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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Our next guest knows how to get things done in Congress. I find this
to be an interesting story, a blast from the past. Minnesota Congressman
Rick Nolan was first elected in 1975 and he served three terms until 1981.
Well, he`s back. He was just re-elected to his fourth term after 32 years
of being in private business and doing some other public service work.
During Nolan`s first term, Congress passed 588 bills. And what was
their salary back then; 44,600 dollars. The 112th Congress was just ended,
passed 219 bills. And their salary is 174,000 dollars a year. Don`t you
feel like you`re really getting your money`s worth right now? It was the
least productive Congress on record.
So, what it comes down to, folks, is this. You, as an American
worker, are working harder and longer for less pay. I showed you what the
graph was all about. But Congress is working less and getting paid more.
So you know what? You and me as taxpayers, we`re getting ripped off.
We`re not getting our money`s worth.
Certainly they`re still great Americans, aren`t they? How could it be
that the work ethic was so strong back in the day, but now it`s not?
Because it`s all about the money.
For more, I`m joined tonight by Congressman Rick Nolan of Minnesota.
Good to have you with us tonight. Thanks for your time.
I think that you illustrate best what this is all about, because of
your experience of 30 years ago in the Congress. What`s the biggest
difference between then and now?

REP. RICK NOLAN (D), MINNESOTA: Well, Ed, I think you hit the nail on
the head here. Back when I served before, we worked 48 out of 52 weeks.
This Congress is going to work, you know, 31, 32 weeks out of 52 weeks.
We used to work four and five days a week. And we would be in
committee in the morning. We would be in session during the afternoon and
into the evening. And we got things done. And you know, when you`re
getting together and you`re working together, you get to know one another,
and you get to learn where those areas of opportunity are for cooperation,
for collaboration, for solving problems, getting things done.
But if you`re not going to work, you can`t run a business that way --

SCHULTZ: Congress isn`t governing, in your opinion?

NOLAN: No. You can`t run a business that way. You can`t run a
country that way. And Ed, the numbers that you pointed out are -- it`s
good for people to know that. But it`s even worse than what the numbers
indicate. You know, the number of days that are scheduled for this year,
you can already subtract one day from that. We were supposed to be meeting
last Wednesday and we decided not to.
And those first days of every week when we work, we don`t have any
votes scheduled until 6:30 at night. Then what we don`t finish up that
evening, we wrap up the next day. And if there`s anything else to do, we
wrap it up the following morning.

SCHULTZ: It`s the money. It`s the corporate money, isn`t it?

NOLAN: Well, it is. Money has really corrupted the entire political
process. The sad story, Ed, here is that the one with the most money
generally gets the most votes. So people have come to the conclusion --
and, quite frankly, understandably so, that there`s no sense running unless
you`re going to have at least enough money, and hopefully more than the
other person that you`re running against.
We need to change the way we do politics in this country. You can`t
run a country this way, Ed.

SCHULTZ: We`re not getting our bang for our buck, are we?

NOLAN: No, of course we`re not. Not at all.

SCHULTZ: Great to have you with us tonight, congressman. I
appreciate you speaking out on this. I know that a lot of people are going
to respond to it. Thanks so much.

NOLAN: You bet, Ed.

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