The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/31/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ari. Thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Ten years ago, exactly 10 years ago, the entire country was absolutely
riveted to a story that at the core was actually a very intensely private
and personal story, even though the entire country was paying attention to
There`s a “Time” magazine poll done at this time. Again, this is
exactly ten years ago, late March 2005. And in that “Time” magazine poll,
76 percent of the country said they were either very closely or some what
closely following this specific story, this specific case of this woman in
Florida – this woman, at age 26.
She collapsed under medically murky circumstances, she ultimately fell
into a coma and she never came out of it. She is totally nonresponsive for
years in what was called a persistent vegetative state.
And she was in that persistent state for a decade, for 10 years,
before a court ruled that her husband, as her legal guardian, could make
the decision after a decade in the state, that her feeding tube could be
removed. He said she had been clear about her wishes before she became
ill. She would have never wanted to be kept alive artificially with a
feeding tube, especially for more than 10 years.
So, the husband got the court ruling that her feeding tube could be
removed. And again, ultimately, within a couple of years, more than three
quarters of the country was following every twist and turn in this case.
Everybody had an opinion on it.
When they polled nationally, they polled the country on whether or not
that court was right when the court ruled that the husband could remove her
feeding tube after she had been a decade in this persistent vegetative
state, only 7 percent of the country didn`t have an opinion on that court
ruling. Everybody was following this.
And by a huge margin, by more than 20 points, people believed that
what the court had decided there was right, that the husband as her
guardian should be allowed to take that feeding tube out. The court made
the right decision. Americans believed that by a 24-point margin.
Politicians however did not agree with the public on that, and the
governor of the state in which this woman lived, the governor decided he
was going to get very deeply personally involved in this case. He decided
that he should be the one to make these decisions about the end of her life
and her health care instead of the woman`s husband.
The governor of the state pressured his own state legislature to pass
a rush law that would give him personally as governor power over that
woman`s medical decision-making. And then having pressed the legislature
to give him that power, the governor then signed the law that gave him that
power, signed the law. He then immediately issued an executive order.
And immediately after issuing the executive order, the personal
intervention by the governor, right after he signed the executive order, an
ambulance was dispatched to the hospice to remove that woman from the
hospice where they were trying to make her comfortable as she died. And
the ambulance extracted her from the hospice and drove her to a hospital
Remarkable thing for that governor to have done, right? I mean,
getting the legislature to do it. But the governor saying do this for me,
signing the law – I mean, that`s politically remarkable. That`s morally
It turns out to have been legally remarkable as well, and a judge
quickly overturned what the governor did. Quickly overturned the law in
which the governor gave himself this power for that woman`s medical
So, the judge overturned the law. It ended up getting appeal all the
way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court let that lower court ruling
stand. So, the law was overturned.
And you would think that would be the end of it, right? You would
think the decision making over this individual woman`s care would then
revert back to her guardian, her husband.
But it turns out that the governor was not done yet. Even after
pushing for that law that made him effectively her guardian, even after
signing that law and issuing the executive order and then sending the
balance to take that woman physically out of the hospice, and after getting
that law by which he did that, struck down by the judge and the Supreme
Court say not to him as well, he still had more of a plan. He went to
Washington and started lobbying Congress to get involved in the medical
decisions about this one woman`s death.
And this particular governor had a leg up in making this pitch to
Congress because he had one very, very, very key contact in Washington,
which is that his brother was president of the United States at the time.
And so, Jeb Bush was successful in getting Congress to intervene
directly in this case in his state. He got Congress to pass a law moving
jurisdiction for the Terri Schiavo case out of Florida state courts and
into the federal court system. He got his brother to sign that law as
He also got members of Congress, including Republican House Majority
Leader Tom DeLay, and leader of the Senate Republicans Bill Frist. He got
them to call Terri Schiavo as a witness in Congress. They sent Terri
Schiavo a subpoena, ordering her to appear in Washington D.C.
This is a woman who at that point had been in a persistent vegetative
state for nearly 15 years. But they subpoenaed her to be a witness in
Congress. The idea was apparently that they though maybe if they called
her as a witness in the House and Senate – they issued subpoenas for her
to appear they would maybe evoke federal witness protection laws to yank
her out of the hospice again.
And the American public was absolutely horrified by what they were
doing. Congress called a special session of Congress specifically to pass
that law about moving jurisdiction about how the Schiavo case would be
heard and take it away from the state courts and make it a federal issue.
Here`s the “Time” magazine poll from that time. This is amazing.
Regardless of your opinion on the Schiavo case, do you think it was right
for Congress to intervene in this matter or not? By a 55-point margin,
people say it was not right for Congress to intervene in this matter.
And again, people were so riveted to the story. Maybe the most
remarkable thing about the polling on this issue at the time is that there
was nobody who didn`t have an opinion on it. I mean, in that last
question, the number of – the percentage of people unsure about it, that
didn`t have an opinion, that`s at 5 percent. Everybody had an opinion,
right, because everybody in the country was riveted to the story.
And by 55-point margin, people were mortified by what Congress was
doing, by what was happening around this woman`s case. Was it right for
Congress to get involved? No, by this huge margin.
Another question, was it right for President Bush to sign the law
pushed by his brother? No, it was not right by a 40-point margin, right?
I mean, as the country recoiled in horror, these guys just went for it
anyway. Jeb Bush pushing every step of the way, and eventually, finally,
after that years long odyssey for that family, and that incredible direct
political intervention all the way through the state courts and federal
courts and Congress calling a special session and the president of the
United States personally getting involved and the woman being subpoenaed
while she is in a vegetative state because they basically want to steal
her, I mean, eventually after all of that – finally, on this day, 10 years
ago, Terri Schiavo finally passed away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I wish I could have done more. That`s
the sadness in my heart is that the duties that I have I take seriously,
and for the last year and a half, this has been a front burner issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jeb Bush speaking 10 years ago tonight in 2005. It`s hard to
overstate how closely the country was following this story and how upset
people were by this story.
Look at this, this is again from that “Time” magazine poll. Do you
think that Congress and the president`s intervention had more to do with
their values and principles or politics? Answer by a 40-point margin
Americans said it had more to do with politics, 40 points.
Look at this. If you`re a member of Congress who voted to go along
with this intervention in the case would that make you more likely to vote
for your member of Congress or less likely? A clear majority said less
likely to vote to reelect to their member of Congress, like more than 30-
point margin, 33-point margin, make people less likely to vote to re-elect
their member of Congress.
This is what was going on in the country ten years ago today.
Well, here is how today started in politics and the story riveting the
country right now. This is one of those things that is not captured at all
by the transcript of the event. I tend to just read transcripts. In this
case, when this happened, everybody in my office was like, no, no, you have
to see it in camera. The transcript doesn`t do it justice.
When you see it happen on camera, in real time, this was kind of an
amazing moment. You are familiar with the concept of an uncomfortable
silence, a pregnant pause.
The governor of Indiana is pushing those terms beyond their standard
definitions in today`s news. Watch how he started his press conference
today. We did not edit this at all. This is raw tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Thank you all for coming.
It`s been a tough week here in the Hoosier State. But we`re going to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor Mike Pence uses the dramatic pause as a gravitas
trick, he always has. It`s a thing he does in his speech pattern to appear
Turns out you can push that too far. Once he did get going today,
Governor Pence announced a new effort to try to tamp down the national fire
storm that has engulfed his political career and his state since he signed
a law a few days ago which would effectively overturn local
antidiscrimination laws throughout Indiana and give businesses the green
light to refuse service on the basis of sexual orientation or any other
factor if they said their religious beliefs were what compelled them to
Since he signed that law, a de facto economic boycott has been
launched against Indiana. Many of the states – many of the country`s
largest employers saying they not only oppose what Governor Pence just did,
but it is going to factor into their business decisions about whether or
not and how they operate in Indiana in the future.
Of the largest companies that are already headquartered in that state,
a number of them are expressing their objections to the bill, saying they
want it changed or fixed or repealed. It will effect their business
decisions about the state.
The Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament is this freaking
weekend scheduled to be in Indianapolis, right? It`s this weekend. It`s
definitely too late to cancel for an event that big, but there are
definitive calls to cancel it any way. Despite how disruptive it would be.
There are calls to keep all major sporting events out of Indianapolis
henceforth, out of Indianapolis, out of anywhere else in Indiana, as long
as the state has the measure in place.
You have probably already seen this today but it is still stunning.
That`s the front page of the “Indianapolis Star” newspaper today, “Fix This
So, it has only been a few days, but Governor Mike Pence of Indiana
has gone from saying he was proud to sign the bill and there`s nothing
wrong with it, so saying he`s definitely not going to change parts of the
bill, to now saying, OK, we`ll figure out some way to change this bill.
Many critics of the bill do not think that this type of legislation
can be substantively changed enough to eliminate the concerns that it has
caused, many critics saying that the bill has to be scrapped. There`s
nothing left to it if you take away the legalized discrimination part of
But in the face of this national outcry, this uprising by even the
business world and Mike Pence having to sit there for 22 seconds saying
nothing until he can finally collect himself enough to say how hard this
week has been for him. And Mike Pence climbing down a little more each day
as his realization and his apparent regret grow about what he has done.
As all that happens, it turns out that all the 2016 presidential
contenders in the Republican Party like what he did. They`re all in
support of what Mike Pence did. Not even Mike Pence is in support of what
Mike Pence did anymore. But Bobby Jindal is, and Scott Walker is, and Rick
Ted Cruz put out this statement, “I`m proud to stand with Governor
Mike Pence. I want to commend Governor Mike Pence.”
Marco Rubio came out with his own amazing Rubio-esque statement in
which he says he stands with Mike Pence, too, and he explained why. He
said, no business should be able to deny service to anybody on the basis of
sexual orientation but businesses definitely shouldn`t have to provide
services to people whose sexual orientation they don`t like, right? OK.
So, Marco Rubio doesn`t understand why he stands with Mike Pence but
he says he stands with Mike Pence.
And Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he stands with Mike Pence, too.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BUSH: I think Governor Pence has done the right thing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Even the head of the National Republican Party, Reince
Priebus, put out a statement today saying that as head of the National
Republican Party, he thinks that what Mike Pence did in Indiana was the
And so, there are kind of these amazing parallels. You might remember
a few weeks ago, we reported on Reince Priebus, and the Republican National
Committee taking a trip, an all expenses paid trip for RNC members with a
group called the American Family Association. The American Family
Association, their representatives have called for gay people to be put to
death. They`ve called for Jews and other non-Christians to be forcibly
converted to Christianity if they want to immigrate to this country. They
said if you are a Muslim, you have no right to practice your religion in
It`s an out there group. And the National Republican Party and Reince
Priebus took this trip with them last month or two months ago. This group
is called the American Family Association.
Well, that`s the American Family Association today. Here`s the
American Family Association today, also putting out an action alert telling
it`s members to please call Mike Pence and thank him for what he did.
Thank him for what he has done in Indiana. Please let him know this law
shouldn`t be changed under any circumstances. That`s the American Family
The American Family Association ten years ago was here in Tallahassee
holding a rally outside Jeb Bush`s office when he was governor of Florida
thanking him for all that he had done to intervene in Terri Schiavo`s
These are two very different cases and two very different issues. But
it is a clear as day reminder of how conservative politics works in this
country at a very different level from public opinion. How conservative
politics works within the Republican Party specifically, how it manifests
when Republican politicians are either in power or trying to be.
And yes in the Terri Schiavo case, 10 years ago and the Indiana legal
discrimination case today, the rest of the country may have a distinct
revulsion for what is going on, for what politicians are doing. The rest
of the country may have a very clear and emotional take about what is going
on and what is wrong with what these politicians are doing, even to an
overwhelming degree – 30, 40, 50-point margins.
But inside the conservative movement, they are listening to different
voices. They`re hearing different people and if enough of them are in
power, they get their way, as the country watches slack jawed and shocked
and they don`t care.
Joining us now is Tom Lobianco, political analyst for the
Mr. Lobianco, thanks very much for joining us this evening. I know
it`s a very busy time.
TOM LOBIANCO, INDIANANPOLIS STAR: It is. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, Governor Pence today not for the first time addressed the
public outcry across the country about this law. The front page of your
paper today with that very dramatic “Fix This Now” front page editorial
headline. What is – actually I should ask you first, what is the paper
asking for and does it seem like the paper`s editorial position is going to
That was one of the biggest statements I think that I`ve seen from the
“Indianapolis Star.” I mean, plastering it across the front page like
that. I`ve seen that all across the nation. It was a huge statement and
very concerted statement, too.
You know, at this point, it`s moved past what the law might actually
do to this perception and that`s what pence was trying to talk about today
and did so to a degree. That`s what the paper is talking about too.
It has to move past – Indianapolis has done so much, look at the
Super Bowl in 2012, all their efforts to bring the Final Four. It has to
move past that and the perception is what is killing right now, and there
has to be a fix.
And it`s whether it`s repealing it – that`s what the paper editorial
board is trying to say here. It has to happen and it has to happen now.
MADDOW: In terms of the legislative session and the timing and
Governor Pence saying he wants something on his desk by the end of the week
that would change the law but not repeal it, do you have informed
expectations about what actually seems possible? What might happen?
LOBIANCO: Sure. At this point, there`s a couple of questions about
what we`ll actually see. It sounds like there`s a real fight happening
right now between the social conservatives and some of your more moderate
Republicans inside the House Republican caucus and inside the Senate
Republican caucus in Indiana.
And this is where the real fight is right now. It sounds like there
might be a preamble that talks about what exactly the law is supposed to do
but a lot of the business types really want to say, hey, that`s not enough.
You have to go into the statute and explain specifically in the law that
gay and lesbian residents will not be discriminated against.
MADDOW: Governor Pence writing in the “Wall Street Journal” last
night and for today`s paper that he`s personally – he personally finds
discrimination repellent. That if he knew of a business denying service to
gay and lesbian customers, that he would not eat at that restaurant, only
highlighting the fact that there aren`t those kind of legal protections,
that that would be the only recourse right now in Indiana.
Do you think ultimately this is going to create more momentum to get
an inclusive civil rights law, which it doesn`t have, even regardless of
this new law?
LOBIANCO: This is interesting. The national backlash on this story
which is – on this law is really fascinating. You know, this is the same
– inside Indiana, these are the same sides that we saw fighting in 2014
over the gay marriage ban. And at that point, it is surprise victory.
Supporters of gay marriage and your business types, your business moderate
Republicans, they really won a huge victory. You had Eli Lilly as a huge
player in Indiana, and Cummins, the engine manufacturer down in Columbus
where Mike Pence is from. Both come out strongly against that.
What happened here, however, 2015, a lot of people saw this as a,
quote/unquote, “consolation prize” to the social conservatives that lost
last year, and I don`t think anyone, Democrat or Republican, saw this
LOBIANCO: And they really have been scrambling to figure out how do
you keep the actual businesses happy while also keeping the base, the
social conservative base that you just gave this consolation prize to happy
as well. And that`s been a huge struggle.
MADDOW: That`s going to get all the more complicated now that all the
national base interest groups and candidates are trying to court them for
the presidential race and other things are weighing in and saying, you
know, no compromise, no surrender.
It`s going to be fascinating the rest of the week on this issue. It`s
going to be fascinating to watch.
Tom Lobianco, political analyst for the “Indianapolis Star” – Tom,
thanks for being here.
LOBIANCO: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. It is going to be fascinating to watch what happens in
Indiana. Seeing all the candidates jump in today totally changed what
Republicans perceived to be the momentum on this issue, even as it feels
the same to everybody else in the country. Amazing.
All right. The interview tonight, I kid you not, Massachusetts
Senator Elizabeth Warren. She`s live here in the studio. I know, right?
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Did I mention that the who`s person here for the interview
tonight is Elizabeth Warren? Did I mention that? Because she is the
actual Senator Elizabeth Warren. I checked the green room. It`s really
her. I swear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To win the presidency, the Bush campaign needs
to suck up cash like a Texas twister, and so far, it`s on track.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Other candidates complained Bush has turned the
Republican Party into his personal ATM, leaving everyone else starved for
cash. By the end of this month, Bush`s war chest may top $20 million, more
than the rest of the field combined.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Opponents complain Bush`s strategy is to
overwhelm everyone else and drive them out of the race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By all accounts, the numbers are staggering and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve never seen so much money flow into a
campaign this quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Te question now is, can other candidates survive?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No. Spoiler alert: no. They could not survive.
That strategy really worked. That suck up all the campaign money
before anybody else can strategy was how George W. Bush won the Republican
nomination for president in the year 2000. George W. Bush raise sod much
money, so much more money than all the other candidates and raised it so
early on the race that nobody could get anywhere near him.
And now, 16 years later, that is the same strategy being employed by
his brother Jeb trying to obtain the same office – smoother them in money,
overwhelm all would be rivals with how much more money you have.
Now, the Jeb folks get annoyed when you point this out. When you
point out this is the same strategy his brother used to win the nomination.
The last time someone from his nuclear family won the presidency.
Governor Jeb Bush has explained explicitly that he doesn`t like the
comparisons to his family. He wants to be seen in politics as his own man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I love my brother. I love my dad. Actually love my mother as
well. I hope that`s OK. And I admire their service to the nation and the
difficult decisions they had to make but I`m my own man and my views are
shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jeb Bush saying last month that even though he loves them as
family, when it comes to politics he does not want to be compared to his
brother or his father. He says, “I am my own man”.
And then pretty much the next thing his campaign did after that speech
is that he got his mom to start asking people for money on his behalf.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush putting out the fund-raising appeal for her
son Jeb. Then, right after that, they had Jeb Bush`s brother start asking
people for money on Jeb`s behalf, former President George W. Bush, doing a
fund-raiser for him.
And last week, Jeb Bush`s father started asking people for money on
his behalf. Former President Poppy Bush sending out a fund-raising appeal
on behalf of Jeb.
When the great Steve Benen wrote this phenomenon up for Maddow Blog
last week, Steve joked at the time, his joke was, who is next? George P.
Bush? Well, lo and behold, yes, George P. Bush, Jeb Bush`s son, now the
Texas land commissioner is also now fund-raising for his dad`s run for the
So, yes, Jeb Bush is his own man. When it comes time to consider Bush
politically, definitely do not consider him as just the latest member of
this very, very powerful political family to seek higher office. And in
the meantime, every member of his powerful political family would like to
have a word with you about sending Jeb some money.
Those recent overtures by members of the Bush family come at a
critical time because today is the last day of the fund-raising quarter.
It`s only money that comes in by midnight tonight that presidential
contenders can count as having raised in this first quarter, and they have
to report how much they have raised.
And the Bush running for president PAC is clearly going to use this
first quarter deadline to try to blow all other mainstream contenders out
of the race through sheer financial intimidation.
What we`re about to hit in 2 1/2 hours, at midnight tonight is going
to be the key test, first key test, in the race to be the next president of
the United States. The candidates that are trying to seem not just like
fringe long shots, but like actual formidable viability candidates, guys
like Rand Paul or Chris Christie or Scott Walker. If they turn in fund-
raising totals for this first quarter that looked more like what fringe
candidates would raise, it`s really, really going to hurt them.
And yes, it`s just money. It`s not everything. Ha! But this is a
really, really important first hurdle in this case.
Here`s the thing though for this, all-important final push up to the
deadline, the final money push before the end of this all important shock-
and-awe intimidation first quarter, the George P. Bush final fund-raising
pitch for Jeb, right before the deadline for the crucial first quarter, it
had a weird topic. That fund-raising pitch picked a really weird selling
point to try to scare up donations for Jeb Bush and I mean it when I say
Look who George P. Bush has his dad running against, Hilary and
Elizabeth Warren. Together, we will show Hillary and Elizabeth Warren that
they`re in for one heck of a fight. That`s how it is – I didn`t edit out
Hillary Clinton`s last name. That`s how it`s written. Hillary and
Elizabeth Warren – like they`re sisters or they`re married. Hilary Warren
and Elizabeth Warren, you know the Warren twins.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has been emphatic about the
fact that she isn`t running for president. There is no lack of clarity
around that topic at all, and stop pretending that there is.
But the push for her to run has always been viewed as a left wing
push, right? From the liberals that love her and some of that is
definitely still going on. Some of that actually had quite a resurgence
But the “I`m my own man Bush family” super PAC, they`re not liberals.
They don`t have the same interests or instincts but there`s her name on
their fund-raising pitch, even though she is not running.
It is clear. It`s been clear for a long time that Elizabeth Warren
isn`t running for president, but what is still really interesting and
unanswered is why it is such a powerful idea to the left and to the right,
to pretty much everybody involved in national politics that she could
conceivably run even though she doesn`t want to.
Why does the prospect of her running hold so much perceived power for
all parties? And perhaps most importantly, how can she use that to get
more of what she wants, for the American people?
Senator Elizabeth Warren joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There`s a lot of talk
lately about how Dodd-Frank isn`t perfect. There`s a lot of talk coming
from Citigroup about how Dodd-Frank isn`t perfect.
So, let me say this to anyone listening at Citi – I agree with you.
Dodd-Frank isn`t perfect. It should have broken you into pieces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking on the Senate
floor December 12th.
Since then, if you have been wondering what happens when a sitting
U.S. senator says something like that about one of the most powerful
corporations in the country on the floor of the Senate, if you have been
wondering what the equal and opposite reaction to something like that is –
well, “Reuters” reported that on Friday, quote, “Big Wall Street banks are
so upset with Warren`s call for them to be broken up that some have
discussed holding campaign donations to Senate Democrats.” Plural. Not
And, you know, that is to be expected, right? You get a populist
fiery senator with a huge grassroots following, saying that banks are using
their power and influence over Washington in ways that are bad for average
people, Washington should put a stop to it – you expect the banks will be
mad about that. So, you know, she acts, they react.
But it`s not just a conversation between these two actors. It`s not
like ping-pong or tennis where two people are hitting the proverbial ball
back and forth. It turns out, it`s more like a nuclear reaction, where a
careening atom like her starts stuff happening all over the place, because
after “Reuters” reported this action by the banks, that they were going to
punish all Democratic Senate candidates unless the Democratic Party figure
out how to shut up Elizabeth Warren, she didn`t, you know, cower. She
responded very aggressively.
She sent out a fund-raising e-mail saying, “The big banks have issued
a threat. It is up to us to fight back.” She sent another response of
similar order the next day. In so doing, she raised over $100,000. Bingo,
not because she got somebody to give her $100,000 but because she found a
lot of people to give her a very small amount of money and, you know what?
It adds up.
And the question is whether or not a political juggernaut, like
Senator Elizabeth Warren and a Democratic Party that increasingly seems to
believe in her message and her causes, whether they can win these fights,
right, whether they can win these kinds of structural fights about
unrigging the system as she describes it.
And the question is how best to try to win those things. I mean, what
is the best venue to fight those fights in?
Senator Elizabeth Warren`s job right now is working, honestly, as a
very junior senator in the Republican-controlled institution of the United
States Senate, and that`s part of why there`s a clamor to persuade to her
run for president, which she says she will not do and I believe her. But
what`s the next question.
Joining us now for the interview is Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat
Her book “A Fighting Chance” is just out in paperback, with a new
afterword that has a dramatic story in it, about a bank CEO.
Senator Warren, thank you for being here.
WARREN: Thanks for having me. It`s good to be here.
MADDOW: Is the United States Senate a good place to work for somebody
that wants to do the kinds of things you want to do?
MADDOW: Are you getting stuff done?
WARREN: Yes. And, you know, that`s the part I like. Look, sometimes
what you try to do is you go for the big pieces that are going to move the
ocean liner a whole lot, 15 degrees, 20 degrees.
We need to refinance student loan rates. We need to make sure that
Social Security is secure into the future and expand the benefits. We need
to do equal pay for equal work. We need to raise the minimum wage. No one
should work full time and still live if poverty.
Those are big pieces, and that`s what you`ve got to get out there and
fight for. Did we win today? No. But we`ll come back tomorrow and the
next day and the next day, until we do win these, because these are things
we need to win.
But there are a lot of tools in the tool box. And so, part of this is
about – you do the pieces that aren`t in the headline. You do the pieces
about pushing the agencies to pick up the tools that are available to them
– the laws that are within their power – and get them to use them.
You know, you sit in the United States Senate. where I sit, we`ve got
oversight over all those banking regulators. I`m over in the Health
Committee, Health, Education, Labor and Pension.
WARREN: That means we`ve got oversight over the Department of
Education that`s administering those student loans.
Yes, to get the student loans refinanced, that takes an act of
Congress. But to get the Department of Education to watch out for the
students, to be careful about who gets those contracts that go out there
and do the debt collection for the students, that`s about oversight.
The Labor Department – God bless them – is coming out with issues –
with rules to change the standard by which people who advise on pensions
and other investments, the standards they have to use so that they have to
use the best interests of the client and not take kickbacks themselves and
enrich themselves at the expense of their clients.
Those are the kind of differences. Just that labor one – we got the
right rule in place, it will save American families about $17 billion a
year that they`re losing, not because all investment advisors are bad but
some of them put themselves first. And you get a better rule and they`re
not allowed to do that.
So, there`s a lot to be done. That`s what I`m working on.
MADDOW: So, it`s – in that, your leverage is through the oversight
rule of the United States Senate. It`s also in part because the
administration has which is a Democratic administration, has appointees,
and some Senate confirmed and some not, running those agencies, who may be
more amenable to hearing your arguments and toward accepting your oversight
than they would if it were a Republican president.
I think the reason there`s so much clamor around the prospect of you
running for president and even though you don`t want to, is because I think
people are worried about the Democrats` chances of holding on to the
presidency in 2016 and going Republican, the administration going
Republican – especially if the Congress stays Republican – would put you
in a position with almost no leverage at all.
WARREN: Yes, you know, it is a scary thought to think about
Republicans because they have made in charge all around, because they have
made it so clear their vision of how to build a future. Their vision is:
fire all the cops. Not the cops on Main Street, the cops on Wall Street,
and they`re already leading the charge, some of them, to come back and say,
let`s punch holes in Dodd-Frank. Can you imagine that? I mean, this soon
after the financial crisis?
There are real differences in what we stand for and what we`re going
to get out there and fight for. But, you know, that`s what democracy is
about. That`s what we`re responsible for doing – making clear those
differences, making our case to the American people, putting the wind in
our own sail.
MADDOW: Do you think, strategically – I know you were not mostly a
political animal. You have – this is the first time you have run for
office. You came from a totally different background. But do you think
that the Democrats are running a higher risk of giving the White House back
to the Republicans if they don`t have a contested primary? If there isn`t
a hard fight to see who the nominee is and if it ends up being Secretary
Clinton essentially by acclimation?
WARREN: I do think for this one, you need a political pundit and
that`s not me.
WARREN: But I will tell you this – I think it is the issues that
truly divide us and I think it is the issues where we really need our
energy. You know, just – we did that vote-a-rama thing –
WARREN: – on Wednesday night, right?
MADDOW: Forty-three votes, right.
WARREN: Oh my gosh, we were voting until, you know, 3:30, 4:00 in the
But you really saw some clear markers laid down, which side we stand
on and which side they stand on. These are important markers.
One of the first votes we took was on the student loan bill, and the
Democrats stood strong and they said, yes, we`re going to refinance student
loans. You give us the chance. You put us in there. You put us in the
majority in the House and the Senate, and we`re going to bring down the
interest rate on student loans and that`s only the first step. We`ve got a
lot that we need to do around college affordability.
You know, as I talk about in my book, this is something that is really
personal to me. I graduated from a community college, a commuter college
that cost $50 a semester. Why? Because I grew up in an America that was
investing in its kids, investing in opportunity. That`s something we`ve
got to do.
One of the last votes we took on the vote-a-rama was about Social
WARREN: And on our side, we said we`re going to make the changes to
Social Security to keep it funded over the long-term and to expand Social
Security. We really need to make changes in Social Security.
The other side completely voted against both of those. OK, I`m ready
to go to the American people and say you have clear choices on the table
because this is the heart of it.
We talk a lot, you do, all of us do, about left and right, about
Democrat and Republican. But I want to be clear: we`re talking about
student loans. We`re talking Social Security.
WARREN: It`s everybody. We talk about the minimum wage. We talk
about accountability for those big financial institutions, right, that
think they`re going to run the world.
It`s Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians, vegetarians -
- you know, and they say those are the changes we want to make. What we`ve
got to do is persuade them we`re willing to get out there and make the
MADDOW: And compete on those grounds.
MADDOW: Can you stay just for another moment?
WARREN: You bet.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back with Senator Elizabeth Warren of
MADDOW: Look it`s weird, right? Two heads. She`s still here. We`ll
be right back with Elizabeth Warren in just a second. I know.
MADDOW: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is here with me again
in the studio. Her book “A Fighting Chance” is just out in paperback with
a new afterword.
One of the things I mentioned when I said hello was that Jeb Bush is
now raising money for his super PAC for running for president by saying
that he`s running against you, which must be very flattering. Senator
Scott Brown once raised money by saying he was running against me in
WARREN: I remember that.
MADDOW: But he ended up actually running against you.
WARREN: Against me.
MADDOW: Yes. How do –
WARREN: So, will Jeb end up running against you?
MADDOW: You know, I`m not going to deny it. It`s not like I haven`t
been thinking about it. Yes. Sorry.
What do you make of that, him using you that way?
WARREN: So, I think what he`s really trying to do is to say – you
know, there`s a whole scary, powerful energy out there, and you guys better
WARREN: And my view is – hey, listen, it`s like I said, we are out
there and we are getting strong, and we`re getting stronger every day.
Big financial institutions, you started out talking about that. Look,
I just want two things from the big banks. This is really true.
I want them not to cheat people. That`s why I think we need a strong
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, so they can`t cheat people on
mortgages and they can`t cheat them on credit cards, and they can`t cheat
them on checking accounts. We need a good, strong consumer agency.
The other thing I want them to do – I want them so they can`t wreck
the American economy. Too big to fail. You remember in 2008, how we were
all old when Secretary Paulson stepped out and said, in effect, these guys
are just too big, and I know you don`t like to bail out, but we`re going to
have to put all this money in and spend billions of dollars to bail them
out, because if we don`t, they`ll bring down the entire economy.
You know, they`re about a third bigger now than they were then. Last
July, August, the FDIC and the Federal Reserve Bank said, 11 of the largest
financial institutions in this country are so big, that if they started to
stumble, that either the American taxpayer would have to bail them out –
WARREN: – or they would bring down the entire economy.
So, we are – we`ve got to fight back against this. And when –
MADDOW: Is the Democratic Party any better at that than the
Republican Party, though? I mean, is the Democratic Party stronger on
that? I mean, I know this is your cause. I know there are a handful of
other economic populists in the Democratic Party who are high profile
But I think about – you know, Senator Schumer is ascending in the
leadership in the Democrats, he`s received a ton of Wall Street money, he`s
a New York senator, I get it, but he`s been not a critic.
I look at Senator Clinton as the expected nominee. I don`t see any
distance between her and Wall Street interests there.
Is there any difference between Democrats and Republicans on that?
WARREN: Look, we are the ones – we, the people, we the folks who say
we`re not going to put up with this anymore, look at where Americans are on
this. Americans say we have to rein in the biggest financial institutions.
We need some accountability on Wall Street.
Look, after that business from Citibank threatening the rest of the
Democrats, we posted a petition online, ElizabethWarren.com, posted a
petition just to say we`re not going to back down.
Here`s how I see this – we truly put the wind in our own sails. We
are the ones who stand up and say, no more of this! We are not going to
let the largest financial institutions in this country run this country.
Enough of Washington working great for those who can hire armies of
lobbyists and armies of lawyers. It is time for Washington to work for the
American people. That has to be what we get out and articulate, what we
run on, what we fight for and what we win on.
MADDOW: With the wind in our own sails.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, thank you. Thank you so
much. It`s great to have you here.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is important. In the corner where Paraguay, Argentina
and Bolivia all come together, there is a splotch of land that is the only
home to endangered pigs that are called peccaries. There are not many
peccaries left in the world.
But the Knoxville zoo in Tennessee has one. And her name is
Butternut. It`s hard to imagine her name is Butternut, but it`s true.
The other thing you need to know is Butternut just had babies. And
yes, it turns out everything is cute when it`s a baby, baby peccaries.
Look, just born Saturday at the Knoxville zoo. There`s nothing else
to tell you other than this, just on its own terms – adorable, brand new
baby hairy pigs. Their technical term, what they`re actually is peccalets.
MADDOW: Baby pigs aside, there are now three things you need to know
about the big, hairy international talks with Iran.
Number one, the pet poodle of Coco Chanel is believed to be buried on
the grounds of the hotel where the negotiations have been happening. I kid
you not. Coco Chanel`s dog.
Second thing to know is that the same hotel is so heavily spied on by
electronic surveillance that one of the complaints of people staying there
now during these negotiations is that it`s almost impossible to make a
normal cell phone call because the electronic spying is so intense.
Third and final thing to know is that the negotiations are still on.
The final deadline for having a deal is late June. The deadline for having
a framework for that was tonight, but they are pushing it now to see if
they can get closer to done.
Andrea Mitchell reporting from Switzerland tonight that the
negotiators seem for relying more and more on their nuclear experts, on
their scientists who are there at the talks as the talks get down to it.
We`re all watching. We`ll keep you posted as we learn more.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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.>