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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/10/12

Guests: Nancy Northup, James Carville

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: What we`re seeing is the crumbling of America`s infrastructure. We don`t have the money to pay for the essentials. And the question is how many firefighters are going to become disenchanted, get out of the business, get out of this line of work and leave communities vulnerable and then, all of a sudden, we have a new template on how we`re going to have public employees service our communities in America. That`s where I think this is the tip of the iceberg. John Judge, we`ll do the story again. I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you. That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Incredible news there. SCHULTZ: Thank you. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour. James Carville is here tonight for the interview. I`m really looking forward talking to him. James Carville, of course, is the campaign strategist who brought us the presidency of a man named Bill Clinton, who you might have heard of. Bill Clinton was elected in 1992. He beat Poppy Bush, beat him easily. Bill Clinton was then wildly popular, as most presidents are, right after they`re elected. But then by the very next election, after the `92 one, by the very next election, by the midterm election in 1994, the pendulum had swung way back in the other direction. The Republicans won a landslide in the first election of the Bill Clinton presidency. They took control of the House from the Democrats, Newt Gingrich became the speaker of the House. The House swung 54 seats to the Republicans -- 54 seats they picked up. We have showed this before, but this cover from "Time" magazine in 1994 gives you an idea of how huge the victory was for the Republicans in the first midterm election that President Clinton was in office. The GOP elephant stampeding, right? Stampeding. And if you look under the elephant`s foot, the elephant is destroying the Democratic donkey, making the donkey`s eyeballs pop out on bloody stalks. That`s what you get in terms of imagery in the press when you pick up 54 seats in the House -- 54. You want to know how many seats swung to the Republicans in the past election? Sixty-three. Nine more seats than the Republicans won in their big elephant squishing the donkey landslide in 1994. This past election in 2010 went deep, deep red. In 2010, Republicans won the governorships in 29 of 50 states. They won more seats in state legislatures than they had won since 1928. They won 63 seats in the House. But look at this. Look at this, the Republicans did great in both of these midterm elections, 1994 and 2010. Whatever party the president is, his party tends to lose seats the next time people get to vote. It happens almost every time. But when you compare what happened in the first midterm under President Clinton to what happened under President Obama in his first midterm, look what happened in the Senate. The Republicans did not get much this time around in the Senate. Even as their landslide got bigger in the House, it shrunk a little bit in the Senate. Why did that happen? That happened because I am not a witch happened. The Republicans were so cocky that they would be able to run the table in the 2010 elections that they picked some coocoo for cocoa puffs Senate candidates. Republican voters and Republican Party picked really, really, really out there, far right conservative candidates for the Senate in a bunch of states in 2010, and those candidates did not win, even in that bright red year. So the Democrats held the Senate in 2010. I mean, there was I am not a witch Christine O`Donnell in Delaware. There was second amendment remedies Sharron Angle in Nevada. Remember her? She threatened if she did not unseat Harry Reid in the Senate, conservative voters would start shooting people to get what they wanted instead. There was also this guy, in Colorado, his name was Ken Buck. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Why should we vote for you? KEN BUCK: Why should you vote for me? Because I do not wear high heels. REPORTER: Is it constitutional for the government to have a Social Security program where it directs the moneys we put into it? BUCK: Let me tell you, I don`t know whether it`s constitutional or not. It`s certainly a horrible policy. REPORTER: Are you for abortion or against abortion? If you`re for it, what instances would you allow for abortion? BUCK: I`m pro life, and I`ll answer the next question. I don`t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I don`t believe in the exceptions for rape or incest. Ken Buck did not become a U.S. senator from Colorado. In a state that`s always pretty closely divided anyway, in a year where Republicans frankly had to try to lose, in an election where Republicans won just about everything, Ken Buck could not win against a Democrat named Michael Bennet. That was part because Michael Bennet made sure that Ken Buck came across as a real extremist on the issue of abortion. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO: Ken has supported criminalizing abortion in cases of rape and incest. My question is: who`s going to go to jail, Ken? BUCK: Who`s going to go to jail? BENNET: When you criminalize abortion in cases of rape and incest, and abortion occurs, who is going to jail? BUCK: I`ll tell you, Senator, I don`t think abortion is going to be criminalized anytime soon? BENNET: You support it. BUCK: Let me answer the question, you have once again tried to take this debate off topic. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Ken Buck had no idea what to say to being put on the spot like that by Michael Bennet. Ken Buck did support making abortion a criminal offense, even for women who were made pregnant by a rapist or by incest. But as to what the prison term should be if a woman does get an abortion under those circumstances, he has no response. You`re changing the subject. Am I changing? Am I allowed to change the subject? Ken Buck lost that election badly, even when Republicans won everything else. Ken Buck lost among women voters in Colorado by 17 points. That was only two years ago, but you know what? Times have changed. Now, if you ask a Republican politician how long the jail term should be for an abortion, now they`ll just tell you. They`re not dodging it anymore like Ken Buck did. Republican Congressman Trent Franks has an abortion ban working its way through the House of Representatives this week. It`s a federal ban but it`s specifically targeted to women in Washington, D.C. You do not need to ask Trent Franks who goes to jail for his abortion ban. It`s right there in the bill. Doctors should go to jail. Doctors should spend up to two years in prison. Republican Governor Bobby Jindal signed a similar bill into law in Louisiana last month. You also do not need to ask Bobby Jindal who`s going to go to jail. The bill the Bobby Jindal signed will send doctors to prison also up to two years. Asking a Republican with a really extreme anti-abortion position who`s going to go to jail, that used to be a really dramatic rhetorical devise. You`d never get an answer because no one was crazy enough to go on record talking about throwing people in jail for abortion. Not even Ken Buck who is perfectly content to go on record talking about a lot of crazy sounding things. But that -- this sounds too crazy for me to say it meter is recalibrated. That has changed, even just since 2010. Jailing people for abortion is no longer a step over the line of wing nuttism, even for mainstream Republican rhetoric, mainstream Republican legislation. That same evolution as anti-abortion politics, the mainstream of positions previously seen as coocoo has been happening in the great state of Mississippi this year. Back in April, the Republican governor of Mississippi, Phi Bryant, signed into law what is known as a TRAP law. TRAP, in this case, stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. And the acronym is not an accident. These are new laws, new red tape and regulations that only apply to abortion providers. They`re designed to make it harder to be an abortion provider. They`re laws that are designed to and intend to shut clinics down. But the folks who propose and pass and sign TRAP laws don`t usually call them that. They usually at least try to pretend that`s something else is going on. They try to frame the issue as something having to do with safety and protecting vulnerable women who need protecting. That`s how TRAP laws used to go down, anyway. But things have changed. And in today`s Republican Party in the great state of Mississippi, at least, you do not have to hide behind the health and safety stuff anymore, you don`t have to pretend all you care about is safety for women, you just can come right out and say that you`re trying to shut down the only abortion clinic in the state by way of targeted over- regulation. You could just come out and say it. That`s what Republican Governor Phil Bryant did when he signed Mississippi`s TRAP law back in April, targeting the state`s only clinic. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: I think it`s historic that today you see the first step in a movement, I believe, to do what we campaigned on, to say we`re going to try to end abortion in Mississippi. We`re going to try to work to end abortion in Mississippi, and this is an historic day to begin that process. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Signing the state`s new law was a step toward a campaign promise to end abortion in Mississippi. The lieutenant -- that was the governor. The lieutenant governor was also open and excited about using the law in Mississippi to ban abortion by shutting down that clinic. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) TATE REEVES, MISSISSIPPI LT. GOVERNOR.: It`s been seven years since we got good pro life legislation passed out of the Mississippi legislature. That`s a bill that gives us a great opportunity to do to accomplish what our goal needs to be. 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. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: The admitting privileges bill. That`s the new TRAP law. Republicans admit they think it`s their best chance at banning abortion in an American state. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have literally stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi. The only clinic -- (APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three blocks from the capitol sits the only abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. A bill was drafted. It said, if you were to perform an abortion in the state of Mississippi, you must be a certified OB/GYN and you must have admitting privileges to a hospital. Anybody here in the medical field knows how hard it is to get admitting privileges to a hospital. It`s going to be challenged, of course, in the Supreme Court and all -- but literally, we stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi legally without having to do Roe versus Wade. So, we`ve done that. I was proud of it. The governor signed it in the law. Ands, of course, there you have the other side, well, the poor pitiful women that can`t afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger. That`s what we heard over and over and over. But hey, you have to have more values. You have to start somewhere and that`s what`s we`ve decided to do. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Got to start somewhere. By this time tomorrow, in the next 24 hours, the anti-abortion movement and Republicans may for the first time ever have succeeded in banning abortion in an American state. Last week on the day this new Mississippi law was set to go into effect, a federal judge in Jackson, Mississippi, blocked the law with a temporary restraining order. Temporary. That temporary order expires after a hearing scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Central Time in Mississippi tomorrow. If the judge does not rule tomorrow to keep blocking the implementation of that Mississippi law, it`s going to go into effect immediately, and the doctors at the state`s only abortion clinic will be required to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The doctors at that clinic do not have the admitting privileges at a local hospital. That`s why the law was designed that way. The clinic owner tells us tonight that the doctors have applied for those privileges, but no surprise, they have not gotten any word back from the hospitals. It`s not surprising. That`s how it`s designed to work. Getting admitting privileges is not an easy thing. Medical researcher recently pointed out to the folks at "Bloomberg News", to grant privileges, many hospitals require physicians to live within a short distance of the hospital and -- this is crucial -- to admit a minimum number of patients a year, often 10 or more. A typical abortion provider would rarely admit more than one patient a year for abortion complications, and in many years would have no complications requiring hospitalization at all. So the thing you need to get admitting privileges, you can`t get if you`re an abortion doctor. So we`ll require you to have admitting privileges. That will be the excuse we use to shut down the last clinic in the state, and thereby ban abortion. Now that a federal judge is deciding on whether or not this is an illegal effort by the state to ban abortion, the governor and the state Republicans who we played tape of earlier, they`re trying to back track on some of the earlier language about wanting to and intending to ban abortion in the state, but they`re on record. It`s exactly what they`re trying to do. It`s exactly what they might be just about to do depending on what this judge does in Mississippi tomorrow. With only one clinic left in the state, Republicans shutting down that one clinic by hook or by crook, that`s all it takes. And if Mississippi Republicans succeed in what they`re trying to do here, it is suddenly becoming very important to know in America that beyond Mississippi, there are four other states in our country that are in the same boat. Four other states with there`s only one abortion clinic left. So, if the state legislature and governor just come up with one way to shut that clinic, they will have banned abortion in that state without overturning Roe versus Wade. If Mississippi gets away with it tomorrow, then there are four other states just like it who only have one clinic who could try to ban abortion in the exact same way. And three of those four are under unilateral control of the Republican Party. Joining us now is Nancy Northup, she`s president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization representing the Jackson Women`s Health Organization in its lawsuit against the state of Mississippi Nancy, thank you for being here. I appreciate it. NANCY NORTHUP, CEO, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Thank you for following the story. MADDOW: I`m following it intensely as you may be able to tell from my wordy introduction. In terms of the way that I explain it, you`re very involved in the case, did I get anything wrong? NORTHUP: No, you`re right. What exactly is going on in Mississippi is this law is designed to shut down the one clinic in the state. They know that the doctors are from out of state, that it`s going to be very hard for them to get admitting privileges in the state because they set it up not to be fair. You know, if it were a case that they were going to measure the admitting privileges based on experience, based on quality of care, Dr. Parker has admitting privileges where he practices outside the state of Mississippi, but they know he`s not going to get it in Mississippi. That was the whole point of the law. MADDOW: Are techniques like these, and a number of states have tried these with a number of different angles and they have been more or less successful in shutting down clinics in their state by using these techniques -- broadly speaking, is this a legal way to effectively ban a procedure that is otherwise technically legal? NORTHUP: It`s not a legal way. It`s unconstitutional. We`ll be in court tomorrow arguing that, because the purpose of this law, and you went through what the governor said, the lieutenant governor said, the bill sponsor said, is that their intent is to stop the abortion privileges in the state of Mississippi, and the Supreme Court has made clear that laws that have the purpose or effect of blocking women`s access to abortion services are unconstitutional. And that`s what we`re going to be arguing tomorrow. They can`t do through the back door what they can`t do directly. MADDOW: If the judge tomorrow in Mississippi does not extend the temporary restraining order or take some other action that has that effect, what`s the practical effect, presumably Mississippi`s clinic closes in short order? NORTHUP: It closes its doors. It can`t continue to provide services on a day after they don`t get the injunction in place. I mean, the law`s in effect, it has criminal penalties and the doctors could not go forward with providing the services until and unless the judge blocks the law. MADDOW: How did Mississippi get to be a state with only one abortion cling in it? NORTHUP: It`s a state with a long history of hostility. I mean, one of the provisions of the law, the OB/GYN requirement was by a court in the `90s. And so, you know, it has tried again and again and again in every way it can. It tried to put a personhood on the ballot last year, and that was too extreme. And the voters said no. MADDOW: By a large margin. NORTHUP: But nevertheless, they`re back this year trying to block the constitutional right of the women of Mississippi, to make them in effect second-class citizens. MADDOW: In terms of the overall fight her here -- we have seen since the landslide election in 2010, I mean, it`s not only the reason, but it`s really been an avalanche since then of anti-abortion legislature in the states. Republicans have prioritized it in the House, too, HR-3 in the House was an anti-abortion bill and they`re still working on them today. But in the states, it really has been a phenomenal tide of anti-abortion legislation As a person who is an advocate for reproductive rights, who`s fighting on this Mississippi case directly, is there a way for your side to play offense or at this point, is it -- is defense all you can do to try to stop the anti-abortion regulations that are being pushed in the Republican controlled legislatures? NORTHUP: Oh, I would say by going to court, we`re actually going on the offense. I mean, we had victory after victory after victory in states this year, including three in Oklahoma alone. And in those decisions, the courts are reaffirming that women have a constitutional right to access abortion services. In North Dakota, we got a state court to rule it`s a fundamental right in North Dakota and it was violated in that case. So what we`re seeing is the courts are standing up and in this way, it`s also getting the attention. I mean, we`re drawing the line. It`s waking up the pro choice public, and we need to have stronger rights protection. We need the same protection for women in Mississippi as they have in New York. And we`re going to keep on fighting this fight until we insure every woman in the United States has the same right to access abortion services that the Supreme Court has guaranteed. MADDOW: Is it important to you to see the White House, the president`s re-election campaign running ads on the issue of protecting reproductive rights, to see the president saying I will protect reproductive rights and Mitt Romney will not? Does that matter to your overall project? NORTHUP: What matters to us, and again, we focus on the courts, we`re not the Center for Reproductive Rights, the group that works in electoral politics. MADDOW: Right. NORTHUP: It matters that people understand that whoever gets elected, we need to protect our rights, that it`s fundamental, that politicians can come and go, but access to abortion services cannot come and go. It has to be fundamental. That`s what it means to be a fundamental right, and we`re going to be working in the courts, and we need to make sure we get protection, and you know what? The public is stand up for that, too. MADDOW: Nancy Northup, president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights, representing the Jackson Women`s Health Organization, the last clinic in Mississippi in its lawsuit. We`re awaiting that ruling tomorrow eagerly. It`s a really, really, really important case. Thanks for being here. NORTHUP: Thank you for following the story and for doing so. MADDOW: All right. Tonight, here for the interview is James Carville. We`re very excited about that. And a really big political story that nobody in the media will talk about except for me. That`s all ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On the night of July 15th, 2010, this is how we opened the show. It was a big night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What you`re looking at right here is something we have never seen before. This is the camera on the sea floor at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster showing that blown out well not spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, for the first time in 87 days. The first time. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: For more than three months, residents of the Gulf Coast and all over the country watched in a state of prolonged horror as hundreds of thousands of gallons of black, sticky, toxic crude oil flowed into one of this country`s most treasured bodies of water, the BP oil spill. As days turned into weeks, and then weeks turned into months, we all sat essentially helpless as one of the richest corporations the planet has ever known tried and failed and tried and failed and then tried and failed again to contain, let alone stop that leak in the Gulf of Mexico. But finally, after 87 long days, the country could at least start to breathe again. The flow of oil had been stopped. That was July 15th. That feeling of momentary relief, that feeling that we could finally exhale, that lasted all of 12 days. Before here we go again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: With the current sensitivity about oil, a spill in Michigan is getting a lot of attention. A leaking pipeline that sent oil into a creek that feeds the Kalamazoo River and while booms have been deployed, an estimated 848,000 gallons of oil is already escaped. Trails of oil sheen can be seen all the way down the river, far from the bulk of the spill (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Less than two weeks after BP finally managed to plug their leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, it happened again. Instead of BP this time, it was a Canadian oil company Enbridge. And instead of watching the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and Florida begin to fear for their own livelihood, now it was the people of Michigan, the Kalamazoo River was in an instant transformed into a sea of oil. A 30-inch pipeline, a big two and a half-foot wide pipeline that ran beneath the surrounding wetlands ruptured out of nowhere and sent oil rushing into the Kalamazoo River, and sent entire Michigan communities into a state of emergency. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM WAIT: About 877,000 gallons of oil have spilled out into the creek here near the Kalamazoo River. I spoke with an official with the state, and they say this may be the worst oil spill ever in the Midwest. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What happens along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan two years ago would soon become the single most expensive onshore oil spill in U.S. history. That`s because there`s one key difference between what happened off the coast of Louisiana, what happened in over oil spills and what happened in Michigan two weeks later. What happened off the Gulf Coast is what we have sadly become accustomed do dealing with as a country. It`s a crude oil spill. We`re not very good at cleaning up crude oil, but we have a lot of experience trying to do that. What happened in Michigan however was not crude oil. It was something called tar sands oil. Tar sands oil that was being transported from Canada, and as it turns out, we have no freaking clue how to clean up tar sands oil when that spills. Crude oil generally floats to the top of it water where some of it can be skinned off. But tar sands oil doesn`t do that. Tar sands oil sinks to the bottom of whatever it`s in. How do you get it off the bottom of a riverbed? Good question. Michigan residents saw their pristine river turned into a test bed for how to clean up the oil spills. The best they could come up with was to literally shake the river bed, to agitate the river bed with big machines in order to try to make the oil temporarily rise to the top where they could get at it. Sorry, Michigan, that`s all we`ve got. Ultimately, the people who lived along the Kalamazoo River didn`t have to wait one month, two months, four months, five months, six months. It took the oil company two years to clean up the mess they made in Michigan. That oil spill happened in July 2010. It was not until three weeks ago this year that the Kalamazoo River finally reopened to the public and it reopened to the public despite that there still oil submerged beneath the oil bed. So, three weeks ago, the good people of Michigan got their river back, significantly worse for wear. And today, today, they got to learn what happened in the first place, way back in 2010 on the day that giant spill turned their lives upside down. Today, the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board released findings of their investigation into what happened in that spill. They found that the oil company responsible for that pipeline knew about cracks in that particular stretch of pipeline a full five years before the pipe ruptured. Quoting the NTSB, "For five years, they did nothing to address the corrosion or cracking at the rupture site." But wait, it gets worse. The investigation also revealed that it took the oil company, this company Enbridge, it took them a good 17 hours before they even realized that one of their own pipes had burst. And in that time, they pumped more than 600,000 gallons of oil through the ruptured pipeline and right into the river. The NTSB also found that Enbridge employees did not have adequate skills to deal with the leaks, the company didn`t bother making sure enough resources were in place to respond to a spill like this, and thanks to lax regulations, Enbridge never had to lay out how they would deal with a worst case scenario. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEBORAH HERSMAN, NTSB CHAIRMAN: This accident was a result of multiple mistakes and missteps by Enbridge. Safety is a commitment. It is a requirement. It must be a way of doing business and not just a slogan. If companies can commit to safety with the same vigor that they pursue profits, then we will see integrity management programs with real integrity. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If companies commit to safety with the same vigor they pursue profits. Is that tautologically possible? Enbridge for their part responded today saying they met all regulatory standards at the time of the Kalamazoo River oil spill. Think about that for a second. If that`s true, if that`s not an endorsement for more and better regulation of this particular industry, it`s hard to imagine what would be. Look, as used as directed, we can make a spill like this and it takes two years to clean it up and we`ll have no idea how to do it. This week, the week we were reminding how incapable we are of cleaning up oil when it spills, particularly tar sands oil, this week is also the week when we learn that the oil sands industry is launching a big, expensive, new PR campaign aimed at convincing you how great tar sands are. Not only how great they are, but how when there`s a spill involving oil sands, involving tar sands oil, it`s really no big deal. If you care to join us for a glass full of the July 2010 Kalamazoo River while we talk that over, maybe you can convince the country of that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Wisconsin, we finally have a winner. A month ago, the state of Wisconsin`s backlash against Republicans stripping union rights resulted in a recall election in which the Democrats took control of the state Senate. Now, they had tried to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker as well. But while that effort did not work, the Democrats` effort to take back the Senate did -- except for one complication. Even though the election was more than a month ago, Republicans have not been willing to give it up. They wouldn`t let the Democrats take over, until today. The Republican who lost his seat and thereby lost the Republican Party`s control of the Senate in Wisconsin had been threatening to file a lawsuit over his race, thus keeping the legislature in limbo indefinitely. But today, he decided he could get out of the way. So, when that one senator`s election is finally certified tomorrow, the Democratic takeover of the Senate in Wisconsin will be certified. Everybody thought the era of one-party Republican rule in Wisconsin was over a month ago, but in actuality, it`s over tomorrow and then the real fight starts to see if the Democrats are going to be able to do anything with the Senate that the voters have just giving back to them. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Here is a really, really, really stupid policy that we had for decades in this country about a really important subject. Whether or not -- whether you like the goal of this policy or you hate the goal of this policy, the issue here is that this was just a really, really stupid way to try to do it. Here`s what it looked like. See if you can identify the stupidity here. The federal government wanted to give loans to students to help them pay to go to college. That`s the big bag of money here. And we gave out that money for the students by giving the money to the banks. The government said to the banks, you loan money to students and we promise that you will get the money back. Even if the students don`t pay you back, we will cover it. That is guaranteed. So the banks, not the government, loaned out the money to the students. But there was no risk to the banks at all. The government guaranteed that they would get paid back. So, the government put up the money for your loan, and when you as a student paid it back, the bank got to keep the interest that you paid them unless you defaulted and you didn`t pay, in which case the bank got paid anyway, government paid them for that, too. It was the best scam ever. Seriously, that makes me want to be a bank. If corporations are people, right? Like that`s the corporation I want to be. The bank gets paid no matter what for providing nothing. The government is providing a loan. The bank is just being given a guaranteed profit at no risk to pretend like it`s their loan when it`s not. It`s not their money, it`s not their risk, they just get paid to be there for no reason. What a freaking scam. We wasted tens of billions of dollars every decade doing it this way for a long time. Just shoveling taxpayer money to the banks for nothing, for doing nothing. That`s how we did it for decades, until we stopped doing that. We stopped doing that in 2010. President Obama changed the law in 2010. He got rid of this inane system where the banks were a pointless middle man, saving the taxpayers $60 billion over a decade. The majority of the money saved, they put into direct aid to students for pay for college, just Pell Grants, no middleman. It`s better for everybody -- better for taxpayers, better for students, better for everybody but the banks. You want to know what the Mitt Romney proposal is on college cost? You want to say it with me? They would like to please bring back the old system. "The Boston Globe" did a long piece on the Mr. Romney`s proposal this week, talking to education experts about it. Even the right wing education experts they could find to talk to about it said it was ridiculous. Literally, that is a quote from one education expert who said he`s a Republican voter who is likely to vote for Mr. Romney for other reasons. But quote, "On this issue, Romney is just ridiculous. His campaign staff doesn`t have any new ideas so they said let`s just go back to what we were doing before the Obama administration came into place. Quoting the same expert, "What`s in it for students or taxpayers? Nothing." Another conservative education expert at the Cato Institute said the plan would offer no help to students, but, quote, "Obviously, it would have an effect for banks and lenders who would be happy to go back to that. It was a great gig for them." If big national elections in America were fought on the basis of who was looking out for the middle class, who was looking out for the American dream of getting ahead by working hard, the American dream that you can get a college education if you are smart enough and you work hard enough. If big national elections in America turned on issues like that, this dumb student loan issue would be Exhibit A in every contrast story about what the two candidates are offering. It`s not. At least it`s not yet, but James Carville, the political strategist who got Bill Clinton elected president, has a plan, and things like the stupidity of the old student loan system figure prominently in the plan. James Carville joins us for the interview right here, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The interview tonight is James Carville. That`s next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My best advice is find a great institution of higher learning. Find one that has the right price, shop around. We`ve always encouraged young people, take a shot, go for it. Take a risk. Get the education. Borrow money if you have to from your parents. Start a business. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Borrow money, if you have to, from your parents. Perhaps one of them runs an automobile company. Mitt Romney`s advice on paying for a college education in this country: shop around. Mom and dad will set you up. Why haven`t you just asked them already? What`s your problem? James Carville and Stan Greenberg has a new book out conveniently timed to try to make this next election about pocketbook issues like affording college, pocketbook issues like all of the stuff that is central to the existence and disappearance of the middle class in this country, with trademark subtlety. The new book is called "It`s the Middle Class Stupid!" And Mr. James Carville joins here now for the interview. James Carville, thank you for being here. JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I`m delighted to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: You were saying when we were playing the clip, that issues like the student loan thing resonate with people more than people think they do. You think the Beltway doesn`t think issues like that resonate? CARVILLE: I don`t think they do. They think it`s a big mistake. First of all, they understand that Romney would be for letting the banks make more money. Secondly, when you about what the middle class and how do you regrow the middle class, how do you bring it back, education is at the forefront. They understand that. I grew up, you know, that was the ticket to prosperity. If you got an education, you knew it was going to pay for itself. That was the best investment you could make. Now, not so sure. Sometimes, you know, we find out the kids have more debt than the education is worth and we`ve got to change that. And this kind of thing, I think this is a good issue. I think it`s a good political issue. I think it will resonate with people and I think they`ll understand it. I really do. MADDOW: How do we end up -- one of the things you write about in the new book is this idea that Democrats have to take themselves very -- take the issue of programs like Social Security and Medicare very, very seriously. They need to be seen as uncompromising defenders of the programs that the middle class defend depends on. How did we end up in a -- with a sort of political center of gravity in Washington being or, Democrats are being willing to question those programs? Some Democrats are willing to trade away security on those programs? CARVILLE: Because we make -- because we make -- I think we make a fundamental error. The biggest problem we have in the country is the deficit. So, if you look at that, you say, well, let`s cut entitlements because the deficit is the biggest problem. If you say the biggest problem we have in this country is that the middle class is shrinking, it would clearly shrink if the deficit got too high, and the country was burden with debt, but that would lead you to a conclusion, let`s cut health care costs. If you cut health care cost, that`s the easiest way to cut the deficit, but no one -- the Washington consensus is we have to cut entitlements. Let`s -- the real truth of the matter is, is that if you cut health care costs, the cost of the entitlements will go down with that. You have people that are -- when people do focus groups and political people all come back and say the same thing, people are breaking down crying. They`re breaking down crying, people say the same thing, I`m one disease away from the end. They`re taking children back in their house, they`re changing jobs. People are starting lawn mower services when they`re 55 years old. And the Washington consensus is, aha, this person can`t have Medicare. Or the Washington consensus is, cut their Social Security. Look, if you`re a cable TV contributor, I don`t care, I`m 67 1/2, I`m happy to work another year pontificating. If I`m a shrimper or a hotel maid, I might have another idea about going deeper into it. MADDOW: On that issue, health care costs coming down would have this huge impact on the deficit. In the Beltway right now, all they ever talk about is the deficit. That`s true for a long time. CARVILLE: Right. MADDOW: So is -- part of the reason Democrats don`t get credit for having passed health care reform, they haven`t sold it to the Beltway chattering class as anti-deficit policy making? CARVILLE: The deficit is an important issue. By the way, why would anybody care about the deficit vote for a Republican? Go look for the deficit as (ph) Democrats and Republicans. There`s no reason we need to concede that as I recall the last time the budge was in surplus was under a Democratic president. But if you start from the vantage point up, how do we rebuild the middle class and you went to Social Security and said we`re going to do something with Social Security, might cut a benefit here or there, might do other things, but this is to save Social Security. The middle class would say, OK, I understand that. But if you go to them as the elites in Washington want to do and says, look, we started some wars, we shouldn`t have started, we got out of hand with some tax cuts, we had to bail out some banks, we have to do something like that, so you be a good Americans and we`re going to cut the Social Security that you paid into so we can pay for our garbage we did. And people say, no, I don`t want to do that. And then the conclusion is they`re selfish, no, they`re just not stupid. They`ll pay for Social Security if it`s to strengthen Social Security for their retirement. They won`t pay for mistakes Washington made in the past. MADDOW: I would tell you, though, I would feel like, as a person who has a romantic feeling about Social Security as anybody else, I would feel a lot more willing to talk about tinkering with Social Security in anyway if I didn`t feel like there was a guy with a hockey mask and a chainsaw out in the other side who was looking for any opening to kill it. I feel like if a Democrat saying yes, we`ll tinker with it around the edges right now, Republicans will figure out a way to get rid it. I mean, they`re trying to privatize it. They`re trying to privatize Medicare. They`re trying to get rid of everything. Why would Democrats concede any ground on it? CARVILLE: The elderly poverty rate in the United States in 1965 was 30 percent. We did -- improved Social Security, today it`s about 9.5, even in the middle of a recession. That is the act of a just and moral nation. That is a moral act. That is -- God in heaven, the god of the Catholic Church that I`m in, would be very proud and very happy about that. Very, very -- that -- about two-thirds the number of old people in this country go to bed cold or hungry has been reduced, is really a staggering accomplishment in the United States. We should be very proud of that. MADDOW: And I think Democrats` political response to that now should be, like Nancy Pelosi said about Medicare, we do have a plan on Social Security. It`s called Social Security. CARVILLE: Yes! MADDOW: We stand for it and we`ll defend it and we`re not going to let anybody -- CARVILLE: But what I`m saying is, if you said you were going to do something to strengthen Social Security, people would say, well, OK, that makes sense. What they`re not willing to do is cut Social Security to reduce the other part of the deficit. MADDOW: Yes, yes. In terms of this -- in terms of the overall strategy for the election in November, if the election is about the disappearance of the middle class and the challenges of the middle class, what does that mean the specific issues are that these candidates will be running ads on and competing on right down to the wire in November? CARVILLE: Well, two things that come to mind are rising health care costs and education, or what the middle class says are the two things that matter most to them, that they see. Then, how do we become more competitive? They`re completely into that. They`re not -- it`s not like that -- but what they want is, they want somebody to come up with a plan to say, this is going to help rebuild the middle class. They were kind of against the stimulus, because they thought it was just throwing money at the problem. If you would have done many of the same things and said, this is a program to help rebuild the middle class. We need to build infrastructure in this country, to make us more competitive - we could make get more people to work, they would support that instantly. What they`re looking for is something -- MADDOW: But don`t talk about it in terms of its macro goals for the economy. Just talk about the direct -- CARVILLE: Talk about the long-term benefit to the middle class. And then they will go along with that. But it`s just the way they think. But they know how much trouble they`re in. They know what they`re having to do, and they want somebody to show them that there`s a way out. And the person that does that is going to be rewarded. MADDOW: Yes. Democratic strategist, James Carville, the leading strategist in Bill Clinton`s presidential campaign, co-author of the new book, "It`s the Middle Class Stupid!" -- I`m not taking it personally. Thank you, sir. I really appreciate you being here. CARVILLE: I love it. Thank you so much. MADDOW: Thanks so much. All right. An organized campaign is underway to take over the Republican Party right now and nobody wants to talk about it except me. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: A story we`ve been following here on this show that frankly does not get much attention anywhere else is the extent to which the supporters of one of the Republican presidential candidates this year are not giving up on him, even though Mitt Romney seemingly has the nomination in the bag. Supporters of Ron Paul are taking over the Republican Party at the state and local level. Ron Paul folks are now becoming Republican Party state chairman in places like Iowa and Alaska. They`ve taken over in places like Clark County, Nevada, where Las Vegas is, which is awkward if you`re Mitt Romney and you`re counting on any help from the Republican Party to win in a place like Nevada. In addition to taking over the party whatever they can, Ron Paul folks are still fighting to win the majority of delegates in as many states as they can. If they do that again in Nebraska this Saturday, then according to the Republican Party`s own rules, Dr. Paul will be eligible to be nominated for president at the party`s official convention in Tampa this fall, which means that at that convention, Mitt Romney`s nomination will be contested. And there will have to be dueling speeches by him and Ron Paul, and there will be a contested floor vote. And it will not go at all the way these coronations are supposed to go. I realize that this is not happening in Washington, D.C. and it is something the Republican Party big wigs would like to keep as quiet as possible. But the question of whether or not the Ron Paul folks are going to take over the Nebraska Republican delegation this weekend turns out to be quite a few a big deal. And the Ron Paul folks know that. And Nebraska Republicans know that. Very quietly last week, the Nebraska Republican Party confirmed plans that they plan to increase security for their convention this weekend. They said it was in the interest of holding an orderly convention, a private security firm being brought in by the state Republican Party to police their convention when it is facing the threat that supporters of someone other than Mitt Romney will try to win election there. The increased security plan was announced last week. We confirmed it with the party last week, and then today they changed their minds. The state Republican chairman now says the party has reconsidered and withdrawn its plan to hire additional security officers. They say they`re hoping for a convention that will be conducted the Nebraska way. By which they mean, with civility. Republicans have had a really hard time adjusting this year to the idea that there`s ongoing, committed dissent within their ranks. And, frankly, the media have helped by ignoring that dissent, by pretending it`s not happening. It`s happening. The fact that these don`t look like stereotypical Republicans does not mean that they are not Republicans. They are. And they are taking over at the state and local level, while everybody else studiously looks the other way. Seriously. What exactly is the Republican plan to try to win Nevada, which they`ve been trying to convince us is a swing state, when this is the Republican Party in the part of Nevada that has three quarters of the state`s population? Republicans have a real problem here. It is a big deal, and that there is no parallel for on the Democratic side. Trying to ignore that fact will not make it go away. Private security guards or not, these dissenting Republicans that everybody is trying to do may do something this Saturday that turns the National Republican Convention this summer on its ear. I realize it is not happening in Washington and therefore the beltway will not pay attention. I realize that the Republicans who are in charge of the Republican Party don`t want to talk about this, so the FOX Newses of the world will never cover it. But it is happening. And if we believe that party politics mean anything in this country, the fact that one of these parties is being taken over from within and it`s going to screw up their big pageant/prom in the fall, kind of seems like a big story. All eyes on Nebraska. Now, it`s 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