The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/21/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The town of Newtown, Connecticut, has three detectives on its police
force. And on December 14th, when calls started coming in about a possible
shooting at the elementary school at Sandy Hook in Newtown, one of the
town`s three detectives, a detective named Jason Frank, was off duty.
He was not at work. So presumably he did not have his uniform on. We
know he did not have his weapon with him.
But he heard the call anyway and he drove to the scene. He drove to
the school. Now, at that point, police had already found the body of the
shooter – the young man who had ended the massacre when he shot and killed
So, at that point, police were making sure that there wasn`t a second
shooter, making sure that the massacre was over. And they were moving
through the school methodically, door by door, clearing each room, making
sure there were no other perpetrators on the loose and, of course, getting
the surviving kids and staff members out of that school to safety.
This was the time we learned later when the police had to convince the
teachers and the staff members behind those doors at the school that they
really were the police. The teachers were still trying to protect the
students. They did not want to open the doors to somebody who was just
saying they were police. Who knows if they really were?
And so, the police at that time were taking off their badges and
shoving their badges up to the windows of the classroom doors and putting
their badges under the doors to prove who they were to the teachers who
were inside, still trying to protect their kids.
Detective Jason Frank from Newtown later told Ray Rivera of the “New
York Times,” who wrote a really remarkable article interviewing the first
responders who were on scene there, the detective told Ray Rivera that in
that urgency and the intensive to get to all of the kids and to clear all
of the rooms at one point, he ripped the door handle off of a door as he
was moving in to clear that classroom. Detective Jason Frank and the rest
of Newtown`s police detectives ended up spending days and days inside that
school after the massacre, processing it as a crime scene.
The school did not reopen. The kids from Sandy Hook moved to a nearby
school that was not being used. The nearby school was refitted to look as
much as possible like their old school.
But the original building where the shooting took place, all of these
law enforcement officers were there, day in and day out after the shooting,
in that horrible setting, doing their work, cataloging every physical bit
of that crime scene including the victims and where they fill, the physical
damage showing how the shooter got in in the first place, the path that he
took through the school, every single bullet that he fired, finding and
marking and cataloging every single casing, every single bullet hole,
following the path of what happened every single time he pulled the trigger
Those detectives, those troopers, those forensics teams who
themselves, you have to believe, were traumatized by having been the ones
to respond to all of that carnage and having to see it themselves, then had
to work in it for a long time after the crime itself, making sense of every
physical detail left, including the wreckage of that door that detective
Jason Frank had torn apart trying to get to those kids that day.
So we know the basics. We know the basics of what happened. We, of
course, know the bottom line of what happened in that school building that
But someday, because of that work, because of that long, horrible,
meticulous work that they have done and are still doing on that horrible
crime scene we will know pretty much everything that can be known about
what happened that day, because of their meticulous attention to the
That is the same way that we know so much detail about what happened
exactly in previous incidents like this, because of the way they pick apart
these crime scenes, we have very specific details on how they happened.
And that sometimes becomes important when we`re talking about trying to
find technical fixes in the law on policy that might make things like this
less likely to happen again or if things like this are going to happen
again what kinds of changes might mean that these things do not go on for
so long and kill quite so many people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK KELLY, GABBY GIFFORDS` HUSBAND: On January 8th of 2011 a young
man walked up to gabby at her constituent event in Tucson, leveled his gun,
and shot her through the head. He then turned down the line and continued
In 15 seconds, he emptied his magazine. It contained 33 bullets. And
there were 33 wounds.
As the shooter attempted to reload, he fumbled. A woman grabbed the
next magazine and others restrained him.
Gabby was the first victim. Christina Taylor-Green, 9 years old, born
on 9/11 of 2001, was shot with the 13th bullet or after, and others
(ED VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The woman who Mark Kelly was describing in that testimony,
the woman who stopped the shooter in that mass shooting in Tucson, stopped
him from being able to reload and kill more people, is this woman, Patricia
Maisch. She had gone to the meet your congresswoman event that day in
Tucson to meet her congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, specifically because she
wanted to thank Gabby Giffords for her vote in favor of President Obama`s
ABC News interviewed Patricia Maisch very shortly after the shooting.
Very shortly after the shooting. And here`s how she explained that day,
what she did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)
PATRICIA MAISCH, GIFFORDS` CONSTITUENT: I was not able to reach the
gun, but I – he was pulling a magazine out of his pants pocket with his
left hand, and I was able to grab the magazine, because somebody said when
he pulled that out, they said, “Get the magazine.” So I got the magazine
and was able to secure that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The magazine that she`s talking about in this particular
shooting is this type, the big long type there that you can see sticking
out of the butt of the handgun. A standard magazine for a gun like this
would not hang out from the bottom of the gun like that. But the one the
shooter was using in the Tucson massacre had 33 bullets in it.
And he expended all of those bullets. He fired all of those bullets,
and the gun was therefore empty when he had to stop shooting. Had he been
able to take the empty magazine out and replace it with the full one that
he was presumably pulling out of his pants pocket when Patricia Maisch
stopped him, maybe he would have been able to keep going and shoot and kill
more people. But he was not able to pull off the reloading.
Running out of bullets meant he had to stop firing. And when he
stopped firing that`s when he was stopped and that event was over and
nobody else had to die. The woman who stopped the Tucson shooter by not
letting him reload that day still lives Arizona.
And yesterday, she attended one of these town hall meetings in
Arizona, which the Republican senator there, John McCain, has been holding
in his home state. The woman who stopped the Tucson, Arizona, shooter was
there in the room when this happened today at John McCain`s town hall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My 24-year-old son Alex was murdered in a movie
theater in Aurora, Colorado. These assault weapons allow a shooter to fire
many rounds without having to reload. These weapons do not belong on our
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I can tell you right now you need some
straight talk. That assault weapons ban will not pass the Congress of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I said that was today. That was actually yesterday. John
McCain`s Arizona constituents, you can hear them at the end there
applauding boisterously at his ability to bestow some patented John McCain
straight talk on that woman, who obviously needs it, that woman whose son
was killed less than a year ago in the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting.
That`s the footage that was aired by Channel 3 in Phoenix. Obviously,
there was an edit between the end of the woman`s question and the part
where John McCain sneers the straight talk line at her. So, maybe that
edit was cut in a way that`s not fair to John McCain. Maybe he really
wasn`t in real time so insensitive and abrasive to a woman who probably
deserves some sensitivity when she is talked to about these matters.
But for what it`s worth, Patricia Maisch, the woman who disarmed the
Tucson shooter, she was in the room at that John McCain town hall. She saw
the whole thing happen. She saw that woman ask the question about what
John McCain thought should be done about gun violence and saw him answer by
saying you need some straight talk.
And Patricia Maisch, who was in the room, told Talking Points Memo in
an interview after the town hall that she found senator McCain`s response,
quote, “unsatisfactory.” “In my opinion,” she said, “the comment the
senator made saying Caren needed some straight talk was a bit disrespectful
in light of her son being murdered by a man with a gun less than a year
According to TPM`s interview Patricia Maisch then said she`s hopeful
McCain will expand background checks for gun sales but, quote, “You never
know with these guys. I hope he does the right thing.”
So, at John McCain`s town hall yesterday in Arizona discussing gun
rights, a woman whose son was killed in the Aurora shooting massacre was
there. The woman who disarmed the Gabby Giffords shooter in Tucson was
there. Also in Florida two nights ago, a very similar Republican town hall
meeting held by a Republican congressman, Ron DeSantis, in Palm Coast,
Florida, had a similar experience – parents of 7-year-old Daniel Barden
who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
His parents attended that town hall. They introduced themselves to
the congressman in front of this boisterous group of 300 constituents.
They, quote, “pointedly asked Congressman DeSantis how he planned to
address the gun issue.”
Whether these individual appearances of very high-profile victims of
gun violence are happening on their own or not, whether it`s just
coincidence we don`t know, but the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns told
us today that they`ve been encouraging family members of gun violence
victims to go to town hall meetings right now while members of Congress are
in their home districts hearing about gun control issues and other issues
from their constituents.
That`s exclusive to us, by the way. I don`t think anybody else has
reported that Mayors Against Illegal Guns are doing that but they are.
Today, in Danbury, Connecticut, the parents of yet another child killed at
Sandy Hook, Chris McDonnell and Lynn McDonnell, whose daughter Grace was
among those killed, told a gun violence forum at Western Connecticut State
University that something has to be done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNN MCDONNELLL, MOTHER OF GRACE MCDONNELL: We ask that our
representatives look into their hearts and remember the 26 beautiful lives
that we lost and pass meaningful laws that will help prevent this from
happening again. We owe it to our children, and I owe it to my daughter,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That same event today in Connecticut was also attended by
this man, Vice President Joe Biden, who was there to make the case for the
White House`s proposals on gun reform.
He told Patricia Maisch`s story, of what stopped the massacre in
Tucson, in order to help make that case today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the shooter in
Tucson had a 10-round magazine instead of a 30-round magazine, the little
granddaughter of a friend of mine from Wilmington, Delaware, who used to
manage the Philadelphia Phillies, she`d be alive today, because when
changing his magazine, a woman leaned over in the crowd and knocked his arm
and that`s how they subdued him. It makes the difference.
It wouldn`t have saved everybody. It wouldn`t have saved everybody.
But the last two people shot would be alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just before Vice President Biden spoke today, the governor of
Connecticut, Dan Malloy, made his case for what he thinks his state should
do after Sandy Hook.
Democrats control the House and the Senate and the governorship in
Connecticut. So what the Democratic governor says has a lot of weight in
terms of what`s actually going to happen. Governor Malloy today said –
explained today what he thinks should be done, and therefore what likely
will be done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: And at some level, we will never be
the same as we were before December 14th. We have changed. And I believe
it is now time for our laws to do the same. There are clear common sense
steps that we can take right now to improve Connecticut`s gun laws.
We need to ban large-capacity magazines and allow the sale of only
magazines that hold 10 rounds or less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If Connecticut does that, if they ban magazines that hold 10
rounds or more, if Connecticut does that, they`ll join New York, New
Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Hawaii, California, and D.C. in having
state-specific bans on the number of bullets you are able to fire before
you have to reload.
In total, 15 states are proposing either tightening their existing
limits on the size of magazines or introducing their first limits ever, 15
states. But could it happen federally?
“The New York Times” reported a couple of days ago that even pro-gun
lawmakers are open now to limits on the size of magazines at the federal
level. Even members of Congress who are adamantly opposed to, say, assault
weapons ban are finding the case for a high-capacity magazine ban to be
more compelling, to at least be something that is worth talking about.
Well, today, the group Organizing for Action that was formed out of
President Obama`s re-election effort, they announced today that they`d be
doing 100 events in cities across the country tomorrow to push for gun
reform, everything from candlelight vigils to groups of people getting
together to all write letters to the editor in favor of reform.
The idea here is the same as having victims of gun violence turn up
and introduce themselves and ask pointed questions at lawmakers` town hall
meetings. It`s the same idea as a pro-reform political action committee
hanging the A rating from the NRA around the neck of that congressional
candidate in Illinois to make it so she likely cannot win the Democratic
primary for congress because she is too close to the NRA and that`s not OK
anymore, at least in Democratic politics.
It`s the same thinking behind these near-daily events from Vice
President Biden, all addressing the issue of gun reform. It`s the same
thinking as the almost as frequent mentions and events from President Obama
himself, including the long emotional case he made for reform in the State
of the Union. It`s all the same idea, which is to change the political
momentum on this issue, to turn desire for change on this issue into actual
That is the plan. And on a day like today, there are about 15 data
points in just this news cycle showing that plan is in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: People say and you read and people write about the political
risk and the unacceptable take on it. I say it`s unacceptable not to take
BIDEN: It`s just simply unacceptable. It is not something you can
fail to do.
Guess what? I believe the price to be paid politically to those who
refuse to act, who refuse to step forward.
Because America`s changed on this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist,
senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and MSNBC contributor.
E.J., it`s good to see you tonight. Thanks for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you.
MADDOW: I`ve been trying to understand what is the new calibration of
what might be possible in terms of legislation. A lot of people say that
an assault weapons ban is on the far end of possible. Closing of the
background check loophole might be on the near end of possible.
Where do you put the extended magazine ban on that imaginary number
line of possibility?
DIONNE: I put it right near the universal background checks. I mean,
that is the measure that has the best chance of passing.
But I think the ban on the big magazines is right up there because in
the odd calculus of some members, but if it works for the ban of big
magazines, it`s all right with me. It`s not banning a particular weapon.
With the assault weapons ban it`s a ban on a particular weapon. This is a
ban on an accessory to a weapon.
The other legislation that has a good chance is legislation banning –
to regulate and ban straw purchasers and have stronger laws on gun
trafficking. And we`re going to know a lot more next week. I think as of
a week from today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to hold its
markup. That`s what they were talking about today.
And what they`re probably going to do is put out separate bills on all
these things so that the chances of one don`t hurt the chances of another.
In particular, that the assault weapons ban, which is the hardest sell,
doesn`t bring down these other measures.
But I think after the events that you just described a lot of people
have concluded that if only we could have shooters not have all of these
bullets available at those moments, a lot of lives could be saved.
MADDOW: E.J., what do you think has been the most effective tool for
activism this time around in the campaign for new gun laws? Is it just the
accumulation of so much attention, so much sentiment, so much heartache
over what happened in Newtown, or has the political work that`s being done
by the advocates of reform been particularly effective, has one of those
techniques been particularly effective?
DIONNE: I think Ms. McDonnell, when she referred to those 26
beautiful lives – I mean, I think Newtown just snapped something in a lot
of people. There were a lot of people who were just sick and tired of
being sick and tired, sick and tired of being told that when they call for
action after one of these horrible events, the NRA would turn around and
say oh, you`re just exploiting these events to get legislation. That used
to shut people up.
People said no after this. They said, we`re not going to stop. And I
also think we need to give credit to the people who are doing work in the
wilderness when this issue wasn`t at the top of everyone`s list of
important issues. You know, mayors against illegal guns. Mayor Bloomberg
certainly with all the money he can spend but also Mayor Menino in Boston,
Tom Barrett in Milwaukee, there are a lot of people working in the
wilderness who said, you know, even though we`re here, we`re going to
continue marching because someday we`re going to get out of this
And so, I think you really have to credit the people who stuck with
this issue in the period when everyone else said nothing will happen and
Newtown came along and a lot of other Americans said, yes, we can`t do
MADDOW: We`re seeing so much attention on this issue, really
specifically in the Illinois special election. That`s going to be the
first federal election after Newtown, also the first federal election after
the presidential election and the Democratic primary is really the whole
game in that race because it`s such a Democratic district.
The Bloomberg PAC has been very, very heavy-handed in terms of their
involvement in that race. Just blanketing the 2nd district in Illinois,
that Chicago district, with guns, making the A rating from the NRA a
scarlet letter for the two Democrats who are viable contenders in that race
who have that rating.
Is that something that we`re only going to see in something so
atypical like, that a very Democratic district in Chicago in a special
election, or is this kind of a pilot program for something that Democrats
might try to do more broadly?
O`DONNELL: I think it`s a pilot program. And I think one of the
problems for advocates of sensible gun laws is that there`s been a lot of
mythology built up around the power of the NRA. And it`s true that in
certain rural districts in America, it`s very hard to support any form of
gun control, but there have been very few races where advocates of gun
control have made it an issue themselves.
Bloomberg obviously is doing that in Illinois. It happened in a
congressional race in Virginia, where you can argue that Jerry Connelly out
in suburban Virginia got re-elected in part by the gun issue. What has to
happen is in districts, in suburban and urban districts where the vast
majority of voters want action on guns, if people are opposed to doing it
then they have to be taken on and this has to be made an issue in an
election. And we might chip away at that myth of NRA omnipotence, which
happily has already taken a lot of sledgehammer hits over the last month or
MADDOW: Yes. I think the narrative is changing already, if just by
sheer weight of the people saying that they don`t want that to be the
MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist, senior fellow at
Brookings, MSNBC contributor – E.J., thank you as always. It`s always
great to have you here.
DIONNE: Thank you. Take care.
Al right. We have tons of show tonight including the interview
tonight with Barney Frank, who is here in person. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has perfect teeth. And very,
very perfect hair. If you just hold perfectly still and just watch him, he
just seems perfect.
He had only been governor of Virginia for a few days when the
Republican Party tapped him to give the State of the Union response to
President Obama in 2010. By the following year he was already being
described as being at the top of the vice presidential short list.
He was just the kind of moderate-looking, milquetoasty conservative
guy that the Republicans thought they were looking for. And so, he spent a
lot of time during the Republican primaries happily fielding questions
about just what exactly he would say if and when he was tapped to be the
Republican nominee for vice president of the United States.
But then perfect Bob McDonnell became governor ultrasound. The anti-
abortion forced ultrasound bill he had supported in his state started
making its way through the legislature.
And things took a turn for Bob McDonnell. Suddenly, he wasn`t
cheerfully fending off questions about joining the Republican ticket and
heading to the White House. He was being bombarded every time he set foot
in front of a camera with unpleasant questions like these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to ask you about this red hot story
that`s gotten so much ink, so many women in particular fired up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were here last month. You were in favor of the
transvaginal ultra –
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: You backed an abortion bill initially that
included a very invasive procedure as part of an ultrasound that the state
would have required.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were educating yourself on this bill, did
you originally not realize that it might mandate the invasive –
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Well, it wasn`t – you have to
realize this wasn`t my bill.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Bob McDonnell did not become the Republican vice presidential
nominee in 2012. He did spend a lot of time in 2012 talking about vaginal
probes on live television.
In a matter of weeks Bob McDonnell was transformed from the handsome
but serious Republican leading man to that creepy guy who`s trying to do
what to the women of Virginia?
Well, this year Virginians will elect a new governor. Bob McDonnell
is being term limited out of office. And now, a brand new Republican
governor in another state is bucking for the chance to inherit the governor
ultrasound nickname from Bob McDonnell now that Bob McDonnell`s not going
to be using it anymore.
This is Indiana`s brand new Republican governor. His name is Mike
Pence. Governor Pence was a six-term congressman from Indiana before he
got elected governor this year. He has consistently earned a 0 percent, or
F rating from reproductive rights groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL.
Do you remember when Mitt Romney said at one debate if he was
president he wouldn`t just want to keep Guantanamo open, he would want to
double Guantanamo? Well, Mike Pence may be about to double governor
ultrasound because the Republicans in the Indiana Senate have just advanced
a bill that would force Indiana women against their will to have not one
but two medically unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds. Just because.
The bill is part of an overall TRAP law that tries to use targeted
regulations that some clinics will not be able to comply with so that those
clinics will not be able to provide abortions anymore. For women having
the kind of abortion you can get very early in pregnancy where you just
take a pill that ends the pregnancy, Indiana Republicans want to force
women to submit to a state-ordered vaginal probe before you are allowed to
have that pill.
And then two weeks later, the state government would like to make you
come back for a second medically unnecessary state-ordered vaginal probing
after the first one. Go ahead and imagine that job. Go ahead and imagine
the person who`s job it`s going to be to try to do that, to try to convince
Indiana women to come back in for a second medically unnecessary vaginal
Hi, it`s Ann from the clinic. The governor insists that you come back
in and get probed again. No, no, no, it`s not your doctor that wants it.
It`s the governor. Do you know Governor Mike Pence?
How about it, Mike Pence? Do you want to be the new governor
ultrasound when Bob McDonnell retires the title? This time with 100
percent more unwanted vaginal probing.
If you`re looking for a good argument as to why you should be able as
governor of Indiana to force the women of your state to be vaginally probed
twice for no medical reason, maybe the legislative director of your local
anti-abortion group in Indiana can help.
Here`s how she answered critics this week, who say that the forced
ultrasound requirements might be a little invasive. She told Indiana
public radio, quote, “I got pregnant vaginally. Something else could come
in my vagina for a medical test. That wouldn`t be that intrusive to me.
So you find that argument a little ridiculous.”
There`s the argument for it in Indiana. If you`ve ever had anything
in there, you can`t really object to the governor putting something in
there, too – twice, against your will. We contacted Governor Mike Pence`s
office today. It`s Pence. P-E-N-C-E.
We contacted Governor Pence`s office today to ask whether he supports
the double vaginal probe bill that just passed a senate committee this week
with all Republican votes. We have not heard back from his office yet.
But oh, boy, will we let you know if we do.
MADDOW: When is a buck 75 worth a whole lot more than a buck 75? An
overwhelming majority, a really, really overwhelming majority of Americans
appear to know the answer to that question in their bones.
And I will bet that former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank
knows it as well. Barney Frank is here tonight in person for the
MADDOW: 1998 was a midterm election year, and in that midterm
election in 1998, voters in Washington state got the chance to vote for a
rise in the minimum wage. It passed. It not only passed, that rise in the
minimum wage got more votes than any other thing or any other person on the
ballot that year.
Democratic Senator Patty Murray that year got re-elected by 16 points.
But the minimum wage got 150,000 more votes than she did. It was wildly
In 2004, in Florida, constitutional amendment on the ballot that year
to raise the minimum wage in that state passed with 71 percent of the vote,
71 percent. Its margin of victory was 42 points. That was Florida in
In 2006, it happened all over the place. Minimum wage increases
passed in six states. Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Ohio.
In Colorado the margin of victory was six points. In Ohio, it was 14
points. In Arizona, it won by 30 points. In Nevada, it won by almost 40
points. This is the kind of margin that rises in the minimum wage pass by,
when you ask people to vote on them.
In Montana in 2004 the minimum wage increase passed by a 45-point
margin. It got almost 75 percent of the vote. You know, because Montana`s
so liberal. Just like Missouri is, a bunch of commies out there, right?
In Missouri the margin was even bigger than Montana that year. The
minimum wage increase passed in Missouri by a 52-point margin. I`m going
to let that sink in for a second. The minimum wage initiative passed in
red state Missouri by 52 points.
And in those states that were voting on raises in the minimum wage
that year, woe be unto the anti-minimum wage Republicans who were running
against Democratic candidates who are on the winning side of that issue.
That year was the year we elected now familiar Senate faces like Ohio`s
Sherrod Brown, where he took the side of the minimum wage increase that won
by 14 points. Also John tester, we are took the side of the minimum wage
increase that won by 45 points.
Claire McCaskill, who was on the winning side of that 52-point spread
in Missouri and who never let her Republican opponent squirm away from that
fact for one minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Tell Missourians yes or no, how
will you vote on the minimum wage proposal that will be on the ballot that
you will be voting on in three weeks. Yes or no?
You`re going to have to cast a vote in two weeks on whether or not we
raise the minimum wage in Missouri. Will you vote yes or will you vote no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not taken a position on the minimum wage
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. Mem, mem, mem, mem. Not taken a position. Maybe you
didn`t, sir, but voters in your state certainly did.
And Claire McCaskill beat you. Claire McCaskill squeaked by with one
of the most unlikely victories in the `06 election. She unseated a
Republican incumbent senator, in part because of the incredible popularity
of the minimum wage increase with which she shared the ballot in Missouri
that year. It was after that performance in the `06 elections that then
President George W. Bush finally signed into law a federal increase in the
minimum wage. Last one we`ve had.
The opposition to raising the minimum wage is always the same
argument. It has been since the beginning of time. It`s going to kill
jobs, right? It`s going to reduce unemployment. It`s going to reduce
employment. It`s going to raise unemployment.
Look back at 1938. President Roosevelt signing the federal minimum
wage into law for the first time. The summer of `38. It wasn`t even above
the fold. But the objection was the same then as it is now. It`s going to
kill jobs. It`s the same objection we hear today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I wish we could just pass a law saying
everybody should make more money without any adverse consequences. The
problem is you`re costing jobs from those trying to get entry-level jobs.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`ve been dealing
with the minimum wage issue for the last 28 years that I`ve been in elected
office. And when you raise the price of employment, guess what happens?
You get less of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That has been the argument since the dawn of time. You can`t
have a minimum wage. You certainly can`t raise the minimum wage, because
that will mean employers will higher fewer people. Unemployment will go
up. You will cost people their jobs. It`s always the same argument.
But here`s the thing. We can check to see if that argument works,
because we`ve done this before a zillion times. At various times we have
both established a minimum wage and raised the minimum wage in states like
Florida, in Colorado, in Arizona, in Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Ohio,
Alaska, Kansas, just about anywhere in the country. And when it happens
federally we can compare before and after and when it happens between
states we can compare what happens.
This isn`t a hypothetical question. We can look at the cause and
effect of these policies. This is empirical. This is knowable.
And here`s what we know – raising the minimum wage has little to no
effect on low wage employment. It is true. It`s an empirical thing. You
can check it. And people do.
One major study, a famous one, done in the mid `90s right after
minimum wage increases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, this is considered
to be the gold standard in this field of empirical research, resulted in
this. The results seem to contradict the standard prediction that a rise
in the minimum wage will reduce unemployment.
Another big study done about ten years found the same thing. The
dotted line on this chart is employment growth, in other words, finding new
jobs in the states where the minimum wage was above the federal level. In
other words, states where they had increased the minimum wage.
You see the relationship between those two? You see how it`s keeping
one all the other states? Right. Exactly.
And last week, the Center for Economic and Policy Research published
what was essentially a study of studies, a meta-analysis of the body of
work that is out there, studies of the connection between minimum wage
increases and employment.
What did that meta-analysis find? Well, there`s a clue in the title.
They titled their conclusions “Why does the minimum wage have no
discernible effect on employment?”
Raising the minimum wage doesn`t hurt jobs. It basically does not
have the effect of costing jobs, period. It`s checkable. And if you check
that, that is what you will find.
So just in case we want to make policy based on data, there is data.
And just in case we don`t want to make policy based on data and instead we
want to make policy just based on politics – well, it turns out that
people really, really like the idea of raising the minimum wage, a lot.
A new poll by the Pew Research Center in the “USA Today” that`s out
today finds that support for President Obama`s proposal to raise the
minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to 9 bucks an hour, support for that idea
stands at 71 percent. Nothing is that popular in our country. But this
Barney Frank joins us next.
MADDOW: The interview tonight is Barney Frank. Yay. He`s here next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`ve been dealing
with the minimum wage issue for the last 28 years that I`ve been in elected
office. And when you raise the price of employment, guess what happens.
You get less of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Both over the last 28 years and even outside that time period
that statement is not true. It`s a checkable thing about the minimum wage.
Joining us now for “The Interview” is Barney Frank, former Democratic
congressman from the great commonwealth of Massachusetts.
It is nice to see you.
FORMER REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you. Nice to be
MADDOW: I miss you in Congress. Do you miss you in Congress?
FRANK: Yes and no. I had asked my governor if I could get that
interim appointment because in this particular next few months some of the
most important decisions we could make are going to get made. But I`m a
little worn out and I`ll be honest, when the phone rings now it is almost
certainly not going to be a crisis. It`s not going to be some problem that
I have to try to cope with.
So – and the other thing is I want to write. I`m spending a couple
days in New York talking to publishers. And the blank page has always been
my greatest enemy. And if I have any excuse to avoid filling it, I take
it. And I really want to write new things I want to talk about. And I
just couldn`t do those if I was still on a day-to-day job.
MADDOW: Well, I wanted to distract you by being here tonight because
of the minimum wage proposal that was in the State of the Union.
That was one of the surprise policy proposals the president made.
It`s wildly popular. The Pew study that came out today said that 71
percent of Americans like the idea. Even Republicans like the idea.
Independents hugely like the idea.
Do you think it`s possible?
FRANK: Yes. But it`s going to take more work. This is one of
several questions that`s going to decide whether the extremely right-wing
Republicans continue their grip on the party or whether conservatives who
are very conservative but still in touch with reality can do it. Because
remember, in `95 or `96 with – under the Gingrich/Dick Armey Congress,
Bill Clinton was able to force them to raise the minimum wage and there
were those referenda you talked about.
You know, one of the key points that ought to be made and one of the
reasons why older studies and the older viewers – we no longer – the
minimum wage does not apply very much in manufacturing. When you are
dealing with manufacturing, which is done across national lines, there
could be some negative economic effect in terms of transferring out. We
know people are ready to move jobs out.
But overwhelmingly today, minimum wage jobs are in the service
industries. I mean, if the restaurant down the street is charging a little
more because of wages, you can`t go to Malaysia for a sandwich. And so
it`s food service, the supermarkets and restaurants.
If you look at where the minimum wage has an effect, it is in those
areas in America that are really not subject to foreign competition,
because they`re not making things. They are performing a service for which
people need to be physically present. This is part of the test of whether
or not the Republicans are going to continue to resist.
There`s one other important thing about the minimum wage, and I`m very
glad the president did it. A lot of people pay lip service to the fact we
need to reduce inequality in America, both for macroeconomic reasons, it`s
bad for the economy if you don`t have spending power and for fairness.
At the same time, we are being told that we have to do deficit
reduction that, quote, “makes everyone share the pain”, so that people with
nothing will share the pain, along with rich people. The minimum wage is a
reminder that we can`t put it on hold while we deal with the deficit.
MADDOW: On the – on the specific arguments on the minimum wage, how
did it happen in the `90s under President Clinton with Republican Congress,
but also with President Bush in 2007, after the `06 midterms where he lost
so badly, how did it happen that we got the last two raises in minimum
wages that we got?
FRANK: Well, remember in `07, we the Democrats were in control of
Congress. The model that you have to look to really is 1996 I think it was
when you had a Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican
And Newt Gingrich is not an ideologue. Newt Gingrich likes to win
things. It has been a while since he has, but he – it was at that point
still on a roll. You had Dick Armey who was the majority leader who was
dead set against it, et cetera, et cetera. But the Republicans gave into
I think for some of the Republicans, this problem, again, I`m not
talking about the Tea Party extremist, but the sort of more traditional
conservatives, they keep telling people to go to work. We don`t want these
lazy people. We don`t want the 47 percent, the takers.
Well, how do you turn around and say yes, people should go to work but
they shouldn`t make enough money to live on?
Again, this is a subset of the most interesting dynamic in the America
today. Like, will the (INAUDIBLE) beat the Tea Party? Or as I`ve said,
will the meanies beat the crazies? We are rooting for the meanies.
MADDOW: Is there – it`s not just on these issues, but overall, are
there numbers where the poling becomes so overwhelming that the resistance
crumble simply in the face of public popularity?
I`m thinking about it on the gun issue, in terms of universal
background checks, 92 percent support for universal background checks. We
don`t know where the Republicans are going to stand on that. Immigration
has also very, very high numbers. We are seeing 71 percent support for
raising minimum wage.
Is there – is there a tipping point when public opinion just becomes
FRANK: Yes, in this sense the key is John Boehner is the guy on this
part here. You get to the point where most Republicans fear of them are
not moveable on these issues. But enough Republicans or minority of
Republicans joining with almost all Democrats on these issues would win.
And what you got was a rule promulgated by Dennis Hastert, the last
Republican speaker, that he wouldn`t bring any bill in the floor, the
speaker has absolute control on what comes to the floor, it`s virtually
impossible to force his happened. He wouldn`t a bill in the floor unless
it`s got a majority of Republicans.
Well, there is no chance that any of these things will get a majority
of Republicans. There is a good chance if brought to the floor, there will
be a 30-40 even 25 Republicans now would be enough to pass it.
So my view is that there will be on both the minimum wage and on some
of these other issues enough – background checks and maybe the magazine
restriction, there would be a majority in the House to pass it. So,
there`s not a tipping point for Republicans, but enough Republicans who are
in districts that could go the other way in certain states. Yes, they
would vote for it. But then the question would be whether Boehner would
hold up the bill.
The counter pressure is people going to be saying, you`re doing great
damage to the Republicans. And when he does that, and I have used this
argument and others, that`s an argument against electing even the most
moderate Republican, if you happen to be a liberal, because the only
important thing he`s going to do is step over John Boehner. And if John
Boehner has a chokehold on this legislation, (INAUDIBLE) out of majority,
then the argument for any moderate Republicans, that`s ultimately Scott
Brown, (a), lost to Elizabeth Warren and, (b), he decided not to run again.
MADDOW: The counting on the indiscipline on the Republican side in
order to get popular things done is going to be a fun sport for the next
couple of years while we watch that happen.
Barney Frank, former Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, now
happily retired – it`s really nice have you here, sir. Thank you.
FRANK: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Programming note, first I want to say thank you if you tuned
in this past Monday to watch the new MSNBC documentary about how the last
administration managed to trick the country into starting the Iraq war. It
turns out, we now know, that “Hubris” was the most watched documentary here
at MSNBC in the last decade, which is amazing. Very exciting for all of us
here on that, especially for David Corn and Michael Isikoff, on whose
reporting the documentary was based.
So, thank you. Its success is really exciting. It turns the way this
business works, honestly, it means commercially, there will be more of
where that came from in coming months and years. It`s really great.
Also, an announcement partly because of that success, and the
continued interest in the doc, MSNBC has decided that we will re-air it.
We are going to be showing “Hubris” again on Friday, March 15th at 9:00
So, if you missed it or if you want to catch it again, or if there`s
anybody you know who hasn`t it and you think ought to see it, this is the
date to put on your calendar, Friday, March 15th. So, there`s that.
And there is this other thing. This is my book. “Drift”, it came out
last year, which is awesome. It did five weeks at number one on the “New
York Times” bestseller list, which is still sort of mind blowing. But now,
it is coming out in paperback form. Same great product, new light
It comes out a week from Tuesday on March 5th. And in addition to a
chance to buy the book, if you want to, the reason I`m saying this now is
that it also means you have a chance to see me in person if you want to,
because I`m doing a little book tour. If you go to MaddowBlog.com, we
posted the dates of my book tour, along with links to each event`s Web site
so you can get tickets if you want to.
The first two stops I`m making are in Texas and Austin, in South by
Southwest. And then in Houston, then on to southern California and
northern California – hi, mom – and then Atlanta and Miami and western
Massachusetts and Tucson, and Chicago and Philly and D.C. All the details
are at Maddowblog.com. There are links to get tickets in all that stuff.
I promise I will not bug you about this over and over again, at least
not that much. But I thought you might want to know about how to get
tickets. So there you have it. That`s very embarrassing.
All right. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Have a good night.
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