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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/13/12

Guests: Jared Bernstein, Dan Rather

ED SCHULTZ, HOST, "THE ED SHOW": Senator, great to have you with us tonight. Keep up the fight. Thanks so much. 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. I thought of you yesterday when I saw -- or this weekend when I saw the announcement was in Norfolk. I think that was a special gift to you, Ed. (LAUGHTER) SCHULTZ: Well, it was an interesting place. When I heard that it was going to be in Virginia, I thought, Governor McDonnell, maybe. But when it was on the USS Wisconsin, which is a huge museum down there, a big draw, I thought, maybe it is going to be Ryan. Sure enough, it was. MADDOW: Yes. SCHULTZ: We know one thing -- the political donnybrook is now officially on. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: That`s exactly right, man. Seriously. Thank you, I appreciate it. SCHULTZ: You bet. MADDOW: Thanks. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. This is an exciting time, right? This is a very exciting time to be in the news biz or to care about politics, and there`s a big show ahead here. It was a year ago this week that Mitt Romney at the Iowa state fair sort of broke down under the pressure of really persistent heckling and said something on tape that will probably haunt his campaign until the very end as if it were a poltergeist. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to make sure that the promises we make in Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are promises we can keep. And there are various ways of doing that. One is we could raise taxes on people. That`s -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corporations. ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend. We could raise taxes -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they`re not. ROMNEY: Of course, they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It goes into their pockets! (CROSSTALK) ROMNEY: Whose pockets? People`s pockets. Human beings, my friend. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Human beings, my friend. For the one-year anniversary of the "corporations are people" moment, at last year`s Iowa state fair, this year, the Romney campaign decided to send their brand new vice presidential pick, not just to the Iowa state fair, but to that exact same stage, that exact same microphone to face, it turned out, pretty much the exact same kind of persistent heckling. And while Paul Ryan did not get flustered enough that he blurted out "corporations are people" -- still, it didn`t go well today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I heard that President Obama is starting his bus tour today. (BOOS) RYAN: And I heard he wasn`t going to come to the Iowa state fair. I think -- (CHEERS) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to cut Medicare? RYAN: I think it`s because -- (CROSSTALK) (CHANTING) RYAN: It`s funny. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a simple question! RYAN: It`s funny because Iowans and Wisconsinites like to be respectful of one another and peaceful with one another and listen to each another. These ladies must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin. Hey, like I said, she must not be from Iowa. So, hey, all right. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Hey, all right. This is the big rollout of the new Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan Republican ticket. They sent Paul Ryan for his first solo event to have a very difficult time being heckled at the Iowa state fair. After doing the big rollout, the announcement of Mr. Ryan on Saturday morning and doing a couple joint events with both Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan over the weekend, they then right away put Paul Ryan out on his own. And you can tell that he`s new at this. I mean, understandably uncomfortable with people shouting stuff at him, and with the dynamics of a crowd like that. Paul Ryan is not used to this. Paul Ryan is used to traveling in Republican circles where he`s treated more like this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, we want to thank you so much for coming in today. We also want to note that it`s your birthday. RYAN: That`s right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your 42nd birthday, and we have -- RYAN: You have to be kidding me. Oh, my God. Where did you get this? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually -- I was up all night. RYAN: You were. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to cut into that sucker? RYAN: I don`t eat sweets. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the federal dollar. RYAN: Yes, I see that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Get it? Paul Ryan is the guy who wants to cut up the federal dollar. Paul Ryan is not much use to people thinking he`s anything other than awesome. Even when his party was at the lowest point possible, right after the 2008 presidential election, when the Republicans just got shellacked, Paul Ryan was still treated as a king in Republican circles. It was four days after the 2008 election when the Democrats won the House and the Senate, and the White House by a huge margin, four days after that, "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board pushed for Paul Ryan to become the Republican leader in the House. Fast forward two and a half years and the love affair is still hot, hot, hot -- the conservative "Weekly Standard" pushing last year for Paul Ryan to not just be the leader of the House Republicans but to run for president. After it was clear, despite all of the pushing from the conservative media, he was not going to run for president, there has still been a lout drum beat in the conservative media all year long that he should at least be the Republican vice presidential pick. And this is once again where it becomes important to us as a country to understand that we have a totally bifurcated media universe now. It`s not always been this way, but the fact that is it now is important. If you -- if you are a politically engaged right winger, if you are a conservative, if you are a Republican, the conservative media love affair with Paul Ryan is probably all you have ever heard about Paul Ryan. In the hermetically sealed, self-confirming, don`t touch that dial of right wing radio and the conservative blogosphere and the conservative magazines and, of course, the FOX News Channel, there really is nothing controversial about Paul Ryan at all. He`s perfect in every way. But now, the process of leaving that bubble, the trip from Republicanville into the-rest-of-us-ville, into normalville, for lack of a better term, that trip is proving to be a little bit jarring, when we saw in Paul Ryan first hand at his first event. That wasn`t just a Republican campaign pep rally with people cheering for him lustily. We saw it more dramatically as the other half of the ticket, Mr. Romney himself, embarked on his first big trip after the Ryan announcement, to Florida. Today, the Web site "BuzzFeed," posted snap shots of the front pages of major Florida newspapers so we could see the local reporting on Mr. Romney heading down to Florida to campaign right after picking Paul Ryan as his running mate. Look at these headlines. "The Miami Herald": "Ryan could hurt Romney in Florida." "The Indian River Press Journal": "Ryan may be a liability in Florida. Romney`s pick for running mate could antagonize many seniors." "The Palm Beach Post": "With Ryan in, Medicare key. They weren`t fans of bold policy that intruded on health care." "The Ledger" newspaper of Lakeland, Florida: "Romney Seeks Distance from Ryan`s Plans." The "Bradenton Herald": "Ryan could be a drag in Florida. Medicare plans may hinder Romney." See, in Republicanville, Paul Ryan may be some combination of a reincarnated Ronald Reagan and a rock star. But in normal-ville, outside of the bubble, he`s the kill Medicare guy. And again, I think this may be a shock to them. Republicans have their own echo chamber, if you listen to conservatives, just echoing each other, just talking to each other about Paul Ryan, you would think that selecting him was not only noncontroversial, you would think that it was being greeted with universal acclaim. It is not. "USA Today" had the first polling today since Paul Ryan was tapped to be Mitt Romney`s running mate, and it is not pretty for the Republicans. Quote, "Ryan is seen as only a fair or poor choice by 42 percent of Americans, versus 39 percent who think he is an excellent or pretty good vice presidential choice." "USA Today"/Gallup polls have registered voters after the announcement of running mates since Dick Cheney in 2000 all showed more positive reactions. But wait, there`s more. The "USA Today"/Gallup survey today also finds 48 percent of Americans view Paul Ryan as qualified to be president if something should happen to Mitt Romney, only Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle were rated lower than Paul Ryan on that scale. Numbers this bad for Paul Ryan, again, must not only be disappointing to Republicans, but shocking to conservatives who in their world have really never heard anything negative about him at all. They didn`t even know he was controversial. But in the real world, Paul Ryan comes from the most unpopular Congress in the history of polling on the popularity of Congress. I mean, Congress is never all that popular, but it has never been more unpopular than it is right now, and Paul Ryan is arguably the most famous face of the current Congress because he`s the Republican budget guy, and the Republican budget guy is really, really famous because the Republican budget would kill Medicare. And that`s really unpopular. When Paul Ryan rolled out the last iteration of the kill Medicare budget, CNN polled on it. Here`s what they found. Quote, "A majority of all demographic groups do not favor the GOP, aka, Paul Ryan Medicare proposals." It wasn`t just unpopular. It was unpopular with everybody. The percentage of all Americans who opposed the kill Medicare plan was 58 percent. Among people who describe themselves as conservative, 54 percent. Disapprove of Paul Ryan`s plans on Medicare, 54 percent of conservatives. CNN asked just older people, look at the number with older people, 74 percent said they disapproved of Paul Ryan and the kill Medicare plan. The demographic with which Barack Obama did the worst in 2008 was people over 60. That`s going to get better this year. Thank you, Paul Ryan. That is why Democrats were so hoping that Mitt Romney would pick this guy. For Democrats looking at the poll numbers for what Paul Ryan is most famous for, for what he represents in the political system, Mitt Romney picking him -- I mean, it`s not Christmas in August. It`s like Christmas/birthday/Kwanzika (ph) in August. I mean, Democrats are happy. Back in March, when things looks much worse for Mr. Obama`s re- election prospects than they look right now, that Obama had stretched even back then to try to link Mitt Romney to Paul Ryan. How can we link this guy to this completely politically toxic other guy? White House senior adviser David Plouffe went on the Sunday shows one weekend in March and tried to have the phrase Romney/Ryan plan take off. He kept saying the phrase, "Romney/Ryan" -- the Obama campaign hoping to link him to something as toxic as the political legacy of Paul Ryan. And now that dream has come true. The unpopularity of Paul Ryan, the political toxicity of him in a general election is not just a theoretical thing that you have to project forward to from the polls to imagine what it might be like. This is something that we have already seen in the real world. As soon as Paul Ryan`s economic plans, as soon as the kill Medicare budget became official Republican policy, as soon as they started making Republican members vote on it, Democrats started spinning that into electoral gold. And the first special election after House Republicans voted in favor of the Paul Ryan plan, Democrats used that fact to capture a House seat in western New York that had pretty consistently been held by Republicans since before the civil war. Democrat Kathy Hochul won that seat by tying her Republican opponent to the Republican kill Medicare budget. And since that election, it`s only gotten worse for the Republicans on this issue, not better. That Democrat Kathy Hochul was out this weekend with a new fund-raising pitch tied directly to Paul Ryan being picked as the V.P. Her Republican opponent this fall, the man named Chris Collins, is running from the Ryan plan now as fast as he can. Quote, "Chris Collins does not support the Ryan cuts to Medicare," said Chris Grant, an adviser to the campaign. That may be true about Chris Collins, and if it is true, he`s not alone. Nevada`s Dean Heller -- when Dean Heller was in the House, he voted for the Paul Ryan plan. Then Dean Heller got appointed to the Senate, poor guy, just in time to be expected to vote for the Paul Ryan plan again, which he did. But now that Dean Heller is running for re-election in the Senate, he`s running away from the Paul Ryan plan as fast as he can. Republican Senator Scott Brown is trying to get reelected in Massachusetts -- tough territory for him. Look at this op-ed he wrote back in May. "Why I don`t back Paul Ryan`s Medicare plan." Thank you, Republican Senator Scott Brown. The Massachusetts Democratic Party is already out today with an attack ad against Scott Brown, nevertheless linking him to Paul Ryan. The Republican Party in Montana is running an ad in their state touting the fact their Republican Senate nominee voted against the Paul Ryan plan because they said Paul Ryan`s plan, quote, "could harm the Medicare program so many of Montana`s seniors rely on." That`s the Republican Party of Montana running that ad. These are Republicans running against Paul Ryan, bragging that they didn`t vote for this toxic Paul Ryan kill Medicare thing. Heather Wilson, the Republican nominee for Senate in New Mexico, was careful to tell her home town newspaper, quote, "I didn`t agree with everything in the Ryan plan. I was concerned with some of his approaches to Medicare." Even slightly wacky Linda McMahon, who was trying to run for the Senate as a Republican in Connecticut, even she is running away from the Paul Ryan plan, saying she would never support a budget like that. My friend Steve Benen, who writes at, Steve has always had a very useful framing for thinking about how candidates pick vice presidential nominees. They vice presidential picks are either almost Augusts or Novembers or Januarys. The strongest possible candidate will pick a January. Pick somebody who will help them govern once they get elected. Sort of middle of the road candidate will pick somebody with an eye toward November. Pick in November, somebody who will help them get elected in the general election in November. Somebody who would help them appeal to a broad swath of the nation. And then there`s the type of vice president that the weakest candidate chooses, an August -- the person who won`t necessarily help you govern starting in January, won`t help you win in November, but who does speak to your own party`s base. It`s the kind of choice you make to make your own party like you, to make your own side think you are one of them. Paul Ryan is the paragon of Mr. August. I was hoping for Liz Cheney. Paul Ryan is better. This is not the guy you pick to win Florida. This is the guy you pick to win "FOX and Friends". Joining us now is Dan Rather, anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on Access TV. Mr. Rather, of course, has covered presidential elections at a network correspondent since 1960. Dan Rather, thank you for being here. DAN RATHER, ACCESS TV: Thank you for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: That trip in Florida was also -- the news about Florida was bookended by Mr. Romney canceling a planned trip to Orlando. The candidate`s campaign initially cited exhaustion and backtracking and said he wasn`t exhausted, he was very busy. And then ABC News reported he was spotted spending some time in the gym. I don`t know why they`re avoiding the Orlando stop. But is there a rational political reason for the Republican new ticket to avoid a lot of time in Florida right now? RATHER: Absolutely. You covered it when you covered the newspaper headlines in Florida, saying rather straight out that Ryan could be a problem for Romney in Florida. My personal opinion before this vice presidential pick was that Florida was shaded probably for Romney. Now, I think it`s shaded at least slightly for Obama. One thing we need to keep in mind, Rachel, and I`m reminded myself, I have been covering politics since way before Tim Tebow was born, but these things unfold as time goes on. And while right now Ryan looks like he is toxic for the ticket, it could be as we get deeper in the campaign, that this intelligent man -- he is intelligent and serious man -- will show something that people do not now see. It`s a caution flag that in the early going, it`s easy based on his record to say, he violates one of what is generally a presidential nominee`s two criteria for a vice presidential candidate. Basically, you ask of a vice presidential candidate that he helps carry his home state and that he does not damage the ticket. In the early going, in the early going, Ryan damages the ticket because rightly or wrongly, he`s perceived as someone out to kill Medicare and Medicaid, and for that matter, doesn`t feel all that good about Social Security. MADDOW: Yes. RATHER: Now, this is toxic in Florida. I`m not saying Romney will lose Florida. I`m saying as of today, he has less chance of carrying it than he did before, which is one reason why he went to Florida himself. He didn`t send Ryan to Florida. And I think it`s fairly obvious it`s one reason he didn`t go to Orlando. The Romney campaign felt they were losing over the summer. They started the summer maybe a slight favorite, at least even money. They had a terrible summer. Now, I`m not saying they believe the wheels were coming off and the axle was dragging, but they certainly had a coughing engine. So they wanted a game changer. They have gotten that game changer. It is a risk for Romney, but a risk he apparently felt he had to take, which before this vice presidential nominee, Romney`s target was Obama`s failures. Now, the target at least for the time being, and I think it will carry through convention time, is what about this Ryan that he picked? What does it tell us? I think it`s also indicative when he announced the selection of Ryan, Romney was all for Ryan. I`m for him. He`s my guy. He and I are together. But the time he got to the "60 Minutes" appearance, 48 hours or less afterward, he had changed once again. I would submit again rightly or wrongly, this plays into the perception that Romney goes this way and that way, that he`s a flip-flopper. Another thing about the ticket that hasn`t been talked about much, I think he picked Ryan partly because he was Roman Catholic. He felt he needed a Catholic on the ticket to help him with the Republican base. But this is the first ticket, presidential and vice presidential ticket that any party in the history of the country has not had a Protestant on the ticket. MADDOW: Obama is a Protestant. The first Republican ticket, right? RATHER: The first Republican ticket that didn`t include at least one Protestant. Now, whether that plays out one or the other in campaign, but I think "The New York Times" pointed out Sunday and so did some others, it`s also true that neither of the candidates in the Republican ticket have any military service, nor do they have any foreign policy background. Again, it may not matter as the campaign unfolds, but it`s something to keep in mind as it goes down. And allow me to say that we`re talking about the vice president, these are the dog political days of summer, what else are we going to talk about? And it`s well and good that we talk about the economy and the future fiscal health of the country, but we still have a war in Afghanistan, which rarely gets mentioned by either one of the candidates, either one of the campaigns. A possible war looming with Iran, either led by Israel or not So there are other factors besides just who the vice presidential candidate is and the economy. I still maintain Romney can win the election, but the odds today because of the Ryan appointment are a little less than the last time we talked. MADDOW: Dan Rather, the anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on Access TV -- I will say the latest program is an original program on the Northwest passage called a "Crack in the Ice," which airs tomorrow at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. Dan, I think it`s one of the great honors and privileges of my job that for some reason you will come in here and talk to me about politics, from time to time, I really love having you here. RATHER: Thank you very much. I`m honored to be here. Thank you so much. Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Paul Ryan`s spot on the ticket will help with one constituency. Hasn`t been talked about much lately, but if there are women voters who are psyched about Republican policy on women`s rights, if you`re already psyched, Paul Ryan has some policy positions for you. This is undercovered as yet, but I think it`s going to end up being really important. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In 2008, Colorado voted on personhood. Colorado residents were asked that year if they would like to ban all abortions, as well as the most popular forms of birth control, as well as in vitro fertilization, and maybe also to criminalize some women`s miscarriages. Colorado voters said no to that by a three to one margin. The effort to criminalize abortion and birth control by IVF, which means declaring a fertilized egg to be a personhood just got crushed in Colorado in 2008. Then the personhood folks gave it another shot two years later in 2010. How`s about it, Colorado? No. When given a second chance for personhood for fertilized eggs, Colorado said no again -- again by a huge margin, by more than 40 points. But they`re doing it again. The anti-abortion, anti-birth control personhood folks have already turned in enough signatures to get the personhood amendment back on the Colorado ballot this fall, again -- which obviously is good news for Democrats running for office in Colorado this year. I mean, think about it. If you`re a Colorado Democrat and you`re worried that the presidential race or your race won`t be enough to get your voters to come out to the vote -- come out to polls, how about the prospect of banning birth control? You think that might motivate some folks who would otherwise not bother to turn out? Because they can read polls, too, Colorado Republicans this time, even the super conservatives, super anti-abortion Colorado Republicans are sprinting away from this personhood thing as fast as they can. A spokesman for Republican Congressman Mike Coffman tells the "Colorado Statesman", "The congressman doesn`t take positions on any state and local ballot initiatives." Same goes for Republican Congressman Corey Gardner`s office. Quote, "As a federal legislator, Cory will not be taking positions on state initiatives." Even Republican congressional candidate Joe Coors says he`s refusing to endorse personhood 3.0 in Colorado. The same Joe Coors donated $1,000 to the personhood campaign just two years ago. But this year, as a candidate, person what, person who? Leave me out of it. Another one of the personhood measures was on the ballot in Mississippi last fall. If it can pass anywhere, right? In October of last year, Mike Huckabee was one of the political celebrities trying to pass the personhood in Mississippi, to try to criminalize abortion and hormonal birth control. In that capacity, on his FOX News TV show, Mike Huckabee asked Mitt Romney if he would have supported personhood in Massachusetts. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS: Would you have supported the constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at concession? ROMNEY: Absolutely. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Absolutely. That was Mitt Romney, October of last year, signing on to a policy that would ban all abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest. It would ban most forms of birth control. It would likely ban in vitro fertilization. That`s what Mitt Romney said he would absolutely support as of October of last year. But in Mississippi, a totally grassroots opposition movement grew up around this issue. Personhood opponents held a "save the pill" rally in Oxford, Mississippi, in October. Billboards like this one went up around the state. "Vote no to personhood for eggs," and Amendment 26 makes birth control a lethal weapon. And with that, Mississippi said no to personhood by a big double digit margin. That`s Mississippi. The thing Mitt Romney said he would absolutely support was so extreme not even the uber conservative electorate of the great state of Mississippi wanted anything to do with it. The Romney campaign has been trying to run away from the position Mr. Romney took ever since he took it. When the Obama campaign started running ran last month attacking Mr. Romney for holding exactly that position, for advocating a ban on all apportion with no exceptions, the Romney campaign push back was immediate. They called the ads viciously negative and false. In order to prove it was false, they pointed to another time last summer when Mitt Romney said something different about his position on abortion. The Romney campaign did not want Mr. Romney to be seen as the guy who wants to ban all abortion with no exceptions -- even though he has said he would like to do that. And it`s empirically proven to be a massively unpopular position even in the reddest of the red states. That`s one of the reasons why Paul Ryan is such a baffling choice for the Romney ticket. Congressman Paul Ryan, now presumptive vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, co-sponsored a bill in the House that is a federal version of the personhood amendment. The abortion and hormonal birth control ban, the same one that even Mississippi voters rejected last fall. How would you like it for the whole country? The national personhood bill that Paul Ryan co-sponsored declares that, quote, "the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, at which time each human being should have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood." And they get really specific about when precisely an egg becomes a person. Quote, "The term fertilization means the process of a human spermatozoan penetrating the cell membrane of a human oocyte to create a human zygote, a one-celled human embryo which is a new unique human being. That`s Paul Ryan. That`s Paul Ryan`s bill, that`s who Mitt Romney put on the ticket. Things did not work out well for Republicans when they tried to campaign against health insurance covering birth control earlier this year. After a lot of bluster over it and a failed vote in the Senate, the House Republican leadership tried quietly to walk away from the issue. If you like how it went when Republicans invade against insurance coverage for birth control this year, how do you think it`s going to go now that a federal ban on the most popular forms of birth control has just been put on the Republican presidential ticket? Are Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both going to campaign on Paul Ryan`s proposed national ban on most in vitro fertilization and the most popular forms of birth control in the country? When they announced the vice presidential pick, it was sort of surreal to see Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell there, right, introducing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. The whole thing was staged in front of a decommissioned battleship in Virginia. I mean, there is Bob McDonnell, who hails for a true swing state, who has real executive experience, who actually served in the military, which makes it not embarrassing for him to be using that battleship as a political prop, why couldn`t Mitt Romney have picked him? Well, of course, Mitt Romney couldn`t pick him because Bob McDonnell blew his chances when he became governor ultrasound, right? Forcing medically unnecessary ultra sounds on Virginia women and forcing them to pay for it. Yes, Bob McDonnell blew it. And so, Mitt Romney instead went with the budget want guy, with none of that baggage. Except, of course, Paul Ryan is not just the budget wonk guy. In addition to his sponsoring the ban on all abortions and the most popular forms of birth control and most in vitro fertilization for the whole country, in Congress, this session, Congressman Ryan has also supported a federal version of Bob McDonnell`s Virginia forced ultrasound bill. He sponsored a federal bill to force women seeking an abortion to undergo a medical procedure regardless of whether or not they want it, regardless of whether or not their doctor thinks it`s the right decision, but just because the government says you have to. The latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll has Mitt Romney losing women to President Obama by 15 points. So I guess now is as good a time as any to welcome congressman ultrasound to the Republican ticket. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The crucial swing state of Ohio is famous for its horrendously long lines to vote in the `04 election. In Ohio, Republicans this year have not only cut the last three days of early voting. They have changed the rules county by county so big Republican leaning counties will be able to early vote on night and weekends, but big Democratic counties will not. Here is how the "Columbus Dispatch" explained it this weekend. Four years ago, more than 60 percent of the voters in Butler and Warren Counties backed John McCain. This year, both counties, the biggest two in Ohio to go for the Republican candidate are staying open extra hours on weekends and Saturdays so their voters can cast early voters. In that same year, voters in Ohio`s two largest counties overall, Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties went for Democrat Barack Obama by 60 percent or more. But election offices in those two predominantly Democratic counties will be open for early voting only during regular business hours on weekdays and not at all on Saturdays. So, night and weekend voting will be available to you in Ohio if you`re likely to be a Republican voter, but not if you`re likely to be a Democratic voter. The Ohio press is now getting all over this. The new editorial in "Toledo Blade" calls Ohioan Republicans for, quote, "a new poll tax and back door voter suppression." And the Republican Secretary of State John Husted facing that kind of pressure is now telling "The Columbus Dispatch" that he`s considering establishing standardized early voting hours across the state, the same in every county. This is after he personally intervened as secretary of state to make sure the Democratic counties would have fewer hours. But now, under this pressure from Ohio press, he says he`s thinking about reversing it, considering it. We have been covering the story about Ohio voting rights for about a week now. Ohio Republican Secretary of State John Husted had agreed to come on the program for an interview this week. He`s apparently changed his mind. His office telling us today he`s backing out. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Before Paul Ryan, there was Newt Gingrich. In 1995, then- House Speaker Newt Gingrich wanted to voucherize Medicare. He wanted to privatize it. As "The L.A. Times" reported back then, Gingrich predicted that Congress would undertake a major reform of Medicare. One alternative would be a voucher program in which beneficiaries would choose among several competing private health plans. So Medicare goes away, grandma gets a coupon and a prayer and a visit to the private insurance market. Before Paul Ryan ever proposed getting rid of Medicare that way, Newt Gingrich did it en1995, ands that is an underappreciated part of why we got four more years of President Bill Clinton in 1996. The president tied Newt Gingrich and his voucher Medicare stuff like a lead weight to Bob Dole`s neck in the `96 election. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: Against Medicare again, Dole/Gingrich tried to cut $270 billion. Bob Dole, wrong in the past, Wrong for our future. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Dole/Gingrich then -- Romney/Ryan this year. That`s what the Democrats were going to do anyway. Now it`s a lot easier. Bill Clinton won a second term in `96, of course. Another poster child for privatizing the social safety net is this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You ask do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way. I earned capital in the campaign, political capital. And now I intend to spend it. It is my style and I`m going to spend it for what I told the people I would spend it on, which is you`ve heard the agenda -- Social Security and tax reform and moving this economy forward. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Bush after winning re-election in 2004 declaring his election a mandate, vowing to push through privatizing Social Security. The country not only said no to that, the country threw up a little bit in their mouth as they said no to it. The more Bush talked about privatizing Social Security, the less popular it got. And then Republicans paid for it at the polls. While that was under way, it was Congressman Paul Ryan who was pushing an even more radical version of Social Security privatization in the House of Representatives. Paul Ryan`s Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005 was an even more radical version of Bush`s privatization of Social Security. Privatizing Social Security went nowhere in the mid `90s, excuse me, in the mid-2000s. But Paul Ryan managed to keep his seat in the House through the great Republican congressional purges that followed this era in 2006 and 2008. Paul Ryan also kept the idea of privatizing Social Security and Medicare alive. In 2008, with his road map for America`s future, Paul Ryan resurrected the old Newt Gingrich plan to kill Medicare by privatizing it and replacing it with vouchers. He also called for privatizing Social Security. That was 2008. In 2010, Paul Ryan tried again. a new version of his road map, and a splashy new Web site to launch it. Guess what was still in the plan? A Medicare overhaul that "The Wall Street Journal" of all papers accused of essentially ending Medicare as we know it -- privatizing Medicare, replacing it with vouchers. That, of course, became an effective political weapon for Democrats, at least the ones who chose to wield it in the 2010 mid elections. In April of last year, Ryan changed the title of the plan. He dumped the "road map" name and went with something maybe a little slower. This is not a road map but a path to prosperity. It was only in this brand new version, the 2011 version of the plan, that he finally dropped the idea of privatizing Social Security. He kept the partial privatization of Medicare. He said to Ryan Lizza of "The New Yorker" that he had to compromise. That his original road map idea, quote, "was just me unplugged." Well, now, we are at today -- day three of the Romney/Ryan ticket. And on day three, here`s how Mr. Romney has been trying to handle the hot potato subject of Paul Ryan unplugged, of his running mate`s record. Mr. Romney has been trying to muddy the waters, trying to say that it`s not his running mate who has proposed gutting Medicare. That`s the other guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: The president`s idea, for instance, for Medicare was to cut it by $700 billion. (BOOS) ROMNEY: That`s not the right answer. We want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The $700 billion cut for Medicare that the Republicans are very excited about, whatever you think about that as a cut, it`s the same $700 billion cut that is in the Paul Ryan plan, which not only preserves those cuts, but also would turn it into a coupon program, privatizing Medicare and thereby getting rid of what we think of as Medicare. You cannot muddy the waters on Paul Ryan and Medicare. Killing Medicare is why Paul Ryan is famous at all. That is the thing he is known for and you picked him knowing that. If you pick the guy who really, really, really, really in his heart of hearts wants to privatize Social Security and privatize Medicare, no matter how much it costs politically or otherwise, if you pick that guy to be one heart beat away from the presidency, then you have to answer for it. We`ll have more for what Paul Ryan means for Medicare and Social Security with Jared Bernstein, who joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The Republicans have picked as their vice presidential nominee the most visible proponent among congressional Democrats of the privatization of Social Security and the privatization of Medicare. What could possibly go wrong? Joining us now is Jared Bernstein. He`s senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He`s also an MSNBC and CNBC contributor. Jared, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here. JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: My pleasure, Rachel. MADDOW: The Republicans have decided they`re not going to answer questions about Paul Ryan`s proposal to privatize Medicare. They`re saying that`s not Mitt Romney`s proposal. It`s just Paul Ryan`s and by the way, it`s Obama who is going after Medicare. What do you make of their effort to make this President Obama`s problem and not their own? BERNSTEIN: Well, I`m very happy to answer that question. The point you made earlier is the key one. The $700 billion in Medicare cuts you just heard Mitt Romney complain about, that`s been in the Paul Ryan budget for years now. And it still is. The difference is that President Obama and the affordable care act takes those savings from Medicare and plows them back into helping 30-plus million people get insurance coverage -- whereas on the Republican side, in the Ryan plan, something Romney very much embraces, those resources, though cuts, $700 billion, same number, go to tax cuts primarily for the most wealthy. So it`s big-time Robin Hood in reverse, around a program that is critically important to seniors` retirement security. MADDOW: One of the things that has the most political salience of the entire second George W. Bush term in office was his failed effort to privatize Social Security. We just played a clip of him after the `04 election where he got elected saying he intended to spend his political capital from that election on selling the public on the privatization of Social Security. Paul Ryan was the guy in the House for the Republicans who was pushing for the same thing. One of the things that was interesting, though, was that in Paul Ryan`s version of it, it would cost $2 trillion in government spending costs to move Social Security into a privatized system. Did he ever propose paying for that $2 trillion? Did he think that should just be deficit finance? BERNSTEIN: No, it was the -- very much the same kind of problem that we`re seeing in the rest of his fiscal plan. I mean, why this guy has a reputation as a fiscal hawk is really beyond me. Because, absolutely, I mean, one of the things that we first recognized when he trotted out the Social Security privatization is that the transition costs to these private accounts would have precisely the effect you suggested. And now that we`re talking about Medicare, as we said earlier, if you`re going to cut taxes to the tune of $9-plus trillion, the Bush tax cuts plus the doubling down of the Romney/Ryan tax cuts over 10 years, and you`re also going to increase defense spending, there`s absolutely no way you can do that without jamming the budget deficit into the stratosphere. So, same problem -- and again, an underlying theme here of a real antipathy toward social insurance. That kind of a guaranteed benefit that`s so important in Medicare, so important in Social Security, gone under this kind of privatization. MADDOW: Was there any evidence during the Bush years when Mr. Ryan was in Congress, sort of a back bench member of Congress, but a rising star, one with a hot following in the conservative media, even at that time -- was there any evidence of him being a fiscal hawk, of being a deficit hawk during those years in terms of the way he voted? BERNSTEIN: No, it was all very ideological. Sort of putting the numbers to Ayn Rand, I guess, or something like that. And the thing that I remember very vividly from the time of the privatization debate under George W. Bush is that it happened to occur during a down stock market. And that was really all it took to show people that this privatization gamble is just a terrible idea, relative to the guarantee d benefits under Social Security. I mean, you`re really talking about throwing the dice when you move to the voucher or the privatization on guaranteed benefits. And I don`t think it`s something that`s going to fly with the public. MADDOW: Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the senior at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities -- Jared, thank you very much for your time tonight. I appreciate it. BERNSTEIN: Sure, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Remember all that talk about tax returns and how much certain Republican presidential candidates have paid over the last 10 years or so in taxes? Well, the Paul Ryan announcement certainly changed the course of that conversation, but definitely not in the way the Republican ticket intended it to. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Up until Friday night, the central idea of the Mitt Romney for president campaign was under some real pressure. The central idea, of course, was this: count on the economy being bad, blame President Obama for that, and present Mr. Romney as a somewhat generic, not-Obama alternative - - a businessman, a job-creating economic fix-it guy. The problem for the Romney campaign is that the Romney campaign was not able to define Mr. Romney as such before the Obama campaign defined him. The Obama campaign replaced that image of Mitt Romney as a generic business guy with a not-generic image of Mitt Romney as a hugely wealthy, financier investor, who devoted himself, more than anything, to the avoidance of paying taxes. The unexpected star of the effort to portray Mr. Romney that way was the usually soft-spoken Democratic Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: If a person coming before this body wanted to be a cabinet officer, he couldn`t be if he did the same refusal Mitt Romney does about tax returns. So the word`s out that he hasn`t paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn`t. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, in fairness, Harry Reid`s accusation has no visible basis in fact. Senator Reid says a Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes in 10 years, but Senator Reid offer nod proof of that. The Romney campaign, of course, went apoplectic. The Republican Party chairman called Harry Reid not just a liar, but a dirty liar. Mr. Romney himself said, of course he had paid taxes. He said he had paid a lot of taxes. But he also said, we had to take his word on it. Trust him. And everything we do know about Mr. Romney and his taxes, both in his business life and his personal life, does show rather heroic efforts to avoid paying taxes. But he says he will not show his taxes to anyone. We just have to trust him on it. And so, everybody has just kept wondering what the deal is with Mitt Romney and his taxes. Then, as of one minute after midnight, Friday night into Saturday, Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan! The budget guy with the blue eyes and the ripped abs. Now everybody would certainly talk about that, right? Talk about Paul Ryan and not Mitt Romney and his taxes and his tax returns. It did not work out like that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: How many years of tax returns did you turn over to the campaign? RYAN: Well, it was a very exhaustive vetting process. It`s a confidential vetting process, so it was several years, but I`m going to release the same amount of years as Governor Romney has. But I`ve got to tell you, Bob -- SCHIEFFER: And how many was that? RYAN: Two. I`m going to be releasing two, which is what he`s releasing. What I hear from people around this country, they`re not asking, where are the tax returns? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Not to be pushy, but where are the tax returns? Because however implausible the Romney folks wanted us to think it was, when Harry Reid said the rich guy Mitt Romney was paying zero taxes, however wacky they tried to make that seem, the new problem on the tax return thing for the Romney campaign is that in picking Paul Ryan as his would-be vice president, under Paul Ryan`s tax plan, Mitt Romney really would pay zero in taxes. It`s not exactly true. He would pay zero taxes on the more than $20 million we know he made from Bain in 2010. The only thing he would pay taxes on is the money he made giving speeches and writing a book. So on over $20 million in income for the one year when we know what his taxes were, Mitt Romney under Paul Ryan`s plan would pay less than 1 percent in taxes. So now the tax return issue for Mitt Romney is worse than it was before. Before he wanted us to trust him, that, of course, he had never paid zero in taxes. Now, he has just picked a vice president who would ensure that Mitt Romney, in fact, paid basically zero in taxes. So does that make you trust him more or less about him saying he paid plenty of taxes over the past 10 years? Are you more likely to believe that or are you less likely to believe it? And maybe wanting to bolster your belief in it by actually seeing some evidence? This tax returns problem just got worse for Mitt Romney and not better. That does it for us today. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a good one. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END