tv The Last Word MSNBC July 28, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PDT
want to live in, not about debt ceilings, this isn't the return counter. it's a beautiful country and a beautiful summer. we ought to get outside and debate the big picture, what kind of country we want to live in, what kind of country we want this to be. that's why i like politics, roosevelt, reagan, kennedy, the stuff even young kids like me cared about. that's "hardball," thanks for being with us. "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" starts right now. >> joel burns is with us tonight to respond to michele bachmann's statement on bullying. but bullying isn't the only danger the tea party just doesn't understand. >> first of all, you don't look happy on the front page of "the new york times." >> first, speaker of the house john boehner, it doesn't get better. >> the speaker of the house is being whip sawed today between his tea party caucus. >> this is the moment of the boehner speakership.
>> the plan is officially a flop. >> the budget office downgrading the revenue projections. >> told gop lawmakers to get their "blank" in line. >> get their behind in line, thomas. >> he was really cracking the whip. >> it says boehner's grip on his caucus is put to test in standoff. >> the world's saddest tangerine. >> when boehner supporters tried to help, they actually made things worse. tea party republicans are officially out of control. >> the debt limit will be raised one way or another. >> holding the career politicians accountable. >> is it fair to say you have a bit of a rebellion on your hands? >> oh, i have a little bit of rebellion on my hands every day. >> i will not vote for this bill. >> i will not vote to increase
the debt ceiling. >> congressman keith ellison joins me. >> just as a reminder, we have six days left. >> and just when you thought it couldn't get crazier. >> he now achieves the prize for stupidest idea of the year. >> i introduced a bill to lower the debt ceiling, not raise it. lower the debt ceiling, not raise it. >> the single stupidest thing said or proposed. >> not by me. >> by anyone in the debt ceiling debate, representative paul brown has a bill to lower the debt ceiling. raise the debt ceiling, raise the debt ceiling raise the debt ceiling, raise the debt ceiling >> good evening from new york. you would think that in the final week before we reach the deadline for raising the debt ceiling that we would by now be in the end game of what has become the difficult, sometimes nearly impossible negotiation to
reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling. and you would be wrong. we are not yet in the end game. we are still in the bluff stage of the negotiations. as it happens, the bluff stage, which began in full 18 days ago, has been the most public and active stage of the negotiations. bluffing by definition must be public and must be full of false activity. the president, by far the best bluffer of all the major players, got the bluffing going in earnest with his press conference on july 11th, by which time he had masterfully maneuvered the republicans into a stalemate of the negotiations, which then allowed the president to pretend that he was in favor of more deficit reduction than republican house speaker john boehner. since boehner had given up on reaching the so-called grand bargain on a $4 trillion deficit
reduction package, a package that in truth would have been full of budget cuts that would be politically, not to mention morally, too much for the president to actually accept and sign. boehner had, of course, given up on that package, because the president insisted on something he knew boehner could not do, which was accept at least a trillion in tax revenue increases. since then, each side has come out with new proposals, almost on a daily basis, each of which has been immediately rejected by the other side. now, can both sides really be that inept? can both sides really have absolutely no idea what the other side is willing to accept or what the other side is even willing to discuss or might each side be deliberately proposing plans that are immediately
rejected because the rejection of those proposals serves a larger strategic purpose? the president's overarching communications strategy throughout this process has been to portray himself as the reasonable man. polls of independent and swing voters that he needs to win in his reelection campaign, which is already underway, indicate that the president has succeeded in delivering the message that he is being more reasonable than the republicans, that he is, as he would put it, bending over backwards to find ways to compromise. at the same time, the president has worried many in his base that he is bending too much, but it has been easy for the president to portray himself as compromising so much on proposals that he knows have absolutely no chance of becoming agreed to by republicans as long as the president remained
unyielding on including tax revenue in those packages. john boehner, mitch mcconnell, and the republican leaders have a different task. they are making no effort, absolutely no effort to appear reasonable to american voters. john boehner need only appear reasonable to about 150,000 voters in his conservative congressional district in ohio. mitch mcconnell need only to appear reasonable to about 900,000 voters in the ultraconservative state of kentucky, a state where rand paul seems reasonable. and both boehner and mcconnell need to seem relentlessly unreasonable to tea party republicans in the congress who believe compromising is the worst sin they could ever commit. boehner knows that getting everything the tea party wants
with a democratic senate and a democratic president is impossible. mcconnell obviously knows this too, but as of tonight, boehner and mcconnell's fear of a tea party revolt against their leadership has them still trapped in posturing for the tea party. boehner knows that his latest proposal, which cbo has exposed as not saving as much money as boehner claimed, has no chance of becoming law. but the tea party doesn't know that. so boehner has to appear to be fighting for it or something like it, fighting until the very end. and so boehner pretends to fight for it as told the house republican caucus today. "get your ass in line, this is the bill. i can't do this job unless you're behind me." but tea party approval is still hard to come by for an old republican establishment guy
like boehner. >> i will not vote for this bill, because i don't think we should be raising the debt ceiling at all. we need to be doing what a business does when it becomes overextended. federal government is broke. >> to me, we can do better, it's just not good enough, and i think we can do better. >> will you vote for it? >> no, i can't, martin. >> i will not vote to increase the debt ceiling. it goes completely contrary to common sense. >>former maverick, john mccain, is not exactly maverick-y enough to risk not raising the debt ceiling, so he has rushed to mcconnell and boehner's side to try to talk sense to the tea party. >> some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment, the constitution, in this body, with its present representation, and that is foolish. that is worse than foolish. that is deceiving many of our
constituents by telling them that just because the majority leader tabled the balanced budget amendment legislation, that somehow through amending and debate, we could somehow convince a majority on the other side of the aisle to go along with a balanced budget amendment of the constitution. that is not fair. that is not fair to the american people to hold out and say we won't agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. it's unfair, it's bizarre-o, and maybe, some people who have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. others know better. others know better. >> bizarre-o, but mccain's occasional turns as the republican voice of reason are now darkly overshadowed by the
republican voice of nonsense that mccain created. >> we already had cut, cap, and balance that passed the house, and we don't need to retreat now and wave a white flag and say oh, because the senate is not allowing a vote on cut, cap, and balance, now we have to go out there and think up another plan. no, we didn't have to do that. the cut, cap, and balance plan is the right plan, because evidently, there are enough members of congress are insisting the debt ceiling will be raised. i don't want to see it raised, but they are saying it will be raised. if it's going to be raised, we better get something out of it. >> for congressional leaders, compromising with the other party is not possible until they prove to their own party that what they want is impossible to get. but how do you convince tea partiers of the impossible when everything they want, everything they think about, everything
they dream about is impossible? normally, congressional leaders can simply explain to their caucuses that they don't have the votes to pass what they want to pass and that becomes immediately obvious to everyone in the room, because they all talk to each other and discover that they don't have the votes. sometimes, when things get really tense, congressional leaders actually have to bring a defeated in order to prove to their own party that what they want is impossible. you are now watching john boehner trying to prove to the tea party what is impossible. if his bill comes to a vote in the house and passes, harry reid has promised to demonstrate that it is impossible to pass the senate. >> speaker boehner's plan is not a compromise. it was written for the tea party, not the american people. democrats will not vote for it, democrats will not vote for it,
democrats will not vote for it, it's dead on arrival in the senate, if they get it out of the house. the tea party's in the driver's seat for the house republicans now, and that's a very, very scary thought. >> and, if boehner's bill is defeated in the house, it would not be boehner's worst day as speaker if his bill is defeated in the republican house of representatives, because the tea party won't support it. that, too, boehner could use as a proof to tea partiers that in divided government, it is impossible to pass a bill that becomes a law without the support -- with the support of only one party. in divided government, you need the support of both parties, and so the legislative stunts continue. all -- all in an effort to do what so far has proved impossible. make these people accept
reality. >> i introduced a bill to lower the debt ceiling, not raise it, and i just think raising the debt ceiling is not the way to go. we need to lower it. >> you know, the president doesn't have a plan. he has yet to put a plan on the table. >> he's insisting that america must act on incurring more debt, raising that debt ceiling, otherwise we will default. we will not default. >> as the legislative stunts continue, many understandably worry that time is running out and congress will crash into the deadline of the debt ceiling simply because they've run out of time to write the incredibly complex legislation that is obviously necessary to raise the debt ceiling. but that's not how the debt ceiling is usually raised. this is how the debt ceiling is usually raised, a one-page bill. as i've shown you here before, a one-page bill, one-sentence bill.
changes one number on that page. congress has often legislated this, the one-page bill, the necessary increases in the debt ceiling, at the very last minute. indeed, deliberately done so at the very last minute so that no one in the senate gets the idea they might want to filibuster it or attach an amendment to it. no one in the house gets any ideas about in any way getting in the way of raising the debt ceiling, because all of them, even those voting against raising the debt ceiling in the past understood how important it is that the debt ceiling be raised. when barack obama was a senator, he voted against raising the debt ceiling, but he understood that it had to be raised, and that's why it's always been raised. senators, senators have been uniquely empowered to block raising the debt ceiling since
it was first instituted in 1917. they could do it with the filibuster, and not one of them ever has. many of them have voted against raising the debt ceiling for political convenience, just like senator barack obama did, but they all knew it must be raised. they knew it would be raised, and they all wanted a majority vote to raise it. this one-page bill can be passed literally in minutes, in identical forms, in both the house and the senate and delivered for the president's signature in minutes as it has been done many, many, many times in the past. so at 11:00 p.m. on august 1st, it is not too late for the president to veto any messy hunk of nonsense that the congress might deliver to him and insist that, instead, they send him one of these with an hour left on
the clock or a half an hour left on the clock. he can insist, send me one-page bill with a debt ceiling increase on it and nothing else, and he can do that at the very last minute. that is the traditional form of a debt ceiling increase. there is, now, one thing, only one thing, that barack obama, john boehner, and mitch mcconnell agree on. >> i just completed a meeting with all the congressional leaders from both chambers, from both parties, everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt limit ceiling so that the full faith and credit of the united states of america is not impaired. >> i agree with the president that the national debt limit must be raised. >> the third option, and, i think, the least attractive option, is one in which we raise the debt ceiling but we don't
make any progress in deficit and debt. >> i would advocate that we pass legislation giving the president the authority, the authority to request of us an increase in the debt ceiling that would take us past the end of his term. >> the only bottom line that i have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election into 2013. >> the united states cannot default on its debt obligations. >> in the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine. since the 1950s, congress has always passed it, and every president has signed it. president reagan did it 18 times. george w. bush did it seven times, and we have to do it by next tuesday, august 2nd. >> the one-page version of the debt ceiling increase needs only to command 51 votes in the united states senate and 218 in the house of representatives.
every tea party member of congress can vote against the one-page version of raising the debt ceiling. their votes would not be needed. as long as the stunts continue and no serious bipartisan negotiation is underway, with the passage of every day, with the passage of every hour on the legislative clock, the likelihood increases that this one-page, this is the way congress will raise the debt ceiling. the way it has done it countless times before. the way congress knows how to do it. one piece of paper, one sentence, changing one number. and in that version of the end, the president would have achieved his image of reasonable man by seeming to agree to
painful budget cuts for democrats that never actually become law, and republicans will have cemented their image as the party of the uncompromising, the party of the unreasonable, the party of the reckless, the party of the dangerous, the party not to be trusted with the real burdens of governing, and the country will have escaped the harmful effects of every one of these deficit reduction packages that have been bandied about, that have been worried about, all of which carry far too many badly conceived ideas that would be harmful to our fragile economic recovery and do nothing to restart the job creating engine in our economy. coming up, analysis of the tea party's refusal to raise the debt ceiling and where we go from here. chairman of the house progressive caucus, keith ellison joins me with his reaction. and which deficit reduction plan
might actually be best for america, if any. alice rivlin joins me. and from a very violent movie about bank robbers, this is what house republicans used for a pep talk about the debt ceiling negotiations. that's in tonight's rewrite. i'm always looking out for small ways to be more healthy. like new splenda® essentials™ no calorie sweeteners. this bowl of strawberries is loaded with vitamin c. and now, b vitamins to boot. coffee doesn't have fiber. unless you want it to. get more with new splenda® essentials™, a small boost of fiber, or antioxidants, or b vitamins in every packet. same great taste with an added "way to go, me" feeling. new splenda® essentials™. get more out of what you put in. look in this sunday's paper for a three dollar coupon. our girl's an architect. our boy's a genius.
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house republicans stupidly use a clip from a bank robbery film, "the town," to rally their troops during the debt negotiations, the star, ben aflek thinks they should have used another film of his. we'll tell you which one. and the dow dropped today. is there a plan that might be good for the american economy?
>> that was tea party republican congressman paul brown of georgia saying to andrea mitchell today that he's had enough of this talk of raising the debt ceiling, it's time to lower it. joining me now is congressman keith ellison, co-chair of the congressional caucus, thanks for joining me tonight, congressman. i think paul brown and others i've had on this show have demonstrated what you're up against in the house of representatives. i mean, these are people who don't even recognize forces of gravity. it's like you're talking to a
flat-earth society there. how do we go forward from here and given that time of intransigence, where do you think we'll be as we move through the weekend, get into monday, nothing will have passed most likely in either body and the debt ceiling clock is ticking. >> i see only two paths forward, and i wish i didn't, but i only see two. one, is we just get a clean debt ceiling bill to increase it to carry us through the -- into 2013, and we just pass that so we can calm the markets and communicate to the world and all americans that we are responsible legislators. i think democrats will vote for it, maybe we can get a few republicans that are not ideologically committed to this thing that they are trying to do, and maybe we can help move the ball forward. the other thing, the 14th amendment, i believe, authorizes the president to raise the debt ceiling, of course, i think he'll draw some legal
challenges, but so be it. if they -- i think at the end of the day we swear an oath to uphold the constitution of the united states, the 14th ceiling should not be questioned. i think the president has authority to raise it and move forward that way. i prefer to have the legislative body to operate and function, but if push comes to shove, i think that he needs to just invoke that constitutional option. >> and that's where i think the president's handling of this every month coming through here, right up to today, has been masterful, because if what we're headed for is this constitutional showdown on something like the 14th amendment, it seems to me he has masterfully demonstrated that he's dealing with a completely unreasonable opposition party where there is no choice, and he's also finally, the professor has finally taught the american voter that raising the debt ceiling is important.
the polls a couple of months ago said we don't care, don't raise it. now they get their mortgages are at stake, car loans at stake, economic futures at stake. >> credit cards at stake, everything. i tell ya, i think the president has bent over backwards to try to be reasonable with the republicans. they have refused him at every turn, you know, speaker boehner has -- doesn't even have control of his own caucus, it's pretty apparent that he's not in charge over there. i think the president is left with very few options, and perhaps a clean debt ceiling vote may work at this desperate hour, if not, the constitutional option has to be pushed. here's the thing, we don't have to link the budgetary issues with this issue of raising the debt ceiling. let's not link them now. let's continue the discussion about the deficit reduction. i figure a jobs program, if we got job unemployment down to 4%, we wouldn't have a debt problem.
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the president and congressional leaders agree on only one thing, that the debt ceiling must be raised. they partially agree on something else, that deficit -- the deficit must be reduced. exactly when and how to reduce the deficit is where their disagreement sharpens. there remains a small and now largely-ignored contingent in washington, those who believe the current shape of our spending and revenue imbalance cannot continue unchecked. now is not the time to impose spending cuts in a fragile economy. is there somehow a way, with unemployment still over 9%, to cut government spending without slowing or even reversing recovery from the great recession?
joining me now, brookings institution fellow, alice rivlin, thanks so much for joining me, alice. >> happy to be here. >> alice, how do we cut this? the terrible dilemma of this is a fragile economy, needs stimulus wherever it can get it, here's this giant movement now, political consensus, it seems like, to cut government spending dramatically with unemployment still over 9%? >> well, we have to do two things at once, and we have to keep the timing right. right now, you're absolutely right, we shouldn't be cutting government spending drastically and we shouldn't be raising taxes either, it's the wrong moment, we need to do the opposite. we need to create jobs. but the economy is recovering and it won't be -- it won't continue recovering unless we get the longer-run deficit problem under control and in a
visible way now. we can do both things at once. we should have done it two years ago. we should have put in place legislation that would gradually reduce the deficit over the next ten years or more as we put in place enough stimulus to keep the recovery going. >> so alice, something to remember in the design of these plans is they are ten-year plans, and so you might be doing something that's very different in the first two years of those plans than what you're doing in the eighth year of those plans, assuming you get better economic growth numbers. >> absolutely. and all this conversation about slashing medicare and social security is total nonsense. nobody wants to do that at all, and nobody wants to do it in the near term. we do have to slow the growth of medicare.
we can't have it go on this way, because it will eat us all alive. we have more and more old people and we have more and more expensive medical care, so we have to find a way, and there are ways, to slow the growth of medicare. but nobody's talking about doing that immediately. we're talking about doing it out some years from now. maybe changing social security rules, tweaking it a little bit, to put the system back on a firm foundation. but those things sound scary to democrats, and similarly on the tax side, we need to reform the tax code, lower the rates, broaden the base, and make it more efficient, but we don't need to do that right away. all of these major tax expenditures, the things that are spending through the tax code, would have to be phased out gradually over time.
>> alice rivlin, founding director of the congressional budget office, thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you. coming up, what michele bachmann has to say about the bullying of gay, lesbian, and transgender students in her congressional district. joel burns returns to the show tonight. i realized i needed an aarp... medicare supplement insurance card, too. medicare is one of the great things about turning 65, but it doesn't cover everything. in fact, it only pays up to 80% of your part b expenses. if you're already on or eligible for medicare, call now to find out how an aarp... medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company, helps cover some of the medical expenses... not paid by medicare part b. that can save you from paying up to thousands of dollars... out of your own pocket. these are the only medicare supplement insurance plans... exclusively endorsed by aarp. when you call now, you'll get this free information kit...
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time for tonight's rewrite. republicans, as has been obvious for weeks, are getting desperate, like crazy desperate, and every day their desperation gets crazier. it is hard to imagine how they can do anything crazier than what they did in a closed-door caucus meeting yesterday, when the most misguided house majority whip in history, kevin mccarthy, chose to inspire the
republican troops to glory in the battle over the debt ceiling. mccarthy's definition of glory, in this instance, would be voting for the latest edition of the boehner bill, whatever that turns out to be. mccarthy knows inspirational speaking is not his strong point, so he turned to hollywood for some help. ♪ >> no, no, no, no, no. mccarthy was 5 years old when "patton" was made, so he reached for something more contemporary. >> i need your help. i can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're going to hurt some
people. >> whose car are we going to take? >> that's right. good christian, kevin mccarthy tried to inspire the party who believes this country was founded on christian values and should be governed on christian values by showing them a film clip about boston career criminals who were on their way to beat the living [ bleep ] out of a guy. >> who is it?
>> open up. >> ahh! >> oh, that hurts, huh? is that your throwing hand? >> if you're still here in a week, we're coming back. >> let's go. >> what'd you do? >> i don't know what you're talking about. >> that's my brother right there. what did you do to get him so cranked up? >> i don't know what you're telling about. >> how about now, now do you know? don't tell me to chill. what did you do? >> i don't know what you're talking about. >> no? look at me. see my face? don't tell the cops, all right?
because remember, i see those do. >> that hurts, huh? mccarthy, apparently religiously illiterate does not seem to realize that in every denomination of christianity, it is more than a bit simple to beat someone up and shoot them in the leg, so kevin mccarthy was exhorting every republican in the house of representatives to go commit violent sin. it was enough to leave some of them unhinged from their religious morings, so unhinged, they were ready to run off and commit violent sin. florida congressman, allen west, who frequently seems unhinged in general reportedly said "i'm ready to drive the car." remember, that is drive the car to go commit violent sin. maintaining christian values in the midst of legislative
strategizing is obviously, for house republicans, trying to do too many things at once. upon hearing about this, oscar winner, ben affleck, who starred, co-wrote, and directed the film in question, "the town," issued this statement, rewriting the republican's movie choice. >> i don't know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation, but if they are going to watch movies, i think "the company men" is more appropriate. "the company men" details the plight of many victims of the great recession who never dreamed their jobs could fall from under them and who never thought they could find themselves stranded in this economy, waiting for job interviews and unemployment checks. unemployment checks that republicans think are wasteful government spending. >> what's going on?
>> bobby, you know dick landry from legal? >> the company is consolidating divisions, we have structured a generous package for you, 12 weeks full pay and benefits. >> you're firing me? >> come on, bobby, sit down. >> we're also offering you placement services to help you secure your next employment. >> does jean know about this? >> please, sit. >> you know what, sally -- off. >> oh. >> yeah. >> did they say who else is on the block? >> thanks for your sympathy, phil.
but has been silent on another issue concerning her district that is dominating headlines. the justice department and the department of education's office of civil rights are now investigating the anoka-hennepin county school district after nine teenagers have committed suicide in the past two years, many after perceived as being gay. samantha that johnson was 13 years old, always partial to wearing sweats and wore her hair short. kids harassed her because they thought she was a lesbian. in 2009, samantha put a hunting rifle in her mouth and pulled the trigger. i feel if i hadn't moved to this district, my daughter wouldn't have died. the anoka-hennepin school district has a policy for teachers to remain neutral on
the matter of homosexuality. always groups associated with bachmann, who have for years successfully lobbied against lgbt issues being discussed in schools, and while bachmann has yet to comment on this matter, as a minnesota state senator, she was very vocal in opposing a 2006 anti-bullying bill. >> there's always been bullies, always have been, always will be. i just don't know how we're ever going to get to a point of zero tolerance, and what will it mean? will it get to the point where we are completely stifling free speech and expression, will it mean that -- what form of behavior will there be? will we be expecting boys to be girls? what is it exactly we're asking for? i don't mean that as a sexist comment, but there are differences between boys and
girls when they are on the playground and the classroom. >> joining me now, gay rights activist, joel burns, joel, thank you very much for returning to the show. >> happy to be here again. >> joel, what happens when schools, like a school district like this where teachers are forbidden by law from even discussing this problem? >> these no promo homo rules they have create a culture of fear amongst the teachers and educators who work with the kids. that fear gets transferred on to the children themselves. they know they can't talk to the teachers about the issues they want to talk about. the teachers are afraid for their jobs, they end up not talking about it and it creates this negative culture in our schools. >> joel, the way the laws are interpreted, even if a teacher is witnessing these things, even
if a teacher is walking by and witnesses some of this stuff with some of this language, it would be legally impossible or dangerous, anyway, for the teacher to intervene and talk about it, because it may involve talking about gay issues. >> exactly. they could lose their jobs, and, you know, jobs in this economy right now are something people want to hang on to, and teachers in minnesota and across the country want to hang on to their jobs. that's why it's important they are not encumbered by the laws. >> when you hear the mother saying if i hadn't moved to this school district, she'd probably be alive now. is that how particular this kind of experience can feel as a teenager, really, it's an accident of what school district you might be in at a given time in your life that can affect how you're viewed and how you end up viewing yourself? >> yes, and i would say this is
a problem that's experienced across our country, but this is a particular problem in the anoka-hennepin school district in minnesota. there's a problem there, and i had the opportunity to serve on a panel, u.s. department of education summit in d.c. a couple of months ago, and i met a teacher from the anoka-hennepin school district and he had seven kids in his classes, seven students, seven kids that committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide, just in his class alone. that's indicative of a serious problem. i know you referenced michele bachmann coming into this, i think her silence is troublesome. it implies an indifference or disdain that i find very worrisome. >> joel, in the national, statistical picture, the big focus of it, we have studies indicating 85% of lgbt students surveyed nationally say they have been bullied at school.
this is, by no means, individualized to particular school districts. >> absolutely. again, it is a nationwide problem, but there are cultures created within these school districts about how to deal with it, and you find in areas either in states or school districts where the -- they have policies prohibiting this type of activity of bullying and of prohibiting any kind of discussion about homosexuality. the suicide rates amongst lgbt teens are much lower. that's something proved out in a variety of places, the fact it's higher in anoka-hennepin point to problems there. >> joel burns, thank you for returning to "the last word" tonight. thanks, joel, for joining us again. >> i'm happy to be here and i hope the congresswoman ends her silence soon. >> thank you, joel. thank you.