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

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/21/13

Guests: Barney Frank

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The town of Newtown, Connecticut, has three detectives on its police force. And on December 14th, when calls started coming in about a possible shooting at the elementary school at Sandy Hook in Newtown, one of the town`s three detectives, a detective named Jason Frank, was off duty. He was not at work. So presumably he did not have his uniform on. We know he did not have his weapon with him. But he heard the call anyway and he drove to the scene. He drove to the school. Now, at that point, police had already found the body of the shooter -- the young man who had ended the massacre when he shot and killed himself. So, at that point, police were making sure that there wasn`t a second shooter, making sure that the massacre was over. And they were moving through the school methodically, door by door, clearing each room, making sure there were no other perpetrators on the loose and, of course, getting the surviving kids and staff members out of that school to safety. This was the time we learned later when the police had to convince the teachers and the staff members behind those doors at the school that they really were the police. The teachers were still trying to protect the students. They did not want to open the doors to somebody who was just saying they were police. Who knows if they really were? And so, the police at that time were taking off their badges and shoving their badges up to the windows of the classroom doors and putting their badges under the doors to prove who they were to the teachers who were inside, still trying to protect their kids. Detective Jason Frank from Newtown later told Ray Rivera of the "New York Times," who wrote a really remarkable article interviewing the first responders who were on scene there, the detective told Ray Rivera that in that urgency and the intensive to get to all of the kids and to clear all of the rooms at one point, he ripped the door handle off of a door as he was moving in to clear that classroom. Detective Jason Frank and the rest of Newtown`s police detectives ended up spending days and days inside that school after the massacre, processing it as a crime scene. The school did not reopen. The kids from Sandy Hook moved to a nearby school that was not being used. The nearby school was refitted to look as much as possible like their old school. But the original building where the shooting took place, all of these law enforcement officers were there, day in and day out after the shooting, in that horrible setting, doing their work, cataloging every physical bit of that crime scene including the victims and where they fill, the physical damage showing how the shooter got in in the first place, the path that he took through the school, every single bullet that he fired, finding and marking and cataloging every single casing, every single bullet hole, following the path of what happened every single time he pulled the trigger that day. Those detectives, those troopers, those forensics teams who themselves, you have to believe, were traumatized by having been the ones to respond to all of that carnage and having to see it themselves, then had to work in it for a long time after the crime itself, making sense of every physical detail left, including the wreckage of that door that detective Jason Frank had torn apart trying to get to those kids that day. So we know the basics. We know the basics of what happened. We, of course, know the bottom line of what happened in that school building that day. But someday, because of that work, because of that long, horrible, meticulous work that they have done and are still doing on that horrible crime scene we will know pretty much everything that can be known about what happened that day, because of their meticulous attention to the physical record. That is the same way that we know so much detail about what happened exactly in previous incidents like this, because of the way they pick apart these crime scenes, we have very specific details on how they happened. And that sometimes becomes important when we`re talking about trying to find technical fixes in the law on policy that might make things like this less likely to happen again or if things like this are going to happen again what kinds of changes might mean that these things do not go on for so long and kill quite so many people. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK KELLY, GABBY GIFFORDS` HUSBAND: On January 8th of 2011 a young man walked up to gabby at her constituent event in Tucson, leveled his gun, and shot her through the head. He then turned down the line and continued firing. In 15 seconds, he emptied his magazine. It contained 33 bullets. And there were 33 wounds. As the shooter attempted to reload, he fumbled. A woman grabbed the next magazine and others restrained him. Gabby was the first victim. Christina Taylor-Green, 9 years old, born on 9/11 of 2001, was shot with the 13th bullet or after, and others followed. (ED VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The woman who Mark Kelly was describing in that testimony, the woman who stopped the shooter in that mass shooting in Tucson, stopped him from being able to reload and kill more people, is this woman, Patricia Maisch. She had gone to the meet your congresswoman event that day in Tucson to meet her congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, specifically because she wanted to thank Gabby Giffords for her vote in favor of President Obama`s stimulus plan. ABC News interviewed Patricia Maisch very shortly after the shooting. Very shortly after the shooting. And here`s how she explained that day, what she did. (BEGIN VIDEO CLI) PATRICIA MAISCH, GIFFORDS` CONSTITUENT: I was not able to reach the gun, but I -- he was pulling a magazine out of his pants pocket with his left hand, and I was able to grab the magazine, because somebody said when he pulled that out, they said, "Get the magazine." So I got the magazine and was able to secure that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The magazine that she`s talking about in this particular shooting is this type, the big long type there that you can see sticking out of the butt of the handgun. A standard magazine for a gun like this would not hang out from the bottom of the gun like that. But the one the shooter was using in the Tucson massacre had 33 bullets in it. And he expended all of those bullets. He fired all of those bullets, and the gun was therefore empty when he had to stop shooting. Had he been able to take the empty magazine out and replace it with the full one that he was presumably pulling out of his pants pocket when Patricia Maisch stopped him, maybe he would have been able to keep going and shoot and kill more people. But he was not able to pull off the reloading. Running out of bullets meant he had to stop firing. And when he stopped firing that`s when he was stopped and that event was over and nobody else had to die. The woman who stopped the Tucson shooter by not letting him reload that day still lives Arizona. And yesterday, she attended one of these town hall meetings in Arizona, which the Republican senator there, John McCain, has been holding in his home state. The woman who stopped the Tucson, Arizona, shooter was there in the room when this happened today at John McCain`s town hall. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My 24-year-old son Alex was murdered in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. These assault weapons allow a shooter to fire many rounds without having to reload. These weapons do not belong on our streets. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I can tell you right now you need some straight talk. That assault weapons ban will not pass the Congress of the United States. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I said that was today. That was actually yesterday. John McCain`s Arizona constituents, you can hear them at the end there applauding boisterously at his ability to bestow some patented John McCain straight talk on that woman, who obviously needs it, that woman whose son was killed less than a year ago in the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting. That`s the footage that was aired by Channel 3 in Phoenix. Obviously, there was an edit between the end of the woman`s question and the part where John McCain sneers the straight talk line at her. So, maybe that edit was cut in a way that`s not fair to John McCain. Maybe he really wasn`t in real time so insensitive and abrasive to a woman who probably deserves some sensitivity when she is talked to about these matters. But for what it`s worth, Patricia Maisch, the woman who disarmed the Tucson shooter, she was in the room at that John McCain town hall. She saw the whole thing happen. She saw that woman ask the question about what John McCain thought should be done about gun violence and saw him answer by saying you need some straight talk. And Patricia Maisch, who was in the room, told Talking Points Memo in an interview after the town hall that she found senator McCain`s response, quote, "unsatisfactory." "In my opinion," she said, "the comment the senator made saying Caren needed some straight talk was a bit disrespectful in light of her son being murdered by a man with a gun less than a year ago." According to TPM`s interview Patricia Maisch then said she`s hopeful McCain will expand background checks for gun sales but, quote, "You never know with these guys. I hope he does the right thing." So, at John McCain`s town hall yesterday in Arizona discussing gun rights, a woman whose son was killed in the Aurora shooting massacre was there. The woman who disarmed the Gabby Giffords shooter in Tucson was there. Also in Florida two nights ago, a very similar Republican town hall meeting held by a Republican congressman, Ron DeSantis, in Palm Coast, Florida, had a similar experience -- parents of 7-year-old Daniel Barden who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. His parents attended that town hall. They introduced themselves to the congressman in front of this boisterous group of 300 constituents. They, quote, "pointedly asked Congressman DeSantis how he planned to address the gun issue." Whether these individual appearances of very high-profile victims of gun violence are happening on their own or not, whether it`s just coincidence we don`t know, but the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns told us today that they`ve been encouraging family members of gun violence victims to go to town hall meetings right now while members of Congress are in their home districts hearing about gun control issues and other issues from their constituents. That`s exclusive to us, by the way. I don`t think anybody else has reported that Mayors Against Illegal Guns are doing that but they are. Today, in Danbury, Connecticut, the parents of yet another child killed at Sandy Hook, Chris McDonnell and Lynn McDonnell, whose daughter Grace was among those killed, told a gun violence forum at Western Connecticut State University that something has to be done. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LYNN MCDONNELLL, MOTHER OF GRACE MCDONNELL: We ask that our representatives look into their hearts and remember the 26 beautiful lives that we lost and pass meaningful laws that will help prevent this from happening again. We owe it to our children, and I owe it to my daughter, Grace. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That same event today in Connecticut was also attended by this man, Vice President Joe Biden, who was there to make the case for the White House`s proposals on gun reform. He told Patricia Maisch`s story, of what stopped the massacre in Tucson, in order to help make that case today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the shooter in Tucson had a 10-round magazine instead of a 30-round magazine, the little granddaughter of a friend of mine from Wilmington, Delaware, who used to manage the Philadelphia Phillies, she`d be alive today, because when changing his magazine, a woman leaned over in the crowd and knocked his arm and that`s how they subdued him. It makes the difference. It wouldn`t have saved everybody. It wouldn`t have saved everybody. But the last two people shot would be alive. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Just before Vice President Biden spoke today, the governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, made his case for what he thinks his state should do after Sandy Hook. Democrats control the House and the Senate and the governorship in Connecticut. So what the Democratic governor says has a lot of weight in terms of what`s actually going to happen. Governor Malloy today said -- explained today what he thinks should be done, and therefore what likely will be done. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: And at some level, we will never be the same as we were before December 14th. We have changed. And I believe it is now time for our laws to do the same. There are clear common sense steps that we can take right now to improve Connecticut`s gun laws. We need to ban large-capacity magazines and allow the sale of only magazines that hold 10 rounds or less. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If Connecticut does that, if they ban magazines that hold 10 rounds or more, if Connecticut does that, they`ll join New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Hawaii, California, and D.C. in having state-specific bans on the number of bullets you are able to fire before you have to reload. In total, 15 states are proposing either tightening their existing limits on the size of magazines or introducing their first limits ever, 15 states. But could it happen federally? "The New York Times" reported a couple of days ago that even pro-gun lawmakers are open now to limits on the size of magazines at the federal level. Even members of Congress who are adamantly opposed to, say, assault weapons ban are finding the case for a high-capacity magazine ban to be more compelling, to at least be something that is worth talking about. Well, today, the group Organizing for Action that was formed out of President Obama`s re-election effort, they announced today that they`d be doing 100 events in cities across the country tomorrow to push for gun reform, everything from candlelight vigils to groups of people getting together to all write letters to the editor in favor of reform. The idea here is the same as having victims of gun violence turn up and introduce themselves and ask pointed questions at lawmakers` town hall meetings. It`s the same idea as a pro-reform political action committee hanging the A rating from the NRA around the neck of that congressional candidate in Illinois to make it so she likely cannot win the Democratic primary for congress because she is too close to the NRA and that`s not OK anymore, at least in Democratic politics. It`s the same thinking behind these near-daily events from Vice President Biden, all addressing the issue of gun reform. It`s the same thinking as the almost as frequent mentions and events from President Obama himself, including the long emotional case he made for reform in the State of the Union. It`s all the same idea, which is to change the political momentum on this issue, to turn desire for change on this issue into actual change. That is the plan. And on a day like today, there are about 15 data points in just this news cycle showing that plan is in action. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: People say and you read and people write about the political risk and the unacceptable take on it. I say it`s unacceptable not to take these on. (APPLAUSE) BIDEN: It`s just simply unacceptable. It is not something you can fail to do. Guess what? I believe the price to be paid politically to those who refuse to act, who refuse to step forward. (APPLAUSE) Because America`s changed on this issue. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now is E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and MSNBC contributor. E.J., it`s good to see you tonight. Thanks for being here. E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you. MADDOW: I`ve been trying to understand what is the new calibration of what might be possible in terms of legislation. A lot of people say that an assault weapons ban is on the far end of possible. Closing of the background check loophole might be on the near end of possible. Where do you put the extended magazine ban on that imaginary number line of possibility? DIONNE: I put it right near the universal background checks. I mean, that is the measure that has the best chance of passing. But I think the ban on the big magazines is right up there because in the odd calculus of some members, but if it works for the ban of big magazines, it`s all right with me. It`s not banning a particular weapon. With the assault weapons ban it`s a ban on a particular weapon. This is a ban on an accessory to a weapon. The other legislation that has a good chance is legislation banning -- to regulate and ban straw purchasers and have stronger laws on gun trafficking. And we`re going to know a lot more next week. I think as of a week from today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to hold its markup. That`s what they were talking about today. And what they`re probably going to do is put out separate bills on all these things so that the chances of one don`t hurt the chances of another. In particular, that the assault weapons ban, which is the hardest sell, doesn`t bring down these other measures. But I think after the events that you just described a lot of people have concluded that if only we could have shooters not have all of these bullets available at those moments, a lot of lives could be saved. MADDOW: E.J., what do you think has been the most effective tool for activism this time around in the campaign for new gun laws? Is it just the accumulation of so much attention, so much sentiment, so much heartache over what happened in Newtown, or has the political work that`s being done by the advocates of reform been particularly effective, has one of those techniques been particularly effective? DIONNE: I think Ms. McDonnell, when she referred to those 26 beautiful lives -- I mean, I think Newtown just snapped something in a lot of people. There were a lot of people who were just sick and tired of being sick and tired, sick and tired of being told that when they call for action after one of these horrible events, the NRA would turn around and say oh, you`re just exploiting these events to get legislation. That used to shut people up. People said no after this. They said, we`re not going to stop. And I also think we need to give credit to the people who are doing work in the wilderness when this issue wasn`t at the top of everyone`s list of important issues. You know, mayors against illegal guns. Mayor Bloomberg certainly with all the money he can spend but also Mayor Menino in Boston, Tom Barrett in Milwaukee, there are a lot of people working in the wilderness who said, you know, even though we`re here, we`re going to continue marching because someday we`re going to get out of this wilderness. And so, I think you really have to credit the people who stuck with this issue in the period when everyone else said nothing will happen and Newtown came along and a lot of other Americans said, yes, we can`t do nothing anymore. MADDOW: We`re seeing so much attention on this issue, really specifically in the Illinois special election. That`s going to be the first federal election after Newtown, also the first federal election after the presidential election and the Democratic primary is really the whole game in that race because it`s such a Democratic district. The Bloomberg PAC has been very, very heavy-handed in terms of their involvement in that race. Just blanketing the 2nd district in Illinois, that Chicago district, with guns, making the A rating from the NRA a scarlet letter for the two Democrats who are viable contenders in that race who have that rating. Is that something that we`re only going to see in something so atypical like, that a very Democratic district in Chicago in a special election, or is this kind of a pilot program for something that Democrats might try to do more broadly? O`DONNELL: I think it`s a pilot program. And I think one of the problems for advocates of sensible gun laws is that there`s been a lot of mythology built up around the power of the NRA. And it`s true that in certain rural districts in America, it`s very hard to support any form of gun control, but there have been very few races where advocates of gun control have made it an issue themselves. Bloomberg obviously is doing that in Illinois. It happened in a congressional race in Virginia, where you can argue that Jerry Connelly out in suburban Virginia got re-elected in part by the gun issue. What has to happen is in districts, in suburban and urban districts where the vast majority of voters want action on guns, if people are opposed to doing it then they have to be taken on and this has to be made an issue in an election. And we might chip away at that myth of NRA omnipotence, which happily has already taken a lot of sledgehammer hits over the last month or so. MADDOW: Yes. I think the narrative is changing already, if just by sheer weight of the people saying that they don`t want that to be the narrative anymore. DIONNE: Exactly. MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, senior fellow at Brookings, MSNBC contributor -- E.J., thank you as always. It`s always great to have you here. DIONNE: Thank you. Take care. MADDOW: Thanks. Al right. We have tons of show tonight including the interview tonight with Barney Frank, who is here in person. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has perfect teeth. And very, very perfect hair. If you just hold perfectly still and just watch him, he just seems perfect. He had only been governor of Virginia for a few days when the Republican Party tapped him to give the State of the Union response to President Obama in 2010. By the following year he was already being described as being at the top of the vice presidential short list. He was just the kind of moderate-looking, milquetoasty conservative guy that the Republicans thought they were looking for. And so, he spent a lot of time during the Republican primaries happily fielding questions about just what exactly he would say if and when he was tapped to be the Republican nominee for vice president of the United States. But then perfect Bob McDonnell became governor ultrasound. The anti- abortion forced ultrasound bill he had supported in his state started making its way through the legislature. And things took a turn for Bob McDonnell. Suddenly, he wasn`t cheerfully fending off questions about joining the Republican ticket and heading to the White House. He was being bombarded every time he set foot in front of a camera with unpleasant questions like these. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to ask you about this red hot story that`s gotten so much ink, so many women in particular fired up. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were here last month. You were in favor of the transvaginal ultra -- DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: You backed an abortion bill initially that included a very invasive procedure as part of an ultrasound that the state would have required. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were educating yourself on this bill, did you originally not realize that it might mandate the invasive -- GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Well, it wasn`t -- you have to realize this wasn`t my bill. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Bob McDonnell did not become the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012. He did spend a lot of time in 2012 talking about vaginal probes on live television. In a matter of weeks Bob McDonnell was transformed from the handsome but serious Republican leading man to that creepy guy who`s trying to do what to the women of Virginia? Well, this year Virginians will elect a new governor. Bob McDonnell is being term limited out of office. And now, a brand new Republican governor in another state is bucking for the chance to inherit the governor ultrasound nickname from Bob McDonnell now that Bob McDonnell`s not going to be using it anymore. This is Indiana`s brand new Republican governor. His name is Mike Pence. Governor Pence was a six-term congressman from Indiana before he got elected governor this year. He has consistently earned a 0 percent, or F rating from reproductive rights groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Do you remember when Mitt Romney said at one debate if he was president he wouldn`t just want to keep Guantanamo open, he would want to double Guantanamo? Well, Mike Pence may be about to double governor ultrasound because the Republicans in the Indiana Senate have just advanced a bill that would force Indiana women against their will to have not one but two medically unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds. Just because. The bill is part of an overall TRAP law that tries to use targeted regulations that some clinics will not be able to comply with so that those clinics will not be able to provide abortions anymore. For women having the kind of abortion you can get very early in pregnancy where you just take a pill that ends the pregnancy, Indiana Republicans want to force women to submit to a state-ordered vaginal probe before you are allowed to have that pill. And then two weeks later, the state government would like to make you come back for a second medically unnecessary state-ordered vaginal probing after the first one. Go ahead and imagine that job. Go ahead and imagine the person who`s job it`s going to be to try to do that, to try to convince Indiana women to come back in for a second medically unnecessary vaginal probe ultrasound. Hi, it`s Ann from the clinic. The governor insists that you come back in and get probed again. No, no, no, it`s not your doctor that wants it. It`s the governor. Do you know Governor Mike Pence? How about it, Mike Pence? Do you want to be the new governor ultrasound when Bob McDonnell retires the title? This time with 100 percent more unwanted vaginal probing. If you`re looking for a good argument as to why you should be able as governor of Indiana to force the women of your state to be vaginally probed twice for no medical reason, maybe the legislative director of your local anti-abortion group in Indiana can help. Here`s how she answered critics this week, who say that the forced ultrasound requirements might be a little invasive. She told Indiana public radio, quote, "I got pregnant vaginally. Something else could come in my vagina for a medical test. That wouldn`t be that intrusive to me. So you find that argument a little ridiculous." There`s the argument for it in Indiana. If you`ve ever had anything in there, you can`t really object to the governor putting something in there, too -- twice, against your will. We contacted Governor Mike Pence`s office today. It`s Pence. P-E-N-C-E. We contacted Governor Pence`s office today to ask whether he supports the double vaginal probe bill that just passed a senate committee this week with all Republican votes. We have not heard back from his office yet. But oh, boy, will we let you know if we do. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When is a buck 75 worth a whole lot more than a buck 75? An overwhelming majority, a really, really overwhelming majority of Americans appear to know the answer to that question in their bones. And I will bet that former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank knows it as well. Barney Frank is here tonight in person for the interview. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: 1998 was a midterm election year, and in that midterm election in 1998, voters in Washington state got the chance to vote for a rise in the minimum wage. It passed. It not only passed, that rise in the minimum wage got more votes than any other thing or any other person on the ballot that year. Democratic Senator Patty Murray that year got re-elected by 16 points. But the minimum wage got 150,000 more votes than she did. It was wildly popular. In 2004, in Florida, constitutional amendment on the ballot that year to raise the minimum wage in that state passed with 71 percent of the vote, 71 percent. Its margin of victory was 42 points. That was Florida in 2004. In 2006, it happened all over the place. Minimum wage increases passed in six states. Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Ohio. In Colorado the margin of victory was six points. In Ohio, it was 14 points. In Arizona, it won by 30 points. In Nevada, it won by almost 40 points. This is the kind of margin that rises in the minimum wage pass by, when you ask people to vote on them. In Montana in 2004 the minimum wage increase passed by a 45-point margin. It got almost 75 percent of the vote. You know, because Montana`s so liberal. Just like Missouri is, a bunch of commies out there, right? In Missouri the margin was even bigger than Montana that year. The minimum wage increase passed in Missouri by a 52-point margin. I`m going to let that sink in for a second. The minimum wage initiative passed in red state Missouri by 52 points. And in those states that were voting on raises in the minimum wage that year, woe be unto the anti-minimum wage Republicans who were running against Democratic candidates who are on the winning side of that issue. That year was the year we elected now familiar Senate faces like Ohio`s Sherrod Brown, where he took the side of the minimum wage increase that won by 14 points. Also John tester, we are took the side of the minimum wage increase that won by 45 points. Claire McCaskill, who was on the winning side of that 52-point spread in Missouri and who never let her Republican opponent squirm away from that fact for one minute. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Tell Missourians yes or no, how will you vote on the minimum wage proposal that will be on the ballot that you will be voting on in three weeks. Yes or no? You`re going to have to cast a vote in two weeks on whether or not we raise the minimum wage in Missouri. Will you vote yes or will you vote no? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not taken a position on the minimum wage ballot issue. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes. Mem, mem, mem, mem. Not taken a position. Maybe you didn`t, sir, but voters in your state certainly did. And Claire McCaskill beat you. Claire McCaskill squeaked by with one of the most unlikely victories in the `06 election. She unseated a Republican incumbent senator, in part because of the incredible popularity of the minimum wage increase with which she shared the ballot in Missouri that year. It was after that performance in the `06 elections that then President George W. Bush finally signed into law a federal increase in the minimum wage. Last one we`ve had. The opposition to raising the minimum wage is always the same argument. It has been since the beginning of time. It`s going to kill jobs, right? It`s going to reduce unemployment. It`s going to reduce employment. It`s going to raise unemployment. Look back at 1938. President Roosevelt signing the federal minimum wage into law for the first time. The summer of `38. It wasn`t even above the fold. But the objection was the same then as it is now. It`s going to kill jobs. It`s the same objection we hear today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I wish we could just pass a law saying everybody should make more money without any adverse consequences. The problem is you`re costing jobs from those trying to get entry-level jobs. REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`ve been dealing with the minimum wage issue for the last 28 years that I`ve been in elected office. And when you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That has been the argument since the dawn of time. You can`t have a minimum wage. You certainly can`t raise the minimum wage, because that will mean employers will higher fewer people. Unemployment will go up. You will cost people their jobs. It`s always the same argument. But here`s the thing. We can check to see if that argument works, because we`ve done this before a zillion times. At various times we have both established a minimum wage and raised the minimum wage in states like Florida, in Colorado, in Arizona, in Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Ohio, Alaska, Kansas, just about anywhere in the country. And when it happens federally we can compare before and after and when it happens between states we can compare what happens. This isn`t a hypothetical question. We can look at the cause and effect of these policies. This is empirical. This is knowable. And here`s what we know -- raising the minimum wage has little to no effect on low wage employment. It is true. It`s an empirical thing. You can check it. And people do. One major study, a famous one, done in the mid `90s right after minimum wage increases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, this is considered to be the gold standard in this field of empirical research, resulted in this. The results seem to contradict the standard prediction that a rise in the minimum wage will reduce unemployment. Another big study done about ten years found the same thing. The dotted line on this chart is employment growth, in other words, finding new jobs in the states where the minimum wage was above the federal level. In other words, states where they had increased the minimum wage. You see the relationship between those two? You see how it`s keeping one all the other states? Right. Exactly. And last week, the Center for Economic and Policy Research published what was essentially a study of studies, a meta-analysis of the body of work that is out there, studies of the connection between minimum wage increases and employment. What did that meta-analysis find? Well, there`s a clue in the title. They titled their conclusions "Why does the minimum wage have no discernible effect on employment?" Raising the minimum wage doesn`t hurt jobs. It basically does not have the effect of costing jobs, period. It`s checkable. And if you check that, that is what you will find. So just in case we want to make policy based on data, there is data. And just in case we don`t want to make policy based on data and instead we want to make policy just based on politics -- well, it turns out that people really, really like the idea of raising the minimum wage, a lot. A new poll by the Pew Research Center in the "USA Today" that`s out today finds that support for President Obama`s proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to 9 bucks an hour, support for that idea stands at 71 percent. Nothing is that popular in our country. But this is. Barney Frank joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The interview tonight is Barney Frank. Yay. He`s here next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`ve been dealing with the minimum wage issue for the last 28 years that I`ve been in elected office. And when you raise the price of employment, guess what happens. You get less of it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Both over the last 28 years and even outside that time period that statement is not true. It`s a checkable thing about the minimum wage. Joining us now for "The Interview" is Barney Frank, former Democratic congressman from the great commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is nice to see you. FORMER REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you. Nice to be back. MADDOW: I miss you in Congress. Do you miss you in Congress? FRANK: Yes and no. I had asked my governor if I could get that interim appointment because in this particular next few months some of the most important decisions we could make are going to get made. But I`m a little worn out and I`ll be honest, when the phone rings now it is almost certainly not going to be a crisis. It`s not going to be some problem that I have to try to cope with. So -- and the other thing is I want to write. I`m spending a couple days in New York talking to publishers. And the blank page has always been my greatest enemy. And if I have any excuse to avoid filling it, I take it. And I really want to write new things I want to talk about. And I just couldn`t do those if I was still on a day-to-day job. MADDOW: Well, I wanted to distract you by being here tonight because of the minimum wage proposal that was in the State of the Union. That was one of the surprise policy proposals the president made. It`s wildly popular. The Pew study that came out today said that 71 percent of Americans like the idea. Even Republicans like the idea. Independents hugely like the idea. Do you think it`s possible? FRANK: Yes. But it`s going to take more work. This is one of several questions that`s going to decide whether the extremely right-wing Republicans continue their grip on the party or whether conservatives who are very conservative but still in touch with reality can do it. Because remember, in `95 or `96 with -- under the Gingrich/Dick Armey Congress, Bill Clinton was able to force them to raise the minimum wage and there were those referenda you talked about. You know, one of the key points that ought to be made and one of the reasons why older studies and the older viewers -- we no longer -- the minimum wage does not apply very much in manufacturing. When you are dealing with manufacturing, which is done across national lines, there could be some negative economic effect in terms of transferring out. We know people are ready to move jobs out. But overwhelmingly today, minimum wage jobs are in the service industries. I mean, if the restaurant down the street is charging a little more because of wages, you can`t go to Malaysia for a sandwich. And so it`s food service, the supermarkets and restaurants. If you look at where the minimum wage has an effect, it is in those areas in America that are really not subject to foreign competition, because they`re not making things. They are performing a service for which people need to be physically present. This is part of the test of whether or not the Republicans are going to continue to resist. There`s one other important thing about the minimum wage, and I`m very glad the president did it. A lot of people pay lip service to the fact we need to reduce inequality in America, both for macroeconomic reasons, it`s bad for the economy if you don`t have spending power and for fairness. At the same time, we are being told that we have to do deficit reduction that, quote, "makes everyone share the pain", so that people with nothing will share the pain, along with rich people. The minimum wage is a reminder that we can`t put it on hold while we deal with the deficit. MADDOW: On the -- on the specific arguments on the minimum wage, how did it happen in the `90s under President Clinton with Republican Congress, but also with President Bush in 2007, after the `06 midterms where he lost so badly, how did it happen that we got the last two raises in minimum wages that we got? FRANK: Well, remember in `07, we the Democrats were in control of Congress. The model that you have to look to really is 1996 I think it was when you had a Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress. And Newt Gingrich is not an ideologue. Newt Gingrich likes to win things. It has been a while since he has, but he -- it was at that point still on a roll. You had Dick Armey who was the majority leader who was dead set against it, et cetera, et cetera. But the Republicans gave into reality. I think for some of the Republicans, this problem, again, I`m not talking about the Tea Party extremist, but the sort of more traditional conservatives, they keep telling people to go to work. We don`t want these lazy people. We don`t want the 47 percent, the takers. Well, how do you turn around and say yes, people should go to work but they shouldn`t make enough money to live on? Again, this is a subset of the most interesting dynamic in the America today. Like, will the (INAUDIBLE) beat the Tea Party? Or as I`ve said, will the meanies beat the crazies? We are rooting for the meanies. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Is there -- it`s not just on these issues, but overall, are there numbers where the poling becomes so overwhelming that the resistance crumble simply in the face of public popularity? I`m thinking about it on the gun issue, in terms of universal background checks, 92 percent support for universal background checks. We don`t know where the Republicans are going to stand on that. Immigration has also very, very high numbers. We are seeing 71 percent support for raising minimum wage. Is there -- is there a tipping point when public opinion just becomes too overwhelming? FRANK: Yes, in this sense the key is John Boehner is the guy on this part here. You get to the point where most Republicans fear of them are not moveable on these issues. But enough Republicans or minority of Republicans joining with almost all Democrats on these issues would win. And what you got was a rule promulgated by Dennis Hastert, the last Republican speaker, that he wouldn`t bring any bill in the floor, the speaker has absolute control on what comes to the floor, it`s virtually impossible to force his happened. He wouldn`t a bill in the floor unless it`s got a majority of Republicans. Well, there is no chance that any of these things will get a majority of Republicans. There is a good chance if brought to the floor, there will be a 30-40 even 25 Republicans now would be enough to pass it. So my view is that there will be on both the minimum wage and on some of these other issues enough -- background checks and maybe the magazine restriction, there would be a majority in the House to pass it. So, there`s not a tipping point for Republicans, but enough Republicans who are in districts that could go the other way in certain states. Yes, they would vote for it. But then the question would be whether Boehner would hold up the bill. The counter pressure is people going to be saying, you`re doing great damage to the Republicans. And when he does that, and I have used this argument and others, that`s an argument against electing even the most moderate Republican, if you happen to be a liberal, because the only important thing he`s going to do is step over John Boehner. And if John Boehner has a chokehold on this legislation, (INAUDIBLE) out of majority, then the argument for any moderate Republicans, that`s ultimately Scott Brown, (a), lost to Elizabeth Warren and, (b), he decided not to run again. MADDOW: The counting on the indiscipline on the Republican side in order to get popular things done is going to be a fun sport for the next couple of years while we watch that happen. Barney Frank, former Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, now happily retired -- it`s really nice have you here, sir. Thank you. FRANK: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Programming note, first I want to say thank you if you tuned in this past Monday to watch the new MSNBC documentary about how the last administration managed to trick the country into starting the Iraq war. It turns out, we now know, that "Hubris" was the most watched documentary here at MSNBC in the last decade, which is amazing. Very exciting for all of us here on that, especially for David Corn and Michael Isikoff, on whose reporting the documentary was based. So, thank you. Its success is really exciting. It turns the way this business works, honestly, it means commercially, there will be more of where that came from in coming months and years. It`s really great. Also, an announcement partly because of that success, and the continued interest in the doc, MSNBC has decided that we will re-air it. We are going to be showing "Hubris" again on Friday, March 15th at 9:00 p.m. So, if you missed it or if you want to catch it again, or if there`s anybody you know who hasn`t it and you think ought to see it, this is the date to put on your calendar, Friday, March 15th. So, there`s that. And there is this other thing. This is my book. "Drift", it came out last year, which is awesome. It did five weeks at number one on the "New York Times" bestseller list, which is still sort of mind blowing. But now, it is coming out in paperback form. Same great product, new light packaging. It comes out a week from Tuesday on March 5th. And in addition to a chance to buy the book, if you want to, the reason I`m saying this now is that it also means you have a chance to see me in person if you want to, because I`m doing a little book tour. If you go to, we posted the dates of my book tour, along with links to each event`s Web site so you can get tickets if you want to. The first two stops I`m making are in Texas and Austin, in South by Southwest. And then in Houston, then on to southern California and northern California -- hi, mom -- and then Atlanta and Miami and western Massachusetts and Tucson, and Chicago and Philly and D.C. All the details are at There are links to get tickets in all that stuff. I promise I will not bug you about this over and over again, at least not that much. But I thought you might want to know about how to get tickets. So there you have it. That`s very embarrassing. All right. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Have a good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END