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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/02/12

Guests: Howard Dean, Dahlia Lithwick

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW": Bill Nye, thank you for your time. A lot to talk about here, no question about it. Thank you for your time. BILL NYE: Thank you. SCHULTZ: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. Ezra Klein is filling in for Rachel Maddow tonight. Good evening, Ezra. EZRA KLEIN, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Ed. Good to see you. SCHULTZ: Good to see you. KLEIN: Thank you very much. And thank you to you at home for sticking around for the next hour. Rachel has the night off. But we have a really great show tonight. In fact, we literally have a report that will change your understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe. I am not at all kidding about that. But we`re going to begin with a smaller but still pretty important question. After Republicans lost in the court and if they lose in November, can they still stop the Affordable Care Act? And would they even want to? Now, some say they can. They have come up with an exciting new plan to keep the Affordable Care Act from stealing all your freedom. They will fight it in the states. Now, states can`t actually overturn federal law, but they can maybe, possibly be convinced to refuse to go along with it. And so, that`s what the Republicans are trying to do. Representative Michele Bachmann has joined 12 Republican senators and 60 Republican House members to send a letter to all the governors, asking them, in fact, even begging them not to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act. The letter says and I quote, "The Supreme Court has ruled significant parts of the Medicaid expansion of the president`s health care law unconstitutional, as well as ruling that an individual mandate violated the Commerce Clause and will therefore be implemented as a punitive tax on the middle class. As members of the U.S. Congress, we`re dedicated to the full repeal of this government takeover of health care and we ask you to join us to oppose its implementation." Now, a quick note on that letter. That`s not really how I remember the Supreme Court ruling because I remember them ruling the mandate is constitutional and the Medicaid expansion is constitutional, but that the federal government can`t take away all of the state`s Medicaid money if they don`t participate in the new program -- something we`ll get to in a sec. But it sounded different the way they put it. More -- it was less "this law is constitutional" and more the Supreme Court said it would make George Washington cry a thousand tears, which is a little odd. Anyway, the thing Republicans are asking governors to do in that letter does not amount to much at all. They`re saying don`t set up the health insurance exchanges which are the places in the bill you go to buy the insurance. But if states don`t set them up, the law said the federal government will set them up instead. So, they`re saying, Republican governors, don`t set up the exchanges. Let the Obama administration do it for you -- which is maybe a pain for the Obama administration, but eh, I have a hard time getting worked up about it. The bigger and more consequential effort here, the one I do get worked up about is to get GOP governors to refuse to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Now, they can actually do this. States don`t have to participate in Medicaid. In fact, it took Arizona 20 years after the original Medicaid program was set up to join in. And some GOP governors have already said they`re going to try to sit this one out, too. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Every governor has got two critical decisions to make, one is do we set up these exchanges, and secondly, do we expand Medicaid. And no, in Louisiana, we`re not doing either one of those things. (END VIDEO CLIP) KLEIN: That is Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, saying his state is going to pass up on a sweet, sweet deal. And it`s worth spending a moment on this because it`s important to understand why. There`s something weird in the design of the Affordable Care Act, something you wouldn`t expect from the political care act. It`s way nicer to red states than blue states. And the reason it`s way nicer to red states is the Medicaid part. The Medicaid part of the bill works like this -- right now, states have a ton of leeway to decide who is and who isn`t eligible for Medicaid. So, Texas, they only cover working adults up to 26 percent of the poverty line, which is low. The poverty line for an individual is $11,170 a year. So, you could be a single person making $3,000 a year and you`re not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. That`s part of the reason Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the entire nation. In Massachusetts, by contrast, they cover working adults up to 133 percent of the poverty level. Now, this is partly due to a bill signed by a former governor whose name rhymed with Smitt Sromney. But leave that aside for a moment. It`s a big reason they have the lowest uninsured rate in the nation. The Affordable Care Act wants to make the whole country like Massachusetts. Everyone making up to 133 percent of the poverty line, which is less than $15,000 for an individual, they get Medicaid. They get Medicaid automatically. Right now, the federal government pays about 57 percent of Medicaid`s costs. States pick up the rest. And that`s a good enough deal that every single state participates. In the Affordable Care Act, for the first three years, the state, the feds will cover 100 percent of the difference between wherever the state is now and where the law wants them to go, 100 percent. After 2020, that drops a bit, but only drops to 90 percent. So, for every dollar the state puts in, the feds will put in $9. It`s an incredible deal. But here`s what`s perverse about it. The less you have been doing on Medicaid so far, the more the federal government will pay on your behalf going forward. That gets to the irony of the health care law. Red states have in general done less than blue states to cover their residents, particularly through Medicaid. And so, they`re going to get a sweeter deal under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. A state like Texas, they get a ton of money, because there`s a ton of gap to make up. A state like Massachusetts, they get very little. In fact, if you look at the 10 states that will benefit the most from the Medicaid expansion, nine of them went for John McCain in 2008. If you look at the 10 states that will see the smallest bumps in coverage, eight of them went for Obama in 2008. Now, one of the states that has promised to sit the Medicaid expansion out is good old South Carolina. Rob Godfrey, spokeswoman -- spokesman, I`m sorry, for Governor Nikki Haley said, quote, "We`re not going to shove more South Carolinians into a broken system that further ties our hands when we know the best way to find South Carolina solutions for South Carolina health programs is through flexibility that block grants provide." So, how are those South Carolina solutions working out? Nineteen percent of South Carolina`s residents are uninsured. That is well above the national average. The Medicaid expansion in the new law would cut South Carolina`s insurance rate among those eligible. Those are folks making less than 133 percent of poverty by 56 percent. So, 56 percent of the uninsured among of those group wiped out in one go. That`s the fourth best deal any state in the entire nation would get under the Affordable Care Act. The cost of that for the federal government between 2014 and 2019 is significant. It`s almost $11 billion. For South Carolina, they`ll pay less than $500 million. In the short term, a rising Republican star like Haley might have some reason to reject that deal. One way to build a national profile is to win the GOP`s ongoing, "no, I`m the most anti-Obamacare politician" contest. But that contest isn`t going to last forever, and governors also have to answer to non-Republican voters who don`t want their state missing out on billions in federal dollars. And they have to answer to the hospitals who don`t want to be paying for the uninsured patients who end up in the emergency rooms when the federal government is offering to pick up the tab. And they have to answer to the insured voters in those state, who end up paying higher premiums in order to compensate the hospitals for paying for the uninsured people who the feds are willing to pay for instead. So if Mitt Romney loses this election and Republicans lose their last chance to repeal Obamacare, their governors aren`t going to hold this line for very long. They can`t afford to. And when they finally do decide on the issue, they`re going to have an easy argument with which to do it. Let`s just say it`s going to be a way to stick it to the blue states that Obama back in office. Joining us is former Democratic National Committee chairman and former governor of Vermont and a physical himself, Dr. Howard Dean. Dr. Dean, thank you very much for being here tonight. HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Ezra, thanks for having me on. KLEIN: So, your state, Vermont, has one of the highest rates of coverage in the nation, in large part due to lines you signed when you were governor, and in part due to the Medicaid provisions in the laws. So, is this Medicaid bill a good deal for Vermont? DEAN: Not particularly, but, you know, we think universal health care is a human right. So, we had it for children for about 20 years using Medicaid. But Bill Clinton gave us a waiver so we could do that, and we also had guaranteed issued community writing for about 20 years. So, we`re pretty far ahead of the curb. I`d say that Massachusetts is the only state ahead of us -- thanks to Governor Romney. KLEIN: You know, one thing I think about when we watch some of these fights from the outside is we tend to see party politics better than interest group politics because it plays out in politics. So, we see Governor Nikki Haley go on TV. We see her go on TV to appeal to the conservative voters. But presumably, she and all governors are going to have health care providers streaming into their offices and particularly the hospitals. You`ve outspoken on this thing. You have to take the money. You can`t leave us out in the cold here, right? DEAN: That is what`s going to happen. Although South Carolina, when I was campaigning for president, I said this yesterday on David Gregory show yesterday, when I was campaigning for president, we figured that South Carolina`s gross domestic product would increase by 2 percent if they just had the same program Vermont did. I mean, this is just stupidity if governors refuse this, because not on lane does it insure a lot of people, it raises their gross domestic product because it raises spending by the private sector and hospital sector in every aspect of the state`s economy. Now, Texas is -- I don`t care who the governor in Texas, they`re going to take this money. It`s $52 billion, and they have a really sophisticated network of hospitals, probably the third or fourth most sophisticated in the whole country. They`re one of the real meccas of American medicine. If you think that the governor, whoever it is, Republican or Democrat, is going to be able to turn down $52 billion and not be eaten alive by places like Baylor or Houston Medical Center, you got another thing coming. There`s a payment called a disproportionate share payment that is made to states to help them pay for uncompensated care. With every state except Louisiana, that payment disappears. So, these hospitals are going to take it on the chin and states with great medical establishments like Texas are going to be left to being second class citizens if the governor doesn`t take the money, and I think they will. KLEIN: Yes, I think you`re right about that. But to be fair to them, one argument some of these governors have made is that, sure, the law said it will match it 90 percent beginning in 2020, but in two decades, Congress could vote that down to 85 percent or 75 percent, or 55 percent, and then the state is left holding the bag. How likely do you think that would be? DEAN: Look, in two decades, every nuclear power plant in Texas could blow up. I don`t see them getting rid of their nuclear power plants. This is ridiculous argument. If that happens, they deal with it when it happens. It hasn`t happened yet. There`s been talk about it for years. The truth is the governors when they pull together, which they used to do before 1994 in the Republican revolution, governors are a powerful force in this country and the match has been very good. South Carolina gets 80 percent match. For Nikki Haley not to take that 80 percent from the federal government is gubernatorial malpractice. It just is. I mean, that`s a hell of a lot of money coming into a state that isn`t doing so well. And they could do a lot better. And the same with Mississippi and Louisiana and all those states that are -- you know, in the 40s and all of the indicators of child health and adult health and so forth and so on. It`s a ridiculous thing to do. There`s no reason for them to be in the position they`re in, and with some leadership in the governor`s office, they wouldn`t have to be with this program. Look, I wasn`t a big supporter of Obama`s bill, but it`s the law of the land. We might as will work with it, and I`m willing to work with the parts I don`t like. I think it`s time the Republicans grow up a little and start working with the parts they don`t like. KLEIN: Former Democratic National Committee chairman and governor of Vermont -- Dr. Howard Dean, thank you very much for being here tonight. DEAN: Thank you. KLEIN: Ahead, the behind the scenes drama that led to last week`s Supreme Court decision. Dahlia Lithwick will join us with all of the details, next. Plus, because we don`t mess around the small stuff here, we have a moment of geek featuring nothing less than the secret of the cosmos. That`s still ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KLEIN: So how are Governor Chris Christie and Bruce Springsteen alike? Well, they are both from New Jersey, that`s one thing, and they`re -- they`re both -- they`re -- this is coming up, but I`ll keep thinking. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KLEIN: When Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010 at the age of 90, the court lost its grand liberal leader. It`s Republican-appointed liberal leader. You see, Justice Stevens was appointed by President Ford. And if you ask legal scholars, he did not become the leader of the court`s liberal bloc by becoming liberal, by changing his opinions. The court moved so far right during his tenure that by the end of it, his moderate Republican philosophy -- was moderate Republican when he was named to the court -- was a liberal by comparison to everybody else who was serving with him. Court watchers have been arguing recently that the Supreme Court is moving to the right. And they have been documenting the shift literally for years now. The folks over at "Mother Jones" helpfully did it in chart form, which is, as you might know, my favorite form. And here`s a really handy and dramatic one. The red line at the top, that shows conservative justices becoming more conservative over the years. That middle line in yellow, that`s moderate justices also becoming more conservative or the years. And finally, that blue line at the bottom, that`s liberal justices becoming more conservative or the years. And then last week happened. This super conservative court including the super conservative Chief Justice John Roberts upheld a law that was incredibly unpopular among conservatives. And suddenly anything seemed possible. For about 45 seconds, the court-watching pundit class thought maybe the court hasn`t moved that far to the right. Well, today, conservatives from inside the court proved that it has. Now, you need to know that leaks from the Supreme Court just about never happen ever. Never, never ever, never ever, ever. It is a notoriously secretive institution. In fact, my colleague at "Bloomberg View," Steven Carter, was just writing last week about how amazingly leak proof the Supreme Court is and how wouldn`t it be better if there were more institutions like the Supreme Court where people didn`t go around blabbing to the media all the time just for political gain. And right on cue, massive blabbing to the media from conservatives inside the Supreme Court justice. In fact, just about the first thing conservatives did after the ruling came down was leak to a reporter details of the decision-making process, breaking the court`s code of silence to tell CBS News that Chief Justice Roberts initially really did want to overturn reform, suggesting he might have just bowed to outside pressure and changing his mind deciding to uphold the law. And revealing that, quote, "at least one conservative justice tried to get him to explain his switch but was unsatisfied with the response." It was the conservatives` way of saying via politically charged leaks, no, no, we really are that far right. And just so everyone is clear, John Roberts totally agreed with us on everything and he didn`t want to uphold the legislation at first, and then he became a giant chicken and he let the law stand. Even in his majority opinion upholding the law, Roberts took painstaking care to say he agreed with the conservatives on everything except for a teeny, tiny, very narrow, nearly inconsequentially technicality on which he decided to uphold it -- the question of whether it`s a penalty or a tax. But he sided with the conservatives in terms of the big legal questions, the scope of the Commerce Clause and the unnecessary and proper powers. He just did about want to strike down entirely the most sweeping piece of social policy legislation to be enacted in this country in 40 years. Now, this should not have been a 5-4 decision that was almost a 4-5. It should have been 7-2 or 8-1. Before the oral arguments, the poll of former Supreme Court clerks and lawyers who had argued before the court found only 35 percent expected the court to strike the mandate down. After the oral arguments, based on the line of questioning coming from the bench, it began to look like the law would go down, and there was a feeling in the professional court-watching community that holy crap, we can`t believer this is happening. A clearly constitutional law is going to be struck down based on politics. Now, a survey of top constitutional law scholars late last month found that 19 of 21 thought the law was constitutional and should be upheld by the court -- 19 of 21. But only eight of 21 were confident that it would be upheld by the court. All that freaking out before the decision was handed down about how partisan and political and conservative the court has become, that is still a totally valid reaction to this court, even after it upheld health care reform, because the truth is it barely upheld health care reform and it only upheld it on really narrow grounds. And the court`s conservatives seem to be arguing by way of catty political leaking that it almost wasn`t narrowly upheld on 5-4, that it was nearly struck down on a 5-4 vote and it would have been if John Roberts hadn`t been such a scaredy-cat. The other thing, by the way, about those conservatives on the court, they didn`t just want to strike down the mandate, which had been radical in and of itself. They wanted to overturn the whole law based on the mandate. So, no more Affordable Care Act entirely, the entire thing goes. The maximalist option, no judicial restraint -- they were really going for it. So, the bottom line is that if you were worried about the court before the health reform ruling, you should be worried about the court today. It hasn`t changed that much. Joining us now is Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Dahlia, thank you so much for joining us tonight. DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE.COM: Hi there, Ezra. Thanks for having me. KLEIN: So, this report that pulls back the curtain on the Supreme Court`s internal decision making built on leaks, this is pretty rare. Were you surprised by the fact it came out at all? LITHWICK: Yes, this was jaw-dropping. I think almost everyone who reacted to this had the same reaction you did, which is this never, ever, ever, ever exponentially more ever happens. You know, there`s a big, big story about the backroom dealings of Bush v. Gore, but it happened four years later. For it to happen, three days later is truly unprecedented and as you said, quite extraordinary. KLEIN: Now, this report is somewhat unique. It`s an op-ed, necessarily written about in other outlets. The reporter has a wonderful reputation, but you know the court very well. Did the report ring true to you? LITHWICK: It did. And Jan Crawford, who wrote it for CBS, is a phenomenal reporter. I don`t doubt that what she said is true. The locution is interesting, Ezra. She has access to, quote, "sources" with specific knowledge of the deliberations. So the locution is really fascinating. What rings true rings true. I do have the sense that only part of the story is being told here, and any story that`s being told by folks who quite palpably have an ax to grind, one wants to hear what the other side is. In other words, I think it`s probably likely that Chief Justice John Roberts assigned himself the opinion immediately after deliberations and the idea that he just started cooking up this opinion, you know, weeks into the case, just doesn`t make sense because he didn`t assign himself another opinion from that sitting. So I think that he was thinking all along he was either going to write for himself and the four conservatives or he was going to write something else. But the notion, as you said, he just chickened out, I don`t think that`s the whole story. KLEIN: And there was one thing that I thought was really fascinating about it, a weird locution as well in Justice Scalia`s -- his dissent. And they really talk about Roberts in a weird way or they don`t talk about him really at all. They don`t refer to him in the majority. And what Crawford reported was that it wasn`t a mistake and it wasn`t because he flipped at the last minute. It`s because they were so mad at him they wanted it to appear they stopped engaging. They were no longer -- it was almost, they didn`t think him worthy of debate and they didn`t want to sign on to the parts they agreed with him. It was kind of a diss from the four on the right side of the court to Roberts. LITHWICK: That`s right. And that part also was a head scratcher, Ezra. You have the opportunity to have five votes to get together and get behind the chief justice`s Commerce Clause necessarily and proper findings where. The idea that you put your hands over your ears and stomp your feet and say I`m going to deny him this because I`m so darn mad doesn`t sound quite right. So, I think you`re right. I think there are pieces we`re not getting. And more fundamentally -- this is the problem, that we`re having this conversation is the problem, because it is entirely speculative. It does have the effect of undermining the integrity of the court. We should be talking about the holding, not about Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead pipe. KLEIN: Well, hopefully, we`ll be able to have you back on and see and we`ll talk more about the holding. Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at -- thank you again for joining us tonight, and sharing your endless wisdom on the court. LITHWICK: Thanks, Ezra. KLEIN: The universe can be divided into two groups. Those that know what the Higgs boson and care whether humanity is able to locate it, and those who do not. I will attempt to reconcile those two groups in a remarkable moment of geek, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: The Supreme Court of the United States of America upheld the largest tax increase in American history. MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS: The largest tax increase in the history of the country. REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Obamacare is the biggest tax increase in American history. RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: What we now have is the biggest tax increase in the history of the world. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest tax increase in the history of the universe. (END VIDEO CLIPS) KLEIN: You`ve heard the parade of Republicans who`ve been calling the health reform law some variation of the largest tax increase in the history of life as we know it and everything in the world and the universe. Now, while we don`t have the data to rule specifically on the history of the universe claim, who does -- tonight, in chart imitates life, we can show you that President Obama`s health reform law is not the biggest tax increase even in American history. Not even close, really. The individual mandate which got Republicans started on this whole kick is a tiny, tiny, tiny part of the health care bill. It`s not -- even when you`re looking at the tax section, it`s not the biggest or the second biggest or the third biggest tax increase in the health care bill. Much less the largest tax increase in the history of the planet earth. But the health care law does have other taxes in it. It increases payroll taxes on wealthy Americans. It levies a tax on unusually costly health insurance plans. Let`s say you add all of those together. Where does it add up? Well, here`s the chart. It was drawn up by Austan Frakt, an economist who blogs at the wonderful Incidental Economist Web site. I have put it on my blog at "The Washington Post" this morning. It ranks the 15 biggest tax increases since 1950. Now, counter to the biggest increases are at the bottom. They`re the long blue lines. The smaller tax increases are at the top, the shorter blue lines. So counting up from the bottom, President Obama`s Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare, comes in tenth. It is only the tenth biggest tax increase since 1950 in this one country that we live in. And it`s about equal in size to President Clinton`s 1993 tax increase. And oh, here`s something interesting, it`s also about equal in size to George H.W. Bush`s 1990 tax increase. And whoa, you know who signed an even bigger tax increase into law, President Ronald Reagan. His 1982 tax increase was about 40 percent larger than the Affordable Care Act. Boy, you say Reagan also cut taxes and indeed he did, he cut them big. Much like Obama did in the stimulus and then again in 2010 when he extended all of the Bush tax cuts for two years and added more on top of that. And like he`s promising to do again in 2012 when he said he would extend most of the Bush tax cuts permanently. Now, to be honest with you -- I don`t think this is great. To be fiscally responsible in the country, we`re going to need to do more than let the Bush tax cuts for rich Americans expire. We`re going to get deficits under our control if taxes have to stop being a dirty word and just become part of budgeting again. But if we`re going to talk tax increases and tax cuts, we need to have the numbers straight. The Affordable Care Act is not the largest tax hike in history, not the largest tax hike in the last 50 years, or 40 years, or 30 years, or even 20 years. And if you count the scheduled expiration in 2010 of the Bush tax cuts as a tax hike, and the Republicans did, it`s not even the largest tax hike written into law in the last 10 years. And while it does have some big tax hikes in it, the individual mandate, not one of them. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: There is a pretty good chance that if you`re watching this show tonight from a state like Ohio or Pennsylvania or Iowa or Florida, you just got done watching this ad during the past commercial break. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: Running for governor, Mitt Romney campaigned as a job creator. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know how jobs are created. NARRATOR: But as a corporate raider, he shipped jobs to China and Mexico. As governor, he did the same thing, outsourcing state jobs to India. Now, he`s making the exact same pitch. ROMNEY: I know why jobs come and why they go. NARRATOR: Outsourcing jobs, Romney economics. It didn`t work then and it won`t work now. (END VIDEO CLIP) KLEIN: That is an ad being run in battle ground states across the country right now by the Obama campaign. And there`s a reason the Obama campaign is running that particular ad and not some other ad. The Obama campaign, more than any campaign that has ever come before it, prides itself of not just relying on chance or in tuition when it comes to campaign strategy. No, they rely on cold hard data. And what that cold hard data was telling them was hit Romney on Bain. At, Sasha Isenburg described the analytics process that team Obama goes through when it comes to campaign advertising. Quote, "Analysts rely on an extensive ongoing micro-targeting operation to discern which slivers of the electorate are the most responsive and to which messages. This cycle of trial and error offers empirically-minded election ears an upgrade over the current regime of approaching voters based on hunches. So, when the Obama campaign crunched all the numbers, they determined the Bain attack would be the most effective thing they could do. What they had not counted on though was that it would trigger such a backlash among Democratic elites, among Democrats who live and fundraise in and around New York City and Washington, D.C. These Democrats know private equity guys. They know investors. These guys are their friends, their funders, their campaign backers. They are people these Democrats need and want to keep good relationships with. And so you may remember that about a month and a half ago, there was this great uproar in the Democratic Party about whether it was wise or not to attack him on his record at Bain capital. High profile Democrats like Cory Booker and Ed Rendell began voicing concerns publicly about whether those Bain attacks were a good idea. That criticism got a lot of media attention. The media began wondering and reporting about why the Obama campaign couldn`t get its message right, couldn`t get its allies to agree with it. But there was always this question: were those Democrats tactically correct? Because there could be a big difference between what Democratic elites want to hear and what resonates with actual voters in battleground states. And so, team Obama had a genuinely important strategic decision to make. Do they go with the feedback they were getting from the Democratic elites on this? Do they back off the Bain attacks? Or do they go with their data? The Obama campaign pretty decisively decided to double down on their data and on the attacks. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: President Romney`s first 100 days for the people of Iowa, they mean fewer worries about their future. NARRATOR: Fewer worries? "The Washington Post" has just revealed that Romney`s companies were pioneers in shipping U.S. jobs overseas. Investing in firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India. Does Iowa really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House? (END VIDEO CLIP) KLEIN: That decision now appears to be paying dividends. In battleground states across the country, the Bain attacks appear to be taking hold. Here`s how the race looked in Florida two months ago. Romney held a slim one-point lead. Here`s how the race looks in Florida now. It`s Barack Obama leading there by four points. Here`s how the race looked in the great state of Ohio two months ago. President Obama was leading there, too, but by a razor-thin two-point margin. Since then, the president has blown it open to a nine-point margin. So, what accounts for the sudden movement in swing states? Here`s the analysis from ABC`s Rick Klein. Quote, "Over the last two weeks, even as the national polls have shown little movement in the race, something different has been happening in the battleground states. In those states, President Obama has been pulling ahead. The gaps aren`t huge, but taken together, the numbers strongly suggest the Democrats` relentless attacks on Mitt Romney`s business record at Bain Capital have been taking a toll." The most recent NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows the same thing. When voters were asked whether Mitt Romney`s record at Bain Capital makes them feel more positive or more negative about him, 28 percent said they feel more negative about Mr. Romney after learning about his record at Bain compared to only 23 percent who felt more positive about him. So, those numbers not so good for Romney. But the numbers were much worse among voters in swing states. There, 33 percent said they felt more negative about Mr. Romney after learning about his record at Bain, compared to only 18 percent who felt more positive about him. According to "The New York Times," even Republicans feel the strategy is working. Quote, "Despite doubts among some Democrats about the wisdom of attacking Mr. Romney`s business career, Obama commercials painting him as a ruthless executive who pursued profits at the expense of jobs are starting to make an impact on some undecided voters, according to strategists for both sides. Strategists with both parties said independent voters speaking in focus groups had indicated that they have seen the ads or heard their charges, that they have raised questions in their minds about Mr. Romney`s experience." The Obama campaign had a big decision to make about a month and a half ago when they faced the elites in their own party. Stick with the Bain attacks or back off. And they decided to stick with them. So far, at least, they have been proven right. Joining us now is my friend and colleague, the host of the aptly named, the wonderfully named "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" show, airing weekends right here on MSNBC. She`s also a professor at Tulane University, and a columnist for "The Nation". Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you for being here. MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Ezra. Always nice to join you. KLEIN: I`m always struck by how quickly the campaign narratives shift. I remember, a month ago, all anyone seemed to be talking about or want to talk about was the strategic incompetence of the Obama campaign. But then the polls didn`t go down for Obama and now they seem to be going up. And now the narrative is that the strategy was kind of brilliant and now it was working and, in fact, it was a great idea all along. What`s your takeaway here? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, everybody loves a winner. Last week was a big winning week for President Obama and for the Obama administration, even bracketing the Holder situation. Obviously, the Affordable Care Act decision on the part of the Supreme Court, you know, just sort of gives President Obama and the campaign a bit more swagger going into sort of midsummer here. But I think the other part of it is, do you remember that it was always sort of the incompetence of the surrogates and in certain ways, that story, the idea of surrogates not being able to stay on message is not really all the same thing as whether or not the campaign itself has the right message. KLEIN: You know, the thing I think people figured was going to happen, was that the surrogates, they were getting all this media coverage, and that would somehow filter out. And I was thinking about this today. This poll came out that showed 41 percent of Americans had no idea the Supreme Court ruled on health care last week. They just didn`t know. It didn`t cross their radar. It`s not something that made impression on it. HARRIS-PERRY: What world do you and I live in? KLEIN: That`s my concern. It made me think about, you know, is anybody actually less well-qualified to say what might work or not work with swing voters than the people who sit in chairs like this one who are following every little piece and every little movement in the presidential campaign? Because it doesn`t seem to me, these gaffes, these little stories that end up obsessing us in Washington actually end up mattering to ordinary voters at all. HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I mean, that`s a critically important point. I mean, obviously, our job is to be filtering the news and trying to think about all of the small elements that will impact the election. But you know, folks who are in the swing states, one of the things that is going on in some of the swing states, is their unemployment rates ,take Virginia for example, are actually not as bad as the national unemployment rate. So, kind of hitting President Obama on "are you better off today than you were four years ago" is not going to work for the Romney campaign in those states in the way that it will in the much harder hit states. And conversely, President Obama being able to stay, look, this guy isn`t going to do for you what I have done, kind of make things better in your home state. He`s going to make things worse. He`s going to take the jobs you finally started to see recovery and take them and send them out, you know, kind of just outsourcing narrative. But I think the other piece of it is we just have to remember that it`s still a long way until both the conventions and then ultimately the fall. I think the real issue isn`t what goes on on television, it`s what will happen in those head-to-head debates when the two of them are going to get to make their case and, you know, really sort of stand up in front of the American people and explain why they think the other guy is no good. KLEIN: Right, I think it`s always important to remember at this time in 1992, Bill Clinton was behind both George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. That was kind of amazing. Melissa Harris-Perry, Tulane University professor, host of the "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" show airing weekends from 10:00 to noon Eastern Time right here on MSNBC -- thank you for being here. HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Ezra. KLEIN: One downside to being a rock star -- it turns out that there is a downside to being a rock star -- is they can`t choose their fans. For every Bruce Springsteen, there are thousands of Chris Christies. Who is really the boss in New Jersey? Next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KLEIN: On Friday, the show reported the state of Mississippi was on the verge of effectively banning abortion by way of a new law about to shut down the only clinic in the entire state. The law added regulations for the one clinic that other types of clinics do not have to follow. In particular, the law required doctors at the clinic to have admitting privileges to a hospital. The owner of the clinic told us her doctors have applied for those privileges with five hospitals in a 30-mile radius, but not one has said yes. With the law taking effect on Sunday, the clinic faced a choice of either shutting down or breaking the law, unless the federal court stepped in. Last night, only hours before the clinic was supposed to open this morning, a federal judge blocked the law. The judge issued a temporary restraining order. It lasts until July 11th when they hear arguments for a permanent injunction. He wrote, quote, "Plaintiff has offered evidence, including quotes from significant legislative and executive officers, that the act`s purpose is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi. They likewise submitted evidence that not safety or health concerns motivated its passage. This evidence has not yet been rebutted." Evidence about the intent of the law and a lack of concern for health and safety might be hard to rebut because it is on videotape. > (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: We`re going to continue to try to work to end abortion in Mississippi, and this is an historic day to begin that process. TATE REEVES, MISSISSIPPI LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Our goal needs to be to end all abortions in Mississippi. I believe the admitting privileges bill gives us the best chance to do that. STATE REP. BUBBA CARPENTER (R), MISSISSIPPI: We have literally stopped abortions in the state of Mississippi. And, of course, there you have the other side, they`re like well, the poor pitiful women can`t afford to go out of state are just going to doing it at home with a coat hanger. That`s what we heard over and over and over. But, hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and that`s what we`ve decided to do. (END VIDEO CLIP) KLEIN: You have to start somewhere. The federal court decided that Roe versus Wade still applies in Mississippi, at least for now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: It`s hot outside on the East Coast. It`s really hot, actually. You could understand people being a little short tempered. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, you could more or less set your watch by it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: On Monday, are you going to be addressing the legislature? GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Did I say on topic? Are you stupid? On topic, on topic. Next question. Good. Thank you, thank you, thank you all very much and I`m sorry for the idiot over there. Take care. (END VIDEO CLIP) KLEIN: For those of you keeping track at home, that was Republican Governor Chris Christie`s umpteenth public fit since taking office. YouTube is peppered with the New Jersey governor telling people off, calling them idiots, informing them that he is the governor and they can shut up while he talks. He`s gone after teachers like that. He`s gone teachers like that. He`s gone after a student like that, a policeman. It`s also very macho and brusque and Christie loves doing it, and his supporters love watching it. Now, this is Christie`s other great love, Bruce Springsteen, the Boss, the bard (ph) of New jersey, the self-style dirt farmer of the Garden State. From his early days as a Republican contender, Governor Christie`s love of Springsteen has been a way of showing that he, Chris Christie, is just like the rest of yous, with dozens and dozens and dozens of Springsteen ticket stubs to prove it. When the press reported that Chris Christie appeared to be asleep at Springsteen concern this year, the governor responded he`s by no means asleep. He was meditating on the deep the meaning of Springsteen`s music. You know what, I believe that. Christie is a true Springsteen fan. He probably was meditating on it. But the sad part, the part with pathos in it is that Christie does love Springsteen an awful lot, but Springsteen does not love Christie back. Jeffrey Goldberg writes about it in this month`s "Atlantic." Quote, "Despite heroic efforts by Christie, Springsteen, who is still a New Jersey resident, will not talk to him, at concerts, even concerts at club-sized venues, Springsteen won`t acknowledge the governor. When Christie leaves a Springsteen concert in a large arena, his state trooper move him to his motorcade through loading docks. He walks within feet of the stage and of the dressing rooms. He`s never been invited in to say hello." So sad Chris Christie. This spring, Christie begged Bruce to meet him in Atlantic City. He`s begging Springsteen to come play there to celebrate the opening of a new casino. Tell me this sounds like anything other than kind of injure-begging with an overlay of rationalizing and bargaining. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: I would make a direct plea to Bruce right now, I think, you know, he`s missed out on the opportunity to open this place, because Beyonce has picked up the mantle on that. But I really think, you know, when he gets off of the summer part of his tour, he doesn`t have anything announced yet for Labor Day weekend. I think Labor Day weekend at Revel for Bruce Springsteen would be an incredible show of support by Bruce for his home state. (END VIDEO CLIP) KLEIN: Bruce Springsteen is not listening to Governor Christie. And for all that Governor Christie tries to guilt trip his unrequited love and say the Boss should play at Atlantic City for the middle class, for all that Springsteen`s rejection is grounded in Mr. Christie`s politics. Springsteen`s hero is a person who says the first kick he took was when he took the ground and he ends up like a dog that`s been beat too much, until he spends half of his life just covering up. Springsteen gave us the world, "Born in the USA, and also "The Streets of Philadelphia," a theme for a movie about a man dying of AIDS. Springsteen has been calling for New Jersey to legalize marriage equality for years now. And when the legislature finally voted to do that, Christie vetoed it and said the state should hold a referendum instead. Last year, Christie stripped union rights and cut the benefits of state workers. And last week, Governor Christie cut tax credits for the working poor along with aid to cities and schools and health care. Bruce Springsteen is not the guy who is impressed with the guy who berates teachers and students and reporters and policemen at town halls. Using your power to bravely stand up to the little guy is not really a major Springsteen theme. So, no, Governor Christie, Mr. Springsteen seems unlikely to go down to the river with you, or the shore, or raise a sha, la, la for your cause. But if you see the ghost of old Tom Joy around the governor`s mansion, perhaps you`d get his autograph. It`s worth asking. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KLEIN: Here`s a joke. A Higgs boson works into a Catholic Church. The priest says, we don`t allow Higgs boson in here. The Higgs boson says, without me, how can you have mass? Get it? The Higgs boson says, without me, how can you have -- get it? No? The joke there is a play on the two different meanings of mass. That`s a bad way to start this. Let`s start over. Right now physicists are trying to explain the universe by using what is called the standard model. This equation is a standard model. You can learn more about it on an invaluable YouTube channel called Minute Physics. But because fist physicists work with teeny, tiny, itty-bitty, really hard to see stuff, like sub-atomic particles, it`s kind of tough to verify their ideas. Most of us stop in high school with the electron, the proton and the neutron, which are found in atoms. Maybe some of you went on to learn about quarks, which have the best name of all the particles. But there are lots more of the teeny, tiny, itty-bitty thing out there and they can only be predicted by math. This is how physics works now. Physicists come up with equations that seem to describe the way we know the world works, and then inside those equations, we learn about the parts of the world that we didn`t know were there and how they work, and then we hope that some day, some future group of humans with machinery more impressive than what we have will be able to check whether we were right. In 1964, a physicist by the name of Peter Higgs came up with the idea that there was a kind of cosmic molasses in the universe that we, of course, cannot see, but it helps matter stick together to form things like atoms. How it does that, theoretically, makes for terrible television, so I`m not going to tell you. If you want to know more, we`ll put links on the Web site. But the particle they`re interested in for proving that is called the Higgs boson, which also has a fancy nickname, the "God particle". Some physicists however call it the goddamn particle, because as they say, it is so goddamned hard to find. But time past, our machines got better and now scientists are trying to recreate the conditions that existed right after the Big Bang. And they are doing it in a giant particle collider underneath the Alps, between France and Switzerland. It sounds like an evil villain plot. And they are doing it by sending teeny tiny, itty-bitty particles whizzing along 17 miles of magnetic track until they crash with each other, at close to the speed of, breaking up into even ittier and bittier particles. Scientists are producing millions of collisions a second and analyzing crazy amounts of data for evidence that the Higgs boson is alive and well and doing what it is theorized to do. This Wednesday, scientists heading the two biggest hunt for the Higgs boson are going to present their latest findings, and today, word is leaking out in every corner of the Internet where people care about the hunt for Higgs boson that they are going to say that they have found it, or at least they found something that could be it. So while for most of us, the Fourth of July means fireworks, for a physicist and their physics friendly, the fun will be oohing and awing over a very different kind of spark. That does it for us tonight. You can check out my work at at "The Washington Post" or follow me on Twitter at, and on Facebook, Now it is time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END