Show: MTP Daily Date: February 28, 2017 Guest: Bernie Sanders, Bill Kristol
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: -- going to talk to Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul. That`s "MTP DAILY" and it starts right now.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Tuesday.
President Trump is coming to Congress. Tonight, what will President Trump say? How will Democrats in Congress react? And can the president begin to restore his administration`s credibility?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I get an A, in terms what have I`ve actually done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Plus, what Congress wants to hear. I`ll talk to former presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle, Senators Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul.
And why Marisa Tomei is the real winner of this year`s academy awards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARISA TOMEI, ACTRESS: My biological clock is ticking like this. And the way this case is going, I ain`t never getting married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington where, in just over four hours, President Trump will speak to a joint session of Congress for the first time in the historic House chamber.
The President will be addressing a deeply divided nation and a deeply divided chamber tonight. So, welcome to a special edition of MTP DAILY as we gear up for this big night in American politics. And, folks, heading into Mr. Trump`s address, questions are swirling around three crucial areas, the substance of tonight`s message, the credibility of the messenger, and the symbolism surrounding the night. On substance, there remains serious questions about the way forward on health care, tax reform, the budget, Russia, North Korea and immigration. Where we got some potentially big news out of the White House today, more on that in a little bit, the White House briefed reporters today, including myself and a few others at NBC News, ahead of tonight`s address. Some was off the record. Some of it wasn`t. A lot is already out there as there was confusion about what was on and what was off and what was background. So, let me just lay out what we know. According to the White House, the president may issue a call for an immigration bill in his speech tonight, a big comprehensive bipartisan immigration bill and what could be a major shift. The White House says Mr. Trump is open to legal status for undocumented immigrants who haven`t committed serious crime. Those individuals will not even need to leave the country to get legal, possibly even to get citizenship. Folks, if the president does say this tonight, that he`s open to a pathway for legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants, that would be a major shift, considering he`s forged a different political identity on the issue of immigration. But again, this seemed to be a slightly, sort of, I don`t to want say off the cuff but maybe calling it audible. So, all of that`s a big if tonight. The White House does say the president`s address will focus on some other issues, including economic issues at the top and jobs. He`ll get his, what is described as, quote, "an America-first agenda." Which includes trade and infrastructure reform. But he`s not expected to offer much in the way of specifics on the thorny issue of repealing and replacing Obamacare. We`re told the speech will end on an optimistic tone with a call for unity. Something that the White House believes was overlooked in his inauguration speech. In addition to the issues of substance, there are renewed questions of White House credibility amid a flurry of ongoing fact checks, calls for probes (ph), possible conflicts of interest, staffing shakeups, and, of course, controversial claims. So, today, President Trump offered a rare acknowledgment of his administration shortcomings when it comes to messaging.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I give myself an A plus, OK, effort. But that`s -- you know, results are more important. In terms of messaging, I would give myself a C or C plus.
AINSLEY EARHARDT, CO-HOST, FOX AND FRIENDS: Why?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, my messaging isn`t good. I get an A, in terms what have I`ve actually done. But in terms of messaging, I`d give myself a C or C plus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And, lastly, there are questions tonight of symbolic importance. Will President Trump address the issue of anti-Semitism or the recent shooting in Kansas where an Indian man was killed and an attack that the FBI is now investigating as a possible hate crime. And how will Democrats treat the president tonight? Will it be symbolic protests or outright disruption?
Joining me now is Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He recently is calling for a full Obamacare repeal and says he won`t for any Republican plan he considers Obamacare-like.
Senator Paul, always a pleasure, sir.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Thank you.
TODD: Let me start with what may or may not be said about immigration. Let me ask it in the big 30,000-foot way in -- for you. Do you think the time is right for a comprehensive, bipartisan bill right now? Do you think the political environment is there for it to happen and this president could make it happen?
PAUL: You know, I think there is room for movement on immigration. I`ve always said it would be better done if we did a little bit of it at a time.
Most of the distrust, on a part of conservatives, is that even going back to Reagan, whenever we legalized people who came in illegally, we were promised border security and then the border security never came. And so, conservatives are very distrustful of the process.
[17:05:10] So, I think if you look at border security first, and then if you look like you`re making progress, I think you could do other things. I`m open on the dreamers. I would let the dreamers have a legal status, but I would count them against new people coming in. So, for example, if you`re waiting in Mexico City, and you want to come here and you`re a dreamer and you`re already here, I`d give preference to the dreamers, but I`d count them against the numbers. So, what we would be doing is internally immigrating people who are already here.
TODD: What is border enforcement mean though? You always hear that and there`s no agreed upon metric. For instance, it`s simply a more aggressive ICE which the public is now seeing. Is that enough for you?
PAUL: I think what you have to have -- and the message needs to be sent very loud and clear that we are a welcoming country, if you come in legally.
If you come in illegally, there`s no tolerance, zero tolerance. That everyone will be sent back as soon as they cross in. They will be interdicted within the first 100 feet of coming in and they will be immediately sent back. We`re not going to send them to Massachusetts. We`re not going to send them to Alaska. We`re going to say, absolutely no illegal immigration. But the government has to prove that they can do that because conservatives have promised that in the past and never fulfilled it. If they promise that -- look, I`m somebody who`s very open to more legal immigration. I`m for expanding the migrant workers. I`m for expanding the H1B visas for hi-tech workers to stay. I`m pro-immigration but you got to -- the government needs to prove that it can handle illegal immigration.
TODD: Speaking of promises, promises made and promises kept. Let`s go to Obamacare. You -- in many ways, the president gave you initial credit when he said, hey, you can`t do repeal without having the replace ready to go.
But you also have teamed up with two other senators to say, hey, what we`re seeing so now -- right now, coming out of the House even is not a full repeal, so you`re not interested in any of it. Is there any health care plan that isn`t going to have some portion of it that is -- could be classified as Obamacare-like?
PAUL: Well, we promised the electorate -- when we ran in 2010, we took over the House because we were for a repeal of Obamacare, not for a partial repeal.
We took over the Senate in 2014. We promised complete repeal. We won the White House on the complete repeal. So, the starting and ending point for Republicans, and where we have previously been unified, is complete repeal. Now, complete repeal does not include refundable tax credits which are basically the government giving you money back that you did not pay in taxes. That is simply subsidies by another name. It would be a permanent entitlement program. And it, sort of -- it`s a, you know, Democrat idea dressed up in Republican clothing. So, I`m not for that and I won`t vote for that. And I think they know me at my word that I will vote no. But I`m also joined by the House Freedom Caucus, 40 members, and at least three or four in the Senate who are saying, hey, wait a minute. Why don`t we just vote for repeal and let`s do replacement separately?
TODD: You know, it`s interesting. Phil Klein, in the "Washington Examiner," wrote the following about this issue itself, about how far Republicans are willing to go on Obamacare.
He said, Democrats are willing to risk political defeat to deliver on something they believed in. So, do Republicans believe anything they`ve been saying? Do they think Obamacare is an abomination that kills jobs, drives up cost, erodes the quality of coverage and stifles innovation? If they do, they have a duty to follow through on the promises to which they owe their majorities, no matter the political risks.
Is that where you are?
PAUL: What I would say is I`m for both complete repeal and replace same day. And the replacement would fix a lot of the problems.
I have a great deal of sympathy. Look, I worked as a physician for 20 years. I have a great deal of sympathy for the working class and the working poor who struggle to get health care. And so, what I would do is the 11 million people that are in the individual market where the main problem is, I would let every one of them join an association and get group insurance. Group insurance will be cheaper, and group insurance will protect you against preexisting conditions. That`s a solution. Not more government handouts. We don`t have any money to give people. We`re out of money up here. We have a $20 trillion debt. We borrow a million dollars a minute --
TODD: So, what do you do with the Medicaid --
PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) money for all these. TODD: -- what do you do with the folks that got covered on Medicaid expansion?
PAUL: The first question is, how do you pay for what President Obama gave them? He gave them a false hope and he gave the country a false promise because it was dishonest accounting. There was no money to pay for it.
But the way I would help those individuals is I would let every individual join an association. So, instead of buying insurance by yourself under my plan, no one would be left buying insurance by themselves. Everybody would join an association. [17:10:02] And what if the association had a million people in it --
TODD: What if you`re unemployed? What association are you joining if you don`t have a job or a -- what association is it? The association of people looking for health insurance?
PAUL: No, I think you forget -- TODD: How does that work? PAUL: -- no, I think you forget that we do have a baseline for those who are not able to take care of themselves and that`s called Medicaid. And we still would have that. We also have -- for the unemployed, there are different transitional products -- TODD: Right. PAUL: -- that you can get, cobra and different insurance replacements that you get until you work again. But under my plan, the 11 million people, who are in the individual market who worry about getting sick, would be covered. They would not have a problem with preexisting conditions, and they would get a better price. Obamacare did the opposite. It made insurance too expensive. Nobody wanted to buy it. And it led to a death spiral for the insurance companies. We`ve got to fix that with complete repeal. And we should replace it with the marketplace and with market reforms that will help everybody get insurance at a cheaper price.
TODD: Now, look, no one had said that you`re somebody that panders. Because if you wanted to pander on this, your own state is viewed as a success story when it comes to Obamacare. In fact, your state`s former governor is going to be giving the address tonight.
Why do -- are you -- where are you on Kynect? Does it work or not work?
PAUL: I -- well, I wouldn`t exactly agree with that. Obamacare is basically Medicaid expansion. Some say about 16 million people got insurance and 14 million of them got Medicaid. So, if you tell me that, hey, you`re going to be governor of Kentucky and we`ll offer free cars to people and everybody can have a car. Could I set up a Web site to offer everybody a free car, a free house, a free college education? It`s easy to offer stuff that`s free. It`s just irresponsible. So, our governor was irresponsible. President Obama was irresponsible. And we`re left with a $20 trillion debt because they just kicked the can up to Washington and said, print up more money for it. That is not a responsible way to run your country.
TODD: Well, let me ask the final question here. Is it fair to the tax payers for non-insured people to be taken care of in an emergency room and eventually that cost gets passed on to us in higher insurance rates?
PAUL: There`s a wide variety of ways you can take care of people. Very sick people, I think, who insurance cannot buy insurance, I think we can take care of them through government programs. But we need to make sure that it`s five percent of the public and not 50 percent of the public.
So, what you need is you need an expanding, growing economy where most people get their insurance through employment and employment is expanding. Right now, we grow at about one percent. For every percentage point of growth that you increase growth, you add about a million jobs. So, if you grow with three percent instead of one percent, that`s 2 million people who will be getting real insurance and have real employment and will be developing real self-worth. So, there are a lot of answers to this. Some of it include the government. But we don`t want everybody to be on the government take because then there`s not enough people left to pay for all of those services.
TODD: All right. Senator Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky. Appreciate you coming on and sharing your views, sir. Always a pleasure.
TODD: You got it.
Coming up, I`ll talk with senator Bernie Sanders about what progressives will be watching for tonight. Stay tuned.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TODD: Welcome back. Bringing guests to a presidential address to Congress is now -- is a time- honored tradition, not just by presidents these days, everyone. And tonight`s guest list certainly highlights the strong partisan divide on immigration. Among President Trump`s guests are three Americans whose family members were killed by immigrants living in the United States illegally. On the left, at least four Democratic lawmakers have invited dreamers who are part of the Obama era program which exempts people illegally brought into the country as children from deportation. So, while the president has expressed some support for dreamers, he has not yet said if he supports DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. And, as we have said, you may hear more about the president`s immigration agenda tonight. In fact, more than his own staff had planned for. So, stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TODD: Welcome back to MTP DAILY. Let me bring in tonight`s panel. Chris Cillizza is the founder of "The Washington Post" "The Fix" blog and MSNBC Contributor. Founder. (INAUDIBLE.) Bill Kristol is the founder and editor of "The Weekly Standard." And Maria Teresa Kumar, are you the founder of Voto Latino?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: Founding President.
TODD: Founding President of Voto Latino.
KUMAR: Twelve years (INAUDIBLE.) TODD: All right. Bill Kristol, you are a Republican member of Congress. You`ve been hammered at town halls. What do you want to hear from President Trump tonight?
BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Hey, that`s a good question. I mean, I think you probably want to sense -- you`d like a sense that they have a legislative strategy.
Every White House has a legislative strategy and that people around usually been in government before, and they`re trying to figure out, what do we do first? What do we do second? What (INAUDIBLE) do we make here? Where can we get the bipartisan bill maybe in our first year? If we can`t, then what can we do that`s popular and what can we shove aside?
And what doesn`t have much of a sense in the Republican members I`ve talked to, they just don`t think, is anyone in the Trump White House really thinking this way? Who is the Josh Bolten? Who`s the Rahm Emanuel? Who`s the Dick Darman who`s thinking strategically about the next (INAUDIBLE)?
TODD: It`s so funny (ph) on sequencing.
TODD: You know, Maria, imagine a sequencing that was infrastructure first.
KUMAR: That`s right.
TODD: You know, where you went and, basically, called Schumer`s bluff. KUMAR: Yes. TODD: Day one or two after he was elected, Schumer would say, hey, if he`s serious on this, (INAUDIBLE) Democrats. KUMAR: I think -- TODD: And I think we have already blown the sequencing. KUMAR: I don`t disagree. I think that one of the reasons that Flynn was let go was because they realized that they needed Vice President Mike Pence to do a lot of the negotiating on the House side. And now, he`s coming in and he`s blown his chance, I think, for toughening that infrastructure and that`s why -- and to give people jobs. At the end of the day, that`s what folks wanted. They wanted President Trump to come in and talk about -- talk about jobs and job creation and not double down on social issues.
TODD: That`s what he wants to lead with tonight, by the way.
KUMAR: He does. TODD: His focus on jobs and keeping -- CHRIS CILLIZZA, FOUNDER, "THE WASHINGTON POST", "THE FIX": And that`s -- TODD: -- jobs in the United States. CILLIZZA: -- the problem. Go back and look at Schumer`s quotes after the election. KUMAR: Yes. CILLIZZA: That`s, like, well, you know, if he`s going to propose an infrastructure bill, we`re going to -- we`re going to find ways to work with him. Well, you know, obviously, a month, six weeks later, Schumer`s not singing that tune. And I would -- to the -- Bill`s point. What do they want to hear? I think they want to hear, remember, what is it always about for members of Congress? TODD: Yes. CILLIZZA: How will this play for me? Is there a deliverable I can give to my district? That`s why so many of these women and men were getting hammered at town halls. Because, yes, there`s always going to be people who are unhappy with what you do. The problem is if you don`t have a thing to say, I made this, I did this thing, you have no defense to it. TODD: Let`s -- CILLIZZA: And he`s given them very little to, sort of, grasp on to. (CROSSTALK) CILLIZZA: You might not like X over here, but we did Y.
KUMAR: And he`s gone after cultural -- he`s gone after cultural issues and not the bread and butter issues. Why people say, you know what? He may not be the guy for me, but he`s promised me a job.
CILLIZZA: And (INAUDIBLE) himself on that, too, by the way.
[17:20:00] TODD: The base strategy of the first month. Now, look, I (INAUDIBLE) bill tonight. It has been -- I would say all weekend and including the person who is the seniorest most administrative official in that White House. They are really trying to have a positive attitude, optimistic outlook. They have said the words unity a lot. We heard it before the inauguration. I believed it before the inaugural speech. It turned out it wasn`t as unifying as it could have been. I do think, tonight, they seem more serious about trying to sound more optimistic.
KRISTOL: Yes, well, I think that`s nice and sounding good is good. But, of course, you could save jobs. That`s easy. We`re at 4.7 percent, I think, unemployment. Isn`t that right? Isn`t not so easy to know exactly. The people who don`t have jobs in Canton, Ohio or Scranton, Pennsylvania, no one can snap his fingers --
TODD: Well, remember, it is -- in fairness, though, it`s under -- there are people unemployed.
KRISTOL: That`s a tough -- that`s a tough problem to deal with. So, I think that one you can do is try to make things more bite sized. Comprehensive usually does not work well. But everyone agrees with their policy on corporate tax. You can imagine doing bite sized things that would be pretty impressive.
CILLIZZA: Which would give them --
KRISTOL: But they haven`t done that. CILLIZZA: -- something to talk about. If you`re a Republican member of Congress -- just one -- I talked to Mike Gerson, George Bush`s primary speech writer. Because, you know, we are hearing it`s going to be a more positive speech. And what he said I thought was interesting. Because the two big speeches we`ve heard from Trump are convention and inauguration. Both very dark speeches. I said, what about this more positive? But he said, the problem for Trump is that giving that speech is the opposite of, sort of, the Trump pitch to the country which is things are terrible. TODD: Right. CILLIZZA: I`m the only one who can say it. But if you say, things are good. The need for Donald J. Trump, only man on earth who can take us from this terrible place to a good place, the logic of that goes away. So, that it goes against brand for him to give a speech that is, sort of, (INAUDIBLE.)
KUMAR: Well, and I think -- I think that one of the things that he`s going to go and double down on the military and we`re trying to make you safer and this is why you chose me. It`s going to be really difficult for the Democrats to pull it away from that. Because then the Republicans can use that as red meat and say, wait a second, you don`t believe in a safer border, safer country? And that`s going to be tough.
But I do think that it backs on who he wants to cut off a lot of this program to feed the military is going through the MEA for the poor, for folks that are the most vulnerable that, supposedly, were also his constituents.
TODD: I want to go to health care here because I got some time with the speaker of the House this morning. That was very much on the record and where he is on health care. And, obviously, some of us got some time with folks that are associated with the president at the White House in a preview of the speech.
And what`s interesting, Bill, is -- and I think of -- when I first met Bill Kristol, he was faxing me letters at the hotline trying to stop Hillarycare. It was a long time ago. KRISTOL: Exactly. TODD: Like curling papers. So, they have been doing the health care wars forever.
KUMAR: (INAUDIBLE) them again. It`s made that comeback interesting.
TODD: I do get the sense the president and the speaker are trying to claim they`re on the same page. And, honestly, they`re barely on the same page.
KRISTOL: Yes. I mean, look, replacing -- "The Weekly Standard" even posted the faxes and we posted many articles on Obamacare. And the possible replacements are good ideas for replacement but there are several ideas and there are trade-offs.
And you have to -- and the problem is the very conservative members of the House don`t want to have refundable tax credits which is basically the way, from a conservative point of view, you cover people who can`t afford to buy insurance.
I mean, there`s a very coherent --
TODD: Paul Rand makes a pretty good argument for the tax credit fight.
KRISTOL: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) very well. This is the other, Obama wants government exchanges. Conservatives want tax credits. Age appropriate.
TODD: Not all conservatives want tax credit. You heard Rand Paul. He doesn`t.
KRISTOL: But he doesn`t. So, then, they don`t have a real majority. And this is where if you don`t have any Democrats votes -- this has always been a mistake, I think, of Republicans. Trump wins, Republican Congress, hey, off to the races. Fifty-two Republican senators is not that many if you lose Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.
TODD: They`re already at 49.
KRISTOL: And Susan Collins and Lucy Murkowski on another and John McCain on the third. So, I don`t know that anyone`s done the legislative work of figuring out what health care alternative can pass.
KUMAR: I think --
CILLIZZA: I think you can rest assured no one has done that, right? That is not where they are yet. It`s just a fact.
KUMAR: Well, it sounds like (INAUDIBLE.)
CILLIZZA: And that`s true to the legislative problems that they have. You got to sell it. You can`t just say it.
TODD: I don`t have a lot of optimism that we will hear details on that tonight.
All right. You guys are sticking around. Still ahead, Senator Bernie Sanders joins me.
Plus, why I`m obsessed with Marisa Tomei today. Stay tuned.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TODD: Stay with MSNBC all night for full coverage of President Trump`s first address to Congress. In fact, don`t change the channel right now. Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews will lead our coverage which begins officially at 8:00 p.m. But, hey, we`re doing a bunch of stuff now. By the way, midnight Eastern, Chris Matthews will be staying up with his all-star panel of guests and a special edition of "HARDBALL." Bill Maher, Kathy Griffin, Michael Moore, Rob Reiner will all have, sort of, the west coast reaction to the president`s address. That`s midnight tonight.
And we`ve got more MTP DAILY just ahead. But, first, here`s Hampton Pearson with the CNBC market wrap.
HAMPTON PEARSON, BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: Thanks, Chuck. We had the Dow down by 25 points. The S&P off six. The NASDAQ dropping 36 points.
Demand on the rise in the housing market. That means higher prices in the spring compared to last year. Existing home sales hitting a 10-year high last month.
Apple`s CEO, Tim Cook, promising shareholders tons of revenue for new non- iPhone products. He wouldn`t say more and Apple will reportedly change the iPhone charger, again, to include a USBC port used in phones by Google and HDC. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
[ (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR, "MEET THE PRESS DAILY": Welcome back. Our countdown continues to President Donald Trump`s first address before joint session of congress. It`s the first time in over a decade that a republican president will address a united republican congress. Meanwhile, democrats are figuring out whether to work with this president or embrace full on obstructionism.
Joining me now is the independent Vermont senator and former democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders, welcome back to the show, sir. BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM VERMONT, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you.
TODD: Let me just start with your baseline. What is the -- what is something in your sort of within the realm of the possible that you`d like to hear from President Trump tonight? You know what I mean, like within the realm of possible. He`s a republican, you are not, all that stuff. What is something you`d like to hear tonight that`s within that realm that you think is possible?
SANDERS: Well, I think a reasonable request, Chuck, is that the president tell the American people and especially the people that voted for him, that he is going to keep his campaign promises. That`s not a radical demand. That he is going to tell the American people tonight that he campaigned on saying that he would not support cuts to social security Medicare and Medicaid.
I would like tonight for him to tell the American people that while republicans are working all the time to privatize Medicare and cut social security and Medicaid that he will veto any legislation that does that. He campaigned, Chuck, on saying that he is going to take on Wall Street. He believes in reestablishing Glass-Steagall legislation.
I want to hear him tonight say, despite the fact that he has appointed half of Wall Street into his administration, I want him to say that yes, we are going to take on the greed and the recklessness and the illegal behavior of Wall Street. I don`t think that`s asking too much.
TODD: You know, it`s interesting you brought up social security Medicare and you added -- you`d like to hear him say he would veto anything that will do that. Because his first budget -- you must have been -- let`s erase 90 percent of it, but there was one part of it, he said, not touching Medicare and social security, which doesn`t make some house republicans happy. Did that make you relieved?
SANDERS: But that`s only half the story. TODD: Okay.
SANDERS: You see the other half of the story is that Paul Ryan and his friends, both in the house and the senate, are working to cut social security and Medicare. So it`s not good enough for him to come up with a budget, which is going to undergo as all president`s budgets do massive changes. What`s important for him tonight is to say to his republican colleagues, forget about it. Don`t waste your time. I am going to veto that legislation. And let`s go forward and start to take on Wall Street.
By the way, Chuck, today I introduced legislation with 19 co-sponsors that would lower the cost, the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs in this country by moving to re-implementation by allowing American pharmacists, distributors, and individuals to purchase low cost medicine in Canada and eventually other countries.
TODD: Hey, senator, can I ask about that issue a minute? Because it has struck me on the idea of negotiating lower prices, this has been a demand of the voters for over a decade. SANDERS: Yep.
TODD: How did it not happen during the Obamacare legislation? I mean, I`m just sort of -- I am sort of perplexed that I`ve heard you lately push on this and I`m sitting there going, my gosh, how did that not happen?
SANDERS: Well, that is a very fair question. And the answer is, that the pharmaceutical industry in my view next to Wall Street is the most powerful political force on Capitol Hill. They have 1,400 lobbyists. They spend billions of dollars in lobbying hundreds of millions in campaign contributions. So let`s be honest, Chuck, both with the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, they are enormously powerful.
I hope now that given the fact that we have many republicans who want to see this re-implementation in the low cost of prescription drugs, a president who has talked about the high cost of prescription drugs. I hope that we can work together to make that happen.
TODD: Curious to some, you said on CNN on Sunday, you said I think our job now -- this is referring to sort of the future of the Democratic Party -- change in subject here. I think our job now is to rally the grassroots to take Trump on and to fight for a progressive agenda.
How much is that -- is that -- are you advocating that you know what, democrats just need to stay united against Donald Trump or if you proposes a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, it is okay to split of. I mean, when should democrats stay united and when should they split off and work with them?
SANDERS: I think it would be absurd for democrats to say that anything that Trump says or does or that republicans say or do, we are automatically an opposition. I think that is counterproductive politically. I think it`s counterproductive to the best interest of the American people. For example, Trump has correctly talked about our crumbling infrastructure.
I proposed several years ago a trillion dollars investment to rebuild our roads and bridges and our waste water plants, et cetera. He has also proposed a trillion dollars. That is good. That can create millions of good-paying jobs. The question is, are we going to fund that.
SANDERS: . infrastructure rebuilding by giving tax breaks to Wall Street and billionaires or do we fund it in a sensible way? He comes forward in a sensible way, let`s go forward together. TODD: You know, it`s interesting, you also have some leverage on the Democratic Party. I know your candidate didn`t get the win. And you talked about -- you still believe the Democratic Party needs to make a wholesale transformation. Your e-mail list is considered one of the most politically best assets you could have on the left these days.
And you have hesitated whether you`re going to let the DNC lease it to and all that. What would the DNC have to do? What would Chairman Tom Perez have to do to make you feel comfortable that you know what, they`re making the transformation that I called for and because of that, here`s my list? SANDERS: Look, Chuck, as I`ve said many times, and I think by the way I`m gonna be meeting with Tom, I believe on Thursday. Senator Schumer and I and Keith Ellison I think will be sitting down with Tom.
SANDERS: . and see where he plans to take Democratic Party, but you`re right. I believe we need a fundamental transformation of the Democratic Party. It has to be become a bottom up party, not a top down party. It has to be opening it`s doors to working people, to young people. Enormous amount of energy out there.
Right now, my job is to support a progressive candidates, candidates who are prepared to stand up to Wall Street, to the big money interests, to corporate America, to fight for working families. And those are the people that I am supporting. We will see the direction of the Democratic Party and I`ll probably learn a little bit more on Thursday.
TODD: Is there, you know, you say wholesale transformation. Put a little meaning on that. Give me one example that the DNC -- and look, bottom up sounds good, but I`ll be honest with you that sounds like a talking point. You`ve got to have it in action. Give me an actionable item here that you want to see from the DNC.
SANDERS: One of the provisions put into the democratic platform was the call for unity commission to talk about the future of the Democratic Party. And I want to see where calm is going on that. That means, for example, moving, rethinking the role of super delegates within the democratic primary process.
When I ran for president, I think I got 5 percent of the super delegates, Secretary Clinton and the establishment got 95 percent. I think we need to rethink that. I think we need to look at open primaries so that independents can in fact vote in the democratic primaries.
But I think in terms of the structure of the Democratic Party, it means a 50 state party providing the financial resources that parties that the democratic leadership has long turned its back on. I was just in Kansas the other day, 5,000 people were out in Kansas. Republican states. I think we can turn those states around if those states have the proper support.
TODD: Can we read in anything -- final question -- should we read in anything that the democrats had to top a former office holder to give the response tonight and the former governor of Kentucky and not a current office holder (inaudible) that thin?
SANDERS: No, no, no. Then you would be reading that quite incorrectly. The former governor of Kentucky will be speaking because in fact, in Kentucky, in west Virginia, and in in a number of other states, the Affordable Care Act, the Trump and the republicans want to repeal, was enormously successful. Tens and tens of thousands of people for the first time in their lives had health insurance.
They were able to get insurance even if they had a preexisting conditions. So I think the reason that the former governor of Kentucky is going to be speaking tonight, he`s going to talk about the successes of the Affordable Care Act. Now we all know the Affordable Care Act was not perfect, it has got to be improved, but the overwhelming majority, the American people, do not simply believe it should be repealed with nothing to replace it.
TODD: All right. Senator Bernie Sanders, we`ll all be watching together tonight, 9:00, thanks for coming on. Appreciate you coming on and sharing your views.
SANDERS: Thank you.
TODD: We`ll have more on what to expect and what not to expect from tonight`s presidential address. Still ahead, how will democrats, by the way, deal with tonight? Will there be any unexpected noise? Up next, the real winner at the Oscars wasn`t even up for an award. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with Marisa Tomei. No, not in a George (inaudible) way, I`m a happily married man. Let me explain. We all know the winner at Sunday night`s Oscars was "Moonlight," not "La La Land" when it came to best picture. But what we really may have learned is that Marisa Tomei truly was the winner of 1993`s best supporting actress award. You remember, you may remember that Tomei who played "Monalisa Vito" in "My Cousin Vinny" was the surprise winner, announced by Jack Palance.
(START VIDEO CLIP) JACK PALANCE, ACTOR AND SINGER: The Oscar goes to -- and the Oscar goes to Marisa.
PALANCE: . Tomei for "My Cousin Vinny."
TODD: Now conspiracy theorists soon emerged, the one armed push-up man Palance supposedly couldn`t read the card in the envelope or he accidentally read the last name he saw on the teleprompter. After all, how could a Brooklyn newcomer win out of such giants of the British empire Vanessa Redgrave, Judy Davis, Miranda Richardson, and Joan Plowright. She wasn`t even nominated for a Golden Globe. Remember anybody can buy one of those, right? Teasing. Well, here`s how. She was great, that`s why she won and the only American in the bunch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: What we learned on Sunday is that when someone actually does announce the wrong winner, the green eye people actually scurry on stage and set things right. So now that we know the Oscar winner was indisputably Marisa Tomei, we can now focus on the real conspiracies like the one where three to five million -- never mind, all of them for Hillary Clinton. We`ll be right back.
TODD: It`s Lid time. Panel is back. Chris Cillizza, Bill Kristol, Maria Teresa Kumar. All right. I want to talk first about democrats, you heard Bernie Sanders. Chris Cillizza, it`s interesting, even as democrats act as if they`re going to be just all no all the time.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, JOURNALIST AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, WRITES "THE FIX" FOR THE WASHINGTON POST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yep. TODD: Rhetorically, Bernie Sanders keeps saying well, if he will just keep these promises on infrastructure, Glass-Steagall, you know, there will be some people that help him on that front. But will he?
CILLIZZA: And remember, Bernie sanders is not the center of the Democratic Party, right? This is a liberal`s liberal. Self-confessed. So I think that Trump would be smart and that doesn`t mean he will do this, but smart strategically to try to coop some democrats and say, well here`s this infrastructure proposal, for example.
You guys said you wanted this for years, here it is. It`s not everything you want, but we like it -- we think you should be with us. At least it would take the story and make it about why are democrats opposing Donald Trump unilaterally as opposed to Donald Trump has said X wacky thing on Twitter or, you know, in public.
TODD: The problem is getting republicans fired up about this. And look, I was with Paul Ryan this morning, Bill, the speaker essentially said, don`t think of it as trillion dollar infrastructure proposal, you know, the public sector -- it could end up being a trillion dollars in impact. And I thought, oh, that`s interesting. You`re already starting to see a little bit of a push back on the administration on it. BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THE WEEKLY STANDARD, NEOCONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ANALYST AND COMMENTATOR: Two things. I think democrats are going to say, and they should say politically, you know, we like to work with President Trump on some issues. TODD: Trillion dollars -- when that issue comes up. KRISTOL: Key amendment to ensure the money doesn`t go to greedy Capitol Hill or goes to labor union workers and it won`t pass and sorry, we just can`t work. I think the democrats will tell you it politically makes sense, just in opposition. Mitch McConnell pulled it off successfully in 2009, 2010. They`ll gonna pull it off. Trump`s not that strong in the polls. What`s to gain by giving him victories when they don`t have to?
Republicans, I do think the big story that`s sort of beneath all the surface chatter the last week has been the beginning of the visible movement of republican members of congress away from automatic support for President Trump. I think people over-interpreted that first month, they were voting for nominee after nominee. You give deference to the nominee`s of your own party`s president.
When you talk about real legislation, spending a trillion dollars, Obamacare, repeal and replace, tax plans, suddenly members of congress think, you know what, I was elected. I have my views on tax policy. I have my views on spending. I`m not here to rubber stamp Donald Trump. TODD: Let me throw up another issue here that is getting a lot of attention right now and that`s immigration. So what was said in this meeting with the super senior administration official that everyone knows, Maria, but look, this idea that maybe the president might throw out, maybe it`s time to do immigration where both sides can give a little bit. And what that proposal would look like. It felt a little bit off the cuff. But, maybe there`s more real here -- what do you hear you probably, what do you think?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF VOTO LATINO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I would actually just put it along the lines of what he said that we`re going to do big infrastructure spending within the first month, that we were going to repeal Obamacare, all these big things. He has signature issues where at the end of the day, he doesn`t recognize how complicated and complex it is. But he wants people on his side. He wants people on keen Trump. And he will say, go at great length to say that, but the community is definitely not buying it. I don`t think members of congress are buying it. And I think that when we start talking about -- I mean, what you were saying earlier is absolutely right. I think that the democrats are going to play politics. But it`s also very difficult for the republicans right now not to be steadfast on Trump on something. And I think immigration is.
TODD: . here`s the thing, sort of which part of what Trump propose is just him on the whim.
TODD: . and go away tomorrow, and then win if you`re republican lawmaker you go, oh no, no, this one is real. CILLIZZA: He cares about.
TODD: That`s the hard.
CILLIZZA: Honestly, the lesson that I feel like we have learned in the Republican Party which I know has much changed with Donald Trump as president but is not fundamentally altered. I don`t think is comprehensive immigration reform doesn`t sale. It almost killed John McCain`s presidency. it never got a vote after it passed the senate in the house. There is just not. TODD: It killed Jeb Bush and it may have killed Marco Rubio.
KUMAR: I think what`s happening right now, is that when he said he was going to open up ICE and allow deportation of masses, folks even in deep red states saying, I thought so, but I didn`t think (inaudible) my buddy. And that is actually.
KRISTOL: If you`re Trump, if you`re Trump.
TODD: It doesn`t help.
KUMAR: Yes, it does.
KRISTOL: Health care reform is very difficult, President Trump just discovered. Tax policy is actually really difficult (inaudible). You`re sitting there, I thought you totally agree. The public is very mixed on immigration. They want a wall, Trump say you want a wall, he want that. They don`t want mass deportation. They`re okay with legalization but not citizenship for a lot of the illegals. And I would not -- I don`t -- this is not -- Donald Trump 68 -- in Donald Trump`s 70 years of life, he has never said a word sort I know about immigration. Trade is what he cared about.
KUMAR: In 2000 when he was actually priming whether or not he should throw his hat. He actually did believe there should be.
KRISTOL: He is not.
KRISTOL: No. TODD: (inaudible) has been worried about this for a year.
KRISTOL: Trump is perfectly capable of looking at it. If I were advising him, I would say, you know what, you`re not going to win Obamacare, maybe you`re not going to win on taxes. Here you have a Nixon goes to China. Huge deal. You build the wall, you insist on the wall, gonna be huge and beautiful and grand wall, and then -- let`s solve the problem for once and for all. KUMAR: But Bill -- but Bill.
KUMAR: . but I think that we also have to recognize who he surrounds himself with. Steve Bannon and Steve Miller are not going to like this idea of some sort.
TODD: Let`s wait to see tonight. Let`s wait to see tonight.
CILLIZZA: What he actually said.
TODD: What is that, Cillizza, let him speak.
CILLIZZA: . republicans -- I think he has various problems. But on the idea that republicans would simply, oh, he`s building a wall, I`m skeptical that there`s an immediate.
TODD: Okay. Let me play "Devils Advocate." First of all, it`s just like, if you ever want to mess around with social security, it`s going to take a democratic president and if you`re ever gonna have a problem with you might make an argument, it`s going to take a republican president for this immigration.
KUMAR: It`s the Nixonian.
TODD: The Nixonian model. Nixon of China.
TODD: If there is this sense in a odd way like you and I are talking, oh, ICE is aggressive now, does that mean the base is more open to believing enforcement (inaudible)?
KRISTOL: Of course (inaudible) being deported (inaudible). Well, people do not want it. This clear polling really shows mass deportation of law abiding.
KUMAR: And most Americans don`t want two systems of citizenship living under it, so it if there`s not a pathway to citizenship, it doesn`t hurt the undocumented person to come out of the shadows, it is bad policy and for national security for us to decide that we are going to separate people and never give them a pathway to citizenship.
TODD: I never understood constitutionally how you can do legalization without citizenship.
(CROSSTALK) CILLIZZA: To your point about immigration and needing the off party president to push it, remember the fundamental problem with immigration was republicans didn`t trust Obama to enforce it. That the promises of enforcement will simply not (inaudible).
KUMAR: I think to be clear, Obama figured that if he did enforcement first, then all of a sudden people would come in and actually negotiate.
TODD: He took them at their word.
KRISTOL: One of the facts. One point on this. What was the biggest republican complaint against Obama? Arguably illegal or overreaching executive order on the dreamers. What is Trump not touching? Dreamers.
KRISTOL: So he already has shown more flexibility than.
KUMAR: Oh, flexibility.
KRISTOL: . Steve Bannon and Steve Miller I think.
TODD: Well, it`s early.
CILLIZZA: What he says and then what he is actually willing to put some skin in the game for.
TODD: Right now?
CILLIZZA: We know the first thing what he said, what he`s willing to actually like do.
KUMAR: Influence that he has so that he can follow through with anything. TODD: I think this was a little bit of a (inaudible). Sometimes, when he (inaudible), he fix it.
CILLIZZA: The wall was (inaudible), don`t forget that.
TODD: All right. Chris, Bill, Teresa, thank you much. After the break, a long time bipartisan tradition gets a shake-up. Stay tuned.
TODD: In case you missed it, there`s a bipartisan tradition on nights like tonight. It`s affectionately known as aisle hogging. For decades, one of the most notorious aisle seat grabbers has been New York`s Eliot Engel. There`s no assigned sitting for presidential address to congress so getting a spot for the night can mean hanging out in the chamber for a big part of the day to save your seat. But for some, the wait is worth it. Snagging an aisle means getting your face on TV and likely getting that hand shake from a president, a hug, maybe even hello.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Eliot, you`re here.
ELIOT ENGEL, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW YORK: Would I be any place else?
OBAMA: I almost missed you man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Guess what? Congressman Engel won`t be glad hanging this year.
(START VIDEO CLIP) ENGEL: This would be the first time during my 29 years in the house that I have made this decision. The president needs to work with all people and therefore I will listen to what he has to say today, but I will not greet him and shake his hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: It remains to be seen whether any of the other folks who are notorious for staking out their aisle seats will follow suit. We`ll be watching tonight to see how members seated on both sides of the aisle greet the new president. That`s all for tonight. Stay with MSNBC throughout the night for full coverage and analysis of President Trump`s very first address to congress. Followed of course by the all-star special edition of "Hardball" at midnight eastern. "For the Record with Greta" though starts right now.
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