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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

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Joining us now is Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Senator Brown, it‘s really nice to see you. Thanks for coming back on the show.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: It‘s good to be back. Thanks.

MADDOW: Am I right that "cash for clunkers" is working as intended?

BROWN: Yes, not quite. It‘s actually working better than intended. This town is full of ideology and sort of this knee-jerk reaction generally from the far-right that, well, if this is a government program, by definition, it can‘t work.

And this, as you pointed out so well in each of those three or four points, has clearly worked every bit as well or better than expected. It works for jobs. It works for creating demand. It works for the environment. It works to put people back to work.

It‘s the best—it‘s in some sense, it‘s the best stimulus that we‘ve seen. The money goes out in people‘s pockets. It‘s spent. It‘s back into the community exactly what we want to create demand in the auto industry.

MADDOW: Well, Republicans in Congress, on the issue of stimulus, they have been critical of the economic stimulus efforts, thus far, in part by saying that things weren‘t happening fast enough. Now, we just heard that argument from Senator DeMint saying we need to slow this "cash for clunkers" program down. We just need to—not even necessarily arguing that it isn‘t working, he‘s just saying it should work more slowly. We should make it take a break.

What‘s your take on this issue of timing and his argument there?

BROWN: Well, it goes back to what I said at the beginning. I think, Rachel, it‘s a question of ideology. And they just, you know, they don‘t like the public option health care because—well, it‘s a government program. They didn‘t like Medicare. They—if we had waited for bipartisanship in Medicare, we never would have had Medicare.

They don‘t like a government program, whether it works or it doesn‘t. And what really aggravates them is when it works. When we do something like this, it works better than expected, 10 miles per gallon better, 85 percent of the cars turned in or the vehicles turned in are trucks. Only 40 percent of them—the new vehicles are trucks, much higher mileage ones.

So, we‘re seeing success all the way up and down in this for the environment, for getting money in people‘s pockets, for helping dealers, for helping the largest industry in America, the car, auto component manufacturers, it‘s the largest industry we have. And if we‘re going to get out of this recession more quickly, we need to stimulate the auto industry and all the auto suppliers and the dealerships in every community in America because we know recessions typically, the auto industry drives us, leads us out of a recession.

And that‘s why this program is working so—why the effectiveness of this program is so good for the economy.

MADDOW: There is a little late breaking news just on the politics of all of this tonight, that if some Republicans, some individual Republican senator or a group of them decides to try to stop this program in its tracks, they may have to block the Senate from going into recess in order to do that. They would have to—they would have to—they would have to delay the recess if they wanted to stop the program, which means they‘d be taking a big public political stand on this issue.

Would that be an opportunity for the Democrats and Republicans to have a great ideological debate about whether or not the government should actually try to be good at doing stuff or whether the government shouldn‘t do anything at all—which is I think what the conservatives are arguing here?

BROWN: Sure. And I think if they want to block it and, you know, into next week, we stay as long as we need to. This is an example of—this is working, this is good for the economy. It‘s obviously especially good for my state. I don‘t deny that for a second. But it‘s good for the economy overall.

The auto industry leads us out of recessions historically, can help lead us out of this one. And we‘ll stay as long as we need.

But I—that debate—that debate needs to happen. And I hear Republicans complaining on the Senate floor tonight. Senator Dodd and Harkin and White House and I were talking about the public option. On the other side, Republicans were trying to scare senior citizens about Medicare and about the health care system and the government takeover.

And it‘s clear that government can‘t do everything but government does some things very, very well. Medicare, "cash for clunkers," the list is pretty long.

And bring them on. Let‘s have the—let‘s have the debate. Let‘s have the discussion.

MADDOW: Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

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