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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript: Obamacare, SNAP, and Drug Testing


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Joining us now is Congressman Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, who is also running for Senate.

Congressman Holt, it`s so nice to have you here today.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: Great to be with you, Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: So what is happening in the house? I mean, really. Like you look at the senate, there`s at least a little bit happening there. You`re getting some confirmations.

But this -- wasn`t there once a time when House members went open in august to tell their constituents, here`s what we did. What are these folks going to say they`ve done?

HOLT: Sure. Many members of Congress came to congress to make people`s lives better, with a belief that we can actually do something to help people. Speaker Boehner said recently that the Congress should be judged by the number of bills repealed, not by what`s accomplished. You know, by that --

HARRIS-PERRY: They`ve also repealed zero.

HOLT: Well, actually, even by that measure they`re failing.


HOLT: But the health care bill, as you said, today, this was the 40th attempt to stop it. You know, we can`t deal with this with platitudes about, let`s come together. We need adult leadership. We need -- how long are you going to negotiate on health care with somebody -- to improve health care, to bring more people into health care, to keep costs down.

How are you going to negotiate to get legislation with people who have this obsession, an ideological obsession, to repeal? If it`s just like, how can you negotiate on science education with people who deny Evolution? How are you going to deny on health care quality of coverage for women with people who invent their own biology about women?


HOLT: How are you going to negotiate with people on energy with people who deny climate change?

HARRIS-PERRY: So I think -- these are such great examples. The climate change question, the question of reproductive rights, and sort of just the biology of how women work and how we production operates.

So it sounds to me like you`re diagnosing the problem as a kind of vocabulary problem. Is it personal animus? Is it ideological? Is it not sharing the same constructions of what problems are? I mean, what has happened in this Congress to make gridlock so prevalent?

HOLT: It`s ideological.


HOLT: And so we`ve got -- we`ve got these ideologues who are elected to Congress in 2010, so many of them, railing against government. They campaigned against government. And, lo and behold, they find they are government, and it`s a psychological disconnect they can`t deal with. And that tail is wagging the dog.

HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me on this question of ideology, talk about food subsidies.

HOLT: Let me just say, as a scientist, of course, my background is in science, and so, I like to see policy rooted in evidence.

And I actually think that if you start a debate by finding facts you can agree on, rather than starting in your ideological camp, you can get something done. I mean, I have in environmental matters and open space preservation, most recently in suicide prevention. I got $40 million for -- over the last two years, for suicide prevention for veterans and soldiers.

You start with the facts. And then you can -- then you can find common ground that you can work toward constructive legislation.

HARRIS-PERRY: So this is precisely where I wanted to go on this question of food subsidies, SNAP, the so-called food stamp program. Because the evidence, the basis here is we know that something like 95 percent of those who receive them, there`s very little corruption in the system. We know that it is majority of children that are using these.

And we also know that they have a stimulative effect on our economy, that when people get food subsidies, they then have more money to spend in our economy. I mean, these are facts that are not in dispute.

So how is it that this Republican aspect of the house can say, what we need to do is to cut $40 billion in food stamps?

HOLT: But, in fact, people do make up their own facts. They say, for example, to justify this $20 billion cut in food stamps, in the SNAP program, they said, well, it`s being misused and so that`s why we`ve got to impose these conditions, you know, drug testing before people can get food stamps. It`s not because there`s a lot of drug abuse there.


HOLT: I mean, I don`t hear them suggesting that we require drug testing for farmers to get crop insurance, or to get crop subsidies. By the way, some members of Congress who are voting against this bill were getting crop subsidies.

And so, they were making up their own facts about what needed to be done to be fair to the taxpayer.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Can you imagine if all American homeowners had to undergo a drug test in order to get their mortgage interest deduction on their 1040s?

HOLT: That`s comparable, yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly. Democratic Congressman --

HOLT: There`s so much we`re not getting done.


HOLT: You know, we need to deal with climate change. We need to break up the banks and continue to put cops on the beat on Wall Street. We need to, you know, stop spying on Americans --


HOLT: -- on innocent Americans.

And instead, we`re trying for the 40th time to repeal the Obamacare.

HARRIS-PERRY: Which is, in fact, the law of the land.

Democratic Congressman Rush Holt, so nice to have you here, thank you for taking a little time out of the campaign trail to spend some time here on Rachel`s show.

HOLT: Thanks, Melissa.


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