The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/09/12
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: And thanks to you at
home for staying with us for this hour.
Part of the problem with waiting for a big announcement in news about
politics this year, in this case, we are all waiting for the big Mitt
Romney vice presidential announcement, but part of the problem of
anticipating a big announcement is that practically every time somebody in
Republican presidential politics has said this year they are going to make
a big announcement, it has been a big letdown.
I don`t know if this happens every year, but this past year it is starting
to approach satire. I mean, just take, as an example, a year ago tonight,
political watchers on the edge of our seats after Republican presidential
candidate Jon Huntsman says he`s going to make a major announcement the
following day. Everybody starts trying to read the tea leaves, trying to
figure out what this announcement could possibly be. I mean, at that
point, Jon Huntsman campaign was not a joke, he was seen as a potential
contender in the race. So, political reporters flocked to Florida where
this major announcement was set to take place, and then this was it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People like Jon Huntsman, I believe, are the best
person for the job. To begin with, I would just say his resume, his
experience, my opinion, is just far better than any other candidates in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who`s that guy? That guy, it turns out, was the Jon Huntsman
major announcement. The big deal in Florida a year ago today was that Jon
Huntsman locked up the endorsement of Bush. Not that one – actually, not
that one either. Nope. Nope. Try again. One more.
Yes, that one. Jeb Bush Junior. The promised major announcement from the
Jon Huntsman for president campaign was an endorsement by George W. Bush`s
brother`s son, who has never held public office, and that is called
defining down the term “major announcement.”
And then, just a short while later in the campaign, it happened again.
Rick Santorum promises big announcement on Friday. Rick Santorum`s
campaign released a statement promoting a major campaign announcement on
Friday at 6:00 p.m. OK, setting the tone for the weekend of coverage.
Here we go, Friday at 6:00 p.m., be there or miss out on a big announcement
in the Republican presidential campaign. Here`s how we covered the
anticipation of the big announcement the night before it was to happen.
Rick Santorum, bless him, said today he would have a big announcement
tomorrow in Iowa. There are no indications the big announcement is that
he`s quitting, but never a good sign the first thing everybody asked are
you quitting. Rick Santorum is not quitting. Far from it. Rick Santorum
was preparing to unload this bomb shell on the presidential race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am announcing today and have announced that I am
going to be voting and supporting senator Rick Santorum on January 3rd in
the Iowa caucuses. You know, the first time –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who`s that guy? Anybody? Rick Santorum`s major campaign
announcement was that he got the endorsement of the secretary of state from
When somebody of Republican presidential politics this year says they have
got a big announcement. At this point, I`m starting to hear a little boy
out in the yard yelling wolf, wolf, and that has nothing to do with the man
n the beard at CNN.
When someone in Republican politics says there`s a big announcement coming.
That is now essentially become a signal to ignore them. I mean, just this
week, the chairman of the Republican Party, or Rience Priebus, announces
exclamation point and all, they announces in twitter that he is going on my
pal, (INAUDIBLE) show over on FOX News in order to make an exciting
announcement. Are you ready? I hope you are sitting down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR: Big news tonight about the Republican national
convention and you are here - first to hear it right here on (INAUDIBLE),
Rience Priebus is here with that announcement.
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I`m really proud
tonight to announce as well a very prominent role for governor Scott
Walker, my governor from Wisconsin, and your governor too for that matter,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The big exciting announcement from Rience Priebus is that not six
Republican governors, but seven Republican governors will be speaking at
the Republican national convention. And did you know Gretta is from
Wisconsin? Breaking news, flashing worldwide, everybody freak out.
And just for the record, there is such a thing as a major announcement.
Major announcements due exists in the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The God particle, a discovery at the world`s biggest
Adam Smasher that says biggest they get in the world of science, what does
it tell us about our world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The announcement today in Geneva, haled is one of the
greatest scientific discoveries of our time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is big. This is really big.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The long shot holy grail of the sub-atomic world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, just for context sake, I mean, discovering the God particle,
that`s a major announcement. We have killed Osama bin Laden, that`s a
major announcement. We have landed on the surface of Mars, that`s a major
This - this is not a major announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People like Jon Huntsman, I believe, are the best
person for the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jeb Bush Junior, I`m sorry. You are, I`m sure, a very nice guy.
You are not a major announcement.
In the crucial swing state of Ohio, as we talked about last night on the
show, the Republican secretary of state in Ohio announced yesterday that
this morning, there was going to be a major announcement. A major
announcement about voting in Ohio.
Now, even though I`m inert to big announcement, announcement this year, for
all the reasons I just explained. I will admit that this one, from the
Ohio secretary of state, this is worth paying attention to. I mean, not
only is Ohio critically important as essentially the ultimate swing state
in presidential politics.
But voting rights in Ohio right now are really do for a major announcement.
The whole country ought to be paying attention to Ohio and its voting
process stage right now because there`s actually a really big problem in
Ohio for this year.
We all remember the Ohio voting disaster that was the presidential election
of 2004, an estimated 170,000 Ohioans leaving their polling place without
voting because the lines there were just too long. By the way, that is a
significantly larger number of voters than the margin of victory by which
George W. Bush won Ohio that year.
In the next presidential election in 2008, Ohio basically fixed that
problem. Instead of having everybody overwhelmed the polling places on
election day, Ohio greatly expanded its early voting. They made it so you
could cast your ballot in Ohio for 35 days leading up to election day. And
that really did helped cut down on the line.
There were many fewer complaints. Election day 2008 went smoothly in Ohio.
The problem for Republicans though, was that the other thing that happened
in Ohio in the election of 2008, is that the Democrat won.
And when Republicans took control of state government in Ohio, thereafter,
they decided to use their control of state government to fixed that 2008
problem of all the voting going very smoothly and people not going home in
frustration from their polling places without actually casting their vote.
After Ohio Republicans initially tried to eliminate 24 of the early voting
days. Under political pressure, they were ultimately only able to get away
with cutting off three days of early voting in Ohio, the last three days.
And conveniently, that last three days includes the last Sunday before
election day which is when in particular African-American churches like to
make sure that their congregations go out to early votes souls to the
polls. That day will not be available for early voting in Ohio this year.
And as we described last night, there were something going on in Ohio that
I can`t believe isn`t more of a front-page story around the country. I
mean, eliminating those three days of early voting in Ohio is not actually
the biggest scandal in what Ohio is doing this year. That is a scandal.
But this is worse. The biggest scandal in Ohio is what`s happening on a
county by county basis there, where the state`s plan right now is to allow
more hours and more days to vote if you live in a Republican-leaning county
than if you live in a Democratic-leaning county. Seriously.
Republicans on Ohio county elections boards have been voting in favor of
adding early voting on nights and weekends in Republican-leaning counties,
but the Republicans on the county election boards in Democratic counties
are voting against extra voting on nights and weekends.
County election boards are evenly split between Democrats and Republicans,
but the Republicans are voting for expanded voting hours in the Republican
counties and they are voting against that in Democratic counties, and in
the Democrats counties where the Republicans are objecting to expanded
early voting, the Republican secretary of state has personally intervened
to break the tie to side with the objecting Republicans, to make sure that,
in fact, Democratic-leaning county will not have early voting on nights and
weekends but the Republican-leaning counties will.
Here`s what that means in real terms, Democratic leaning counties in Ohio,
homes of Cleveland and Columbus and Akron, where Barack Obama won 2-1 and
3-2 and 3-2, those counties will not have early voting on nights and
weekends leading up to election day.
But Republican-leaning counties, places where John McCain won 2-1 and 3-2,
like Warren counties and Butler counties, they will have extended early
voting, nights and weekends, come on down, whatever`s convenient for you.
The Republican secretary of state in Ohio is personally intervening to
ensure fewer voting hours in Democratic-leaning counties than in
Republican-leaning counties, that is happening right now.
And yesterday, that guy, the Republican secretary of state, his name is
John Husted said that he had a major announcement to make about the process
of voting in Ohio. Oh, my God, I don`t care about the little boy crying
wolf, I want to hear that announcement.
This is an issue of national significance. Anybody who cares about what`s
going to happen in the presidential election in the fall has to care about
how badly Ohio is screwing this up. To have this insanely partisan outcome
where you have more opportunities to vote if you`re a Republican and fewer
opportunities to vote if you`re a Democrat, a big announcement from the guy
who was making that possible, let`s hear that big announcement.
Well, the big announcement about voting in Ohio today from the secretary of
state, his big announcement, is that you can now change your address online
at a Web site. That`s the announcement? That`s the announcement.
They put out even a follow-up announcement later in the day to breathlessly
announce that several hundred Ohio residents had, in fact, already changed
their addresses online. That`s it.
But in terms of the glaring flashing red light Democracy emergency that`s
underway in Ohio where Republicans are being given more opportunities to
vote than Democrats in a presidential election year when Ohio is maybe the
most important swing state in the country. Yes, nothing to say about that.
That`s not big news. There is nothing to say about that, nothing to see
Joining us now, E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist, MSNBC
contributor, Brookings Institute senior fellow and the author of “our
divided political heart.”
E.J., it`s good to see you. Thank you for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you. Good to
have the early slot, given this story we`re doing.
MADDOW: Yes, you know, I have to say, I don`t know if I`m predisposed to
be more interested in issues like this than others in the media, but I
don`t understand why this isn`t a bigger story. Do you see this as having
DIONNE: It`s huge, and I think the explanation of why this isn`t a bigger
story is a kind of paradox. That this story is almost always treated in
partisan terms as a Republicans say this, Democrats say that, and it is
entirely true there is a big partisan element to this story. Republicans,
where they have control, are trying to make it harder for democratic groups
to vote, and occasionally, they`ll admit that, as the legislator did in
Pennsylvania where he said what we`re doing here is Mitt Romney will carry
But this is much bigger than a partisan story. We passed a great law in
our country in 1965 called the voting rights act, and the voting rights act
was designed to tear down illegitimate barriers to voting, particularly for
African-Americans, and this, what`s happening in this election year.
Ohio is an excellent example, is, I think, the most fundamental attack on
the right to vote in the country since the voting rights act was passed.
And it`s happening all over the country and this thing happening in Ohio is
so blatant. I mean, we`re supposed to believe in equal protection under
the law. It can`t make sense that if you live in one place, it`s easier to
vote than if you live in another place. There`s got to be legal action
taken here, because I cannot believe this would stand the scrutiny of any
MADDOW: E.J., in terms of scrutiny in the political world and from the
media, so much of the other – the other reporting, the other attention
that has been paid to voting rights this year has been specifically on the
issue of voter ID, because we`ve seen the voting I.D. laws changed in so
many Republican-controlled states.
Now, I think part of the reason that hasn`t actually become even more of a
story than it has been is that the Republicans have put forward a red
herring that there is voter fraud and that voter I.D. will somehow combat a
problem that they say exists in voter fraud. It`s a factually challenged
red herring, but that`s what red herrings are for.
On the early voting issue, there is no fraud issue, there is no red
herring, there is nothing that they can say that is a problem about early
voting other than the idea it might cost money. Could the idea that early
voting is too expensive for the states are used to sort of block interest
and attention here?
DIONNE: But why is it OK to pay for early voting in Warren county but not
early voting in Cuyahoga county? I mean yes, it costs some extra money.
Democracy is worth spending a little money on. And the notion if there is
a financial problem in some of those counties, then that should be taken
care of, because you cannot allow an election to be tilted by money.
I mean, we`re already letting elections be tilted by money in the campaign
finance system. This is a kind of indirect poll tax. If you live in the
wrong county, if they have more budget problems, then sorry, you`re not
going to have the same voting rights as people in other counties.
So, it is – I think that`s at least – no, the voter fraud thing is a huge
red herring. This is another red herring. Red herrings may be easier for
them to vote in Ohio than for real people.
MADDOW: Real people, provided they live in democratic leading counties.
E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist, MSNBC contributor, Brookings
Institution senior fellow, and of course, the author of “our divided
E.J., thank you for your clarity on this tonight and extra taking time to
join us. I really appreciate it.
DIONNE: Thank you.
MADDOW: It should be noted that we have asked the secretary of state, of
the great state of Ohio to join us on this program to discuss what it is he
thinks he`s doing with the county-by-county voting rules in the state of
Ohio. We have not been yet to secure his agreement for an interview, but
we, you know, live in hope.
OK, do you remember when Mitt Romney`s pitch to be president of the United
States was all about the economy? Mr. Romney, what are your thoughts about
anything but the economy, he would answer, there is nothing but the
economy. That`s all I want to talk about.
That was the way it was for a very long time, but that has changed now, and
the quantitative empirical data that shows how it changed is kind of nuts,
and we`ve got that next. We`re laying it out.
Plus, later on, the best new thing in the world now comes with extra
screaming with joy at your television. Please, stay with us.
MADDOW: If there`s one group of Americans everyone agrees we cannot mess
with, it is our veterans. That is a non-partisan agreement across this
entire country, except, apparently, for one small highly visible, very,
very well-funded part of our country. That story is coming up next.
MADDOW: Looking at the official Mitt Romney campaign page on you tube is
kind of like looking at a big sliced cross section of a giant tree. You
can read the rings of the tree to get interesting, chronological data about
what the campaign has done in terms of its public message.
The chronology of the campaign ads is fascinating, and while I have always
had a bit of a grudge about how bad the you tube search engine is, you can
arrange videos from a particular account, say the Mitt Romney campaign
account. You can arrange the videos in chronological order as a pretty
empirically sound way by seeing what Mitt Romney has been running on and
when. And that turns out to be a story that has a surprise ending.
Check this out. Mitt Romney basically wrapped up the primary, as you know,
in May. By May, the Romney campaign no longer had to bother engaging with
his one-time primary rivals, no longer had to answer levies from Rick
Santorum, or Newt Gingrich or even Ron Paul who sort pretended to stay on
the race until the middle of May.
But honestly, the primary was over by then and the general election
campaign was underway, and here is what the Mitt Romney message looked like
then, according to their own archives back in May just as the general
election was officially getting underway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you had enough of President Obama`s attacks on
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve seen layoffs, cutbacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve heard of Solyndra.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When others shied away, Mitt Romney`s private sector
leadership team stepped in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would a Romney presidency be like? Day one,
president Romney immediately approves the keystone pipeline.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to keep America strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Mitt Romney in May, about ten TV ads and web ads, jobs,
jobs, the economy, Solyndra, economy scandal, economy, jobs, jobs, the
economy, drill, drill, drill, more jobs. And then June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From day one, president Romney focuses on the economy
and the deficit. From day one as president, Mitt Romney`s strong
leadership will make all the difference on jobs.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course, the economy isn`t
where it needs to be. The private sector is doing fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Mr. President, you`ve had your moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day one, president Romney moves to repeal Obama care
and attacks the deficit. Then Romney moves to cut taxes. President Romney
stands up to China. President Romney reverses Obama`s offshore drilling
ban. Day one, job one, repeal Obama care. Mitt Romney has a plan to get
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the Mitt Romney campaign in a capsule from June, via
about a dozen different ads, the economy, jobs, the economy, the economy,
down with Obama care, tax cuts, the economy, the economy. The economy with
specific reference to China, drill, baby, drill, economy, that was June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, where did the Obama stimulus money go?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama`s campaign and allies will run more
negative ads against this Republican nominee in 2012 than ever run in the
history of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama`s dishonest campaign, another reason why America
has lost confidence in Barack Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time we had somebody who believes in us.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Freedom and free enterprise are
what creates jobs.
ROMNEY: Everything I do is going to be focused on getting this economy
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So you look at the ten or so ads that came out of the Romney
campaign in the month of July, the economy, the economy, the economy,
President Obama is a liar, the economy, jobs, jobs, jobs, the economy. All
but three of the ads that month were about economy and jobs, and the ones
that were not were about how terrible and horrible President Obama is as a
Say what you will about the guy, Mitt Romney has been very focused, his
campaign has been really focused, looking at these things that the campaign
did overtly on its own terms. It`s a great way to cut out all the clutter
of the campaign and focus on what they were trying to do, what they started
on their own terms, because these are the things the campaign was paying to
say. In some cases, paying to get on TV. That message for the entire
election, May, June, July, hugely dominated. About 95 percent dominated,
if you add it all up, by the economy. And now all within the last week, we
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who shares your values? As president, Barack Obama has
never visited Israel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under Obama`s plan, you wouldn`t have to work and
wouldn`t have to train for a job, they just send your welfare check.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who shares your values? President Obama used his
health care plan to declare war on religion. When religious freedom is
threatened, who do you want to stand with?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: August is young, but there has been a very dramatic turn in Mitt
Romney`s messaging. After focusing like a laser on exactly what he said he
was going to focus on like a laser for May and June and July, for the first
three months of the general election campaign, after doing literally dozens
of ads almost exclusively focused, 95 percent focused on the economy, this
week now we`ve seen three new ads and the subjects are birth control,
welfare, and Israel.
What`s going on? Oh, look, here`s what`s going on. If you look closely at
the Gallup daily tracking poll, you can see not just that President Obama
is ahead of Mitt Romney by a couple of points, but you can see a really
fascinating piece of data emerging from the other eight percent of people
who are not included in the Romney V. Obama totals, the eight percent of
people who are the undecided.
The number of undecided voters in Gallup`s daily tracking poll has been
between Six eight percent for about the last month or so. Which is to say
there are only six or eight percent of registered voters who say they
haven`t decided who they are going to vote for. We didn`t get to that
lower percentage of undecided voters in the presidential race the last time
around in 2008 until October.
It`s only early August, and we are already at the point in the campaign,
which is usually a very late point in the campaign, where each candidate
stops trying to persuade anybody who`s undecided, independent, in the
middle, they recognize there are no people left to dissuade and they turn
instead to try and turn out their bases of support.
Campaigns usually do not make that turn until October, because the number
of undecided people isn`t low enough to justify it until October. But
right now, the number of undecided beam is so low, apparently it`s
justified, at least the Mitt Romney campaign feels that way. That turn for
them is happening now.
So apparently, for them, the economy is over. Now it`s time to rile the
base, so you get, what I believe, is the obviously and purposely obviously
racist welfare ad, you get the Obama didn`t visit Israel ad, and you get
the contraception ad.
There have long been only two pages in the Mitt Romney for president
campaign playbook, there`s the economy and then there`s anything else he
needs to resort to in order to excite the Republican base. He only has one
page to turn, and he has now turned it in the second week of August.
Mitt Romney actually had a very focused jobs, jobs, jobs message. That is
what his entire campaign was trying to focus on for months. That appears
to be over.
According to them, it is now time to talk to the conservative base. So
instead of jobs, jobs, jobs, it`s now jobs, jobs, abortion.
MADDOW: “The Rachel Maddow Show” as an entity has been a really big fan of
U.S. women`s soccer. Group outings to local establishment in the morning
hours to drink beer when we`re not supposed to drink beer, but to watch
them play live, cheering in the newsroom when we`re supposed to be working,
waggling of our official team USA scarf, the whole bit.
Today was a great day for the U.S. women`s soccer team which would
ordinarily make that our front runner for the best new thing in the world
today. But, for all the legitimately spine tingly just some that U.S. A.
prideliness of today`s development on the women`s soccer pitch, there`s
someone, something, that tops it. I cannot wait for the best new thing in
the world tonight. It`s coming up.
MADDOW: The co-chair of the fundraising team for Mitt Romney in the state
of Florida is the chief executive of this. Full Sail University, and the
reason I said the Mitt Romney campaign Florida fundraising co-chair is the
chief executive of Full Sail University and not say the president of the
school, is because Full Sail University is a business. It is a for-profit
institution, and when Mitt Romney gets asked policy questions about higher
education, he often brings up for-profit colleges, and as his proposed
solutions specifically, he often brings up Full Sail University, that
specific school. That is happens to be run by his fundraising co-chair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I was in a place in Florida called Full Sail University. They
provide a four-year degree for people in the entertainment world,
production, media, broadcast, and so forth. And they hold down the cost of
their education by recognizing they are competing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Full Sail University, cited by Mr. Romney, is the example of how
to hold down the cost of education. It costs $81,000 to do a 21-month
program in video game art at Full Sail University. That`s what Mitt Romney
says is going to save America from high education costs. But it is run by
Mr. Romney`s Florida fundraising co-chair, so that part of its finances is
definitely looking good for America.
Beyond just the CEO being a major Romney fundraiser, it should also be
noted Full Sail University is technically owned by the private equity fund.
And the chairman of the private equity fund is also major Mitt Romney
When “the New York Times” reported this front-page story earlier this year
on Mr. Romney`s financial ties for the for-profit college industry he
promotes as a candidate, they also note for that video game degree program,
the one that costs $81,000, the on-time graduation rate is 14 percent. The
total graduation rate is only 38 percent, but whether or not you actually
graduate, the median debt taken on by students to pay for that program is
This is a lot of things, but a solution to the high cost of higher
education, it is not one of those things. Here`s another detail.
In June of this year, just a couple of months ago, the Web site gibill.com
had to be handed over to the federal government. It turns out gibill.com
had been bought by a marketing company in California. It looked like an
official government portal where you might go to figure out how to apply
for and use your G.I. bill benefits if you are a veteran.
But really this marketing firm that owned gibill.com was just capturing the
data unsuspecting veterans entered into that Web site looking for official
help, and then they were selling that data to for-profit colleges. The
marketing company settled in an agreement with multimillion states they get
a multimillion dollar fine and they agreed to handed over the Web site. So
now, when you go to gibill.com, it kicks you over eventually to the real
V.A. Web site about your real benefits, which should not result in a
million high-tactic phone calls from full profit universities trying to get
you to use up on all your benefits, paying for something like a $81,000
video game program that has a 14 percent graduation rate.
Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate is not just tied to Full Sail
University, though, he has generally been a big proponent of this industry.
He`s going to be speaking at another for-profit college this weekend in
And Mr. Romney plating his trout with this industry. In doing so very
aggressively, had the hopeful political effect of putting a real spotlight
on this incredibly profitable industry and how much we are all paying them
to become so profitable.
This past month, Tom Harkin and the education committee in the Senate
released a report on the for profit college industry. That was the product
of a two-year investigation. The report was not good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA), EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: For-profit colleges
charge exorbitant tuition while experiencing sky-high drop-out rates. How
are they able to recruit a steady stream of new students? The answer is
that for-profit colleges are what I would call a marketing machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whether or not you graduate, whether or not your degree is worth
anything in terms of getting you a job, perhaps in the video game art
field, whether or not you are able to ever repay the loans that you took
out to be able to pay for these expensive programs, the business model of
the for-profit school industry is to market to you aggressively, to get you
to sign up. To then get you to take out loans to pay your tuition to the
school, and then to cash those loan checks.
They get paid and you owe the money to whoever gave you the loan. And more
often than not, the entity that gave you the loan is the federal
In the 2009 school year, for-profit schools got paid $32 billion in federal
money. One out of every four dollars the education department put out in
student aid went to a for-profit school.
This is students taking out federally supported student loans to pay these
schools. The reason we do that is because there`s supposed to be a
national interest in helping Americans get a valuable public education.
But the more loans a student can take out, the more money these students
could potentially soak out of them. The more eligible you are as a student
for loans, the more beautiful you are as marketing target for these
And so, if you are a post-9/11 veteran eligible for the post-9/11 G.I.
bill, for these schools, you are a very, very beautiful target indeed.
Quote, “since the post-9/11 G.I. bill took effect almost three years ago
right now, eight of the ten colleges collecting the most money from the new
G.I. bill, eight of the ten have been for-profit schools.
As taxpayers, we are paying for veterans` higher education. That`s what
the G.I. bill means. We have a national interest in doing that. And these
schools are marketing aggressively to veterans so that our federal taxpayer
money is going to them, the for-profit schools. It`s $4,600 to pay for a
veteran to go to public school. It`s more than $10,000 for that same
veteran to go to a for-profit school. And at that for-profit school, what
we get for our extra money is a lower graduation rate, and a higher student
loan default rate, and a whole lot of profit to make sure these marketing
machines are very, very, very well politically connected.
Joining us now is Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and
Afghanistan veterans of America, which full disclosure is a non-partisan
organization that I personally support.
Mr. Tarantino is an Iraq war veteran who served 10 years in the U.S. army.
Tom, thank you very much for being here. Appreciate your time.
TARANTINO, CHIEF POLICY OFFICER FOR IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF
AMERICA: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is it your experience as a veteran and working with vets at IAVA,
that post-9/11 veterans are specifically being targeted by for-profit
TARANTINO: They are absolutely being targeted by for-profit schools. And
this is largely because of regulatory loopholes that were created before
the G.I. bill actually existed that classified the G.I. bill as private
You know, we actually have controls on for-profit schools so they don`t
abuse the system, so they actually have some element of free market control
that says we can have 90 percent of your revenue can come from the federal
government, but 10 percent actually has to come from customers who want to
buy your product.
In terms of business, it`s kind of the best deal going. But because of a
loophole, that 10 percent, the G.I. bill falls in that 10 percent of
private dollars. And so do DOD tuition assistance benefits. And so do
benefits from military spouses. So, that means for every veteran or
military member that a for-profit school can recruit, that`s nine more
people on federal financial aid, equaling about $125,000 in revenue per
veteran. That`s a huge incentive to line their pockets with benefits
instead of providing the service they are supposed to be providing.
MADDOW: In terms of the service they are providing, though, the rejoinder
from these schools is that veterans are signing up and hugely
disproportionate numbers in for-profit schools because it`s a good deal,
because that`s - it is a good way to get an education because it meets the
needs of military families and the constraints and posts by being a veteran
or being in the military. What about that argument from them?
TARANTINO: Well, there is a little bit of something to that. But the
reality is when 40 percent of all of your – all of your revenue is spent
on marketing and recruiting and it`s laser targeted at the military and
veterans benefits. You know, when I was a young officer and I was getting
my in-brief on my education benefits, it wasn`t telling me about how much I
could use or where I could go to college. It was a for-profit school
marketing directly to me saying I could get this master`s degree from this
for-profit college. They have unprecedented access.
And so, it`s very hard for veterans to make a determination as to what
schools they can go to. I could find out how much every piece of sushi
within ten miles of me costs using my phone, but I have no way to figure
out how to compare schools. There`s no yelp for higher education and that
lack of transparency is causing problems for veterans looking around and
trying to figure out what schools best fit their needs. Sometimes it is an
online college. There actually are very good for-profit colleges, but they
are being drowned out by these large behemoths that are just looking to
line-up pockets with benefits.
MADDOW: President Obama signed an executive order back in April that was
aimed at least part of these problems. It was aimed to protecting vets and
veterans families from deceptive recruiting, overly aggressive recruiting
by schools. Did that help at all?
TARANTINO: I think it is going to help. It actually did three very
important things. It actually told all schools that they need to report
some basic consumer information metrics. There`s a lot of information
coming out of the department of education, but really hard to sift through
and doesn`t help consumers very much.
It also trade marks the phrase G.I. bill so that these marketing Web sites
and for-profit schools that want to create these deceptive Web sites, they
can`t use the phrase G.I. bill. That`s actually going to be copyright and
protected. And most importantly, it allows veterans who were scammed by
for-profit schools some way to not just complain, but to actually get some
sort of redress.
MADDOW: Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan
veterans of America.
Tom, thanks for helping us understand this tonight. I appreciate it.
TARANTINO: Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
OK. Apologize and retract. Those are two things perpetrators of
irresponsible news stories almost never do. I have a prime candidate for
both of those things next.
MADDOW: I love the associated press. You love the associated press.
Whether or not you are aware of how much you love them, the fact is that if
you are at all a news junkie, if you`re reading over the course of your
typical day, you are basically marinating in associated press content all
day long. The A.P. is everywhere. The A.P. is jointly owned by the
American news organizations that use their stuff. And that means thousands
of newspapers and TV stations and radio stations, they have hundreds of
news bureaus all over the world. They have staff all over the world. They
are the only news organization, for example, with a bureau in North Korea,
for crying out loud.
By dint of sheer size, the Associated Press is just indispensable, they are
everywhere. But because they are everywhere, because their content is
ubiquitous, and used by so many news outlets, when the Associated Press
does something bad, it`s really bad. It isn`t like one newspaper printing
one lousy story. If it`s the A.P., it`s one bad story that ends up in a
zillion different newspapers and websites and TV stations and radio
So, for example, when the Associated Press published just a shockingly bad
article about Kansas politics this past week, it did not just end up in
some tragic little Kansas newspaper. It ended up in the Kansas city star
and the Fresno Bee, and in “the charlotte observer” and “the Indianapolis
Stars Tribune” and in the “Miami herald” and “the state” in South Carolina
and in the “Times Pick” in Louisiana and the “Seattle Times” and The “St.
Louis Post Dispatch” and in the “Connecticut Post” and “the San Francisco
Chronicle” and “the Atlanta Journal Constitution” and, and, and. All these
papers or their Web sites and all of the Web sites running an eye-popping
associated press story that never should have run anywhere.
Dr. George Tiller was murdered in Kansas three years ago when the anti-
abortion activist who killed him was pulled over by police right after the
killing, the murderer had in his car the name and phone number of the
policy director operation rescue written on a piece of paper on his dash
board. Operation rescue, the radical anti-abortion group.
The Associated Press on Friday published a piece about the Kansas primaries
this week focusing on the district attorney`s race in Wichita where Dr.
Tiller was killed. The A.P. notes that the incumbent D.A., a Democrat
named Nola Foulston is stepping down and no Democrat is stepping up to
replace her. It`s was just too anti-abortion Republicans who campaigned
for Nola Foulston`s off seat in the Tuesday primary in Kansas.
Reporter, Roxana Hegeman reporting for the Associated Press writes in this
piece that it`s a liability for one of these two Republican candidates that
he has a deputy in the D.A.`s office he`s now running to be put in charge
Why would that be a liability to be a deputy district attorney? Why would
that be bad? It`s because, the Associated Press explains, people blame the
current district attorney for the murder of George Tiller. What? This is
Look at this. This is quoting directly from the A.P.`s story. Look at
this. “It`s important to note that Scott Roeder, the abortion opponent
serving a life sentenced for killing Dr. George Tiller once told the
Associated Press that he believed Dr. Tiller would never be brought to
justice as long as Nola Foulston was in office.”
Brought to justice? That`s not in quote or anything. That`s how the
Associated Press describes it uncritically. She was never brought to
justice. Continuing, the district attorney Nola Foulston had refused to
allow then attorney general Phill Kline to prosecute Dr. Tiller in her
jurisdiction resulting in a judge dismissing charges that the doctor had
performed illegal late term abortion.
While Foulston has insisted she was simply upholding the law, many abortion
opponents blame her for derailing Kline`s prosecution and ultimately for
Dr. Tiller`s death. If Nola Foulston had done her job with George Tiller,
he would still be alive today, said Try Newman, president of Wichita-based
Operation rescue, quoted as a credible observer in this case. Yes, the
blame for the doctor being shot to death by the anti-abortion activist with
ties to operation rescue lies with the district attorney who didn`t
prosecute that doctor for something rather. He didn`t get prosecuted so
obviously he had to be shot, so says operation rescue.
And so writes down the Associated Press. Thus resulting in newspapers all
over the country printing this absolutely whack-a-doo uncontested more than
insinuation that an abortion doctor was murdered in Kansas because what?
He needed killing? Because he hadn`t been brought to justice?
Incidentally, the assistant D.A. from Nola Foulston`s office won the
primary on Tuesday in Kansas. But that`s not what this is about.
Generally speaking, I love the Associated Press and you probably do, too.
But the A.P. besmirched Tuesday`s Kansas primary with this trash that they
published about it this past Friday.
I haven`t said anything about it until now because I keep expecting them to
retract it. So far nothing. Before this week is out, the Associated Press
ought to retract what they published and they ought to apologize.
MADDOW: OK, best new thing in the world today.
Last year, if you are a fan of the show, you may have notice when the whole
Rachel Maddow show staff got a little bit obsessed with the U.S. women`s
national soccer team in the world cup. They went to the finals of the
world cup but they lost an absolute heart breaker to Japan for the world
cup championship match. And right after that, we were honored to host four
team USA members here on this show. I was very nervous. It was very cool.
Well, “the Rachel Maddow Show`s” staff obsession with the soccer team has
not stopped. And today, as you likely has probably heard, the U.S. women
soccer team got vindication. They beat the team who beat them in the world
cup. They beat Japan to win today`s Olympic gold medal match in soccer.
Now, naturally we took totally unjustifiable pride in our role in this
victory, in team USA`s golden moment. I mean, they came on our show at one
point at last year. Surely, that propelled them to victory, right or not?
Not at all.
But you feel this, right? You feel this way inappropriately then you feel
pride in something that happened in your country. But I have to say, there
are folks at hoe right now who are taking tremendous pride tonight in an
American winning a gold medal in the Olympics and people who are taking
pride in it. Unlike us, totally deserve it big time.
Last night, we reported the story of Clarissa Shields, the American boxer
from Flint, Michigan. Her hometown has gone all in for Clarissa. She is
17-years-old. She`s been boxing in Flint since she was 11. She has
courted in her hometown, her fellow Flintonians (ph) for their support,
hear there their emotional support and their financial support in getting
her into these games.
And today, Clarissa Shields fought for the gold medal in the middleweight
boxing division. According to “the Flint Journal” at Blackstone bar, more
than 300 of her fellow Flinters (ph) watched the fight on TV there. More
than 100 people others, more than 100 other people watched and cheered at
the auditorium at northwestern high school where she goes to school. She`s
not even a high school senior yet.
Four rounds of fury later, the fighting pride of Flint, Michigan, emerged
the winner. Clarissa Shields became the greatest female middleweight
amateur fighter in the world. This is the first year that women`s boxing
has been in the Olympics so she is the first to gold medalist in this
weight class effort.
We e-mailed with Clarissa`s principal today who wrote this to us, the
principal said “what you saw was a young lady who had a goal and she worked
toward the goal achieving her dream through shear work and determination.
Unlike the other ladies boxing, up until she left for the Olympics,
Clarissa still had school, papers to write, scheduling early finals. With
that smile, you saw the true Clarissa. This young lady, once you speak
with her, you would think you`ve known her all your life. She is much
wiser that most some 17-year-old. I`m sure she will set new goals and
obtain them. She`ll only be 21 for the Rio Olympics.
A 17-year-old giving everything she`s got for her country and her hometown,
yes. That`s an Olympic story we have seen. But this particular hometown
giving everything it`s got for its pride and joy and an Olympic gold medal
to show more. Flint has taken some hard knocks, but Flint – Team Clarissa
in Flint, you are the best new thing in the world today. Yay!
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>