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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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Congresswoman Schultz, Wasserman Schultz, I just don`t know aboutthis. I sense some hesitation on the part of Boehner, the speaker, even Eric Cantor, not to be out there trashing it too soon, yet I hear this
noise coming through the woodwork they`d love this thing to fail.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, you know, so far, all I have seen from the Republican leadership, whether it`s the presidential candidates or Speaker Boehner or Eric Cantor, is that they care about one job, President Obama`s.

Democrats, President Obama care about American jobs. I`m a little worried, Chris, that the Republican leadership is playing rope-a-dope here. They know it`s unpopular to suggest that we shouldn`t pass a bill like the American Jobs Act.

And I think that, you know, they are probably likely to just chop it apart, take the deregulation of business, let the fox guard the henhouse again, and repeat the same failed policies of the past, instead of
seriously considering President Obama`s sound proposal to invest in infrastructure, to make sure we can put teachers, firefighters, other first-responders, veterans and construction workers back to work, and make
sure that we can get this economy a shot in the arm that it needs, so we can pick up the pace of recovery.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Lee, what I`m overwhelmed by is the hesitance on Republicans who support business to support a business tax cut. Here you have an employer payroll tax cut that the president is proposing, and why don`t they just say, yes, that`s our stuff, that`s what we do?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: They should, Chris, but I`m reminded always of what Senator Mitch McConnell said last year. And he said their first priority, of course, was to make sure that President Obama
was a one-term president.

So, anything that they do is within that context. And so, now, again, we are hearing that they`re going to pick this jobs bill apart. They have not proposed one single jobs measure. Also, I`m reminded that, in their
districts, they have people who are unemployed. They have people who are desperate for help. And so I don`t know how they`re going to get away with it, with the public, Chris.

This is a jobs bill that should move forward immediately and Republicans should support it, Democrats should support it, and we should move forward to help the American people. When you look at the unemployment rates in the country and in the minority communities, people want to work. It`s a moral disgrace. And so we have to move forward.

But, again, I`m reminded and I want to remind everyone that Senator McConnell said that their first priority was to make sure that President Obama was a one-term president. And so, once again, I hope we don`t see this, but what we`re hearing is they could be obstructionists to this very good plan.

MATTHEWS: Well, we also know that there`s work out there that needs being done. We`re going to go every night -- every time the president goes anywhere, we`re going to point out the bridges, for example, in the districts he`s going to, Eric Cantor`s on Friday, Speaker Boehner`s tomorrow.

I have been saying Obama, the president, should call attention to those projects -- 95 bridges in Speaker Boehner`s district tomorrow, where he visits, have to be fixed. He should tell the people in that district to
tell their congressman, who happens to be speaker of the House, to get to work. There`s work being done.

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, I just think this is part of the missing message that your crowd isn`t making. It`s not just people need to work. There`s work that needs to be done. It`s not leaf raking or digging holes and filling them.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right.

MATTHEWS: There`s bridges that are actually in decrepit shape that are going to fall down, just like the one described as structurally deficient, the category I`m talking about here, that happened in Minnesota.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Chris, there`s roads that are clogged with traffic, too. I mean, I did a press conference in my district a couple of weeks ago with a small business owner, a mom, like me, who talked about how difficult it was for her to get her -- to her son`s football game on time, leaving work over an hour before when she was pretty close by because the roads are clogged, the bridges need to be fixed.

And, you know, this is slowing our economy down, not making sure that we have an efficient transportation system. We should all be for this. I`m hoping that when Barbara and I go back to Washington this week, that the Republicans will take this seriously, that they will recognize this for the shot in the arm for the economy that it is, and they will embrace the tax breaks as well as the pay-for, because the pay-for is critical, too. We have to make sure that the wealthiest and most fortunate Americans and everyone is paying their fair share to get things turned around.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let`s take a look at the GOP has already devised a tough political strategy, rebranding the jobs bill another stimulus bill. Here they are using the old language to try to kill it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: The president is now talking about adding $450 billion in the next year or two as an additional stimulus plan.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: The president`s speech comes on the heels of $1 trillion of failed stimulus, bailouts, and temporary gimmicks that have been aimed at creating jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MATTHEWS: I mean, Congresswoman Lee, Bachmann, for example, one of the Republican candidates -- she`s not doing so well, the congresswoman -- she says things like, just stop. In other words, Obama, the president of the United States, he isn`t supposed to do anything. He`s supposed to wait around for a Republican to replace him, basically, in 2013.

That`s her prescription, basically, for the president of the United States. Don`t do anything. Wait for us to take over.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, the president, certainly, is not listening to what Michele Bachmann`s prescription is. He`s moving forward to create jobs.

And let me just say, jobs -- creating jobs is the biggest deficit reducer that we have, putting money in people`s pockets, giving people the ability to work on a good-paying jobs with benefits really helps with our
national debt. It`s really a shame and disgrace, once again, that the Republicans really don`t understand that this is a moral issue. People want to work and they should work.

And so, whatever Michele Bachmann is saying, you know, that`s just campaign rhetoric. I think the country is ready for a jobs program, a jobs bill, people want to work, this investment in our jobs, and in our schools,
Chris.

Our schools are dilapidated. Some young people in our country are going to schools that we wouldn`t even want our children to go to. And so this bill also has a direct investment into rehabilitating our schools.
And that is so important for our young people. It`s so important for our teachers and our first responders, and people to be able to work in the public sector.

And so, this bill, while it may not be enough for myself, you know, it should have been more, but I understand the political realities of what we`re dealing with. And so the Republicans need to come together and look out for their constituents, look out for the country, and work with us to create jobs.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee from up there in northern California, the Berkeley area. Thank you very much for joining us.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thanks, Chris.

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