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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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Congresswoman Blackburn, I guess the question is, all politics being local, I have to wonder whether the president isn`t doing the right job politically here by going around, playing hardball, if you will, calling
attention to projects that could immediately bring jobs in those districts.

I`m looking at your district. For example, according to Transportation for America, using data from the Department of Transportation, you have got 182 bridges in your district that are structurally deficient.

Isn`t this a reasonable argument to be made that there`s work to be done?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Chris, when they voted for the first stimulus and passed it -- without my vote, by the way -- supposedly there was going to be all this infrastructure money in there. And our road builders and our county mayors were left saying, where`s the jobs? Where`s the money that was going to be here?

I`m one of those members that for years has supported removing the 10 percent enhancement set-aside that was in the transportation bills and putting that toward roads and bridges --


BLACKBURN: -- and letting state governments make those decisions.

I think that one of the big problems you have got here is a credibility problem. People don`t think the infrastructure money would be in a stimulus. They didn`t see it the first time. They don`t think they`re going to see it this time.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m with you, Congresswoman. We disagree sometimes, but I`m completely with you.

I want to see real job building, really shovel-ready projects. And we have got the evidence that they exist out there. We get it from DOT through Transportation for America.

BLACKBURN: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And, by the way, tonight, as we have done this before -- and it is not partisan -- we`re trying to get a message across. There`s real jobs out there to be done. We`re running at the bottom of the screen
the 95 bridges below -- that are deficient in Speaker Boehner`s own district, as described by DOT as structurally deficient.

By the way, they include three bridges along Interstate 75, Mr. Speaker, that each carry 50,000 cars and trucks every day, Mr. Speaker. You`re a congressman, as well as speaker. And those bridges in your
district need repair.

Throughout this segment, as I said, at the bottom of the screen, we`re going to be listing -- listing those 95 bridges in need of being fixed in Mr. Boehner`s own district.

Let me go to Congressman Ryan.

Your thoughts about this. I agree with Congresswoman Blackburn. I thought that first stimulus bill had too many tax cuts and some stuff and mess -- interstate stuff and aid to states and localities, probably stuff
for the unions. But I didn`t see anything in there for the construction trades and building roads, not enough in there. Your thoughts?

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: Well, let`s go back and remember why we had to put $200 billion to $300 billion worth of tax cuts in there. We were trying to get Republican votes. And we didn`t get one out of the House.
We only got one in the Senate in order to help it pass. And there was $300 billion that were basically taken out of what could have went into infrastructure projects, and really put people back to work.

But the president wanted to get Republicans on board. That was their idea. As far as the states go, you know, we needed to plug that hole. Ohio at that point had an $8 billion hole that needed to be plugged. If it
wasn`t plugged, we`d have laid off thousands of workers there.

So I agree that the stimulus wasn`t big enough to begin with. But here now, we have an opportunity to rectify the problem and pump money in, and once again we`re getting resistance from the Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Congresswoman.

BLACKBURN: Oh, Chris, I just need to -- listen, you`re not going to get jobs by passing stimulus bills. There are no bills --

RYAN: Yes, you are.

BLACKBURN: -- that are going to do this. You know, budgets are about priorities, and what you need to do is say, it is going to be a priority to repair infrastructure. That wasn`t done, and people don`t think it will be
there again.

They don`t want to see tax increases. We can`t afford tax increases. They don`t want to see tax reductions.

RYAN: No one`s talking about tax increases.

BLACKBURN: Individuals want to keep more of their money in their pockets. Americans know that two wrongs never make a right and passing another stimulus bill isn`t going to make the first one right. It is the
wrong recipe for getting Americans back to work.

Let`s talk about putting a moratorium on regulations for a year. Let`s talk about getting the EPA off of individual`s private land. Let`s talk about putting people in factories back to work by rolling back these
EPA regulations.


BLACKBURN: There`s plenty that could be done there.

MATTHEWS: But, you know, Congresswoman, let me just throw out this. You know, we`re living basically under the tax policies of George W. Bush. You all passed that big tax cut. It`s still in effect.

If the economy is in terrible shape right now, isn`t President Bush responsible? It`s your tax structure. It`s not President Obama`s tax structure. He said he doesn`t like this tax structure. It`s yours. And this is your economy.

Why do you keep blaming it on Obama when he wasn`t been able to change the tax policy?

BLACKBURN: I think it`s amazing that you continue to blame it on George Bush.

MATTHEWS: No, because it`s your tax policy.

BLACKBURN: I think it is so important --

MATTHEWS: You didn`t hear what I said. I`m not blaming it on him. I`m blaming it on the tax policy he left behind.

BLACKBURN: And I think it`s important for us to have a flatter, fairer, simpler tax code. I am for that.

MATTHEWS: Well, why didn`t Bush do it?

BLACKBURN: I am for reducing taxes. Listen.


BLACKBURN: Listen. You know, I am one of those that believe if 10 percent is good enough for God on Sunday, then it should be good enough for the government on Monday.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you both. I want to start with Congressman Ryan, whose tax structure are we operating under in this country, Bush`s or Obama`s? I thought it was Bush`s. Obama hasn`t been able to change it.

RYAN: There`s no doubt. It`s what we -- it got re-passed at the end of last year. We`re living under the George Bush economy -- from the regulations to the tax structure. And now, just to respond in a bit, they
are pulling money out of the economy when we need money to be in the economy. We have high unemployment. We need investments into these projects.

And it`s not going to happen by us cutting all kinds of spending in the short-term. Of course, we`ve got to balance the budget in the long-term. But, right now, we need the United States federal government to push
projects like the ones you were talking about, ones all over the country, to directly hire people. Get money into their pockets. They will go out and spend.

It`s not about regulations or anything else. This is about the average American citizen in Youngstown, Ohio --

BLACKBURN: Yes, it is about regulation.

RYAN: Marsha, the average American citizen like the ones in Youngstown, Ohio, have had wages stagnant for 30 years. They don`t have any money in their pockets. And until we get them back to --

BLACKBURN: Average Americans, individuals in my district, my neighbors, my friends, those I go to church with on Sunday will tell you, it is not the government`s job to create jobs, that is the private sector`s
job. The government --


RYAN: Well, the private sector -- Marsha, the private sector -- with all due respect, the private sector --

BLACKBURN: And what the private sector wants to do is see government off their backs, out of their pocketbooks.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask for a moment of clarity. Is it the government --

BLACKBURN: They want to be able to create jobs and they want to have research and development here. They want to manufacture products here, and right now --

RYAN: Well, they`re not doing it.

MATTHEWS: OK. Can I just get back to where I started? Is it the government`s responsibility or the private sector`s responsibility to fix our bridges that are below safety code, Congresswoman?

BLACKBURN: The government, certainly, has a priority there. But let`s let our states take the lead. That`s what we do in Tennessee, where we have no bonded indebtedness on our roads. We pay as we go.

MATTHEWS: Apparently, the state of Tennessee is deficient, because you`ve got 182 bridges in your district, Congresswoman, below code.


BLACKBURN: -- set aside --

MATTHEWS: You got 182 in your district, and Congressman Ryan`s got 85 in his district. These jobs are not getting done. The money should be spent to keep our bridges safe -- some people think, others don`t, but I
think you`re with fixing the bridges.

Congresswoman, thanks for coming on as always.

BLACKBURN: Good to be with you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who believes in infrastructure spending -- and Congressman Tim Ryan, who also does.

Up next: what is it about Rick Perry that shot him to the top of the Republican field? We got to get back to this frontrunner. It is fascinating how fast he`s going there.

We`re going to talk to ad guru Donny Deutsch, who has a strong feeling about why this guy is kicking butt in the Republican Party, and while they`re all coming after him and not coming after Romney because he`s way down in second place now.

This has HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


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