Today, President Biden agreed to narrow who is eligible for the next round of $1,400 stimulus payments after pressure from moderate Democrats. D.C. National Guard commander testified to the Senate that he was blocked from sending troops in even as rioters were storming the Capitol and assaulting police officers. After signing the executive order giving states money and operational support for National Guard deployments, there are now over 400 federally supported community vaccination centers across nearly 40 states and U.S. territories. The House is expected to pass a bill that would require states to create nonpartisan independent commissions to decide how to redraw district lines every 10 years.
JOY REID MSNBC HOST: Yes. Hopefully, Joe Manchin doesn`t have a problem with it. Congresswoman Katie Porter, Adams Jentleson, thank you guys very much. That`s tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, they outlawed Dr. Seuss.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: First it was Mr. Potato Head, and now it`s Dr. Seuss.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The places we are going in this country right now.
HAYES: With the right distracted by children`s books and a nation desperate for help, why it looks like Democrats are negotiating themselves down on COVID relief. Then, a new security threat at the Capitol and stunning new testimony about why the National Guard was held back on January 6th.
Plus, Congressman Adam Schiff on tonight`s vote to eliminate Republican roadblocks to the ballot box.
And new trouble for Donald Trump`s old doctor turned congressman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell me how a guy who eats McDonald`s all those diet cokes and never exercises is in a good a shape as you say he`s in?
REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TX): It`s called genetics. I don`t know.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. With the House passing President Biden`s $1.9 trillion COVID Relief Bill last week, it`s now in the hands of the Senate. We`re expecting a vote at the end of this week, hopefully, and we`re seeing some developments today -- well, it`s not really developing in a great way today. I want to get to that.
Today, President Biden agreed to narrow who is eligible for the next round of $1,400 stimulus payments after pressure from moderate Democrats like West Virginia`s Joe Manchin and New Hampshire`s Jeanne Shaheen. Fewer people will get stimulus checks because of the intervention of Democratic senators.
Now, the absurd asymmetries of American politics are in stark relief at this very moment, OK. This is Joe Biden`s approval rating right now. He has 15 points above water. That`s pretty good, 53 percent approval. Donald Trump never got close to that. In fact, he never broke 50 percent approval.
A new Morning Consult poll today shows Biden`s rescue bill is still unbelievably popular with 77 percent of all voters and 59 percent of Republicans said they supported the measure. In fact, when provided the partisan framing along with the details of proposal, 71 percent of voters including 53 percent of Republicans still support it.
People like this bill. They love it, and they don`t care who`s responsible for it. One study shows Biden`s rescue package might be the most popular presidential action since 2007. There it is all by itself all the way over there on the right side of that chart. A big part of the reason Joe Biden was elected, of course, was to finally crush COVID.
And thanks to his administration, a lot of the COVID outlook, especially vaccinations is looking good. It`s moving in the right direction. Of course, there`s the issue of whether governors are going to mess it up by say, opening all the businesses and removing the mask mandate way too early, something President Biden took issue with today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope everybody has realized by now, these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we`re able to get vaccines in people`s arms. We`ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American to get every adult American to get a shot.
And the last, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything`s fine, take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As President Biden pointed out, the public is on his side, even on stuff like the importance of masks, OK. So, they`re on a side on COVID. They`re always on a mask. He`s got a good approval rating. He has this bill that is really, really popular. It`s the kind of popularity you live for if you`re a politician. It`s fun to do stuff that`s popular. That`s what you`re in the business of, right?
OK, another dynamic that is really playing into Biden`s hands is that Fox News programming is going all-in on the culture wars instead of the Biden agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG GUTFELD, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Who gets appalled at a furry little doll? Yes, that cancel tornados always looking for its next victim, and now it`s The Muppets.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AZ): It is outrageous and appalling.
BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Do you think we`ll have a Muppets commission to look at this? Would it be bipartisan?
TYRUS, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: I love the Muppets and I don`t care if they told the jokes in front of a confederate flag, a burning church. It was funny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, from the toy world, was it a case of cross wires or a major corporate U-turn when news broke that the company Hasbro was losing the Mr. from Mr. Potato Head.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I wanted to buy one, and let`s say I had the boy at home and I wanted the girl --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The box is going to say Potato Head. How am I going to know which one I`m getting?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buy Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head because it`s the end of an era. It is the end of freedom in America.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The hits just keep coming. More cancelations may be ahead for Dr. Seuss.
HANNITY: It follows last week`s debacle with Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head going gender-neutral.
JASON CHAFFETZ, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: I haven`t gotten past the assassination of Mr. Potato Head. That one I still haven`t gotten past. And now, they`re trying to take out Dr. Seuss. Come on, John. These are -- these are the icons I grew up with.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Canceling Dr. Seuss isn`t stupid, it`s intentional. They`re banning Dr. Seuss not because he was a racist, but precisely because he wasn`t.
REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): I was going to go to the gym after this hit, but I don`t have to now. I`m already fired up. That is absurd. You`re telling me that the actual priorities of the Democrats is renaming a post office and now canceling Dr. Seuss?
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: This week alone, they canceled Mr. Potato Head. You know, this week alone they canceled the Muppets. You know, they`re canceling Dr. Seuss from reading programs. I mean, these are books -- I literally know The Cat in the Hat by heart without the book there because I read it so many times to my children. These things are not racist. You have Oreo cookie chiming in on trans rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK, you guys keep talking about the non-existent genitals of an anthropomorphic plastic potato, the president could go about his business and pass a giant COVID relief package without the usual flak from the far- right media.
The polling shows the public understands this bill will help a lot of people who really need it. So, all of this said, why on earth would you take steps to make it less effective and less popular? And yet today, that is exactly what some Senate Democrats were insisting and the Washington Post described the move this way.
"Under the plan for stimulus checks passed by the House, individuals earning up to $75,000 per year, and couples making up to $150,000 per year would qualify for the full $1,400 payment. The size of the payments would then begin to scale down before zeroing out for individuals making $100,000 per year and couples making $200,000.
Under the changes agreed to by the Biden and Senate Democratic leadership, individuals earning $75,000 per year and couples making up to $150,000 a year would still receive the full $1,400 payment. However, the benefit would disappear for individuals earning more than $80,000 annually and couples earning more than $160,000. Around 12 million fewer adults and five million fewer kids but get the stimulus payments under the new Biden Senate compromise according to preliminary estimates."
A lot of those adults are voters who will now get less indirect cash assistance from President Biden than they did from Donald Trump. Why would Democratic senators like Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen pushed for this to happen? Honestly, like, cut Joe Manchin a ton of slack, all right. the guy got reelected West Virginia. It`s like the Trumpiest state in the union. There`s all kinds of things he has to do all the time that are going to frustrate, infuriate progressives. But explain this one to me. It`s not even like there`s some obvious lobbying reason, like the big donors don`t want this to happen. There`s not a political reason. This is not something like fraught issue like abortion or guns. There`s no group out there that is single mindedly focused on making sure that people who make $85,000 a year don`t get a check during the pandemic. Who cares? Who`s opposing that?
And on top of that, on top of all of this, keep in mind the big gains the Democratic Party made with college-educated voters in metro areas, particularly suburbs. A lot of those people are the people making the amount that are now going to get shut out of stimulus checks. There is nothing more than a reflexive, almost neurotic compulsive desire to signal moderation by making things worse, both substantively and politically.
And I have personally watched this neurosis in the Democratic Party for the 20 years I`ve covered politics, much of it has been banished and wrung out. But what on earth are you thinking?
Heather McGhee is the Board Chair of the Color of Change and the author of Some Of Us:What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. McKay Coppins is a staff writer at the Atlantic who`s written extensively on the post-Trump administration Republican Party. Both join me now,
Heather, I want to reiterate my point about Manchin here which is that like, progressives are going to be mad about Manchin about all kinds of things. And personally like, his calculus for West Virginia is different than safe seat member of the House, right. But this one, like the politics of this is that someone, somewhere is going to get some check they don`t deserve, it just -- I don`t get it.
HEATHER MCGHEE, BOARD CHAR, COLOR OF CHANGE: It`s really baffling. I mean, I think what it comes down to and we`ll probably hear more about this the next 24 hours is that there`s something that needs to be done here in order to get this through the caps per committee for the absolutely arcane, totally counterproductive Senate rules that we have.
MCGHEE: And that`s where it becomes clear that this governing majority is really hostile to the Senate rules. Now, this is bad politics. It`s not great stimulus. What we really need is cash out the door as much as possible. You can`t tell me that people making that amount of money are not going to spend it right away or that it won`t go to pay down debt.
This is not actually an economic policy justification. It is exactly as you said, knee-jerk moderation, the desire to get something out of it. And the fact that for whatever reason, Joe Manchin and maybe Shaheen, maybe we`ll hear who else might have been behind this, want to feel like they are exacting some kind of concession for what is a bill that`s popular with Republicans.
MCGHEE: And Americans who are worried about the size of it, I`m worried that it`s too small.
HAYES: Yes, we`ve had polling on this. Again, this is going to save maybe tens of billions of dollars off a $1.9 trillion bill.
HAYES: Yes, so, then on the other side, though, McKay, I am -- I am fascinated by the right right now and the way in which -- you know, canceling Dr. Seuss and Potato Head and whoever has become a kind of heat sync for rage that would otherwise be channeled in far more destructive direction.
It`s like, from my perspective, you know, they could be railing against the socialist stimulus all day or they could be railing as doctor -- like the people that want to -- it`s like, have at it with Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head. But what do you -- what do you make of that? What do you make of the detachment from politics we`ve seen here?
MCKAY COPPINS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think a few different things are happening in the Republican Party right now. One is that the Trump era left the Republican Party so kind of ideologically confused, that the only thing that unites conservatives anymore are these kinds of culture war grievance issues, right, these kind of made for cable news, made for Twitter skirmishes that don`t have really anything about the big debates about size of government and deficit spending. So, that`s one thing that`s happening.
The second thing that`s happening is just as you mentioned, the COVID Relief Bill is very popular. You know, people are hurting, the crisis is ongoing. I think Republican politicians in general understand that it would not be popular to kind of go out on a limb to try to attack it.
But the third is the thing that I think is most interesting, and I don`t want to make any predictions here, I just want to kind of keep an eye on it, which is that the kind of shift away from Paul Ryan-ism from this kind of small government deficit-obsessed austerity politics, I think a lot of people including myself thought that that might just be an aberration. That might -- that might have been something that only existed during the Trump era, right, because they wanted to let their president spend all the money he wanted to.
I`m starting to wonder if that shift might actually be more permanent than we think. And that`s something that I want to keep an eye on going forward.
HAYES: I think that`s a great point. And Heather, what do you want to say?
MCGHEE: Yes. I do think these two things are more connected than they seem, right. In my book The Some Of Us, I really make the link between the culture wars that are about racism, right, because that`s what the Dr. Seuss is. It`s about this question of a move away from white male dominance of American culture, politics, power, and the economy, signaling a threat for the zero-sum worldview that makes white voters reflexively become more conservative.
That`s the only play they`ve got left. And so it seems silly, but what they`re doing is saying they`re coming for you. They`re coming for your culture, right? And the they in this is Democrats, right, even though the Democrats had nothing to do with the Seuss estate`s desire to stop selling these books that have racist imagery in them.
But that`s not the point. The point is, they`ve got the power now and they`re coming for you and your way of life. And what they know is that reflectively makes white voters more conservative and more conservative on fiscal issues. So, I don`t think you`ve seen the last one of the fiscal scaremongering.
HAYES: I totally agree. But just to follow up on that. I mean, I thought of your book, too, because one of the things we`re seeing, right, is that they can`t get the blood up in their people about Joe Biden the way they could about Barack Obama. Like, we`re seeing that. And the question is, well, why? Why do you think that is? Why is it harder to get their blood up? Like, why do you have to go?
And I think, you know, I think the race has a lot to do with it. Like, I think we are seeing in some ways the fact that they are not attacking Joe Biden in the same way because it is not generating the level of visceral angst in their audience, McKay, that Barack -- everything Barack Obama did to their audience.
COPPINS: You know, one of my favorite details that came out of the reporting on CPAC this past week was from Dave Weigel at the Washington Post where he was interviewing one of the people who sold kind of this merch to conservative CPAC goers and said that all the Obama and Clinton stuff was still selling well, but the Biden stuff, they just couldn`t move.
HAYES: There you go.
COPPINS: They couldn`t get the anti-Biden T-shirts and pins to sell because I think, you know, my colleague Adam Serwer wrote last year at the Atlantic that the Republicans never really figured out how to make their message resonate when they were going up against a white man, right? And that was kind of -- that was Joe Biden`s superpower in a lot of ways, and for better or worse it worked. But I do think these broader issues that we`re talking about are still at play.
HAYES: There`s also, Heather, on this sort of core questions of political economy. And I totally agree about this sort of people getting reflectively worried that like, someone else is getting something I`m not. But it does strike me how -- to McKay`s point, Ron Johnson did a big thing about like, how if you stack up $1 trillion, how tall it is. There is this like respective -- reflects of austerity politics, but doesn`t seem to have the teeth, honestly, this time around. And you -- I think you see it in the polling. What do you -- what do you think about that?
MCGHEE: I think it`s a couple of things. One, for a long time now, white Republican voters have been more progressive on many economic issues, bread and butter economic issues, than the party that racial politics keeps forcing them to throw into power, right?
HAYES: Right. So, that`s a tangible cost of racism to white voters who would actually like a higher minimum wage, would like stronger unions, would like higher taxes on the wealthy. But when faced with the choice in their mind, the voting with their race or their class, they`ve chosen their race in every single election since the Civil Rights Movement. So, that`s one piece of it.
I think the other piece of it, though, is that it is very clear to the American people. Now, 50 years into the inequality era, black, white, and brown, that the formula is not working.
MCGHEE: And then broadly shared economic pain means that people want more for their government. Drained pool is no longer working for anybody.
HAYES: Yes. And I mean, people should read your book, which is excellent on this, but the degree to which -- McKay, you said this. The degree to which Republicans are right now wrong-footed on central questions of political economy is fascinating to me.
I mean, here, you have Marco Rubio speaks up not to attack the deficit, but to basically attack them for cutting the checks, right. Like, it`s not anywhere near rich and most American cities, and they need to free up some money in the fake COVID bill phasing out their $1,400 checks, non-COVID related pork is where Senate Democrats got the money, right? So like, your money is going somewhere else.
But the key here is like, the people watching Fox and the people voting for Marco Rubio are going to get the checks and want the checks. Like, that`s the core thing.
COPPINS: That was what I was found so interesting about that Marco Rubio tweet. Also, when you watch conservative, you know, TV conservative media these past couple weeks. The only Republican criticism that`s gaining traction on the right right now is the idea that this bill is a blue state bailout. Essentially that the money is being unfairly directed toward blue states, because they`re, you know, whatever. They have this whole argument that we can set aside.
But basically, what I find so interesting about it is that Republicans are basically saying we want that money. They`re not even saying this money shouldn`t be -- you know, a lot of -- we`re not saying that this money shouldn`t be spent. If this was 2010, that would be where the argument was. Instead, they`re saying, give money to our voters. Give them to our states.
HAYES: McKay Coppins at the Atlantic and Heather McGee who`s book The Some Of Us as a kind of Rosetta Stone for our political moment, and you should check it out, thank you both.
One of the biggest questions still unanswered about the January 6th attack is why it took so long for reinforcements to show up. Well, today, we heard damning new testimony from the chief of the D.C. National Guard in which he said he was blocked from sending troops in even as rioters were storming the Capitol and assaulting police officers. His testimony is next.
HAYES: Hearing is continued in the Senate today into the events surrounding the January 6th insurrection, and the stunning revelation of just how long it took to deploy National Guard troops to help secure the Capitol. According to the Major General William Walker, who`s the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, he first got an urgent request for help from Capitol Police at 1:49 p.m. That would have been while protesters were swarming the grounds but before the Capitol had been breached.
General Walker says he immediately notified the Army and have the Guard all ready to go, but, but, but the Army didn`t actually approve sending in the Guard until 5:08 p.m., over three hours later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM WALKER, COMMANDING GENERAL, D.C. NATIONAL GUARD: I thought the delay was unusual. And so, we were already in support of the Metropolitan Police Department. And when the Metropolitan Police Department left the traffic control points, what I wanted to do was take those guardsmen and move them to the Capitol immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Once the Guard finally got approval, it took them less than 20 minutes to reach the Capitol and to help push the mob out of the building. One of the senators who conducted that hearing today, Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada, joins me now.
Senator, do you feel like you have clarity now on the timeline and or the source of the delay?
SEN. JACKY ROSEN (D-NV): Well, I want to thank you for having me on today. And I will tell you, I do not feel like we have clarity. What I really feel that we have is a breakdown in communication and collaboration between so many agencies, FBI, DHS, of course, Metropolitan Police Department, our National Guard, and our Capitol Police.
We knew there were threats. This wasn`t the first time these groups have come to Washington. And there seemed to be maybe not a breakdown of information but a breakdown of how they communicated it to each other and how they let us know about the events. And we surely were not prepared. We can`t let this happen again. We have to do an investigation because lives were lost.
HAYES: One other thing. So, General Walker -- there`s two points of General Walker`s testimony that stood out to me. One is the delay that he says he got in moving the National Guard. The other was that he said that often it will be the case that in a planned demonstration in this sort of part of D.C., there will be a quick reaction force that will be ready to come in if there is civil unrest.
You don`t want to intimidate people expressing their first amendment rights, but you want to keep that quick reaction force there in case things go sideways. He says that was blocked ahead of -- he asked for such a force and that was blocked ahead of this protest on January 6th. Is that your understanding and do we understand why?
ROSEN: Well, I think that`s why they`re still doing the investigation because we have to understand exactly what happened, exactly the timeline, why and how, because this shouldn`t be political. I don`t want to go back and litigate what happened in the last administration. But we have to learn from it, and we have to plan and prepare for the future.
Like I said, lives were lost. There are lives forever changed here. The Capitol Police, they protect us, those men and women, every day. Some with permanent scars, physical scars, one lost an eye, others have all kinds of things that have happened to them. And of course, the scars you don`t see when they come back here suffering from the PTSD. They called for help and no one came. No one came.
The rest of us barricaded in our offices. The Vice President barricaded in an office. No one came. We can`t let this happen again.
HAYES: OK, but not letting it happen again is connected to finding out what happened.
HAYES: I mean, no one -- I guess the answer is, we don`t know the answer why no one came, right?
ROSEN: That`s correct.
HAYES: I mean, that is still not established, I guess, is what I`m hearing from you.
ROSEN: It`s not established. We`re going to continue to press them and press them until we get the complete timeline of events leading up to the sixth and on the sixth. And then when we have all of that, we can move forward, figuring out what we have to do to take care of problems that happened before and certainly never letting them repeat again.
HAYES: In terms of repeating again, there has been some reporting about threats and communication of threats from March 4th, which of course is tomorrow. And it`s always hard to know how seriously we should take these. Of course, there`s lots of chatter in lots of different places.
But that said, Capitol Police is now increasing security following the threat. It`s aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress and towards the Capitol Complex. We`ve obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4th. And in fact, the House sped up their voting processes evening to get out of that building. What do you make of all this?
ROSEN: Well, I can tell you that I`m glad we`re being proactive. And what we have to realize that there`s always chat around the internet, and the threat assessments must be complete. They must be robust and I`m glad that we are moving forward on this one. But with that being said, we also can`t live in fear.
So, we have to come to work tomorrow. I`m going to come to work. We have a COVID bill to pass. I have families in need of relief at home. We have vaccines to get out. I have schools to open. We have so many things, those direct stimulus payment. People call my office. They are in distress every day. I know people think of Nevada as the Las Vegas trip. But honestly, 99 percent of our businesses are small businesses supported by our tourism and hospital industry.
So, I`m going to come to work tomorrow. I feel safe that the Capitol Police, the National Guard are still here. They are taking this seriously. And I`m going to do the job that everybody sent me here to do to take care of the folks back at home who are hurting. And they need the relief till we get COVID through the rear view -- in the rearview mirror. We put that -- beginning to put that behind us and move forward.
HAYES: Particularly important for the economic engine of the state that you represent. Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada, thank you so much for making time tonight.
ROSEN: Thank you so much for having me.
HAYES: Coming up, what does it say about our health care system that has vaccination rates go up? It`s fallen to the military to help distribute and even administer the shots. We`ll talk about that next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weapons down, damn it. Put those down. Weapons down. Get those damn weapons down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was the moment in 2005 memorialized in the great Spike Lee documentary when Lieutenant General Russel Honore arrived in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And it felt like finally, someone was in charge and things were going to work out.
Now, almost 16 years later, I`m it`s the longest period of sustained war in our nation`s entire history, here we are once again calling on the military to execute the sort of mass mobilization effort needed to make things better. And that`s because in a way the Biden administration is treating the pandemic like a natural disaster.
After signing the executive order giving states money and operational support for National Guard deployments, there are now over 400 federally supported community vaccination centers across nearly 40 states and U.S. territories. The solution here is in some ways part of the problem. Meaning, why do we have to depend on American troops to put shots in arms?
Alex Pareene argues in a great piece of the New Republic, the military is state building in the U.S. after the nation gradually over a generation toppled its own government. And Alex Pareene, a staff writer at the New Republic joins me now.
Alex, I don`t know if you`ve heard from people who have gone through these centers, I have talked to a bunch of them, but they`re sort of in awe marveling at the kind of like logistical precision, and how great these centers are, that are run by active duty National Guard. It does seem to be working.
ALEX PAREENE, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Oh, absolutely. Yes, yes. And, you know, my piece is a critique of how we got to this point, and not a critique of how the military is doing its job. And I know, here in Brooklyn, New York, where I am at Medgar Evers College, which is a 20- minute walk for me, the National Guard is operating that site fantastically.
And I would compare it to the difficulty that we had. You know, there would be long slow lines to get Coronavirus tests early in the pandemic. And compared to that, I`m hearing nothing but rave reviews about how efficient things are going over here at Medgar Evers.
HAYES: Yes, and I`ve heard the same. But it sort of points to what you talked about in the piece which is like why is American state capacity in areas other than the military not that good, but is good in the military? What do you -- what do you chalk that up to?
PAREENE: I mean,we have never disinvested in the military. We have not -- there`s been no comparable disinvestment in the capacity of the military to carry out missions and operations of all kinds that there has been in all of these other elements of our government, right.
There was -- you know, the Reagan administration did not go after military spending. No administration really does. We have always believed -- the government especially has always believed that, well, we want the military to be capable of doing anything, so we need to spend a lot of money on it. And we haven`t applied that same thinking to our health care infrastructure, or our transportation, or all these other -- all these other things.
HAYES: In some ways. I mean, the first year the pandemic revealed, right, like how underprepared and underfunded the American public health infrastructure was because there were other countries -- I`m thinking of South Korea, particularly, that had a sort of public health system that was waiting to be mobilized for just this kind of outcome, and we just never really did.
PAREENE: Absolutely. And I make this point in the piece I wrote, but the National Guard is -- and I think active duty non-National Guard, active duty armed forces are now helping with vaccine efforts at vaccination sites elsewhere in the country.
There -- we are having a fairly good vaccination campaign thanks to the military. Other countries that are having great vaccination campaigns didn`t need the military to do it. They had the healthcare infrastructure to do it. Israel has been lauded for their vaccination effort for Israeli citizens. They had their health care system do it. The same thing is true in the U.K. which has outdone the rest of Europe. They had the national health system use it -- do it.
It`s really here in the U.S. where basically, Joe Biden came in and said, this is a big problem. What`s the arm of the government we have that can solve big problems? And he`s sort of -- you look at the laundry list, and it`s like, military, National Guard, Armed Forces, where else you going to look?
HAYES: There`s another aspect to this too, which is that, you know, we`ve got a weird thing between what the federal government can do and how it can spend money in times of distress and crisis, and what states can do. And we saw this during the last big crisis. And we may see it now, which is that states have to balance their budget by law. They tend to during periods of crisis disinvest in cut. They cut firefighters, they cut teachers, they cut public health workers and sanitation, all those things.
The federal government can borrow at essentially almost zero interest and run huge deficits. So, you sort of -- you rely on this federal capacity in these times of crisis because that`s the place that you can escape the logic of austerity politics.
PAREENE: Absolutely. And I think that you make a very important point about federal spending. I also think it`s -- I remember and I note this in the piece. I remember it and you might -- you probably do too. Months and months ago, when Andrew Cuomo was complaining about how dirty New York was getting, and he`d he said -- it seemed like a joke, but he said, I`ll send the National Guard in to clean up New York City. Like, they`re -- no one is picking up the trash, so I`ll send in the National Guard.
And I thought, well, if we can -- if we just had Department of Sanitation cuts here in the city, because of austerity -- like austerity hitting immediately when the Coronavirus hit these -- the tax revenue of New York City, why not? Because if you have an army at your disposal that is not -- that does not have to follow the same budgetary rules as the Department of Sanitation, then sure. It doesn`t really make sense, but have them pick up the trash.
But you`re absolutely right. And actually, it is the case too that there have been efforts to get a sort of emergency public health force in action. That was in the original Affordable Care Act, but Congress just didn`t really fund it correctly. So, there have been ideas along these lines, but it seems like an obvious -- especially after this past year, it seems like a no-brainer.
HAYES: Yes. I think one of the big lessons here is like we don`t think about broad-scale social mobilization as a thing to think about or plan for or have a, you know, a facility to do. But if this year has taught us anything, it`s just how important that is. It can change everything whether you have that.
Alex Pareene who wrote that great piece for the New Republic, thanks so much for making time.
PAREENE: Of course. Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, remember Ronny Jackson that was Trump`s former doctor turned now Texas Congressman? Well, there`s a scathing new report detailing what exactly he was doing while working in the White House and that`s next.
HAYES: The now-departed 45th President of the United States is not exactly a model of healthy living, a notorious fast food aficionado. Trump didn`t believe in exercise, according to a book from two Washington Post reporters because the human body was like a battery, the finite amount of energy which exercise only depleted, so he didn`t work out. I love that theory, by the way. I truly love it.
That is extremely not true, of course, for the record. Trump never released his full medical records in office and he was so eager to keep his medical history private that you might remember his former doctor, Harold Bornstein, who declared Donald Trump would be the healthiest president in the United States history, said later that Trump`s goons raided his office and took away his medical records.
When he got into office, we were all treated to the surreal proclamations of Trump`s first White House Doctor, Ronny Jackson, who in 2018 tried to have us believe that Trump was actually in just incredible health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: We get these 14, 16 hour days, and the staff has just spent after a while and you`re just like, man, when are we going to the hotel. And I`ll tell you, out of everybody there, the President had more stamina and more energy than just about anybody there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell me how a guy who eats McDonald`s, and fried chicken, and all those diet cokes, and who never exercises is in as good a shape as you say he`s in.
JACKSON: It`s called genetics. I don`t know. It`s -- some people have, you know, just great genes. You know, I told the president that if you had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old. I don`t know. I mean, he has incredible -- he has incredible genes, I just assume. I mean, you know, if I -- if I didn`t watch what I -- I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t have in the cardiac and overall health that he has.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, maybe his stamina comes to the fact he doesn`t deplete his natural energy battery by exercising. Ever thought of that? It`s not long after that suspiciously glowing assessment that Trump nominated Ronny Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson ultimately withdrew amid allegations he was abusive to staff, handed out prescription pain medications like candy, and wrecked government vehicle after getting drunk at a Secret Service going away party. Jackson denied those claims.
Ronnie Jackson then ran for Congress out of Texas tying himself tightly to Trump and winning a seat last year to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. But after Jackson`s failed VA nomination, the Pentagon inspector general initiated investigation into his conduct in the White House.
Today, that I.G. released that report and it`s just absolutely scathing, citing interviews with dozens of staff. The I.G. found that Jackson drank alcohol, made sexual comments to subordinates, and took the sedative Ambien while working as White House Physician.
The watchdog also found that Jackson mistreated subordinates and disparage, belittled, bullied, and humiliated them. Jackson says the report is false, part of the Democratic plot to tarnish him "because I have refused to turn my back on President Trump."
Now, Ronny Jackson was elected to Congress out of a very, very, very safe republican district. It`s the kind of district where candidates have an incentive to go as far right as possible to win the primary. There are reforms out there that could keep the Ronny Jacksons the world maybe out of office, and they are being voted on in the House tonight. That`s next.
HAYES: The American rescue plan, the $1.9 trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill passed the House last week with not a single Republican vote despite the fact Americans, as we keep saying, are overwhelmingly in favor of it. 77 percent say they support the relief package in recent polling.
So, you might think well, that spells political doom for Republicans. But they actually have a much easier route back to the majority then pursuing popular policies and winning over voters. Just for the state governments Republicans control, they can gerrymander themselves into power.
Here`s what I mean. NBC News Contributor Dave Wasserman, who is a massive gerrymandering nerd, posted some maps explaining the situation in Florida. So, example, this is the current map of congressional districts in the state. 16 are held by Republicans, 11 by Democrats, right.
Now, based on the census results, Florida is poised to gain two new safe Republican seats. But the Republican-controlled state legislature which draws a new lines could be far more aggressive than that. Likely, with the sport of the right-leaning state Supreme Court, they could attempt to redraw those districts, gerrymandering them to net themselves eight seats.
See that, costing Democrats nearly their entire majority in the House just from Florida. And there are multiple other states where they can do the same thing. In that case, why worry about Democratic accountability or being popular? So, what can be done about this?
Well, there is a piece of legislation that is expected to pass the House tonight, called the For The People Act. It would require states to create nonpartisan independent commissions to decide how to redraw district lines every 10 years, which is why it`s one of the most urgent pieces of legislation in recent memory to essentially prevent Republicans from bootstrapping their way to minority rule.
Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California joins me now. Congressman, I believe this vote is going to happen tonight. I hear a lot of Democratic politicians talking about this in extremely urgent tones. Why?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I share that sense of urgency because if we don`t address this effort to disenfranchise people by the enactment of various laws at the state level, and now there are over 150 new proposals by Republican legislators to cut people off, particularly people of color, and you combine that with gerrymandered maps, you`re looking at potentially another 10 years of Republican rule until demographics catch up with the gerrymander.
That has been a pattern we`ve seen before where after the gerrymander, Republicans seize control and prove their control, and it takes years for demographic changes to overcome that, or you need a waiver election to overcome that.
So, Chris, this is a break the glass moment. We need to do everything we can to get this past to re-enfranchise people, but also to do away with politicians essentially choosing their voters instead of the other way around.
HAYES: Yes. We should say that gerrymandering is a very old practice that we have and always had the level of ruthless partisan polarization that we have now, so it changes it, nor have we had the sophistication with computers to be able to like as finely grained do the whole thing. So, it`s not a sort of another level now.
I wonder -- I made a causal argument in the intro, right, that being able to gerrymander yourself in the majority takes away an incentive to respond to the median voter on something like the COVID package. As someone who works in that body in the House, does that scan to you?
SCHIFF: Oh, absolutely. There`s no question about it. I think this has been, you know, Mitch McConnell strategy really, for the last two decades, which is, the Republican Party is increasingly a minority party reflecting a smaller slice of America. So, their only hope of maintaining power is to disenfranchise people or draw the lines in such a craven way that it doesn`t allow for competition.
They don`t have to change their policies. They could have -- continue to have backward regressive policies. They don`t have to appeal to what their constituents want, as long as they can essentially prohibit people from voting who won`t vote for them, and redraw districts or draw them such that one party really can`t compete there. And this is exactly what they`re trying to do.
HAYES: I mean, the irony here, just to slightly push back on that, right, is that we just had the highest turnout election in American history. We saw states across the political spectrum due to COVID expanding access to voting. We had more votes cast than ever. And The republicans did just fine in the House. It`s not like it was some death nail. They picked up a bunch of seats.
I think they actually overstate. They`re more worried of the voters and they almost need to be in a weird way.
SCHIFF: Well, I`m not sure that that`s right. I understand the point that you`re making. But you know, they lost the Senate, they lost the presidential election. And look, we overcame those hurdles. It`s not because they didn`t try. They have been enacting voter restriction, you know, new voter ID laws. They have been doing away with polling places and urban centers, etcetera, a whole range of things. We overcame it.
And now, they`re responding to the wins in places like Georgia the whole new raft of efforts to deter people from voting, make it harder for people to vote. So, you know, they clearly feel that we overcame what they`ve done, so they`re going to have to double down on those restrictive, regressive, backward-looking policies.
HAYES: So, here`s the problem with all of these conversations. They always end up in the same terminus annoyingly, and it`s a procedural one. There`s 50 -- you know, there`s a 51-50 majority in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris presiding. This bill, which has nothing to do with the budget, it`s not going to move and reconciliation, would require getting rid of the filibuster, because there absolutely will not be 10 Republican votes. You and I both know that. So, then what?
SCHIFF: Well, look, I would hope that we can make the case that if it`s going to be, you know, one or two bills a year where they will not permit a filibuster because it would be so disabling the country, then they would make an exception for those that are holding out against doing away with a filibuster.
But if not, then we find -- need to find another way to use the leverage that we have with the majority of both houses and with the Oval Office to make sure this gets done such that what -- you know, things the other party wants, they`re going to need to put an end to this kind of gerrymandering and this kind of disenfranchisement.
Use the leverage that we have. Use the power that we have to protect our democracy, because at the end of the day, voting is the foundational right. It`s the right on which everything else hinges. Our democracy took a heck of a body blow over the last four years, but not just because of Donald Trump, also, because of these efforts to systematically disenfranchised people and make it impossible for them to vote.
HAYES: When I talk to Democratic members of Congress, particularly the House, there`s a sense a lot of them have, a lot of you have that there`s this just narrow window. Like, the way that partisan polarization are functioning and this kind of anti-democratic trends of a Republican Party that`s radicalizing democracy -- against democracy and the institutions of the Constitution, that give them an advantage, even if they`re getting 45 percent of the vote. Meaning that you`ve got this, like two years to kind of like, save American democracy. Do you think of it in that way?
SCHIFF: Well, I do think of it that way right now, because if we don`t address this gerrymander problem, then two years from now, we will be dealing with gerrymandered districts for the next decade. They could very well seal in Republican rule for a decade, minority Republican rule with policies non-reflective of the country, unpopular with the country, if they`re allowed to get away with it.
So, I do feel we -- and it`s not even a two-year window. It`s a one year window. It`s got to get done in time for these new lines to be drawn, these new rules to go into effect for that midterm -- for that next election, the Midterm Election.
HAYES: Yes. I wonder how much there`s unity of purpose among Democrats across the ideological spectrum on that. What would you say?
SCHIFF: Oh, I would say it`s 100 percent, very strong support. It`s why it`s really our first bill, H.R.1 because it is so foundational. You know, it`s not the end of the story. And in fact, I have a package of democracy reforms that address other abuses we saw in the last four years. But there is an enormously strong support for ending the gerrymander, ending these efforts of voter suppression.
HAYES: Congressman Adam Schiff of California, thank you so much for joining us tonight. That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. I`m on time for once.
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