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MSNBC "Meet the Press" - Transcript - IRS Targeting Controversy, Health Care, and Fair Employment


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GREGORY: Congresswoman, do you think the attorney general needs to resign at this point?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN, Founding Member, Republican Women's Policy Committee/Budget Committee): I think that the attorney general has definitely lost the trust of the American people. When you are out in my district, people feel betrayed by the conduct of this administration and this attorney general. And, you know, it is an issue of leadership. And just as David sets the standards and decorum for his department, in his classroom, the president sets that for the administration. And people are wanting answers. They don't want excuses. They want accountability. They don't want evasion and they have lost the trust. I think it will take a generation to rebuild trust in the federal government at this point.


GREGORY: Let me get a quick comment here and then move on.

MR. FRIEDMAN: The administration went too far…


MR. FRIEDMAN: …and I think that's very clear.

MR. FRIEDMAN: And I think the president recognized that a week later. But I think it'll be a shame if all this comes down to just Eric Holder and we don't use this as a real teaching moment.

GREGORY: Right, well we are going to…


MR. AXELROD: First of all, the point I want to make on the IRS, you heard Senator Schumer say these 501(c)(4)s, these are the groups that the IRS was looking at, should have a standard that no more than 10 percent of their activities be involved in politics. But someone has to make that judgment. I think there's something peculiar about all that. I think the whole 501(c)(4) concept has to be looked at groups applying for tax exemption and also to keep their donors secret. That's the benefit they get from that.How do you decide what is political and what is not political? You are inviting this kind of-- of problem. So I think that ought to be looked at in terms of the issue itself…

GREGORY: But hold on, Congresswoman, respond to that point…

REP. BLACKBURN: Yeah, well, let's say the problem with this is, they were going after the conservative groups and not after liberal groups. So there was a targeting mechanism that was built into that and then individuals, conservative individuals that seem to be going after. It is the IRS using their position for political intimidation. And, David, I can't imagine…

MR. AXELROD: That's a-- but-- well, that-- Congresswoman, I think it was an idiotic thing to do. But I will point you to the inspector general's report that said it wasn't done for a political reason. They were flooded with applications. Eighty percent of it came from…

(Cross talk)

MS. NAVARRO: You know what, David, that's-- that's very hard to swallow. When you're a Republican, it's very hard to swallow that it wasn't done for political reasons when the words that were chosen as target words were conservative, Tea Party...

(Cross talk)

MR. AXELROD: Let me say this-- let me-- I've said this many times. If…

(Cross talk)

MS. NAVARRO: When you have-- when you have a group that was supporting president, you know, the 2007 group freedom watch that we saw yesterday come out where donors were getting audited and targeted as well, not just the groups. This is…

MR. AXELROD: There were-- there were groups…

MS. NAVARRO: It's very hard. You know, it's very easy for your side to say it isn't political.


MR. AXELROD: It's not me.

MS. NAVARRO: It's very hard for our side to accept it when we're the ones being targeted.

MR. AXELROD: I-- it's not me. It was-- it was inspector general…

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, and this was part of a two-year…

MR. AXELROD: It was the inspector general. He said-- I've said this many times. If there was somebody political involved in this, it never would have happened because it was the stupidest thing you could imagine. I-- I-- I-- I don't think that it was necessary and I don't think it was smart.

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, Chairman Camp has worked on this for two years. I mean, we've been getting this anecdotal evidence for two years. And they would say no, no, no. You look at what Lois Lerner did. And you know that there had to be an-- an agenda, a 157 visits by Commissioner Shulman to the White House?

GREGORY: Let me ask this question. Hold on. Let me-- let me get in here for a second.

(Cross talk)

MR. AXELROD: How many did Commissioner Shulman (unintelligible) when Bush visit the White House-- when Bush was president…

GREGORY: All right.

MR. AXELROD: …how many times did he visit them?

REP. BLACKBURN: I don't think it was 157 times.


GREGORY: But, Congresswoman, here you have this question with Michele Bachmann retiring this week of the-- the staying power of the Tea Party, which is going to argue, that sentiment is that government cannot be the driver of all these things. That that's…

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, and government can't be the driver, but the biggest impediment to jobs growth in this country right now is the implementation of Obamacare. The 29-1/2 hours, getting under 50 employees, health care becoming too expensive to afford. This program is too expensive to afford. It was to be 800 billion, now it's 2.6 trillion dollars, come on. You know, people are not hiring. When you look at the labor force participation rate, being where it was in Jimmy Carter's day, and you look at people coming out of college in your 18- to 24-year-old group, where you're at 50 percent unemp-- I mean, 13 percent unemployment? You've got problems.


GREGORY: Marsha, we've talked about this before around this table. First though, what is the impact of this as a data point that now you have, you know, research backing up what so many of us know, which is that this is a new reality?

REP. BLACKBURN: Yeah. And it was so interesting. The day this came out, I was doing a roundtable discussion at the Middle Tennessee Girl Scout Center with 20 affinity group leaders from corporations in Tennessee. And one of the things that everybody seemed to agree on was that as we go to an economy where your-- your intellectual property, your thoughts, all of that is geared-- we're an information economy. Women excel in that area. And you're going to see more women move forward as breadwinners. But it is up to companies to make certain that there is a level playing field and that women are not shortchanged as they try to get on that ladder to success.

GREGORY: It's interesting too…

MS. NAVARRO: (Unintelligible) up to companies. I would love to see our party have many more of you and of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Cathy McMorris Rodgers.


MS. NAVARRO: We as Republicans have got to do a much better job to attract women.

REP. BLACKBURN: In the political arena, you're exactly right.

MS. NAVARRO: It will make us a much better party.

REP. BLACKBURN: I'd say we need to be the great opportunity party. That's what GOP needs.

MR. AXELROD: How about pay equity laws to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace?

REP. BLACKBURN: I think that more important than that it is making certain that women are recognized by those companies. You know, I've always said I wasn't-- I didn't want to be given a job because I was a female. I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job. And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want.

GREGORY: What about…

REP. BLACKBURN: They don't want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions themselves.


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