The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/4/2017
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: And there`s a lot more fight left to go and
I`m curious to see where this ends up. There are people on the right
warning that that is the path that we`ve been put on.
Xeni Jardin, thank you, as always, and Dan Savage, thank you.
DAN SAVAGE: Thank you.
XENI JARDIN: We`re going to fight for every single one of you, America.
HAYES: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us tonight.
Big show tonight. Congressman Adam Schiff is live here with us tonight,
looking forward to that.
We`ve also got one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act with
us here tonight to talk in some detail about the consequences today of this
huge political news out of Washington. Republicans this afternoon gleeful
at the White House, Republicans celebrating.
People who support the Affordable Care Act or who depend it on the family`s
access to health care, on the other side, despondent today. If you are in
either of those camps, or neither of those camps, we`re going to try
tonight to get past some of the politics of this and talk about the real
life consequences of what just happened.
So, I`m very much looking forward to that discussion. I`ll just say as an
aside, if you know somebody that doesn`t like cable news because they, in
particular, don`t like paying that much attention to left versus right or
red versus blue politics, but they are worried about the practical
consequences of what happened here with this vote today, you might want to
call them and tell them to watch.
What we`re going to do particularly in our second segment here on the show
tonight. This is the A-block. In the B-block, we`ll have that very, very
– nuts and bolts discussion about the practicalities. So, you have time
to make that call, in case you know anybody who`s in that boat. That is
coming up tonight.
All right. In 1965, a man named Nicolae Ceausescu came to power in
Romania. Romania was part of the Soviet block at the time and Ceausescu
ruled Romania as its communist leader and ultimately its dictator. From
the time he rose to power in 1965 until 1989, when he got thrown out, he
was – it was a tyrant. He was a dictator, he ruled with an iron fist.
1989, though, that was the year the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union
started to fall apart. And that year, Nicolae Ceausescu faced a huge
popular uprising at home in Romania. And that popular uprising at home in
Romania, it ultimately became a revolution. It was bloody.
In the end, Nicolae Ceausescu – look at those crowds – in the end,
Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown by his people. He and his wife were, in
And that was – that was not the norm. Former communist countries, former
Soviet republics mostly did not have to go through violent revolutions and
killing their leaders in order to turn themselves in democracies. But that
is what happened in Romania. That is how they started to become a
democracy in 1989.
But the memory of that revolution is fresh. I mean, 1989 is not that long
ago. That`s why it attracted international attention earlier this year
when Romanians suddenly started taking to the streets, again, in huge
numbers, numbers that literally had not been seen since the revolution in
In February of this year, look at that – what brought all of those people
out into the streets was something absolutely incredible, that the elected
Romanian government tried to get away with it. The leader of the ruling
party in Romania has a couple of problems that are interfering with his
desire and his intention to become prime minister. Two problems: one is
his previous conviction on corruption charges. Two, the other thing that`s
in his way, is the other set of corruption charges that are still pending
against him, in addition to the ones for which he has already been
convicted. That`s a real problem for the guy who is the leader of the
ruling party in that country, these conviction, these corruption
convictions, these pending corruption charges.
So, in February, the government in Romania decided they were going to deal
with this problem in a very creative way. They were going to deal with
this problem faced by, in particular, this politician by making corruption
legal. Literally, they tried to pass a law in February that would make
official misconduct, bribery, abuse of your office, misappropriation of
funds, it will just make that legal, as long as the amount of money
involved was less than 40 something thousand dollars.
Turns out the corruption charges against the head of the ruling party were
in the $20,000 range. So, if that bill had passed, he would be clear.
What he had done would retroactively become legal. They literally tried to
That was in February. And they might have gotten away with it, except for
those crazy kids, because this is what happened in February in Romania.
I mean, in February in Romania, it`s cold, right? But look at the capital
city. Look at the streets, hundreds of thousands of people turned out.
Hey, government, the answer is no. You`re not doing this. You`re not
making corruption legal for your own convenience. People stayed out in the
streets every night for like a couple of weeks.
Eventually, the government caved. Bribery and corruption and abuse of
office went back to being illegal.
But, the head of the ruling party was still the head of the ruling party
and he still had this problem. He`s still got that corruption conviction.
He`s still got these charges against him pending.
And so, now, the government in that country tried to go back at it. Their
second pass at this problem. They decided, OK, we learned our lesson a
little bit from last time. We learned our lesson from February. We will
no longer try to declare corruption and bribery to be legal.
Instead, they came up with legislation this time that would effectively
issue automatic pardons for any public official convicted of corruption or
bribery or abuse of office. I think they figured that maybe the public
had, you know, gotten their yayas out in February. The public may have
cooled off after gigantic protest they had, maybe the public stopped paying
Turns out that was a miscalculation, because like flipping a switch, here
they come again. Romanians by the thousands back in the streets of their
capitol city last night, and this time, it did not take as long for the
government to get the message. The free pardons for official corruption
bill was voted down in the Romanian senate last night after the people in
Bucharest in Romania started to fill up streets again.
And so, now, this thing finally looks like it`s dead. After the vote,
people reportedly drove around the parliament building all day today,
honking their horns, reminding the parliament that they`re still out there.
And it`s interesting, even though they won this one, people in Romania are
calling for more protests there in the days ahead. Not apparently because
they`re worried the government is going to try to sneak this thing through
again, I think, as far as I can tell, and I`m reading all foreign press
about this and stuff, but as far as I can tell, I think they want more
protest in the days ahead just to punish the government for even having the
gall to have tried this again after they couldn`t get away with it in
They tried to make corruption legal, illegal. They tried to make it legal.
They said, we`ll leave it illegal, but anybody who does it if they`re a
public official, they get a pardon.
Yes, an the people of Romania said, no. So that was – that was Bucharest,
that was the Capitol City in Romania last night.
In our country, we do not have a recent short sharp memory of a bloody
revolution, right, of leaders over thrown, let alone executed. Our – you
know, we don`t have crowds storming through the legislature throwing papers
out the window like we saw in Romania in 1989. You know, here in this
country, we don`t do that. At least, we don`t do that in the last couple
We do, sometimes, have big demonstrations in our capital city, though. The
biggest ever happened right after this president was sworn in, the day
after his inauguration. The biggest protest D.C. has ever seen.
When it comes to the first major policy action taken by this new president
and his party, when it comes to health care, there`s not a Bucharest on the
Potomac situation here. There`s not one big visible mass uprising all in
But there is something important to watch here, something consequential to
watch here, because the public approval for the previous, less draconian
version of what the Republicans just passed today in terms of health care,
the approval for the friendlier version of this legislation that they
failed to pass a few weeks ago, the public approval rating for that
legislation was only 17 percent.
And the bill that they did pass today is even – has even less popular
stuff in it than that one that rated at 17 percent. And when they passed
this today, you did see some spontaneous protest in Washington. Basically,
at the moment when this thing passed, you saw people start to come out in
And we have been watching this afternoon and into tonight in New York City,
where the president arrived for the evening event on the west side of
Manhattan. I shall tell you, the president is making remarks tonight at
the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. We`ll be monitoring those remarks in
case he makes some news.
So, there are and have been centralized protests. But the places you`re
really seeing people show up and make themselves heard, and try to stop
this thing, just as citizens, the place you`ve seen that is not – you
know, in the streets of Washington, D.C., necessarily, or in the streets of
America`s largest city, New York City. It`s been dispersed out in the
It`s been out in the individual congressional districts where people can
get through to their member of Congress, who was suppose to answer to them
on stuff like this. You`ve seen it on the corners of busy intersections.
You`ve seen it outside district offices for members of Congress and
senators. You`ve seen it inside their district offices, too. And
overwhelmingly, often emotionally, you`ve seen it at town hall meetings
that members of Congress hold with their constituents.
Back in early February, Republican Congressman Tom McClintock held a town
hall meeting in Roseville, California, which is part of his district.
Congressman Tom McClintock`s district is solidly Republican. So, he
probably did not expect this at his Roseville town hall. Hundreds of his
constituents, hundreds of demonstrators gathered on the street outside the
What they`re saying there is, “Send him out, send him out”, and they`re
saying that they could not get into the event themselves. This was the
overflow crowd for the Tom McClintock town hall in his Republican district
in Roseville, California.
Congressman Tom McClintock`s office had picked a venue that held about 200
people, more than a thousand people showed up for that event. And they
pleaded with police. They pleaded with local authorities and staffers to
please let them in, but there was no room.
So, there`s hundreds of extra people, they waited outside, on the
sidewalks, in the street. I mean, look at these people here, they ended up
literally filling the different levels of a nearby parking garage.
I mean, that`s how big the turnout was for this event. People were
standing on the decks of the parking garage next door. Hundreds of
hundreds of people turning in this event, in solidly red district, upset
with this congressman`s policy positions. They`re saying send him out to
make him come out. Here, they`re saying, vote him out, vote him out.
And the atmosphere was not that much better inside the event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIFORNIA: If Obamacare is replaced, it must be
replaced with something that improves the medical coverage –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No matter how pug nation your personality is as an elected
official, this sort of thing from your constituents, this sort of thing at
home has to be effecting, right? And even if you`re a real tough guy, even
if you`re stoic in front of this, even if you`re not affected by the crowd,
the one-on-one look me in the eye moments with people who are counting on
you, people who you represent, that kind of has to affect you just as a
And, like, if you`re a member of Congress, this year, this is the
difficulty of having that one-on-one confrontation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID EMERSON, CONSTITUENT OF REP. MCCLINTOCK (R-CA): Ten years ago, my
wife had two open heart surgeries. She now lives with two artificial
valves in her heart. She`s on a great medication and the ACA helps us to
get that medication. If you cancel the ACA without putting a viable
alternative in there, on my fixed income, we will no be able to afford the
medication that she now takes and she will die.
My wife`s name is Judy. J-U-D-Y, same last name, E-M-E-R-S-ON. If you
vote to cancel the ACA, and you see her name in an obituary, shame on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was David Emerson who is California resident who is in Tom
McClintock`s district. He spoke out during the town hall about his
concerns about what could happen to his wife if the Affordable Care Act was
repealed. We found him. David Emerson joins us tonight from California.
Mr. Emerson, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I really
appreciate you making the time to be here.
EMERSON: Good evening.
MADDOW: So, that tape of you speaking with your congressman had – had
national residents that ended up getting picked up all over the country.
How did you feel when you heard about this vote today?
EMERSON: A wide range of feelings. One was anger, another was depression.
We demonstrate at McClintock`s office every Tuesday. Because the vote was
so significant today, we were there again today. We had over 100
demonstrators on Tuesday, but because of the time differential, we had
probably half that many today. They had already heard that the vote had
been taken and the result was made public.
MADDOW: Was it a surprise for you – for your specific member of Congress
to hear that Congressman McClintock voted to repeal the ACA, or did you
know that`s what he was going to do?
EMERSON: We have some signs that say Tom McTrump instead of McClintock
because we feel like he`s simply a rubber stamp for the new administration.
So, no, it was not a surprise.
MADDOW: Can you – take me back to that first town hall that was just
show, that one from Roseville. What was your – can you tell me about the
decision that you made to speak out in that way? Obviously, you were one
of the lucky people who got inside. There are hundreds of people outside.
But can you just take me back to that moment when you decided to tell me
what you told him?
EMERSON: When I got into the venue, I sat between two young ladies in
wheelchairs and one of them told me that she had been in an automobile
accident and she was covered by the Affordable Care Act, and she had some
kind of blood disorder that blocked her blood veins periodically, and it
was the medication that she received that helped her. And so, I said, you
need to stand up and tell McClintock what you just told me and she was
extremely intimidated by the situation.
I taught at a college for 30 years, and so, I was not at that point
intimidated. I wanted to stand up and I wanted to personalize the
situation rather than just talk statistics. All we heard before was 24
million people here and 10 million people there. And I thought, perhaps,
McClintock would listen to a much more personal statement.
And so, that`s when I stood up and made the statement that I did. I had no
idea I would receive the publicity that it`s had. I had friends in church
turning around and saying, “I saw you on TV,” and I`m usually a very quiet
person and I`m not use to that kind of thing.
But I felt like, McTrump, as we call him, was going to just go along the
party line and citing statistics and I thought he needed to be more
personalized – to give an example of what would happen. The young lady
refused to allow me to use her as an example, and so I used my wife.
MADDOW: David Emerson, thank you for joining us and showing your story
with us, particularly because you never intended to be a national activist
on this stuff. I really appreciate you making time to talk to us tonight.
Thank you, sir.
EMERSON: Thank you.
MADDOW: His congressman, Tom McClintock, Mr. Emerson`s congressman, did
vote to kill the Affordable Care Act today. That was expected. As he
said, constituents there calling him Congressman Tom McTrump, not
Congressman Tom McClintock.
That said, it was not necessarily a sure thing how anybody would vote
heading into today`s vote. But Tom McClintock voted yes. As did a
congressman named John Faso.
Now, you may not know Congressman Faso`s name, but you will probably
remember him from this encounter with his one of his constituents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up right down the road.
REP. JOHN FASO (R), NEW YORK: What`s your name?
Hi, oh, you`re –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to school with your kids, your wife was our
FASO: Yes, she still is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Awesome. I`m not no longer my school nurse, though.
FASO: You`re more than 18.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a brain tumor –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: – and a spinal condition and when I was first
diagnosed I was kicked off my insurance because pre-existing conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And same “I support this” is not good enough. I need
you as a human being to say, I promise that we will not take this away from
FASO: I can tell you – I promise. I promise. I totally understand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need you to take care of this. We elect you to
take care of this.
FASO: I totally understand. All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman John Faso today also voted to repeal the Affordable
But joining us now is that constituent of Republican Congressman John Faso.
Her name is Andrea Mitchell. Not to be confused with NBC`s Andrea
Mitchell, although that`s a nice person to be confused with.
This is the young woman who got that hug from Congressman Faso and the
promise he would not take away her health care. Andrea joins us now from
Albany, New York.
Ms. Mitchell, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I really
appreciate you making the time.
ANDREA MITCHELL, CONSTITUENT OF REP. JOHN FASO (R-NY): Thank you so much
for having me.
MADDOW: So, when you talked to the congressman earlier this year, we
caught that exchange. We found it online. We gave it some national
It felt like a very personal and a very conclusive moment. He gave you
that promise. I have to ask what your reaction is now that he voted to
repeal the Affordable Care Act today.
MITCHELL: Crushed, actually. I really – going into the first vote, to
repeal and replace. I really thought and hoped he would not vote to repeal
the ACA based on that promise. And a lot of my friends and fellow
constituents thought that that was very naive of me that he would vote the
But I honestly believed that I had talked to him and I honestly believed
his promise, which may be naive. But I like to believe the best in people.
MADDOW: Can I – I don`t – you don`t have to address. If this is –
personally, if you don`t want to talk about it on TV, I would totally
understand. But if you don`t mind me asking what kind of health insurance
you do have now, and do you think that access to coverage is going to be
affected by this vote?
MITCHELL: Well, fortunately, right now, I have Medicaid because my health
expenses and my disabilities have put us in a position where that needs to
be the health insurance that I have. Unfortunately, from what I`ve heard,
although I haven`t had a chance to read a lot of the new health care bill,
there will be Medicaid cuts. So, I`m – you know, still in a gray area
I`ll be cut off that and put back on a private insurance, I`m not sure at
MADDOW: When we first heard about your story, we saw that video of your
question to your congressman, it was shared on Twitter by your local
Indivisible group in your district, that`s how we found it. Can I ask what
you think is going to happen in terms of activism, in terms of groups like
Indivisible, in terms of your home district, if you have any sense locally
about what it`s going to mean for your congressman and just for your
MITCHELL: I`ve been really inspired by all the activism that`s been
happening over the last few months since the elections back in November.
And I really – I really believe that, particularly this vote since it
affects so many people in this district that I really that this bill will
have a terrible impact on Congressman Faso if he chooses to run again.
MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell joining us from Upstate New York – thank you so
much for talking us through this.
Again, I know you never intended to be a national activist on TV talking
about this stuff. Thank you for trusting us to be here tonight. I
appreciate it. Good luck to you.
MITCHELL: Thank you so much.
Congressman John Faso, as I said, is from New York. Congressman Tom
McClintock is from California. So, both of them are blue state
Republicans, if you think about it. And they both voted to kill the
Affordable Care Act today despite those confrontations with their
constituents, which we all saw by virtue of local activisms and the
I should tell you, though, that both John Faso and Tom McClintock serve in
districts that did vote comfortably for Donald Trump even though they`re in
blue states. That said, if you`re doing the math here, there are 24 House
Republicans who voted today to kill the Affordable Care Act, despite the
fact that they represent districts where Donald Trump got less than 50
percent of the vote in the presidential election, 24 Republican members of
Congress voted to kill the Affordable Care Act and they`re in districts
that didn`t vote 50 percent for Trump.
That number 24 is important, if Democrats take 25 seats next year in total,
they will take back the House.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This morning, before House Republicans voted to get rid of health
care for millions of Americans, NBC News got a chance to ask several of
them if they had read the bill they were about to vote on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Congressman, have you read the bill?
REPORTER: Are you concerned about voting on this bill?
REPORTER: Congressman, have you read the health care bill?
Good morning, Congressman. Have you had time to read the health care bill?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re still working on it, yes.
REPORTER: Hey, gentlemen, have you read the bill?
Congressman, have you read the bill?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re in a hurry, we`ll be back.
REPORTER: Congressman, have you read the health care bill?
Good morning, Mr. Shimkus. Have you had a chance to read this bill?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got back from baseball practice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, then they didn`t want to talk about whether they read it.
They also did not want to wait to learn the cost of it, either.
The initial version of this thing that they tried and failed to pass a few
weeks ago, it did get a score, a cost. The nonpartisan Congressional
Budget Office said that first bill, that first effort to repeal Obamacare
will result in 24 million Americans losing their health insurance, now,
that version, of course, was yanked before it was voted on.
But polling showed that it was radically unpopular by a 39-point margin.
People disapproved of that bill.
For reference sake at the worst of the polling on Obamacare, Obamacare was
only unpopular by a 17-point margin, right? That first Republican effort
to kill Obamacare was just radically unpopular and it would throw 24
million people off their health insurance.
And then when they went back to do it again, they made it worse. I mean,
one thing people really like, like about Obamacare, like 87 percent of
people like it, is that Obamacare made it so people with pre-existing
conditions could get insurance just like everybody else. Eighty-seven
percent of people like the pre-existing conditions protections in
Obamacare, but the Republican bill they passed today in the House kills
that. It allows states to get waivers so insurance companies will now be
able to start charging higher prices to people with pre-existing
The Center for American Progress estimates that the increase in premiums
for an otherwise healthy 40-year-old with one of these pre-existing
conditions is a very daunting thing. Depression, $8,490 per year extra
from hereon out. Rheumatoid arthritis, $26,508 per year extra because
you`ve got arthritis. If you`ve got asthma, $4,340 extra, per year, every
I won`t go into the numbers if you have cancer, you can see those numbers
here. Do you have that money around to spend extra every year on top of
your health insurance cost already?
The Republicans and the president literally held a victory celebration at
the White House to declare this mission accomplished today, we saw the
president speaking at the White House today with United Colors of Benetton
Republican men squire behind me.
Oh, you guys. I mean, aside from the tableau. It is weird they are
celebrating this when it`s done that it still has to go to the Senate,
But let`s say it does pass. Let`s say it does pass in this form in the
Senate, what would it do?
I`m not an expert on this, but here is some of what I understand about
this. Ready? We`re going to go through a few points on this.
Number one, as I said, states under the bill of Republicans just passed.
States can get waivers, so insurance companies can charge more for people
with pre-existing conditions.
Number two, states can also opt out of the rules that require insurance
plans to cover basic stuff. So, that means you can pay for insurance that
doesn`t cover hospitalization or emergency room care, or a ride in an
ambulance or you getting pregnant or any other number of things that the
insurance companies don`t want to cover.
Number three, along those same lines, expect things like mental health
coverage and drug treatment coverage, expect those things to wither.
Number four, insurance companies will be able to charge old people five
times as much as they charge younger people for the same health insurance.
Number five, big companies no longer have to provide health insurance to
Number six, hospitals – this is going to sound – this sounds a little bit
like an arcane thing that`s always – like I get to this point and all the
health policy articles about this stuff, and I think, like, oh, I`m not a
hospital administrator. I don`t have to worry about it.
Actually, it`s very simple. Do you live in an area where the hospitals are
struggling or where there aren`t that many hospitals left? Obamacare got
tens of millions more Americans on to health insurance, people who had not
been insured before. That was good for hospitals, right, it meant there
were millions more patients who had insurance that could pay for their
care. So, that was really good for hospitals.
As a trade off for that benefit to the hospitals, what Obamacare did is it
reduced what the hospitals got paid by Medicare. It was a trade off.
You`re getting millions more insured people, so we`re going to reduce what
we pay you in terms of what people – that was the deal under Obama care.
Under the Republican bill passed today, they`re going to keep the cuts and
what hospitals get paid by Medicare, but now, there`s no trade off.
Instead of having lots of new paying patients to compensate for that, now,
they`re getting tens of millions of people kicked off their insurance, who
will have no way to pay. So, think good thoughts about your local
hospitals, particularly if they`re struggling already, particularly if you
live in a rural area. Local hospitals are going to be in a world of hurt
if this thing goes through.
And last point, number seven, if you don`t make much money, brace yourself.
This is really going to come at you like a kick in the teeth. So, Medicaid
is the health insurance for tens of millions of Americans on the lower end
of the income spectrum and for people with disabilities. Our guest we just
had who`s named Andrea Mitchell but not the Andrea Mitchell, she just
explained to us her health insurance is Medicaid.
I know tons of people who are insured by Medicaid. Medicaid ensures more
than 70 million people in this country. Under this bill the Republicans
passed today, Medicaid gets cut by almost $900 billion. That`s close to a
trillion dollars cut to Medicaid. That will definitely result in many
millions of Americans who have Medicaid right now, getting kicked off that
And as a follow up punch for people who are on the lower end to the income
spectrum, in addition to the Medicaid thing, if you`re just above the
poverty line, right now, you and your family get subsidies to help you pay
for insurance. That`s part of Obamacare. Under the bill the Republicans
just past, those particular subsidies for those particular folks on the
lower end of the income spectrum, they take the biggest cut. Those
subsidies get radically cut.
So, for – so millions of Americans who are in the lower income side,
millions of Americans on the lower income part of the spectrum will just
lose insurance and people who try to hold on to insurance will find
themselves paying way more of their income for it. That`s what the
Republicans passed today.
Now, there is one piece of shiny good news about what the Republicans
passed today, and that`s that it will be a huge tax cut for the wealthiest
people in the country. People making over $200,000 a year, people making
over $200,000 a year, couples making over a quarter million dollars a year,
they`re going to get a $300 billion tax cut. So, obviously, all the rest
of it`s worth it, right?
Weirdly, I do actually have a degree health policy, I think of myself as
kind of a layman on this subject. Looking at this stuff as a layman, just
reading the best analyses I can find of it, that`s my take on it. But as I
say, I am not an expert.
Jonathan Gruber was an architect of the Affordable Care Act and he was
architect of the Massachusetts law before it. That was sort of a model for
the ACA. Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics at MIT. If anybody
is an expert on these things, it`s Jonathan Gruber at MIT. He joins us
next to fact-check me and tell us what the practicalities are going to be
for your family if this goes ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today is one of those days when people who care about politics are
well aware that something really big as happened. Even though it didn`t
pass and become law, this was the first major legislation that was moved
through the House in the Trump era.
And if you care about politics and you care about the Trump administration
and you care about what this new administration is going to be like, you
know that`s a big deal and you probably watch cable news on the regular.
But this is also one of those days when people who don`t watch cable news
on the regular and people who don`t particularly care about politics, or
who don`t particularly have a partisan interest and who is up and who is
down, a lot of people care about what happened today, too, even if they
don`t usually follow Washington. That`s because health care hits all of us
at home, all of us.
We`re lucky tonight to have with us here tonight one of the true experts on
this subject. Professor Jonathan Gruber is an economics professor at MIT.
He was an architect of the Affordable Care Act and of the Massachusetts
law, before that. That was sort of model for the ACA.
Professor Gruber, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I appreciate
your help going through some of these particularities.
JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me ask your overall reaction to this passing today. I wonder,
a little bit, if I am being too much of a dark cloud here, this actually
can be seen as a good health care reform in some ways.
GRUBER: You know, Rachel, it`s hard because, you know, you went through
your list and it sounded partisan, but it was all true. I mean, look,
there is nothing I recommend in this law except for people earning more
than $250,000 a year.
It decreases insurance coverage dramatically. It raises premiums. It
reduces the certainty we get from insurance by removing the protections we
may have from losing our insurance because we`re sick or not getting
covered because we`re sick. There really is nothing to recommend in this
law, honestly. I just don`t know why they`re doing it other than pure
MADDOW: Let me ask you, actually, about what you just described as the
only benefit here. There is this – I`m surprise – as far as I can tell,
there`s $300 billion tax cut for people who make over $200,000 a year,
families who make over a quarter million dollars a year.
Why is that here? I mean, does that have any health care benefit? Or is
that literally just free money for the richest people in the country?
GRUBER: Look, the idea of the Affordable Care Act was to have a balanced
approach to financing coverage for our lowest income Americans. About half
of the financing came from spending cuts, about half came from tax
increases, and the largest tax increase is tax increase on the wealthy.
So, it`s part of a balance package to make sure the Affordable Care Act was
actually deficit neutral. Actually, it was deficit reducing.
The Republicans didn`t like that tax increase and, however, getting rid of
its expenses. And if they got rid of it as part of the larger tax reform
which they want to move next, that will make the tax reform that much
harder to move under Senate financial rules. So, by getting rid of this
tax cut here, by using cuts in Medicaid to pay for their tax cut – getting
rid of the tax cut in this round, they make the next round easier.
Really, I think, Rachel, I`m not an expert historically, but I think this
is one of the largest, pure redistributions from poor to rich in one bill
we`ve ever seen.
MADDOW: OK. That`s hard to hear.
Well, let me ask you about this. You`re talking about that huge cut to
Medicaid. Obviously, when you`re talking about health care, national
health care expenditures, national health care line items, it`s a lot of
big numbers because health care is a big expense and big portion of our
But when I started looking through and trying to come up with that list of
practical impact, it really seems to me like, obviously, if you`re going
after Medicaid you`re going after poor people, directly bullseye. By
making it so you can charge old people five times as much for the same
insurance you would offer to young people, obviously, that`s going right at
older people. And then, obviously, there`s this big benefit for rich
So, I mean, is there – is there anything else that`s going on here other
than hurting the old, the sick and the poor and benefitting the healthy and
GRUBER: Look, primarily, that`s what the law accomplishes. You know,
we`ve heard Paul Ryan, he said he was dreaming in college over kegs of
cutting Medicaid, and he admitted that in a speech, that basically the
Republicans for years have not liked this program. But I think it`s
important for your listeners to recognize that even if they don`t know the
kind of low income families that benefit from Obamacare, the Republican
alternative would go much beyond cutting the Medicaid expansion of
Obamacare, it would cut Medicaid generally by 25 percent.
And what not a lot of people realize is the vast majority of spending on
Medicaid is not on poor families, it`s on the poor elderly and disabled,
two-thirds of the money that Medicaid spends is on the poor elderly and
disabled. This Republican bill is not just about clawing back 24 million
people`s health insurance, it`s also about restricting a program that`s
lifeline for our lowest income, elderly and disabled.
MADDOW: Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics at MIT – professionally,
you make me feel better because you said I didn`t screw up the way I
explained it. But, personally, you make me feel terrible in terms of whey
see all the more clearly about this bill.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
GRUBER: You bet. Thanks.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Much more ahead tonight. Congressman Adam Schiff is here live,
next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We have joining us tonight for “The Interview” somebody who I am
very, very glad can be here this evening. I`m going to get straight to
him. It`s Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman Schiff, thank you for being here. I know it`s been a crazy day
for you, sir.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Oh, it`s a
pleasure to be with you.
MADDOW: Let me – let me ask you first, I know you were a “no vote” on the
vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act today. No Democrats voted for it at
all. Can I just ask your reaction to the fact that it passed?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, deeply saddened by its passage because it means,
of course, millions of people are going to lose health insurance.
And I`ll tell you the stories that you just aired, Rachel, with those
people who are so deeply impacted by this reminded me of a different
interaction I had with one of my constituents years ago, right after the
passage of the Affordable Care Act, which cut in a very different reaction.
I had someone come up, I was doing sidewalk office hours in the Glendale
gallery. I had a little table set up.
He asked me how I voted on the Affordable Care Act, and I told them I could
tell it was not the vote he wanted me to cast. And he asked me, what can I
have possibly liked about the Affordable Care Act? And I explained that I
like the fact, if you had a pre-existing condition, you could get coverage
if you had a kid who wasn`t employed but they`re under 26, they could stay
on your plan. I listed a number of things I liked about it.
And then, I said, “And I like the fact that tens of millions of people that
can`t get access to health care are going to get it.” He said something
after that which I have to say shocked me and I thought I had heard
everything, he said, “You really think that`s such a good thing?” And I
said, “Well, yes, don`t you?” And he said, “No, I don`t. If they can`t
afford it, they shouldn`t have it.”
And I knew that the second that he said it, that he was speaking for a
great many of my colleagues in Congress who, at root, believe if you can`t
afford coverage, if you`re – – if you have pediatric cancer and your
parents can`t afford it or if you`re elderly and have diabetes and you
can`t afford it, that`s your problem.
And at the heart of this is a conclusion that among a majority of my
colleagues sadly today, they would rather give a big tax cut to people who
are already doing well than try to help people get access to health care.
And that made it a very sad day, all the sadder to see people celebrating
MADDOW: I wonder, having – hearing you say that, you know, the Senate
obviously is going to take a crack at this next. We don`t know exactly
what they`re going to do. There was word from the Republicans in the
Senate today that they, unlike the House, plan to wait for the score, the
CBO score before they take a vote in the Senate, which means by the time
they`re voting on it, they`ll know at least the estimates of how many
millions of people will lose their health insurance because of it, how many
people – you know, the proportion of poor people versus old people versus
already sick people versus disabled people who will be hurt by this.
I wonder if given that perspective, if you actually think the Republicans
don`t mind this for the political argument, the news that millions of
people will lose insurance. They see that as a plus, not a minus.
SCHIFF: You know, I think that this is something they`re not ever going to
say publicly. That consistent said it to me privately. And that
constituent probably wouldn`t say that in a town hall.
I do think thought that is how some of my colleagues feel – too many of
them feel that way. And in particular, they`ve been out saying that they
had this great alternative, the Affordable Care Act for the last seven
And, of course, they had nothing at all to show for it. No plan
whatsoever. It was just a campaign slogan.
So, I think they felt compelled to vote for this. But I also think they
recognize this will very well come back to haunt them. And those images of
the celebration on the White House lawn when it becomes clear that millions
and millions of people are going to lose their health care if this bill
ever became law, those images, they`re likely to see them again around
election time. And I don`t think they`ll be celebrating then.
MADDOW: Congressman, I know that you and your House Intelligence Committee
today had a closed door hearing on the Trump Russia investigation would.
You mind sticking with us through the break so I can ask you a question
about that that you won`t be able to answer because it`s classified?
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back with Congressman Adam Schiff.
MADDOW: Joining us once again is Congressman Adam Schiff, top Democrat on
the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thank you once again for sticking with us. I appreciate it.
SCHIFF: You bet.
MADDOW: So, your committee, the House Intel Committee, held a closed door
hearing today with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Michael
Rogers. I know you can`t talk about anything classified that was said in a
But can you tell us anything about how today went and overall about whether
your investigation is making progress?
SCHIFF: I think today it went very well. And we are making progress.
Mike Conaway and I have worked together I think in the last several weeks
that we`ve been tasked with doing this jointly in a very nonpartisan, very
matter of fact way. We`re back to scheduling our witnesses. We`re back to
getting our hearing on track. We`re back to getting new documents from the
So, I think things are moving in a very positive direction. I think the
hearing went well today.
Frankly, I think it probably went better than if we covered the same issue
that they had in the hearing yesterday because I had such strong
disagreement with the views that Director Comey expressed yesterday in the
open hearing. I don`t think the choice at all was between speaking and
concealing. And I think the use of that term “conceal” was such a loaded
term and quite deliberately so that it really undermined the argument that
he was making.
I think the choice really was between adhering to Department of Justice
policy and not talking about a pending investigation in the run-up to an
election, or not adhering to DOJ policy.
So, if our hearing had been on that topic, it probably would not have gone
so smoothly. But as it was, I think it went very well.
MADDOW: You know, one of the things, obviously you`re talking there about
Director Comey and his decision to talk about the FBI investigation into
Hillary Clinton`s e-mails before the election, even though he didn`t talk
about the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign in Russia until after
One of the things I`ve been thinking about with Director Comey in his
remarks about the Trump investigation is that because it`s a counter
intelligence investigation, it`s likely that we may never hear from him
again on that subject. It`s possible that we`ll never hear from him again
on that subject.
Can I just ask you, as a matter of law and procedure here, if there were
indictments, or criminal complaints filed against anybody in relation to
that investigation, if that`s where the FBI went with the Trump-Russia
investigation, would we the public definitely know about that? Or is it
possible that something like that might happen without any public
SCHIFF: Well, if this resulted in criminal charges, then the public would
know about it. It may not come from Director Comey. That may be announced
by in this case the deputy attorney general that now has been charged in
Jeff Sessions in the wake of his recusal with overseeing the Russia
So, you might have the deputy AG announce the charges have been filed. You
might have Director Comey standing next to him. But generally, the FBI
wouldn`t be the one to be discussing that necessarily.
But here, of course, all bets are somewhat off because plainly the
department did talk about the Clinton investigation. Whether the director
will follow that model or the traditional model of deferring to the
department, I have to think it`s more likely to do the latter.
If the investigation didn`t result in charges, then you might not hear
Director Comey testifying in the open subsequently about it. That, again,
would be if he did a departure from usual practice.
So under those circumstances, you might not hear from him again.
MADDOW: Do we have a date yet for the open hearing that would involve
Sally Yates, among others?
SCHIFF: We`re in consultation with the counsel for Sally Yates. Directors
Clapper and Brennan were trying to see if we can get that on calendar in
the couple weeks following this recess.
SCHIFF: And I`m confident that we will. And, you know, I really am
pleased to say that our investigation is back on track. And it`s very
important that it is, because frankly we have very limited resources, and
so does the Senate. If either one of these investigations were to get
derailed, it would mean only half of the eyes on task.
MADDOW: Adam Schiff, ranking member, top Democrat in the House
Intelligence Committee – sir, thank you for your time tonight. I really
appreciate you being here.
SCHIFF: You bet. Thanks, Rachel.
All right. That does it for us tonight. Big day in the news today. No
time to stop paying attention. Game on. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the