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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 4/26/2017

Guests: Leonard Lance, Barbara Lee, Bernie Sanders, Seth Meyers

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST:  - they buckle to the tide of easy opinion and give away the store?  And that`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  The plan gets better and better and better.

HAYES:  Trumpcare rides again.

TRUMP:  And it`s gotten really, really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot.

HAYES:  As the White House backs off yet another shutdown ultimatum, it agrees to got even more patient protections and gets the Freedom Caucus endorsement.

Then, the President`s cliff`s notes tax plan.


HAYES:  What we know about the Trump wish list and how it would benefit him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will the President release his tax returns so that -


HAYES:  Plus Senator Bernie Sanders on health care, taxes, and NAFTA, and my conversation on 100 days of Trump with Seth Meyers.

SETH MEYERS, NBC HOST:  If this were a movie, it would be called "100 Days and Confused."

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  For the second time this week in the run-up to the President`s 100th day in office, the White House has made a big, blustering, tough-sounding ante raising threat only to back down in humiliating fashion.  And the turnaround this time seems to be getting shorter and shorter.  First, there was a threat to shut down the government in order to get funding for the President`s border wall which Mexico was going to pay for.  The White House caved after a few days when it became clear there were no takers on Capitol Hill.  Now after threatening last night to cut off payments to insurers which help millions of low Americans - income Americans afford their co-pays and deductibles, the White House has already capitulated.  Over and over again, the President has shown he regards health care not as an urgent daily concern for the people he`s supposed to be serving, but as a political bargaining chip.  Here he was after the first GOP health care bill fell apart.


TRUMP:  The best thing we can do politically speaking is let ObamaCare explode.  It is exploding right now.  I think what will happen is ObamaCare, unfortunately, will explode.  It`s going to have a very bad year.  So, what would be really good, with no democrat support, if the democrats, when it explodes, which it will soon if they got together with us and got a real health care bill?


HAYES:  The Affordable Care Act is not exploding according to analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, the exchanges despite their problems, aren`t in the much-touted death spiral.  So the President has been essentially threatening to make the ACA explode himself.  Floating a plan to withhold those payments to insurers, likely causing markets to collapse in order to extract concessions from democrats or, put another way, the President of the United States is willing to hold hostage millions of his own constituents, heck, his own voters` health care, a potential matter of life and death, in exchange for a political win. 

Last night, according to multiple reports, his administration took a step forward on its sabotage threat.  A democratic aide recounted that during a phone call between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.  Mulvaney said the administration might not make its insurance payments as soon as next month.  Concern about just such a move by the White House, democrats have been insisting on funding for those payments as part of this week`s must-pass spending bill.  Today, spooked by the prospect of a shutdown on the President`s100th day in office, the administration is backing down.  Hours after the phone call with Pelosi, according to Politico, White House telling lawmakers, yes, yes, it will continue to pay the cost-sharing subsidies. 

But, the White House is not done bargaining away health care for political win.  After failing to pass a deeply unpopular health care bill that would have reduced the number of insured people by 24 million, they`re signing on to a new amendment backed by the hard-line House Freedom Caucus that goes even further.  It allows states to opt out of two of the ACA`s most popular provisions, minimum coverage standards which require things like maternity care, mental health treatment, and coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions.  As Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted, "so the GOP took an ACA repeal bill with 17 percent approval and fixed it by letting insurers jack up rates for anyone who is or was ever sick.  Genius."  With support from the Freedom Caucus, which blocked the last version of the bill, repeal and replace of ObamaCare just moved a lot closer to passing out of the House. 

Now it is the more moderate wing of the caucus that could stand in the way.  There are 23 House republicans from districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Some of them were already a no on the health care bill.  At least one, Colorado`s Mike Coffman, has now flipped from a yes to an undecided according to Huffington Post Ace Congressional Reporter Matt Fuller.  Coffman is one of many GOP lawmaker who`s been facing angry Town Hall crowds concerned about the fate of their health care.  And with a vote on the bill likely to come in the next few days, that kind of pressure could intensify and be decisive.  The Hill`s Scott Wong overheard one moderate republican say today, if I vote for this healthcare bill, it will be the end of my career. 

I`m joined now by a House Republican who as opposed both versions of the health care bill, New Jersey Congressman Leonard Lance.  Congressman, your - you represent a district that was won by Hillary Clinton.  You`ve got this new language that the old bill but also this ability to waive these conditions.  Are you being rolled, you and your fellow members of the House Republican Caucus who do represent these districts?  It seems to me the House Freedom Caucus is saying, you have to meet our demands and go get the votes from those other people because they`re essentially weaklings with no spine and they`ll roll over?

LEONARD LANCE, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM NEW JERSEY:  My view has been consistent.  I opposed the bill before Easter, and I oppose it now.  And, Chris, Barack Obama carried the district I serve in 2008.  Hillary Clinton carried it by one point this time.  I try to vote in what`s in the best interests of my constituents, and I intend to do so in this case.

HAYES:  OK.  But here`s what Chris Collins said, and this is sort of what I find devilishly clever about this compromise.  He says, some aspects of this are troublesome to a few of our members, not me because this would not impact New York in the least.  Now, keep in mind this, we`re talking about state-based waivers, right?  He`s saying I`m from a blue state, hey, whatever happens in Alabama, Louisiana, no skin off my nose.  So at some point, you`ve got to compromise.  You`ve got to take a tough vote.  The main thing is we`ve got to deliver on this promise the President and all of us made to America when he elected us with majorities in the House and Senate and put Trump in the White House.  What do you think about that?

LANCE:  I have consistently campaigned on the proposition that the pre- existing condition portion should remain.  I`ve stated that in campaigns from 2010 forward.  I do hope, however, Chris, that democrats will come to the table regarding the exchanges.  I have never said they`re in a death spiral, but I don`t think they`re in particularly strong shape.

HAYES:  But, Congressman, to that point about pre-existing conditions, I want to show you part of your own House Republican Caucus` website.  This is not us, this is not the democrats that says that people - no American should ever be denied coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing condition.  That is currently right now, as we speak, on your website.  This legislative language violates that.  Hasn`t the House Republican Caucus broken a fundamental promise?

LANCE:  I vote my conscience, and I`m not going to vote for it for several reasons, including the fact that I think no one should be denied coverage based upon a pre-existing condition.

HAYES:  But to repeat the question, haven`t the House Republicans, the Caucus that you`re a member of, haven`t they broken a promise?  It`s right there in black and white right now on the website, and they`ve got legislative text out tonight that violates that promise.

LANCE:  I do not think that the current configuration of the law is consistent with that, and that`s why I`m voting as I`m voting.

HAYES:  Do you think that other members that are in your position are going to vote that way, or has the House Freedom Caucus made the correct determination along with leadership that basically the so-called moderates are essentially pushovers and everyone will roll over?

LANCE:  I don`t think that`s the case.  The leader of our group is my close colleague, Charlie Dent from a neighboring district in Pennsylvania.  My district is in New Jersey, and I think my views and Congressman`s Dent`s views are virtually identical on this issue.  And there are others as well, but I cite Congressman Dent as the leader of the Tuesday group.

HAYES:  Are they going to make you vote on this?

LANCE:  I don`t know whether there`s going to be a vote or not this week or in the coming weeks.  Leadership knows my position on this issue, Chris.

HAYES:  Are you confused by the fact this came back after they said very specifically and publicly they were moving on?

LANCE:  I assume that any administration wants to engage in thoughts on all sorts of issues, including health care, and I do think we have to address the ACA.  I do not think it`s working to the best extent possible.  I certainly think we need to lower premiums for Americans, and there are a lot of Americans who`ve had their premiums increase.

HAYES:  Right.

LANCE:  So I do think that we have to work on this issue.  I just don`t think that this is the proper bill in its current form.

HAYES:  All right.  Congressman Leonard Lance, thank you for your time as always.

LANCE:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Joining me now, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat from California.  Well, he says democrats should work with them, and they`re going to try to get - I mean I don`t think they want or need any democratic votes.  They certainly don`t think they do.  What`s your reaction from your perch in the House Democratic Caucus of this development?

BARBARA LEE, UNITED STATES CONGRESSWOMAN FROM CALIFORNIA:  Well, I tell you, Chris, first of all, we have to remember, this is the same bill.  It`s just a modified version of this bill, an amended version that`s much worse.  The initial bill that they presented would have taken away health care from 24 million people.  This bill does just that.  Their initial bill that they put together was going to hurt Trump voters actually disproportionately to other voters.  This bill does just that.  And by making it worse, you know, it`s hard for me to imagine how the moderate republicans could vote for it because this bill now is a much - it`s a terrible bill.  It`s going to hurt millions of people.  It`s really going to be a matter of life and death for millions of people, and it`s unacceptable, and it`s morally wrong.

HAYES:  Do you think - I mean from a political perspective, do you think it benefits democrats politically for them to take another run at this?

LEE: You know, it`s hard to really figure out what benefits who politically.  I think what`s important right now is that the public understand that democrats are fighting to make sure that they have health care, affordable, accessible health care.  I think the republicans are in total chaos.  You know, we never know what they`re going to do from day to day.

HAYES:  Yes, how do you - can I ask you about - I mean, part of this is - so there`s the ACA which we could talk - you know, the sort of details of that, but then there`s just the kind of ping pong, chicken with its head cut off effect of just this activity that it`s never clear what direction it`s going, what you`re doing.  Are they threatening you?  Are they not threatening you?  How do you make sense of what exactly is going on in the place that you work, the United States Congress?

LEE:  Well, I tell you, these are very extraordinary times and it`s hard to make sense of much of anything that the republicans are up to.  But I have to tell you, what`s important is that people in the country are really waking up to what is taking place here in Washington, D.C.  The resistance is building, we have seen many of Donald Trump`s initiatives halted dead in its tracks, the ban, the Muslim ban, for example, the court decision on sanctuary cities and so the resistance is working.  What we have to do is make sure that people stay organized and galvanized and know that there are those here fighting for them.

HAYES:  A federal district judge has put on hold the executive order about so-called sanctuary cities.  You represent the bay area where some of those are located.  The President - the White House putting out a screeching statement about blood on the hands of the people in San Francisco and unelected judges.  Today the President saying he`ll break up the Ninth Circuit.  What`s your reaction to all that talk?

LEE:  You know, this is just Donald Trump`s same old, same old.  You know, he just can`t seem to take dissent.  He seems to be a President who wants to be authoritarian, an authoritative leader.  He doesn`t seem to want to engage in democratic processes at all.  And he just has a hard time taking any kind of criticism or opposition.  It`s very dangerous and very scary to me.  And so, whatever he says, you know, we have to listen to but he may say something different tomorrow.

HAYES:  Right.

LEE:  So you never know where he`s coming from on anything.

HAYES:  Congresswoman Barbara Lee, thank you.

I`m joined now by MSNBC Political Analyst Josh Earnest, former White House Press Secretary under President Obama.  And having worked in the White House and spoken on behalf of a President, what does it do to have a White House that is constantly doing 180s, constantly feigning threats and then not carrying them out, bluffing and getting called on the bluff?  From your perch as someone who has been through these kinds of negotiations, what do you think the effect of that is cumulatively?

JOSH EARNEST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, good evening, Chris.  Thanks for having me on your show.  I think what is clear is this current White House is desperate to try to demonstrate some kind of progress in President Trump`s first 100 days.  And they are going right to the deadline to try to add some bullets to the talking point card that people can use to try to convince the American public that he`s had a successful first 100 days.  The problem, Chris, is - there are many problems.  The first is according to the poll that NBC did earlier this week, most of the American public isn`t buying it.  The other challenge that they face here, Chris, is that this is all politics.  It is worth us spending a lot of time delving into the details of this republican health care proposal.  It`s important for people to understand what kind of impact it would have.  But there`s another thing that people should understand, which is, there is no chance that this bill in this form is going to pass the United States Senate.  None.

HAYES:  Right.  So, but this is what I mean.  There`s this sort of behavioral pattern here, right, which is -and I don`t know whether it`s good or bad, but just know it is, like, really tough talk on Mexico is going to pay for the wall.  Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, and he sort of drops it.  Really tough talk about labor in China currency manipulator, China is not a currency manipulator.  He sort of - he sort of drops it.  Really tough talk, I`m going to make everyone on the House Republican Caucus vote on this bill, they pull the bill from the floor.  I`m going to shatter shutdown from the wall, you keep doing that, it just seems like you degrade your ability to actually have what you say be taken credibly by foreign governments, by your allies, and by your opponents.

EARNEST:  Yes.  Well, it certainly is a non-traditional approach.  I mean, we can agree on that.  But, Chris, I think what President Trump has sensed, and this is something that was on display during his campaign, is he recognized a particular vulnerability in our modern media ecosystem, which is there is an unhealthy preoccupation with conflict.

HAYES:  Right.

EARNEST:  And President Trump plays on that.  He seeks out conflict.  He tries to provoke that kind of conflict because when he is viewed as the one inviting that conflict, it is often interpreted as him being strong and him getting something done, even if he is acting from a position of weakness and not actually making any progress at all.  That is typically - that is essentially the default position of the Trump White House, acting from a position of weakness and not actually having much tangible progress to show for their efforts.

HAYES:  Right.  And not just acting from a position of weakness, that`s a really good point, just picking fights.  I mean, acting from a position of weakness, initiating conflict.  Those two things together, whether it`s acting - whether it`s an international trade dispute or as something as important as nuclear weapons and the nuclear capabilities on the Korean Peninsula, you`re right.  That does seem to be the - that is the default, recurring pattern here.

EARNEST:  It is, and the health care thing is a great example.  He made this promise that he repeated over and over again on the campaign trail that he would repeal and replace ObamaCare.

HAYES:  Right.

EARNEST:  But there`s not actually a plan to get that done.  And so they`re stuck.  And so, it`s from this position of weakness that they are trying to bully -

HAYES:  Conflict.  Yes.

EARNERS:  - members of the House republican conference to support it.  That`s why they`re trying to ram this through in the first 100 days.  That`s why they want to do the vote before the CBO can actually score it.  That`s why they don`t want to have actual legitimate committee hearings to examine what the impact of the bill would be.  And that`s why also, Chris, you`re also seeing groups like the AARP and organizations representing more than a half million medical professionals already indicating their opposition to this bill.

HAYES:  All right, Josh Earnest, thank you very much.

EARNEST:  Good to talk to you, Chris.

HAYES:  Yes.  That place.  Still ahead, "LATE NIGHT" host Seth Meyers stops by to talk Trump`s first 100 days.  And, next, Senator Bernie Sanders on why he skipped the President`s North Korea briefing field trip and much more after this two-minute break.


HAYES:  The cable news President staring down his 100-day deadline tried to cram in as many photo ops as possible today, from signing executive orders including one entitled, Presidential executive order on the review of designations under the antiquities act, to the unveiling of his much ballyhooed tax plan which is actually a one-page piece of paper, more of a wish list than a plan, more on that later.  And then the highly, highly unusual spectacle of loading up senators on two buses for a briefing on North Korea on the White House grounds, which could have much more easily been held back at the Capitol in a secure room. 

The actual briefing described by Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley as nothing you couldn`t read in the newspaper and by Republican Senator Bob Corker as an OK briefing.  But the trip to the Eisenhower Executive Office building where the briefing was held, getting a little ribbing.  Democratic Senator Chris Murphy tweeting on board the bus to the100-days photo op slash North Korea briefing.  Republican Senator Ben Sasse joking, "Al Franken is really pleased, seemingly too much to discover there`s a bathroom in the bus to the White House."  And then just for good measure, late word that the President is considering an executive order that would begin the process of withdrawing the United States from NAFTA. 

And joining me now, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  And Senator, I want to start with some news that a bunch of people broke in today that there appears to be circulating somewhere in the White House an executive order to begin the process of withdrawing from NAFTA.  You`ve been very critical of NAFTA and deals like it.  But given the record in the first 100 days, I`m really curious what you as a senator do with information like this since it`s always hard to tell where anything is actually going.

BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM VERMONT:  That`s exactly right.  I mean, every day we hear another story.  We don`t know how any of the details.  Today, as you know, Trump announced his tax reform bill, which was all of one page, which by the way, of course, gave huge tax breaks to billionaires and large corporations.  So until you see the details of a plan, you can`t really comment on it.  On the other hand, what I will say is that we have a trade policy in this country which has for many decades been a disaster.  We have lost millions of decent-paying jobs, corporations shut down in the United States.  They`re moving to low-wage countries abroad, hurting the American working people.  So I think what we need is a trade policy.  We need changes in our trade policy.  We need to make sure that corporations are investing in this country, not just China, Mexico, and other low-wage countries.

HAYES:  Another part of the sort of carnival atmosphere today, there was a million things happening, was this strange spectacle of everyone in the Senate getting on buses and going over to the White House for a briefing that normally would just be conducted at the Senate itself.  My understanding is you`re one of the people who did not go.  Why did you not go?

SANDERS:  For precisely the reason that you gave.  These highly - supposedly highly classified briefings always take place in what is called the SCIF room in the Congress, which is a very well-designed room to prevent any cyber-security issues or security issues in general.  What I did not want to be is part of a photo opportunity or apolitical effort on the part of the White House.  The issue of North Korea is enormously important, and we need bipartisan efforts to control North Korea`s very aggressive nuclear efforts but I did not want to be part of a roadshow for the White House.

HAYES:  There`s also today`s - the other big piece of news today is that the Trumpcare has been revived.  The House Freedom Caucus has prevailed upon the - you know, the leadership to make it more favorable to the insurance industry in some ways, to take away more patient protections, and I just get the sense this is DOA on the Senate.  Like - what - even conservative colleagues of yours, they`re not going to run with this ball.

SANDERS:  I don`t think so.  I mean, again, here you have a President who said, I`m a different type of republican.  I am going to fight for health care for, quote, unquote, everybody.  And then he brought forth, along with Paul Ryan, a health care proposal which threw 24 million Americans off of health insurance, raised premiums for older workers, defunded Planned Parenthood, and cut Medicaid by $800 billion, and this proposal would likely be worse.  So bottom line here, Chris, I`m going to introduce a Medicare for all single-payer program.  We`ve got to join the rest of the world in guaranteeing healthcare to all of our people as a right.

HAYES:  What a - what a - so you just said something I think is interesting.  You said here`s a guy - I`ve had you on the show before and other democratic colleagues have said this, even others - you know, outside elected office, say he campaigned in one way, this kind of new - he was breaking with the sort of republican orthodoxies.  And here he is, and it looks like I feel like - and I`m curious if you feel this having lived through George W. Bush, a kind of George W. Bush 2.0 trajectory increasingly in what is actually taking shape in a concrete sense.

SANDERS:  Not 100 percent, but by and large, that`s true.  Look, here is the Republican Party mantra and how they manage to win elections should tell us something about the state of the Democratic Party.  Bottom line for republicans, hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the top 1 percent.  Cuts in health care, trying to overturn, repeal the Affordable Care Act, throw millions of people off of health insurance, cuts to programs that working people desperately depend upon whether it is Pell Grants, whether it`s Affordable Housing, whether it is afterschool programs, whether it is child care, same old, same old.  Tax breaks for the rich, cuts in programs that working people depend upon.  And also the added twist, their belief that climate change is a hoax and cozying up to the fossil fuel industry.

HAYES:  All right, Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont, thank you.

SANDERS:  Thank you. 

HAYES:  Coming up, the President`s tax cut wish list was revealed today and as Vox put it, it`s a plan that would make him much, much richer personally.  Details next.


HAYES:  Today, two informer Goldman Sachs bankers who now work in the Trump administration unveiled what was billed as a plan to radically reform the tax code though in reality, the plan, such as it was, was just a one-page outline of goals that was exceedingly light on specifics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Family of four, median income, $60,000, what does it mean for them?

MNUCHIN:  It could mean a tax cut.


GARY COHN, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR:  It could mean a tax cut.  Look, you`re asking the same question we got asked over here.  We will - we will let you know the specific details at the appropriate moment.


HAYES:  Despite the lack of specific details, one thing is certain.  The plan would massively cut the President`s own taxes despite his campaign trail promises.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you believe in raising taxes on the wealthy?

TRUMP:  I do.  I do, including myself.  I do.

HAYES:  OK.  Exactly how much this new tax plan would save the President still unclear because as his Treasury Secretary reiterated today, we have no way of knowing exactly what Trump actually pays in taxes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will the President release his tax returns so that -

MNUCHIN:  The President has no intention.  The President has released plenty of information.


HAYES:  We may not have his most recent tax returns but thanks to an exclusive report last month from our own Rachel Maddow and Reporter David Cay Johnston, we do know that in 2005, the vast bulk of what Trump paid in taxes, $31 million, was paid under the alternative minimum tax which Trump, guess what, now wants to abolish.  Trump also wants to eliminate the estate tax, which right now only affects couples worth more than $11 million, a move that would allow him to pass vast sums largely tax-free on to his kids.  And Trump wants to reduce the individual income tax paid by the very wealthiest Americans such as themselves and massively slash the corporate tax rate paid by companies like the Trump organization. 

In short, if this proposal were to pass, it would make this a very, very profitable Presidency for Donald Trump.  And barring a miracle, it would also mean a massive expansion of the deficit from a republican party that under President Obama just like a few months ago used to really decry that very thing.  Much more on that right after this break.

HAYES:  Republicans have spent a lot of time under Donald Trump talking about, quote, tax  reform.


TRUMP:  So now we`re going to go for tax reform, which I`ve always liked.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN:  We will get tax reform done.

UNIDENITIIFED MALE:  Tax reform will stand on its own two feet.


Tax reform.

Tax reform.

So tax reform.


Tax reform.

Tax reform.

Massive tax reform.


HAYES:  OK, but tax reform is a very specific meaning in this context, it means reforming the tax code in a way that doesn`t add to the deficit, anything else is just a deficit-financed tax cut.  And the White House today, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was pressed on the Trump administration`s proposal for what Trump calls, the quote, biggest tax cut in U.S. history.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Does it pay for itself.  Is this plan revenue neutral.

MNUNCHIN:  This plan will pay for itself with growth and with reduction of different deductions and closing loopholes.


HAYES:  Oh, we`ve heard that before.  Republicans have been claiming for decades that growth will pay for tax cuts even though the data simply doesn`t bear that out.

A former Obama economic adviser, Jared Bernstein, told the Times there`s not a shred of evidence to support the secretary`s pay for itself claim. 

The reality is as The Washington Post points out, many budget experts believe the White House`s plan would reduce federal revenues by so much it would grow the debt by trillions of dollars and that Trump`s so-called tax reform is just the latest example of a Republican president working to massively cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans regardless of the cost.

Joining me now, MSNBC anchor and correspondent Ali Velshi.  And Ali, I want to zero in on this difference, right, because there`s this idea that once in a generation plans for tax reform, which is to change the tax code in all these ways that`s fundamentally deficit neutral.  It`s not about cutting taxes, it`s about reforming the system.


HAYES:  That`s not what we`re going to get.


This isn`t tax reform, this is just a tax thing that increases the deficit, which is again, not a major problem to everyone except if you`re one of those people who really hates increasing the deficit, and you say you`re not going to.  And this old canard that somehow we`re going to grow our way out of it. Last summer in New York at the Economic Club, Donald Trump said that his tax plans are going to cause the economy to grow four, five, or six percent.  Chris, we`re at 1.6 percent.  Virtually nothing short of war causes a mature economy to grow that much.

I have a better chance of growing a full, thick Afro than we have of getting to 4 percent, 5 percent, 6 percent.

So, we just have to accept this what it is.  It`s a deficit financed tax cut, end of story.

HAYES:  Right.  I`m glad you said that.

And I agree, actually.  I`m glad you made that point about the deficit.  I don`t want to import some normative thing about big or small deficits, which is not something I actually think are a big problem right now, but what`s clear here I think there`s - what`s an interesting pattern, which is 81 Reagan Republicans get control, 2001, George W. Bush gets control.  2017, this is the kind of core, go-to domestic policy agenda - big, deficit financed tax cuts for the Republican Party.

VELSHI:  And everybody forgets to tell you the other half of the Reagan stuff, right?  It got rolled back because this is too expensive to do.

You have to figure out ways to do this.  I get that we want -- better economic growth is the holy grail for every president of any party, right, we want the economy to grow, want people to feel prosperous, earn more, spend more money, save enough to keep them secure, but keep the economy  going.  We have a different kind of economy now.  It doesn`t work that way.

America is a mature being.  You can`t go little things around the edges and hope all of a sudden a garden sprouts, it`s not how things go.  We`re a fat, middle-aged man of an economy and that`s the  problem.

So, I just wish they`d be honest.  It`s expensive.  It`s going to cost a lot of money.  And it`s a tax cut.

HAYES:  And so then the question here becomes - I mean, my - in the sort of - this is a technical thing, but it seems important to me, right.  If they`re doing tax reform, which is deficit-neutral, which means they have to raise some taxes.  They have this border tax which they`ve clearly abandoned.  It`s too hard politically.

If they`re doing it deficit-neutral, they can go through reconciliation, which means they need a majority.  If they`re not, then have got to clear a filibuster.  All of a sudden, they need Democratic votes, if I`m understanding this correctly.

VELSHI:  That is correct.  And that would mean that if they don`t have this, this is temporary anyway.  So, the fact is, this just - if it`s real reform, it`s not temporary.  It`s really talking about it, thinking about it, seeing what the impact is going to be over the long term.  You don`t do tax reform for the next election.  You do it for the next 25 or 50 years, and they have missed an opportunity to do this...

HAYES:  That - I`m glad you said, that was the generational opportunity everyone was very excited about.  And I just want to hang a light bulb on the fact that that has gone, that ship has sailed.  Like, that`s not happening.  That`s basically been admitted now.

VELSHI:  That is correct.

So, the ship sailed on a couple of opportunities right now.  We were supposed to by now have new health care and new tax reform.  And it looks like we`re not.  We`re going to get goose eggs on both of those fronts.

You`re going to get a tax cut.  People will get that.  Just understand it`s going to cost money.

HAYES:  We`ll see what the you is.

Ali Velshi, thanks for being with me tonight.  Appreciate it.

Still ahead, Seth Meyers is here to talk about the president`s first 100 davs and why he tries to be fair but not necessarily balanced in his Trump coverage.

Plus, a special candidate in a special election.  Oh, so special.  Tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two after the break.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, in one month, on May 25, Democrats have another chance to possibly win a Republican seat.  The race is for Montana`s lone congressional seat that was vacated by Ryan Zinke, who was tapped for secretary of the interior.

Now, Republicans are pitting billionaire businessman and New Jersey native Greg Gianforte  against folk musician and third generation Montanan Rob Quist.  And there isn`t much public polling, but internal campaign polls appear to show Gianforte leading earlier this month.

However, now the National Democratic Party stepping in announcing a six- figure ad buy last week to boost Quist.  Especially without polling, one sign a candidate may be gaining ground can be increasingly desperate attacks against him or her.  For instance, as Democrat Jon Ossoff picked up steam in that Georgia special election, a Republican super PAC ran multiple ads showcasing YouTube videos of him from college.


ANNOUNCER:  Jon Ossoff, not honest, not serious, not ready.  Sorry, Johnny, but the truth  strikes back.



That attack did not appear to work.  While Ossoff didn`t break 50 percent in the 18-candidate field, he outperformed polls by winning 48 percent of the vote and heads into the runoff in June.

So, what kind of oppo research have Republicans dredged up on Rob Quist?  Here`s a hint, it involves even less clothing than this Darth Vader, and it`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)                HAYES:  Today, the RNC blasted out an email titled not safe for work.  Montana Dem is nudist camp performer, writing Rob Quist is a featured attraction at a nudist resort.  Yes, that`s Quist with his daughter on the home page.  And below a screen shot with a red arrow.  That always means something bad is happening, pointing to Quist.

Now, the email links to a post by the conservative Washington Free Beacon, proclaiming Quist a regular performer at a nudist resort, saying he played music there as recently as 2014.

As salacious, I guess, as the headline sounds, and perhaps disappointing some real hard core Rob Quist fans, the Free Beacon notes that both Quist and his daughter are clothed, though others on the website`s home page are not.



SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN:  Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising since I just assumed he was running as a joke.


MEYERS:  Donald Trump said recently he has a great relationship with the blacks, though unless the blacks are a family of white people, I bet he`s mistaken.



HAYES:  Seth Meyers, along with President Obama skewered Donald Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner.

The night was reportedly so deeply humiliating for Trump that he decided to get his revenge by becoming president of the United States.

Now, six years after the infamous dinner with Trump in the White House, Seth Meyers has become one of the absolute sharpest political satirists on television.


MEYERS:  In a recent meeting, Trump replied, I`m not firing Sean Spicer, the guy gets great ratings.  Everyone tunes in.

Yeah, everyone tunes in to watch Sean Spicer for the same reason this video has 31 million views.

And then there`s Trump`s friend and confidant Roger Stone who has kept in touch with Trump during Trump`s president.  Stone was also a guest at the inauguration where he wore this outfit. You know, how you dress to close an orphanage.

And then of course there was the time Trump saw a Fox News segment about Sweden and suggested there had been a terrorist incident there even though there was not.  It was almost as embarrassing as the time O`Reilly thought he was interviewing Sweden`s prime minister.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS:  People who were raised in Sweden feel safe, is that what you`re saying?

SWEDISH CHEF, MUPPET:  (inaudible)

MEYERS:  It`s an excellent point.


HAYES:  But it`s not just the comedy that makes Late Night with Seth Meyers, it`s the fidelity that Seth Meyers has to the truth.


MEYERS:  You know, we`ve been talking about Donald Trump on this show for 18 months, and one of the things I`ve tried to make clear over those 18 months is how I`ve been wrong about him at every turn.

When he first came down the escalator at Trump Tower and announced, I boldly said on this show, it was a stunt, and he would never really run.

I then said he would never win the GOP nomination.  And I certainly didn`t think he would be our next president.

But the good news is based on this pattern of me being wrong on every one of my Donald Trump predictions, he`s probably going to be a great (EXPLETIVE DELETED) president.


HAYES:  That day, Seth Meyers admitted he was wrong about Trump was the day after the  election.  It just so happens, I was on his show that night.

And today as we approach the 100-day marker of the Trump presidency, Seth Meyers sat down with me to talk about what he thinks now.  That interview next.



HAYES:  One of the things I think to think about is, what happens after every election, I remember in 2004 it was Republicans are going to rule forever, and two years later they lost the House in a landslide.  In 2008 it was, Democrats have all three branches of government, Republicans are an extinct specious and six months later it was the Tea Party, right.

If they kick 20 million people off of health care, there will be a political reaction to that.

MEYERS:  I want to shift to - away from this.  Just so we can end on -- anything else.

HAYES:  Was I that bad?

MEYERS:  No!  Look, this is not your fault.


HAYES:  Joining me now is Seth Meyers.  Seth, great to have you here.

MEYERS:  So good to be here.

HAYES:  I was on your show.  We`re closing a book end on 100 days, because I was on your show the day after the election.


HAYES:  Where we were sort of thinking like what is coming down the pike?  And now you`re here.  What is your big takeaway?  What have you learned, Seth Meyers, in the first 100...

MEYERS:  I don`t know how much I`ve learned.  I will say, it`s not even a book that seems like worth going back to the first chapter to look at.

We were thinking the other day, when we look back at our early pieces we were doing after the  inauguration, things like the Carrier deal.

HAYES:  Right.

MEYERS:  That seems like a million years ago.

HAYES:  A generation ago.

MEYERS:  A generation ago.

So, for me it`s the -- I`ve learned to just let everything go, because tomorrow is going to be more impactful than yesterday.

HAYES:  Well, and that`s part of the thing, too, is that there`s nothing fixed in what - do you guys feel like -- what is your approach, or what do you feel like you`ve learned about what it when the president says a thing?

Because I feel like so much of what you do, what everyone does, what we all do is like the president says a thing on camera and then we`re like, well, the president said a thing.  And then the next day the president`s like, I didn`t say that.  Or I don`t care.

So, it`s like what do you do with that?

MEYERS:  We try to keep it pretty simple, which is, let`s do jokes about what happened today.  Let`s try to constantly point out when there are contradictions, which is constantly.  And, you know, try to explain to people -- you know, our big takeaway today is, look, this is a guy who said he was a  different Republican.  Everything we`re seeing up to this point is he`s just a regular Republican.  He is - it`s in a different shell.  It looks different than anything we`ve ever seen before, it talks different than anything we`ve ever seen before, but this is not this populist, you know, anti-interventionist that he sold himself as.

HAYES:  That is - I think that`s such an important point, because there was this political science book called The Party Decides, which was about nominating contests.  And it was all like the party decides who the nominee`s going to be, and everyone after the primary was like, the big loser is the party decides.

But the big winner to me of the first 100 days is the party decides.  Like, it turned out that the party as a thing means a lot more than maybe we thought it did.

MEYERS:  Well, I guess the party decides what gets done, like that -- so maybe they didn`t decide on Donald Trump, and I think if they went back they still would take something else, of any of them - of the many choices.

HAYES:  Literally anyone.

MEYERS:  But that - you know, again, it`s fascinating to watch in realtime someone learn the basic rules of politics, which is what we`re seeing in Donald Trump.

HAYES:  And to be honest about it, that`s the other thing I find fascinating.  He will tell you -- most people have a sense of shame that`s large enough to lie about having just learned an obvious thing.

MEYERS:  Yeah.

HAYES:  But he does not have that.

MEYERS:  But he says he just learned it, but he also thinks he`s the first person who learned it.  Like he wants you to know he learned...

HAYES:  Many people don`t realize X is the formulation, which always means I just learned.

MEYERS:  I just learned.  Many people don`t realize Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.   Well, OK.  You`d be surprised to know how many people in politics know that.

The - we have a thing today, on our show tonight, about -- basically just said, the reason I said NATO was obsolete was I didn`t know anything about it.

HAYES:  Yes.

MEYERS:  And in that -- sort of he wants to be forgiven for that, but ultimately the correct answer was, I`m going to decide on NATO once I learn more about it.

HAYES:  Right.

I think -- I want to make -- advance a contrarian argument and see what you think.  Like, I actually think - there`s some part of me that thinks that everyone kind of learning to understand that  what`s coming from the president is essentially trash talk.


HAYES:  Salesman`s patter.  Maybe there`s something good about that in that we have this -- ascended the presidency to this golden calf reverence in our society, the society that rejected a king and like we`ve put in his stead, oh, the president.

And now we`re back to kind of like some Democratic norm of, like, he`s just a guy.

MEYERS:  Yeah.

HAYES:  Like, the president.  Like, I think a lot of people feel that way.  Maybe that`s weirdly healthy.

MEYERS:  I don`t mind that he`s just a guy.  I wish it wasn`t this guy.  But I agree that dropping the pretense of what a president is and the very idea of what presidential means -- so the guy part of it doesn`t bother me, but I feel like there are more straight-talking guys.

HAYES:  Right.

MEYERS:  Than what this guy is.

HAYES:  Right, there`s the particularities of him.

Do you feel like you have to be fair?

MEYERS:  Fair, definitely.  I think the thing that we get caught up in and the thing I get asked about all the time, is do you think you have to be balanced?

HAYES:  Different than fair.

MEYERS:  Fair, we care deeply about fair.

HAYES:  We do too.

MEYERS:  And we care deeply about getting stuff right and making sure we check the facts, but balanced to me is sort of a false premise.  That right now there is this incredible imbalance in that we have a Republican president, we have a Republican Senate, we have a Republican House. They`re making all the decisions.  And so the idea that we would sort of switch our focus back like a lighthouse and just get everything around the shore is not how we are approaching it.

HAYES:  Do you feel like you`ve changed politically?  Because I feel like one of the things  that`s really interesting about this 100 days is this kind of engagement engine that`s turned on.  I see it with people, people I talk to, people that I`ve been a neighbor with for years, but had just had my first political conversation with because they just realized I host the show.

MEYERS:  Right.

HAYES:  Do you feel that way?  And what -- do you like that?

MEYERS:  Well, look.  We`ve found ourselves in a nice position, which we`re doing a kind of show that it turned out, and I did not know -- after the election I thought it was very possible that everybody would say, OK, enough.

HAYES:  Stop.

MEYERS:  Stop, I can`t hear about it.  He`s in charge now.  I don`t want to hear him run down, I want to go elsewhere.  I come to 12:30 at night to watch a TV show to settle into a night`s sleep, I don`t want you to put nightmares in my head.

So, we were lucky to be in that situation that we already like talking about this sort of stuff.  The way I will say I`ve changed is, the election result gave me a real sense of empathy and trying to understand how people came to that decision.

HAYES:  Yeah.

MEYERS:  And as someone who thought Obama was a good president, I did not have an appreciation for these huge swaths of the country that their lives did not get better over eight years.  And if your life doesn`t get better after eight years, why wouldn`t you roll the dice and gamble?

We we are country of gamblers. 

And now the interesting thing to me...

HAYES:  We are country of gamblers.

MEYERS:  We are.

HAYES:  Like, oh, I`m going to pack up my home and go overseas and start a new life, or I`m going to go to the frontier where there -- you know.

MEYERS:  So why not take a chance on the guy...

HAYES:  That`s a really good insight,actually.

MEYERS:  But so the most interesting thing to me going forward, because we have tried very hard of not to make our show a criticism of people who voted for Trump.  We think there`s plenty to  criticize about Trump himself.

HAYES:  And the people around him, I would note.

MEYERS:  Yes, of course.

But I think the next 100 days, the most interesting thing to pay participation to is, are these  people still satisfied?  Is this what they wanted?  Is this what they got?  Was it in the end, was it just about the bluster and not actually about the promises?

HAYES:  Or one weird thing I think is, maybe they just wanted the bluster, like maybe...

MEYERS:  Yeah.

HAYES:  The thing that he does is he`s a blustery version of someone who doesn`t get a lot done and the economy does OK, people would be like, that`s kind of what I wanted, like I wanted the character, I didn`t want him doing something really crazy and drastic.

So like the status quo was fine, I just wanted the status quo with a dude like that.

MEYERS:  And I get that a dude like that, and this should not come as a surprise to any of us,  that there are a lot of people that when he does makes them feel better and makes them feel like they don`t have anything to apologize for.

Again, when you have a president who doesn`t apologize for anything, then you as a person I feel like your life is a lot -- you have less guilt in your day.

HAYES:  Exculpated.  All right, Seth Meyes, man.  Always a pleasure.