IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/17/11

Guests: Michael Steele, Armond Budish, Rep. Ed Markey

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We have breaking news, breaking electoral news, out of the Midwest. What appears to be an unexpected result from the Wisconsin elections last night where two incumbent Democrats won recall elections over Republican challengers trying to unseat them. Late today, what seems to be an unexpected repercussion from Wisconsin in the not quite neighboring state of Ohio. For context: here`s what happened in Wisconsin this year that turned the word Wisconsin into a Democratic and liberal rallying cry for 2011. Last November, as in many states, the Republicans won hugely in Wisconsin`s election. The new Republican governor, Scott Walker, decided that although he had not campaigned on the issue of union rights, he would use his new power as governor and the big Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature to strip union rights in Wisconsin. Wisconsin, in turns out, is pretty attached to his union rights and so huge -- no, really, huge crowds of Wisconsinites took to the streets of Madison and to the state capitol building itself this winter and this spring protesting Governor Walker and the Republicans` action -- the largest demonstrations at the state capitol in history. The state Senate`s Democrats hatched a plan to stop the Republicans from passing the union-stripping measure by themselves fleeing the state so the Wisconsin Senate could not get a quorum, so the Senate would not be allowed to vote on or pass anything. Ultimately on March 9th of this year, by unprecedented and somewhat dodgy procedural means, the Wisconsin Republicans did figure out how to pass the union-stripping bill anyway, even with new quorum. Every Republican in the Wisconsin Senate except one voted for it -- all of them but one. Wisconsin who supports union rights were so angry with what Scott Walker and the Republicans had done that they organized recall elections against six Republican state senators who were eligible to be recalled. Conservative groups said they too would launch recalls against the Democrats, because those Democrats had left the state. Well, as of last night, all of those elections are over, in the end, none of the Democrats were recalled and two of the Republicans were. If you do the math on that, the ultimate cost of the big Scott Walker union-stripping adventure of 2011 is the Wisconsin Senate used to have five more Republicans in it than Democrats. Now, the Republican margin is not five but just one. It`s only 17 Republicans to 16 Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate now. And one of those 17 Republicans -- this is important -- is the Republican senator who voted against all his colleagues, who voted against the union-stripping law. So, thanks to the recalls. There is now a majority in the Wisconsin Senate against stripping union rights. John Nichols at "The Nation" wrote about this today, on the issue that started this huge, extraordinary standoff in Wisconsin on Scott Walker`s union-stripping law. John writes, "The Senate majority is now at odds with the governor on the issue that provoked last winter`s mass demonstrations against the governor`s agenda as well as the recalls." Tada! So on tonight`s breaking news, perhaps taking a gander to his northwest at these results in Wisconsin at what Scott Walker has wrought in his home state, fellow newbie anti-union rights Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio today made a remarkable about face. Kasich and Ohio`s Republicans passed their own union-stripping law in Ohio also in March. Voter anger in Ohio against that action was harnessed towards a recall election not for state senators but rather for the law itself, a referendum to repeal the state union-stripping law. That referendum qualified for the November ballot in Ohio with more than 900,000 valid signatures, nearly quadruple the number of signatures it needed to get on the ballot. The latest polling showing Ohio voters wanting to repeal the union stripping law by an astonishing 24-point margin. With that kind of response in Ohio already and just hours after it was announced that the last two Wisconsin Democrats up for recall won their races by large margins last night, today, Ohio`s Republican governor and Republican legislative leaders raised the white flag. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: But a divisive fight on these issues that could possibly be avoided is in the best interest of everyone. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In what the "A.P." described as a hastily called afternoon press conference, Ohio Governor John Kasich and the state`s Republican legislative leaders said today that now, now they are willing to talk about maybe softening their law stripping union rights. Their law stripping union rights which they passed this spring with zero negotiation with the affected workers and zero Democratic votes. Now, Governor Kasich and Republicans in the Ohio state legislature say they`d like to talk about maybe softening some of the law`s provisions in exchange for liberal groups and Democrats canceling the planned referendum on that law in November. You know, if it looked like I was slated to lose an election by 24 points, I`d probably try to get that election cancelled, too. The reaction from the state Democrats and from We Are Ohio, which has been organizing the referendum to repeal Ohio`s union-stripping law, the reaction has so far been -- it`s been tough as in they are not quite saying, yes, tough, but almost. Quote, "The time to negotiate was during the legislative process, not 197 days after the bill was first introduced. Unfortunately, it has taken too long for the governor and GOP leaders to acknowledge they overreached." That was from the senate Democratic leader today. Now, We Are Ohio says if Republicans are now having second thoughts about the union-stripping bill they passed, then they should repeal it themselves, or they should just watch the voters repeal it on November 8th. Joining us now is the Democratic Minority Leader from the Ohio House of Representatives Armond Budish. Representative Budish, thanks for joining us. It`s nice to see you, sir. STATE REP. ARMOND BUDISH (D), OHIO: Nice to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: What was your reaction when you heard this news that Governor Kasich and the Republicans were offering now to compromise on the union- stripping bill, that they want the referendum to not go ahead. BUDISH: My reaction, Rachel, was wow, they are finally admitting that Senate Bill 5 was a bad bill. They`re finally admitting it. You know, the people of Ohio have tried to tell them that for months. We had thousands of people show up at the statehouse to tell the Republicans this is a bad bill. They didn`t listen. Not only didn`t they listen, they locked the doors to the statehouse, they didn`t want people coming in to talk to them, they didn`t listen when the Democrats stood up on the floor of the Senate and the House and objected to this bill. They didn`t listen when 1.3 million people in Ohio signed petitions expressing their disgust with Senate Bill 5. Now, all of a sudden, maybe they`ll listen now that a couple of things have happened -- one is that the Wisconsin recalls have not to the liking of the Republicans, and two is that the polls in Ohio, as you mentioned, are showing that Senate Bill 5 is going to be rejected by the people of Ohio, soundly. MADDOW: Well, on the issue of the connection between the Wisconsin issue and the Ohio issue, obviously, the stripping of union rights in both states pursued in much the same way by both of these very similar governors in roughly the same time frame generating roughly the same reaction, both Wisconsin and Ohio, really strong union states. We called up We Are Wisconsin today, which helped organized the Republican recall effort in Wisconsin. We asked what they thought about Governor Kasich`s action today. They said, quote, "Last night ended a historic period in Wisconsin politics where Scott Walker paid an enormous political price, losing his working majority in the state Senate and earning himself sky high disapproval numbers for his attacks on middle class working families. If John Kasich`s decision to backpedal on his attacks on working on Ohioans the very next days is a pure coincidence, it`s a pretty stunning one." BUDISH: You`re right, Rachel. MADDOW: Do you agree with them that this seems to be connected? BUDISH: What we`re seeing in Ohio and Wisconsin and other places around the country is a sound rejection of the union -- the attacks on the middle class, the attacks on labor, the attacks on police, the attacks on fire, the attacks on teachers, the attacks on nurses, the attacks on the middle class, and a whole range of issues. And people are fed up and they are expressing that in Wisconsin through the recalls and they are going to express it in Ohio on the referendum. MADDOW: On the referendum, that would be a full repeal of S.B. 5. Obviously, S.B. 5, the union stripping bill which is pretty draconian and wide-ranging, in what it would do to union rights in Ohio. That bill would be totally repealed by the referendum. That bill is on ice, the law can`t go into effect until the referendum happens. Do you think there`s any chance that Democrats and groups like We Are Ohio and the unions will agree to scrap the referendum and instead start negotiating with the governor and Republicans now, now that it seems like they are -- they have a new take on these negotiations? BUDISH: Rachel, when Governor Kasich was first elected, he stated publicly because he was angry that the teachers in particular had not supported him as much as he would have liked, he said, "I will not talk to the teachers, I will not meet with the teachers until they take out a full- page ad apologizing to me." Well, if it`s good enough for Governor Kasich, it`s good enough for me. Governor Kasich and the Republicans should give us a fresh start. They should apologize for demonizing and attacking teachers and firefighters and police officers and nurses for the last six months. They should repeal Senate Bill 5. They should start the process now the way it should have been done, inviting all the people in the room, not just passing it in the dark of night like they did Senate Bill 5, putting it through without asking any input from teachers, or firefighters or police officers, they just did it. That`s the way you don`t pass a bill. They should give us a fresh start, repeal the law, apologize, and then we`ll sit down and we`ll talk the way it should have been done. MADDOW: Armond Budish, Democratic minority leader in the Ohio House of Representatives. I know this has been a fight that you`ve been a very strong combatant -- and so, congratulations are due to you tonight for at least this tactical victory. Good luck with your ongoing work with this and keep in touch with us, sir. Appreciate it. BUDISH: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks for publicizing it. MADDOW: You would think saving the world from nuclear annihilation is kind of a nonpartisan happy idea. You would think preventing nihilist criminals from acquiring nuclear weapons would be good politics for everybody. And you would not be exactly right. The freshly reported world saving American heroics that we`ve learned about today and the political effort to defund those heroics is the next sort of astonishing story we have for you tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, will join us in just a few moments. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Joining us tonight for the interview is the former chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, who is now an MSNBC political analyst. Mr. Chairman, it`s very nice to see you. MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Welcome back from vacation. MADDOW: Thank you. STEELE: You`re looking tan and rested. MADDOW: That`s just discoloration from the U.V. rays from my monitor. It`s been that long enough. All right. It has been a couple of months now. I want your honest impression of what is it like here in 2011 arguing day and night with liberals on MSNBC. STEELE: It is absolutely very exciting. Sometimes I sit there and go -- they really believe this stuff. God help us. But, no, it`s great. MADDOW: What do you think about the quality of the discussion? (CROSSTALK) STEELE: Well, the quality is good and it`s important. And that`s an important part of it because it`s a chance to present a different position, viewpoint, and then to go back and forth in the exchange, is like coming on here. Reverend Al and I get in to it quite a bit. We get a little bit heated because we`re both passionate. But it`s still a good discussion that I think is good. I think it`s healthy. I think it`s refreshing. And I think the people take away from it what they want, but they can put the whole thing together and decide what works best for them. And that`s what the government needs to do right now. They need to get out from the partisan edges. They need to find the mushy middle that everyone hates to go to and actually get something done. And that includes the president, that includes the leadership in the House and the Senate, because the country right now is on the precipice. I was talking with someone earlier and I was talking about the future and how, you know, we are kind of mortgaging the future in a way that the next generation has nothing to look forward to, when you have kids graduating without jobs, you have home owners foreclosing, you have people trying to make their ends meet from paycheck to paycheck, the grownups really do need to show up. And this discussion that I`ve been involved in in the last couple of months has been exciting about that. MADDOW: Do you feel like the outcome of it, though, is -- I mean, I feel I`m glad we have multiple parties. I`m glad that we have partisan discussions. STEELE: Sure, absolutely. MADDOW: I`m glad that there`s an opportunity to sharpen our thinking and our arguments about different world views. But I think that is something that definitely happens in these discussions. STEELE: It does. MADDOW: You sharpen the differences. STEELE: Oh, you sharpen them all right. MADDOW: In all the discussions that you`ve been having here over the last couple of months, do you feel the conversations ever end with, OK, we agree on that, or OK, we should all be able to agree to move forward. STEELE: A few of them do, a few of them do. I mean, you know, for example, Governor Rendell and I, you know, we have very different position. He was a governor. I was a lieutenant governor, Republican and Democrat, both party chairmen, so we understand the politics of it pretty well. But we also recognize I think something very fundamental that when you stand before the people with your hand on the Bible and you swear that oath of office, you are no longer the partisan. You are now the public servant. You are the public representation of the people, and that changes the agenda. So, as you look at this presidential race, for example, for both the president and for those who are challenging him, you`ve got to keep in the back of your mind that moment when you take that oath of office -- and that was a lot of the aspiration people had placed in Barack Obama because he talked about being different. What happened, he got to Washington and got consumed by the process. A lot of it -- in my view, he handed over to the very leadership in the House, for example, that was used to working all those machinations and backroom deals to try to get something done. But the reality was people were looking for something different. MADDOW: You got to get stuff through Congress. STEELE: You got to get stuff through Congress, but where does that begin? Does it begin down old street or a new main way to go? And I think the people, whether you like the Tea Party or not, whether you agree with the progressive movement that you`ve been talking about in Wisconsin -- the people are beginning to show some pathways and some light on the subject of how they want the government and the leadership to begin to solve these problems. MADDOW: Well, but on both sides, and I very rarely say on both sides, because I don`t think progressive movement and the conservative movement are a mirror image of each other. But I don`t think that when you look at what happened in Wisconsin and what I think is about to happen in Ohio, which turns on Kasich right around in Ohio. STEELE: Right. MADDOW: And you look at the impact of the Tea Party movement, both of those movements are very good at displaying anger with what politicians are doing. STEELE: Right. MADDOW: But in neither case, are you seeing a constructive proposal of this is what we prefer the budget to be. STEELE: What you need to do, it gets their attention. MADDOW: It`s an accountability -- STEELE: Right. So, that`s the first step. Like anything, that`s the first step. I got to get your attention. I got to let you know I`m ticked off. MADDOW: Yes. STEELE: In 2009 and 2010, that`s what I did at the RNC, I galvanized through the real crazy phrase, you know, "Fire Pelosi," OK, what does that mean? Well, it meant something different for a lot of people. But in many respects, there was one centralizing point of view, we needed to change Congress, and the way you begin to change Congress was to change the leadership. And how do you do that, you get the people`s attention by going out and stating your case. That`s what you`ve seen in Wisconsin and that`s why you see what`s happening in Ohio right now. Ohio is not Wisconsin. So, the reality for it -- MADDOW: But don`t you think that Kasich is recalibrating because of what happened in Wisconsin? Less than 24 hours after those -- STEELE: Well, look at the political makeup of those districts that comprised the state and the Democratic influence and power. Even though Wisconsin is a big Democratic state -- MADDOW: In Wisconsin -- STEELE: -- those districts were largely Republican districts that were on the table. MADDOW: And the Republican vote in these recall elections greatly underperformed what they did in November. STEELE: Greatly underperformed. Exactly. So, it`s a different dynamic, and you`ve got to pay attention to that. MADDOW: But in Ohio, I mean, to that point, just to be clear, the Republicans certainly tried to mobilize against the Democrats, we`re mad that you left the state sort of and they sort of launched these half- hearted recall efforts against the Democrats, but didn`t go anywhere. I feel like, at least in the states, maybe it`s not true in national politics, we are seeing a pendulum swinging the other way. I don`t know how long it`s going to take. Do you see that for recalibration? STEELE: I do see a swing, and what I`ve said is what needs to happen and I think is happening on the left, the progressive left, is a voice beginning to emerge. The problem is they haven`t galvanized around the corer principled position to push forward on. MADDOW: It`s union rights in Ohio and Wisconsin. STEELE: Right. That`s not going to translate to that in Maryland or California. It could be something different. Whereas for the Tea Party movement, it was much more around the Constitution and government, the role of government in your life and my life. Now, you may disagree with my view on it, but I`m going to make the case anyway and that`s a very different type of movement versus what you see happening on the left. MADDOW: On that, and this is a great moment to close because I completely disagree with you on that, I think that`s the Republican branding that`s been put on the Tea Party movement. STEELE: But that`s the fact. MADDOW: But essentially, it`s just a straight up Republican conservative base mobilization. STEELE: No, it`s not. (CROSSTALK) STEELE: The Tea Party is not just Republicans. The Tea Party is libertarians. It`s a cross section of people, blue dog Democrats. MADDOW: No, it`s not. No, it`s not. STEELE: Rachel, I hate to disagree with you, but I met a lot of these people face to face between September and November of last year. And so, I know what their profile is. MADDOW: If you can see any daylight between the traditional Republican Party, religious right base, and the -- STEELE: Well, that`s a different argument because (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: -- you believe in their branding. STEELE: That`s a different argument, Rachel, because that religious component was not the initial thrust of the Tea Party. That`s been a glommed on position a lot of Tea Party activists -- MADDOW: But people who call themselves Tea Partiers, that`s what they identify. Its identical poll results through the traditional Republican -- STEELE: Well, that`s what I`m saying. It has been glommed on into this -- we go back to where it started in -- in February 2009, when I had my first meeting with these fledgling disillusioned voters, it was not about that. MADDOW: Michael Steele, I love disagreeing with you. STEELE: Same here, same here. MADDOW: I really like talking about stuff, particularly when you`re completely wrong, because you`re so nice about it. STEELE: Same here, same here. But this is the part where I try to bring you to your senses and help you appreciate that, you know, you may be tanned and beautiful, but we got to work on a few things. MADDOW: And I recent you. Michael Steel, thank you, sir. I`m so glad you`re here, thank you. STEELE: Very good to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Really good news about there not being a nuclear end of the world. Something Michael Steele and I could probably even agree on. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today combines literature, Cuba, really bad propaganda and historic paradigm shift in post-Cold War diplomacy and booze -- Cuban booze. That`s just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It takes about 40 pounds of highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb -- not a dirty bomb that just spread radioactivity around, but a nuclear bomb, mushroom cloud -- the whole thing. Once you have that 40 pounds of nuclear material, making a nuclear bomb is not the hardest thing in the world. Back in 2005 you may recall, the George W. Bush administration accidentally uploaded to the Internet instructions on how to make a nuclear bomb, instructions that were very conveniently written in Arabic. But even if you do not have at instructions handed to you on a silver platter by the Bush administration, building a nuclear bomb is something that can be done, even by civilians. After the U.S. military dropped a pair of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, government officials made the design of those bombs a state secret -- it still is one. And even though the design for little boy, the bomb that fell on Hiroshima was deemed classified, and even though it took the brightest minds in the country years to design and build it, a few decades later, a college drop out photographer-turned-truck driver from Waukesha, Wisconsin, managed to create an exact replica of that nuclear bomb in his workshop. Without knowing any of the specs, he managed to reverse engineer the Hiroshima nuclear bomb and build one from scratch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was told at the outset that you will never know -- we can`t tell you, we will never tell you, and you will never find this out what`s inside. I mean, it`s all still a state secret. It`s still classified secret. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my drawing of Little Boy. This is the one Harold Agnew put his finger on it. And he looked at me, he said, and where did you get this drawing? And he told me it looked real enough to him. And I said, well, Dr. Agnew, I made that drawing, and you could have knocked him over. And then he waved his hand over it and said, how did you know where this stuff was? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though there`s 65-year-old design and crude by today`s standards, it`s still a working nuclear weapon and they don`t want that information out there. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a truck driver, I didn`t finish my university degree, I drive semis for a living. If I can figure this out -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That clip was from a great little documentary called "The Atomic Trucker," which is done by the Web site, Motherboard. You can watch it at our blog if you are so inclined. It`s great. The point here is that nuclear bombs can be built. They can be assembled. It`s not easy to build a nuclear bomb, but it`s really not impossible. And that`s why experts on nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism generally conceded that the single hardest thing about assembling a nuclear bomb is getting your hands on the 40 pounds of nuclear material, not building the bomb itself. And, of course, if you`re not interested in a mushroom cloud, then you just to want to set off a dirty bomb that spreads radiation everywhere, well, any good amount of radioactive material should suffice for that. Of course, the more radioactive the material, the better. Over the past decade or so, the terroristic nuclear nihilist among us as humans have been trying to get our hands on radioactive nuclear material. There is a black market in it. In July 2010, four men were caught trying to smuggle radioactive material out of the city of Pretoria. Pretoria, the capital of South Africa. After a sting operation, the shootout with police and a foot chase, the men were arrested at a Pretoria gas station and charged with trying to sell a quantity of radioactive material called cesium 137. Cesium 137 is the kind of thing nuclear terrorism experts always say could turned up in a dirty bomb attack. And there it was being smuggled to be sold in South Africa. Asking price -- about $6 million. Along with what the smugglers said was some sort of industrial nuclear device. About two years earlier, in November 2007, also in South Africa, two separate groups of armed gunmen broke into South Africa`s Pelindaba nuclear facility. Pelindaba is home to some of that country`s most sensitive nuclear material and nuclear secrets. A year after the break in, the CBS program "60 Minutes" documented that assault on Pelindaba. (BEGIN VIDE CLIP) REPORTER (voice-over): The men had breached a 10,000-volt fence, passed security cameras, and walked three quarters of a mile to the control room that monitors alarms and responds to emergencies. But the attack on the control room was just the start. A second group of gunmen on the other side of the plant was cutting through the fence and opened fire on the guard. You think they were after the HEU? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s certainly the most valuable single thing that`s at that site. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: HEU, highly enriched uranium. The men who broke in to Pelindaba that night shot a security guard, seized a laptop, and then dropped the laptop before disappearing into the night. South African Authorities still say they don`t know who did it. A few years before the Pelindaba break in, it was South Africa again - - a South African businessman living Pretoria charged with nuclear trafficking in connection with the A.Q. Khan nuclear network with Pakistan. The 53-year-old businessman who owned an engineering plant in South Africa charged with being in position of nuclear related material and of illegally importing and exporting nuclear material. If you are somebody who stays up at night worrying about loose nuclear material getting into the wrong hands, then one of the places that has been keeping you up at night is South Africa. South Africa has lots of highly enriched uranium and apparently a rich supply of black market operators, some of them with guns, trying to get it. It is for that reason that today`s news having to deal with nuclear material in South Africa is not of the lock yourself in a bunker variety, but rather of the "oh, thank God" variety. Today, the United States government, specifically the National Nuclear Security Administration announced a completion of a successful mission to secure about 14 pounds of highly enriched uranium located in South Africa. U.S. officials traveled to South Africa in secret. They locked up and transported safely all of that highly enriched uranium. They brought it back to the United States. It arrived here safe and sound yesterday and is under lock and key, and that is great news for two reasons. One, that`s 14 less pounds of nuclear material sitting around in some nuclear facility in South Africa. But two, it is yet another reminder that we have a whole team of people in this country that freaking does this. This is a U.S. government priority, trained bad asses -- forgive the term -- traveling around the world in secret, locking up and securing the most dangerous material in the world, to keep it off of what is a very real and worrying black market. Again, it`s the NNSA, the National Nuclear Security Administration. The department of saving the world, which under the radar and a fairly nameless and faceless way has to date recovered more than 3,000 kilograms of highly enriched uranium and plutonium from around the world and locked it down and made it safe. That`s enough to probably build at least 150 nuclear bombs. The NNSA, for all of that work, was put on the chopping block this year by Republicans in Congress, because as you know, it`s a government agency and government is bad. Government doesn`t do anything right. House Republicans this year proposed a $647 million cut in a nuclear nonproliferation activities at the NNSA, because, you know, Sharia law. We hate NPR, I don`t know why they did it. On President Obama`s tour through Minnesota and Iowa and Illinois this week, he has been talking proposals to create jobs in this country, trying to create pressures in Congress to go along with some of his job creation ideas. He`s proposing stuff like continuing a payroll tax cut for everybody who gets a paycheck, road building and school building projects. Congressional Republicans are saying no, no, no so far to all of those ideas. When the president said today he`d be releasing more larger scale job proposals in September over and above the smaller scale ones the Republicans are already saying no to, the response from Republican House Speaker John Boehner`s office turned the snark level up to stunned, a spokesman for John Boehner tweeting in response, quote, "We really don`t need another speech. Just a plan, like on paper, seriously. Just drop it in the mail." This is what John Boehner is like as speaker of the House. The president announces job creation ideas that the speaker rejects. The president announces he`ll release a whole new big job creation plan, the speaker says plan? Where is this plan? Dude, that`s the point. That`s the announcement. When somebody says here comes this plan, expect it on this date -- you don`t respond with where is the plan? Who even does that? What is the congressional Republicans` plan this year anyway? What would an America run by John Boehner`s congressional Republicans look like by now? "The Washington Post" looked at that today, adding what congressional Republicans under John Boehner have said yes to, what they`ve actually taken action on and expressed themselves ability, since they`ve have control of the House -- the highlights, their plan, so far, they have, of course, voted to get rid of Medicare by privatizing it, turning it into a coupon program. They have voted to stop regulating mountain top removal mining at the federal level. They voted to eliminate federal funding for NPR. They voted to punish shining a laser a plane while its flying. They voted to repeal health reform and to eliminate all three federal programs that help people in danger of foreclosure. And they have proposed $647 million be cut from the guys who just brought 14 pounds of highly enriched uranium out of South Africa today to keep it off the international black market, off the international black market and what it takes to build a nuclear bomb. That`s the plan. Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a member of the House Commerce and Energy Committee. Congressman, thanks very much for your time tonight. I appreciate it. REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You`re welcome. MADDOW: As you can tell, I get energized by proposed cuts to the National Nuclear Security Administration. Is there a real threat the cuts go through, on a day like today after we find out what they did in South Africa, is that funding really at risk? MARKEY: Absolutely, it`s at risk. And it`s going to be increasingly at risk. Obviously, when Leon Panetta -- and I love him as the secretary of defense -- says that he`s afraid about doomsday cuts in the defense budget, there`s going to be pressure put by the defense contractors in our country on things that they think are more vulnerable and the Nuclear Security Administration will be right on that list. There`s a little agency. It doesn`t make nuclear weapons. It doesn`t have gold-plated arsenal of weapons on their planning boards. It just takes uranium and plutonium out of countries that could potentially create nuclear weapons. And so, this little tiny agency that`s like a peaceful SEAL Team 6 that goes into South Africa, brings out the highly enriched uranium, makes the world just a little bit safer, its budget is going to be on the table because nuclear bomb prevention is not nearly as attractive to defense contractors as nuclear bomb production. And believe it or not, there are $700 billion worth of new nuclear weapons programs on the planning boards for the next 10 years in the federal budget right now. MADDOW: On the broad issue of what can get through the House right now, about John Boehner`s gateway role and what can pass the Congress, the president is making small job creation proposals relatively speaking, says he`s going to make large scale proposals next month -- do you believe that the political environment is changing so that Republicans might say yes to anything or we in "no, no, no mode" for a long time yet? MARKEY: I think when the president says that he wants job creations programs that the Republicans are going to say no, you know, that`s going to help you get reelected, Mr. President, that might actually put people back to work. But when Democrats say you know what, we`ve got to cut some of these defense programs, they are going to say that`s a jobs program. The defense budget is a jobs program -- no, it is not. The defense budget is a security program, and it cannot be allowed to basically savage the Nuclear Security Administration under the justification that it creates more jobs if at the same time, hypocritically, the Republicans are saying to the president when it comes to job building through new roads, new bridges, all the way down the line that that is something that is off the table. This is going to be a hypocrisy on stilts before the end of this year, and the president just will have to stick to his message -- and I think he will win if he does so. MADDOW: What we`re hearing from a lot of -- actually, seemingly well- reported multiple source, Beltway reporting on the decision making process within the White House right now, what we`ve been reading this week is that there`s a bit of an internal debate both in the White House and among elected Democrats generally about whether or not the president should be staking out what he thinks is right for the country and saying, as he has been on the stump this week, this is what I think is right if the Republicans want to vote this now, I think the voters will disagree, but I`m sticking with what I think is right -- whether he should do that? Or whether propose small bore, trying to work out a deal proposals that would be less confrontational with the Republicans. Where do you come down on that? MARKEY: My opinion, the red state Republicans, the Tea Party Republicans, they are up, they are activated, they feel that they`ve been winning all year long. We need to have our side up. Actually, when you do the polling, the American people say tax rich people, tax oil companies, don`t cut Medicare, don`t cut NPR, don`t cut the EPA. We`ve got to get our side up and activated, because on every one of these issues, there`s one thing that separates us from the Tea Party. We are right and they are wrong and the polling says it. So, we have to fight. We have to get up, get activated, get out there, and then we will win. But if we sit on the sidelines, if we go small bore, then we are just going to repeat history. You know, Mark Twain used to say history doesn`t repeat itself but it does tend to rhyme, unfortunately, we`re going to keep rhyming with what`s already happened this year unless we change the pathway that we are on. And I just think that requires a big vision of where we are so that we protect those programs that the American people love and not allow the Tea Party to just lump it all into the government. The people might not like the government, but they like almost every program in the government if it`s explained to them. That`s the president`s job, he takes the bully pulpit. We win. MADDOW: Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, member of the House Commerce and Energy Committee -- Congressman, thanks very much for your time. It`s always a pleasure to have you here, sir. MARKEY: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you. New Jersey, the great state of New Jersey just had its credit rating downgraded. Will Republicans in New Jersey blame Chris Christie for that, the way they tried to blame President Obama for it at the national level? Don`t be silly. Of course, they will try to blame Democrats for this one too. That`s coming up on "THE ED SHOW" tonight. Coming up here, the best new thing in the world, now with more high- end illegal liquor than ever before. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio may be nervous about the popularity of his policies and his own popularity too, hence the effort today to squirm his landmark union-stripping law off the ballot for its Ohio referendum this fall. But John Kasich is not the least popular governor in the country. For a little while this year, he and another governor were neck-and-neck for the race for the title, but that other governor has surpassed Kasich in the race to be the least liked, most despised, most unpopular governor in the United States of America. As of late June, the latest standings in the most heated governor race to the bottom show that the winner/loser is Rick Scott, who has been in the Florida governor`s mansion for less than a year. Rick Scott is so unpopular now that just a third of Floridians say they like the guy. If a rematch of his 2010 election were held today, his Democratic opponent would defeat him by a 22 points, and just quoting the polling firm here, quote, "independents say by a 45-18 margin that Governor Rick Scott has turned them off from GOP candidates in general." So how do you turn around numbers that bad? If you are Rick Scott, you start with the optics, literally, you get a new picture. This had been the governor`s official picture. According to the "A.P.," however, as of Monday, this is the new and improved, softer, kinder, gentler Rick Scott official photo. Gone is the direct, confrontational stare into the camera, buttoned-up shirt and tie and the severe focus, in are the casual blue shirt, fancy focus and sort a squinty look into the distance. Still on the optics, a couple of weeks back, there was this, Governor Scott working at a Tampa donut shop. The idea was that the governor would be seen around the state doing regular people jobs to show that he knows -- I don`t know -- how to serve donuts. Sadly for the optics here though, the governor`s donut photo-op into the wrong kind of photo op when a progressive group opposed to Rick Scott`s policies showed up to symbolically fire the governor over and over and over again at the donut shot, handing him pink slips right over the donut counter. When Rick Scott created a pro-Rick Scott, "isn`t he so awesome" form letter for people to send into local newspapers, the same anti-Rick Scott group created a mad lib using the form letter. So, instead of it just being Rick Scott is so awesome, it became Rick Scott is so -- insert your own adjective here. The governor`s latest effort to climb out of his 33 percent approval ratings hole is an old stand by in politics. He`s using robocalls. For the first time anybody can remember, Rick Scott isn`t using robocalls at election time. These robocalls are in the middle of his term to just try to make people like him more. But again the enterprising anti-Rick Scott progressive group in Florida is on the case. They`ve figured out a way to reverse the robocalls to let Floridians record their own calls to Governor Scott`s office. And they are spectacular. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DEBRA: Oh, yes, Governor Rick Scott, you got a lot of nerve spending a quarter of a million of our tax dollars to robocall people and tell them how good a job you`re doing. You`re the worst governor Florida`s ever had. I`ve been here for 30 years. JOHN C.: Please step those annoying phone calls. DESERAE O.: You keep cutting jobs, you`re cutting unemployment, you`re cutting Medicaid, you`re cutting Medicare, you`re cutting Social Security. What happened to your paycheck? MARY O.: Governor Scott, please stop calling me. ROBERTA N.: Rick Scott, I don`t appreciate what you`ve done to my retirement plan as a state employee. I hope that we never have to see you for governor in a second term. JENNIFER M.: Hi, Rick, I just wanted to return the favor of the robocall to you. Thank you so much for screwing up the state that I was born in. CHRIS S.: I really can`t believe that you cut PBS of all things. My kids sit around and watch PBS in the early morning. They learn so much from it. To have the state cut spending for PBS is despicable. LISA G.: My name is Lisa, registered Republican. I would really appreciate that the robocalls stop. It gets to be a bit much after a while. And knock it off. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Florida Watch Action are the folks behind Those are the people facilitating the reverse robocalls back to the governor`s office. That`s the political tactic al nomination a day, OK? I don`t give awards, but if I did, you`d win that one. It almost makes you want to look away. Just a few feet off to the side and to unfocus middle distance. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The best new thing in the world today is Cuban and American. If the U.S. and Cuba had normal diplomatic relations, like normal countries, we would have a U.S. embassy in Havana and they would have a Cuban embassy in D.C. As it stands, neither of us has an embassy in each other`s country. Instead, we have interest sections in other country`s embassies. So, if you want to deal with an issue involving Cuba while you`re in the U.S. you have to go to a building under the protection of the Swiss embassy in D.C. Remember, Switzerland is always neutral. That`s where you`ll find the Cuban interest section. Also, if you want to deal with an American issue while you`re in Cuba. You have you to go to a building under the protection of Switzerland`s embassy in Havana. And inside that, there is a U.S. interest section. That section, America`s toehold in Cuba for years, has been in the front line of a weird petty propaganda war between our two countries. Por ejemplo, in the 1990s, Cubans put up a billboard across the street from it that said in Spanish, "We are not afraid from you." During the fight over Elian Gonzalez, Cuba erected a stage next to the U.S. interest section so they could hold rallies and protests under presumably very annoyed American noses. In 2004, the U.S. put a big number 75 into its Christmas display for the year, 75 for the numbers of dissidents in Cuban jails at the time. Take that, Fidel! To which Cuba responded by erecting billboards showing pictures of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Pictures of the abuse are there in the middle, if you can`t help staring instead at that enormous red swastika on the end or the mid-century right in foreground, right? To the swastika, Abu Ghraib billboard, America responded by putting up an electronic billboard outside the U.S. interest section with big scrolling lit up anti-Castro messages. To which Cuba responded by putting up a bunch of flag poles to block anyone`s view of that electronic insult billboard. And so and so on. The thing that is new, that is the best new thing in the world about this today is something my friend Steve Clemens at "The Atlantic" is characterizing as Daiquiri diplomacy. I think it`s an improvement on the swastika billboard and sprawling insult LED wall diplomacy we have been doing. Steve reported and we confirmed today that the Cuban interest section in D.C., they`re not embassy in America, is opening a bar in their building. They`re naming the Hemingway bar. Ernest Hemingway, of course, claimed with pride by both of our countries. Hemingway lived in Cuba for decades. He wrote "The Old Man and the Sea" there. Papa Hemingway`s legendary fondness for the daiquiris at the Havana bar called El Floradita (ph) is inspiration for a life sized bronze statue of Hemingway bellying up to the bar there. The Papa daiquiri and the Hemingway daiquiri are both, of course, named for him. The new bar here in America at the Cuban interest section in Washington, D.C. will feature exhibits about Hemingway`s life and work in Cuba. But will it serve daiquiris? We asked the spokesman for the Cuban interest section that all important question today, he said he could not g give out details but he said he`s pretty sure the bar will not serve daiquiris by the bucket, which is the way he says Hemingway at least once ordered them to go from La Floradita. The gentleman at the not embassy also told us the bar will not be open to the public because, of course, we still don`t have relations with Cuba, so the bar will be invitation only, and presumably because of the economic embargo, even if you do get invited to the Hemingway bar at the Cuban interest section in that building that`s not Cuban in Washington, even if you do get invited, the drinks I`m guessing will have to be free, right? Economic embargo, diplomacy by daiquiri, a far more civilized way for our two countries to continue to annoy each other on purpose -- best new thing in the world today. That does it for us tonight. Thanks very much for being with us. Now, it now it`s time for "THE ED SHOW." Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END