Congress passes President Biden`s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. New audio of President Trump speaking to a Georgia election official is revealed. How does President Biden compare on labor to other recent presidents? Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro discusses the expansion of the child tax credit.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now, though.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. We will be watching in two hours. And I know how dear to your heart that reporting is. So, thank you, as always.
WALLACE: Thank you, my friend.
MELBER: Thank you.
On THE BEAT tonight, we are picking up partly where Nicolle has left off, with Democrats eying recent history and responding with their own historic moment, a policy breakthrough and a political victory now, just 50 days into the Biden presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This is a momentous day in the history of our country. We are honoring a promise made by our president, as we join with him in promising that help is on the way.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): This is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation we have passed in decades. And you know what we can show America? That we can get things done to make their lives better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is what it looks like. Three Democrats basically run the levers of government in Washington now, the congressional leaders, as you heard there, and President Biden.
And on this, they`re united, on the import of landmark legislation to fund COVID testing, vaccines, and health care, while trying to juice the economy and fortify school budgets around the nation.
They have bipartisan wind at their back. Fully 75 percent of Americans and 59 percent of Republican voters back this Biden/Schumer/Pelosi project. In other words, millions of Trump supporters now back President Biden`s first big priority in office, while their own elected leaders seem out of step.
Not a single Republican elected official voted for the bill today in the House. The president, meanwhile, slated to sign this by Friday after tomorrow`s speech that will mark an unusual anniversary for this unusual time. It`s what Nicolle and I were touching on briefly.
The president will call on everyone to reflect, what were you doing in your daily life as this virus crept into America? Taking its first official life in Washington state, drawing at the time a rare address by then President Trump responding to a crisis, and he reached for his first instinct in policy, pushing another travel ban.
That was a year ago. Now, most people didn`t know what would come next, whether we were living through some kind of initial overreaction or underreaction.
The clues came fast from the people who specialize in this stuff, scientific experts warning that pandemics hit hard and take a long time to combat, while financial experts, who do focus on the future and a whole bunch of different kinds of data, they started pricing in a huge disruption to daily life in the economy, which drove headlines about a year ago, like this, "Markets Spiral as Globe Shudders Over Virus," in "The Times."
And "The Washington Post" reporting on a nation girding for more suffering. Soon, all 50 states are declaring emergencies and everyone could see we were entering uncharted territory.
A year later, how are we doing? Well, we all know it`s been hard, but the nation has a different president. We have a new set of COVID policies at the federal level, and now, as I`m reporting to you, a massive bill to tackle some of the things left undone by the last president.
And even though we have all lived through it -- I`m sure you have, I`m sure you have talked to your friends and family about it many times -- it does help to see a little bit of how it felt in real time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC HOST: A hundred and thirty cases of coronavirus in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A dramatic new reality now sweeping the nation.
WALLACE: An American staple, March Madness, has been canceled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Closing down bars, cafe, restaurants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hair salons, nail salons, limiting the number of people that are able to go into supermarkets.
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Health officials warn the spread of the virus in the United States will get worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The World Health Organization is now calling it a pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`re joined now by "The Washington Post"`s Jonathan Capehart host of the Sunday show, BBC Washington anchor Katty Kay, and Joan Walsh from "The Nation."
Good evening to all of you.
Joan, your reflections on how we got from there to changing of policy in a week.
JOAN WALSH, "THE NATION": Well, it was a horrible year in a lot of way, Ari. It was not easy.
We had terrible leadership for a long time. I think one of the good things, one of the only good things, it wasn`t something that the president himself did, but Congress passed early on in the pandemic a $2 trillion relief bill, which had lots of Republican support, unlike this one. And that bill actually kept 13 million people out of poverty.
And then it went away. The unemployment benefits went away. And I think people saw, yes, government can really make a difference. This is not as terrible. People dying is awful. The response, the health response, was awful, the lack of PPE also awful.
But, economically, help came, and people saw that it made a difference. And when it receded and they couldn`t pass another bill, they also saw that that made a difference. And so I think it`s just astonishing. I have to say Joe Biden was not my number one pick in the Democratic primary, but what he`s accomplished in these last 50 days is really extraordinary in terms of ramping up vaccines, but also in terms of this relief bill, but also just in terms of imparting a sense of calm and a sense of competence to people.
And I don`t know. I think we can see, even if the bill didn`t get Republican support, it`s got Republican support out there. And it will be very interesting to see how polling turns out, because I think this is going to be very help to feel the economy and helpful to American families.
KATTY KAY, BBC NEWS: Yes. Well, thank you for showing those clips, Ari, because I think after the year we have had, we have all sort of forgotten what it was like at the beginning.
I remember reporting on China and this strange virus, and they were shutting down cities and thinking, well, that`s never going to happen in America. That`s just impossible. People would never accept it. And a couple of months later, we were shutting down cities and people were accepting it.
I think it`s good for us to remember what it was like and what it felt like, because we have all slightly become kind of normalized. You know, the Republicans on Capitol Hill are not representing their voters, quite clearly. They are putting party first, not their voters first.
I guess they`re banking on the hope that they can have a midterm upset in the way they did during the Clinton administration and the Obama administration and blame the Democrats again for big government spending. But this crisis that we have lived through over the last year, the economic crisis, the human cost crisis, I think is what is playing into the numbers that we`re seeing in terms of public support for this stimulus bill.
People want something to be done and they want government to do it. They don`t like government a lot of the time, Americans, but in the time of this crisis, they seem to want government to help them.
MELBER: Yes, and you put your finger exactly on what I also wanted to get into with Jonathan Capehart, who has a keen eye on the shifting alliances in Washington.
There is a contrast here between the support for the Biden bill among, as mentioned, most Republican voters and the zero votes for it today from Republican members of Congress. The elected leaders are digging into this divergence with their own base and they`re finding some fanciful ways to attack the COVID bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn`t relief. This is because you guys won the majority.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has nothing to do with COVID. This is a failed socialist approach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an absolute ram job by the Democrats of a menu of liberal priorities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most left-wing bill ever passed by the Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, there certainly are liberal ideas in this bill.
Democrats punching back, though, by emphasizing, as our guests just said, as a matter of fact, those are pretty popular ideas right now, because they seem to address real problems, while Democrats say Republicans are dealing with distractions and literally children`s stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): In the late `70s, a CEO made 35 times the worker. Today, it`s 300 to 400 times the worker. And our friends on the other side running around with their hair on fire.
We talk about pensions, you complain. We talk about the minimum wage increase, you complain. But if we were passing a tax cut here, you would be all getting in line to vote yes for it.
Now, stop talking about Dr. Seuss and start working with us on behalf of the American workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, what more is there to say? Congressman Ryan really hit it out of the park with that one-minute speech on the House floor.
And I think we`re going see -- I think it was Katty who was talking about the fact the disconnect, really, or the chasm between the Republicans who were elected to come to Washington and the people who sent them here.
The idea that 60 percent of Republicans support this $1.9 trillion bill, which is now going to be law, and no one voted for it is astounding. And I don`t see how, when those Republicans go back home to their districts after the publicity blitz and victory lap the administration is going to do, but certainly when it comes time for reelection, how are they going to explain that to their constituents?
And then we have to look forward. What`s going to be their response to the minimum wage debate that`s coming, infrastructure debate that`s coming where that`s going to require more conversations about money and fiscal responsibility? But it`s also going to mean jobs and helping the American people.
And people in their districts, who, despite this massive bill that`s been passed, there are more priorities and there are more needs that need to be met.
MELBER: And, Joan, while Jonathan was speaking and while we were coming out of the Congressman Ryan bite, we have all discussed some of the seriousness at hand, you seemed to have a big grin. So, share with us what you were smiling about.
WALSH: You know, I was thinking about something Katty said also about the fact that Republicans are counting on a notion that Democrats overreached, overspent to have a good midterm election like they did in 2010.
But, really, I think we have to realize that a lot of the reason that Democrats did so poorly in 2010 was that they underspent, to be honest, especially on the stimulus.
President Obama was committed to getting Republican votes. He was committed to keeping it under a trillion dollars. He got three votes in the Senate. And, ultimately, American people did not feel the relief in their pockets. Unemployment stayed high. And so I think that it`s possible that Democrats will pay for this.
It`s also possible that they will do very well if people really feel the kind of relief we expect that they will feel. And, also, I have to say, you have -- you have probably all seen it -- but Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi just led what I think is going to be a charge of Republicans essentially taking credit for the bill that they didn`t vote for.
He bragged about the money it would bring to Mississippi restaurants. It`s just craven, but it`s a good sign, in a sense, because it means he knows this is a winning issue, and he is on the losing side of it.
MELBER: Right. As you say, it`s a revealing duplicity if something is already looking so popular that, while you have your reasons for whatever, Republican primary or your own selfish reasons for being against it, then you want to go back and tell the broader electorate why it`s working.
Katty, I wanted your response to some of the other actions, because there is so much going on. President Biden also basically saying today that he thinks he can go zero to 100 real quick, announcing a deal for 100 million more vaccines. He`s also pressing ahead on completing his Cabinet.
I`m going to mention, I think, Merrick Garland was a big name here, now attorney general, as well as Congresswoman Marcia Fudge to run Housing and Urban Development. She`s the first black woman to lead the agency in over 40 years.
KAY: Yes, I think that 100 million vaccines is really what people are going to focus on. The Cabinet nominations -- confirmations are going to happen.
But what the priority for the White House is and the reason the White House feels it`s almost on a war footing -- and they have got Jeff Zients working around the clock on this, was so successful on the Obamacare, fixing the Obamacare glitches -- is to get those vaccines into American arms.
It`s the production, but it also the distribution, which, frankly, has been glitchy in some cases. It hasn`t gone as smoothly as people might have wanted in some states. So, if they can get the vaccines to people, and if people can then get their $1,400 check as well, that`s a huge amount of leverage that the Biden administration gets within the first three months of his administration, right?
And he can use that then to look at some of the other issues that he wants to do on voting reform, on police reform, on infrastructure, for example. He`s building up a big bank of political capital right now.
And one group that he is building it up with are working-class voters who voted for the Republican Party. If you look into the polling on this stimulus bill, the one group that should be a big red flash warning sign for the Republican Party here in Washington is that 63 percent of low- income Republican voters like this stimulus bill.
They`re going like it even more as well when they get the vaccines too. But this is big wins for Biden and the Democrats.
CAPEHART: Right, big wins also because you get the $1,400 stimulus check. You have the vaccine, which then makes it possible for localities and states and businesses to open legitimately, without striking fear into lots of people not wondering -- or wondering whether this is the right move.
All of these things build on top of one another so that we can possibly get back to almost where we were one year ago today, before the lockdowns, before our realities changed, before we could no longer see our loved ones, could no longer go into work, or, if you did have to go into work during all of this, doing so while putting your life at risk.
All of these things make it possible for us to go back to a time when we could do all of those things and not feel like we were risking it all just to put food on our tables.
All important points. I want to think Jonathan Capehart and Katty Kay for kicking us off.
Joan, I want you to stay with us because we`re getting some breaking news that we`re going get into.
Coming up in 30 seconds, there is this newly released audio we`re hearing about on Donald Trump`s attempt to overturn the election, but it`s part of that ongoing criminal probe in Georgia.
Going to have Joan stay with us on the breaking news and former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance with more context -- when we`re back in 30.
MELBER: We have breaking news.
There is new evidence against Donald Trump involved in the criminal probe ongoing in Georgia. "The Wall Street Journal" has the scoop. There is new audio that shows Donald Trump pressuring Georgia`s lead investigator to try to find what would help him win, what he thought would be fraud in mail-in ballots.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I won Georgia, I know that, by a lot. And the people know it. And something happened there. I mean, something bad happened.
When the right answer comes out, you will be praised.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: "You will be praised."
This investigator was telling then President Trump that they would look for the truth. That`s something that others probing now citizen Trump are also interested in.
The Fulton County DA has been investigating the earlier leaks you may recall, the evidence from a different phone call about Trump trying to get Georgia officials in this same related plot to overturn the results. There is now a racketeering expert and plans to convene a grand jury.
As promised, we turn now to one of our experts who has dealt with exactly these kind of federal probes, former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance. And we have asked Joan Walsh to stick with us, giving the breaking story.
Joyce, many viewers will remember the other big incriminating phone call. This is a different and distinct one. What is your view of it as evidence?
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this helps bring into focus the reporting we have had, Ari, that the DA in Fulton County may be looking at racketeering charges.
And racketeering basically involves a course of similar events, criminal events. In this case, it would be some kind of criminal solicitation. So we know about the one tape with Trump we have already heard with Georgia`s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.
Here now we have a second one engaging in that same kind of conduct. It really gives substance to the reporting about what the DA is looking into.
MELBER: You say substance, Joyce. And that`s what I`m wondering about, because whether people are inclined to give this particular politician the benefit of the doubt, there are plenty of politicians who talk tough and fight to the end, and sometimes the lawful end comes after Election Day.
So, a comment in an interview or a comment in public might be dismissed as not enough to go on legally. It seems like what we`re hearing -- and, again, we don`t know what else hasn`t leaked -- is organized, repeated, secret, furtive effort to shake down these officials, not for public consumption, not tough "political talk" -- quote, unquote -- but it sounds like plotting.
Does it sound that way to you?
VANCE: You know, I think that`s right. And when I say substance, I mean substance to the reporting that there is an instigation into racketeering.
Of course, you can never prejudge what the evidence will look like at the end of an investigation, but the reality here is that there are these repeated efforts by the former president.
I suspect the defense will be that he really believed that he had won. He really believed that there was fraud, and the problem he faces as these incidents, which seem to have been fortuitously taped, as they mount up and as prosecutors have the opportunity to compare them to the way he conducted other of the matters, some of which are very sketchy that are the subject of civil litigation over fraud.
So, they compared the way he operated, where he pressured people to find fraud, where he actually knew there wasn`t any, that`s how prosecutors will look to make that case on what the president`s actual state of mind was.
MELBER: I appreciate that legal precision.
I`m going turn to Joan for some plain political English.
Joan, you have probably seen "Seinfeld" once or twice.
MELBER: Joyce is referring to the famous Costanza defense that, if you believe it, it isn`t a lie.
MELBER: And that can help defendant Trump.
WALSH: Up to a point.
MELBER: But if you start getting up to -- yes, if you start getting into real plotting...
MELBER: No, not that I know of. But Joyce may.
But if you start getting into plotting, if you say, well, you have a mobster who goes in to shake down money from a local store, and they really believe they`re owed that money, and they really say they have always been paid that money, that doesn`t get you that far with prosecutors or a jury if it`s the actual fruits of a crime that you seek.
And I`m curious what you think here about the mounting evidence, combined with the public record, that Donald Trump wanted to commit election crimes to stay in power?
WALSH: Well, and there is a third piece of evidence that is that he got rid of the Atlanta U.S. attorney because he didn`t think that he was being sufficiently interested in rooting out this evidence of fraud.
So, I`m not sure that`s exactly in the same basket. I defer to Joyce on questions like that, but I just do remember that that was another thing we knew he did.
The other thing that it sounds like, in addition to the Costanza defense, of course, is it sounds so much like what we read -- we didn`t get to hear it, but what we read in the Mueller report, where he is leaning on Don McGahn, and he is leaning on other people to get them the change their stories, change their minds, do something illegal, quite frankly.
And he claimed that was exonerating. It was not. We all know that. He didn`t get punished the way he probably should have for it. But this is another look at -- this does not sound unfamiliar. You don`t listen to that and say, oh, he would never do something like that or this is just he was extremely agitated.
No. It sounds just like him and he got away with it lots of other times.
MELBER: Yes, it does look damning.
I want to also get Joyce`s view on this New York case.
But anything else on Georgia before we turn, Joyce?
VANCE: Well, I think it`s important to note that what Joan is saying is actually what the federal rules of evidence let prosecutors do. And so they can bring in evidence of all of this earlier course of conduct, Mueller investigation and others, whether he is actually charged with that in Georgia, to prove that it`s a common way that he operates, so it wasn`t just that he had a vigorous belief on this one occasion. It will make the Georgia case potentially a lot stronger.
MELBER: Yes, and it goes to the plotting.
My point on this -- we`re going keep reporting out this story amidst many other things. But any politician, a senator, a House member, a local mayor who was openly caught repeatedly trying to cheat this way to hold onto power, it would be a big story and investigation. They wouldn`t even be the former president.
The fact that it`s the former president, under the rule of law, doesn`t give them any extra deference at this point, even though many Americans are unaccustomed or even somewhat emotionally uncomfortable with the idea of holding a former president accountable.
Everyone`s got to just follow the facts and stay patient, but vigilant.
So, we`re going keep our eye on Georgia, but it`s not just Georgia. Citizen Trump has legal trouble now in New York, the Manhattan DA expanding his probe into Trump`s business practice.
They have got eight years of tax returns after winning the Supreme Court clash, now subpoenaing documents for an investment company that loaned the Trump Organization millions for a Chicago skyscraper.
Meanwhile, Trump`s former fixer Michael Cohen agreeing to a seventh interview today, feds probing Donald Trump`s Seven Springs estate. Now, Cohen had said, he had alleged that Trump manipulated property values.
Investigators are issuing these new subpoenas looking for recordings of local government meetings. It`s all part of New York attorney general also has a probe related to this. Her investigations have interviewed Eric Trump, questioning him in his role as an officer with the Trump Organization and as president of an LLC which owns that little known property Seven Springs.
Joyce, what can we make over these developments, which seem to be pulling on the thread -- the Mueller probe was just mentioned -- where Trump got away with much there? And yet some of the things that Mueller specifically said were out of his purview might have still been potential infractions?
VANCE: You will remember, Ari, that Trump always said that the red line prosecutors couldn`t cross, that Mueller could cross was into his personal finances.
And so it`s interesting that that`s where Cy Vance has ended up. You know, I know it`s very frustrating to people to watch -- who aren`t involved in the criminal justice system to watch how slowly it moves. But in some ways, this seems very quickly -- moving a quickly paced investigation, given all of the appeals that Vance has had to deal with.
VANCE: This investigation is starting to look like an alligator that is swimming in a canal. You don`t know how big it is or how sharp its teeth are until it takes itself out of the canal to sun itself on the bank.
But this investigation increasingly looks like it has a lot of different moving pieces, and they are focused on very specific incidents, probably because they have got Michael Cohen narrating the story for them.
MELBER: Well, and, Joyce, you just made such an important point that I think is worth underscoring, which is if people watching are thinking, gosh, is this all happening post-election, is there any suspicion to that, the reason it took this long was Donald Trump taking to it the Supreme Court more than once.
Most people, if you`re on the other end of a New York DA probe, you don`t get Supreme Court review of your criticism of whether they should look at your records. We have a system that does allow for that in the unique case of the president, but the timeline was dragged out, if anything, by Donald Trump, as you say, running from the proverbial alligator in the sun.
Joyce and Joan, thanks for your analysis tonight.
WALSH: Thank you.
MELBER: Appreciate you guys.
Coming up, there is a different historic bill that just passed, and it relates to your labor rights. Michael Beschloss is here.
Later, decades in the making, now a reality -- why experts call it a revolution in trying to end child poverty in America.
Our special report with a pioneer on the issue later tonight. .
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: The middle class is the backbone of our democracy. And the middle class in America has a union label on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Speaker Pelosi discussing the passage of a major bill backing unions by protecting them from corporate crackdowns and trying to empower workers to organize themselves, a move that comes at a very pivotal time for organizing in America.
President Biden explicitly backing these kind of union efforts, which are often opposed by powerful Wall Street groups and CEOs and at a time when workers at Amazon.com are trying to unionize in Alabama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Workers in Alabama and all across America are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. This is vitally important, a vitally important choice.
There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. Make your voice heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, that may sound like a pretty reasonable baseline or standard rhetoric, but it actually goes farther than many presidents on these issues, which do pit powerful owners against sometimes their own workers.
Many seeing Biden now as the most pro labor chief executive in decades, besting other Democratic presidents, while the effort to unionize at the Amazon plant in Alabama is a key test case, because Amazon may set standards well beyond its own factories and its own shipping centers.
It has the money, after a banner year with pandemic and people at home, where Amazon raked in, wait for it, I should say 30 -- I should say, $386 billion, $386 billion. Now, in their own words, workers say all of this is about more than getting a decent wage or a benefit, though that`s important.
It`s also about pooling their own labor for power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER BATES, AMAZON EMPLOYEE: It would change my life for the better because now I understand that I have security. I have someone with a lot of voice to amplify my voice. I understand that I have a voice, but sometimes our voices are not heard.
With a union, I know that I have job security, where the company can`t fire me for just a mundane thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is really important stuff.
And the battle comes as unions have taken a lot of hits, frankly. They receded in Democratic Party politics and really American life, membership dropping from once one out of three people back in the `50s down to a paltry 6 percent in 2019.
It`s a loss of power and visibility that`s a shift from the past, when unions could even legitimately rally consumer support for products in TV ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHORUS (singing): Thanks to the ILG, we`re paying our way, so always look for the union label. It says we`re able to make it in the USA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: "Look for the union label.
But, nowadays, we often see a culture where tech leaders are touted far more than the workers who still fuel and build their empires. The Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos made $75 billion last year. He`s now worth $188 billion.
It`s a fortune that he is partially putting towards popular initiatives, from "The Washington Post" journalism -- we rely on that all the time and quote them and have their reporters on -- to his own new announced charity work.
But let`s be clear. This union push strikes at something much deeper, whether a fair system would better support those workers for their labor, for their work, for what they have earned, rather than tapping them to fund a fortune so big, it gets given away years later, sometimes for programs that are supposed to benefit the working poor at companies like Amazon and Walmart and other corporations in the first place.
Joining us now to get into all of this is presidential historian Michael Beschloss.
Good to see you, sir.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Same to you.
MELBER: How does President Biden compare -- great to have you. How does he compare on labor to other recent presidents, and specifically Democratic presidents?
BESCHLOSS: I think we`re seeing a resurgence of the romance between a Democratic White House and labor unions in this country, which really, Ari, was foreshadowed in 1935.
That was sort of the high watermark. Franklin Roosevelt had been president for three years. He passed the National Labor Relations Act, which gave all sorts of federal sanctions to collective bargaining with labor unions and curbs on corporate power.
The next year, he ran for president again as an enemy of Wall Street, as an enemy of excessive corporate power. In Madison Square Garden, Roosevelt said: "The forces of greed and selfishness are unanimous in their hatred for me, and I welcome their hatred."
That was the opposite of recent times, when Democrats had been a little bit more tepid in their support for labor unions than we have heard Joe Biden about this week.
And how do you see relating to the culture, where everyone who`s lived through the pandemic, as rough has it`s been -- and it`s been a theme in our coverage tonight -- can see the great value of certain businesses, whether it`s health care companies who fast-tracked creating a vaccine, or digital companies that safely deliver things that otherwise we wouldn`t have?
I don`t think many people are saying, gosh, I would be better to be in the `50s with no deliver of this kind. Have said that, we just walked through the balance. It seems quite, quite extreme.
BESCHLOSS: It is. That`s what labor unions were always sworn to oppose, which is the idea -- in 1935, you wouldn`t have dreamt to see a corporation with the president or the CEO, as we now call them, with a salary that is multiples of 300 or 400 times the average salary of someone who`s working, for instance, in the foundry.
That is something that labor unions protected the workers against. In recent times, Ronald Reagan in the 1980s was basically an enemy of labor unions, although he often noted the fact that he had been president of the Screen Actors Guild. A lot of the prosperity, so-called, of the 1980s had to do with reducing the power of labor.
In the 1990s, the Democratic Party to some extent became addicted to raising money from heads of large corporations and from Wall Street. It was not the kind of friendliness toward labor that you saw under John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson or with nominees like Walter Mondale or George McGovern.
Oddly enough, Joe Biden comes out of those halcyon days for labor and the Democratic Party, first elected to the Senate 1972. That is one of these moments when labor unions and the Democratic Party were very close.
MELBER: Yes. It`s fascinating.
Final question, 30-second fact-check on history. We hear a lot of people say this COVID bill is one of the most sweeping pieces of liberal legislation in a generation. As a historian, whether people think that`s good or bad, is that true, or not?
BESCHLOSS: Oh, I think no question.
Whatever happens ,50 years from now, our grandchildren will be looking back on this day and saying that Joe Biden did something very big to try to fight this awful pandemic, and also relieve widespread suffering. They will also know how well the bill succeeded.
MELBER: All such interesting perspective.
Michael Beschloss, we always learn from you. Thanks for being here.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you. Me too, Ari.
We got a lot more tonight, including Donald Trump busted for mailing it in, literally. We will explain.
But, first, some calling it a policy revolution. I am so excited to get into this. I mentioned it earlier in the hour -- why a leader on actually ending child poverty in America is winning and should be heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT): I`m talking about extending the child tax credit to the families that need it most.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Progressive Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has been leading the fight for a sweeping program to cut child poverty and half.
And for much of the time, the D.C. conventional wisdom was, well, that kind of liberal spending may sound nice, but it`ll never happen. And that conventional wisdom was wrong.
The news tonight is that DeLauro`s money for families with children is a sweeping part of this Biden bill, $3,600 per children for families. Some experts see the makings of a policy revolution if it does become a permanent part of the United States government structure.
Now, this is not the type of approach that Senator Biden initially pushed in the beginning of his career in the Senate, but his advisers clearly say they welcome all workable ideas from across the Democratic coalition now that he is president.
The top adviser noting that DeLauro leaned on the White House with an emphatic and relentless push to do this now. It builds on an effort that she has been making for over 15 years -- we checked -- challenging Republican attacks on social spending and her own party`s leaders who sometimes were declaring the era of big government as over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELAURO: I`m talking about extending the child tax credit to the families that need it most.
By expanding the child tax credit, we can finally make a direct and a critical impact for all families with children.
Failing to extend the child tax credit expansion for lower-income families means 12 million Americans will be plunged deeper in poverty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Year after year after year.
At a time when there is so much criticism and public attention on people doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons, it is worth noting someone who led this fight for children, for the right reasons, regardless of the politics.
To paraphrase the artist J. Cole, this policy push wasn`t for clout, it wasn`t for fame, it wasn`t because her campaign wasn`t selling the same. It was for the children. And now it`s becoming law.
And now we turn to a special guest. Joining us is Democratic Congresswoman from Connecticut Rosa DeLauro.
Thanks for being here.
DELAURO: Oh, thank you so much, Ari. Thank you. You brought back a lot of memories with those clips. You really did. So...
MELBER: Well, you were at it on the House -- yes, you were on the House floor. You were doing this when people weren`t paying attention. Some of those clips are only on C-SPAN. They didn`t get wider attention at some of those intervals, but you kept pushing.
Why is this such a passion for you, and how do you feel about it being in President Biden`s package?
DELAURO: First of all, I`m so grateful to the president. He has gone big. And he says to the American public, help is on the way. It is on the way. And it`s so much needed.
But for me personally, it`s an odyssey. Growing up in a very -- in a blue- collar family, Ari, where my dad was an insurance salesman, my mother was the ILGWU. My mother was a garment worker, worked in the old sweatshops.
They fell on hard times, and I can recall as a child when we came home one Friday evening with all our furniture on the sidewalk. We had been evicted, and we wound up living with my grandmother for a while, until we could get -- my family could get back on its feet.
So I grew up in a household where there was a struggle financially. And when you think about the kinds of help and support that you can give to a family who are hardworking, who care about what their children`s lives are going to be about and what that future is, that this is the right legislation at the right time.
Do I wish we were able to do it years ago? Yes. But the moment has found us. And it is really transformational. And for me, it is like -- it`s the New Deal. It`s FDR when he said Social Security. We lift 90 percent of seniors out of poverty.
We are going to lift millions of children and their families out of poverty with the stroke of the pen when this president -- and I thank him for it -- is going to sign it. And it`s going to be sometime this week. So, for me, it`s historic.
And it`s so fulfilling because it is about children, and it is about their future, and it is about the environment that we create for them ,so that they can succeed. And it`s just a lifeline.
It`s a lifeline to kids and to their families.
MELBER: Yes. It matters a ton, which is why we wanted to make sure to dig into it. It`s a huge deal. It affects people`s lives.
You said graciously that you thank the Biden administration. Well, as a matter of new historical fact, the Biden administration is also thanking you. Ron Klain, who many viewers may remember from being in the public eye as a Democrat, who is the number one official, chief of staff, says "America owes a huge debt of gratitude" to you "for your passion, tireless, relentless advocacy for this position."
What does it say to you and other progressives who do want to push this administration they seem open to being pushed, but on student debt and other issues, these aren`t done deals? What does it teach the coalition, if you will?
DELAURO: Well, look, while, at the outset, when the first rescue package was going to be unveiled, and the child tax credit was not in it.
So I picked up the phone. I talked to Ron Klain. I talked to others in the president`s inner circle. And I found a willing partner. It wasn`t -- your comment, they were open, very, very open.
And within about 24 hours, they came back and said, it`s in. We are going to put the child tax credit in. I had the opportunity to be in the Oval Office with the House leadership and with the chairs of our committees and the president and vice president and had another opportunity to talk with him.
And the president and the vice president were sitting under the portrait of Franklin Roosevelt. So it clicked in my head that what a great contrast here.
DELAURO: We got Franklin Roosevelt with seniors and now we got President Biden with children.
DELAURO: So that they were willing partners.
DELAURO: And that is what is good to know for the coalition. We need to push forward on...
DELAURO: ... transforming.
MELBER: I`m so glad we got into this, because we wanted to spotlight it. I`m supposed to fit in a break. That`s the rules around here.
But, as you mentioned...
DELAURO: No, I get it.
MELBER: ... it plays forward to other issues. I`d love for you to come back and let`s continue the conversation. And, again, interesting to see your work come to fruition, Congresswoman.
DELAURO: Many, many thanks to you.
I will come back. And we`re going to make this permanent. The president said it. So...
Congresswoman DeLauro, our thanks.
Coming up: big news on Donald Trump`s epic voting hypocrisy and how it fits into the big lie.
MELBER: Finally tonight, amidst ongoing voting skirmishes, have you ever seen Donald Trump fact-check himself? This matters.
Consider his false claim that voting by mail encourages fraud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Thousands of votes are gathered, and they come in, and they are dumped in a location, and then all of a sudden, you lose elections that you think you`re going to win.
There`s a lot of fraudulent voting going on in this country. They`re sending millions of ballots all over the country. There`s fraud. They sent out 1,000 ballots. Everybody got two ballots. This is going to be a fraud like you have never seen.
I have been talking about mail-in voting for a long time. It`s really destroyed our system. It`s a corrupt system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We fact-checked that at the time. It`s false. It didn`t prevent Donald Trump from becoming the loser of the election.
But now he`s fact-checking himself, as the Palm Beach County records office has revealed that Donald Trump has now requested a mail-in ballot in case he wants to vote in a municipal election in Florida, showing even he doesn`t believe those lies.
We will be right back.
MELBER: Thanks for spending time with us on THE BEAT.
"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END