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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript: Government Shutdown

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Joining us now is Frank Pallone. He`s a Democratic congressman of New Jersey. He was there serving in Congress in the last time Republican shut down the government in 1995. And now he is watching this new shutdown drama unfolds again.

Congressman Pallone, thanks very much for being here tonight.

REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you.

MADDOW: When Republicans did this in 1995 in the Clinton era, it was pretty disastrous for them politically both in the polls at the time and in the next election. Did you and your fellow Democrats at the time know how it would turn out when it was happening?

PALLONE: No, definitely not. I mean, they were clearly ideologically driven then as they are now. But I don`t think anyone necessarily knew that they were going to be blamed for it. But I don`t think there is any doubt that that will happen again. I just hope it doesn`t happen because of the damage it does to the government and economy.

MADDOW: In terms of the lessons learned from that time, obviously having gone from the longest government shutdown in history, we saw some of practical effects. As you say, the real harm done for shutting down the government for that long, including the start-up costs of getting it back open again after the shutdown.

Is there anything politically that Democrats learned from them? Lessons that you might expect Democrats to draw on this time around as we sort of experience the same thing again?

PALLONE: Well, I think it`s our obligation to continue to say that we don`t want this to happen. And to constantly say, look, we`re reaching out to the Republicans. We`d like to sit down with them. We`d like to negotiate with them.

And that certainly this shouldn`t be linked in any way to the health care reform, to Obamacare. I mean, it makes no sense. I know you didn`t mention that. But that`s what they`re all saying, this right wing ideology, such as I want my way and there shouldn`t be any Obamacare. It should be delayed or defunded. And it makes no sense.

I mean, that`s not going to happen. We`re all -- so many people are anticipating being able to sign up for health insurance.

And so, I think we just have to continue to make the point. We don`t want this to happen. We want to sit down with them. But you know, so far they`re not offering to negotiate or sit down with us at all.

And as you know, they`re in charge with the House. So, they -- if they don`t make the offer, there is not much to do other than to say this is not a good thing.

MADDOW: Congressman, one of the things that has been discussed with more and more frequency, I think, as we`re getting closer and closer to the deadline, is this idea that the Republicans urgency around this, they`re sort of desperation to try to do anything they can to stop the Affordable Care Act, to stop health reform, is because people are going to like having health insurance, that people are going to like this problem -- this program, that it`s going to be politically popular especially in the long run and it`s gong to almost structurally improve Democrat`s chances, and
Republicans just can`t let something like that get locked in the way the New Deal got locked in and Social Security got locked in, and Medicare got locked in, and ways that Democrats` political benefit for generations to come.

What do you think of that argument?

PALLONE: I think it`s true. I mean, I think that, you know, ideologically, a lot of right wing Republicans are very much opposed to Obamacare, and part of it is because they do realize it could be successful. And this is the last opportunity in their mind to derail it.

But it`s not going to be derailed. I mean, what they forget is the president won the election. And during the election, Romney was saying he would repeal Obamacare if he became president. People voted for Obama instead of Romney. We have a Democratic majority in the Senate.

So they`re just -- they`re trying to redo the election and that is not going to happen. So you know, I think the best thing is look, let`s try to see if there is some way to convince the Republicans between now and Monday that this is not wise. That this is not going to happen in terms of defunding Obamacare, that for the good of the country, they need to sit down with us and come up with a budget that we can agree on.

MADDOW: Congressman Frank Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey, thank you for your time tonight, sir. It`s nice to see you.

PALLONE: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you.

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