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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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MATTHEWS: You got 40 Republicans to sign on to the death march here. Are they--I guess Republicans are more united than Democrats, but they did stick to the team there.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, and on top of that, Tim Pawlenty today, one of their leading presidential candidates, actually said that if that plan, if the Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it was put on his desk as president, he committed that he would sign it into law.

So, I mean, I think it is really--it couldn"t be more clear that Republicans want to end Medicare as we know it and yank the safety net out from under our senior citizens, deny them affordable health care. And Democrats want to make sure that we can sit down around the table with Republicans, work to save Medicare, make sure that we can add to--more to the long-term security of Medicare, like we did with the Affordable Care Act when we added 12 years of solvency to it.

We can do that and more. We just need a willing partner to sit down and compromise with us.

MATTHEWS: Well, you have been a willing partner. You"re a producer of our show now, it turns out, because here is that he clip you recommend we bring up.

Here is Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty talking to reporters...


MATTHEWS: ... in New Hampshire. When asked if he supported the Republican Medicare plan, here is what he said. Let"s listen.


TIM PAWLENTY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will have our own plan. It will have many similarities to Congressman Ryan"s plan, but it will have some differences. And the Medicare part of our plan will have some differences, too. It will have some similarities also.

But if I can"t have my own plan--as president, I will have my own plan. If I can"t have that and the bill came to my desk and I had to choose between signing or not Congressman Ryan"s plan, of course I would sign it.


MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, you represent some people down there. I was just down in Florida, by the way, in the Keys. I love that state.


MATTHEWS: But in your district, I guess you are a bit above Miami.

Do you have anybody in your district, Republican, independent or Democrat, who has ever called your constituents worker, your constituents staffer, and said, I would rather not get the Medicare benefits that are coming to me at the age of 65?


MATTHEWS: Has anybody said, I don"t want Medicare? I don"t care how right-wing they are.


In fact, the folks that have been coming to my town hall meetings lately have been very, very concerned about the potential for Medicare to be ended, that the Republicans--that is what Republicans have proposed.

And I think it is interesting that Tim Pawlenty wasn"t willing the other day, when he was in Florida on a swing through my state, to say what the answer to that question was on whether he would sign it. And when he left Florida, now, suddenly, he is willing to answer it.

Why wouldn"t he stand up in front of Florida voters and say whether he would sign it into law as president? Because he knows that it"s unbelievably unpopular, that Americans support Medicare, that Floridians, in the swing state that we are, are strongly supportive of Medicare and wouldn"t want to be supportive of a presidential candidate, whether they"re Republicans or Democrats, that would end it.

MATTHEWS: Let"s take a look at what the president had to say. He was overheard. I don"t think he was embarrassed by this at all, but he was overheard conversing with Paul Ryan. This is Bill Clinton, the former president, talking with the congressman we"re talking about, the Republican who pushed this plan to basically get rid of Medicare as we know it.

Let"s listen to the former president talking to the man in question, Paul Ryan.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I"m glad we won this race in New York, but I hope Democrats don"t use it as an excuse to do nothing.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: My guess is, it"s going to sink into paralysis is what"s going to happen.

And you know the math. It"s just--I mean, we knew we were putting ourselves out there. But you got to start this. You got to get out there. You have got to get this thing moving.

CLINTON: If you ever want to talk about it, give me call.

RYAN: Yes. Great. Thanks.


MATTHEWS: Well, there"s Bill Clinton in a nonpartisan mode.

Now look at him today. Here he is yesterday, by the way, talking about the same subject. Let"s listen to the president, former president.


CLINTON: I"m afraid that the Democrats will draw the conclusion that, because Congressman Ryan"s proposal, I think, is not the best one, that we shouldn"t do anything. And I completely disagree with that. I think there are a lots of things you can do to bring down Medicare costs.


MATTHEWS: Well, that opens the question. If the Republicans do recognize that they made a mistake and are in a negotiating posture before the next election--I think McConnell is, by the way, the leader of Republicans in the Senate.

He does not want this next"s year election to be about their plan on Medicare. Will you, as a leading Democrat, be open to a negotiation for the right kind of fix to our entitlement programs?


And that"s what President Obama suggested a few weeks ago, when he gave his speech on his vision for the 2012 budget and dealing with the debt ceiling vote, and making sure that we can focus on deficit reduction, that we have to have some bipartisan consensus on how to deal with entitlement reform.

And I hope that the message that the Republicans got from Tuesday"s election and from the election in Jacksonville, Florida, where we elected a Democratic mayor for the first time in more than 20 years, and the statehouse race in New Hampshire in a solidly red district that the Democrat won 58-42, all of those elections have turned on the radical proposals that--that voters are pushing back on against Republicans.

And I hope that Republicans take that message and sit down with at the table with us and work out the long-term solvency of Medicare together.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Your knowledge base has become so wide now. You know about every race in the country, Congresswoman. I keep thinking of you as a congresswoman.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That"s what I signed up for.

MATTHEWS: You know all this stuff.

Thank you very much and have a nice weekend as we celebrate. In fact, we honor the people that have served this country with unbelievable courage and patriotism.


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