The Power Panel: is Medicare a losing battle? Do Republicans have an authenticity problem? Cenk Uygur MSNBC TV June 16, 2011 Video Transcript

UYGUR: Welcome back to the show, everybody. For today`s biggest news that does not involve Congressman Weiner, we are going to bring out our Power Panel. Jonathan Capehart, editorial writer for The Washington Post and MSNBC contributor. Also with us Jane Hamsher, founder and publisher of And finally, Josh Trevino, vice president of Communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Think Tank.

First question for the panel. Do republicans have an authenticity problem? Today, Mitt Romney met with a group of unemployed people in Florida, when they finish talking about their situation, he said this.


MITT ROMNEY, 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, I should tell my story. I`m also unemployed.


UYGUR: Ha ha ha, so funny. I`m unemployed. He is worth, as you see there, between 109 to $250 million. I don`t think that`s funny. Josh, do you think that`s funny.

JOSHUA TREVINO, TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION: It is certainly a category of jokes that multimillionaires shouldn`t be making. But what I do think is funny is that we actually got to see Debbie Wasserman-Schultz criticized somebody for a faux pas today, that`s funny.

UYGUR: All right. Nice deflection — OK. But Jane, come on. That has got to rub people in the wrong way, right? And that Mitt Romney`s problem. I mean, isn`t it like when he tries to come across as authentic, it comes off like ten times worse? How condescending did that sound?

JANE HAMSHER, FOUNDER, FIREDOGLAKE.COM: It sounded really condescending. It draws attention to the fact that Mitt Romney had been in capital made his money by selling off corporate assets and firing people. It is like Mitt Romney looks like the guy who fired your dad, no, Mitt Romney is the guy who fired your dad and it`s entirely ironic.


Exactly. And entirely ironic that the whole Tea Party movement came together to protests all over the bank bailouts and government being owned by the banks. And all now they are rallying behind Mitt Romney, the guy who ran the Hedge Fund.

TREVINO: The Tea Parties are rallying behind Mitt Romney?

HAMSHER: The polls have.

UYGUR: Josh, you got to see that poll. The last one that came out, Romney is at 30 percent. Way above everyone else.

TREVINO: Cenk, first of all, you and I both know the field is incomplete. And secondly, right now, the polls are measuring mostly name recognition. Mitt Romney is not a Tea Party choice. Nobody could.

UYGUR: All right. Fair enough. And look, the Tea Party has got issues with him. But Jonathan, let`s go to that point, right? So, here`s the guy who ran a Hedge Fund, basically, you know. Been in capitals, there is a lot of ways to categorize that. But he obviously worked with Wall Street. Here is a guy who is 47th in the country in creating jobs when he was in Massachusetts. And his main platform is creating jobs. Is it just that, you know, they are immune to facts or he is saying, I don`t know. I will turn my weakness into a strength by repeating it as many times as I can?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, I don`t know if he is — well, look, he`s made the economy and jobs, you know, his number one issue. The number one focus of his campaign. Which politically speaking is the right thing to do. No matter if you agree — who the republican nominee is going to be. They have to go with the economy and jobs if they want to have any chance of hammering a weigh at President Obama and maybe taking the White House from him. But I think as the campaign goes along, the republican primaries go along, and we start seeing who his primary opponents will be.

I would be very surprised if you didn`t see one of his opponents come out there and start talking about his Wall Street connections and how committed he is to creating jobs when he was someone, you know, part of bank capital who got rid of jobs, who ended people`s jobs. And, you know, quite frankly, reading, I`m also unemployed, comes off differently than actually hearing the joke. I didn`t take it as condescending. But what I do take it as Mitt Romney being someone who is desperately trying to seem like an everyday regular guy and coming off as completely corny.

UYGUR: At least corny. By the way, I know why Jonathan pronounced the economy jonomy (ph). Because like Cenk, the C is pronounced like J in Turkish. So, I know you were just trying to be respectful. And I appreciate that. Right. Now, all right. I`m going to bring in another, you know, Republican into this mixed now. Huntsman came out with a video, for his campaign, where he is riding a bike across the desert and there is country music and he so super cool. Except we find out today, that wasn`t Huntsman. What is their problem? I mean, OK. I start again with you. Josh, I mean, that`s a bad idea, right? To put that out there like it`s him and then all of the sudden, we find out it`s not him?

TREVINO: Well, you know, the guy who made that video of course, is Fred Davis, who has a long and checkered history of making bizarre and sometimes, remember GOP campaign spots. Fred Davis, I`ve had many people who worked and described him as something like the Greek economy, he needs a strong outside hand to produce anything good. You know, those of us who were in California in 2010, remember the bizarre and crazy stuff that he did for the arena campaign.

UYGUR: Yes. The demon-ship.

TREVINO: Yes. Exactly, the demon-ship. He may be heading down that road with Huntsman. We`ll see.

UYGUR: OK. Look, there is the demon-ship with the crazy eyes. I love that ad.

TREVINO: An awful ad.

UYGUR: But Jonathan, we can`t just put this on Fred Davis. Huntsman obviously signed off on it. You know, it seems like when you go, when you turn over there, all you got is, you know, authentic.

CAPEHART: Well, look, Jon Huntsman, we`ll start seeing more and more of Jon Huntsman. He is supposed to announce on Tuesday at statue of liberty. And look, what our ads supposed to do, they`re supposed to create buzz, get you talking. And whether you like the commercial or not, we`re talking about the commercial, we`re talking about Jon Huntsman and insist another vehicle for Huntsman and his campaign to get his name out there and keep it out there. Because remember, I mean, we are talking about people who all share a stage in New Hampshire on Monday, he wasn`t there.


He`s isn`t as bad as you think, Cenk.

UYGUR: No, I hear you. And look, I get the value of that. At the same time, when we`re all talking about a what fake he is, I`m not sure that helps a lot. All right. But we have to move on to the next question.


UYGUR: All right. Will Medicaid be the sacrificial lamb? Today, the Wall Street Journal`s both parties expects Medicaid to be the biggest source of cuts and budget negotiations. And democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller says, quote, “There has been an unsettling silence around Medicaid even from members of my own party. Medicaid suddenly looks like the sacrificial lamb.” And look, Medicaid`s cut, we`re kind of impact with that half. Do you know that Medicaid covers 68 million Americans? Coupled with the children`s health insurance program that is about one in four Americans. First, Jonathan, on the story itself. Do you get a sense that that is the direction that they are heading here in the Democrats are conceding to big Medicaid cuts?

CAPEHART: Well, look, I only know what I read in that Wall Street Journal article. In terms of politics and negotiating and what is happening with the Biden group and everyone trying to figure out what to do about the deficit, I`m not surprised in that regard. Look, I mean, as all of the shows on MSNBC and everyone`s talking about, you know, there are huge deficit, huge budget issues that have to be resolved. And, you know, kicking the can down the road and saying, no, you can`t cut mine, cut someplace else. That`s just going to have to end. It`s just a matter — things will have to be cut. It is just matter of how you cut. How responsibly you cut and right now, until someone produces a final document and shows where the cuts are coming from and how they`re being done, will we actually be able to know and talk intelligently, about whether those cuts are actually end up costing more money rather than saving.

UYGUR: Right. But let`s keep it real, Jane, right? They are cutting Medicaid, if the story is true and I believe it is. I think there`s good evidence. Senator Rockefeller wouldn`t say that if they, you know, if they weren`t cutting Medicaid and fairly deeply at that, right? And if they are, isn`t it an easy target? Aren`t they say, oh well, come on, you know, Medicare, Social Security, you`re going to, you know, anger older voters as a Senate. But with Medicaid, it is just the poor, you know? We can kick them any time we want.

HAMSHER: This was always the plan. Fully half of the expansion of coverage from the health care bill, came from the expansion of Medicaid. But they always knew that that was something to just get liberals to be able to support the bill. And that they would going to yank the carpet out from underneath them when it came time to deal with raising the debt limit and closing the deficit. So, basically, they were always planning to do this. And they are absolutely going to do it. And it means, what they are doing is calling the maintenance of efforts requirements that that states have to comply with in order to be able to get this money.

They have to guarantee certain enrollment and benefits within the state. But now they are saying, you can take the money, but all you have to do, but you don`t have to meet those any more. So, it means all of the old people who are currently in retirement, you know, in nursing homes, that that money is going to be cut. Dave Dayen today on FDL, called this the, you know, force your mother-in-law to move in with you act. And that really is what`s going to be.

UYGUR: Ezra Klein points this out all the time on the Washington Post about how Medicaid affects senior citizens a lot too. But Josh, one last thing here. You have to be ecstatic about this. So far, no tax cuts, I`m sorry, no tax increases, no revenues discussion yet, OK. But huge cuts in Medicaid. Republicans got to be ecstatic about it.

TREVINO: Well, it`s a good start and certainly I`m willing to sign on with Jane`s liberals always duped thesis. I`m happy to go with that. Look, one thing on the Medicaid though and one policy aspect that I think is driving it heavily that isn`t well reported, is that Medicaid, although it takes up, and correct me if I`m wrong in this. I think it takes up around seven percent-ish of the total federal budget with federal spending and matching addend. It takes over 20 percent of the average state budget. And of course, that goes a lot higher and a lot lower depending on the state. That is a major driver, what`s happening here. And we can`t ignore that when we talk about it.

UYGUR: I hear you. Well, we`re going to have to apparently talk a lot about it as they go to cut-in. So, Jonathan Capehart, Jane Hamsher, Josh Trevino, thanks for a great Power Panel, guys. We appreciate it.

TREVINO: Thanks.

CAPEHART: Thank you.

Transcribed by the Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC

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