people think that they
will not be able to get something that is better, and probably for less
money on the exchange. They don`t want you to know that.

HAYES: What is -- what kind of -- just for people to kind of understand
the overall context of the health insurance market, what sliver of the
population are we dealing with and we`re talking about people that are in
the individual market right now, that have plans that are not grandfathered
in, that are being cancelled? Can you give us a sense of the -- the
picture of, you know -- there are over 3 million Americans, what are we
looking at here?

POTTER: Less than 4 percent, about 4 percent. Fourteen to 15 million in
the individual market, it`s small for two reasons. One, because insurance
companies have been able to engage in practices of black balling people
because of pre-existing conditions. People can`t buy policies at any
price, in many cases on the individual market because of being sick in the

And also, because they`re able to cancel policies when they want to and --
or price them so high that people can`t afford them. And so, we`re talking
about a very small percentage of the population.

Here is the other thing, too, though. People who are currently in the
individual market probably can get coverage that is better than what they
have now. Because a lot of these people are enrolled in junk policies that
companies that I used to work with where I absolutely have sold in the past
several years. And they can probably, many of them will, in fact, the
majority will quality for tax credits or subsidies to bring the cost of
premiums down. So they`ll be paying less for better coverage.

HAYES: Quickly, Wendell, did the president and the people in the
administration over-promise when they said repeatedly if you like your plan
now, you can keep it?

POTTER: Well, it was unfortunate language, because the president nor
Congress in this law can really control the insurance companies that well,
that effectively. They control the health care system in many ways.
They`re able to get away with this, and they are, as we`re seeing.

HAYES: Yes. It was a promise that now appears that they could not
themselves keep. Wendell Potter from the Center for Public Integrity --
thank you so much.

All right, Congressman Barney Frank`s name was brought up more than once
today on the House floor, cited as the authority, the man supporting the
bill that is essentially a big wet kiss from politicians to Wall Street.
But that`s actually not exactly the case. He will be here to react, coming
up next.


HAYES: A big day for Congress today, back in the swing of things, back to
work. House of Representatives holding one of its first floor votes since
the government shutdown ended two weeks ago. And what did they vote on?
They voted to gut a major part of Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform.


REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: I think we`re a day in front of
Halloween, and here we are handing out treats to the likes of J.P. Morgan
Chase, Citi, and Bank of America. You know, it is fitting on this day that
we should be doing the people`s business. And yet, here we are, handing
out treats and goodies to huge banks.


HAYES: The bill, which would allow big mega banks greater leeway in the
kind of risky trading that caused the great crash, prevailed, capturing 70
Democrats along with all but three Republicans, in a touching display of
bipartisan moxy.

But get this, though, the bill, HR-992, known as the Swaps Regulatory
Improvement Act was pretty much written by Citibank, along with its big
bank cohorts. Here is a key section of the draft legislation as written by
Citigroup courtesy of "Mother Jones", and here is the final bill, as voted
out of committee by a 53-6 months ago and passed today by the full House.

As "The New York Times" notes, Citigroup`s recommendations were reflective
in more than 70 lines of the House Committee`s 85-line bill, two crucial
paragraphs prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street
banks were copied nearly word for word.

In justifying his support of the bill, the current chairman of the House
Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling, cited the former chair of the
committee, Barney Frank.


REP. JEB HENSARLING (R), TEXAS: And those who are loathe to ever amend
Dodd-Frank, no less of an authority, than Barney Frank himself, former
chairman of the committee, said, quote, "It addresses the valid criticisms
of Section 716 without weakening the financial reform law`s important
safeguards or prohibitions on bank proprietary trading."


HAYES: Joining me now is former Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat from
Massachusetts, former chair of the House Financial Services Committee, co-
author of the Dodd-Frank financial reform, and cited many times today in
the House debate as someone who favored this bill.

Barney Frank, did you favor this bill?

touched by this invocation.

It reminds me what I have always felt about a lot of Republicans. They
have a great fondness for dead Democrats. You know, Harry Truman, John
Kennedy. They always like them -- I guess they have developed a new
fondness now, for nonmembers of the house. Because that is certainly not a
deference any of them paid to my judgment when I was there.

The fact is, I did say in 2009, 2010, when the bill came out in the Senate,
that I didn`t think it was necessary and I thought we could do it other
ways. On the other hand, I had consistently said since then, while it is
not in my judgment, one of the critical elements is in the bill, it is a
great mistake, I believe, at this point, to start picking it apart. One of
the things that the Tea Party fundamentally missed in the effort to
relitigate the health care bill is, there is an important issue in the
legislating, when you passed something, when you had your fight and won or
lost, you don`t immediately, if you get a temporary advantage undo it.

These people say, oh, well, the business community needs predictability.
You don`t want to keep changing things. Well, they shouldn`t change
things. Others (INAUDIBLE), we didn`t think it was necessary at the times,
we`ve gone on from things. Things have evolved. It has now became part of
the expectations, part of the -- so no, I never said -- I did say that it
wasn`t one of the critical elements.

At the same time, I have consistently said I didn`t think it should be
repealed on the principle that it is now too early to start undoing this.
And, there is another factor, this restriction on the derivatives giving
them out of the banks, to semi set overlaps revocable.

Well, if we have in place a very strong vocal rule, which keeps banks from
doing some of this, that might after some years of experience lead you to a
different conclusion. But, we are not there yet. So, this is frankly a
fairly hypocritical invocation of me, this radioactive imputation of me, of
great wisdom, which I never noticed in doing when I was there.

It was out of context. I know I was against the bill. I never voted for
the bill. As a fact, when I heard they were saying that, I called my
former colleague, Maxine Waters, her staff -- repudiating that.

HAYES: Yes. Here is Congressman Maxine Waters speaking today.


J.P. Morgan reminded all of us the importance in setting limits on bank
activity. In 2012, four years after the crisis, J.P. Morgan Chase, London
well caused the bank to lose more than $6 billion in a few months.

HAYES: And, here is one of the things about Dodd Frank. It was crafted in
such a way so that a fair amount of the granular rule making was left to
regulators. And, my question to you as the architect of this bill, how do
you feel about the house and congress coming back to essentially micro-
manage a lot the stuff that was intentionally left in the bill for
regulators to make decisions on.

FRANK: First, let me defend that matter for you because you are right. To
the extent that we got very specific in the regulation, we would have had
two problems. First of all, things evolve. Things change.

We didn`t want to just prevent the bad practices of the past. We wanted
all empower regulators to anticipate or deal with new evolving practices in
the future. Secondly, the most specific you make a provision, the more
easily it can be evaded --

HAYES: That is right.

FRANK: -- you just change a few pieces of it. But, here is the real
problem, I am happy about that. But, this is what most bothers me and this
is why I would never be for this kind of legislation right now. Once
again, if you have the vocable and you have an adequate set of regulations,
I`m willing to author this again.

But, here is the problem, the biggest single grant of new authority in the
bill was to the commodity futures trading commission, which has the major
responsibility for regulating derivatives -- financial derivatives. They
were set up to do agricultural things.

Now, they got into this very complicated hundred of trillions of dollars
derivative. They got a budget of a couple of hundred million. The serious
attack the republicans have been unfortunately successfully making so far -

HAYES: Is billing after that budget.

FRANK: -- is to refuse to fund, they wouldn`t fund the commodities futures
trading commission. So, that is the problem --

HAYES: Right.

FRANK: They have choked off the regulator and kept them from being able to
do this. That, while taken together is why I would never support a bill
like this.

HAYES: Really important point, former Congressman Barney Frank, thank you
so much. We will be right back with Click Three.


HAYES: Coming up, you definitely want to see this. An exclusive report
from our reporters on a big deadline that is hitting this Friday that no
one is talking of it that has millions of people panicking.


But, first, I want to show you the three awesomest things on the internet
today. We begin with some evidence making the case for an actual --
Perhaps, like the one used by the seniors. The mildly rumored 80`s movie,

You see, if you are remaking the movie "Cocoon" today, and you did come up
with an age appropriate movie star, the role of Ben, the kindly old
grandfather played by mustache old character actor Wilford Brimley, who
would you get? Why you could get George Clooney, who is a year older than
Wilford Brimley was when "Cocoon" was released.

That shocking information was reviewed by today, showing how
well-preserved today`s movie stars really are. For instance, would you
have get that dashing Denzel Washington is one year frankly for being old
enough to play Matt Lock, or Betty Davis playing the Baby Jane is only one
year older than dancing nimble, Ellen Degeneres is today.

When Jack Lemmon starred in "Grumpy Old Men," he was only two years older
than today`s Samuel L. Jackson and while we can`t picture Jackson as a
grumpy old man, there has been a lot of time using himself to Jack Lemmon
in "Pulp Fiction."

The second most awesome thing on the internet today, windows to the soul.
You are not looking at some kind of post-modern jack-o-lantern. It is
actually a house, bought for just about $500 and made entirely out of
recycled windows. Photographer Nick Olsen, designer Lilah Horwitz spent
seven months constructing this west Virginia cabin. That is not their
primary home, it is a wonderful retreat back to nature. No plumbing or
electricity. There is a whole lot of sunshine.

Whatever the deficiencies, it sure beats this building, which you could
call its pole opposite. That is a high-rise in china ha upon further
inspection, has fake windows painted on it. Fine, if you`re a vampire, not
fine if you ever want to see outside. But to be fair, it is a lot safer
for birds flying through the air than this place.

And, the third awesomest thing on the internet today. I`m not the only one
who loves the pope. This kid loves him, too. During the Vatican
celebration, children were seated around the Pope Francis` platform. And,
this little fellow decided to do a little free-lancing.

Before long, the children sudden became a duo, begging for their own
sitcom. At first, the youngster was protective of the Holy Father wanting
Pop Francis` attention -- and started helping people up to the stage for a
meeting with the pontiff. Pope Francis was totally cool with it. It all
ended in a touching embrace.

It is quite an achievement in Grantsville upstaging so much so, we`re
convinced this kid went to the -- Giuliani Academy of public events
interruptions. You can find all the links for tonight`s Click Three on our
website,, we`ll be right back.



HAYES: This Friday, 47 million poor people are going to have their
benefits cut. You probably haven`t heard about it, but food agencies that
are struggling to feed the growing ranks of America`s hungry are in full-
out panic mode. It is called the hunger cliff, and as you are about to see
in our exclusive report we are about to go over it.


HAYES (voice-over): The sun has not come up yet outside the river fun food
pantry in Queens, New York. But, many of the hundreds who line up here
every Saturday have already been here for hours, bundled up against the
cold. They come before sunrise for free food, cereal, vegetables,
sometimes meat so that can feed themselves and their kids for another week.
For many here on food stamps, it is not enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: I went here to exercise 45 because the line
is so long. I try to come up 10. The line is all the way to that corner
and I spent four hours on the line.

HAYES (voice-over): Last year, 47 million people, a full 15% of the
population depended on food stamp assistance. And, their lives are about
to get harder. When provisions for the 2009 stimulus package expire
tomorrow night, $5 billion in cuts to the food stamp program will take

That means a lot to the people who need food the most. Average food stamp
recipient gets about $133 in benefits per month, or less than a $1.50 per
meal. For a family of four, the cuts coming down the line work out to 24
fewer meals every month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: I read on the newspaper that today there will
be a cutback. I reached to the point, I didn`t know what to do. I don`t
know, maybe I may have to go somewhere else to see if I could get some more
food. I really don`t know. I really don`t know, but it would really hit
me hard.

HAYES (voice-over): The cuts to food stamps also called snap benefits are
the first big hit in what activists have taken to calling the hunger cliff.
The second hit may come soon. In Washington, a committee met today,
starting to reconcile the house and senate version of the farm bill, which
has long been the vehicle for food stamp legislation.

The senate version of the bill cuts more than $4 billion to food stamps
over a decade. The house wants to cut who whopping $39 billion and kick
nearly 4 million people off the program. While President Obama had
promised to veto major cuts with the snap program, it is likely additional
cuts are coming.

Some republicans have tried to spin these cuts as humane. Representatives
from Sutherland, Florida has led the charge for the food stamp cuts in the
house told "The Washington Post" that being dependent on food stamps makes
you more vulnerable. Paul Ryan suggested that cutting food stamps is doing
the poor a favor.

PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN CONGRESSMAN: We don`t want to turn the safety net
into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and
complacency that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the
most of their lives.

HAYES (voice-over): And, others, just seem to want to punish the hunger.

work shall not eat.

HAYES (voice-over): That was Stephen Fincher, republican of Tennessee, who
himself has taken nearly $3.5 million from taxpayers to finance farm --
provided by the very single farm bill -- food stamp recipients as leads to
vultures. But, the truth is that nearly half of food stamp recipients are

And, more than four in ten will live in household or someone works. Many
of those without a job desperately want one. Elizabeth Ferrera is a single
mother with a master`s degree.

ELIZABETH FERRERA, SINGLE MOTHER: I need food stamps and I need food in
order to survive, you know to feed my three children. It is really hard to
get a job out there. Even though I have all the qualifications, you know,
they still don`t hire all the people.

HAYES (voice-over): Zurica Abdul have to stay home to take care of her
disabled 15-year-old daughter.

sometimes, she told me she is hungry and I have nothing to give her. So,
it is very hard. You know, when you just have milk and you have to warm it
and give to child of 6. You need money to go to school without food.

HAYES (voice-over): Abdul is one of thousands in New York alone who
depends on food pantries to make ends meet. But, because of the sequester,
food pantries are already dealing with a 5% reduction in federal subsidies,
even as they see needs increasing due to the cuts to food stamps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: The senior who is getting $700, our rent is
$500, their medicine is $5 to $10 per prescription. So, you put that
altogether, what is left? So, you know? So, I think if you can get food,
you know some of it is actually a dire need just to meet the essentials.

But, some of it is actually trying to put together a picture that they can
survive. I know a lot of people think that people come here for food. You
know, a lot of times they hear the word moocher and things like that. I
have to say it is offensive to me because I want to challenge anyone out
there to come during the winter, to come at 3:00 in the morning, stand in
this line and wait for food.

HAYES (voice-over): If house republicans have their way, that line is only
get longer.

ABDUL: Every day you come to get money, if you have $307, you come, you
are going to spend 300 this week, you can`t go over, you know? Once you go
over, then before the month is up, it is three or four days sometimes you
don`t have enough food to eat. So, it is very hard. If they cut it, you
know, a lot of people is going to suffer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: What about all the years I paid taxes? You
know? I worked so hard. And, when it is time now, I believe that I should
get some help. Look what happens now.


HAYES: For more on the Hunger Cliff, check out our reporter Ned
Resnikoff`s great piece on Fantastic companion photos from John
Trotter. A congressman who is fighting the GOP food stamp cuts and people
on the frontlines of the hunger battle will join me next, stick around.


HAYES: We are back, and joining me now is Joel Berg, Executive Director of
the New York Coalition Against Hunger, author of "All You Can Eat: How
Hungry Is America?" Margarette Purvis, president and CEO of Food Bank from
New York City and Congressman Jim McGovern, democrat from Massachusetts, a
member of the house agriculture committee and co-chair of House Hunger

Joe and Margarette, I want to start with you, $5 billion in cuts happen on
Friday. That money goes away. Now, it is an $80 billion a year program
more or less. That is, you know, a little more than 5%, but how big a deal
is this really?

of deals. You know, just in New York City alone, these cuts will wipe out
76 million meals from people who need it the most.

Already, we know that a family, who typically have their benefits -- their
food stamps, it will last until about the third week without the cuts. You
know, the fourth week of the month that they decided to do this, it is for
thanksgiving --

HAYES: Right.

PURVIS: -- it is for Hanukkah. It makes absolutely no sense, especially
since we all know that nothing has happened differently with our economy.

HAYES: How about, can private charities kicked in? Is this -- you know, I
give money to food banks, people give money to food banks.

should be fooled into thinking this can solve the problem. Every food
bank, soup kitchen, food pantry in America distributes about $5 billion
worth of food. So, this cut goes into effect now, this is as if all of
these charities didn`t exist for a year. And, the cuts being proposed --

HAYES: The cuts that happen on Friday, automatically that no one is
talking about, they`re not like a political issue. Those just are equal to
the sum total of privately charity funded food assistance in the entire
nation. That is the size of the cut.

BERG: Correct. As media matters pointed out until this segment as far as
we know this is the first network news show to even discuss 48 million
people losing food. And, the house cuts on top of this would be eight
times what charities distribute in a year.

HAYES: And, Congressman, I want to go to you on that. The republicans
have proposed a $39 billion cuts to programs. That is over 10-year window
that is to be scored about $4 billion a year. One of the things that I
think is interesting here is it seems to me like these food stamps were
something there was a political consensus around, until recently.

I wanted to show you just an image from Fox News who has been doing a lot
of reporting, I guess you can call. This is just an image. Quote,
unquote, "Poor households reviewed that 99.6% of them have a
refrigerator." The implication being that these people are not really
poor. They don`t actually need this. Have you seen the political
consensus around this very basic aspect of safety net necessity, erode?

used to be a bipartisan consensus that any hunger was something that we
ought to be committed to. Unfortunately, that bipartisan consensus
disappeared. And, what we have seen as republicans belittle poor people,
and diminish their struggle, and basically use them as political funds in
their budget struggle.

Every family tried to find savings, it comes from programs like SNAP or
programs that help poor people and it is very frankly now unfortunate. It
is really sad. And, if government stands for anything, we ought to be
there for the people who are most vulnerable.

HAYES: Is there going to be any way to avoid further cuts when you are
considering reconciling a senate bill that has got $4 billion in cuts over
ten years and a house bill that has got $39 billion in cuts over ten

MCGOVERN: Well, I`m on the conference committee of the farm bill, and I
said today that you know I am willing to be flexible. I am willing to be
reasonable but I`m not going to support a farm bill that makes more people
hungry in America. We ought to at least agree on that.

And, I don`t believe that we should have anymore cuts in SNAP. We should
be talking about how to end hunger, not just talking about trying to
protect the program. We ought to have some White House leadership quite
frankly. We need to have White House conference on food and nutrition to
bring people together and actually have a road map to end hunger.

That is what we should -- That is where our discussion should be focused,
not on these cutbacks to SNAP. But, we`re going to fight hard to make sure
there is no further damage to SNAP. But, it is an uphill battle, given the
makeup of the House of Representatives.

HAYES: One of the things that have attracted kind of the political
attention by conservative and Fox News and republicans is that there has
been massive growth in the food stamp program. That is not a right wing
lie. That program has gotten much more expensive. $80 billion is a lot of
money. We shouldn`t not mince words about the size of the program. Why
has the size of the program expanded so much?

PURVIS: The size of the program reflects the size of the problem. It is
not growing off on its own. It reflects that there is a huge hunger
crisis. The problem is that we are treating the issue as the people,
rather than the issue of being why is hunger this bad in this country?
Everyone should be upset about this, not upset at the people who are
suffering through it.

HAYES: Why is it so bad in this country? And, what is the answer to that

BERG: Living wages, jobs. People complaining about food stamps and Snap
having to fill in the gap are the very same people wrecking economy. They
are not really anti-government. They are anti-government for other people.
Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. who is complaining bitterly about the food
stamp program. He admitted he received benefits earlier in life. So, my
organization sent him a letter with a mirror in it, and said if you want to
see what a food stamp recipient looks like, check this out.


MCGOVERN: And, Chris, may I just add. Look, the majority of people on
food stamps are senior citizens and children. All of the able-bodied you
know, people that can actually work, majority of those people work. Many
of them work full-time and they still earn so little that they qualify for
this benefit. So, we have a lousy economy, when the economy gets better,
fewer people will be on food stamps.

HAYES: But congressman, to push you more on that, it is now -- we are now
four years in this recovery. And, when we are going into the reporting of
this and looking into the numbers -- I mean 15% of Americans are poor. 47
million people, I look at that and I say America, this is not working.

What we are doing right now, our system, the system we`re running is
failing. 47 million people in poverty, hungry in this country is a failing
grace. It is American capital is not producing at this moment, broad gains
for people. It is not.

MCGOVERN: That is why we need a broader discussion. That is why we need a
White House conference on food and nutrition to talk about how you end this
problem. Not just how you put band aids on it. But, we need to be talking
about increasing the minimum wage. We need to be talking about increasing
the minimum wage.

We need to be talking about how you extend letters of opportunity to help
people get out of poverty. But, in the meantime, we need to make sure that
we are there with the safety net to make sure people have at least enough
to eat.

Boy, what a radical idea that everybody in this country, the richest
country in the history of the world ought to have enough to eat. Surely,
we should be able to get a bipartisan consensus on that, but unfortunately
in Washington that consensus has blown up.

HAYES: We declared the war on poverty. We actually won that poverty.
That is incredibly in successful social and then we just decided to turn
tail and run. Joel Berg from the New York Coalition Against Hunger,
Margarett Purvis from Food Bank for New York City, and Congressman Jim
McGovern, thank you very much. That is all in for this evening. "RACHEL
MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks very much.



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