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NBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript: Affordable Care Act


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MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Bill Pascrell joins us right now, along with Sam Stein of The Huffington Post.

Congressman, you`re the kind of guy I grew up with. You`re like -- you`re although -- like maybe slightly older than me, maybe slightly younger, but you`re just like my father`s friends in the Knights of Columbus. You speak regular English. You talk the talk. This clown show on the Republican side, 40 times, they voted against the bill the president had, and there`s not a single Republican for 150,000 years that`s had a health care plan.

They don`t have one. There`s 40 million people sitting right now in the E.R. They don`t care about those people. Then the guy comes out, this Griffin character from Arkansas. You know where he stands. For nothing. I`m so glad you called him out. I`m sure he came up to you afterwards and said, how can you be so direct with me?


MATTHEWS: Anyway, tell me what the reaction was to being direct for once with these people.

PASCRELL: Well, some folks -- some folks were surprised, Chris, that I yielded my time. We only had three minutes. But you know what? I like that. I knew where he was going. He had his sheet of paper in his hands.Where the hell was this three year ago, two years ago, one year ago? He just signed onto that bill, by the way, three days ago.

MATTHEWS: Oh, great.

PASCRELL: This is hypocrisy. This is hypocrisy at its worst. And I wish I had more than three minutes, but I`m going to defend what I think should be defended.

You know, Chris, we talked way back when, three years ago, and I said to you there were some things in this I didn`t like and some things that should have been in that weren`t in there.


PASCRELL: But the thing is done. We voted for it. The Supreme Court supported it. And here we are. It`s all over again. It`s like repetition, repetition. I say, help us make it better.


MATTHEWS: You know, they remind me, Sam, of like Ben Brantley, the theater critic at "The New York Times." He doesn`t have a play to put on. He doesn`t put anything out there for the public to look at. He just sits around and comes in on Monday morning and trashes something.

What do the -- how come the Republicans get away with not being for anything at all for the working uninsured? And then they come off and they dance around, prance around suggesting little nuances of concern they have had. What a joke. Your thoughts.

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, let`s stipulate for the time being that the rollout of the Web site has been pretty bad.

But if you ask a Republican if they want it to be resolved quicker, they would say of course no. They`re cheering on its failure.


STEIN: Same with the exchanges. The Republican governors didn`t expand -- many of them did not expand -- take on the responsibility of building a state-run exchange, putting the burden on the federal government.

That doesn`t excuse the federal government for botching the rollout. They should have done this. Dave Camp`s right. They had three years to do this. But certainly there`s an element of hypocrisy here from the Republicans who actively worked to undermine this thing and now are cheering the fact that it`s failing. I think the congressman has a valid point.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to the congressman. What you think the people in that committee, on the other side of your committee, would like to see as the denouement, the end of this talk? Do they want a better bill? Do they want to revise, refirm it, revise -- what do they want to do? Reform it?

PASCRELL: Chris, maybe I`m being naive about this, but I think there`s still a good 25 percent to 40 percent on the Ways and Means Committee that want to see some kind of a breakthrough, where they don`t feel that they`re being tied down if they say something nice about the ACA.

And I -- I asked today in the very spot that you just showed, I said -- I stood and I said, which one of you are going to tell the parents when you condemn this thing and then destroy it that your kids are no longer going to be covered with special needs, your kids are no longer going to be covered because they have a precondition? Are you going to tell the parents? Do you have the courage and the guts to do that?

You going to tell the seniors that they`re no longer going to get a shot with that famous hole in the doughnut, when you`re paying premiums, but you`re not getting benefits? Are you going to tell seniors you`re going back to the old way? None of you have the courage to do that. And, until you do, things are not going to change around here. But what else do you need to know that we`re not going away?

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Sam on the analysis here.

It seems to me that the congressman made a pretty good point there, that the Democrats didn`t dance all over the grave of the prescription drug program. They nursed it along, even though it was W.`s plan.

STEIN: Right. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Is that a fair, positive statement by the congressman?


No, it`s absolutely true. If you look at history, that`s what happened. And I think, at some point, some Republicans may recognize that President Obama is going to be in office through the 2016 elections, into 2017, and that there`s just simply no way that he will sign legislation that repeals his law or that cripples it until it`s inoperable.

So, there`s two to three -- 2.5 years more years here where they have to recognize that they have an opportunity to work within the confines of the law to make it better in their ideological vision. Or they can continue to do what they`re doing.

And I should recommend to the congressman, Democrats should have called this Heritage care. Not Obamacare. Maybe they would have been more reasonable in working with you on that then.

PASCRELL: That`s very interesting and very important point.

MATTHEWS: Well, take a look at this, Congressman. Two weeks ago, Speaker John Boehner brought the economy to the brink, of course, by taking us to the edge of a default, of the Affordable Care Act itself. Yet today, he told reporters that the GOP`s fight against the ACA, the American -- Affordable Care Act, is really about, get this, growing the economy. That`s his concern.

Let`s take a listen.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Obamacare is like a wet blanket over our economy. American people are looking for more jobs, better wages. But with all the uncertainty around this law, employers are having a very difficult time making decisions.

It`s time to delay this. It`s time to fix this before it gets any worse.


MATTHEWS: You know, Congressman, hold your ears, but I said a comment -- I used a comment I don`t usually use. What do these guys want Obama to do? He`s talking about a wet blanket.

This president is out there killing our enemies the way W couldn`t with his rooting-tooting, G.I. Joe talk. He let them go in Tora Bora. This president caught him and killed him. He also doubled the stock market to the point where today the Dow Jones for the people with some money in their 401(k)s now are going to benefit from.

PASCRELL: Cut the deficit.

MATTHEWS: And cut the deficit.

PASCRELL: In half.

MATTHEWS: When are these guys going to stop complaining and the grousing and say, you know what, I`ll give him that. I`ll give him that, I`ll give him that, just once a year say -- what is it about your colleagues on the right that don`t ever want to give an inch and say, you know, he`s not a bad guy. He`s kind of a loner but he`s not a bad guy. He`s a good husband. He`s a good father. Just once in awhile throw him a bone.

They don`t do that. They hate him for some reason.

PASCRELL: This doesn`t help America.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of this?

PASCRELL: It doesn`t help America, Chris. It does not help America whatsoever. From the guy who led the troops into shutting down the government which cost us billions and billions of dollars in jobs, just the little while ago, Chris, and he`s telling us about Obamacare? We`ve extended Medicare because of the Affordable Care Act.

So just that in itself is something that we should all be proud of, both sides, all sides in this issue.

STEIN: Let me jump in there --

MATTHEWS: Will Rogers is standing right behind you, Congressman. The great American Will Rogers from Oklahoma. He would appreciate the Republicans` complete hypocrisy here.

Last thought from you, Sam.

STEIN: Yes. No, I think -- you know, the president is partially responsible for this because for this meme because he did delay the business mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which was a recognition that businesses were uncertain about this.

But if the problem here is uncertainty caused by Obamacare, then I don`t think John Boehner has a leg to stand on because as the congressman rightly said, it wasn`t that long ago we were at the brink of a debt default and we were in the midst of a government shutdown because of efforts to delay and defund Obamacare. So, uncertainty is, you know, not something Republicans appear to worry about all that seriously.

MATTHEWS: There`s a difference between a guy who stops his car to fix a tire and the guy that runs the car off the road.

Anyway, thank you, Bill Pascrell, the congressman of New Jersey.

PASCRELL: It`s always a pleasure. I`m honored to be here.


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