The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/10/10
HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. I have to tell you, I
watched you on—I watched you do “COUNTDOWN” last night on live TV on an
airplane. I was on one of those planes that shows live TV.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Wow. What a country!
MADDOW: You look—what a country—you look even better on the
back of an airplane seat than you do on a regular TV.
O‘DONNELL: Because the screen is so tiny. That‘s why.
MADDOW: But you wear it well, Lawrence. You wear it very well.
Thanks a lot.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
Congressman Bart Stupak and filmmaker Michael Moore have one critical
thing in common. The latest news on Mr. Stupak‘s quest to hijack health
reform and our live visit with Mr. Moore here in studio are both just
Congressman Barney Frank will also be here this hour.
That‘s all coming up.
But we begin tonight with something brand-new and not before reported
on why health reform passing is a more likely prospect than most of us have
been led to believe. The in-the-know Beltway insider common wisdom right
now about whether or not reform is going to pass holds that Congressman
Bart Stupak of Michigan is a big problem for the bill‘s chances.
Bart Stupak, of course, is the Democrat in the House who was trying to
make himself famous by threatening to kill health reform over the issue of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: We do not want our taxpayer dollars
going to fund abortion. And so, we‘re just sticking to this principle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. Stupak has been engaged in an effort that is as high-
profile as he can possibly make it to hijack health reform—to hijack the
whole health care reform debate, to turn it into an abortion debate. That
effort has succeeded in the sense that it‘s made Bart Stupak much better
known than he otherwise was. It remains to be seen if he‘ll be able to
keep himself famous, though, now that his big supposed threat to kill
health reform appears to be falling apart.
One of the things that folks have not paid much attention to as
they‘ve been putting Bart Stupak on TV and giving him more attention than
he‘s ever had in his life is that Bart Stupak never seems to name this bloc
of people who he supposedly represents—this block of Stupak-following
members of Congress who he supposedly speaks for.
Well, last month, Congressman Stupak said it was 15 to 20 unnamed
members of the House who he said had major concerns about the bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STUPAK: But at least to the House members I‘ve talked to, probably
about 15 or 20 of them in the last 24 hours, they‘ve said there are other
problems with this bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Fifteen to 20 members have problems with this bill, 15 to 20.
Don‘t worry about who they are.
Well, now his 15 to 20 is supposedly down to 12. But, again, don‘t
worry who they are. Mr. Stupak says 12 members now would vote against
health reform because they agree with him, that the bill should be used to
try to restrict access to abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
STUPAK: There are at least 12 of us who voted for health care who
have indicated to the leadership and others and unless you fix this
abortion language, we can‘t vote for a final version of the bill.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: You and your 11 colleagues who voted
yes the last time will vote no this time. Does that mean you‘re prepared
to take responsibility for bringing down this whole bill?
STUPAK: Yes, we‘re prepared to take responsibility.
Unless the language changes, there are at least 12 Democrats who have
said that they could not vote for health care.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: At least 12 Democrats. I have, at least 12.
Without naming names, Mr. Stupak has claimed to have 12 – at least 12
Democrats willing to join him in scuttling the entire health reform bill
for this abortion cause. The Stupak dozen, right?
Well, today here‘s some news. We spoke with a senior House leadership
aide, whose job is to not just pay attention to Bart Stupak because he
wants people to pay attention to him, but to actually fact-check what Bart
Stupak says, to see if he really does have those 12 votes he says he has.
And it turns out when Bart Stupak says “at least 12,” what he really
means is not really 12 at all. This senior leadership aide is telling us
today that after an informal whip count on the Hill, quote, “We do not see
more than four or five members standing with Bart when this bill is
actually brought to the floor.” Four or five.
So, Bart Stupak‘s unnamed posse of 15 to 20 became Bart Stupak‘s
unnamed posse of 12 and now it looks like it‘s become Bart Stupak‘s unnamed
posse of four, maybe five plus Bart.
Bart Stupak‘s dwindling posse is not the only problem he has right
now, though. In negotiating with Bart Stupak and trying to figure out what
he and his four friends want, there‘s also the problem that what he says he
wants is something that can‘t be done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STUPAK: The bottom line is, there has to be no public funding for
abortion. That‘s been the law for 33 years. Let‘s just put current law in
the bill and move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman Stupak is proposing something that sounds very
simple. It‘s also very easy to remember when you‘re on television. It‘s
not, however, something that is legislatively possible.
The only way that health reform passes right now—the path to health
reform passing goes like this: The House passes the Senate bill as-is and
then another package of tweaks to the Senate bill are passed through
reconciliation. That‘s the path to health reform passing.
Reconciliation can only be used for things that have budgetary
consequences. Bart Stupak‘s proposed “ban abortion” language which this
whole stunt is about, that language can‘t the done under reconciliation.
It can‘t be done. It‘s against the rules.
What Bart Stupak is now demanding is a legislative impossibility.
It‘s like a kid telling you they‘re not going to eat their broccoli unless
you hold your breath for 40 minutes. You could try to please that child by
doing that, but it‘s not going to happen. You are welcome to die trying.
It can‘t be done.
There‘s also the increasingly awkward fact that the problem Mr. Stupak
is trying to solve with his solution that can‘t be done, the problem itself
does not exist. Mr. Stupak keeps saying the Senate bill would subsidize
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STUPAK: The bill that they‘re using as the vehicle is the Senate
bill. And if you go to page 2,069 through page 2,078, you will find in
there, the federal government would directly subsidize abortions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I love the “cite the page numbers” trick. It sounds so
authoritative, right? But if you go to the section of the bill that Bart
Stupak is citing, it turns out that‘s the part of the bill that points out
that he‘s lying. Quote, “If a qualified health plan provides coverage of
abortion, the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to
any government funds for purposes of paying for such services.” Shall not
shall not—shall not subsidize abortions. Government funds shall not
be used to pay for abortions.
In fact, the Senate bill goes further than even that specific
language. It says, if you—if you as a person receive any federal
subsidies for health care, you must pay for your abortion coverage
separately. Not just that you can‘t use federal money to pay for your—
for abortion coverage, but you have to pay twice—you have to pay
separately. The Senate bill doesn‘t allow spending government money on
abortion, no matter how much Bart Stupak has convince his friends at “FOX
and Friends” otherwise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The reason that you have problems
with the Senate bill is because it allows federal funding for abortion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not actually true.
Bart Stupak is not trying to keep federal money from going towards
abortions. There‘s already an incredibly arcane procedure in the Senate
bill to make sure there is no federal funding for abortions in this at all.
What Congressman Stupak‘s language would do is say if you get any federal
money for anything, then—get this—you are prohibited from spending
any of your own money on insurance that covers abortion, because, you know,
money is fungible. That dollar that you got from the federal government
for something else, even if it‘s not for abortions, if you spend it on
insurance that covers abortions—well, that magic process of moving that
money through your life somehow offends Bart Stupak‘s belief about the
appropriate disposition of your uterus.
This is not about stopping federal funding of abortion. Federal
funding of abortion is not in the health reform bill. This is about
stopping people from being able to pay for insurance that covers abortion
In fact, if you think about it, there‘s no reason why Bart Stupak
should be trying to hijack health reform specifically in order to do this.
He could be hijacking anything. I mean, let‘s say you get food stamps.
That‘s a federal subsidy, right? If you get food stamps from the
government, Bart Stupak‘s big idea would mean that you‘re not allowed to
buy insurance that covers abortion with your own money because the food
stamps government money might magically through—move through your life
to pay for an abortion.
If you get money from the government for anything—if you get—
let‘s say you get a tax credit to weatherize your home or let‘s say you
participated in “cash for clunkers,” Bart Stupak‘s big idea would say that
you‘re not allowed to buy insurance that covers abortion, because you
participated in “cash for clunkers” and because the “cash for clunkers”
government money might magically move through your life to end up paying
That‘s the argument that Bart Stupak is essentially making. If you
received any government money for any reason, you‘re not allowed to spend
your own money on reproductive rights anymore. Plus, you have to wear a
Bart Stupak is trying to create an America in which the only people
who can get abortions—a legal procedure, by the way—are people who
can pay for it out-of-pocket without insurance. So, abortion rights—
only for rich ladies. That‘s Bart Stupak‘s principled crusade. I‘m sorry,
that‘s the crusade of Bart Stupak and his principled four unnamed friends.
Bart Stupak‘s threat to kill health reform appears to be more bark
than bite. What he‘s asking to be done can‘t actually be done within the
rules of Congress. The problem that he‘s diagnosed doesn‘t actually exist.
And everyone else other than him and his four unnamed friends believes that
fighting to ban abortion or ban it for everyone other than rich ladies is a
fight that should be had separate from the fight over health reform.
But there is one way in which this quixotic nonsense crusade is
working for Bart Stupak and the way it‘s working is that Bart Stupak gets
to go on TV all the time now. Jackpot!
Bart Stupak‘s supposedly principled stand right now has nothing to do
with health reform. It has nothing to do with legislating. It has nothing
to do with policy. It has nothing to do with anything that can actually
happen in Congress.
What it has to do with is Bart Stupak being on TV all the time.
Congratulations, sir, I hope you‘re enjoying your 15 minutes.
Now, who‘s been paying your rent? Bart Stupak, you want to be famous?
You‘re getting to be famous right now.
In terms of America getting to know, there‘s still one big piece of
the puzzle you continue to dodge our questions about: Who, sir, has been
paying your rent? Who paid your aren‘t for years? You even got asked
about it by your good friends at FOX today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: The liberal blog Daily Kos now has picked up charges that
the condominium that you rent in D.C. from a Christian group, that you‘re
paying too low of rent, and they‘re calling now for both the IRS and the
House Ethics Committee to investigate you. How would you respond to that?
STUPAK: They can investigate all they want. There‘s nothing
improper. I no longer live there. I actually pay about the same amount of
rent at a place where I live at now. So, their—I‘ve always paid fair
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Always paid fair market value.
Here‘s why we‘re a little worried about that claim. As we‘ve talked
about before, Bart Stupak lived at the C Street house in Washington for at
least seven years. The C Street house is a $1.8 million 12-bedroom made
service townhouse right near the capital. We have documented. It is run
by the secretive religious group The Family, even though The Family has
recently denied that fact.
The Family has, in the past, acknowledged subsidizing the rent for
members of The Family who live in the house, reportedly charging about 600
bucks a month. Even though Mr. Stupak denies being a member of The Family,
it seems clear from news reports, at least, that he was paying below market
rent to live there.
And if he wasn‘t, all he has to do is answer the questions that we
have put to him, repeatedly: Who did you pay your rent to, Congressman
Stupak? How much did you pay? And do you know who was subsidizing the
rest? Did you report that subsidy as an in-kind donation? Did you report
it as income to the IRS?
These questions don‘t go away because you moved out when the heat got
to you. Mr. Stupak, you have succeeded in using this abortion stunt to get
on TV a lot. If you really want Americans to know who you are, tell us who
has been paying your rent.
We‘ve just learned that Bart Stupak now as a Democratic primary
challenger back in Michigan. Her name is Connie Saltonstall. She says
she‘s decided to challenge him in part because of this anti-abortion
grandstanding on the health care issue.
It turns out this is going to be a very, very exciting year for Bart
Stupak after all. But it‘s not because he‘s going to kill health reform.
MADDOW: Guess who Michael Moore‘s congressman is? Michael Moore‘s
congressman is Bart Stupak! Yes! Michael Moore joins us in studio—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before they could take your house, they needed to
change the regulations and the rules.
What‘s this photo I found here? It was in an annual report of the
WILLIAM BLACK, FORMER BANK REGULATOR: John Gilleren (ph), the head of
the Office of Thrift Supervision, which is supposed to regulate savings and
loans. He‘s the guy with the chainsaw. And the four other grinning idiots
in the photo are the three leading lobbyists in banking and the deputy
director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
And they‘re poised over a pile of regulations. And this is supposed
to demonstrate their intention to destroy regulation. And they succeeded.
And now, we know what happens when you destroy financial regulation—you
produce a financial catastrophe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker,
Michael Moore, who‘s latest film “Capitalism: A Love Story” is just now out
Michael Moore, I‘ve wanted to have you on the show for so long. Thank
you so much for coming in. It‘s really nice to meet you.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Thanks. I‘m so honored to be here. I love
watching the show and thank you very much.
MADDOW: You really watch it?
MOORE: I‘ve been watching—I‘ll tell you, I‘ve been watching this -
the whole Bart Stupak thing. As you mentioned, this is my congressman.
I had no idea after, especially last week‘s show, I turned the TV off, I
said to my wife, our congressman lives in a brothel and he belongs to a
cult. What‘s going on?!
MADDOW: You know, he wants everybody to know that he didn‘t belong to
The Family for the eight years that he lived at The Family‘s subsidized
congressmen townhouse with all the affairs going on.
MOORE: Yes. And if he was living with, say, in house of skinheads,
he probably would just say, hey, you know, all these kids were out
skateboarding. He just said, yes, I‘ve got a cheap room, come on in.
MADDOW: It‘s amazing.
MOORE: Now, it‘s totally amazing. It‘s embarrassing.
You know, Michigan‘s a great state. I live in his district actually.
It‘s 31 of the 80-plus counties in Michigan he represents.
MADDOW: Oh, wow. Right.
MOORE: All of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. So—and I
know him. He‘s a former Michigan state trooper, a police officer. And,
you know, he‘s done good things and he‘s, you know, he‘s—NRA‘s been
after him and he stood up to them.
And—but this has just been shocking. And it‘s unconscionable that
he would try to stop, even this watered down, pathetic version of a health
care bill that—over his own personal religious beliefs. I just—it
just—you know, it‘s kind of like—my feeling is, OK, if you don‘t want
to have an abortion, don‘t have one, you know? If you don‘t want to sleep
with somebody of the same gender, don‘t do it.
If you don‘t want to own a gun—well, actually, that‘s a little
different, because if you have 50 guns in your garage, I‘m a little
concerned about that. But everything else it‘s like—I don‘t know where
they get this sense of they need to control everybody else‘s private lives.
MADDOW: Well, the thing that‘s—the thing that‘s hard about it for
me is what we just talked about in this previous segment, that if he‘s
really concerned about federal funding for abortion, there really isn‘t any
federal funding for abortion in this thing. And if he really wants to try
to get—to stop health reform, unless he can get this language put in
there, there‘s—by the rules, there‘s no way to put that language in
MADDOW: All the things that he‘s supposedly standing on principle
about either aren‘t true or are impossible.
MADDOW: And so, what‘s it about? It‘s hard to—I don‘t know. It‘s
hard to get inside of that, I guess.
MOORE: That‘s right. And I wouldn‘t waste a whole lot of time on it,
but I personally am trying to recruit somebody to run against—I just
heard today about Connie. I know her, she‘s great.
MADDOW: Oh, good.
MOORE: But he needs to be challenged in the primary. People in
Michigan are embarrassed by his behavior on this, pure and simple.
MADDOW: We bumped in with a clip from “Capitalism,” which is just out
on DVD, with the guys with the chainsaw over the regulation. Can I show
you one other quick clip to add to the chainsaw imagery there? It‘s just
really quick. Just watch this.
MOORE: All right. Good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY ®, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The right course is
the one championed by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago and by John McCain and
Sarah Palin today!
ROMNEY: The right course is to rein in government spending, lower
taxes, take a weed-whacker to excessive regulation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The weed-whacker.
MOORE: What is it with these guys and yard work?
MADDOW: I know.
MOORE: You know, I don‘t really see Mitt Romney out there doing
edging, you know, along his sidewalk. These guys—I‘ll tell you, let me
tell you something—these guys haven‘t done a yard work in like 30 years.
If I had been there that day in the press conference with the guy with the
chainsaw, I would have asked him to turn it on.
MOORE: I‘d like to actually to see if he knows how to use that
MADDOW: He‘d put the tip down and it will kick right back at to him.
MOORE: You know, he just would have called his help in.
MADDOW: Right. Well, the—but that—you know, I wanted to show
you that Mitt Romney clip because that was—the photo that you had was
from 2003, and it‘s this ominous sense, like, whoa, they‘re cutting through
all the regulation.
MADDOW: But that was in 2008 during the RNC, while the financial
system was supposedly melting down.
MADDOW: It just makes me think that they‘re—I mean, they‘re still
talking about using garden implements on regulation, even in the midst of
the financial system collapsing.
MADDOW: What does that make—what does that say to you about the
way the sort of the way the rhetoric and the politics don‘t change with the
they can even tell the impact of them?
MOORE: Well, it - they are—they are blind and they are deaf to all
of this. And it‘s—I‘ll tell you what‘s going to happen here. Because
not one single regulation or rule has been reinstated on the banking
industry, on Wall Street, you know, they‘re back to dealing with their
crazy derivatives and credit default swaps and all that—
MOORE: Trust me, the next collapse or crash is right around the
corner, because they‘re doing the same stuff they were doing leading up to
that first crash in ‘08. And it‘s amazing that nobody‘s doing anything.
It‘s amazing that the Democrats in Congress haven‘t forced this issue in a
very strong way, because they would have the support of the American
people. Nobody wants the other shoe to drop here, and it‘s getting ready
And I—I just—I don‘t understand—well, I guess I do
understand, because those banks and the people on Wall Street are lining
the pockets of our members of Congress. So—
MADDOW: But on the right, of course, they‘re caricaturing Wall Street
reform as socialism. Everything is socialism.
MOORE: Yes. Everything is socialism to them. Boy, that is so tired,
MADDOW: I know.
MOORE: It‘s—you know, as I said in my film, to me, everything that
they call socialism, wanting to help people when they‘re sick, wanting to
provide, you know, jobs for people when they don‘t have work, these are all
aren‘t these the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, even atheist
principles that we all grew up with? That we were told that we were to be
good to those who were without? And then we were to share the pie?
MADDOW: But those must be kept in check—they must be kept in check
so that greed can lead us towards something.
MOORE: Yes. Well, we see what it‘s led us to. It‘s led us to the
fact that one out of eight homes now in America is in foreclosure or
MOORE: One out of eight home—and, of course, millions that don‘t
have health care and everything else. It‘s—you know, how do you—how
do you get yourself out of bed every morning to do this show? Just the
despair of how—the hope that we all had a year, year and a half ago, and
now it‘s like, I just feel like the Democrats are—they‘re in for an ass-
whooping of biblical proportions in November if they don‘t get off the dime
and do the job they were sent there to do. I mean that. I mean—don‘t
they see that? It‘s just—
MADDOW: Well, I mean, since the Civil War, every—it‘s only been
twice that the president‘s party has not lost seats—
MADDOW: – in the election after which that president was elected.
And so, it‘s almost historically impossible for the Democrats not to lose
Do you see any way that there‘s any way they cannot lose too many
seats? That they could avoid the bloodbath?
MOORE: Yes. They can avoid it by having courage of their convictions
and doing what the Republicans do when they take power. You know, when the
Republicans come into town, they get in the Hummer and they drive down
Pennsylvania Avenue, mow down anybody in sight. They walk into Congress
with both guns blazing and they say, “We were sent here to do a job,” and
then they do the job.
Democrats come in—I mean, by an incredible majority in the Senate
and the House, an this historic election with Obama in the White House—
Democrats come in and go, “Oh, hi, hi, I guess we don‘t need universal
health care for everybody. We can—we can—you know, we can
compromise. It‘s OK. It‘s OK.”
You know, it‘s like—they used to at least just sing kumbayah.
MOORE: Now, they go in like frightened animals. I don‘t understand -
I don‘t understand it. Why is it about them where they can‘t do the
math? It‘s like your Stupak math, you know, where a dozen is actually
MOORE: He‘s got four members.
Actually, in Michigan, we call that the Stupak dozen.
MADDOW: Right. It got explained to them.
MOORE: So, it‘s like—you have all Democrats, are they all
afflicted with this math disease? I know liberals were better in English
and social studies in school. Have they just not figured out how much the
American people wanted them to do this?
MOORE: And I think, too, remember Reagan. You know, Reagan was loved
by many people who didn‘t necessarily agree with all of his policies. But
Americans don‘t really see themselves as Democrats or Republicans. They
want somebody in there who believes in something, who‘s going to go for it.
And if the Democrats would just say to themselves, you know what,
we‘ve got these eight months here, let‘s just do what we were sent here to
do and damn the torpedoes. And yes, some of us may lose as a result of
that, but so many more Americans are going to admire us for standing up for
something, for believing in something. That‘s what‘s going to put them out
of office more than anything, and the fact that their base is going to be
so depressed by the fact that we didn‘t get universal health care.
MOORE: That we didn‘t put any restrictions on the banks and on Wall
Street. People are just going to stay home. And why they would allow this
to happen is beyond me.
MADDOW: Yes. I mean, it seems like they—when you listen to
Democrats talk about election prospects, they‘re convinced that they‘re
going to lose. You would expect that would free them up to try something.
MOORE: Yes, right.
MADDOW: Yes, right.
MOORE: It‘s kind—it‘s kind of like, OK, the boat is taking in
water. Do we just sit here or do we pick up the Dixie Cup that‘s over here
and start bailing? I mean, we may not make it, but, you know—
MOORE: – do something. Do something, Democrats. Are you listening
MADDOW: Mike, one last moment. I know that today, actually—today
specifically is an important date for your family.
MOORE: Oh, right. I was telling you this, right?
MOORE: Yes, my Uncle Lawrence Moore was killed on this day 65 years
ago today in World War II.
MOORE: And it‘s my dad‘s brother. You know, I brought along a little
that‘s him in the center there.
MADDOW: I wanted to make sure we show this.
MOORE: And thank you for honoring him and doing that. That‘s him in
the center, that‘s my dad on the left. And they called him “Lorny” and my
dad said he was the kind of guy that would give you the shirt off his back
and he gave his life for this country on this day in the Philippines in
World War II. So, thank you for doing that.
MADDOW: Sure. And, I mean, one of the things that‘s so powerful
about the way you tell your stories is that you do involve yourself and
your families and the way that you do, and it‘s why people are interested
in you as a guy, as well as being interested in your films. And that‘s why
I really enjoyed having a chance to meet you. Thank you for coming in.
MOORE: Thank you. Thank you. You‘re a force for good and a national
MADDOW: Oh, thank you.
MOORE: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: OK. Show‘s over. Goodbye. I have to go.
MADDOW: I‘ve peaked. It‘s done.
Michael Moore, of course, is Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker. His
latest film is called “Capitalism: A Love Story” and is out right now on
All right. Remedial politics, 2009 edition. What did Democrats learn
after soliciting Republican input on health reform? They learned that
Republicans don‘t care about health reform. So, why are they now doing the
exact same thing for Wall Street reform?
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So I was away for a couple of days. Good job, lamb chop.
And that gave us the chance to air some of the special on Monday about the
ways in which health reform has almost died.
And now that it looks like we probably are actually going to get
health reform, it seemed like a good idea to make sure that we haven‘t
forgotten all the different ways that health reform came under attack.
The assault on reform that I still find most frustrating and
mystifying is what Democratic Senator Max Baucus did to it back last summer
before the August recess. Remember, it was last summer health reform had
passed all three of the committees it needed to pass in the House.
It had passed in the Senate House Committee. It just needed to
pass one last committee, the Senate Finance. And then Congress could move
forward and vote on a final bill.
But Democrats have such big majorities in both Houses of Congress
that they have big majorities on every committee as well. So on the Senate
Finance Committee, there are three more Democrats than there are
But Max Baucus, the chair of that committee, inexplicably decided
to give up his own party‘s majority. And instead of negotiating in the
committee, which is the way laws are made, he decided to just work it out
with a gang of six with three Democrats and three Republicans, as if the
election never happened, as if Democrats and Republicans had equal numbers
if the Senate, which they don‘t.
And what was the result? The supposed negotiations in this
bipartisan kumbaya gang-of-six senators stretched on and on and on. And
because it was taking so long to execute this awesome bit of Max Baucus
strategery, any chance that health reform might get done then before the
August recess, like the White House wanted, was destroyed.
Looking back now, it seems crazy that the Democratic leadership
ever even conceived of getting health reform done by last summer. But they
really could have been done it if not for Max Baucus deciding to
unilaterally give up the Democratic majority that people voted in and that
prevailed in his committee.
Even if that weren‘t the main procedural reason, we still don‘t
have health reform now, which is what, I would believe, it would still be
mystifying to me that anybody would do something like that, that anybody
would just voluntarily give up their majority in order to negotiate on a
50/50 split with Republicans who don‘t make up even close to 50 percent of
either house of Congress.
And yet, somehow, believe it or not, this same thing is happening
again. It‘s a gang of two this time, and it‘s Wall Street reform this
time. The gang of two is Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut,
head of the Banking Committee, and Republican Senator Bob Corker of
There are three more Democrats on that committee than there are
Republicans. But rather than work out a Wall Street reform package within
this committee with its 13 to 10 Democratic majority, Sen. Dodd decided
instead to pretend like the ‘08 election never happened, to pretend like
it‘s a 50/50 split in the Senate and on his committee, to pretend like
Democrats don‘t have a majority. And he decided to work out a financial
reform plan, 50/50, primarily between him and his friend, Bob.
How‘s that going so far? Well, as he began negotiations, Sen.
Corker said, at the outset, that he couldn‘t support a stand-alone Consumer
Financial Protection Agency. He said he‘d be unwilling to back mandatory
limits on banks‘ size. He said he was against out-of-court resolutions for
And now, Bob Corker has landed himself on the front page of the
“New York Times” for pushing to remove the part of the reform bill that
cracked down on loan sharks - I mean, payday lenders, an industry that
makes its money by charging mostly low-income clients the equivalent of a
300 or 400 percent annual interest rate on short-term loans. And
coincidentally enough, it‘s an industry that is a significant contributor
to Sen. Corker‘s campaigns.
Sen. Corker today denied that he is trying to get special
treatment for payday lenders - I mean, loan sharks - I mean pay day
lenders, written into the financial reform bill. But the question remains,
why does he get a say at all? Why is he working this out with Chris Dodd?
Why does Bob Corker get anything other than to be part of a minority vote
against what the majority Democrats come up with?
Joining us now is Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat of
Massachusetts and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Mr.
Chairman, welcome back to the show. Thank you for joining us.
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES
COMMITTEE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: You‘ve already passed financial reform legislation in the
House. Your version would create an independent Consumer Financial
Protection Agency. Are you worried that the Senate will negotiate that
FRANK: I am. Let me say very - I have a great deal of respect for
Chris Dodd and he‘s been an advocate and a champion of the right things.
And if he were writing the bill, he and I, we would have had the bill
The Senate‘s a stranger place procedurally, but what began to
trouble me was people were acting as if whatever deals were made in the
Senate to deal with the filibuster, et cetera, that somehow that would be
And we passed our bill, as you noted, in December, wasn‘t
everything I wanted. It is a much tougher bill than it appears to be
emerging in some ways in the Senate and an independent consumer agency.
We are requiring that if someone wants to be your broker and sell
you stocks, he or she has to have a fiduciary responsibility and that is
they have your interests at heart.
We cover pay day lenders and in the consumer agency. There are
other areas where we‘re tougher. So I just made this announcement. We are
going to wait for the Senate to pass the bill. I hope it‘s a better bill
than there have been some indications.
I hope Sen. Dodd is able to get what he really wants to. But if
not, we‘re going to have a House-Senate conference. And we‘re going to
give my conservative Republican friends what they kind of wanted - I‘m not
sure they do. We‘re going to do this on television.
I‘m going to ask for a House-Senate conference, and we will then
sit there, members of the House, members of the Senate, and we will
negotiate this out. And my own view, Rachel, is that some of these people
are eager to accommodate the banks by killing the independent consumer
agency in private negotiations, will be less willing to vote that way on C-
MADDOW: In terms of the specific fate of the Consumer Financial
Protection Agency, one of the things that‘s been floated is that - at
least, as Republicans see it, the problem is that the agency is
independent. They say, instead, why not put it inside the fed? What do
you think about that prospect?
FRANK: Well, that‘s what we‘ve had. Consumer protection in our
federal banking laws has, for years, been in the various bank regulatory
agencies as a second or third choice. The Federal Reserve has, in fact,
been the major area where consumer protection was lodged.
And I guess you could say the consumer protection powers
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) in very good shape because they haven‘t been used.
They‘ve been kind of preserved. Now, it is true that unlike Alan
Greenspan, Chairman Bernanke has done a couple of good things in the
But every time the Federal Reserve has moved, after the Democrats
won Congress in 2006 and after we took over the Financial Services
Committee, and after we initiated a reform, they haven‘t moved on credit
cards. They haven‘t moved on overdrafts. They haven‘t moved on a couple
of other things like mortgages, but only after we prodded them.
So the notion that you would leave this to any bank regulator is
a mistake. And it‘s ironic. What some of the conservatives are saying,
it‘s really much more critical of banks than maybe anybody except Michael,
which is that if you have an independent consumer regulator that ensures
fairness, the banks will be in trouble, that the financial solvency of the
banks apparently causes some of these people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) able to
You know, part of the problem is we haven‘t seen enough lending
from the banks to the extent that banks can make money by inducing to
overdraft and charging you disproportionately or retroactively raising
interest in your credit cards. They make enough money with these tricks so
they don‘t have to lend. And we want to cut off these other ways they‘re
making money at the consumer‘s expense.
At any rate, we‘re going to have this out in public. We will
have a nice, big, open conference and let the Republicans and others,
Democrats who may agree with them, who don‘t want derivatives toughly
regulated, who don‘t want an independent consumer agency, let‘s have a
debate and vote on that in the public area.
MADDOW: Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, chairman
of the House Financial Services Committee, I look very much forward to
doing the play-by-play when that happens in public. And we thank you for
joining us tonight, sir. Thanks.
FRANK: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: In these dangerous times, everyone should keep their eyes
peeled for terrorists. You know the type. You know who I‘m talking about.
Blond, green-eyed woman from Pennsylvania. The end of the whole stupid
concept of racial profiling, live and on television, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Critics argue, when you think about it, for the
most part, all the people who have tried to blow airliners out of the sky
pretty much look alike.
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): For one, I know it‘s not politically
correct to say it. I believe in racial and ethnic profiling. I think if
you‘re looking at people getting on an airplane and you have X amount of
resources to get into it, you need to get at targets, not my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “Not my wife.” I know not one thing about Sen. James
Inhofe‘s wife, nor should I. I would not want to drag her into this or
anything else. But the latest al-Qaeda-related terrorism arrest in the
United States makes the argument for getting the terrorists by using racial
profiling even more awkward and dumb than it‘s always, always been.
Colleen LaRose is a 46-year-old American woman who lived in
Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Philly. She apparently
used the name Jihad Jane on online extremist Web forums. The Department of
Justice arrested her back in October, but the case was kept under wraps
while the investigation spun out.
She‘s now been indicted and charged with conspiracy to provide
material support to terrorists and to kill a person in a foreign country.
Police in Ireland have arrested seven other people in the case, four men
and three women originally from Algeria, Croatia, Palestine, Libya and the
They were in their 20s, their 30s, and their 40s. Combining that
data with notable attempted terrorist attacks against the United States in
the last decade, carried out or allegedly carried out by a guy of Jamaican
decent from London, a guy of Palestinian decent from Virginia, and a
Nigerian guy who posted awkward “I need a hug” emo vacation pictures of
If we racially profile based on our recent experience with
terrorism, then it‘s clear. It‘s clear. It‘s obvious. It‘s common sense.
We are now looking for anyone who is a man, a woman, an American,
an African, a Middle Easterner, an Eastern European, a Western European, a
blond, a brunette or between the ages of 20 and 49, which by my
calculation, leaves only one being on planet earth above reproach and that
Hi, Alf. Alf is good. Everybody else, I‘m sorry, you fit the
MADDOW: You know how the new Republican governor of Virginia got into
office and he right away rescinded the nondiscrimination laws against gay
people in that state? Well, today Virginia students marched in the streets
against him. And the governor did something really strange in response.
That story is next.
MADDOW: Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia had only been in office about
a week and a half when he was tapped to deliver the GOP response to the
State of the Union Address. About a week after that, the new governor,
McDonnell, still in his first month in office, went to the trouble of
rescinding an executive order concerning discrimination and state workers.
Gov. McDonnell rescinded the old anti-discrimination order and
replaced it with one that explicitly didn‘t protect gay people from
discrimination. It was Executive Order No. 6, effectively making it legal
for a government office in Virginia to, say, put out a wanted ad that said,
“Gays not need apply.”
Under Executive Order No. 6, that would not be illegal. A
supervisor at a Virginia branch of the DMV, say, could call in employees,
one by one, quiz them about their sexual orientation and fire the gay ones.
Under Executive Order No. 6, that would be legal. Then
Virginia‘s newly elected Republican Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, took
a further step. He sent a letter last Thursday to state colleges and
universities, telling them that Virginia law prohibits them from including
sexual orientation in any nondiscrimination policy.
That prompted students across the commonwealth to mobilize on
Facebook, at Virginia Commonwealth University, and with a march on the
In response, this afternoon, Gov. McDonnell seems to have caved,
sort of. Executive Order No. 6 still stands. But today, he issued
Executive Directive No. 1. His executive directive says - well, I‘ll let
him tell you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R-VA): We will not tolerate discrimination in
Virginia based on any of the factors in the Human Rights Act or any other
basis, including sexual orientation, parental status - anything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sounds awesome, right? Sounds like a man who might want to
run as a compassionate conservative at the national level some day. The
thing is, the details matter here. In Virginia, an executive directive
doesn‘t have the weight of law behind it, like, say, an executive order
which is what he used to rescind gay rights.
An executive directive is like a request. So governor McDonnell
is basically saying to state agencies, “Come on, guys. Do me a favor. No
gay discrimination, OK?” It‘s very convincing coming from him, right?
Joining us now is Howard Fineman, MSNBC political analyst and
senior Washington correspondent at “Newsweek” magazine. Hi, Howard, thanks
very much for coming back on the show.
HOWARD FINEMAN, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK”: Hi,
MADDOW: What‘s your understanding of what just happened in Virginia?
How big a deal is this for the state?
FINEMAN: Well, I think it‘s a big deal. I think the governor and his
staff have been working on this for days. They been in sort of crisis
management mode. I talked to most of his top people late today as I tried
to piece this together for the show tonight.
The interesting and ironic thing is, they think - we‘re talking
about a conservative Republican here. They think, to use the words of one
of our staffers, “We think we deftly threaded the needle here.”
Well, they only deftly threaded the needle within the confines of
the people who vote in Republican primaries in places like Virginia. For
the rest of the state, I don‘t know, but they were very concerned.
They got to be very concerned especially after the attorney
general really laid it on with the college students because Bob McDonnell
does have national aspirations.
And Virginia is a different state from what it was a while ago.
Bob McDonnell got a lot of votes in northern Virginia, which is the
Washington suburbs. He wants to portray himself as a moderate, as you say,
compassionate conservative, that‘s why he issued this directive today.
MADDOW: Gov. McDonnell, of course, during the campaign - it emerged
that he wrote a thesis while he was at Pat Robertson‘s Liberty University,
which said that government policy should favor married couples over,
quoting, “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.”
When he rescinded the antidiscrimination policy for gay people, a
lot of people said, “Hey, we told you he was this right wing.” Does he
really need to seem more moderate in order to have national appeal? It
seems like every Republican in the country tacking right.
FINEMAN: Yes. But he already has that thesis behind him, shall we
say. He has the Pat Robertson credentials behind him. He ran as a job
creator, you know, “Bob is for jobs” - that was their theme.
As a matter of fact today, they stressed the fact that they just
passed the bill and he signed it for offshore drilling in Virginia and so
forth, money for transportation.
He would like to portray himself that way. And I think the fact
that he did this, even though it does not have the force of law as you say,
they would argue that the state legislature would have to change things.
The fact is, as you pointed out, both Gov. Mark Warner and Gov.
Tim Kaine did issue such an executive order. It was in place when
McDonnell got here. But he would like to position himself in a more
moderate vein than, say, Cuccinelli.
You know, the conservative movement has got three parts to it.
It‘s got the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tax conservatives, the Liz Cheney foreign
policy conservatives and the social conservatives. McDonnell doesn‘t want
to be known as that social conservative. He wants to be a pro-business
And believe me, he‘s already on the White House radar because he
won this race in Virginia. Virginia is a state that Democrats won. Tim
Kaine, the former governor, is head of the Democratic Party. It‘s on their
radar screen and you can expect a lot of attention to McDonnell from the
White House over the next couple years.
MADDOW: I think that because of the way McDonnell did this with the
directive versus the executive order, because gay rights groups nationally
have been so energized by this, and students in Virginia have been so
energized by this.
I think if he‘s looking to escape a sort of Jesse Helms national
tarnish on an issue like this. He‘s underestimating his opposition here.
Do you agree with that?
FINEMAN: I would agree. I agree, that‘s why I said at the beginning
they threaded the needle only within, you know, the conservative part of
the Republican Party, not in the country nationally, not in Virginia,
Don‘t forget, right across the river here in Virginia, gay
marriage is now legal. I mean, this is the metropolitan Washington area.
This is a country as a whole. I think he‘s kidding himself, I agree with
you, if he thinks he solved this problem with the country as a whole.
MADDOW: MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, thank you for doing
reporting on this for us tonight. And thanks for your time, Howard. Nice
to see you.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Bill Maher - yes -
weighs in on health care reform and the madness surrounding former
Congressman Massa. It‘s an amazing interview with Lawrence and Bill Maher.
We will also be right back with a “live free or die” Granite
State tribute and a challenge.
MADDOW: The tireless activist, one-time U.S. Senate candidate against
Judd Gregg and New Hampshire native known as Granny D. has died. Doris
Haddock, better known as Granny D., walked her way into the public eye in
1999 when at the age of 89, she launched a 14-month, 4,200-mile walk across
the country to promote campaign finance reform.
Her journey was documented in the HBO film “Run, Granny, Run.”
In 2004, she ran against New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg. She
lost, but she proved again that she was so tough, you could whittle with
Granny D. died at home in Dublin, New Hampshire yesterday at the
age of 100. A public memorial service is being planned, which I‘m just
saying might make for a handy deadline to aim for, for members of Congress
working on campaign finance legislation to remedy the recent Citizens
That Supreme Court ruling was the biggest blow ever to Granny
D.‘s cause of getting big money out of our elections. Maybe a powerful
member of Congress will be able to stand up at that memorial service and
say they‘re taking the baton from her. They‘re taking on her cause. It
could happen. It could. You never know.
That does it for us tonight. We‘ll see you again tomorrow night
when I will be in Washington, D.C. to interview the Speaker of the House,
“COUNTDOWN” starts right now. Have a great night.
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