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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript - Infrastructure Investment

Interview

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MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at that. Steve Israel, Congressman, I want you to look at these numbers because they`re good for your party and probably good for the House running (ph). The president`s job approval on the economy specifically is ticking up. According to a recent "Washington Post"/ABC poll, 48 percent say they approve of the job he`s doing when it comes to the economy and jobs specifically. It`s up 4 points since last month, when a majority said they disapproved.

Now, this -- how do you -- how does that translate? My sense is it`s environmental. People feel better about their own lives. Things are getting better. They can buy a few things for the family. They`re more likely to like the party in power, like the -- in fact, like the president`s party.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D-NY), DCCC CHAIRMAN: Well, I agree with you, Chris. Thank you for having me on. Look, home values are going up and the deficit Is going down, but there`s still a middle class that feels squeezed. Jim is right, we can do better.

And so our message to House Republicans in the 2014 congressional elections is very simple: Don`t screw this up. We need to build on our progress and not engage in more partisanship. We need to push solutions instead of
ideology. And so as long as House Republicans make the decision that they will no longer obstruct economic progress, that they will choose progress rather than partisanship, then things can get even better than they are
now.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MATTHEWS: Let the Republicans -- they`re the biggest no in history. Let them be the no party, but the president is the building party.

I want to go back to Steve Israel, the congressman, on this. Your party -- the trouble is, you`re for immigration reform, which is a mixed bag. It helps Hispanic people. It helps some people. But it`s not one issue that really grabs the whole country`s attention and says, We`re going to rebuild this country and look like the rest of the world again instead of falling behind.

Why not? Why don`t we...

ISRAEL: You know, you are absolutely right...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why don`t we call it the Obama bill?

ISRAEL: Well, he`s tried.

MATTHEWS: Where?

ISRAEL: He`s tried, but the Republican...

MATTHEWS: What`s the name of the bill? What`s the number?

ISRAEL: ... Party has said no.

MATTHEWS: Give me the number of the bill.

ISRAEL: Let me -- let me -- let me ask you a question, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I don`t see it. I don`t see it!

ISRAEL: If Republicans -- only a few dozen Republicans were willing to vote for a hurricane recovery bill to rebuild homes and businesses that were devastated in superstorm Sandy. They couldn`t even bring themselves to rebuild homes and businesses that were destroyed by a storm.

What makes you think that they`re going to be willing...

MATTHEWS: OK...

ISRAEL: ... to make bold and big investments we should be making...

MATTHEWS: I think you`re chicken.

ISRAEL: ... in rebuilding 153,000 bridges falling apart?

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you why -- I`ll give you my answer to that. Ever since Harry Truman, the Democratic Party stood for health care and got votes on it. They didn`t get health care but they got votes on it. And people said, We got to get it. We got -- finally, we got it under Obama.

You can promise things, you can urge things, you can fight for things and not win. A lot of good people like Hubert Humphrey since 1948 fought for Civil Rights, and Martin Luther King. They didn`t get it until `64, but they fought for it. And everybody knew where they stood, darn it!

Why can`t the Democratic Party stand for jobs, at least? Let the other party say no, and then you can have the jobs party against the no party. Why are you so squeamish about this?

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MATTHEWS: Yes. I know. I don`t get it. Congressman Israel, I`m going to go back to my problem. The French, which George W. with his limited IQ made fun of the French all the time because they wouldn`t back him on his
stupid war.

Go to France. If you only get one vacation (INAUDIBLE) go watch the train systems over there. Look at the chunnel. You`re under the English Channel about 20 minutes. What have we got? Amtrak. It`s like a buckboard!

ISRAEL: Chris...

MATTHEWS: I said it last night.

ISRAEL: You`re...

MATTHEWS: It`s the crazy -- ricketiest old train in the world. I love it because you get to relax for a couple hours, but it is an old system! Why can`t we compete?

ISRAEL: We can. We can compete. Reid Felix (ph) wrote in his book, "Bold Endeavors," every economic crisis this country has ever faced has been solved with one thing, building things.

MATTHEWS: Right.

ISRAEL: America needs to get back into the business of repairing and recovering.

Look, when the president of the United States tried to take us out of this near depression with the American Recovery Act, what did Republicans do? They voted against it and they did everything they could to take it down.

Now -- look, now is a chance for Republicans to quit trying to obstruct, stop trying to get in the way of infrastructure and help us make progress. We can have a Republican and Democratic bipartisan infrastructure
investment bill. We`re waiting for Republicans to work with us.

We can create 47,000 jobs for every billion-dollar investment in infrastructure. We can do it now. The Republicans need to start compromising...

MATTHEWS: OK...

ISRAEL: ... and get away from ideology.

MATTHEWS: A great New York Democrat ad man used to say, replace the smell of decay with the smell of construction. We know what the smell of...

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MATTHEWS: You know, Mr. Israel, Congressman, I do not understand what these people -- I can call them all the names in the world, it won`t make any difference, so I`m going to restrain. But the fact is, there is -- I worked on the Senate Budget Committee for Senator Muskie for three years. You went to conference with the House. You agreed upon something with all the press there, all the cameras there.

What is this secret treaty thing this guy`s talking about?

ISRAEL: I have no idea. It`s another conspiracy theory from the far, far right.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ISRAEL: This is why Bob Dole a week ago said that he could never make it in the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan couldn`t make it in the Republican Party. Democrats have differences. Your friend, Tip O`Neill, had differences with Ronald Reagan, but they managed to pass budgets.

MATTHEWS: They met with each other.

ISRAEL: Now, for four years, Republicans have said -- they met! For four years, Republicans have criticized Democrats for not passing a budget. Democrats now have passed a budget and said, Let`s negotiate. And now
Republicans are saying, We will not even negotiate. Again, we need progress and not partisanship.

MATTHEWS: Well, the Democrats shouldn`t have a hard time beating these fringies out there.

Anyway, Jim Cramer, what a great man you are. Thank you so much -- 6:00 o`clock on CNBC.

CRAMER: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. And of course, I really like this guy. U.S. Congressman Steve Israel has done a great job for the Democrats.


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