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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript - Fiscal Policy and Health Care


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MATTHEWS: Joining us right now, the chair of the Democratic National
Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the congresswoman from Florida.
Debbie -- I mean, Congresswoman, let me ask you about this. What do you
make of Ryan? I mean, you work in the House with him. And here he is
coming out with his Ayn Rand "Atlas Shrugged" ideological radical right-
wing social engineering, as Newt would call it, in the face of the fact
they lost. What are they up to? Are they trying to get rid of health care

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: Well, it did feel a bit like a needle stuck on a broken record, or that maybe he had his iPhone
earbuds in his ear -- you know, his iPod earbuds in his ear during lunch
last week with the president.

I mean, let`s -- I`m willing to give Paul Ryan the benefit of the doubt
that it is hard in a few days, near impossible, to retool an entire budget
to make an adjustment to look like you`re trying to move towards some
compromise. But this was pretty disappointing and shows that his response
today on that they -- on whether they lost the election was pretty tone-

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s like going into a labor negotiation and saying, Give
me $1,000 an hour and we`ll start from there. I mean -- I mean, what he`s
asking for -- or nothing, if you`re the boss -- I`ll give you nothing, if
you`re the boss.

I mean, this is supposed to be the kumbaya season between the two parties,
when you`re going to try to find common ground. And he says, Let`s start
off with the fact that I want to erase your whole first term. And then I
want to get rid of Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher
program. Let`s start with there.

These starting points don`t seem like they`re realistic in terms of what we
hear the president is trying to accomplish and at least some Republicans
are at least beginning look like they might play ball with. Where does it

KLEIN: With my DNC hat on, you know, arguably, I`m -- it`s not terrible
that Paul Ryan and the Republicans don`t see that the voters rejected the
path that they laid out. And you know, that`s going to give us more
opportunities in 2014.

But the responsible legislator in me, who understands that we can`t engage
in "My way or the highway" politics, wants us to sit down and try to
continue to hash out common ground and close that trust deficit. That`s
what we`ve got to continue to work towards.


SCHULTZ: So maybe this is just an opening salvo, and you know, the next
step would be to, you know, peel back the layers, and hopefully, have an
opportunity to come closer together.

MATTHEWS: OK, well, one part, Congresswoman, one part of the Ryan budget that`s getting a lot of attention is something we talked about earlier,
this decision to maintain the $700 billion in cuts to Medicare --


MATTHEWS: -- that were included in Medicare, and "Obama care," rather.
As TalkingPointsMemo illustrated today, Ryan has reversed himself so many
times on that issue, there are reasons to be a bit cynical. Back in 2010,
for example, Ryan blasted Obama`s new health care law. He said, quote,
"What the bill essentially does, it treats Medicare like a piggy bank." In
other words, they`re taking money from that for his program. But by the
following year, Ryan was including the same Medicare cuts in his own budget

MATTHEWS: -- apparently not too worried about consistency there. Ryan
changed course again last year while running with Mitt Romney, the attack
on the president, quote, "Here comes raid on Medicare," became a major
campaign theme. It even worked its way into Ryan`s convention speech.
Take a listen.


RYAN: They needed hundreds of billions more, so they just took it all away
from Medicare, $716 billion funneled out of Medicare by President Obama!

RYAN: An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being
sacrificed all to pay for a new entitlement we didn`t even ask for!


MATTHEWS: And yet just a few months later, those very cuts from a program he called an "obligation to our grandparents" once again find their way back into his budget. He`s back doing it again.


MATTHEWS: I want to go back to our analyst here, Ezra. It just seems to
me that the far bigger picture -- I know you`re an expert at the nuts and
bolts here, but the larger dishonesty, lie, if you will, in this whole
thing is he`s showing these crocodile tears about our parents and
grandparents. At the very same time, he`s saying, Let`s throw Medicare out
the window, replace it with a voucher program, so somebody 80 years old can go around shopping for a health care plan. Oh, by the way, let`s throw out "Obama care," too.

He`s so radically different that this seems to be focusing on the nuances
of his -- of his -- of his discrediting inconsistencies, the small point
here. Why do you think it`s important to point out that he`s inconsistent?

What`s the point there, if he`s so radically right-wing to start with?

KLEIN: I actually don`t think the inconsistency is the main point. I
broadly agree with you there.

I think the deep issue in Ryan`s rhetoric and in his budget, the thing that
actually is very telling, is Ryan on the one hand has this whole persona,
where he`s making the very difficult choices, or he`s doing the hard things
the president won`t do. He talks about that all the time, where unlike the
president, he understands the scope of our challenges and he`ll do the
very, very, very difficult things that need to be done now.

On the other, he won`t actually admit any of these things are in any way
difficult. There`s a kind of the sunny side, where he`s actually
strengthening Medicare. He`s helping Social Security. He`s helping
Medicaid. He`ll make it better by putting it to the states.

If you want to cut more than $4 trillion over the next decade, if you want
to then cap Medicare`s growth and turn it over to private insurers, if you
want to make it so Medicaid loses $750 billion over the next decade, there
are real consequences and real people who get hurt there.


KLEIN: And that`s why I actually focus on the nuts and bolts because it is
in the nuts and bolts, when you get down from that level of distraction
that he likes to remain at, where you actually see who gets hurt and by how
much. You can`t save that much money without hurting people.
Government is not that inefficient.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

KLEIN: But he doesn`t want to face up to the implications of the choices
he`s making.


KLEIN: He wants to make tough choices but not say what`s tough about them.

MATTHEWS: All my life, I`ve heard about waste, fraud and abuse. You can
get rid of that by just striking off some kind of a budget item. It ain`t
that simply. Usually (ph), a check you don`t write doesn`t get to

Anyway, thank you, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Thanks for
joining us tonight --

SCHULTZ: Thank you.


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