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

Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/27/21

Guests: Jared Bernstein, Katie Hobbs


On the eve of his first big speech to Congress, the State of the Union tomorrow, President Biden today signed an executive order raising federal contractors` minimum wage to $15 an hour. Arizona`s secretary of state joining us on what is becoming a really quite weird effort among Arizona Republicans to try to overturn the presidential election in that state.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: He says our pickup basketball game is getting close to happening. He has proclaimed in the proud tradition of pickup basketball trash talk that he will destroy me.

That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris Hayes, I have to tell you, that I will -- I will pay good money, I will call in a sick day myself. I will do anything I have to watch when that happens.

HAYES: And it`s going to happen. I`m looking forward to it.

MADDOW: I also need to say we have not passed that far in the pandemic to where we can have guests in person. So, you`ve only seen Dr. Fauci through the pandemic via satellite. I had the good fortune to see you in the person in the office today, which is crazy, and you`ve been working out, dude.

HAYES: Yes, I`m trying to get -- get swoll at the end of this pandemic.

But the little known fact about Dr. Anthony Fauci, which you may not know, he`s actually 6`10". You just don`t see it on the TV screen. That`s why he was confidently talking trash.

MADDOW: I think he was only threatening you because he doesn`t know about your transformation and it`s going to be wicked when it happens.

HAYES: All right.

MADDOW: Anyway, well done, my friend, nice to see you.

HAYES: Good to see you.

MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.

You know, I told you this would be a week with a whole bunch of news in it and today did not disappoint.


INTERVIEWER: Secretary Becerra, good morning to you. We are at a crucial juncture in combating COVID-19, and we`ve got these new mask guidelines coming down. Your department oversees the CDC, so I want to put the question to you. First, what we can expect, and also, it sounds like it`s going to be organized around whether or not a person is vaccinated or not, which I would read as a kind of encouragement to get more people out there to get that vaccination. Fair to say?

XAVIER BECERRA, HHS SECRETARY: Yeah, good morning and thanks for having me.

And absolutely. The message is clear. You`re vaccinated, guess what? You get to return to a more normal lifestyle. If you`re not vaccinated, you`re still a danger -- you`re still in danger as well, so get vaccinated.


MADDOW: You`re vaccinated? Guess what, you get to return to a more normal lifestyle. If you`re not vaccinated, you`re still a danger, meaning a danger to other people, and you`re still in danger yourself as well, so get vaccinated. If you`re vaccinated, though, you do get to return to a more normal lifestyle.

The health secretary in the Biden administration, Xavier Becerra today, bottom-lining this new reality, this new set of guidance from the CDC, bottom-lining that pretty succinctly to start the news today.

We would soon go on to have the CDC and its leadership spell out its new guidance, in detail, in great detail. But that bottom line, as outlined by the Secretary Becerra, is pretty simple. If you get vaccinated, the CDC says there`s stuff you can do safely without the mask. If you want to have a cookout with a small group of friends and family of four Memorial Day weekend, or for this weekend, you can do that without masks on, if you are all vaccinated.

If you`re not vaccinated, well, you are at risk of getting COVID yourself and even worse spreading COVID to other people, so you`ll need to keep a mask on for an event like that, which frankly will sort of suck, if all you`re vaccinated friends don`t have to wear a mask and you still do. In other words, get vaccinated.

This afternoon, President Biden explained a little bit more about the new guidance and talks some about how far we`ve come.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I took office in January, we were losing literally tens of thousands of our seniors each week. Grandparents who were loved so dearly, moms and dads, people in every community, gone by the thousands every day.

At that time, less than 1 percent of seniors were fully vaccinated when I took office. Today, in less than 100 days, more than 67 percent, two thirds of our seniors are now fully vaccinated. That effort resulted in a drop of 80 percent in deaths among American seniors.

I want to thank the team at the CDC for everything they`re doing to help us lead with science and bring our communities out of this crisis safely and responsibly. I also want to thank everyone who has gotten a vaccine for doing your patriotic duty.

Go get the shot, it`s never been easier. And once you fully vaccinated, you can go without a mask when you`re outside and away from big crowds.

I urge all Americans, don`t let up now. Keep following the guidance. Go get your vaccination now. It`s free and it`s convenient.

Ninety percent of the American people live within five miles on site from where you can get a vaccination. You can do this. And we will do this.


MADDOW: President Biden speaking today about the new mask guidance, the CDC loosening running up that mask guidance for those who are vaccinated. I should tell you, he also had this drop the mic moment today when NBC`s Peter Alexander asked President Biden why he was wearing a mask when he walked out of the White House to make his remarks today. Watch this.


PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS: Wear a mask, you chose to wear a mask as you walked out here. What message were you sending by wearing a mask outside?

BIDEN: And watch me take it off and not put it back until I get inside.


MADDOW: Freeze it right there. The president flashing his high beams on that one. His sunglasses on, big grin, it`s like classic Biden. You`ve got to be kidding me, right? You can watch we take the mask off as I come outside and then not put it back on until I get inside, that`s what we`re doing here guys. Come on.

There will be no aviators at the State of Union Address tomorrow, but I think you can expect some of that same tone at least on COVID and I will tell you we`re not supposed to call tomorrow night`s address to the joint session of Congress a State of the Union Address. We typically don`t call it that the first time a new president gives one.

But can I just say just for a second how annoying that is this year? I mean, essentially the reason we don`t call it a State of the Union is that after new presidents are and not calculated at the first time is that they haven`t been around long enough, not having done enough yet as presidents to be able to report on the so-called State of the Union. And so that makes sense, right? Most of the time. Sort of.

Presidents get sworn in at the end of January, and then they typically give the speech right away so like Ronald Reagan sworn in January 20th, the speech for him happened less than a month later, February 18th. After him, it was Poppy Bush who went even faster he was sworn in January 20th and he was speaking to Congress last three weeks later for February 9th. Bill Clinton, giving his address February 17th. George W. Bush, February 27th. Obama, February 24th. Donald Trump, February 28th.

They all maxed out at like five weeks into their first term before they gave this first speech to Congress and we all bent over backwards to not call it a State of the Union because it was so soon after they were each sworn in. I find that I get, it I get it, I get it.

But number one, even with all of those guys, it`s still a State of the Union Address. It still functions like a State of the Union Address. And number two, this year it`s not happening in February. February is long gone, as March, as is almost all of April. This year, whether it`s because of the pandemic or because of the January Trump mob attack on the Capitol complex, or any other number of reasons. This year, President Biden has chosen to wait much longer than any other modern president has waited before he gives the speech.

He`s waiting until the literal eve of his 100th day in office before he gives this first big speech to Congress. Tomorrow is day 99, and that is when he`s giving this address. And that means it`s not like he`s still finding his way around the oval office trying to figure out which drawer triggers the lock, right? I mean, the first speech by a new president always feels like a State of the Union anyway, even when it`s only three or four weeks into his new term but in this case with Biden were 14 weeks into him being president. We`re 99 days into him being president and he has some stuff to report.

So I know we`re not supposed to call a State of the Union, I`m going to keep accidentally, not accidentally, calling it tomorrow`s Biden stage a State of the Union Address even though we`re not supposed to. Because functionally, that`s what it is.

He will be reporting on stuff he has done. He is not just going to be reporting and stuff he intends to do. And because he`s already been there for almost 100 days, most of all he has the talk about, obviously, is going to be about COVID, and the fight against this pandemic. We saw a preview of that from the president today. Even before he put on his sunglasses and started to walk away from the podium, before dropping the mic on Peter Alexander like that. Right?

In these remarks, talking about the new guidance from the CDC, thanking the CDC for their leadership, telling the Americans that we need to finish the job and get vaccinated but also claiming credit for how far they`ve come, for what his administration has been able to do. He`ll be able to do some of that tomorrow, talk about what he`s done because he`s been there long enough to have done a lot already.

And the president`s approval ratings overall are high. But for when it comes to the handling of the coronavirus, his approval ratings are sky- high. And so we`re going to hear a lot about that tomorrow night from a president who can get in there 99 days in and describe the State of the Union and what he`s done.

And in terms of his agenda, in terms of what he wants to yet do, the popularity of the COVID relief bill is strong and staying that way. That`s already been signed into law and is already going into effect. Monmouth just released new polling showing 64 percent support among the American people for the American Families Plan that he`s going to formally announce in his speech tomorrow, 64 percent support for that already. He hasn`t even formally announced that yet.

Monmouth also founded 68 percent support for infrastructure bill that he`s already proposed that`s already making its way through the Congress, 68 percent popularity on the infrastructure bill? Turns out that`s a good way to be popular, right? I mean, propose and past things that the people like by huge margins. Then the like you too. Crazy, I know.

But I think that Congress is starting to cotton to the fact that they passed things that are wildly popular among the American people, it raises Congress` approval ratings as well. So far, Republicans have been immune to those terms it did not want to support what the Democrats and the Biden administration are doing.

But as Democrats in Congress, the Democratic Party, the Biden administration and indeed to a certain extent the Congress as an institution gets more popular with the American people because of Biden`s stuff that they are finally getting past that is making a difference in the country. We`ll see how long that resistance lasts.

And, the approval ratings for President Biden personally, for his handling of specific issues and for his legislative agenda is just thus far, I`m sure from the White House`s perspective those good numbers make this seem like a great time to put the president before the American public in a big primetime address. They probably feel like it was definitely worth waiting 99 days and not doing this way back in February before they had anything to talk about. They`re able to put him out now 99 days in to tell when he is done already in addition to what he plans to do next.

And the risk of having scheduled this way of course, is that by this time of the presidency, 100 days into a presidency would also think that the opposition would have started to define the new president negatively. They would`ve found their footing in terms of criticizing, demonizing his actions, his proposals, the impact of what he`s doing.

That`s not happening, among Republicans. Republicans have not found their feet yet to say the least in terms of criticizing, let alone meaningfully opposing what Biden is doing. I mean, this too is a remarkable thing about the State of the Union right now and the prospects for President Biden`s agenda. Look at the string of weird made up cockamamie stuff that the Republicans have been talking about since Biden has been president and just think about what you have heard from them. What you`ve heard from conservative media and Republican elected officials about the greatest concerns in the things most animating them since the Biden administration has been in place.

There was a freak out about Mr. Potato Head, there was a freak out about the Muppets, although I`m not actually sure what they were mad about but they were very mad about the Muppets. Very close on them being on the heels of being mad about Mr. Potato Head. Then they were mad about Dr. Seuss.

Then they were mad this past week about Joe Biden`s big meat fan even though Joe Biden is not banning meat. That was totally made up. One Fox News anchor to his credit yesterday did run an on air correction apologizing for the Fox Channel repeatedly hyping this story that Biden was going to ban meat when that was not actually a proposal from the Biden administration, from the president at all. There was one Fox anchor that made a statement on camera apologizing for that network hyping that full story.

But for the last few days, Republicans have been all over that. They`ve also been hyping a totally different, also totally false story that all kids detained by immigration authorities at the U.S. border were being given a child`s picture book written by Vice President Kamala Harris. The implication was that the Biden administration was bulk buying Vice President Harris` children`s book to give to immigrant kids at the border.

That is totally made up. That is not happening. It is literally just a made-up story created out of cloth. Didn`t happen. Isn`t happening. Never proposed.

But, that is the latest one that`s become yet another new animating totally fake grievance in conservative media and among Republican elected politicians because this is how they spend their time now.

Tonight, I should tell you a "New York Post" reporter -- the "New York Post" is owned by that same company that owns Fox News. Tonight, a "New York Post" reporter whose byline was on "The Post`s" version of the fake Kamala Harris children`s book story, that reporter resigned from "The New York Post" tonight, saying this publicly on Twitter.

She says, quote: An announcement, today I handed in my recognition to my editors at "The New York Post". The Kamala Harris story, an incorrect story I was ordered to write and which I failed to push back hard and off against, was my breaking point. That reporter from "The New York Post", Laura Italiano, saying tonight she quit her job over being forced to concoct and advance that false story, fake story, about something the Biden administration absolutely did not do.

But it`s just one in a bunch of those now. And it nevertheless remains like a top story and conservative media right now and among elected Republican members of Congress who you would think would have other things to talk about. It is weird and I will tell you, I think it`s not just the sidebar. I think it`s an important thing about where our democracy is at and where the prospects for Biden`s agenda is at heading into tomorrow`s State of the Union.

It`s weird but it is significant. That Republicans over and over and over again over these last 98 days have just incessantly gone for these made up sidebar crises and controversies one after the other. That aren`t real things, and they are certainly not things that the Biden administration is doing. I mean, there`s other stuff to talk about if you`re in opposition, right? If you`re a governing party in opposition.

Biden and the Democrats just passed a two trillion dollar COVID relief bill. They`re going to pass another bill that size on infrastructure, and with more coming after that. But instead of talking about that stuff, the Republicans, the opposition party is like, Muppets? Bacon? Muppets and bacon? Seuss!

If you are the Biden White House, that`s probably a good sign, that the opposition party really does not know what to say about you and does not know what to say about the substance of what you`re doing, I mean, in life in general. If people have to make up things about you to criticize, that probably means the real life way you`re living isn`t too bad.

But in the House chamber tomorrow night, it`s going to look way different than it usually does unlike previous State of the Union Addresses they are not, for example, picking a designated survivor. This struck me as melodramatic and also a little scary. In case of a catastrophic attack on the Capitol during the State of the Union Address, they usually designate one cabinet member who is in the line of succession of the presidency to stay far away from the Capitol just in case everybody else in the Capital for the State of the Union Address gets wiped out all at once in some sort of terrible attack.

Tomorrow, they are not bothering to do that because only two members of the cabinet are going to be at the State of the Union. It`s just going to be the secretary of defense and that secretary of state. All the other members of the cabinet are going to be watching from home.

We also don`t have to worry tomorrow night about conservative Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito trying to heckle President Biden the way he did President Obama because only one Supreme Court justice is going to be there for the address as well. The chief justice, John Roberts, will be the only one there from the Supreme Court.

Also, instead of a phalanx of military flag officers, the military tomorrow night will be represented by just one general, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the chief of staff.

There also be no guests from home brought him to be recognized during the speech as great Americans or people whose stories spot lights an important issue raised during the presidents speech. There won`t be any of that tomorrow, the only guest in the entire chamber will be the president`s wife and the vice president`s husband and they will be the only invited guests from outside the government.

Not even all members of Congress can come. There will be 30 senators from each party and 40 House members from each party and that`s it.

And the main reason for all the restrictions, of course, is because of COVID. They`re going to be maintaining distance between all the attendees. But the other thing that is looming over these preparations for what is going to be this most unusual State of the Union tomorrow is that there was quite recently a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, on January 6th.

Just today, the Trump supporting Arkansas man who allegedly entered the Capitol with a 900,000 bolts stunning device mounted on a hiking stick who went into Nancy Pelosi`s office with that weapon and wrote her threatening notes which was photographed with his feet up on a desk just today, that man was freed from jail while he awaits trial. He has been in federal custody nearly four months. But today, of all days, the day before the State of the Union they decided to set him loose.

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein reporting at tonight that as federal judges are considering these difficult cases of January 6th defendants and whether these defendants are dangerous enough that the court should keep them in jail until they go on trial, one of the newly complicating things the defendants are having to contend with, and that charges are really wrestling with and case after case in terms of how to factor in their assessments of the dangerousness of these people. One of the things that everybody`s newly having to contend with is that in the last week or so, former President Donald Trump has renewed his public calls to his followers about how the election was stolen from him and how he needs their help to get it back because Joe Biden isn`t really president, and h secretly one.

And, of course, that rhetoric at those calls to action from former President Trump after the election and on January 6th itself, those statements by the former president have been cited by a whole bunch of January 6th defendants as explaining why they did what they did during the Capitol attack, right? And the reason their lawyers have described the statements by President Trump and most of these cases to basically make a case to the judges in these cases that, hey, my client isn`t a bad guy, isn`t a bad girl, this was a onetime deal. It was a heat of the moment craziness driven by this singular an repeatable moment in time when former President Trump, my clients idol, and the commander-in-chief, was claiming publicly that the election was stolen and he needed his supporters to go steal it back for him.

That will never happen again. That`s over now, so these defendants, of course, would never do anything crazy like this again. That is why President Trump`s inciting statements on January 6th and before have been cited again and again by defense counsel in these cases involving January 6th defendants.

Don`t worry, my client won`t do it again. That was so weird, what was going on there. Will never face that circumstance again. My client can be trusted to go home.

We`ve seen that in case after case after case of the January 6th defendants. The problem is, that defense tragedy only goes as far as Donald Trump no longer making statements like that about the election.

Within the past week or so, he has started doing that again. And just as bombastic terms as he used after the election and on January 6th.

Here`s Kyle and Josh`s reporting tonight at Quote, the fanatical Donald Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol in January are facing an unexpected obstacle to their freedom, Trump himself. Trump`s refusal to accept the reality that he lost the 2020 election reflected in a torrent of recent statements renewing discredited claims about a rigged vote has become a feature of prosecutors later sometimes to jail Capitol riot defendants that they seem too dangerous to release pending trial. Judges of started citing this argument and cases where they have decided to detain defendants for posing threat of future violence. They`ve agreed that Trump`s rhetoric could spur his most radicalized supporters to attack again.

And that could be bad news for dozens of additional riot suspects being hold in on alleged conspiracy and police assault charges. Judge Emmet Sullivan wrote in a recent opinion ordering the detention of January 6th defendant, quote, former President Donald Trump continues to make forceful public comments about the, quote, stolen election, chastising individuals who did not reject the supposedly illegitimate results that put the current administration in place.

The judge continues, quote, such comments reflect the continued threat posed by individuals like this defendant who has demonstrated that he is willing to unable to engage in extreme and terrifying levels of violence against law enforcement with a chilling disregard for the rule of law, seemingly based on mistaken beliefs about the illegitimacy of the current administration.

Prosecutors have also begun citing and echoing Judge Sullivan`s rational. And five written statements from Friday to Tuesday, meaning from this past Friday to today, former President Trump has sought to reignite his frenzy claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, assailing state officials who refused to entertain those claims and praising others seeking to relitigate the results.

Trump has said, quote, why the Democrats so desperate to stop this election fraud from being revealed? That answer is obvious. That was in a statement Trump made on Friday, demanding that Arizona`s governor provide security for Republican audit of the 2020 election results in that state.

January 6th defendants have argued that the circumstances of January 6th are unlikely to happen again but Judge Sullivan and now other judges and prosecutors, citing some of Trump`s recent rhetoric have pushed back on that reasoning. It`s not over they say it`s not over, right? Not in terms of what they`re likely to do to try to effectuate the craziness that they`ve been fantasizing about.

It is the January 6th attack and also COVID precautions that are going to make tomorrow`s State of the Union unlike any we`ve ever seen in modern history. We`ve got news ahead tonight on last-minute announcements. The president is making ahead of that speech tomorrow, including one executive order that he signed today that will give a big multi thousand dollar annual pay raise two hundreds of thousands of Americans. Very under covered story today, expect hear more about it tomorrow night and here this hour as well.

But we`re also going to be talking tonight about why, on the eve of the State of the Union, Trump world really is ramping back up with all the rhetoric about that how the election was stolen and how Biden isn`t really president and how Trump`s going to be really instated and Trump supporters are going to stop the steal.

It is rhetoric that is keeping some January 6th defendants in prison, who might otherwise be released. But it is focused on a real world thing. It`s focused on a real effort that Arizona Republicans are trying to pull off to try to undo the presidential election there. And Arizona secretary of state is going to be joining us on that live here in just a minute.

It`s all coming up, like I said, busy news week, busy news night. Stay with us, we`ve got lots to get to.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: In the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally funded employees affair wage of at least $10.10 an hour because if you cook our troops` meals or wash the dishes, you should not have to live in poverty.


MADDOW: President Obama in his 2014 State of the Union Address announcing a minimum wage increase for everybody who worked for a federal contractor, so people like food and janitorial workers on American military bases. Anybody working on a federal government contracts, this is a big deal at the time.

You can tell from that clip, actually, you can probably tell from the huge applause that announcement from President Obama got at least from the Democratic side. President Obama at the time had been trying to get Congress to improve an increase in minimum wage for all Americans, but even though that idea is wildly popular among the American people, Republicans in Congress wouldn`t budge. They wouldn`t do it.

So President Obama did the next best thing. He did what he could do on his own without Congress. He signed this executive order raising the minimum wage at least four hundreds of thousands of Americans who worked for federal contractors.

And Republicans went bananas. They lost their minds.

Just before President Obama`s State of the Union speech that night, one Texas Republican congressman tweeted from the House floor that he was awaiting the arrival of the socialistic dictator, the kommandant in chef, the kommandant-in-chef is much worse than the commandant in chief because the chef one makes you eat stuff it`s terrible. Socialist dictator. That was about the minimum wage increase for federal contractors.

House speaker John Boehner said the Obama`s minimum wage hike for contractors was against the constitution and Republicans would see the president in court. Spoiler alert there, it turns out it was not against the Constitution it went into effect just fine.

But still, the panic was crazy. Senator Ted Cruz said this minimum wage increase for federal contractors was the sign of the Obama imperial presidency. He was proclaiming himself an emperor, you guys. His persistent pattern of lawlessness, it was like murder. This $2.85 per hour raise in the minimum wage for federal contractors. Obviously, it was intended to be the end of the republic.

But despite the cuckoo for cocoa puffs reaction on the right, President Obama did sign an executive order and it went into effect and since then, federal contractors have been getting a minimum wage of just over $10 an hour and the country you might have noticed is not a smoking hulk of communist wreckage. People who are not making very much money before, just got some more money. And that`s pretty much the thing that changed. Period.

Because of that experience in 2014, it is going to be harder for Republicans to get people to freak out about it this time around, although they will undoubtedly try. But now, President Joe Biden is going to raise that minimum wage for those same folks again.

On the eve of his first big speech to Congress, the State of the Union tomorrow, President Biden today signed an executive order raising federal contractors minimum wage to $15 an hour. He already raised the minimum hourly wage for federal employees to $15 an hour and now it will be 15 an hour for federal contractors as well.

This will affect hundreds of thousands of federal contract workers. More than 300,000 Americans are going to get basically a pretty big and permanent pay raise. An average of more than $3,000 a year of a raise for more than 300,000 Americans are working at the bottom and of the wage scale even though their work is for contractors who are getting their money from the federal government.

And of course, you know, 300,000 to 400,000 American workers, that`s a lot of Americans but it`s still a tiny fraction of the workforce overall. Just like President Obama, President Biden would prefer to raise the minimum wage for all Americans, because of Republicans blocking that in the Senate and some conservative Democratic senators being unwilling to try other means to get it passed, Republicans have been able to basically successfully blocked that so instead he`s doing when he can. Sort of a big something, but it is what he can do on his own.

Joining us now is Jared Bernstein. He was chief economic adviser for Joe Biden when he`s vice president. He`s now a member of President Biden`s White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Mr. Bernstein, it`s great to see you. Thank you so much for your time tonight.


MADDOW: How much -- how much of a difference will this make on average for the federal contractors who are going to get raise from this and how many Americans is this going to affect?

BERNSTEIN: Well, the Economic Policy Institute did a great analysis that this very day. This is an executive order, so this is going into effect at the end of January of next year. And according to EPI, it`s going to reach 390,000 workers and it`s going to raise their annual pay by over $3,000 a year.

So that is real money, it`s real economic justice, and it`s a 100-day Biden promise and it`s a promise kept. That executive order was signed today and we will see those workers benefiting from it as soon as it gets into the field.

MADDOW: And, Jared, in terms of the previous experience with this. I played that clip from President Obama both to walk down memory lane about the Republican freak out about it, but also to remember that there was another boost in this wage ordered by the president in 2014. Economically, where they`re negative knock on effects from doing that seven years ago with the boots that President Obama --

BERNSTEIN: Yeah, that`s a very important question, Rachel. And it reminds me of the kinds of analysis that we are able to do with minimum wage where we also find that to be a very effective program. Because we had this in place as you mentioned and the 2014, 15, we were able to go back and counseled the economic advisers and look at its impacts on federal contracting costs and we found that it had no impact in terms of the change in contracts and costs. There was no significant increase in costs for that matter. It is pretty much flat-lined.

And I think it`s important to ask yourself why. And the answer is that the efficiencies that are in gendered when you raise the pay of low wage workers helped to offset those labor costs. Now, those efficiencies include fewer absentees, last turnover, fewer vacancies, boosted morale, boosted effort, and those kinds of efficiencies absorb the increase in labor costs and therefore we observed that the contracting costs didn`t go up as a result of this executive order.

MADDOW: Jared, in terms of the president`s message tomorrow night. We have seen some of the details about this American families plan that he`s going to talk about tomorrow night. We`ve got the American Rescue Plan, the COVID relief plan. We`ve seen him lay out the American Jobs Plan, which is the big infrastructure bill.

This is basically the third major legislative initiative that he is laid out with that same sort of framing. This is the American Families Plan, and that`s got a lot of elements in it as far as we can tell, that are about making life more affordable for working people.

How does this fit into that? How does this idea of a wage floor for these hundreds of thousands of Americans fit into that overall message?

BERNSTEIN: It is totally consistent with the economic policies that this president has brought to the White House and in fact the very ones he campaigned on. President Biden, who have known now for quite awhile, has always had in the back of his mind an economic model wherein if the economy is growing and if GDP is up, if unemployment is down and the middle class and lower income people are getting their fair share of that growth, then something is fundamentally wrong.

Now, the first thing we have to do of course is the American Rescue Plan, get to the other side of the crisis and I think the evidence that that is working is quite strong. But when the president talks about Building Back Better, he means rebuilding the policy architecture that connects the economic well-being of families who have been left behind for decades to overall economic growth.

And the pace of the jobs plan, that means deep and historical investments in energy, in advance manufacturing, in modernizing schools in childcare centers, in clean water and, of course, clean air. In the case of the American families plan, which, by the way I`m not going to front from the president but I will tell you that the framing there is very much addressing the family part of that policy agenda through equally deep and equally historic investments in education and childcare and paid leave, paid for, offset by implementing a fair set of tax changes that had no nobody under 400,000 of family income. So, very progressive tax changes to pay for economic security for the middle class.

MADDOW: Jerry Bernstein from the president`s White House Council of Economic Advisers, I know that you and your colleagues at this time a year heading into the State of the Union type of address are running on sort of 40 our day schedules, I appreciate you taking time to be here tonight. Thank you.

BERNSTEIN: My pleasure, thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead here tonight including Arizona`s secretary of state joining us on what is becoming a really quite weird effort among Arizona Republicans to try to overturn the presidential election in that state. Yes, the presidential election from six months ago. They`re still working on it.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Bit of a breaking news tonight in the so-called audit that Arizona Republicans are holding the 2020 presidential election in that state. This mysterious and somewhat ridiculous recount of Arizona`s presidential ballots that`s being conducted by a pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theorists and his private security firm that he calls Cyber Ninjas.

Arizona Republicans hired this guy and gave him two thirds of the actual ballots cast by real Arizona residents in the presidential race in November. He says he`s going to do some sort of secret analysis of those ballots and then report with the real election results were in Arizona. Again, this effort is being led by a QAnon guy who has supported all of the craziest "stop the steal" conspiracy theories about how Trump didn`t really lose the election.

Well, here`s the news. Until tonight, the only press allowed inside to report on this so-called audit is the wackadoo pro-Trump news network that`s called One American News, which has itself relentlessly hyped the Trump conspiracy theories around the election. And it is on air personalities have raised money to conduct the so-called recount in Arizona.

One of the only real journalists who actually made it into the room to watch some of this audit was only able to get and because she signed up as a volunteer observer and that allowed her to be let in on one day but that was only on the first day of the recount and she wasn`t allowed in after that, and no real journalists have been let in since then. It`s just the One American news people. They got exclusive access.

Well, that`s all changed finally tonight. Got one real reporter who is allowed inside for one day. The intrepid Jen Fifield of the "Arizona Republic" tonight said that she has been let back in. She says, in fact, the coalition of Arizona news organizations that fought for better access are now being allowed into the room to watch the count, although nobody is being made available to answer reporters questions about what they`re seeing.

Remember, Jen Fifield is the reporter who noticed on day one that ballot counters were all armed with blue pens. She notified the Cyber Ninja guy in charge that blue pens actually shouldn`t be allowed in around any real ballots because ballot scanners read blue ink. Any marks that any counter made on anybody`s ballot could spoil the ballot or change its vote.

When she reported that, because she observed it to the guy running the audit, the QAnon conspiracy theory Cyber Ninjas guy, he told her that that was news to him. He didn`t know there was any problem with blue ink.

Here is Jen Fifield`s update on that tonight. On pens, she says, on pens, there are red and green pens on the counting tables. It appears that the counters are marking their tally sheets with green pens.

So, now we know. We know what color, what color of pen ballot counters are using, thanks to journalists for fighting and demanding to be allowed to cover this ridiculous thing.

We also now know that some of the ballot inspectors are conducting their inspections of the ballots looking for counterfeits by hitting the ballots with ultraviolet light, ultraviolet flashlights. Okay. Also there is a room that journalists still don`t have access to where auditors say they`re examining the county`s voting machines. That`s a room that is not even part of the camera feeds that One American News has been showing to the public.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Democratic Party is suing the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate to try to stop this thing from continuing. Today in court the judge hearing that case said he is mulling a restraining order to potentially stop this thing in its tracks. There`s going to be another hearing in that case tomorrow.

We may get his ruling then. But if and until that happens, this whole process is continuing to go forward and this is why former President Trump and his most fervent supporters believe right now that this is the path in which Donald Trump will be reinstated as president and Joe Biden will be exposed as a fraud.

Arizona`s top elections official, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told CNN, quote, we have so many concerns about this exercise, I kind of don`t even want to call it an audit. I think that`s an insult to professional auditors everywhere because in this case, they`re making things up as they go along.

She said, quote, I think there was a high level of expectation that whoever had their hands on the ballots and the equipment would adhere to some level of security measures and transparency. That clearly has not happened.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs joins us next.


MADDOW: She said, quote, my concern grows deeper by the hour. It is clear that no one involved in this process knows what they are doing. And they are making it up as they go along.

That is Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs talking to "The New York Times" about the means which President Trump has apparently convinced himself he would be reinstated as president. The so-called audit that Arizona Republicans are holding of the 2020 presidential election results in that state.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs joins us live now.

Secretary of State Hobbs, thank you so much for joining us.

KATIE HOBBS, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Hey, Rachel, it`s great to be here.

MADDOW: We have been covering the story, I`ve been increasingly agog at what`s going on here. But part of me still thinks this is so ridiculous we shouldn`t even talk about it.

Is what they`re doing a dangerous dumb thing or just a dumb thing?

HOBBS: Well, it is dangerous. And I`m glad you brought that up. I mean, this is potentially precedent setting for other states in the country. I guarantee that folks are watching this nationally, and if they are able to successfully continue to undermine voters` confidence in our election integrity, they are going to bring this to other states in the country.

MADDOW: Are you specifically worried about the ballots? I mean, it`s amazing to me that they have the actual ballots, more than 2 million of them. Are you worried about what could happen with the ballots that are in the custody of these guys?

HOBBS: Absolutely. When this subpoena was upheld, my office reached out to senator, Senate President Karen Fann and outlined a list of security measures, that were the bare minimum of what we hope to be in place, to protect the security of these ballots, and the equipment, the chain of custody, the access logging, everything that should be in place.

We also specifically mentioned the color of pens as you talked about earlier. And we have gotten no assurances that these will be followed. Obviously, as we`re watching this play out in front of us, a lot of these things are not being followed. And I think that a lot of the security concerns that Arizona is rightfully have, are not being taken seriously by the folks conducting this exercise.

MADDOW: What do you think is going to be the outcome of this process? You look at the people who they have chosen to do it, we`ve covered that extensively. It`s also been reported in the state that the state Senate had the opportunity to hire real people, to hire people who are experienced isn`t accredited and have done this sort of thing. And who aren`t, forgive me, wing nuts who are known conspiracy theorists and Trump artisans on this sort of thing. But instead they chose, the sort of crazy folks to do it.

What do you think will be the bottom line? How do you think they`ll end?

HOBBS: Well, I think -- I`ve said this from the beginning. It`s clear now that there really is nothing valid that is going to come out of this exercise. They`re on a fishing expedition to find something, we don`t know what. That proves there was something wrong with the election. We know they are not going to find that.

But they are also not being transparent about the measures they are taking, for whatever it is they are doing. So that is going to help them make stuff up, apparently. But all this is going to do is continue to undermine voters` confidence in the process. And there is nothing about this that is going to ease voters` concerns that have been really created by the same politicians who have continued to promote the big lie since the election in November.

MADDOW: Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, thank you for your time tonight. We`ve been covering this for the last few nights. I keep thinking we`re done with it and then the next day something gets even weirder about. I hope you keep us apprised as we continue to keep an eye on this in Arizona.

HOBBS: Absolutely. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: That is going to do it for me for, now heads up for tomorrow for the big Biden speech we`re not supposed to call the State of the Union. But it is the State of the Union.

Our special coverage of the speech starts tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. I will be here tomorrow night, an hour earlier than I usually am to be a part of that special coverage, again, starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. I will see you then.


Good evening, Lawrence.