CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Republicans trying to kill Medicare.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off tonight:
The revenge of the people. Remember all those videos of angry town halls
where voters attacked Democrats over health care? Well, now Democrats
are hoping for a new round of that fighting, this time over Paul Ryan`s push
to kill Medicare, the Republicans` push to kill Medicare. Democrats have even
released a video on the issue. Well, the Republican demolition of Medicare
tops our show tonight.
Plus, the Republican protection racket for the rich. Why do Republicans fight
so hard to defend the rich from paying their fair share of taxes? You tell me.
Also, Donald Trump`s new right-wing buddy and the New York mayor who
says he`s birther mad.
F-16s, by the way, from Norway, of all places, try to kill Gadhafi. No way.
Finally, Haley Barbour`s not running for president — just found out today. So
We start with the backlash against the Republican Medicare kill. Howard
Fineman is political editor for the HuffingtonPost and David Corn is
Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine. Both are MSNBC
Let me take a look — I want you both to see the latest footage. If you hold a
town meeting today, you can be sure someone will have a cell phone…
MATTHEWS: … someone will have a way of showing it to the world.
Everything now goes viral. Here`s Republican congressman Lou Barletta. He
was the anti-immigrant guy who got elected in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Here
he is facing angry constituents not over illegal immigrants, but by the
Republican effort to kill Medicare. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you`re doing with this Ryan budget is you`re
taking Medicare and you`re changing it from a guaranteed health care system
to one that is a voucher system, where you throw seniors — I`m 64. You
throw seniors on the mercy of for-profit insurance companies.
The reason we have Medicare in the first place is because seniors couldn`t
get health insurance. People won`t cover seniors for this lousy $15,000. You
said nothing in the campaign about, I`m going to change Medicare. Now you
voted for a plan that will destroy Medicare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Boy, she is good because she`s totally informed. And by the
way, that little pirouette she did when she turned around and starts…
MATTHEWS: … Look, I own this room! And she`s basically saying, Lou
Barletta, you ran against illegal immigrants. Fair enough. We elected you
because we didn`t like illegal immigrants. Next thing you know, you`re voting
with the Republicans like a lemming to kill our Medicare.
These are — look, Pennsylvanians up in that part of the country are not rich
people. They`re working class, middle class people, but they`re not going to
head off to Florida to live in some big houses somewhere. They got to make it
up there through the winter and all, and they need the Medicare.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Yes. Well, you know, that…
MATTHEWS: Why is this guy voting with the party like a lemming?
FINEMAN: That`s Joe Biden`s ancestral homeland up there…
FINEMAN: … in the Scranton — you know, eastern Pennsylvania area. It`s an
older demographic. And the Democrats are going to target anybody at or
MATTHEWS: Looks like those people are targeting the Republicans!
FINEMAN: Yes, they definitely are. They definitely are. I think you`re going to
see much more…
MATTHEWS: Why do…
FINEMAN: … of that all around the country.
MATTHEWS: Howard, you and I have been in this business a long time.
FINEMAN: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: What moonshine did Barletta drink that got him to vote with the
Republican vote to kill Medicare? One of the — they`re not going to kill Social
Security. Nobody`s that nuts.
MATTHEWS: But you`re pretty close to being nuts when you mess with
MATTHEWS: … the one program I`ve discovered everybody likes once they
FINEMAN: Yes. And I can`t answer it other than to say that ideology trumps
political common sense in this case because they are fixated on the idea that
the route to salvation for the country and for them politically is to cut
FINEMAN: But that`s not the popular…
MATTHEWS: The average person doesn`t think…
FINEMAN: … or even necessarily the right way…
MATTHEWS: … it`s government spending. They pay…
FINEMAN: They don`t. They don`t.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. They all have dodges now. We`re going to
get to Pat Meehan…
MATTHEWS: … the former U.S. attorney, who wishes he was still a U.S.
attorney, by the way, I think, defending himself by saying, This is just
blueprint. Well, now the big dodge the Republicans have is, yes, I voted for it,
but that only affects people 55 or 54 and younger. And that woman
apparently in that same exchanged turned around and said, yes — when he
tried to defend himself, she said, yes, but I care about my nieces and
nephews. I don`t want them screwed out of Medicare.
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, more
important than that, I mean, in that demographic, I worry. But also, people
have parents and people who are 30 and 40 are looking at the parents who
may be 55 or 60…
CORN: … and heading in that direction, they don`t want to worry about
for-profit insurance taking care of their parents in the next five, ten years. So
there`s — it`s not just 64 or…
MATTHEWS: Yes, here`s your Starbucks gift card. Go buy some insurance.
CORN: I mean, that…
MATTHEWS: Take a look at the map. Here`s what`s going on. The Democrats
aren`t so stupid. Look, they got a map now. They`re looking around the
country, where they lost the seats just last November. This isn`t a Hundred
Years War. This is a few months ago. They got blown away in those races.
Now they`re already targeting those to get back, Howard.
FINEMAN: Well, one of the keys is five of those on the map — I don`t know if it
shows that, but five of them in Florida. Five of the districts are in Florida. Duh.
FINEMAN: Well, because of the senior demographic.
MATTHEWS: But they got — they`re the people with money.
FINEMAN: They`re the people with money, but they care about this. They
believe in it philosophically. You`ve got Arizona. You`ve got Iowa. You`ve got
Pennsylvania. That`s what they`re going after. And by the way, by trying to
exempt the younger people, also, it doesn`t necessarily help the Republicans
make their case because what they`re saying to the younger voters is,
We`re going to screw you. We`re going to screw you. So if you look at who
supports what across the board…
CORN: There are 13 congressional districts where people — where they
elected Republicans in last November, but in 2008 and 2004, they voted for
Barack Obama and John Kerry. That`s half of the 25 they`re going after.
Barletta is in one of those districts. These are the people who should be
running scared. These are Democratic-leaning or Democratic high registration
districts where the people like Medicare, like Medicaid, as well. And they
don`t like tax cuts for the rich. So they all should be worried what`s going to
MATTHEWS: OK, well, this splits both ways. Let`s try to balance this out, this
discussion. (INAUDIBLE) You look at your cash situation, most Americans,
and most people in the country don`t live in cities, they drive cars. So a lot of
your cash is going right into that pump right now, you know, whether you`re
doing the card or you`re paying the cash, 78 bucks a pop…
CORN: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: … paying supreme, you`re paying regular, a little less. Twice a
week, you`re getting killed over 100 bucks in cash. So you`re cash poor.
Then you look at the value of your house. You thought it was worth 100K.
You`re getting close to retirement. That`s your nest egg. That`s only worth
$70,000. So what`s happening today is people are facing cash poverty and
wealth poverty. What I thought I owned in the back pocket — I could go watch
television (ph), I think — at least I own the house. I`m going to sell that to retire
with — it ain`t what it was. You`re going to have a lot less money to go buy
an apartment somewhere, a condo in the — wherever…
CORN: Hey, and their kids…
MATTHEWS: … on top of that, your Medicare is getting screwed. It isn`t going
to cover you for your health…
CORN: And their kids are not getting good jobs. I mean, that`s the other thing.
MATTHEWS: So who do you blame?
CORN: So you know, the whole feeling…
MATTHEWS: Let`s watch…
CORN: … of security is gone.
MATTHEWS: Let`s watch this guy. Here`s a guy who got elected in Joe
Sestak`s districts. You know this district.
FINEMAN: Yes, I do.
MATTHEWS: It`s right — Delaware County. It`s regular people. They`re not a
lot of right-wing country folk. They`re suburban people, inner, outer suburb.
Here they are realizing the guy they elected because he`s a clean U.S.
prosecutor has been voting the Republican lemming line. Here he is trying to
defend his vote. And here he is — wait until you hear his defense. It`s very
interesting, a little too interesting. Here he is, Pat Meehan, defending his vote
to cut Medicare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you voted to abolish Medicare, how will you explain
that to people who are in their 50s who are out of work, that they will have
not the Medicare that I have?
REP. PAT MEEHAN (R), PENNSYLVANIA: You said in your comment that I
voted to abolish Medicare, and that`s factually wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, how is that wrong?
MEEHAN: Let me answer the question…
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will.
MEEHAN: … and then I`ll talk to you. Thank you. I voted for the Ryan plan.
What Paul Ryan has put out is a blueprint, a sense of what we would like to
do, a direction that we`d like to go in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Do you think it helped he was wearing a regular work shirt
MATTHEWS: … he explains killing Medicare?
CORN: It doesn`t help.
FINEMAN: And to say it`s a blueprint doesn`t help, either, because he — what
does that mean? He doesn`t explain what that means. And the more he tries
to explain actually what he voted for, the deeper trouble he`s in because
there`s no way that the mathematics of the Ryan plan would result in
anything other than the average retired person paying at least $5,000 or
CORN: These are not…
FINEMAN: … a year in the end. These are not numbers made up…
CORN: These are not suggested guidelines. You know, for years — the last
year, we`ve heard that Paul Ryan has an integral, coherent plan to save the
country. This is part of that. This is not sort of, Well, let`s have a committee
and study whether we should do this. The Republicans are on record of
ending Medicare and Medicaid as…
MATTHEWS: It`s just like saying I voted to authorize to war not to go to war.
CORN: It`s even worse than that.
FINEMAN: Well, the problem is, there are numbers attached to it now because
the Congressional Budget Office and other sort of neutral umpires of this
thing are saying there`s no way that the vouchers that Paul Ryan would
hand out would cover all the costs, and so people are going to have to
absorb more of it themselves.
FINEMAN: Wait. The Republicans aren`t really arguing with those numbers.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this ad campaign. It was put together by a
progressive group called Americans United for Change. It`s launched an ad
campaign, as I said, this week in four congressional districts at about
$35,000 a pop. By the way, it`s going after, in this case, Sean Duffy of
Wisconsin. Let`s watch the ad nailing the Republicans. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sean Duffy looks like a nice young man, but on April
15th, he voted to end Medicare and its guaranteed health care benefits.
Instead, he wants seniors to get coverage from private insurance
companies. Under Duffy`s plan, seniors` costs will go up over $6,000. Duffy
wants to use that money to give millionaires a $200,000 tax break. Ending
Medicare so millionaires can get another tax break? Really? Call
Congressman Duffy and ask, What were…
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FINEMAN: … the voice of that person, and she sounds like Betty White.
MATTHEWS: It is Betty White.
MATTHEWS: No, I`m just kidding.
FINEMAN: That`s a granny — that`s Betty White or Granny or Aunt Flabby or
somebody saying, How dare that nice young man try to deny me Medicare?
MATTHEWS: In other words, I liked his looks, but he`s hurting me.
CORN: But guess what? The Republicans are acting like Republicans!
They`re squeezing the elderly and the poor to make room for tax cuts for the
rich. I mean, this is a gift to the Democrats. And if they can`t do ads like that
across the country, they should…
MATTHEWS: We got two Republicans on the run, one saying it was just a
blueprint. What was the other one saying? Oh, it`s only for 55 and younger.
So Howard, the fact that they`re already on the run, that they`re playing
dodgeball here, does that tell…
MATTHEWS: What`s that tell the top Republicans in the House?
FINEMAN: You asked initially, Why did they do it? I think there was a sort of
group frenzy, a sort of group mentality, We got to do something for the Tea
Party initially, we got to be with the Tea Party. And so they did it. This was
the one thing that they felt they had to do…
MATTHEWS: Are they dead?
FINEMAN: … after the election.
MATTHEWS: Are they dead?
FINEMAN: Well, they`re going to run as fast as they can unless they can
change the subject between now and (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Well, how do they change the fact they voted for this thing, they
voted for it?
CORN: They can`t change the fact. And this is an albatross around their
neck. They have a year-and-a-half now to try to…
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a millstone around your neck…
CORN: No. The Ancient Mariner wore the albatross.
CORN: But this is — this is a heavy burden for them to carry for the next
year-and-a-half because any time they talk about deficit — and they thought
they had an advantage on Obama on the budget and the deficit and tax
issues and all this stuff. Now he has a counterargument. Yes, but this is
what they want to do. And it`s not going to go away.
FINEMAN: Well, they have to — they have to change the argument back to the
fact that the government`s broke, and I don`t know if they can do it. They`re
going to try.
CORN: And the economy`s…
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it like Hollywood? This is high concept.
FINEMAN: That part`s high concept. Losing the Medicare money is not high
concept. That`s the problem for the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: That`s right. Thank you. It`s easier to understand the Democrat
argument — the Democratic argument. Howard Fineman, David Corn, jumping
on the Republican carcass — objectively.