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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/5/21

Guests: Adam Jentleson, Cecilia Rouse, Shane Goldmacher


Tonight, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the Democrats can bypass GOP filibuster three more times this year. Cecilia Rouse, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is interviewed. "The New York Times" is reporting this weekend of how the Trump campaign ran a $100 million scam on its own supporters around the election last year, basically duping their donors into repeated payments they never intended to make.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. That is "ALL IN" on this Monday night.

My great thanks to Mehdi Hassan for filling in for me last week. Did a phenomenal job, couldn`t be more grateful. It was amazing to get a week with my family.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, I know that you had at least one date day because you posted about it on Instagram.

HAYES: Sure did.

MADDOW: And I tried not to bug you and ask you everything that you`re doing. Did you like have like a project or a trip or something? Or was it just like time off work, getting to mellow out, spending time with Kate and the kids?

HAYES: Hanging with the fam, Kate and kids, you know, doing a little -- some exercising, some long walks. A day date with my wife, where we like went for a walk, had a midday cocktail. You know, it`s the heart of decadence.

When you`re 42 and just getting to hang with your spouse, and take in the sunshine -- it was awesome.

MADDOW: This is -- I mean, for all of the ways in which we are different from one another and we`re a diverse community and everything, I think for a very large proportion of the population, the idea of, if I could just day drink.


MADDOW: It`s a very, very unifying thing for a lot of us in our fantasies.

HAYES: Not an absent part of my vacation, right?

MADDOW: Well done, my friend. Welcome back. Great to have you back.

HAYES: All right.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We`re happy to have you here.

A big show for you tonight. The chair of president Biden`s council of economic advisers is here tonight, Cecilia Rouse. This will be her first interview here on this show. I`m really, really looking forward to talking with her. Today of all days, that will become clear why in just a moment.

We`re also going to be talking tonight with "The New York Times" reporter who just broke the astonishing story of the previously unknown major grift, major fraud that former President Trump ran against his supporters in the final months of his time in office, to the tune of over $120 million and thousands of fraud claims. Now even one state Republican Party claiming to have been just plain ripped off by the former president and his operation. We will have more on that ahead tonight.

Plus, we will have some very interesting news tonight, unexpected at least to me, unexpected news tonight from the NRA`s bankruptcy trial, which ought to be getting more national attention than it is. That is underway as of today in Texas and it`s proving to be super interesting.

So, we got a lot to get to tonight.

But if you heard any weird yips and shouts and exclamations tonight around dinnertime on the East Coast, I`m here to congratulate you that that probably means that there`s a deep, deep politics nerd in your household. If you`re a true civics dork, not just a person who loves voting or even a person knows the lyrics to some good "Schoolhouse Rocks" songs.

If you`re a legitimate deep dive civics dork, who like knows what the candy desk is, and who knows why the Secret Service used to be a part of the Treasury Department and why it`s not anymore. If I can say to you, what presidential speech has been read out loud in Congress every year since 1933, you can say, that`s George Washington`s farewell address, that`s easy.

If you are a true blue civics dork, tonight was a really big night. And we`re going to have an expert keep me on the straight and narrow in terms of what this means. But I think this is a very, very big deal.

All right. Here`s what happened. Here`s how I understand it. A couple of weeks ago, we reported on this building sized light-up LED billboard that was running in Times Square in New York City. That`s the size of a full building.

Help is here. Thank you, Joe Biden. Thank you, Democrats, 100 million shots, 100 million checks. Help is here.

That was last month as Congress passed and President Biden signed the big COVID relief act, to fund the vaccine rollout, to send Americans all those relief payments, to fund the reopening of schools, to do all that stuff that was in that big, very consequential bill.

And that billboard is not typical Democratic behavior, right? A big, brash, taking credit for it kind of thing like that. But the Republicans did make it possible for the Democrats to be that blunt about it. That billboard in Times Square blunt about it, because not a single Republican in the House or the Senate voted for COVID relief.

And so you legitimately can say, thank you, Democrats. And the COVID relief bill has huge support among the public. It did before it passed, it does even more so now that it has passed. It has fueled an over 70 percent approval rating for President Biden, specifically on the issue of his handling COVID.

Republican members of Congress, who all voted against the bill in the House and the Senate, and they all did vote against it, they`re still trying to take credit for things in the relief bill. Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, bragging about all the money from the COVID relief bill that is coming to Mississippi, bragging about it like he had something to do it, even though he voted against the bill.

Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn bragging just a few days about all the funding for, I think it was health centers in his district, all that money coming to his district from the COVID relief bill. Him bragging about it as if he had anything to do with the COVID relief bill other than voting against it.

There was uniform Republican opposition to the COVID relief bill, uniform and unanimous. So, yes, it may be brash to do it, but Democrats are in their rights to put something like this up in Times Square.

Help is here. Thank you, Democrats. Thank you, Joe Biden. They`re not overstating the case. There are no Republicans to thank.

But now, as I said, this is Times Square in New York City. Now, they`ve started doing this around the country. This is a billboard that went up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, today. Help is here, $1,400 checks, money to reopen schools, money for vaccines.

Help is here. Thanks to President Biden on one side, and on the other side, thanks to Senator Amy Klobuchar, thanks to Senator Tina Smith, Minnesota`s two Democratic senators who both voted for the COVID relief bill, so they get thanks.

Now, if you`re in a state that doesn`t have Democratic senators like Minnesota does, here`s the version that you may see going up on the side of interstate near you. This is from North Carolina. I think it also just went up today in Greensboro. Similar theme, help is here, checks, money for schools and vaccines. Thanks to President Biden.

But in this case, because it`s North Carolina, the other side says, help is here, no thanks to Senator Richard Burr and Senator Thom Tillis. Since North Carolina has two Republican senators, and those Republican senators both voted no. All Republican senators voted no.

It makes it particularly stark in a state like Wisconsin, where they have one senator from each party. Their billboard has one senator over there with President Biden. Thanks to President Biden and thanks to Senator Tammy Baldwin, help is here. On the other side, it says no thanks to Senator Johnson. Over there on the right, all by himself in black and white, looking sad.

The Democrats taking a victory lap, taking credit for this wildly popular bill that in fact they passed all alone, with no help from the other side. It marks a new vibe for Democrats.

For whatever, this time around, they want to be sure the country knows who is getting stuff done, and also who isn`t helping, trying to increase the cost for Republicans who are voting no on everything.

But here`s the thing. The only reason this can happen, the only reason the Democrats are in a position to brag and brag in this way, to brag that it`s only them that is getting stuff done for the country, the only reason this is possible is because the Democrats were able to pass the COVID relief bill all by themselves. In the House of Representatives, you can pass things with a simple majority, half of the House plus one. Nancy Pelosi bears all the slings and arrows of her critics on the right, the Republicans and conservative media love to deride her.

But part of the reason they are always going after her is because she`s really good at getting stuff done. She`s really good at getting stuff passed in the House. She is a master of it. There will be buildings named after her in Washington one day.

She does not miscount. She does not miscalculate. If Democrats have legislation they want to pass in the House, you give Nancy Pelosi a Democratic majority in the house, however slim, she will get that passed. She does it every time, like a machine. Like a boss.

In the Senate, it`s not that simple. In the Senate, the filibuster rule means you can`t do it that way, because the minority party can insist that in the Senate you can`t pass things with 50 votes plus 1. They can use that filibuster rule in the Senate to insist that you need a super majority, you need 60 votes to pass something.

For Democrats to pass legislation with 60 votes, they would need 10 Republican senators to cross the aisle and vote with them. And in this Republican Party, that is a joke. You couldn`t get ten Republican senators to vote for a proclamation that today is Monday and tomorrow is Tuesday. You can`t get 10 Republicans to vote for a bill that ice cream tastes good. Not if it was a Democratic bill that needed ten Republican votes to pass. They would just never do it.

And so, that procedural thing about the Senate makes the prospects of Joe Biden`s presidency very mathematically simple. And this is the thing that undergirds everything else we talk about in politics and in policy in this time in our country. It is that the sum total of what the Biden presidency is going to be able to get done, in terms of real policy, in terms of actual legislation, the big stuff that you can only do by passing something and the president signing it. The alpha and omega, the full sum total of what the Biden presidency will be able to accomplish is defined by how many bills they can pass in the Senate, and that is wholly defined by how bills they can pass that aren`t going to be subject of the filibuster rule, that aren`t going to be subject to that 60-vote threshold. Because that 60-vote threshold will be impossible to reach for any bill that says anything at all.

The way they got the COVID relief bill is they used an exception to the filibuster rule. The exception they used so they could pass it with 50 votes and with only Democratic senators voting for it and all the Republicans voting no, the thing that has the world`s most boring name. It`s called -- it`s -- it`s called budget reconciliation. Are there two more boring words in the English language?

Budget reconciliation sounds incredibly boring, and it is a technical thing inside Senate rules. And it has a very boring name, but it has a very important purpose. It allows that once per year, once per budget, once per every -- a piece of legislation that Congress passes every year called the budget resolution, once per year, the majority can pass things that have an impact on the budget with only a simple majority, with only 50 votes on a vote that is not subject to the filibuster rule, that is not subject to the minority of the Senate forcing a 60-vote super majority.

If you are not a civics dork, I realize this sounds like the most boring thing in the entire world, something that is way too arcane to ever bother learning about. But in the real world, this is everything. Put that Times Square billboard back up there. This is what it means in the real world.

Even with Republicans all opposed, Democrats were able to get that thing done anyway. They were able to get that huge COVID relief package done. They were able to get it passed. And that`s why you got $1,400 in the mail, and the vaccine funding, and schools reopening, and everything else that`s in it.

It only happened because they were able to use that boring-sounding budget reconciliation thing. So, 50 votes was enough, because Republicans will vote no on everything. Now, you may remember, at the beginning of Democrats taking control of the senate, I interviewed Senator Chuck Schumer. I had his first interview when he became the new majority leader of the Senate.

I asked him about what he planned to do now that the Democrats were in control, how he planned to get stuff done, despite the fact that Republican senators will vote for nothing no matter how, anodyne, and unobjectionable it is. And I remember keenly from that interview, I`m glad I went to D.C. and did it in purpose, did it in person, even though I was freaked out about traveling and COVID and everything, it was worth it being there in person in part because I got to see in person, eye-to-eye him giving me that slightly approaching kid in a candy store look.

When he pointed out to me that actually they thought they would be able to use this budget reconciliation thing not once but twice. Budget reconciliation is the thing that allows them to pass something with just 50 votes, just Democratic votes if they need to.

He pointed out to me, by a quirk of fate, basically, they hadn`t passed a budget resolution in 2020. So Senator Schumer told me in that interview, told us here on this show, at the beginning of this Congress, they were going to be able to use budget reconciliation twice. They would be able to use it to pass Biden`s COVID relief bill with just 50 Democratic votes if they needed to, and then he said they could do it again, a second time, for a second big bill, because of that quirk where the 2020 budget resolution was left undone.

And for all of the headlines, for all of the consequences, for all of the resulting politics, for all of the resulting policy and the movement of money that changed. For all of the billboards on Times Square and on the interstates near you, taking credit and pointing blame, that`s really what it boils down to, Democrats in the current stupid system we are in the U.S. Senate, with the ridiculous filibuster rule, and the ridiculous exception to it relates specifically, to budget bills, to budget resolutions, once every budget resolution, you can have this thing that isn`t subject to a 60-vote threshold. I mean, you know, this system, which civics dorks can preach to you about it with passion in their eyes, but most people don`t understand or care about it enough.

What it all boils down is that Democrats in this system believed until tonight that they had precisely two bites at the apple. They had two things that they could pass without any Republican support. The first thing, they already did it, COVID relief bill. The second thing will be the big infrastructure bill.

The administration already this weekend and today fanning the cabinet secretaries and members of the executive branch, even the vice president, fanning them out around the country, making the case for why the infrastructure bill will be great and why everybody should support it. But until tonight, the very rough, blunt political truth behind that push for the infrastructure bill was basically, yeah, we did COVID relief. We were able to do that because of budget reconciliation.

We`re also going to do this, this infrastructure bill. But then that`s it. That`s all we`re going to be able to get to do, because we only get two bills we can pass under budget reconciliation. COVID was the first, this is the second thing, so we need to make sure it`s really good and it`s got everything we want in it. Because it`s the last legislation that will get made in the Biden area, the last thing that President Biden will be able to sign.

It`s depressing, but that has been the bottom line until tonight. Tonight, the yips and whoops and OMGs coming from your civics dork teenager down the hall, they were about this. Tonight, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the Democrats can do this three more times this year. Wait, what?

This budget reconciliation thing we`re talking about. Usually it`s only once a year they can do this. There`s a budget resolution once per year, and you can do it once. Schumer got very lucky, very lucky, and was going to be able to use it twice because of a quirk about last year`s resolution never going through. So, he was going to get two, which was a huge deal, COVID relief and infrastructure.

But Schumer`s staff, a week or so ago, a couple of weeks ago, apparently went to the parliamentarian of the Senate and said, hey, we`ve looked into this arcane rule that has huge real world consequences for the American people, and we think actually we don`t have one more thing that we can pass this year with just 50 votes.

We think if you look closely at the way this rule is written, we can do this three more times this Congress, which means in real, practical political terms, they can do COVID relief, check, infrastructure, working on it, and then two more things.

This Congress, which means this year and next year, even if they don`t get a single Republican vote. They went to the Senate parliamentarian with that, and tonight, they said, yeah, I agree. Actually, you`re right.

And I know, it`s like a ruling of the Senate parliamentarian, it sounds like the smallest thing in the world. But this is like if you`re doing your laundry, you find five bucks in your pocket. You`re psyched, five bucks. I didn`t know that was there.

Then you finish the laundry, and you pull your clothes out of the dryer, pull out the lint trap, and there`s a couple of hundred dollars, a couple of hundred dollar bills stuck in there with the lint. Holy mackerel, I was psyched for five bucks. Here`s 200!

I mean, forgive me for geeking out about this. I know this is high-level dork territory in terms of the machinery of how politics actually works, but bottom line, this means the Democrats and the Biden administration can double the amount of stuff they want to get done, and that they can get done.

COVID relief was huge. They can only do that with budget reconciliation. Infrastructure on top of COVID relief would really be huge. They can also only do that with budget reconciliation, sure. But now, multi bonus lives, two hundred bucks on the lint trap, they just got the go-ahead to do two more things using these same rules. Which means the filibuster doesn`t apply, two more times.

And, yeah, I`m sure they would love it if none of this was necessary, because at least some of the time, some Republicans would cross over and vote for stuff that they like. But this is not the world we live in. The real practical truth is that the only way Biden and the Democrats can get anything done is to do it around the Republicans. And now they have a way to do that, a lot of that, if they can get it together to take advantage of this, you know, this winning lottery ticket that just fell into their lap.

Joining us now is a true expert on this stuff, Adam Jentleson, who was deputy chief of staff to Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid for five years. Adam was the author of "Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and The Crippling of American Democracy".

Adam Jentleson, thank you very much for joining us on short notice tonight. I know it`s like birthday, Christmas, and New Year`s Eve rolled up in one for civics dorks.

ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO SENATOR HARRY REID: Very exciting. Everybody talking about Senate rules, it`s like Christmas for me.

MADDOW: I am not as much of a dork as I should be on this stuff. I`m a dork enough that I`m excited by this being a big deal. But will you just tell me if I explained any of that wrong about what this ruling means in practical terms?

JENTLESON: No, I think you got it 100 percent correct in terms of what it allows Democrats to do. You know, One way to think about it, it`s like a special bucket that you can put certain kinds of legislation in and pass around the filibuster. So, Democrats thought they only had two buckets, and tonight, they learned they got a lot more than two buckets.

One of the problems, though, is that this ruling doesn`t change the type of legislation that can go into that bucket, and that will continue to present some challenges for them as they move forward.

MADDOW: And that in oversimplifying but basically accurate terms, they can only pass things using this rule if those things have a budget impact. And that is pretty narrowly defined by the parliamentarian, I mean, arguably, but that will still be the same standard that is applied to anything else they want to do, just like they were precluded from raising the minimum wage in the COVID relief bill, because that was said not to have a budget impact. They will run up against the same thing in anything else they try to use that for, right?

JENTLESON: That`s exactly right. And budgetary impact, many things have an impact on the budget. But in Senate terms, that is defined very narrowly. Minimum wage is a good example. Commonsensically, you would think, well, of course, minimum wage has a budgetary impact, but the parliamentarian ruled very narrowly that it didn`t qualify. So if the parliamentarian is ruling things like minimum wage don`t qualify, as having a primarily budgetary impact, they`re probably also going to rule that a lot of other things don`t meet that standard. So it`s great that there are more vehicles that they can use, but things like voting rights that are never going to pass that budget impact criteria.

And so, while there are more buckets for Democrats to use, things like voting rights are never going to be allowed to go into those buckets. And so, those things are always going to be left outside of the bucket, left to be blocked by the filibuster. So that`s still a big challenge.

MADDOW: Well, voting rights is exactly what I was going to ask you about, Adam. Is there a way, obviously, you know, Democrats like HR-1 and HR-4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the For the People Act, which is now before the Senate, the Senate bill 1, they like the way those are currently construed. Looking at what those bills are trying to achieve in terms of putting a nationwide floor underneath voting rights so that states can`t attack, rescind them the way that`s happening right now in a lot of Republican controlled states, is there a way to reconceive this legislation so it might get closer at least to fitting under the kind of rules that you need to be able to pass it using reconciliation?

JENTLESON: I`d love to tell you yes. But I don`t think that that is possible. I think you can get really creative under reconciliation rules.

But, you know, it`s also sort of a common sense test that the parliamentarian applies. Something like voting rights, you could certainly argue there are many budgetary impacts on those bills and their implementation. But it`s clear the main purpose of them is not to impact the budget, it`s to expand voting rights.

So you`re going to have a really hard time making the case that those pass muster under reconciliation`s very strict standards.

I say that as someone who wants HR-1 and the voting rights bills to pass. But I think that realistically, Democrats, while they should be excited about tonight`s ruling, also have to face the fact that it doesn`t change the fundamental challenge that HR-1 and voting rights bills will have to fit into one of these reconciliation buckets. They also have to pass on regular order on the Senate floor, meaning they could be blocked by a filibuster.

So Democrats have to face the question about whether or not to reform or end the filibuster if they`re serious about passing HR-1 and voting rights bills.

MADDOW: Adam Jentleson, former deputy chief of staff to Harry Reid, the author of "Kill Switch" -- Adam, thank you for helping us sort this out tonight. It was, for me at least, a very unexpected piece of news from the parliamentarian. And one that I think is going to start resonating pretty loudly in our political coverage as soon as everybody figures out what this means. Thank you so much.

JENTLESON: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: So, if the Biden administration and the Democrats in Congress all of a sudden tonight just doubled their opportunities to pass legislation that has a budgetary impact, legislation -- to pass legislation in a way that does not require them to persuade Republican senators to come over to their side on this, what are they going to do with this opportunity? Did they know this was coming? Do they have stuff in mind that they want to now stack up to try to pass this way? And if you`re a top economist sitting in the White House, what does this mean for you?

President Biden`s top economist joins us live here next. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We crunched the numbers. We find that 5.5 percent of the $2 trillion, well, 5.6 percent of the $2 trillion proposal is only dedicated to roads and bridges. Why is that?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, we`re talking about roads and bridges, rail and transit, airports and ports. As you mentioned, we`re talking about things like the grid. I don`t know why anybody would say it`s a mistake to invest in the grid after what we just witnessed in Texas. We saw U.S. citizens living in Texas melting snow in their bath tubs to be able to flush their toilets in the United States of America, that is unacceptable.

So, yes, infrastructure includes energy infrastructure.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact of the matter is that when you`re in a situation where you can`t turn on a water fountain in schools because you`re worried about drinking polluted water, replacing all of that stuff is infrastructure. When I`m talking about making sure to take that out of schools, that`s infrastructure. When I`m talking about high- speed rail, that`s infrastructure. When I`m talking about making sure you`re in a situation where you can re-do some of the federal buildings that are absolutely leaking energy every single day, that`s infrastructure.


MADDOW: President Biden speaking today. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg speaking this weekend, as the administration starts to make its case all over the country to pass a big infrastructure bill. Now, the Republican Senate leader already says there will be no Republican votes for it no matter what`s in it, which is nice for him to let us know at the outset.

As I mentioned before the break, we just got news tonight that the Senate parliamentarian is going to allow Democrats to pass more bills this year with just a simple majority in the Senate that Republicans wouldn`t be able to filibuster. Does that change the scope of the administration`s ambition around big-ticket items like infrastructure? Will it change their pitch to the public?

Joining us now is Cecilia Rouse. She`s chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Dr. Rouse, it`s a real pleasure. Real honor to have this time with you tonight. Thank you for making time to be here.


MADDOW: So, I noted in the introduction that Senator McConnell has said bluntly that there won`t be any Republican votes for the infrastructure bill. And he wasn`t talking about anything specific that he doesn`t like when he made that case. He seems to be saying full stop, no matter what cases made for it, there aren`t going to be any Republican votes. I wonder if you and other people working on this in practical terms in the White House have to factor that in when you try to make the case to the public for doing something big like this.

ROUSE: Well, look, President Biden has been laser focused on accomplishing two things in his presidency. One, getting us through this pandemic, and the ensuing economic crisis. We`ve been through a once in a century pandemic, which brought the economy to its knees, brought untold suffering to the American people.

Two, he recognized even before the pandemic, we had structural inequality, we had year -- decades of increasing income inequality, we had decades where we were not investing in our infrastructure. This economy had real infrastructure investment needs.

So, this is where build back better came into play. So he`s been focused on these really important economic investments from the very beginning. So, you know, he would like to be able to pass and accomplish these goals in a bipartisan fashion. But what is most important for him is that we actually make these investments in our economy, and that we make the U.S. the competitive country it should be. And to ensure we`re prepared for the 21st century.

MADDOW: One of the issues that is having a lot of political debate around it already is the way that President Biden has proposed to pay for this, including by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. It`s interesting that that has made the proposal poll better. That if you don`t explain how to pay for it, which I think tells you the American public, there`s some appetite for making corporations pay.

But it sort of feels to me like talking about any specific corporate tax rate is kind of grasping at phantoms a little bit, because we keep seeing headlines including this week about how the biggest and most profitable corporations in the country just year after year seem to pay nothing, if not negative taxes. Seems like the biggest and most savvy corporations never get anywhere near paying that rate we`re spending so much time debating.

ROUSE: Well, that`s exactly right. You know, what President Biden is trying to do here is to make really important investments in our economy, in our workforce, to make the U.S. more competitive. But we understand we have to do that in a fiscally responsible way. We know that, you know, corporate tax revenue as a share of our revenue base has been declining overtime.

And he really believes that corporations should pay their fair share. After all, they benefit from many of the public goods we`ll be generating as a result of these investments. It`s absolutely outrageous that, you know, the proposal to increase the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, which really is lower than it`s been since World War II, it`s only been in the last three, four years since the Tax Cut and Jobs Act in 2017, that the corporate tax rate was so very low. And yet the U.S. economy was doing just fine.

So, President Biden is asking that corporations pay their fair share so that we can have a prosperous economy for everybody. That`s widely shared among everybody here in the U.S.

MADDOW: I think that when it comes to the idea of infrastructure, even though it`s a long, hard to pronounce word, everybody is on board with the idea of spending American taxpayer dollars to improve bridges and roads and ports and airports and all of these things that we think of as traditional literally concrete infrastructure.

But there`s other things in the proposal that Republicans have derided as having nothing to do with infrastructure. They`ve said they want them stripped out of the bill. What is the argument for how for instance the money that`s proposed to provide care for the elderly and disabled that`s in this bill? How does that lead to jobs? How is that part of infrastructure, as it`s conceived for this bill?

ROUSE: Well, look, I like to think of care as, for centuries, when women were providing most of the care in the home, and the man, this is traditional, stereotypical, was working outside of the home. There was kind of shadow infrastructure provided by the woman. She was taking care of the children, she was taking care of their elders.

Now, women -- many woman would like to work outside of the home. Somebody needs to take care of the children, needs to take care of the elders. When we think about our population in particular over the next, what, ten years, a growing proportion will be reaching retirement age. In the next decade, the fraction of the population over the age of 85 will increase by a third. And we need to be taking care of our elders.

So, A, someone needs to be taking care of them for women to be able to work, disproportionately women. But, B, we`re actually proposing to be -- that there are jobs that will be created someone needs to take care of them of, you know, people deserve to be taken care of with dignity in their elder years.

So, it`s part of the infrastructure because we need these kinds of jobs, this kind of care to enable disproportionately women to actually go to work. Just like I need the road outside of my house in order to get my jobs. I need to know that electricity is going to turn on in order to do my job. I need increasingly broadband in order to do my job, or, by the way, for kids to go to school.

So, all of these are infrastructure to help us do the kinds of economic activity that we need to do to ensure that our economy is healthy and moving forward.

MADDOW: Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, again, it`s a real honor to have you here. Thank you so much for your time tonight. I have a feeling that the politics on this bill and on this issue are going to get crazier and crazier over the next few weeks, as it`s debated. We`d love to have you back.

ROUSE: Thank you very much. It`s been a pleasure.

MADDOW: All right.

All right. Coming up next, we`re going to be speaking with a "New York Times" reporter who broke a huge story in politics this weekend about the former president running a straight-up hundred million dollar-plus grift on his supporters in the last weeks he was in office. A previously unreported story. We`ve got the guy who broke that news coming up with us right after this.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Here`s how it starts. Quote: Stacey Blatt was in hospice care last September listening to Rush Limbaugh`s dire warnings about how badly Donald Trump`s campaign needed money. When he went online and chipped in everything he could, $500.

It was a big sum for a 63-year-old battling cancer and living in Kansas City on less than $1,000 per month. That single $500 contributions, federal records show, it was his first ever.

It quickly multiplied. Quote: Another $500 was withdrawn the next day, then the $500 the next week. And every week through mid-October, without his knowledge.

Until Stacy Blatt`s bank account had been depleted and frozen. When his utility and rent payments bounced, he called his brother Russell for help.

What the Blatt soon discovered was $3,000 in withdrawals by the Trump campaign in less than 30 days. They called the bank and thought they were the victims of fraud. Russell said it felt like it was a scam.

Well, it was, it was a scam, perpetrated by the then president of the United States on his most ardent followers, to the tune of many, many millions and millions of dollars.

Shane Goldmacher lays out in an absolutely gobsmacking investigation in "The New York Times", the Trump campaign last year started putting little check boxes that were already pre-checked when you went to make a donation. First, it was a box that locked you into repeating your donation every month. Then, it changed into a repeated donation every week.

Then there a second check box which the campaign called its money bomb, which locked you into an extra donation on some random day of the campaign`s choosing. To be clear, if you didn`t want the Trump campaign to keep reaching into your bank account or credit card over and over again, you would have to see all of those boxes, read them, understand them, and deliberately uncheck them. If you let them be, they would keep coming for more money from you without ever notifying you.

The campaign kept finding ways to hide that fine print beneath lots of ridiculous, bold faced, randomly all caps nonsense verbiage that begged you basically not to read to the end, basically.

Shane Goldmacher writes that, quote, the tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists, retirees, military veterans, nurses, even experienced political operatives. Soon, banks and credit card companies were inundated with fraud complaints about donations they had not intended to make. Sometimes for thousands of dollars.

I mean, all big campaigns do end up refunding some amount of money to donors because of mistakes or because some folks give more than they intended, or they accidentally give more than the legal maximum, and it has to be made square.

But the Trump campaign was in a different stratosphere. They had to refund over $120 million to their online donors. For reference, the corresponding amount for the Biden campaign was $21 million. And amazingly, Trump paid for refunds with money he raised from his donors in his next scam, soliciting donations after the election supposedly to fight election fraud or stop the steal. Or, you know, whatever.

For what it`s worth, this "New York Times" story upset Mr. Trump enough to elicit one of his weird misspelled from Mar-a-Lago. The former president says "The Times" story is all wrong, and also that he was the real winner of the November election. Okay, chief.

By the way, the Trump campaign may be over. But the for profit company they put in charge of all their online donations, to the point that they had to refund over $120 million, that company is still going quite strong in Republican politics. One member of the Republican National Committee is raising the alarm about this company which is called Win Red, and what`s it doing in his state, Minnesota.

According to "The Huffington Post", this RNC official in Minnesota has written to state Republican Party officials complaining that of all the money raised online by the Minnesota Republican Party in the last year and a half, over half of it has gone straight to this company, for something called Win Red credit card processing fees.

Most of the money they have raised online in the past year and a half has gone to that company? To keep? I mean, this can`t go on indefinitely, right? The Republican Party can`t just be an assemblage of various players who are all constantly scamming each other and running fraud schemes on each other, right? This does have to -- I don`t know.

"The New York Times" reporter who broke this amazing story joins us live next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I`ll rush to the end and tell you I don`t know how long it will take for this become a big class action lawsuit or a criminal fraud investigation. But the story begs for both or either of these.

Shane Goldmacher of "The New York Times" breaking the news this weekend of how the Trump campaign ran a $100 million scam on its own supporters around the election last year, basically duping their donors into repeated payments they never intended to make, which resulted in thousands of fraud claims by those Trump supporters, trying to figure out where their money went.

Joining us now is "New York Times" national political reporter, Shane Goldmacher.

Mr. Goldmacher, thank you so much for making time tonight. It`s nice to have you here.


MADDOW: I feel like one of the things that was helpful in your reporting was that this was something more than just a quantitatively bigger problem than you would see in other campaigns. Lots of campaigns have to return donor money for various means. This seemed like it wasn`t just a larger amount of money, but it was almost a qualitatively different approach for trying to relieve their donors of money that donors did not intend to give. Is that fair?

GOLDMACHER: I mean, you can really just look at the refund data. It tells this whole story. At the beginning of 2020, before they started deploying these boxes and before they made them weekly, before they added a second check box, and before they obscured the language of those boxes, the refund rate between the Biden and Trump campaign was almost the same. In fact, the Biden campaign rate was slightly higher refund rate.

But from the moment these boxes began, with two of them and they became increasingly complex, the Trump refund rate from 2 percent in the first six months of the year, to a total of 10.7 percent over the course of the entire campaign, which was 12 percent in the last half of the year. That is to say, at the end of the day, $1 out of every $10 that people donated to Donald Trump online was refunded back to donors.

Not all of those are fraud claims where people said this was a scam. But a good chunk of it is. When I went to the Trump campaign and told them the findings, they said, look, we have less than 1 percent of donors formally complained to their credit card, that they have been scammed. That`s still a very large number, because Win Red and the Trump campaign generally tried to give people back their money if they asked for it.

So, these are people that called their credit card, cancelled their and said, hey, I`ve been a victim of something. At best in their accounting, close to 200,000 transactions were subject to that at credit card companies. I talked to numerous officials at these banks who said there was a surge of fraud complaints around the election and shortly after.

MADDOW: When they had to refund this money, did they refund it with interest? Because they had the money and were able to use it for campaign purposes before they refunded it. If they ended up refunding it without interest, were they in effect taking interest-free loans from their donors?

GOLDMACHER: I`ve not heard of anyone who got their money back with interest. And more than just an interest free loan from supporters, this was money to the Trump campaign when they needed it. You know, as you covered and as you recall in October, the Trump campaign entered the final weeks of the election was far more television ads reserved than they had money in the bank. So by collecting these recurring donation before the election, in many cases refunding them after the election, that`s when donors noticed their credit card bill had six charges from the previous month, that they couldn`t recall on where they had made, they had the money when they needed it.

And Trump continued to raise tens of millions of dollars after the election when he was talking to his supporters and saying you have to stop the steal. I really won. And you need to give me your money so I can fight this in the courts.

But the reality is, more of the money he raised after the election went towards paying for these refunds than it went towards legal bills.

MADDOW: Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

"New York Times" national political reporter, Shane Goldmacher, this is an incredible story. Thank you for helping us understand it.

GOLDMACHER: Thanks for having me on.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: That`s going to do it for us tonight. It`s been good to have you here. I`ll see you again tomorrow night.


Good evening, Lawrence.